Within his body, every single internal injury had been resolved. Xu Yangyi sucked in deeply, not wasting a second as his entire consciousness immersed itself into his mind.
Boom… An expanse of misty golden light spread out like a mad golden torrent. Less than five seconds later, rays of golden light converged again within his mind into the bamboo slips of an arcane effort.
The Eternal Alchemy Canon!
Even if he was cultivating, his breathing couldn’t help but to become rushed. He stifled his heart’s anticipation and continued to read character by character.
“All things are born from being, being is born from non-being. To use nothing to form something, the vessel must be void… The Flame Records were not written with futility and to broaden on Change will illuminate them. The lunar crescent bore on her back is the cauldron on the furnace, while the White Tiger simmers at the core pivot. The mercurial sun becomes the shifting pearl, the Azure Dragon in accompaniment. Rising east to merge at the west, the Hun and the Po mutually sustain each other. The upward bow at Dui counted eight and the downward bow at Gen also eight; the two bows are united in essence, forming whole the body of Qian and Kun. Eight ounces on eight ounces to beget a pound. The path of Change, correct and indomitable...” 
Skraw! Like the cry of a phoenix, the inside of his mind became clear. Xu Yangyi’s eyes trembled twice, yet they didn’t open. Nevertheless, an awesome surging tide rose within his heart! THIS, this was an alchemy technique!
The genuine concoction of “pills”! Not the production of medicines! Not the concoction of pill-elixirs! In the modern era, the secret arts of pill refining had long vanished. Not for anything else, in China’s history, there was a rather obscure, yet incapable of being extinguished, fact—in every dynasty, there were at least two or three emperors who died to the art of ‘immortal pills’. 
As the cultivation world fused with human society, the Dao of Pills ultimately welcomed its collapse after the Qing dynasty. With the eruption of World War II, everyone realized that what was capable of saving people wasn’t immortal pills, but rather drugs and medicines.
The cultivation world’s dependence on the human world signaled the collapse of their understanding towards the Dao of Pills. So great was this influence that it spread to a majority of the cultivation Dao heritages. In a span of nearly two centuries, the total eradication of the Dao of Pills had begun. To the extent that even a decade after the establishment of the People’s Republic it had become completely extinct.
It was precisely because of this matter of the world war that caused the cultivation world, that had stayed sheltered in their mountains and watched the fires of conflict, to begin to view human society as a central construct, the influence of Earth’s civilizations on the cultivation world. It truly caused immortal sects and Dao heritages to recognize that the ancient age had already passed and a completely new era had arrived. So from the beginning of this time, many immortal sects hidden in the world began to open their grand protective formations and little by little step out from their vast mountains, great rivers, and even the desolate Gobi Desert.
Until the present, emperors were the only ones in the past that knew of immortal sects and Dao heritages, yet nowadays, cultivation was taken as the other side that had formed a symbiotic relationship with human society.
This history reverberated within Xu Yangyi’s mind, and he felt his lips become a little chapped.
This was alchemy… True alchemy! Perhaps it was the last alchemy technique on Earth! Although that pertaining to alchemy techniques in China’s history had long become submerged in the long river of the past, there would inevitably be a few phrases passed down. It was by the side-by-side comparison of these texts he immediately understood what the meaning was.
The text said the White Tiger belonged to the metal element of the lung, and the metal element of the lung harbored the Po, which was also the origin foundation of simmering the golden core. The heart’s fluid was mercury. It was the multifarious moon that acted as the steadfast furnace. The sun of the heart served as the shifting pearl in accordance to the compatibility of the Azure Dragon and the liver’s Hun. The liver’s Hun belongs to yang and the heart fluid’s primordial essence belongs to yin. In union, they are called the yang soul.
“The sun belongs to fire, and fire returns east to wood, the root from whence it was engendered. The moon holds water, and water returns west to beget the source of metal…” He inhaled deeply, a bit of understanding pouring into the bottom tip of his heart. He almost dared not believe the things spoken of by this arcane effort!
He closed both of his eyes. Silently lighting a cigarette, he calmly took a drag. The concepts from moments ago were too profound. He need to carefully reflect on them.
Arcane efforts were divided into primary arcane efforts and supplementary arcane efforts. A primary arcane effort was a cultivator’s foundation and the supplementary arcane effort could increase a cultivator’s external strength. He had originally believed that with the name of the Eternal Alchemy Canon, this was possibly an alchemy arcane effort. In regards to the technique in itself, it didn’t have any benefits, however, after carefully pondering it, he then knew that he was wrong, wrong beyond all reason!
This wasn’t so simple as a supplementary arcane effort! It was an alchemy technique! However, it was actually an alchemy technique that nobody had ever trained! One that used the body as furnace and cauldron! It would refine the whole body from east to west, heart and soul, a primary arcane effort of the flesh!
It would use a cultivator’s body to bring forth a natural primordial pill. The body would serve as the furnace and the Hun would act as the vessel, while the mind would be an assisting force!
Pill concoction required the assistance of the Five Elements. According to this arcane effort, it was tantamount to using the Five Elements to torture the body day and night! It was unknown what level of tyranny the physical body of a cultivator who was ‘refined’ as such would reach! Moreover, it was unknown as to how high of a degree one’s resistance against the Five Elements would become!
To make an analogy, it was like a human tank in a video game that had finally trained up to ‘resistance level 999’ added on with ‘magic immunity’!
No one could ask how the Eternal Alchemy Canon had completely changed into something like the Burning Heavens Revelation. However, he was equal to the first forerunner of the Eternal Alchemy Canon in this era. To be trained or not trained, everything was decided, and he had to assume responsibility over the aftermath!
“But it really is suited for me. It’s like it was made for me…” Taking a deep drag, he puffed out smoke that wafted through the air. He mumbled, “I’m an attack damage-type with a fondness for close-quarters combat, rather than an attack damage carry-type that hides behind people…” 
An anti-magic body with max resistances was simply measured and created for his style! His cigarette not yet finished, he calmly placed it in front of where he was seated in meditation, sticking it into the ground. Closing his eyes once more, he entered meditation.
Great profit was bound to have great danger. But in the world, there was no possibility of obtaining something without putting in hard work.
Time passed on day after day. Outside the basement, Zhou Tingting had brought food a couple times. She hesitated for a long time, but didn’t knock on the door. Even if her cultivation wasn’t high, she knew that disturbing one’s seclusion was a cultivator’s taboo.
“He’s been in there for three days now…” She looked at the calendar placed on the door and pursed her lips. “H-He seems to also be initial Qi Condensation, right? How can he be fine if he doesn’t eat or drink?”
No one answered her. There was only the tightly closed basement door.
Five days passed, eight days passed, fifteen days passed, and twenty days passed… yet the basement door still hadn’t opened. If other Qi Condensation cultivators were swapped in, perhaps some would even starve to death.
However, within the basement, not only was Xu Yangyi’s appearance not frail, but the third time he opened his eyes, his gaze was fiery as he sat quietly in his original position.
In these thirty days, he hadn’t stopped for rest or sleep until he had at long last finished reading the Eternal Alchemy Canon. In spite of this, the verdict he obtained rendered him incapable of arriving at this final conclusion.
Firstly… this arcane effort, from what he could see of its narration, opposed the heavens. An honest-to-god defiance of the natural order. Cultivators had to comply with the Cycle of Heaven and Earth. To defy the heavens was a matter of life and death. However, this arcane effort didn’t even follow the Cycle of Heaven and Earth!
Any arcane effort absorbed qi. Afterwards, this ‘origin energy’ was used by an arcane effort’s cultivation method to push this portion of energy to amplify. It was then stored in the qi sea. This process was called cultivation.
However, this arcane effort didn’t require the absorption of qi. It could even be cultivated in some faraway land. But! It could take the qi hidden within the body and use the body to simulate the circulation of qi, a self-formed cycle!
He even started to believe it to be simple; the body was the furnace and cauldron, and the mind was the assisting force, yet he lacked an equivalently crucial object—fire!
This fire had to be true fire! The Eternal Alchemy Canon had said with extreme clarity that when heaven and earth were born, there were four World Spirit Fires that fell and scattered in the human realm. What he needed was such fire!
Of course, other flames were fine as well. However, the text had said distinctly that the better the fuel, the higher the quality of the refined ‘pill’!
Spirit Fire. This was the name that ancient cultivators had taken for these four flames. According to what the Eternal Alchemy Canon stated, Wei Boyang held onto one of these four great flames. Based on Xu Yangyi’s extrapolations, the so-called immortal pill in Wei Boyang’s hands was quite possibly a true immortal pill!
There was another person who also possessed one of the four flames.
Zhang Daoling, Zhang Fuhan, the ancestral forefather of Daoism. Even if the Eternal Alchemy Canon hadn’t said it, a piece of famous history emerged within his mind.
That among all of the few phrases passed down in the ancient records throughout the world, that in the sole acknowledgement of immortal pills that had truly come into being, there were only two. As for these two, both had come by Zhang Daoling’s hand!
The first completed pill had a sun, an azure dragon, and a white tiger revolving around it. This was the origin of the Azure Dragon on the right and the White Tiger on the left. The pill was refined in Ganjiang Province at Dragon-Tiger Mountain. However, on the day the pill was formed, it had fell to waste because all the materials had been exhausted.
The second pill was the renowned Dragon-Tiger Immortal Pill within the Dao of Pills!
At this instant, a few ancient legends filled in the blanks within Xu Yangyi’s mind. If there was no immortal flame, how could there be an immortal pill?
Zhang Daoling had a World Spirit Fire in his hands. This matter was nearly set in stone. As for this flame… the Eternal Alchemy Canon had recorded it as the first Spirit Fire!
Vermilion Bird Fire! 
The hottest flame in the world! In all of China, for the past several millenniums, there was only this fire!
All he had to do was place this flame in his dantian and surrender to it, allowing it to become the catalyst of the Eternal Alchemy Canon. Then, this arcane effort could be considered to have achieved a higher level!
Nonetheless, these days, after the passage of several thousand years, Daoism had long ceased to be the era of the massively unified Five Pecks of Rice Cult. 
The Benevolence Congregation Sect, the Scripture Sect, the Talisman Recording Sect, the Pill Cauldron Sect, the Divining Sect, the Beginning Scripture Sect, the Rushing Void Sect, the Lesser Yang Sect, the Proper Yang Sect, the Pure Yang Sect, the Old Mount Hua Sect, the Sea Toad Sect, the Sanfeng Sect, the Ancestor Sa Sect, the Violet Yang Sect… In China’s several thousand years of growth, many of Daoism’s sects couldn’t bear the millenniums! As for the naturally birthed Vermilion Bird Fire, where was it? 
Was there a chance that perhaps… Celestial Master Zhang might’ve taken it into his heavenly mausoleum? The tomb of a half-immortal from a prior dynasty? 
But this couldn’t even be considered the most frightening thing. The most terrifying was… that with the passage of several millenniums, what if this flame… had become a demon?
Thinking of this, Xu Yangyi was unable to restrain himself from faintly sighing. The difficulty factor had just increased by 108 times...
Secondly, what would he use for the power source? This problem was the origin of true head-splitting pain for him. Even if he had Spirit Fire, he couldn’t just burn scrap metal, right? Recalling the names of the bizarre materials listed in the Eternal Alchemy Canon, he didn’t need to think at all that these items had long since gone extinct. However, there was still an even simpler method.
Burning spirit stones. At the very least, a high-grade spirit stone! As to the specific amount, this couldn’t be calculated without driving the Spirit Flame to engulf these spirit stones piece by piece. This was the Eternal Alchemy Canon’s exemplary qi enhancement method.
Recalling his own bank balance, Xu Yangyi couldn’t help but sigh. Not to even mention a high-grade spirit stone, he didn’t even have a single middle-grade one! Lastly, this arcane effort was just a scroll fragment!
It was only after the first part was completely cultivated and the requirements attained could the second part be cultivated! He was simply unaware what else the following would require! Or as to even what dangers it also entailed!
Yet likewise, the greater the risk, the greater the reward. In comparison to these risks, this arcane effort’s earnings were even greater!
1. There is so much to explain here. The Azure Dragon and the White Tiger are two of four important symbols to Chinese astrology. In a Chinese star map, the east is considered the Azure Dragon. West is the White Tiger. North is the Black Tortoise and south is the Vermilion Bird. Longhu Mountain is a real mountain. Said to be where Zhang Daoling founded his immortal sects. The terms Dui, Gen, Qian, and Kun refer to the Eight Trigrams (bagua), an important context in Daoist cosmology on the concepts of reality. If you take anything away from all these Daoism notes I’m doing, just keep in mind that Daoism is a system of connections and united thought that somehow manage to combine all together.
2. Traditionally, most ancient “alchemists” who concocted immortality pills used mercury as the basis, which is poisonous in high quantities. One emperor who died to a mercury elixir is the first emperor who unified China, Qin Shi Huang. In fact, mercury was used by ALL ancient Chinese at one point to preserve food. We can imagine how long their lifespans lasted…
3. Attack Damage-type/Attack Damage Carry-type. In the original Chinese, it’s labeled as AD and ADC, both slangs. Makes sense if you know it, but I changed it so that it’s more apparent for everyone. To be honest, I have no clue as to what these things are, but from my research, these terms are used in League of Legends to describe the scaling normal-type attack of heroes. AD refers to more melee and ADC refers to ranged attackers.
4. 南明离火 - actual text here literally translates to “South Luminous Beast Fire”. If you look above at the beasts explanation that I wrote out, you’ll recall that the south position is taken by the Vermilion Bird.
5. Five Pecks of Rice School was a real sect/school founded by Zhang Daoling who has been previously mentioned. Zhang Daoling started this school, saying it was the command of Laozi to rid the world of evil and decadence. This school was called Five Pecks of Rice because one needed to donate five pecks of rice (one peck is considered 2 dry gallons) to be accepted. Alternative names for this school include Way of The Celestial Masters.
6. These are all real sects for the most part. Not going to get to deep into them. One thing I do want to point out though is the Sanfeng sect. You may remember a character from the earlier chapters name Luo Sanfeng. The “Sanfeng” part is the name of an actual famous Daoist named Zhang Sanfeng.
Extended Note: I think I did more time doing research than actually translating this chapter. Almost split my head open looking for sources to try to do a good job. I feel like I am dying. Mind you, that entire text from the Eternal Alchemy Canon is REAL and in classical Chinese. Might do a write up later on further explain this stuff, but all you need to know is that this is all Daoist Alchemy mumbo jumbo, but I do want to make clear one thing.
In Chinese traditional religion and philosophy, there is an idea of a dualism of souls, the Hun and the Po. In Daoism specifically, there are three Hun and seven Po. These concepts are both souls, Hun is yang and Po is yin. That is why you see in that alchemy text talk of using the Po, because it is yang-natured, which is considered fire.
Thanks for reading! If you're enjoying the novel, consider recommending or reviewing it! If you'd like to discuss Archfiend, report a typo, or check on update status please come to the Archfiend channel on the Wuxiaworld Discord! Access to the channel can be accessed via the bottom-right image of discord on the web page or https://discord.gg/FKUPcue!