Tuesday, February 14, 2017
The First Alchemist - Chap 34
Chapter 34 - Three Disciples
Sorka Bo and Sorka Jiu made it back to the village without any trouble, and saw that there was still a crowd of villagers standing around Chem Al. On closer inspection, the new village chief seemed to be passing out something.
"Here you go." Chem Al took out a little red pill from a bag and handed it to one of the villagers. He did this one by one until everyone in the village who cultivated had one, then he stepped back to the middle of the circle. "Now you might be wondering about what I have just given you. As thanks for making me your new village chief, I'm giving you this as a gift. What you hold in your hand is what I call a Primary Profound Pill."
The villagers stared at the pill in their hands, wondering.
"What does this pill do, you might ask?" Chem Al continued. "This pill contains a concentrated amount of profound energy. After swallowing it, just channel that energy into your dantian. With this you will be able to increase your profound strength faster than normal.”
A slight commotion went through the villagers when they heard this. If what the cripple said was true, then this could change the entire future of this village. But still … it was kind of hard to believe. Such a miraculous thing like this pill had never appeared in this village before, especially so many of them. One or two may be possible, but how could there possibly be such a large amount of pills that every cultivator in the village could receive one?
In the end, there was nothing to do but to give it a try. One brave soul swallowed his pill. The villagers went silent, waiting to see if this person would either die or suffer through indescribable pain. But neither happened. Instead, he immediately sat down and began to cultivate.
At the sight of this, someone else swallowed the pill, then another and another until every cultivator tried it and discovered its amazing effects.
Profound energy surged through their bodies. Everyone who took the pill sat down and cultivated, channeling that energy into their dantians. The moment they opened their eyes, they looked at their young village chief in a whole new light.
Chem Al smiled, knowing this was how they were going to react. He didn’t hand over those pills out of the goodness of his heart, he gave them in order to convince these villagers that he would make a great village chief. He knew that he would need the cultivators, the strongest people in this village, on his side.
As the villagers clamored, telling each other how amazing this pill was, Chem Al spoke up. "I hope you realize what a pill like this could mean for our village, especially for our cultivators. Now they could better guard and hunt for our village. Surrounded by a forest filled with desolate beasts, we would be better protected and we will have a more ample supply of food.”
The villagers cheered.
“But that's just the surface benefits. I want you to think more of the outside world. How many people do you think would want these pills? Another question. How much money do you think these people will pay for these pills?" Chem Al rubbed his hands together. "Everyone, we are going to become rich!"
The villagers went silent, stunned. A pill that could make you stronger, they already realized what this meant for the overall strength of the village. But they could also use it to make money too? The villagers erupted with happiness. The days of being poor and destitute were going to be a thing of the past. Such a thought brought tears to their eyes.
"I'm glad you all understand," Chem Al said. "Not only will we survive, we will also thrive. More money means more resources. We could buy better armor and weapons for our guards. No more shitty spears with pointy stones at the end of it." When the cultivators cheered at that, Chem Al continued, "And for the rest of you, we can build better homes and afford more essentials like rice and salt, and alcohol." Everyone cheered at that.
However, Chem Al's voice suddenly turned somber, dampening the vibrant mood. "But this will all come with a cost," he said. "These pills, a lot of people will become interested in them. And some of them might not be willing to pay money to get them.”
His words doused out their excitement. The villagers paled, aware of how weak they were when compared to the outside world.
"Yes, these pills can help our village, but the decision to use them is too much for this humble village chief alone. On the one hand, we can choose not to use them and do nothing, staying weak and pathetic, living out the rest of our lives in our little corner of the world until we die with nothing to show for it. Or... we could use these pills and grow, becoming stronger and more powerful than this world has ever seen. Yes there will be some risk, there will be people who will want to stop us and beat us down and tell us no, but screw them! We will rise up!" Chem Al practically shouted that last part, but then his voice quieted down. "Of course, I leave this decision to you."
None of the villagers said anything, but their minds were racing. They could feel it. This was a momentous turning point. What happens now, whatever they decide, would affect them for the rest of their lives.
"Yeah, screw them!" someone shouted. "Screw everyone else!"
"We want to use these pills! We want to become stronger!"
"Just let them try to take it from us!"
"We'll show them what we can do! We'll show them we're not just weaklings!"
The entire village voiced their support. They were tired, so tired of being weak, of being beaten down and barely making a living. They grew up knowing that being weak in this chaotic world meant that they and their children had a low chance of surviving. It would only take one disaster to wipe them off the map.
They wanted to be strong.
"That's what I want to hear." Chem Al smiled. "Okay, so first thing's first. I know you think that I should start with strengthening our forces, and I will do that, but that will come later. First, I want to spread the knowledge of how to make these pills.”
Hearing that, the villagers muttered excitedly among themselves. Not only would their new village chief give them these pills, he was also going to teach them this secret miraculous skill? That was unbelievable.
Chem Al watched all of them, knowing that this was part of his plan. He knew that this village would be attacked soon, and by forces far stronger than a couple of low level desolate beasts. He had to increase their overall strength, but how strong could this village be if only the men were allowed to cultivate? If he could get these villagers to see that increasing the strength of the women as well would also benefit this village, then that would be another step forward in being able to defend themselves against the upcoming enemies ahead. But how to do it? It would have to start with his Master.
"The skill to make these pills is called Alchemy. Right now in this village, there are only two people who know this skill: me and this village’s amazingly incredible and wise medicine woman, Sheng Yi." Chem Al pointed to her.
Sheng Yi was never one to be shy, but this was the first time so many people were paying attention to her at the same time. She slowly stepped forward and stood next to Chem Al.
"Show them," Chem Al said, keeping his voice low.
"Now?" Sheng Yi whispered back.
"Yes, now. We planned this."
"I know you're wise beyond your years, my disciple, but I don't think you fully realize the prejudice everyone has against women who cultivate. It's just not done."
"The world changes every generation, Master. The world changes."
Sheng Yi sighed. "Okay...." She started channeling profound energy from her dantian until it filled her body. Now her cultivation, which she hid so well that it was almost nonexistent, could be felt by almost everyone in the village.
"What?" someone in the crowd shouted.
"She can cultivate?"
"What the hell is wrong with you? Who do you think you are?"
Obscenities and backlash fell from the villagers, mostly men, while some of the women stayed silent, contemplating.
"Settle down, settle down...." Chem Al repeated, trying to placate them. When that didn't work and most of the villagers continued to yell, he then shouted, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
The villagers slowly quieted down and stared at the eleven year old boy.
"You're against this, I understand. Since the beginning of civilization, most of the cultivators were warriors, those who could protect their loved ones and go out to hunt for food. And these warriors were men..." For now, Chem Al thought. "...so I can understand why you might not like the idea of the medicine woman knowing how to cultivate. But I want you to know that she didn't learn how to cultivate in order to fight, she learned it in order to heal. Don’t you want that? Someone who can heal you and your loved ones. Or are you a sick bastard that is okay with letting your loved ones die right before your eyes just because you don’t want a medicine woman who can cultivate to be there to heal them?”
The voices of protest stayed silent, although some were still on the edge, so Chem Al continued, “I don’t see why you’re against it. I mean your previous village chief knew that she cultivated, and he wasn’t against it.”
“What?” one of the villagers said as all of them turned their heads to stare at Sorka Jiu.
Sorka Jiu, who now found himself under so much scrutiny, looked flustered. “Um, yes… I knew that she cultivated, but as long as it helps her heal the villagers, I was okay with it.” He rubbed his throat, then glared at Chem Al for putting him under the spotlight like this.
Chem Al just smiled at him, then he turned to the villagers, “See? There’s nothing wrong with a woman cultivating. And to learn alchemy to make these pills for you, she needs to know how to cultivate.”
“What about you?” a villager shouted. “You can do this… al kuh mee, or whatever else you call it, and you don’t cultivate.”
“True,” Chem Al said. “But that’s only because she helps me with the stuff that I can’t do. Believe me, cultivation might not be necessary, but it can make you better at this skill.”
The villagers nodded to themselves, thinking it over. They understood how someone who cultivated their profound strength were far stronger and more powerful than a regular person. So, the villagers thought to themselves, maybe it’s okay for a woman to cultivate as long as she uses it for healing. This was something that would take them awhile to accept, but they’ll accept this new idea eventually.
Seeing the villagers slowly nodding, Chem Al breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t much, but he managed to get his foot in the door. First cultivate to heal, then cultivate to fight. One step at a time.
“Okay, now that you understand,” Chem Al said, “I’m going to need to choose some people to help me make these pills. My Master and I can’t do it alone. So who would like to volunteer? You’ll need to have a strong mind and an aptitude for cultivation. Trust me, what I’ll teach you will be the hardest thing you’ll ever learn.”
The villagers looked at each other, then one by one, some of them stepped forward. The ones that didn’t move were mostly men, satisfied with only improving their cultivation to hunt and fight. They didn’t need to learn this new skill. The ones who wanted to learn alchemy were among the weakest in the village.
Chem Al nodded at this line up. It was as he expected. But he couldn’t choose all of them. According to history, this was the moment where The First Alchemist chose his three disciples.
And he knew which three to choose.