Chapter 214: We Finally Meet Again….
No one could possibly know that the same Meng Hao who had stirred up such waves in the outside world, was currently carefully looking over medicinal herbs in the Violet Fate Sect’s Celestial Land, an innocent student confirming the validity of his studies.
Time passed by, and Meng Hao lost track of how many medicinal plants he had harvested. As long as he recognized a plant, it counted toward his quota, and he placed it in his bag of holding.
At one point, Meng Hao found himself about three hundred meters away from one of the giants. For quite some time, he observed how it planted the seeds, moved the seedlings around, and cared for the plants.
Later, he stood beneath one of the Cyclops trees, watching the enormous eye gazing about. He even climbed up one of them to harvest some of the red grass that grew on its trunk.
Eventually, he was far, far away from where he had started. The fields of medicinal plants seemed to have no end. In Meng Hao’s estimation, these more remote areas would most certainly have even more amazing medicinal plants, perhaps even some of the legendary extinct variety.
However, everything was simply too big. Around him stretched never-ending fields of medicinal plants. As he proceeded, he started to realize that he actually only recognized about one medicinal plant out of one hundred.
“The Dao of alchemy is endless,” he thought with a sigh. “It’s just as difficult as Cultivation, a road without end, an almighty facet of Heaven and Earth. At first I thought that memorizing a bit more than half of the hundred thousand medicinal plants would be enough. But now I can see that those one hundred thousand plants are simply the threshold.” However, stubbornness glinted in his eyes. This type of Cultivation had nothing to do with his Dao Pillars. His excitement actually became even stronger.
“I’m a scholar at heart,” he said, reassuring himself. “Although my aspirations were never realized, when it comes to studying, I definitely have an advantage over all the other apprentice alchemists.” He would focus, do his best to remember everything he saw, and then go back to do more research in the ancient records.
It was in this fashion that time slipped by. Soon, the sound of bells filled the Celestial Land; the one month time period had passed quickly. Time was up, and Meng Hao wasn’t content. He felt as if he had just started. However, the strands of light appeared in the air, and he sighed. He gave one last look at the Celestial land before a strand of light whisked him away.
When they reappeared in the various valleys, there were a variety of expressions on the faces of the hundred thousand apprentice alchemists. Meng Hao wasn’t the only one to have grown during the month inside the Celestial Land. All of the apprentice alchemists had.
Soon, people came to collect the medicinal plants they had harvested, along with their jade slips which contained information about the harvest. Meng Hao chose not to secretly duplicate any of his spoils. He was fully devoted to his Violet Fate Sect identity, and wouldn’t do the slightest thing that might give himself away. He handed over all the medicinal plants, then slowly headed back to the valley that contained his house.
Once back in his courtyard, he immediately took out some scrolls and began to study. When he found areas that he had overlooked before, his face would flash with excitement, and he would commit the information to memory.
Two more months passed. He had already been in the Violet Fate Sect for half a year. Already, the search for Meng Hao in the outside world was slowing down. The various Sects and Clans had searched throughout the Southern Domain, and still hadn’t been able to find a trace of Meng Hao. A variety of speculations began to circulate, but nothing conclusive could be determined.
Meng Hao heard all about the situation from Bai Yunlai, who well deserved his reputation for being well informed about everything. He wasn’t just familiar with the latest news about the Violet Fate Sect; he kept himself plugged into the events of the outside world as well.
One morning, Meng Hao walked out of his house to sit in the courtyard. He lifted up his right hand, within which was a small, growing plant. His medicinal plant garden was filled with quite a few plants, all in full bloom. A medicinal aroma filled the air. Suddenly, Meng Hao’s expression flickered, and he looked up.
Bai Yunlai was racing along the side of the meandering stream. Before he even arrived, he called out, “Junior Brother Fang, there’s an excellent opportunity! Your Elder Brother won a great opportunity for you!”
Meng Hao smiled. He waved his right hand, and the medicinal plant in his hand disappeared. At the same time, the courtyard door swung open, just in time for Bai Yunlai to rush in.
“What opportunity?” asked Meng Hao, smiling. Bai Yunlai’s Cultivation base was ordinary, only at the seventh or eighth level of Qi Condensation. However, he was viewed as indispensable within the Sect. He often came to visit Meng Hao, and they spent quite a bit of time together.
“There’s an Inner Sect disciple from the Violet Qi Division who requested Alchemist Li Tao 1 to concoct some pills for him,” gushed Bai Yunlai. “Alchemist Li wanted me to arrange for two apprentice alchemists to assist. I will go, of course. As for the second spot, you were the first person I thought of.
“Quickly gather your things and come with me. This will be an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge of alchemy. Lots of apprentice alchemists would like to go, but Alchemist Li’s personality is a bit eccentric. Just don’t say anything, and follow my lead.”
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered. He’d learned some time ago that Inner Sect disciples from the Violet Qi Division would often request master alchemists to concoct pills for them. Under most circumstances, the Violet Qi Division disciple would gather together the necessary medicinal plants, as well as some Spirit Stones. If this pleased the master alchemist, then work could begin.
As for Furnace Lords, who ranked above master alchemists, they were well versed in the Dao of alchemy, and had reached Foundation Establishment. There were only about one hundred of them in the entire Violet Fate Sect, and each one occupied a very prominent position. Generally speaking, Inner Sect disciples didn’t qualify to request their services. Only Conclave disciples and Sect Elders could request pill concocting from Furnace Lords.
As for Violet Furnace Lords, they could be considered to be virtually at the Grandmaster level. Each and every one was a precious treasure of the Sect, and all were Pill Demon novitiates. Only those with extremely high influence within the Sect could request pill concocting services from them.
The Alchemist Li who Bai Yunlai referred to was naturally not a Furnace Lord, but one of the one thousand master alchemists. Considering how things were arranged, and considering how few master alchemists there were in the Sect, it was only natural that they would seek apprentice alchemists to act as assistants when concocting pills for Violet Qi Division disciples.
Meng Hao immediately rose to his feet. This really was a rare opportunity. He had joined the Sect more than half a year ago, and this was his first time to encounter such a chance. After clasping hands in thanks to Bai Yunlai, the two of them left. Soon, they arrived at the valley that connected the East Pill Division with the Violet Qi Division. Waiting there somewhat impatiently was a man in a blue robe who appeared to be about thirty years of age. It was none other than Alchemist Li.
Standing next to him was another Cultivator whose Cultivation base was at the early Foundation Establishment stage. He was smilingly engaged in conversation with Alchemist Li, his demeanor extremely courteous.
As Meng Hao and Bai Yunlai approached, Meng Hao’s eyes glittered slightly. He recognized the Cultivator next to Alchemist Li. It was none other than Lu Song 2.
Meng Hao’s expression was calm as he and Bai Yunlai walked over. “So,” he thought, “it turns out he’s the one who wants the pills concocted.”
Alchemist Li frowned as he looked at them. “Well, you’re finally here.”
Bai Yunlai hurriedly moved forward to say a few words of explanation, offering a few words of subtle flattery. Alchemist Li’s expression softened a bit, and he flicked his sleeve. Together, they all followed a very courteous Lu Song out of the valley. As they passed through several valleys within the Violet Qi Division, Meng Hao examined the surroundings calmly. There were quite a few Violet Fate Sect disciples to be seen.
These were not disciples who cultivated the Dao of alchemy. When they saw Meng Hao and the others, respectful smiles filled their faces, and they clasped hands in greeting.
Soon, Lu Song led them to his Immortal’s Cave, which was located halfway up one of the mountains. It had an excellent view, and was quite spacious inside, as well as excellently decorated. Once inside, Lu Song clasped hands and bowed to Alchemist Li.
“Brother Li, many thanks for your assistance,” he said. “This batch of medicinal pills will be very useful.” With that, he produced a bag of holding which he offered to Alchemist Li.
“You’re too kind,” said Alchemist Li, nodding. He smiled vaguely. “Unfortunately, this is my first time concocting pills for someone, and I’m worried I might not be the most suitable choice for you. However, considering you insisted, I really couldn’t refuse.” He scanned the bag of holding quickly with Spiritual Sense, and then tossed it to Bai Yunlai.
Lu Song looked a little embarrassed. Inwardly, he cursed the master alchemists for their tricky thievery. If they weren’t invited out to concoct pills, where they could be observed, they would usually secretly pilfer some of the concocted pills. If they claimed success and returned some, then so be it, but if they claimed complete failure, there would be no way to confirm their story. This type of thing often occured in the Sect.
“If it wasn’t for the fact that I can’t concoct my own pills,” Lu Song said to himself, “and the Sect doesn’t distribute them, then I wouldn’t have any dealings with these alchemists….” His face, however, was covered with a smile. He bowed again, and then glanced at Meng Hao and Bai Yunlai. They were not of the Foundation Establishment stage, however, he knew that among the apprentice alchemists were people who would one day be promoted to be master alchemists.
Meng Hao’s face was calm, but inside he was laughing. If he showed his real face, Lu Song would surely go crazy. Instead, Lu Song stood there smiling politely.
Alchemist Li laughed, knowing full well what Lu Song was thinking. He cleared his throat, and then produced a pill furnace. At the same time, several crimson-colored Spirit Stones flew out and embedded themselves into the ground. The pill furnace floated in the air above them. Alchemist Li’s face instantly became somber.
“I looked over the pill formula. With my mastery of the Dao of alchemy, there’s only a forty percent chance that I can successfully concoct the Six Harmonies Pill. Watch carefully during the process so that you don’t suspect me of hiding anything should I fail.” With that, his left hand pressed down onto the pill furnace. After a moment, it turned red and began to emit waves of heat.
“Take six blades of Seven Sieve grass and extract the veins. They must not be broken. Approaching Music flower petals, seven of them. I need them with stamen attached; catalyze if necessary. Red Apricot leaf, maturity level seven years, seven months, seven days. A deviation of more than ten days is unacceptable.” Alchemist Li’s words came faster and faster. In one breath he spoke out ten different medicinal plants.
Bai Yunlai immediately opened the bag of holding, which was full of a variety of medicinal plants, and began to produce the required plants. By the time he finished preparing the Approaching Music flower, Meng Hao had already catalyzed the Red Apricot Leaves with his left hand, and extracted the veins from the Seven Sieve grass with his right hand. He handed them over to Alchemist Li.
Alchemist Li looked up at Meng Hao for a moment, then nodded slightly and began concocting. Occasionally he would say the name of a medicinal plant that he needed. Bai Yunlai sat there mutely for a moment. It was with a wry smile that he realized that Fang Mu was Alchemist Li’s assistant, whereas he had become Fang Mu’s assistant.
Whatever was required of him, Meng Hao would produce almost instantly. Not only was he fast, he didn’t make any mistakes. Furthermore, when it came to catalyzing, he seemed to barely need to think before it was completed, and with utmost accuracy.
Alchemist Li continued to cast glances at Meng Hao, which eventually turned into looks of shock. Very quickly, it seemed as if he was no longer looking down on Meng Hao, but rather viewed him as an equal.
Even Lu Song noticed that when Alchemist Li spoke, Meng Hao would complete the task almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth. He took a deep breath. “This assistant alchemist isn’t even human….”
It was at this exact moment that suddenly, a woman’s voice echoed into the Immortal’s cave from outside.
“Lu Song, do you have any news about that thing I asked you to look into?”
As soon as Meng Hao heard the voice, the plant he was currently catalyzing suddenly trembled.