Yun Ruoyan handed the pill to Lin Zainan, who squeezed it between two fingers and carefully peered at it while he stroked his beard.
Yun Moxiao, Lin Qingxue, and Lin Qingchen had all gathered around him as they too looked at Yun Ruoyan’s creation. They were all anxiously awaiting Lin Zainan’s evaluation, especially Yun Ruoyan.
Although Yun Ruoyan hid her emotions well, Yun Moxiao could still notice her anxiety. He nudged her shoulder lightly, smiling at her.
“An inferior low-grade pill,” Lin Zainan finally judged.
“Ah, inferior?” Lin Qingxue seemed flummoxed. “Doesn’t it look good?”
Lin Qingchen and Yun Moxiao were equally confused.
“Qingchen, bring me the darkened heavens pill that I refined that day.”
Lin Qingchen nodded and retrieved a red sandalwood box from the medicinal vault, which she handed to Lin Zainan. He opened the box to reveal the pill that he’d refined that day as a demonstration. When the two pills were placed side by side, the difference in their quality was obvious. “Round, but lumpy; bright, but not lustrous; only faintly scented. Inferior low-grade.”
Yun Ruoyan sighed, a little deflated.
But Lin Zainan smiled, not looking upset with his protege at all. “Ruoyan, being able to make the pill take shape on your first attempt is already quite an achievement, so don’t feel bad.”
“That’s right, Sister Ruoyan! You’re amazing!”
“Refining pills isn’t an easy process, and being able to succeed on your first try really is something to be proud of.” Although Lin Qingchen hadn’t yet started her study of pillmaking, her long years of study had left her very knowledgeable regarding theory. She was sincerely impressed by her cousin’s efforts.
But Yun Ruoyan was still disappointed in herself. She took over the pill in Lin Zainan’s hands, stating, “The darkened heavens pill is a low-grade pill to begin with, so is there any reason to keep one of inferior quality?”
She was just about to crush it when Yun Moxiao stopped her. “The darkened heavens pill is a necessity in the army, and even inferior-quality pills are in short supply. Such pills can help forcefully guide spiritual energy into regular people to strengthen them even if they can’t cultivate. Don’t waste it!”
In the end, Yun Ruoyan didn’t destroy that inferior-quality pill. Instead, she kept it in a pill box that Lin Qingchen brought over for her.
Once they left the pillmaking chambers, Lin Qingchen invited Yun Ruoyan and Yun Moxiao to her small bamboo garden.
“Cousin Moxiao, I heard you’re a fifth-rank beastmaster now,” Lin Qingchen began. “I have a lot of creatures that I’ve been rearing in my garden, and I’d like you to have a look.”
As soon as Lin Qingxue heard that everyone was heading over to her sister’s garden, she immediately crept away, stating that a young miss from the Zhao family had invited her over for tea. Before she left, however, she didn’t forget to remind Yun Moxiao that there would be a large market fair tomorrow to welcome the fall.
Yun Moxiao had agreed to accompany her shopping, and he naturally wouldn’t renege on his promise. “Get up early tomorrow, and I’ll pick you up.”
Lin Qingxue’s eyes curved into crescents as she left with a skip and a jump.
The reason Lin Qingxue wanted Yun Ruoyan and Yun Moxiao to accompany her to her garden was primarily because of her little white snake. In just two weeks, the little snake had already grown as large as a dish, and that crystal basin Lin Qingchen had kept it in before clearly wasn’t large enough anymore. As a result, Lin Qingchen had moved it into a little pond in the garden.
Yun Moxiao and Yun Ruoyan both stooped down as they peered inside the pond.
“Cousin Moxiao, have you seen this sort of snake before?” Lin Qingchen pointed at the white snake lazing at the bottom of the pond and asked.
Yun Moxiao shook his head. “I’ve seen quite a few mutated snake-type beasts, but never any white ones.”
Yun Ruoyan glanced at the white snake in the pond. Perhaps because silver and white were so close in hue, she couldn’t help thinking about Li Mo’s appearance as he lay drifting in the lake.
“This pond wasn’t here the last time I came over, was it? Is it new?”
Although Lin Qingchen’s garden wasn’t small, each of her magical creatures needed its own little habitat. There used to be a rather large pond in the garden, but all that was inside was a single catfish.
“I’d originally kept Whitey and Greenie together,” Lin Qingchen sighed. That catfish was green, so Lin Qingchen called it Greenie. “But Whitey would give off a chilly aura from time to time. One night, I heard Greenie crying out, so I rushed out to have a look and found that the entire pond was frozen solid.”
Lin Qingchen shuddered as she continued. “If I hadn’t heard Greenie’s cries in time, it might have frozen to death.”
“I’ve seen snakes that can breathe out flames before, but never ones that can emit a chilling aura.” Yun Moxiao appeared very interested in Lin Qingchen’s creatures. “Does this snake have a pact with you?”
“No,” Lin Qingchen replied. “I’m not a beastmaster, so I can’t initiate such pacts with magical beasts. Whitey hasn’t proposed one, either.”
On the Chenyuan continent, humans and beasts could enter into pacts in one of two ways. The first way was for a beastmaster to tame the beast and force it into a contract. This required that the human be a beastmaster, one strong enough to tame the beast in question. The second way was for the beast to recognize a master and initiate a pact. This situation didn’t require anything of the human, and even regular, talentless humans could form pacts with magical beasts in this manner. Yun Ruoyan and Qiuqiu’s relationship was of this second type, but this was a rare situation indeed.
Yun Moxiao clearly wanted to tame Whitey as one of his contracted beasts. Beastmasters could have up to three such contracts at once, and Yun Moxiao only had a bald eagle at the moment.
“That’s great! I’ve been searching for a second magical beast for quite a while, and I’ve finally found one of interest!”
Lin Qingchen stilled for a moment as she heard Yun Moxiao’s words. She wanted to say something, but when she saw how excited he was, she couldn’t bring herself to dampen the mood.
Yun Ruoyan was quite surprised that Whitey had grown from a cute little snakelet to this rather intimidating size. Lin Qingchen’s description of Greenie’s close shave with death had also brought back unpleasant memories of her own encounters with snake-type beasts.
As a result, even though she could see that Lin Qingchen didn’t particularly want to give up Whitey, she didn’t stop Yun Moxiao. After all, he was a professional beastmaster, and as seemingly dangerous a magical snake as this could seriously harm Lin Qingchen if she weren’t careful.
“Move further away. I’m going to tame this white snake now.” Yun Moxiao waved at Yun Ruoyan and Lin Qingchen, instructing them to watch from a safer distance.
Yun Ruoyan brought Lin Qingchen back with her. Despite her age, this was the first time she was seeing a beastmaster tame a magical beast, and she was very much looking forward to the show. If Lin Qingxue knew what a sight she’d missed out on, she would undoubtedly turn green with envy.
Yun Moxiao stood by one side of the pond, cautiously putting a hand into the water. As he began releasing spiritual energy from his spiritual vortex through his palm, ripples spread through the surface of the pond. Those ripples became larger and larger, turning into waves that lapped the pond’s borders.
The dozing snake finally began to react, raising its head and looking at Yun Moxiao with eyes as large as copper bells.
“Hey!” Yun Moxiao couldn’t help exclaiming. “This is the first time I’ve seen snakes with such expressive eyes.”
Generally, snake-type beasts had rather dull eyes, which would continue degenerating as their cultivation increased. The higher their cultivation, the less useful their eyes; most snakes were functionally blind.
However, Whitey’s eyes were noticeably different from those of his kin. When other snakes noticed unusual activity, they would turn their heads to listen or begin sniffing to try to detect strange smells. Whitey, however, stared straight at Yun Moxiao.
“Emerge from the pond!” Despite Yun Moxiao’s attempts, he wasn’t able to force the snake out of the water. With a shout, he immersed his other hand inside the pond as he released a unique skill, sucking up the water in the pond with his hands.
The snake was naturally forced out of the pond along with the water. Yun Moxiao reached out with his hands and sent a pulse of spiritual energy at the snake, who fell against the stone slabs by the side of the pond. No longer restrained by Yun Moxiao, the remainder of the water rushed back into the pond with a gigantic splash.
Yun Moxiao took two steps forward, bit his finger to draw blood, and began sketching out a beastmaster’s subjugation formation in mid-air. Accompanied by a beastmaster’s unique aura, his blood gleamed as Yun Moxiao finished the formation.
“Go!” Yun Moxiao pointed at the white snake, and the formation rushed toward it.
Although Whitey had grown larger, it hadn’t become much smarter or more agile. After all, it had only been three months since it hatched from its egg under Lin Qingchen’s careful ministrations.
It only blinked dazedly at the blood-red formation quickly drawing closer to its body. Before it could react, the formation imprinted itself on Whitey’s brain. With a hiss and sizzle, as if the formation was an iron brand landing on tender flesh, the air began to smoke and fill with a charred odor.
Whitey stilled for a moment before starting to thresh against the stone slab in pain.
“Whitey!” Lin Qingchen began rushing over as soon as she saw Whitey’s agitation, but Yun Ruoyan held her back in order to stop her from getting injured.
“Accept the contract and submit to me!” Yun Moxiao stood in front of the white snake, his broad body emanating an aura of might.
As Yun Moxiao’s aura grew stronger, the formation imprinted on Whitey’s forehead became even more scorching. Whitey continued to thresh and twist in agony against the stone as large tears fell from its eyes.
“Once you submit, the pain will stop,” Yun Moxiao advised.
Whitey threshed all the more vigorously, diving once more into the pond before leaping into the other pond some distance away, causing Greenie to cry out in shock. But even after quite some time, Whitey showed no signs of submission.
Yun Moxiao was stubborn and hard-headed, and he tended to solve all his problems by applying more and more force. Once again, he dredged Whitey ashore. His white scales were cracked and bleeding, blood staining its body.
“You’re stubborn, I’ll give you that,” Yun Moxiao praised, “but I must have you. If you don’t submit, I’ll layer on a secondary imprint.”
Whitey writhed limply against the stone slab. Red blood seeped from its mouth, but its bright, unyielding eyes continued to gaze at the girl looking equally ardently in its direction: Lin Qingchen.Previous Chapter Next Chapter