Saturday, November 5, 2016
The First Alchemist - Chap 25
Chapter 25 - Three Months Before the Battle Part 3
The moment the village chief had walked into her hut, Sheng Yi went over and bowed to him. "This one greets the village chief."
Sorka Jiu nodded at her, then looked down at the patient … and was shocked. If Chem Au hadn’t personally told him of the battle with the Colossus Bear and how that beast injured this guard, he wouldn’t have believed it based on what he saw before him.
Other than a stump and some bloody rags, there was no sign of injury at all. There wasn’t even any scars. If he didn’t know any better, it would look like the guard was just sleeping.
Sorka Jiu glanced at both Chem Al and Sheng Yi. This was even more startling than the rumors.
For the past two months, he had been hearing from his own villagers how the sick and injured were healed by Sheng Yi and her disciple. He didn’t believe it at first, but when he did, he just put it off as the medicine woman finally improving her skills.
Not a moment too soon, too. The air was getting colder and they usually lost some people from sickness over the winter. With their medicine woman drastically increasing her rate of success, it could only count as a good thing.
But this … this was different. From what he heard, this guard was suffering from a life threatening injury and there was absolutely no way to save him with some simple ointments or tonics.
Yet, not only did she save his life, she somehow made it look like he wasn’t injured at all, and it hasn’t even been half an hour since the time of the attack. The only thing she couldn’t seem to do was regrow his leg, and Sorka Jiu already blew that off as impossible. Just doing this much would be considered a miracle.
Sorka Jiu looked around the hut. It had been a long time since he had last been here, and he remembered it looking more abandoned. But now, it was filled to the brim. Herbs, powders, elixirs, and all sorts of smells cluttered the place. The medicine woman had always been serious about her medicine, but now it looked like she was taking it to the next level.
It wasn’t just the medicine. There was also food and staples in abundance where there were sparsely any before. Rice, clothes, newly carved wooden bowls, it was obvious these were gifts from the thankful patients she had helped. Before, she had barely survived in this village with her poor skills, but now it looked like she was thriving.
What could have changed?
Sorka Jiu looked down at Chem Al who was sitting next to the patient, and shook his head. It couldn’t have been the cripple, could it? Maybe, but unlikely. Despite what Chem Au had told him about how his little brother was the reason his cultivation had risen, he had a hard time believing it. A cripple was still a cripple, and the last thing someone like that could help you with was profound cultivation.
There had to be more to it than that. Probably something to do with that concentration of profound energy he felt earlier when he had entered the hut, and that flash of light he saw in Sheng Yi’s hand, although all she was holding was some kind of powder.
He took a closer look with his profound energy, and to his shock her cultivation had risen to the fifth level! Chem Au making a breakthrough to the fifteenth level in less than two months could be considered a one-off, a lucky break, but now there was someone else whose cultivation was also rising at a rapid rate.
“How? How did your cultivation rise so fast?” Sorka Jiu lunged at Sheng Yi and grabbed her arms. He now fully believed that it wasn’t just luck, that there really was a method to quickly raise your cultivation.
“Village chief, you know I cultivate?” Sheng Yi asked. Chem Al was surprised as well.
“What? Of course I do. I’ve known since I allowed you into my village. As long as you do your best to help the sick and injured villagers then I don’t care if you cultivate or not,” Sorka Jiu said, letting go of her arms. “Nevermind that, please tell me the method to quickly raise someone’s profound cultivation!”
Sheng Yi and Chem Al glanced at each other and sighed with relief. That’s one less person they had to worry about objecting to a woman practicing cultivation.
“Well, if you really want to know….” Sheng Yi pointed at her disciple.
Sorka Jiu looked at who she was pointing at, then looked again. She was saying the same thing that Chem Au said, that this little cripple was the one who helped them increase their profound cultivation.
Impossible! How could such a thing be possible? It was like a blind person teaching you about the sky. Such a thing….
“Village chief,” Chem Al said. “You can choose whether to believe it or not, but the fact of the matter is that I’m the one who discovered the method that can help you and everyone else in this village raise their cultivation quickly.”
Sorka Jiu looked down at Chem Al. It was those eyes again, the same unwavering eyes he saw during their journey through the forest. And then right there, he finally believed it. He kneeled down so he was eye to eye with the cripple, and said, “Then please--.”
“Not yet.” Chem Al smiled. “I’ll tell you the method, but not until my big brother’s profound cultivation reaches the sixteenth level.”
Sorka Jiu’s brow furrowed. “Why the sixteenth level?”
But Chem Al answered him with a shrug. “No reason. Don’t worry, though. He will soon reach the peak of the fifteenth level, so it won’t be long until he makes a breakthrough. You just have to wait one more month.”
“And then you’ll tell me?”
Chem Al nodded.
Sorka Jiu stood up. A part of him wanted to command the little cripple to tell him right this instant, for the good of the village, but the boy looked stubborn, and not in that child-like way where a spoiled brat isn’t getting what he wants. No, or some reason it seemed easier to squeeze blood from a stone than pry information out of this cripple.
When she saw that the village chief would let go of his questions for now, Sheng Yi stepped in and said, “Now that that’s settled. Is there anything else I can help you with, village chief?”
Sorka Jiu shook his head. “No. I originally came here just to check up on the injured guard that Chem Au told me about, and I can see he’s doing well.”
“Yes, he is. All he needs now is some rest. But I’m sorry we couldn’t do anything about his missing leg.” Sheng Yi looked down.
“You’ve helped him more than I expected. Keep up the good work.,” Sorka Jiu said. Then he left the hut, but not before looking back at the cripple and saying, “One month.”
Sorka Jiu walked towards the edge of the forest to wait for the return of the hunting party. A part of him thought about how rare it was to encounter a Colossus bear and how much meat it would bring to help the village through the winter, but a bigger part of him couldn’t stop thinking about that secret method that could increase one’s cultivation at a faster rate. It was so enticing.
Almost an hour later, the hunting party returned, dragging the corpse of the Colossus Bear behind them.
The moment they saw the village chief, they started regaling him with tales of their little adventure. He had already heard it all from Chem Au, but it wasn’t everyday they had such a successful hunt so he stood by and allowed them to excitedly tell him everything. And to be honest, it felt nice to hear them praise his son for his part in taking down the Colossus Bear.
“Good job, son.” Sorka Jiu clapped his hand on Sorka Bo’s shoulder. “You do me proud.”
Sorka Bo beamed, then waved it off as if saying with his talent, this much was nothing.
After praising his son, Sorka Jiu turned to the hunting party and started shouting out orders. “Make sure to process the bear carefully. Even though there’s a lot to work with, we can’t waste any of it. The fur will make warm coats, the skin will make new leather armor for almost all of you, and remember to save the fat. But most important of all, don’t forget the meat! We’ve got to hurry to dry it so we can save it for the winter. Remember to distribute it fairly to the rest of the village,” Sorka Jiu said, and then he remembered. “Oh, and also save a portion for Shu Tui to thank him for his part in the battle, at least enough that could last him a month.” That was all he could do for the poor guard.
The hunting party looked surprised, Sorka Bo most of all. “He’s still alive? But with such a large wound, how can he possibly still be alive?”
“I don’t know. Somehow the medicine woman and her disciple was able to save him.” Sorka Jiu pointed his thumb behind him at Sheng Yi’s hut. “Son, I think you should try to become friends with Chem Au’s little brother. He may be able to help you with your cultivation.”
Sorka Bo looked over at the hut, his mind jumbled. “Father, do you actually believe all those rumors about that cripple? Just because Chem Au raised his cultivation really fast once doesn’t mean anything.”
“I know, I didn’t believe it at first either, but listen to me. Promise me you won’t offend the cripple. Promise me that.”
“What has gotten into you, Father? Is it because they somehow was able to save that guard’s life,” Sorka Bo said, but then he thought of something else. “Or…, wait, did they manage to regrow his leg or something?”
Sorka Jiu shook his head. "No, unfortunately. That seemed to be beyond their abilities."
Ha, Sorka Bo thought. A cripple was still a cripple. There was no way that someone like that could do the impossible. "Then so what? I don’t get why you suddenly started believing in these rumors, but just because they saved that guard’s life by healing his wounds or stopping the bleeding doesn’t mean anything. And besides, the life that Shu Tui would live now wouldn't be worth much."
Sorka Jiu looked down at his son, who didn't seem to care that a life had been saved. But he knew that Sorka Bo was right. A harsh life will only await Shu Tui now. "Just promise me that you won’t offend the cripple.”
But Sorka Bo snorted and walked away to help the other guards take apart the Colossus Bear.
Sorka Jiu couldn’t help but sigh. He understood his son’s disbelief so he decided to let it go for now. Given enough time, he knew that, not just his son, but everyone in the village will come to see those rumors as truth.
At that moment, a snowflake slowly fell in front of him. He looked up at the cloudy sky.
It was snowing.