Friday, February 17, 2017
The First Alchemist - Chap 36
Chapter 36 - Nine Months Later
Chem Al stood there, proud, as he saw everyone loading up their carts. It was harvest season, so it was time for another trip to Vera City.
On the surface, the village hadn't changed much. It was the same size; no expansion at all. Some of the villagers still grew crops while others hunted for food. It really didn’t look that different.
However, under closer inspection, there was a strange happiness and relaxation that wasn't there a couple of months ago. The guards looked the same, but they had an air about them that felt stronger, more confident. No one in the village went hungry because they had plenty of meat to eat, and no one died from any stray desolate beast that wandered into the village.
The strength of the guards wasn't the only thing that had changed. There was also a new storage house built right next to the village chief's home, filled with wooden boxes that contained medicinal plants and herbs. For an outsider, this building didn't mean much, but to the village it was practically a sacred place. Because of it, no one died from sickness and it was the reason the guards were stronger.
Sheng Yi exited the medicine house. It was where she lived now, much bigger and more comfortable than her broken down shack on the edge of the village. Now she lived in the center right next to her disciple.
Sheng Yi walked over to the village chief’s home where Chem Al was. “Are you going to just stand there all day looking pretty? I didn’t raise no lazy disciple. Get to work!” she yelled at him.
Chem Al jumped, then ran off towards the medicine house.
Behind Sheng Yi, the three disciples had just left the medicine house, holding wooden boxes in their hands. They snickered when they saw their Master run past. It was always funny to see how the old medicine woman was the only one in the village that could scare their Master like that.
Sheng Yi whipped around to glare at them. “I don’t see you three working.”
The three disciples gulped. They rushed to put their boxes onto the cart, then went back to the medicine house to get more. Chem Al and his disciples repeated that process, loading up the cart with dozens upon dozens of wooden boxes, each one of which holding who knows how many medicinal pills.
Meanwhile, Sheng Yi found a patch of grass, then sat down and watched them work. Ah, if it wasn’t for her damn old bones, she would be right there helping them, yeah, that’s right.
Watching from afar, Sorka Bo was grinding his teeth as he stared daggers at the cripple. He had been doing that a lot lately.
Sorka Bo’s sycophant, Lik Ku, was standing next to him, also watching Chem Al, but with a worried look. "I don't know about this. Are we really going to do it?"
Sorka Bo turned on him. "Of course we are! Do you want that cripple to stay as village chief?"
"No, but isn't this risky? We might lose the pills."
Sorka Bo paused. Although he was reluctant to admit it, he had been using those pills these past couple of months to help increase his strength. "I don't deny that those pills are valuable, but that doesn't mean that a weakling like him should be allowed to be village chief. He should stay in the sidelines and give out those pills as support while real men like my father should be village chief,” he said. “Or are you backing out of the plan?"
"No, no, no, of course not," Lik Ku said, taking a step back. "It's just that maybe we should go for a less risky plan, one that doesn't put the cripple's life in danger?"
"How else are we going to show how weak the cripple is?" Sorka Bo said. "Look, everything will be fine. For awhile now we've been seeing a lot of Fang Wolves around these parts, so it's likely that they might attack us when we go through the forest. All we need to do is guard that cripple, then at the last second, we'll coincidentally be somewhere else when one of the wolves attack him. We won't left the wolf kill him, just scare him a little. Then we'll take out the wolf. And when it's all over, we would have shown everybody how weak the cripple is. If he can't even protect himself, how can he protect this village? Those pills of his might have hypnotized everyone into accepting him for awhile, but at the end of the day they respect strength above all else. They will finally wake up from this nightmare."
Lik Ku nodded, although still worried that something might go wrong. If the cripple were to die, then those pills would be gone. They say that the old medicine woman was the his Master, but everyone could see that the source of the pills really came from the cripple.
However, he decided to go with Sorka Bo's plans. He had always been a follower of Sorka Bo, and a bully to the cripple. So he knew that his position in the village would never rise up if the cripple stayed as village chief.
Seeing how his sycophant seemed more agreeable to the plan, Sorka Bo nodded. “Good. Now gather everyone else that agrees with us. We need to discuss final details and positions before we set off.”
Lik Ku left, trying not to look over at Chem Al as he went by him.
Chem Al didn’t notice. He and his disciples had just finished loading their cart with all of the pills they had made. Their cart was then pulled by the only horse in the village to the edge of the forest where everyone else had gathered.
Under the morning sun, Chem Al sat tall on the top of his horse.
Seeing all the villagers before him made him feel proud. Everyone had come a long way these past nine months. It was slow but they became more accepting of him and his pills. They had helped him and his disciples when a new storehouse needed to be built and when they needed help gathering medicinal ingredients from the dangerous forest.
He will definitely pay everyone back with a life worth living.
"Now before we go into the forest, I think this is when I have to give a speech like how Sorka Jiu did last year," Chem Al said. "Um..., what was it again? Oh well, you all probably already know the gist of it. Don't die. Don't fall behind. And also, don’t die. Do I need to repeat that last part again?”
The villagers smiled. They weren’t worried, at least not as much as the last time they traveled to Vera City. The guards surrounding everyone had more confidence. Their head guard, Sorka Jiu, had managed to make three breakthroughs in these past months thanks to those pills, increasing his profound strength to the twenty-third level. And both Chem Au and Sorka Bo had made four breakthroughs each, breaking the bottleneck to reach the twentieth level.
Overall, the strength of the village has gotten stronger. They were more ready than ever to make this journey.
“Let’s go,” Chem Al said, taking the lead.
They marched into the forest.