Chapter 54 - A Splinter of Wood
Uhhh...... What was going on?
The cripple just pulled out a small, thin piece of wood the size of a needle, and he’s waving it around like it was the mightiest sword under the heavens.
Is… is he right in the head?
Then in front of everyone, Chem Al pointed the splinter of wood at his own eye. “This is the reason why you can’t take over our village.”
Yep, he’s definitely not right in the head….
“Now let me ask you something,” Chem Al continued while still holding the splinter near his eye. “What would you do if you found a village that was sitting on top of a large vein of jade stones? Of course, that was a rhetorical question. Obviously you’ll take over that village yourself and force the locals out or even kill them. But that right there lies the difference between the metaphorical village and my village. Why?” He paused for effect. “It’s because the moment I stab this splinter of wood through my eye and into my brain, that metaphorical vein of valuable jade stones disappear just like that. Poof!”
Just about everyone in the room started whispering to each other with questioning looks. What was this boy going on about?
“I’m the only one in the entire world that can make those valuable pills,” Chem Al lied. It was part of his plan. “I die, your supply of pills vanishes. It’s as simple as that.”
Everyone’s eyes widened. They just realized something. This wasn’t a situation where they could rob money from a weakling. They needed that weakling to make the money first.
What would happen if that weakling dies?
“Y-You’re bluffing!” Tan Lan shouted.
“Am I?” Chem Al smiled at him. “I am an eleven year old boy with no cultivation or experience in the outside world,” as far as you know, he thought. “Can I fool someone as great and wise as you?”
Tan Lan looked into his eyes, and he honestly couldn’t tell if that village kid was bluffing or not. Heavens, would he really kill himself right here?
“Ah, you’re starting to get it.” Chem Al was still holding the splinter close to his eye. “Of course, with your powerful profound strength, you’re probably thinking of rushing me and taking this super dangerous splinter of wood away. But sitting up in those high chairs of yours, I don’t think you’re close enough to get to me in time before I stab myself. Still, you can risk it….”
No one moved, although their bodies tightened, ready to spring over any second. This situation was throwing them for a loop. They have heard of people holding other people hostages before, but holding yourself hostage?
“No takers?” Chem Al said when no one moved. “Okay, then. Let’s continue with our oh so reasonable talk. Look, it’s not like I don’t understand where you guys are coming from. We live in a chaotic world where strength is respected, so I get it that you look down on my tiny village. But here’s the thing, you guys are tiny as well. A small city on the edge of the Continent. It would probably only take the power of half a clan from the Capital to wipe you out. ...I pity you.”
What? Someone who was a weakling and a country bumpkin was pitying us?
“That’s why you should learn to make friends,” Chem Al continued. “We can be friends. Together we can help build up each other’s strengths in this chaotic world. With my pills and your money and resources, it’s possible. Or you can watch this piece of wood go through my brain and stay as a weak city for all eternity.”
Everyone was staring at the splinter of wood with a horrified expression. It was just a common piece of wood; nothing special. Yet it decided the future of them and their entire city?
“Oh, don’t make such a sad face,” Chem Al said. “Tell you what, I’ll throw in another gift for you as well. How about I teach you how to make these pills?”
Everyone nearly fell out of their chairs. This kid … this kid … was really fucking confusing! First he asked to sell the pills in the city, then he threatened to take the pills away by suicide, and then he says he’s willing to teach us how to make the pills? Their minds were being thrown in turmoil.
“You… teach… pills… us?” one of the Patriarchs tried to make a coherent sentence.
Chem Al nodded.
“Why?” another Patriarch asked. That was the question on everyone’s mind. Going into this meeting, everyone assumed that such a miraculous way of making medicine would be held guardedly. It was what they would do. Yet this kid is willing to teach this secret?
They were all confused because they didn’t know Chem Al’s true goal. Although the profits was necessary to help him build up his Association, he didn’t want to hold a monopoly on his knowledge. His true goal was to continue what the real First Alchemist would have began: to spread alchemy throughout the world.
“No reason….” Chem Al shrugged his shoulders.
Ah, there was indeed something wrong with this kid’s head. That was everyone’s conclusion.
But this could be a good thing. If he really does teach us and our people his medicinal secrets, then we can sell the pills ourselves. We won’t need to live under his monopoly for long. All we need to do is work with him for a year or two, then we won’t need him anymore.
Seeing everyone’s greedy eyes, Chem Al knew exactly what they were thinking, and he could only scoff at them. Yes, he was willing to teach them all the secrets of alchemy, but do you really think you can learn all of it? In his past life, he was known as the Grandmaster. He could make pills all the way to the tenth tier. It would be impossible for anyone else to master such knowledge. After all, there have only been two people in a hundred thousand years of history that has mastered alchemy all the way to the tenth tier: him and The First Alchemist.
Well, they’ll find out soon enough.
While everyone else was silent in their thoughts, one Patriarch stood up. It was Li Qiao, the Patriarch of the Li Clan. “I for one think that it would be the height of folly if we didn’t join with such a genius doctor and his village.”
“Ah…,” Chem Al interrupted. “I would like to take this opportunity to announce that I’m not just any old genius doctor, I am something new: an alchemist. In fact, I’m the First Alchemist. That’s the title I go by, by the way. And you wouldn’t just be allying with a simple village, but my association: The Alchemist Association.”
Alchemist? What the heck is that? And what is this Alchemist Association is he talking about?
Everyone in the room gave each other confused looks, trying to seeing if anyone here had ever heard of this association before. The only one who looked calm was Li Qiao. He had talked about this with Chem Al during their earlier meeting, so he knew what part he had to play.
“If your association will make medicine for this city and my clan, then my Li Clan is happy to join with your Alchemist Association.”
The room turned to Li Qiao. The Li Clan was the second most powerful clan in Vera City, just under the City Lord’s. Even though they didn’t know what this Alchemist Association was, having the Li Clan as a backer gave it some legitimacy.
Li Qiao made some slight motions to his allies, indicating for them to do the same.
“Ahem, I too wish to become friends with your association.”
“So would I. Why bother to fight when we can help each other?”
“My clan and I will support you as well.”
More and more Patriarch rose up. Their words were the opposite of the treasurer, Tan Lan. It was obvious that they weren’t a part of his faction.
Even those who were on the fence about all this chose to stand up as well. After all, there was still that threat of losing the pills that could make their cultivators stronger and their city richer.
Tan Lan’s face grew more and more distorted as people stood up.
Are they all idiots? Not only will we lose control of the pill sales, we will only make a paltry sum in profits, while the weak villagers will haul most of it in. Why do we have to ally ourselves with them? With our strength, we can make them work under our thumbs!
Throughout all this, the City Lord was thinking. He had to admit that the allure of those pills was very powerful. He too felt swayed to try to get most of the profits out of this deal. After all, at the end of the day, he had to think about his city first. However, he soon realized that it wasn’t the pills that were valuable, it was actually the person that made the pills.
Finally, the City Lord stood up as well. “I have made my decision. Vera City will now ally itself with your Alchemist Association.”
Little did he know that he had made a decision that would bring a storm to Vera City. But if they were to survive that storm, their city will grow many times more powerful and with a brighter future.
As everyone was celebrating this new alliance, no one noticed Tan Lan slipping out of the room.
No one, that is, except Chem Al.