Chapter 355 – Refining True Spirit Pills
Han Tieyi abandoned the spear without hesitation. He managed to catch Li Qingshan’s fists accurately among the blurs.
Both of their legs suddenly sank deeply into the ground, causing it to crack loudly.
After a few clashes, they parted. Both of them heaved gently.
Li Qingshan could not help but admit that the school of the Military was truly a school for actual combat, and Han Tieyi deserved his position as the primary disciple. Li Qingshan had already unleashed the battle skill of Ocean Brawling to the limit, but he still failed to touch Han Tieyi’s face. He was able to counter or nullify the attack every single time with ingenious moves.
And, in human form, even his abilities as a Body Practitioner paled in comparison to Han Tieyi, a tenth layer Qi Practitioner, and his abilities as a Qi Practitioner were even less worth mentioning. When they clashed, he would endure relatively more of a beating. His brother-in-law was quite the opponent.
Meanwhile, Han Tieyi felt even more shocked. Every single layer was a huge difference for Qi Practitioners. In particular, the tenth layer was worlds apart from the previous nine layers. His moves that should have been able to vanquish the enemy would only cause slight wounds to Li Qingshan. Moreover, his endurance was shocking. Although Han Tieyi had never suffered a defeat, he would be dragged into an arduous struggle every single time.
Li Qingshan rested up a little and caught his breath. Seeing the midday sun, he said, “Hey, it’s time to eat!” The military disciples all agreed with him. “It’s time to eat! It’s time to eat!”
After a free lunch in the school of the Military, Li Qingshan casually made conversation with Han Tieyi. Nowadays, Li Qingshan would come to the school of the Military every morning for training so that he could gain a better grasp over the usage of battle skills. The two of them admired one another, and combined with their connection through Han Qiongzhi, they had quickly become friends.
“It’s already quite late. I need to go to Benevolence island.” Li Qingshan checked the time and stood up. The afternoon was for learning alchemy. Arriving on Benevolence island, Ru Xin said she wanted to focus on cultivation for the next few days, so she told him to refine a cauldron of pills alone.
Ever since he received the Jade Sculpted Cauldron of the Coiled Dragon from Han Qiongzhi, Li Qingshan’s success rate for pills had increased drastically. His ability to refine pills improved with each passing day, but it would still take more than just a few days if he wanted to gain the ability to refine a high level pill like the True Spirit pill. Though, Li Qingshan was in no hurry. He went to Contention island and accepted a few alchemy missions before beginning to refine pills.
Around dusk, Han Qiongzhi finished her day’s worth of work and cultivation. She turned down the invitation from a few colleagues to go out with them and instead spent some time with Li Qingshan as he refined pills. She brought him some food, and they talked about love.
Alchemy was very time-consuming, but it was not like artifact forging, which required concentration at all times and not even the slightest distraction. Most of the time, they played the role of a stoker, which was why impressive alchemists would often recruit a few lads to help watch over the cauldron. Li Qingshan did not have that privilege, but he did not find it boring either with the company of a beauty.
At night, Han Qiongzhi left, and Xiao An returned. She mentioned that Qian Rongzhi had broken through to the seventh layer. She had come to find her today, speaking with her for a while.
The cold stars embellished the night sky, but very soon, they were expelled once more by the red sun rising up from the east. This continued on as an endless cycle. In the blink of an eye, winter snow fell once more.
Li Qingshan’s alchemy ability constantly increased, but he instead began to run out of patience.
The deeper his understanding of alchemy became, the more he understood its profundity. It was definitely not like what he had originally imagined, where he could casually learn it for a year or two and then refine True Spirit pills en masse, which he could then use to exchange for cultivation pills.
In reality, the process was riddled with difficulties.
Just the first step of gathering spiritual herbs was an obstacle. Even though the other spiritual herbs for refining True Spirit pills were nowhere near as uncommon as the Blue Butterfly flowers, they were still extremely rare, which would cost him a tremendous amount of spiritual stones at the start. If he wanted to turn all the Blue Butterfly flowers into True Spirit pills, its cost would be calculated in the tens of thousands at the very least.
One or two of them basically had no market either. They were basically all in the possession of master alchemists, used to refine other high level pills. If he wanted to purchase them, he would have to pay an astronomical sum of one or two times their regular price at the very least. And, if he created such a disturbance purchasing these materials, everyone would know what he was up to. He could never afford to underestimate the intelligence of other cultivators.
Afterwards would be the second step, refinement.
Alchemy was not that simple. Even though he was in possession of something as powerful as the Jade Sculpted Cauldron of the Coiled Dragon, it would take him several months at the very least to learn how to refine True Spirit pills. And, once he did learn how to refine them, he would just barely be able to refine them. The success rate would be pitifully low. In other words, he would have to waste large quantities of precious materials.
If he wanted to increase his success rate, it would be very simple—spend another two or three years learning! However, whether his success rate could even exceed fifty percent was a whole different story. If he could easily learn how to refine high level pills like True Spirit pills in just two or three years, such that he could pump them out cauldron after cauldron, the streets would be filled with alchemists.
The last step, sale.
Even if he ignored the other problems and managed to refine True Spirit pills en masse, how was he supposed to sell them and exchange them for pills used for cultivation? This was not a game; he could not sell them just by finding a store, dragging and dropping them in followed by a click of the mouse. He had to conceal his identity first, but that would definitely result in others trying to force the prices down; they might even try to rob him by force.
Wealth begets trouble. A batch of True Spirit pills that could nurture a group of Foundation Establishment cultivators meant that even many Foundation Establishment cultivators who normally seemed very friendly could possibly change all of a sudden.
“Can I trust you?” Li Qingshan asked casually.
In Ru Xin’s alchemy room, Ru Xin was teaching Li Qingshan how to refine a cauldron of Fragrance pills. It was a relatively high level pill, but it was not for cultivation. Instead, ingesting Fragrance pills would imbue the body with an exotic fragrance. It had become extremely popular among female cultivators recently.
This time, it was not a mission from the academy, but Ru Xin’s work.
During a boring pause, the two of them could not even be bothered with bantering with each other. Li Qingshan listened to the sound of snow falling onto the ceiling quietly. He was not looking at Ru Xin either, staring at the wall as if he was in thought.
“What’re you asking that for all of a sudden?” Ru Xin turned around.
Li Qingshan looked into Ru Xin’s eyes. “Answer me.”
Ru Xin’s eyes with contrasting irises swiveled around, as if she was considering why Li Qingshan had asked this question. She stared at the ceiling. “I’m not sure myself.”
“We’ve known each other for so long already, but there seems to be a mysterious veil over you, such that I can’t grasp you,” Li Qingshan said. Having known each other for so long, they bantered about anything and everything, but he had never heard her mention her origins. Even if it was mentioned, she would immediately change the topic.
“What a coincidence.” Ru Xin stared straight at Li Qingshan. To her, wasn’t Li Qingshan no different?
Their eyes met. After a moment of silence, Li Qingshan smiled, and afterwards, he saw his smile appear on her face like a reflection.
Indeed. They both had secrets that they could not tell anyone about. However, even if they were friends, there was no need for them to share all their secrets.
“Have you refined True Spirit pills before?”
“I haven’t, though I’d like to try if the opportunity arises,” Ru Xin said calmly. The most important spiritual herb for refining True Spirit pills, the Blue Butterfly flower, was almost extinct, so there really had not been a lot of people who had refined it before.
Li Qingshan opened his hand, and a blue butterfly that flickered with soft light fluttered gently, brushing past Ru Xin’s face.
“Then give it a try!”
Ru Xin extended her hand, allowing the blue butterfly to perch on the tip of her finger. She sighed in amazement. “It really is a Blue Butterfly flower. I’ve only seen them in books. I never thought you’d actually possess one. No wonder you’ve been working so hard to learn alchemy. So it was for refining a single True Spirit pill.”
Li Qingshan shook his head with a smile. “No, not just a single pill.”
Ru Xin’s mouth widened slightly as blue butterflies of light fluttered through the alchemy room. Dozens, hundreds, and even more dyed the room with a beautiful colour. However, what she wondered was whether she could fill this alchemy room if she exchanged them all for spiritual pills.
Only after a very long time did Ru Xin return to her senses. She stared at Li Qingshan deeply as her eyes flickered with a different emotion. “Thank you for your trust in me!”
Li Qingshan said, “It’s not like I have another choice. Once you refine them, I can let you take thirty percent.”
This figure managed to make even Ru Xin’s heart skip a beat. Let alone anything else, if she possessed so many True Spirit pills, she could immediately begin her push towards Foundation Establishment.
Li Qingshan’s next words made Ru Xin calm down. “You’ll be responsible for gathering the other materials, you’ll be responsible for refining the pills, and finally, you’ll be responsible for exchanging them for cultivation pills on my behalf, best if they’re Virtue Accumulation pills. The most important part of all of this is you’ll be responsible for keeping it a secret. I think you understand this even without me telling you!”
“Of course I do.” Ru Xin smiled. “If any news of this gets leaked, it might even end up costing us our lives.”
“Really?” Li Qingshan did not think it would be as severe as she imagined it to be. After all, this was still an orderly age of peace. He just did not want other people connecting this with the underground.
Ru Xin said, “The academy isn’t as safe as you imagine it to be. The school leaders might not be able to do anything to us, but what about pressure from even higher up? The reason why you decided against working with the Han family was not because they’re too powerful, but because I’m a loner, right?”
Li Qingshan could not help but admit to that. He could trust Han Qiongzhi, but he could not trust the entire Han family. As for Ru Xin, she did not come from a clan, and her background was blank too. Apparently, she did not even come from the Clear River prefecture. Even her current master, the leader of the school of Medicine, Hua Ci, was a strange, eccentric old man. This also meant that once this matter became exposed, even Ru Xin would not be able to keep the True Spirit pills.
“Sorry. As it’s very important, I can’t place complete trust in anybody.” If it were not for the few months they had spent together, Li Qingshan would have never vested this much trust in her.
“I can understand. If you really were a person who trusted others so easily, then I’d only look down on you. I’ll tell you a secret too then!” Ru Xin took out an alchemy cauldron from her hundred treasures pouch.
“A supreme grade spiritual artifact cauldron!” Li Qingshan blurted out. This was not a regular supreme grade spiritual artifact, but a rare alchemy cauldron. And, the design of the cauldron was extremely strange. At first glance, it seemed more like a furnace, and from the complicated patterns on it, he could immediately tell from everything he had learnt about alchemy recently that it was not a product of the Green province. Instead, it came from the Mist province further south.
However, Li Qingshan did not mention that. The people of the Mist province had always been denounced as savages by the people of the Green province. Although they were both under the rule of Great Xia, the skirmishes between the two vassal states had never stopped throughout history. The borders were stationed heavily with soldiers, and the Hawkwolf Guard always sustained its greatest losses there.
The vassal kings of the two provinces had feuded throughout history. If it were not for the empire’s restraint, they would have declared war against each other long ago. Was Ru Xin a spy from the Mist province?
As for Ru Xin, how was it possible for her to not guess that the Blue Butterfly flowers originated from underground? There were only a handful of organisations in possession of Blue Butterfly fields, which were protected by layers upon layers of formations. Even Foundation Establishment cultivators would not be able to pluck a single flower. However, how did a mere Qi Practitioner like him manage to venture so deep underground?
Before they knew it, both of them had revealed a fraction of their secrets to one another. However, neither of them planned to probe any deeper, but they seemed to grow slightly closer to one another.
Then, Ru Xin said, “I’ve accumulated quite a lot of spiritual herbs. Some of them can be used for refining True Spirit pills, so there’s no need to specially gather them.”
Li Qingshan smiled. “What a coincidence.”
In the end, the two of them managed to produce seven types of spiritual herbs for refining True Spirit pills, two from Li Qingshan and five from Ru Xin, all amounting to extremely large quantities. It went without saying that they were obviously specialties of the underground and the Mist province respectively.
And, most of the spiritual herbs that originated from these two places were relatively more precious. As for the remaining spiritual herbs, Ru Xin was responsible for collecting them. As the primary disciple of the school of Medicine, she was in charge of the medicinal material store rooms, so she could easily fetch a few spiritual herbs under the name of refining other pills without much difficulty at all.
In the afternoon of the next day, Li Qingshan arrived in the alchemy room again. Ru Xin took out a formation scroll and set up the formation, ensuring that no one could peer into this place.
Li Qingshan asked, “How’s it?”
Ru Xin said with a sunken expression, “My master has already found out about this!”
“What!?” Li Qingshan was overwhelmed by surprise and fury. He strode over and grabbed her by the shoulder.
“I’m kidding! Hey, it hurts!” Ru Xin furrowed her brows slightly, like a saddened beauty. It was quite a melancholic and enchanting sight.
“You-” Li Qingshan became even more irritated. What an improper woman, but he did loosen his hand.
Their faces were inches apart. Ever since parting yesterday, they had wondered about each other’s identity very much. In the past few months, they had not had any more bodily contact, so it suddenly became rather awkward now.
Li Qingshan let go of her shoulder. “Now is not the time to be joking around.”
Ru Xin said, “I’m trying to get you to relax a little. Otherwise, we look like thieves!”
Li Qingshan said, “We’re not thieves. We’re adulterers!”
Ru Xin placed her hand on Li Qingshan’s shoulder with a smile. “That’s not completely impossible. I like rich men the most. How about you throw first young miss Han aside? Don’t forget to retrieve the Heavenly Maiden Scatters the Blossoms from her too and give it to me instead. I’ll give you the cauldron I normally use in exchange.” She also normally used a high grade spiritual artifact cauldron.
Li Qingshan said, “Don’t even think about it. Show me the spiritual herbs. Why are there so few?”
Ru Xin said, “It’s enough for now. If I take too much at once, people will find it strange. We can take it easy.”
Li Qingshan expressed that he had understood.
Ru Xin said, “Then, let’s begin!”
“Oh right, what’s this cauldron of yours called?”
“The Crystal Resin cauldron.”
Ru Xin shrank the Crystal Resin cauldron to the size of her hand before placing in spiritual herbs one by one in a particular order. Finally, she placed in a single Blue Butterfly flower.
The only objective of her first attempt was to experiment around and gain experience. She was only aiming for a single True Spirit pill, and she was not expecting to succeed.
Ru Xin sat with her legs crossed in utter focus. She was no longer as relaxed as when she normally practised alchemy.
Li Qingshan sat to one side. He was afraid of disturbing her, so he meditated instead.
Over four hours later, the cauldron opened, and an exotic fragrance wafted out.
“Succeeded as a fluke. Here.” Ru Xin picked up a violet pill from within the cauldron. It was exactly the same as what he had seen before.
Li Qingshan closed her hand. “This is for you.” Then he rocked it gently. “For a smooth cooperation!”
However, the second pill ended in failure, wasting a Blue Butterfly flower. Ru Xin could not help but sigh gently.
On the other hand, Li Qingshan remained unfazed because he had obtained these Blue Butterfly flowers just too easily. He said, “Just continue.” He made Ru Xin lament inside. Wealthy people really are different.
“Though, you’d better go back and rest up so that I can tidy through my thoughts. We can continue tomorrow.” Ru Xin stowed the Crystal Resin cauldron away and revoked the formation. She suddenly smiled. “If you stay here, young miss Han might really think we’re adulterers.”
“I almost forgot. I’ll see you tomorrow then!” Li Qingshan made his way out of the alchemy room, but he admired the correctness of his choice. Even with Ru Xin’s many years of experience and a supreme grade spiritual artifact cauldron, the success rate so far was only around half. If Li Qingshan refined it instead with his half-assed alchemy, he probably could not even achieve a success rate of a half.
Han Qiongzhi was waiting by the lake. It was currently snowing gently, and the sky had dimmed a long time ago. She questioned, “Why were you so late today?”
Li Qingshan felt rather apologetic. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Alchemy took some time. You must have waited for quite some time now. Where do you want to go today?” Today, she wore a large, red hooded cloak, with the brim of the hood embellished with white fur. Standing among the snow, she seemed like a red ball of fire, warming his heart.
After a busy day, they would spend time together like only they existed in the world. It was their favourite moment of the day. Their tracks were no longer limited to just the academy and Clear River city. It had reached other places with beautiful scenery in the surrounding region too.
Han Qiongzhi’s face reddened slightly. “Let’s go boating!”
Li Qingshan’s eyes lit up. Going boating had already become a special signal between the two of them.
The white catkins stretched for kilometers, and the snowflakes in the air blanketed everything.
Within the remote reeds was a small boat, causing the water to ripple gently. The enchanting gasps of a woman rang out softly.
The cabin was layered with a thick, embroidered quilt, and the red cloak was casually tossed aside.
Li Qingshan laid atop Han Qiongzhi, deeply kissing his beloved woman. His left arm wrapped around her body, fondling her left breast through her clothes while his right hand stroked her body recklessly, moving from her perfectly round legs to her perky bottom.
The coldness in the air was unable to affect their scorching passion.
Refusing to be blocked by the barrier that the clothes formed, Li Qingshan stuck his hand into her clothes.
Han Qiongzhi immediately grabbed his hand. Her eyes seemed like she was about to melt away as she smiled at him. “Sex fiend!” Afterwards, she wrapped her arms around his neck and began kissing him again. She felt a large, warm hand slide into her clothes, clutching her full figure, which made her let out a moan.
The soft breasts felt like water in his hands, yet it was also surprisingly supple. Li Qingshan would mould their shape or play around with the two slightly hardened beans as he wished.
But very soon, he no longer felt satisfied. The narrow space prevented him from doing anything else. He wanted to see them with his own eyes. In the past, she would stop his greedy behaviour, but it seemed to be rather different today.
Under Li Qingshan’s astounded gaze, Han Qiongzhi propped herself up and took off her layers. Only when her red undergarment remained did she stop. She turned away with a reddened expression. “Do it yourself!”
A large portion of snow-white skin appeared before Li Qingshan. Sure enough, her figure was as thin as it had felt like, while the deep gully sucked his attention away.
“What’s wrong?” Li Qingshan did not behave like what Han Qiongzhi had been expecting him to. Instead, he held her face in concern, which made her heart warm slightly. She said, “Don’t get ahead of yourself. I originally planned on telling you this later, but I plan to enter secluded cultivation for a while.”