Chapter 215: Lift Your Head
He only paused for a moment. It would be undetectable by anyone else. His expression didn’t change in the slightest, and of course, he completed catalyzing the medicinal plant, which he then handed over to Alchemist Li.
He didn’t look over as the woman entered the Immortal’s cave.
She wore a white garment, and was pre-eminently beautiful. Upon looking at her, any man would stare and be instantly infatuated.
Her skin was so delicate it seemed a breath could damage it. She was tall and slender, with white, clear skin and luxurious hair that hung about her like a cloak. She gave off an otherworldly aura, and as she entered, a delicate fragrance filled the Immortal’s Cave. Even Alchemist Li started to breath somewhat heavily, ignoring the pill furnace to watch her enter.
Her brow was slightly furrowed, and though her face was as beautiful as ever, it contained a hint of unpleasantness. No veil could conceal the bitterness which caused her to sigh lightly, and no wind could disperse it. Only she could understand the pressure, and the furtive glances, that she had endured recently.
After the events at the Song Clan half a year previous, Meng Hao’s name instantly spread throughout the entire Southern Domain. That, of course, caused her name to be mentioned. Add in the fact that Wang Tengfei had participated in the Song Clan’s search for a son-in-law, and the whole matter turned into a storm that had overwhelmed her. The engagement agreement between Chu Yuyan and Wang Tengfei instantly became a huge joke.
All of it was because of Meng Hao.
Chu Yuyan didn’t hate Wang Tengfei. She could understand why Wang Tengfei didn’t trust her, and had chosen to participate in the Song Clan’s search for a son-in-law. She had picked the wrong person. Thankfully, they were only engaged, and had not become official beloved. Nonetheless, Chu Yuyan couldn’t help but sigh emotionally. Regardless of the circumstances, in the end, it had helped her to see what kind of person Wang Tengfei truly was.
She could accept the end result. She didn’t need Wang Tengfei to explain anything. After the events at the Song Clan, she immediately sent the engagement agreement back to the Wang Clan, putting an end to the childish arrangement.
The person she truly hated was Meng Hao. It was a hatred that had seeped into her bones. However, at the same time, she continued to dream about the events within the volcano. It had turned into a pestering torment to her.
“Greetings, Elder Sister Chu,” said Lu Song hastily. Alchemist Li also greeted her with clasped hands. Bai Yunlai sucked in a breath and lowered his head in greeting. Meng Hao also offered her greetings, although inside, he felt a bit remorseful.
How could he not have a bit of a guilty conscience? In all truth, it was the same in regard to the matter with Lu Song and Qian Shuihen. However, of all the people in the Violet Fate Sect, the person he least wanted to run into had been Chu Yuyan.
In his heart, Meng Hao felt that he had been a bit excessive in the way he dealt with her. However, given the circumstances at that time, he hadn’t had much of a choice. Furthermore, if Chu Yuyan hadn’t chased him down and tried to kill him to begin with, then none of it would have happened.
In any case, Meng Hao still felt bad.
“I was planning to go look for you just after this,” said Lu Song. “I made a lot of inquiries about that damned Meng Hao, but he seems to have disappeared into thin air.” He couldn’t help but grind his teeth when he said Meng Hao’s name. “There’s not a single clue to be found about him. In fact, some of the Sects have been watching the people he’s made friends with, but in this entire half-year, he hasn’t appeared. A lot of people think that that damned, despicable, wretched animal must have left the Southern Domain. He deserves to die by a thousand knife cuts!”
Chu Yuyan frowned. During the past half year, she had constantly sent people out to look for Meng Hao. Despite her insistence on tracking him down, he seemed to have thoroughly vanished.
“How could he have left the Southern Domain?” thought Chu Yuyan. “All his old Sect members are here. Unless he provoked some calamitous, irreparable disaster, why would he leave? Actually, what happened in the Song Clan was really a stroke of good fortune on his part. He could join any Sect, hand over the Sublime Spirit Scripture, and turn a dangerous situation into a position of safety. Meng Hao is bizarrely crafty, there’s no way he would fail to realize that, is there?
“In my estimation, he is most certainly still in the Southern Domain. We just don’t know where he’s hiding. If I ever find him….” She gnashed her teeth. She was just about to turn and leave, when her gaze fell upon Meng Hao. She stared at him, and then suddenly spoke. Her voice was no longer warm, but filled with coldness. “Lift your head.”
Meng Hao was astonished. “I’ve changed my appearance,” he thought, “and yet she still focuses on me.” Despite his astonishment, his face was blank and confused as he looked up at her.
Chu Yuyan’s brow furrowed. She wasn’t sure why, but when she looked over this young man, her heart filled with an unexplainable irritation. Looking at him, though, she was sure she had never seen him before.
Her eyes flickered as she thought, “Something’s wrong. Why would I instantly be annoyed with someone for no apparent reason?” She studied Meng Hao for a moment longer to no avail.
Meng Hao groaned inwardly. “How can this girl be so astute?” he thought. Despite his change in appearance, and the other people present, she had somehow sensed something and come to focus on him. His heart suddenly began to race. Suddenly, he shifted his gaze to look at her chest, and then deliberately gulped.
A somewhat dirty expression flitted over his face, and he intentionally blushed. Now, he didn’t look lecherous, but rather like a teenager seeing a beautiful woman for the first time. In such a situation, it would be a natural reaction to look so ill at ease.
His expression caused Chu Yuyan’s frown to deepen. A look of disgust appeared on her face, and she turned wordlessly to leave the Immortal’s Cave, ignoring the feeling of irritation which had welled up within her.
After Chu Yuyan left, everyone in the Immortal’s Cave breathed a sigh of relief. Lu Song quickly sealed the main door, and Alchemist Li shook his head. It was hard to tell what he was thinking, but after another sigh, he continued with the pill concoction.
“Elder Sister Chu has sure changed a lot recently,” murmured Bai Yunlai. “She never used to be like this. Now she’s completely cold and gloomy. I was shivering just now.”
“It’s all the fault of that Meng Hao,” said Lu Song, grinding his teeth. “That damned, despicable wretch deserves to die by a thousand knife cuts, ten thousand times! If I ever run into him, I’ll tear him to pieces! I’ll rip his flesh off the bone with my own teeth and grind his bones to pieces!” The depth of his hatred was visibly apparent. After he finished speaking, he looked at Meng Hao with a strange expression in his eyes, then suddenly smiled good-naturedly and nodded.
He had obviously noticed that Meng Hao was no ordinary apprentice alchemist, and there was no small chance that he would become a master alchemist in the future. Obviously, the sooner he made friends with him the better.
Meng Hao coughed dryly. He wasn’t exactly thin-skinned. However, moments ago Lu Song had been hatefully grinding his teeth and cursing, and with the next breath, was beaming with goodwill. Meng Hao had the feeling that he would have to get used to such things.
It took the entire day to finish concocting the pills. The moon was rising by the time the fragrant aroma wafted up from the pill furnace, and the medicinal pills that Lu Song needed emerged.
Because it had been a relatively hasty concoction, the medicinal plants which should have produced seven or eight pills ended up only producing two. Meng Hao could easily tell that it had something to do with Alchemist Li’s technique.
This was the first time he had participated in pill concoction. The entire time, he had been observing Alchemist Li’s concocting techniques, and had learned quite a bit. It seemed it would soon grow dark outside. Lu Song happily escorted them out of the Immortal’s Cave and all the way back to the East Pill Division, before clasping hands and leaving.
In the following days, Meng Hao continued his studies regarding medicinal plants. However, because of the deep impression he’d left on Alchemist Li, he had a new daily task. Whenever Alchemist Li concocted pills, be it in his own Immortal’s Cave or someone else’s, he would always send for Meng Hao to be his assistant. Li Tao found that with Meng Hao at his side, pill concocting went much smoother.
In addition, Li Tao would often give Meng Hao pointers regarding alchemy. Soon, Meng Hao no longer considered himself unfamiliar with alchemy. He was becoming more and more comfortable with it. The more he saw, the more he learned; he was steadily improving, bit by bit.
Dealing with others was not a complicated matter. For example, Meng Hao’s relationship with both Bai Yunlai and Alchemist Li was very simple. It was all based on how they could help each other.
If it weren’t for Meng Hao’s skill as an apprentice alchemist, Li Tao wouldn’t have been so impressed with him, nor would he constantly seek him out as an assistant.
The days passed like this for three months. Meng Hao was completely assimilated into life in the Violet Fate Sect. In the time he had been there, he had met a lot of people, and many people had come to know his name.
Whenever he went out, he would run into familiar faces with whom he could chat and joke. Everything was very harmonious and peaceful. Everyone greeted him with clasped hands. Not a soul knew that this up and coming apprentice alchemist named Fang Mu, was the person who so many months ago had caused a storm in the Southern Domain, Meng Hao.
One day, Meng Hao found himself in Li Tao’s Immortal’s cave, assisting in pill concocting. After the pill concocting was finished, Li Tao escorted Meng Hao to the mouth of his Immortal’s Cave. Suddenly, he spoke.
“Fang Mu, I want you to know that to me, you are no apprentice alchemist. Your skill with medicinal plants places you in the rank of master alchemist as far as I’m concerned.”
Meng Hao stopped walking and looked at Li Tao. He clasped his hands and bowed. It was a completely sincere bow. Li Tao was at the early Foundation Establishment stage, but in the time they had spent together, Meng Hao had found him to be, not cold and haughty, but actually very approachable, even kind.
Meng Hao’s understanding of alchemy had significantly improved as a result of their relationship.
“In one month,” continued Li Tao enthusiastically, “there will be a promotion examination. I’ve made some inquiries, and found that only one apprentice alchemist will be selected for promotion. If that happens, and you are raised to master alchemist, then you will finally be able to learn the true Dao of alchemy of the Violet Fate Sect. If you become a master alchemist, you will be assigned your own Immortal’s Cave, and your own furnace fire. You will no longer study medicinal plants, but pill concoction!
“The only frustrating thing,” he continued sincerely, “is that only people who have served as apprentice alchemists for ten years can participate in the exam this time. If you’re interested in participating, though, I’ll see if I can apply to get you a spot. You think about it. Perhaps you can come up with your own a method to join. If you manage to seize an opportunity like this, you might be able to save yourself ten years of time.”
Meng Hao’s heart began to thump, and he once again bowed to Li Tao. “Many thanks, Elder Brother Li.”
They exchanged a few more words, whereupon Meng Hao bowed and took his leave. As he walked along the mountain paths, he looked up at the moon, and his eyes began to shine brightly.
“I can’t spend ten years as an apprentice alchemist,” he thought. “I must think of a way to seize this chance. My previous activities in the Sect must have drawn a bit of attention….” Continuing to ponder these matters, Meng Hao entered Division One Valley One. As he walked into his courtyard, his heart trembled, although his expression stayed the same. After pushing open the gate, he found that standing there in the courtyard was a white-haired old man. He immediately caused a look of surprise to appear on his face.
This was the same old man who had tested his latent talent the year he joined the East Pill Division. He was a Furnace Lord named Wang Fanming 1. He stood there looking at Meng Hao’s medicinal plant garden. As soon as Meng Hao entered the courtyard, he turned and gazed into Meng Hao’s eyes.
This chapter was sponsored by Dewi Suryono, Paul Venesky, Kirin Tantinon, Christopher Choi, and CV
- Wang Fanming’s name in Chinese is 王凡明 wáng fán míng – Wang is a common surname. Fan means “ordinary.” Ming means “clear” or “bright” ↩