Chapter 45: Master Dong Liang
As Yong Meilin and Xu Min were leaving the training grounds, they saw a servant rushing towards them. In his hand was a sealed scroll which he humbly gave to Yong Meilin. His entire demeanor was that of a servant: he never once looked her in the eyes, he fell to his knee as he lifted the scroll above his head, and he dared not say a word. This behavior caused Xu Min to raise an eyebrow in surprise but he said nothing. Instead, he looked around waiting for Yong Meilin to finish reading so that the two of them could return to his courtyard and once more begin training. He found that he had gotten quite some enlightenment during the battles he had participated in, especially with the sword in his hands. He needed to test it more, to try to see if he could control the absorption or if it was automatic. In general, he needed a greater understanding of the weapon he had in his hands.
While Yong Meilin was busy reading the message she had been given, her brows frowned for a short while. She glanced at Xu Min who only had eyes for his sword, and a sigh escaped her lips. She had been with Xu Min long enough to know that training had priority for him, but she had been given an order saying that he had to follow her. “Xu Min,” she called out and the young man by her side looked at her, curious as to what she wanted. “You need to follow me. There is a very important guest who wishes to see you and it cannot wait,” she said with a trembling and low voice. She knew that Xu Min would prefer not to follow her but she had no choice other than make him. Knowing her dilemma, Xu Min sighed a small sigh and then nodded his head, “Let us go then. The sooner we go, the sooner I can train.”
Nodding her head, Yong Meilin instantly took Xu Min by the hand and rushed towards the office belonging to her grandfather. Seeing where they were headed, Xu Min assumed that it had to do with the tournament which was only half a month away. He was also curious to hear what he had to say. Had he regretted letting a One-Star Warrior represent them? Although Xu Min just reached the rank of a Two-Star Warrior, the grandfather should now know about it. Thus, this was a very logical decision for him.
As they reached the office, Yong Meilin took a moment to calm herself. She smoothed her form-fitting dress and pinch her cheeks, making them seem healthy with a scarlet color on the otherwise pearl white skin.
Xu Min, looking at her, could not help but be curious. Her behavior seemed to be different from someone who came to visit their grandfather. He was now excited to see whom was waiting inside the room. Yong Meilin knocked on the door and moments after an elderly voice sounded out, “Come on in.” Both Yong Meilin and Xu Min followed suit and entered the office.
As soon as they entered, the first thing Xu Min noticed was that there were blinds for the windows and the room itself was only lit with some candlelight. There was absolutely no sunshine inside the room. The second thing Xu Min noticed was an elderly man. He seemed to be around the same age as the grandfather, the leader of this Yong family branch. But, he was someone Xu Min had never seen before. In his hands was something he recognized though. In the hands of the elder man was the Yearning Sunflower that Xu Min had sold to Yong Meilin months before. Now in his hands, he gently caressed the stem as though it was the most valuable treasure he had ever seen. It was so astonishing that he could not help himself from caressing it.
“Welcome Xu Min, little Meilin,” the grandfather said as he nodded to the two youngsters who had just entered through the door. The young man saw how Yong Meilin instantly curtseyed deeply to the stranger and to behave properly, so Xu Min decided to give the man a bow. He had been taught to be polite to strangers. Being polite usually got him further than being arrogant. Seeing Xu Min bow, the grandfather was pleasantly surprised and a smile played on his face.
“I assume that my dear little Meilin is fully aware of who our esteemed guest is; however, Xu Min, I doubt you ever had the possibility to work together with this astonishing individual before.” he said as he complimented the stranger with as many words as he could. “This is Master Dong Liang, the best alchemist within the entire Hekou Province. He accepted the invitation to visit our humble abode and assist you until the tournament. He will be brewing some medicines to help your body regain strength quickly. He will be making herbal baths for you and a few special pills.” The grandfather had a great smile on his face, but just as he looked at Xu Min, a frown was on his face, “I could have sworn you were a One-Star Warrior. Tell mechild, did you just have a breakthrough?” he asked deeply astonished and Xu Min nodded his head slowly. “I was fortunate to have a breakthrough during training,” he confirmed. Finally, Master Dong Liang’s eyes shifted from the flower he lovingly held within his hands. Looking at Xu Min, he too frowned. “How old are you boy?” the Master finally asked. Xu Min, who looked at him, contemplated the benefits of telling the truth. It was not only the Master who looked at Xu Min, but also Grandfather and Yong Meilin who were both looking at him with deep curiosity. They had dealt with Xu Min for a long time, but he had never mentioned his age. All they knew was that he was fairly young as his face still had a look of a child.
“I’m fifteen years old,” he said and everyone’s eyes widened in surprise. “Fifteen years old?!” the grandfather exclaimed shocked. “You are not just a One-Star Warrior, but a Two-Star Warrior at the age of fifteen?!” he continued. Xu Min was calm and collected as he nodded his head. The Alchemist was now looking at the young man with a completely different look in his eyes. He reached out his hand, “Give me your palm,” he demanded and Xu Min did as he was told. Moments after, his old bony fingers touched the veins in his hands and he nodded his head, “He is indeed only a fifteen year old boy. To think I would see such a genius. Let us hope you are one of the few geniuses that manages to survive,” he said with a sigh.
Xu Min understood what he meant. There were countless geniuses in the world, but not many of them survived to adulthood. Some were killed by intrigues while others from competing families. Some had been over-confident while others were incapable of adjusting to life away from their families.
Both the grandfather and Master Dong Liang sighed in unison as they both thought of geniuses they had seen die through the years. But looking at Xu Min, they both felt renewed hope. They hoped that this man was different from the other ones.
Yong Meilin was embarrassed. She was sixteen years old, older than Xu Min but she had always looked at him the way one would at an older man. To think he was actually younger was making her feel embarrassed.
Xu Min was excited as getting the assistance of such an amazing alchemist meant that he would, without a doubt, become quickly stronger than what he had expected earlier. Once more, he felt gratitude towards the Yong family. He had long since decided that he was going to use all his power to try and get the first price. Not for his own sake, but because it was obvious that this truly mattered to the Yong family.
“Let me not hold you youngsters any longer,” the family leader said with a smile on his face. “I need to take our esteemed guest toward our stockrooms to find the herbs he is going to be needing for the herbal baths, pills, and medicinal concoctions. Stay within your courtyard and train. We will send a servant to fetch you when things here are ready for you,” he said. Xu Min nodded his head and bowed deeply to both Master Dong Liang and the family leader before he turned around and left the room. Yong Meilin followed behind him.
As soon as the door was closed, Master Dong Liang looked at the family leader with slightly narrowed eyes. “I hear that the Tang family of Ri Chu City has invited Master Huang Zhen to assist their young master in preparation for the tournament that occurs every year. Something that occurs every year should not warrant such attention from the family leaders.” Seeing that the family leader did not comment, Master Dong Liang scratched his chin while contemplating. “It is astonishing that two Yearning Sunflowers have been found within Ri Chu City so soon after one another. Even more astonishing is that both families who have gained these Yearning Sunflowers were interested in handing them out at the same time.”
The family leader said nothing again, but he felt a little uncertain as to what the alchemist tried to say. The words caused sweat to appear on his forehead and he licked his lips nervously. Seeing the actions of the family leader, Dong Liang began to smile and shook his head, “It has nothing to do with me,” he concluded. “I am here to help this young genius become even stronger than he already is, but do not expect miracles. Although I can help him increase his cultivation base, soothe his body when he has trained hard, and make some pills for him, I am incapable of making a major difference. He has just broken through into the rank of a Two-Star Warrior. Even if I spend all my skills, he will not be capable of breaking into the level of a Three-Star Expert before the tournament. Still, my skills will make quite a difference.”
Although the family leader was aware of this, he hoped for a great miracle. He feared for the young man and his family’s reputation, but he could only push forward. Nodding his head, he stood up and gestured for the esteemed guest to follow him. “Let me take you to the storage rooms and see which of the herbs you should be in need of.” Together, the two older men left the room and closed the door behind them.
While the two elder men were talking, Xu Min and Yong Meilin made it back to the courtyard where the young man did not even wait a moment before focusing on the sword in his hands. At first, he examined it closely to see if any changes had been made to it. But it looked as it always did. With a harrumph, he found the medicinal pills he had gained from selling the Yearning Sunflower. He took one of the pills which restored his energy, rather than the ones increasing his cultivation base. Sitting down for a moment and breathing in and out, he felt how the energy rushed into his body. Only moments later did he stand up and take a stance he knew perfectly well. Moments after, a massive Qi hand appeared above his head.
Ordering the attack to wait in position, Xu Min unsheathed his sword. Moments later, he felt how the sword started humming again. With a suction force so strong, he felt how the energy he was controlling started to become impossible to control. The energy was becoming someone else’s and Xu Min had to forcefully cut the link to his attack as the inner energies from his dantian was starting to be swallowed by the sword. Injuring himself was difficult, but Xu Min had to do this to understand his sword. A small stream of blood was running from the corner of his mouth, but a large grin was evident on his face. Xu Min felt the how energy rushed through his body and delivered directly to the sword in his hand.