After returning to Fragrant Cloud Peak, Bai Xiaochun started getting a bit emotional. He still had a lot of strange pills in his bag of holding, but he didn’t dare to test any of them out. When he walked along the mountain paths of the sect, the other disciples would either give him odd looks, or stare at him with hatred and anger.
“Why is it so hard to pursue my dreams?” he thought. “It’s not like it’s my fault. Uncle Li is the one who told me to focus on my research....” Sighing, he walked along until he reached his immortal's cave, where he sat staring off into space.
Earlier that year, Bai Xiaochun had frequently gone to Li Qinghou to ask questions about problems that popped up in his medicine concocting. Li Qinghou was often surprised by the questions. The depths to which Bai Xiaochun was delving in the Dao of medicine were unusual for ordinary apothecaries.
When combined with Bai Xiaochun’s incredible achievements with the stone steles, Li Qinghou couldn’t help but be filled with anticipation. However, every person had a different understanding of the Dao of medicine, so Li Qinghou wouldn’t answer any of Bai Xiaochun’s questions. Instead, he encouraged him to do his own tests. Only by doing so would he be able to develop a Dao of medicine that was his own. If he simply followed along with the crowd, he would never be able to make a name for himself as a grandmaster of the Dao of medicine. Besides, the origins of most pill formulas were the results of generations upon generations of experimentation.
“No. My dreams haven’t changed. What Uncle Li said was right. The only things which truly belong to you are the things you get on your own. Even if it gets harder, I still won’t give up!” Gritting his teeth, he decided that even if he couldn’t test out the strange pills he’d made, he could still stay devoted to the Dao of medicine.
“I’m definitely going to become an amazing master apothecary!” Taking a deep breath, he headed back to his medicine concocting workstation, where he devoted himself completely to pill concocting.
Time passed. In the blink of an eye, several months had gone by. Bai Xiaochun was getting a lot more confident and skilled when it came to tier-3 spirit medicine. He solved one problem after another, and soon found that tier-3 spirit medicine weren’t really that difficult after all.
However...an even bigger problem was looming.
Despite his best efforts, and despite the fact that he was getting much more proficient with tier-3 spirit medicines, it was very difficult to raise his success rate. Generally speaking, out of ten batches of pills, five would succeed. Of the other five, one would produce an unidentifiable strange pill, and four would be so impure as to be considered toxic.
He was starting to go a bit crazy. Even spirit enhancement did nothing to the toxic pills. Only low-grade pills could be raised to a higher level by spirit enhancement.
Although he wasn’t aware of it, his focus on medicine concocting had reached an obsessive-compulsive level. Unless he could reach the perfection he sought, he would feel uneasy.
“Impurities! How am I supposed to get rid of those impurities!?” His eyes were completely bloodshot as he stared down at his large collection of toxic pills. After some more thought, he considered going to ask Li Qinghou. But when he thought about how Li Qinghou had encouraged him to do his own observation and experimentation, he gritted his teeth and devoted himself even more madly to solving the problem.
Days went by. Eventually, people began to take note that Bai Xiaochun had grown quiet again. There were no explosions, and no animals running around. Everything was calm, although for some people, the newfound quiet was difficult to get used to.
Unfortunately, good things never last forever.... A month later, in the middle of the night, Bai Xiaochun sat in front of his pill furnace, hair disheveled, madly performing incantation gestures to control the earthflame. As he fed more medicinal plants into the furnace, his eyes grew more and more bloodshot.
“This is it. Almost done. I'm definitely going to solve all the problems this time. This is what I call creativity! I added thunder god vine, lightning rod flower, withertree rose and yin yang thistle, and invented a new technique. This is definitely going to be able to cleanse the impurities. It's definitely going to work. This is Bai Xiaochun’s one and only... Lightning Detox Grand Magic!” As his excitement built, the pill furnace began to tremble, and a medicinal aroma wafted out. Outside, the moon hung high in the cloudless night sky above Fragrant Cloud Peak.
Suddenly, a cloud layer formed, and a bolt of lightning descended toward Fragrant Cloud Peak. When it slammed into Bai Xiaochun’s cave, the cave’s spell formation trembled, and some of the lightning even pierced the spell formation and the stone of his immortal’s cave to land on the pill furnace.
Lightning crackled inside the immortal's cave, accompanied by Bai Xiaochun’s wild laughter. After the lightning faded away, he rushed excitedly over to the pill furnace.
Unfortunately, the only thing that remained inside was some soot and a bit of swirling smoke.
“Too much Lightning Rod Flower!” he thought, tugging at his disheveled hair and looking every bit the mad scientist. With that, he produced more medicinal plants and began to prepare the ingredients.
Quite a few Fragrant Cloud Peak disciples had seen the lightning, and had noticed that it appeared to have fallen on Bai Xiaochun’s immortal's cave.
“So... even god is getting tired of Bai Xiaochun?”
“That must be it. The heavens do have eyes! Lightning is being sent to put an end to him....”
People had various ideas about what was happening, with many people rejoicing in Bai Xiaochun’s apparent misfortune. Some of the elders even noticed the lightning, and were quite surprised.
“Not even Peak Lord Li attracts thunder and lightning when concocting medicine. According to the legends, only tier-7 spirit medicines and higher provoke Tribulation Lightning. Just what is Bai Xiaochun doing?”
Three days later in the afternoon, laughter rang out from within Bai Xiaochun’s cave. Staring at the pill furnace, his hands flashed in a double-handed incantation gesture. Spiritual power erupted, and earthflame raged. With a roar, Bai Xiaochun slapped both hands down onto the surface of the pill furnace.
“Lightning Detox Grand Magic!”
As the pill furnace rumbled, clouds gathered above the summit of Fragrant Cloud Peak, and a single bolt of lightning shot down toward Bai Xiaochun’s cave.
This time, large numbers of disciples saw the shocking sight. Deafening thunder boomed as the lightning bolt slammed into his immortal's cave.
Inside, Bai Xiaochun excitedly inspected the pill furnace, only to find that it contained no pill, only some medicinal dregs and a bit of smoke. After taking a whiff, his head spun and his vision swam. Taking a few steps back, he even realized that a bit of froth had seeped out of the edges of his mouth.
“Too much Thunder God Vine...” he murmured. With that, he flopped down unconscious. Three days later he woke up, cleaned his face, and consumed a few medicinal pills. After clearing his head, he went back to concocting.
In the following days, more and more thunder boomed over Fragrant Cloud Peak. As the disciples witnessed lightning striking Bai Xiaochun’s immortal's cave with such frequency, they were struck speechless. Even the elders were shocked.
They began to suspect... that Bai Xiaochun really would be struck dead eventually.
Despite the fact that Bai Xiaochun feared death so much, he was so bedeviled by his desire to concoct medicine that he completely forgot about the concept of death. He was fully immersed in the Dao of medicine, constantly adjusting the medicine formula he was working with, continually trying to perfect his Lightning Detox Grand Magic.
“Lightning Detox Grand Magic!”
“Dammit! Lightning Detox Grand Magic!”
By this point, the cave’s defensive spell formations had been rendered entirely useless, and anyone within earshot could hear Bai Xiaochun yelling at the top of his lungs. Gradually, word spread that the thunder and lightning had come because Bai Xiaochun was working on a method to detoxify spirit medicines.
This piqued the attention of quite a few sect elders, and they began to observe even more closely. Although the lightning continued to fall, strangely, nobody did anything to interfere.
Even Li Qinghou approved of Bai Xiaochun’s attempt at creativity, and would occasionally observe.
Unfortunately... good things never last forever. Even after a hundred attempts, Bai Xiaochun still couldn’t find the perfect ingredient ratio. He even began to add other medicinal plants, hoping that some of them would have an effect. One evening, Bai Xiaochun let out a roar, and lightning danced in the sky above. This time, it wasn’t a single bolt that fell down, it was ten.
Strangely, only one lightning bolt struck Bai Xiaochun’s area. The rest happened to fall in other locations on Fragrant Cloud Peak
Considering how many bolts of lightning fell, it was no surprise that miserable shrieks could be heard all over the mountain. Fragrant Cloud Peak was once again thrown into a commotion. Zhou Xinqi’s immortal's cave was struck, but thankfully the spell formation shielded it from damage. Zhou Xinqi glared angrily over in the direction of Bai Xiaochun’s immortal's cave, barely able to hold back from cursing him aloud.
Li Qinghou and the Fragrant Cloud Peak elders placated the disciples; after all, they couldn’t help but approve of Bai Xiaochun’s devotion to the Dao of medicine.
However... Bai Xiaochun had truly gone mad. Two hours later, clouds filled the sky, and this time, nearly a hundred lightning bolts descended onto Fragrant Cloud Peak.
Booms rang out in all directions, and even more disciples looked up into the sky, shocked to the core. People ran back into their residences, unwilling to even set foot outside. Li Qinghou and the elders were struck speechless.
The sight of nearly a hundred lightning bolts crashing down into various areas of Fragrant Cloud Peak was completely shocking. Perhaps because Zhou Xinqi’s immortal's cave was so close to Bai Xiaochun’s, it ended up being struck by about six or seven of them. Her entire immortal's cave shook violently, and the spell formation shield distorted visibly.
Things weren’t over, though. After enough time passed for half an incense stick to burn, everyone was thrown into a commotion again as more clouds appeared in the sky. This time, hundreds of lightning bolts could be seen forming.
When they slammed down onto Fragrant Cloud Peak, all of the immortal's caves trembled, and many other areas were badly damaged. Bai Xiaochun’s cave was almost destroyed.
Even more shocking... Zhou Xinqi’s cave attracted over fifty bolts of lightning. They slammed into the cave over and over again like Heavenly Tribulation, breaking open the cave itself until Zhou Xinqi tumbled out.
Her face pale, she fled off into the distance. Looking back at the flattened rubble that had been her immortal's cave, she screamed, “Bai Xiaochun!!”
There were a few other Inner Sect disciples who met similar fates. Their immortal's caves destroyed, they stormed over toward Bai Xiaochun’s immortal's cave, vowing to settle accounts immediately, no matter what happened.... However, in that same moment, clouds roiled up above, even thicker than before, and an intense pressure weighed down on everything below. Zhou Xinqi’s heart began to pound, and her face fell. The disciples who had come to pick a fight with Bai Xiaochun gasped and began to shake visibly.
Even the peak lords of Violet Cauldron Peak and Green Crest Peak noticed the clouds, and their eyes went wide. Sect Leader Zheng Yuandong saw it from afar, and his scalp began to tingle.
Shockingly, over a thousand lightning bolts could be seen within the clouds!!
“Th-that... that will destroy Fragrant Cloud Peak!!”
“Heavens! What is he doing over there? I can’t believe... I can’t believe there are so many lightning bolts!!”
“We’re under attack! We’re under attack!!” Countless cries of shock and alarm rose up in and around Fragrant Cloud Peak.
Everyone from Outer to Inner Sect disciples were trembling as an intense fear filled them.
Bai Xiaochun had tuned everything out, and didn't even realize what was happening. Eyes crimson, he stared at the pill furnace for a moment, then bellowed and slapped it with both hands.
“Lightning Detox Grand Magic!”
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Translator: Deathblade. Chinese language consultant: ASI a.k.a. Beerblade. Editor: GNE. Memes: Logan. Meme archives: Tocsin