Friday, March 24, 2017
The First Alchemist - Chap 44
Chapter 44 - Semi-Finals Part I
It was a bright and sunny new day, and almost everyone from Chem Village was hungover. That was what celebrating too hard could do to you.
The only ones fully awake and didn’t have a splitting headache was Chem Au, who had to be sharp for today’s matches, and his little brother, Chem Al. Despite not having any underage drinking laws in this primitive time, Chem Al didn’t partake of any alcohol due to the habit of following the Alchemist Association’s policy to not drink before preparing medicine or performing surgery.
Before long, it was time for the semi-finals. Chem Al had to drag his big brother towards the tournament grounds. You would think after yesterday's set of victories, Chem Au would be more confident now, but no, he knew that today's matches would be even tougher. He was definitely going to lose.
The two brothers were followed by their parents, and Sorka Jiu, along with a couple of people from their village who decided to come as well. It was rare for them to leave their carts where they made money, but for those who sold well yesterday, they decided that it was worth it to miss one day of sales to watch a historic moment for their village. They didn't think that Chem Au would get much further, but they did hope that they would get to see him win at least one match today.
Chem Au with his shield, sword, and new leather armor arrived at the tournament grounds. Other than him, there were seven other warriors who were going to fight today. These seven were all noble born sons, while he was the only village kid.
Bets were placed all around among the audience. But no one gambled on the village kid. Everyone was shocked that he was able to make it this far, but a part of them accepted it. It was extremely rare, but warriors from those weak villages have made it to the semi-finals before. But this is where their time in the spotlight will end. No villager has ever made it past this point.
The only one who seemed to believe it was possible was Chem Al, who was rubbing his big brother’s shoulders. "You can do this. You just need to win two more matches. Just two, okay? Then you will make it to the finals."
Chem Au nodded, although he didn't look confident. He got even paler when his name was called. It was announced that he was going to be in the very first match.
And then the name of his opponent was called up: “Xi Feng!”
The audience cheered, mostly because they wanted Xi Feng to get rid of that worthless village kid. But while almost everyone was shouting for his downfall, Chem Au didn’t notice them. Suddenly, he felt relieved.
He had seen a few of Xi Feng matches in the preliminaries. Out of all of the warriors who had made it this far, Xi Feng was the only one weaker than him with the profound strength at a mere ninteenth level, one level lower than Chem Au.
But that wasn’t the main reason why Chem Au sighed with relief. It was because Xi Feng’s main weapon was poison.
Chem Au almost laughed, confidence rising within him. For these past few months he saw what his little brother could do against poison in his study of alchemy. Perhaps his little brother could help him somehow with this match… Oh wait..., Chem Au realized, his mood dropping again. The match was going to start in just a few seconds. How was his little brother going to create an antidote in time?
Chem Au turned to his little brother, who smiled back at him while holding out a white, green pill.
“What? Is this the antidote? You already made an antidote for Xi Feng’s poison?” Chem Au asked, shocked.
Chem Al shrugged. “It’s just a low tier poison. It only took me a few seconds yesterday to design an antidote.”
By now, Chem Au didn't question if the pill was good for him or not. If his little brother made it, than it could only be good for him. He swallowed the pill, then asked, "I can’t believe you made this pill so fast. How could you even know that I was going to fight Xi Feng today?”
“Read it in a book,” Chem Al simply said.
Chem Au shook his head. Again, from time to time his little brother would say confusing stuff like that. He had learned to ignore it.
“Have fun,” Chem Al said as his big brother walked towards the stage.
Chem Au smiled back. “Don’t worry, I will.” For the first time in this entire tournament, he felt confident that he was going to win.
Xi Feng was already on stage, and was grinning as he saw the village kid standing in front of him. He nearly laughed, thinking about how easy this was going to be. Using his clan's poison that had taken generations to develop, he's been able to beat enemies far stronger than him, nevermind a weak village kid whose profound strength was only one level higher than him.
Xi Feng looked past Chem Au to that smaller village kid in the crowd. The only thing he had to worry about was that small village kid who had made that so called medicine yesterday. His father had told him that the City Lord rejected those pills as fakes, but their clan knew better. They didn't understand the pills but the smell coming off of it told of something much more.
But that didn't matter now, Xi Feng thought to himself as he shook his head. That kid had only seen him used his poison yesterday during the preliminaries. Even if that medicine was genuine, there was no way he could invent an antidote in a single day. Xi feng fingered the knives on his belt, getting ready.
At that moment, the match began.
Xi Feng immediately threw his throwing knives at Chem Au, who was running towards him, white light wrapped around his legs. Chem Au blocked with his shield. The knives bounced off. It was easy to tell that the knives weren’t anything special. The only thing that was worrying about them was that green tint staining the knives.
When Chem Au got close enough to his opponent, he swung his sword, but Xi Feng was able to dodge it. It wasn’t that he was faster than Chem Au, it was just that his body was extremely flexible and wily, making it difficult for his opponents to hit him.
Xi Feng easily fell to Chem Au’s side, then he quickly threw out a knife, aiming for a gap in his opponent’s leather armor. Success! The knife glanced Chem Au’s knee, leaving a thin cut. It was only a thin cut, but that was enough.
Before Chem Au could counterattack with his sword, Xi Feng jumped away, smiling. This had been easier than he thought! It usually took him awhile to wound his wary opponents, but this time he got him so easily.
Xi Feng was grinning like a maniac.
In the audience, some of the defeated warriors grimaced at the sight of Xi Feng’s smile of victory.
“So annoying!” one of them said.
“I can’t believe I lost to that pathetic Xi Feng! Using poison in a man’s battle is cowardly!”
“That village kid didn’t do any better. This match is already over.”
They all eyed the line of blood leaking out of the cut on Chem Au’s knee. From now on, no matter how much he struggled, he can no longer beat Xi Feng. All of the defeated warriors who had lost to Xi Feng knew this feeling well. They still felt a little sick and green from being poisoned yesterday.
The match continued onward with Chem Au chasing after Xi Feng, but the moment he was about to hit him, Xi Feng somehow wiggled out of his grasp. Every. Single. Damn. Time! It was annoying as hell.
Xi Feng was grinning like an idiot as he dodged another white crescent light. By now Chem Au had used several of those attacks, but Xi Feng knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep it up for long. He could already see Chem Au struggling to hold up his sword.
This was how it always is after he manages to hit his opponents, Xi Feng thought with glee. They chase after him, growing tired, out of breath, feeling as if bile was rising up their throats. All of these symptoms become increasingly exasberated as they continued to run or attack, causing their blood to pump faster and faster through their bodies. Meanwhile his opponents waste some of their profound energy trying to suppress the poison, which was impossible. This was his clan’s signature poison! Anyone with a cultivation under the thirtieth level will be unable to suppress it. But every single one of his victims still try, leaving them little profound energy left to fight. This will continue until…
Chem Au collapsed on the ground, dropping his sword.
With a laugh, Xi Feng danced his way over to Chem Au’s gasping body. This was supposed to be the semi-finals, but it was the easiest match he had ever fought. Now to get rid of the village kid.
The audience watched as this match reached the end.
“Hmph, what else can you expect from a weak villager.”
“He did good to make it this far. But this is where it ends.”
While everyone concluded in their minds that Chem Au had lost, Xi Feng was taking out his biggest knife, getting ready to finish him off. Suddenly, Chem Au looked up at him … and smiled. “Just kidding.”
Putting all of his profound strength into it, Chem Au lunged up and threw an uppercut, hitting Xi Feng under the chin.
An almost explosive sound reverberated all around as Xi Feng flew into the air and, just as quickly, fell to the ground with a heavy thud. His eyes rolled back in his head as he lost consciousness.
The entire audience went silent.
They were shocked, frozen like statues. Just as they were expecting Chem Au to lose, instead it was Xi Feng that lost. A complete reversal that only took a single second was too fast for them to comprehend. How the hell did that village kid win?
This wasn’t the first time a village kid had made it to the semi-finals, but it was the first time a village kid was able to defeat a noble born son in the semi-finals. For Xi Feng to make it this far, it shows that he wasn’t like the other weaker noble warriors who had lost in the preliminaries. So how did he lose to some no name village kid?
While the audience was trying to understand what had happened, Chem Au walked off the stage. They all watched him, thinking that maybe the poison hadn’t kicked in yet. The effects might have taken longer than expected, but it will definitely knock him down. Minutes went by ... and nothing.
That shouldn't be possible. They saw how in the match Xi Feng struck him with his poisoned knife. They could see the bloody cut on the village kid’s knee. Poison should be running through his body. He was only a twentieth level cultivator! He shouldn't be strong enough to suppress the poison completely!
It was then when they saw Chem Au sit by that small village kid that they began to slowly understand what had happened.
That so called medicine, could it have been real? They had been so shocked by the medicine yesterday that they couldn’t believe their own eyes. Despite seeing what the pills could do, a part of them thought that it must have been some sort of trick. You couldn’t erase thousands of years of disbelief caused by fake medicine in a single day. But now they began to believe. If the medicine was real, then perhaps an antidote was made to counteract the Xi clan’s poison. That was the only explanation!
“Where did you put those pills from yesterday?” the Dian Clan’s Patriarch demanded from his servant.
“Y-you told me to throw them in the trash,” the servant said nervously. “Should I go fetch them?”
The Patriarch scowled. “Do you think I want something from the trash? Do you think I’m stingy? Go out and buy another set of those pills!”
“Y-yes, sir!” the servant quickly left for the market.
All around the tournament grounds, the same thing was happening all over. Patriarchs from noble clans were ordering their servants to buy more pills, or get the ones that they had wisely put in storage. And even the City Lord was doing the same.
Meanwhile, the Chem brothers were having their own discussion about the antidote pill.
“How did it go?” Chem Al asked.
Chem Au smiled. “It was great. The moment the poison entered my body, I could feel the effects of your pill neutralizing it. Little Al, you’re even more than amazing that I thought.”
“Of course I am,” Chem Al said, as humble as ever. “To act like The First Alchemist, I’ve got a reputation to uphold.”