Chapter 164: Old Man Fei’s Grievous and Sad History
A bout of qi surged out and knocked off the cauldron cover. Smoke roiled and billowed from the interior of the cauldron, full of a strong sense of medicine.
Jiang Chen’s brow creased faintly. The stinging smell that assaulted his nose made his heart sink.
Although he’d never refined the Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill in his past life, he knew that if this pill was successful, it would be embodied with the presence of a dragon swallowing the heavens. It would absolutely not be like this.
Indeed, when the completed pill appeared, Jiang Chen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Looking at its black and dull appearance, Jiang Chen knew that this pill was trash.
It wasn’t even a half finished product, much less a finished product. No one would likely even pick it up even if he left it by the side of the street.
“Completely in accordance with my expectations, the first attempt was a failure.”
Jiang Chen was in no hurry to start the second attempt. He sat cross-legged, adjusted the true qi within his body, and went over the entire refining process.
Every detail and step went through his mind like a movie.
“Theoretically speaking, none of my steps had been wrong, so where had it gone wrong?” Jiang Chen meditated and thought back to the refining process, concerned about his personal gains and losses.
But he discovered that he hadn’t had any flaws in his first refining!
“Could it be that I missed something during my operations? Or was it that my control of the flames wasn’t precise enough?”
Although Jiang Chen had been a pill master in his past life and was well versed in the dao of pills, he’d never refined the Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill and thus had no direct experience.
He couldn’t figure out the reason why this was happening.
After meditating for two hours, Jiang Chen adjusted himself back to his peak condition and began his second attempt at refining. He was even more careful and cautious this time.
He sought perfection to the best of his abilities at every step.
However, in the moment that the results were revealed, Jiang Chen was disappointed once again.
The result was exactly the same as his first attempt. It wasn’t even a half finished product, it was complete trash.
The third time, the fourth time…
Everytime, Jiang Chen always felt that there wasn’t absolutely no flaw in that particular attempt, but the final result was always the same dregs as before.
“What the hell? When have I, Jiang Chen, ever been so bedraggled in my past or present life? Am I unable to refine a finished product when I refine a mere Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill without the aid of a pill refining formation?”
The determination to excel was stimulated out of Jiang Chen’s bones.
However, he knew that something was definitely wrong here. If he continued on this path without changing his mindset, things would definitely not go well.
He’d prepared enough material for ten tries this time, yet he had now failed four times. This meant that he had six chances left. And for these six chances, each failure would mean that he had one less attempt left.
“There shouldn’t be any problems with the details, so where is it going wrong exactly? It’s not like the Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill is a particularly special pill. With my abilities, I shouldn’t fall down in the same place for four times in a row. Something must be going wrong here.”
Jiang Chen once again sank into a meditative state. He decided to switch up his thinking and change his mindset.
“The Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill induces the qi to become dragons, opening the heavens and cleaving the ground open. The name of this pill is grand and magnificent…” Jiang Chen suddenly seemed to grasp the trace of a hint.
“That’s right, the Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill induces qi to become dragons, opens the heavens and cleaves the ground open. How heroic and gallant is this? I seemed to have departed from the true meaning of this pill. I’ve been careful and wary in the process of refinement and have been afraid of failure. I’ve completely missed the true meaning of this pill. I stuck to the pattern routinely without a thought, and set out to draw a tiger but ended up with a dog, completely failing to achieve what I set out to do.”
A stroke of brilliance flashed through Jiang Chen’s mind as inspiration came thick and fast. He’d immediately found the crux of the problem.
He was a reincarnated pill master after all, the dao of pills was as clear as day to him. Once he figured out the critical point of a problem, the direction of his next step was thus clear to him.
Indeed, there wasn’t anything wrong with his refining process at all, but that his mindset was wrong. He didn’t embrace the attitude of a surefire victory from the very start.
It’d be impossible to succeed in refining the Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill in that sort of condition.
Jiang Chen knew that it was his fear of failure that had led to this outcome. Because he lacked the aid of a pill refining formation, it had caused Jiang Chen to operate with less than one hundred percent confidence from the very beginning.
This was a fatal problem for a pill master.
Once he found the reason for his failures, he adapted. Jiang Chen’s powers of adaptation were still quite strong. If it was any other pill master, their mindset would surely have been adversely affected after failing four times in a row.
But Jiang Chen had trained in the “Boulder’s Heart” art, and his mental state was akin to a boulder. His emotions wouldn’t be disturbed just because he’d failed a few times.
Indeed, when the cauldron was opened for the fifth time, the pill had taken shape. Although it was a bit of a ways off from an inferior rank pill, it could just barely be labelled as a finished product.
“It looks like my direction was correct. This fifth time has more or less been affected by my mindset. I will surely succeed on my sixth try!”
One had to say, Jiang Chen’s confidence was a sort that other pill masters was unable to learn.
His results were indeed a bit better the sixth time the cauldron was opened. This time’s Five Dragons Opening Heavens Pill had reached the quality of an inferior rank pill.
Although the seventh time also resulted in an inferior rank, but its appearance and quality had greatly improved from the previous pill. If it was said that the last pill just barely managed to be counted amongst the inferior rank, then this one was definitely the zenith of the inferior ranks.
Jiang Chen was spurred onto greater heights when he saw this improvement.
After meditation, his mental strength had received sufficient rest and he made another attempt with vigorous spirits.
The eighth time the pill cauldron was opened, he finally saw a middle rank Five Dragons Opening Heavens pill!
A middle rank pill was enough to guarantee a ninety five percent chance of success. This was to say that a practitioner at the peak of the true qi realm would have a ninety five percent chance of successfully assailing the spirit realm if they took this pill.
This was practically an assured slot into the spirit realm.
Each flower grows higher than the last. Jiang Chen rode his momentum and actually refined upper rank pills in his ninth and tenth times!
“What a pity, if I had another five sets of ingredients, I would at least have an eighty percent chance of refining a supreme rank pill!”
Jiang Chen sighed, not without regrets.
However, it was already enough to have this amount of reward. Jiang Chen didn’t feel dissatisfied about anything. A supreme rank pill was often something that came by from luck and could not be searched for.
Jiang Chen was already rather satisfied that he had made it to this step. If it’d been anyone else, they’d most likely have despaired with such a harrowing beginning.
Jiang Chen had been able to turn the tide and overcome a disadvantageous situation, finally refining four to five finished products. It truly hadn’t been easy.
Although refining ten times had seemed to take very little time, in actuality, almost every attempt towards the end had taken an entire day, or even two days.
The process of refinement hadn’t been that long, but what had needed more time was the time spent in meditation, rest, and recovering his mental strength.
When Jiang Chen walked out of the pill room and breathed in the air of the outside world, he luxuriated in the afternoon sun and felt quite at ease.
Old man Fei came bumbling over, “Young Chen, you’ve emerged from closed door refinement?”
“Old Fei, you’ve gone through quite some trouble this time.”
Old man Fei’s nose stuffed up and he almost shed tears. It truly had not been easy, guarding a door for ten days. He’d finally received a word of praise.
With Jiang Chen’s word of comfort, old man Fei felt that these ten days had all been worth it.
“Oh right, old Fei, there’s one thing that I find quite odd. Of the four great sites that belong to the Precious Tree Sect, three of them keep quite a high profile. The Northern Palace is domineering and arrogant, the Southern Palace likes to be in the limelight, and not to mention the Myriad Treasures Palace — there’s not any business within the entire kingdom that they don’t have a hand in. Why do I feel that only your Qingyang Valley keeps such a low profile to the point of taking it to the extreme? You don’t look like someone who likes to keep a low profile!”
Jiang Chen was quite curious about this matter.
Who would’ve thought that he’d touch upon old man Fei’s hidden pain with this question?
Old man Fei sighed dejectedly, as an incredible trace of sadness appeared within his crafty eyes.
“Ai, young Chen, to think that you’ve such skills in observation at your young age. That’s right, our Qingyang Valley is indeed low key.”
“Don’t tell me that you’re someone who innately likes to keep a low profile. Don’t try to fob me off with words used in placating a three year old.”
Old man Fei scratched his head and chuckled. “Fine, I’m your servant after all. Even amongst Qingyang Valley disciples, not many of them know of this matter.”
“Oh? Is there something behind this?”
“Young Chen, you’ve also made the observation that the higher the profile one keeps in the Skylaurel Kingdom, the more capabilities, status, and support one has. It’s not that I, old Fei, don’t know how to handle matters nor do I not know how to maintain a high profile, it’s that I truly have my difficulties that I’m unable to voice.”
“Young Chen, I was a disciple of the Precious Tree Sect back in the day. I had quite a reputation amongst the younger generation. Except, I was destined to run afoul of base persons in my life. I accidentally wounded a son of an elder of the sect in a fight once, and everything went downhill for me then. I finally couldn’t make it within the sect any further and voluntarily applied to pave the way for a site in a common kingdom, and this is how the Qingyang Valley came to be.”
“It’s better to be a bird’s beak than a cow’s rump. You were bullied in the Precious Tree Sect and was treated unjustly, it’s a wise decision to become the boss of an area within an ordinary kingdom.”
Old man Fei widened his eyes, “Young Chen, you must be kidding! Do you know what the identity of a sect disciple means? Particularly someone like me. If it hadn’t been for that matter, with my potential, I would’ve likely made it to the position of elder within a few decades. At worst, I would’ve been an elder-in-waiting. But look at me now. Even you’ve said that I’m an old and gross old man. Sigh. This is life. Taking a single step with the wrong foot means that my entire life is wrong.”
“Ai, young Chen, you’re young and so you won’t understand the bitterness, despair, and desolation of a sect genius coming down in the world to be amongst the common.”
At this moment, old man Fei had changed from his usual noisy and boisterous countenance, and his thin eyes were full of a tragic sadness that touched others.
Although Jiang Chen wasn’t the disciple of a sect, but from his knowledge of this world, there was indeed a great difference between sect disciples and ordinary practitioners.
To be exiled from being an exemplary disciple of a sect into passing the time in the common world, this was the same as Jiang Chen reincarnating into the son of a common, little duke from being the son of the Celestial Emperor. It was a speedy descent down three thousand meters.
However, Jiang Chen was luckier than old man Fei, because Jiang Chen hadn’t been able to cultivate in his past life, and good fortune had come out of a disaster when he reincarnated and now possesses the qualifications to train.
In that moment, Jiang Chen felt that he instead pitied old man Fei as someone who was afflicted with a similar suffering.