Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The First Alchemist - Chap 61


Chapter 61 - Seamstress Luo


Chem Al walked off smiling with his new cauldron, followed by his Master Sheng Yi and his three disciples.


However, the City Lord was still there.


Tai Fu immediately got down on his hands and knees and kowtowed to the City Lord. “Apologies, City Lord,” he hesitantly said. “But it looks like I maybe, probably, can’t work for you. I think that my destiny leads to a different path.”


Tai Fu really did make his mind up earlier. If he were to work for the City Lord, he would just be the latest personal blacksmith in the long line of Vera City’s personal blacksmiths. However, if he were to join with that village boy and his pills, he could see his future extending far beyond that. To be the go-to-blacksmith to forge the cauldrons that makes these miraculous pills? He couldn’t even see how high of a status he would reach.


Strange.... Early yesterday morning, he would have thought that becoming the personal blacksmith to be an unattainable dream, but now he was throwing it aside because he was reaching for something more.


He couldn’t tell if he was being overly ambitious or just plain stupid. Probably stupid.


The City Lord could only sigh, expecting this. “It’s not a problem. If that’s where your destiny lies, then so be it.”


“Thank you, City Lord, for understanding.” Tai Fu lowered his head again. Then a look of hesitation appeared on his face. “Is… is it possible for me to continue using your castle’s smithy to complete the task that your friend has given me?”


Tai Fu could have used his own smithy to do the job, but the equipment in this one would make it a lot easier. Still, to ask for something from someone that you had rejected….


“Of course.” To Tai Fu’s surprise, the City Lord agreed. “Helping my friend means helping me and my city.”


That’s what the City Lord said on the outside, but what he was really hoping for lied in his personal blacksmith. While Tai Fu lowered his head again in thanks, the City Lord took the opportunity to lock gazes with Mo Yixing.


Mo Yixing nodded, understanding.

He hated working like an apprentice to the weak Tai Fu, but he understood how important the task he had gotten from the City Lord was: to spy on Blacksmith Tai Fu and learn his secrets.


Lord Ba Shen wasn’t the City Lord for nothing. Even though he had allied himself with the Alchemist Association, that doesn’t mean he wasn't planning to steal a few secrets here and there; anything to help his city.


With that, the City Lord walked away with his escort of guards, leaving the blacksmiths to their tasks.


Of course, they would have to repair the forge first….


The City Lord found Chem Al again a few minutes later. This time the boy was alone.


Now that he has a new medicinal cauldron, the City Lord inquired on whether or not he could make some new medicine for the Patriarchs who were asking for his services.


Unfortunately, Chem Al had to put him off for just a little bit longer. There was one more thing he needed first.


***


Luo Xuya’s hands were aching. She had been working on this loom all day, making clothes.


She needed to rest. Just a few minutes would do.


So she took her hands off the loom.


In just three breaths of time, a voice shouted from the other side of the small warehouse. “What are you doing! Get back to work!”


The voice belonged to Madame Fei, who came charging towards her like an ox. “Being lazy, are we?”


“No, Madame Fei! I just needed to rest for a little while.”


“You can rest when your shift is over. Or do you think that I can’t replace you with someone else immediately?”


“No, please, Madame Fei. I need this job.”


Madame Fei’s eyes glared at her a little longer than normal. “Then make sure you remember that the next time you think about being lazy.”


Luo Xuya quickly got back to work.


Seeing that, Madame Fei walked off.


When the Madame was shouting about, that part of the warehouse seemed to be holding its breath, waiting; only the numerous continuously moving looms made any noise. It was only after the Madame left that the faint whispers of the women here started to rise back up again.


“Even if Madame Fei is on the other side of the room, you shouldn’t let down your guard. She’s got eyes behind her back,” Xu Zhu whispered. She was sitting next to Luo Xuya, and was one of her best friends.


“I know,” Luo Xuya whispered back, “But I couldn’t hold on any longer. My hands… they feel like they belong to someone twice my age.”


“Tell me about it.” Xu Zhu rubbed her own hands.


“One day, Xu Zhu, one day we’re going to get out of here.”


“Yeah.” Xu Zhu gave a wry smile. Although she made agreeing noises, she had long given up on that fantasy of theirs. They had been saying stuff like that for the past fifteen years. It was only Luo Xuya among their group of friends who still held on to that hope.


Xu Zhu looked around the warehouse and saw a few women who were much older than they were. How the hell were they ever going to get out of here?


At that moment, a door opened.


“Hello?”


Madame Fei looked over and saw a small boy. Was the boy wearing any expensive clothes that indicated the status of any of the noble clans? Nope. He was only wearing what appeared to be clothes that only poor villagers would wear. So her first reaction was, “Shoo! Get the hell out of here! This is no place for kids to play?”


“Oh, my apologies,” the boy said, sounding more mature than his age. “I was just hoping to talk to someone.”


“I don’t care if you want to talk to a tree! Get out of here, kid! Or else I will….” Madame Fei’s words dropped off when that boy tossed something to her.


It was a high jade stone!


Everyone sucked in a breath, surprised. That was a year of their pay flying through the air. This wasn’t something a mere villager could throw out so casually.


Madame Fei caught the stone and quickly pocketed it in case the boy changed his mind, then she plastered a smile on her face. Who cares how dirty this kid looked. Money was money. “Dear customer, what did you want to talk about? Is it about getting a new set of custom clothes?”


Chem Al nodded.


“Ah, I can tell immediately. You must have gone through some harsh ordeal to end up like that. A person of your status shouldn’t be wearing such low quality clothing.” Madame Fei had heard of cultivators who came from noble clans going off into the forest in order to temper themselves, and then come back bedraggled. Such a thing wasn’t rare. “Please, dear customer, come with me to our storefront across the street. This is only our warehouse and the clothes here haven’t been completed yet.”


“No need.” Chem Al shook his head. “I want my clothes to be made by a specific someone here in this warehouse.”


“Who?” Madame Fei asked.


Chem Al pointed, remembering a portrait of her he had seen in his past life when he had visited the huge Luo Clan’s main boutique headquarters.


All the women in the warehouse turned their eyes to see who he was pointing at.


It was Luo Xuya!


“M-Me?” She pointed at herself.


Chem Al nodded. “I have long heard of the great Madame Luo, the most famous seamstress in the world. The clothing you make are like the stars in the night sky, each and every one of them standing out brightly. I have come a long way to meet you.”


All of the women in the warehouse nearly collapsed where they sat.


Stars in the sky? Shining out brightly? What the hell was this boy talking about?!


Although not all of them were close with Luo Xuya, since they had spent years together in a small warehouse, they knew of her. And her skills with the loom weren’t anything special.


“Uh, dear customer. If you’re looking for someone to make your clothes, we have more qualified workers to….” Madame Fei tried to say.


“No, it has to be her,” Chem Al said.


Luo Xuya was looking around with a perplexed expression, thinking that this boy must have gotten her confused with someone else.


But no…. That boy walked up and stopped in front of her.


“Luo Xuya, my name is Chem Al. I can’t tell you how happy I am to meet you,” he said. “Now let’s get down to business, shall we?”


Chem Al pulled out a scroll which he unfurled in front of Luo Xuya. On that scroll was a drawing of an intricately styled red robe with a symbol of fire on the back. Not only that, it also contained plenty of pockets, and even special folds in the sleeves, in order to hold stuff. Although this style would look old and dated to anyone a hundred thousand years from now, this early design was what the very first robes of an alchemist looked like!


Luo Xuya quickly examined the scroll. The drawing was a little childish, but she got the gist of it.


With a nod, she said, “I… I think I can make this for you....”


“Cough....” Watching closely from nearby, Madame Fei coughed into her fist.


“...uh, but based on how intricate this robe looks,” Luo Xuya continued, knowing what Madame Fei wanted her to say, “it would cost quite a bit to make.”


“No problem,” Chem Al said, then he snapped his fingers.


Someone must have been using their profound senses to listen because the next thing that happened was the door slamming open again, and then a couple of guards marched in while carrying something.


Everyone took a step back in shock.


“That armor…. Those guards work directly for the City Lord himself!”


“Heavens! Who is this boy who can command the City Lord’s own guards? What is his background?

Even the young masters of the noble clans can’t do this!”


The guards put down the trunk in front of Luo Xuya, then opened it up. The white green shine of high jade stones revealed itself in front of everyone.


“This is five thousand high jade stones,” Chem Al said. “I wonder if this is enough?”


What?! Five thousand high jade stones?!


Everyone froze in shock. This amount of money…. Nevermind ordering a set of custom clothes, it was enough to buy out this entire warehouse.


Luo Xuya couldn't believe what she was seeing. Wanting to confirm, she asked, “Is… is this really for me? If I make those robes for you?”


“Yes,” Chem Al said.


With that answer, a new look appeared in Luo Xuya’s eyes. Earlier, she had been speaking as a worker, in which a certain percentage of money she made from making these robes would go to Madame Fei. But now….


Luo Xuya charged over to Madame Fei, who was staring with a stunned look at the jade stones. It wasn’t until the last second that she noticed Luo Xuya right by her side. “Wait! What are you doing?”


“I QUIT!”


Smack!


A mighty hand smashed against Madame Fei’s cheeks, causing her to fly away like a sack of potatoes until she landed on the ground with a roll. Saliva dripped out of her mouth as she fell unconscious.


Although Luo Xuya didn’t cultivate, that slap contained over a decade of frustration.


"That felt good," she said. "I've been waiting to do that for years!"







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