Chapter 23: Soul Fusion
“There he is.” A cold voice slashed through the morning air, making it seem as if the summer had ended.
It had been some time since Hui Yue and Deng Wu had stepped out of the carriage, but the two of them had momentarily tarried at the foot of the mountain, discussing about the watermill and its uses.
The watermill was a concept which had been used in Hui Yue’s previous world dating back thousands of years. However, no one had ever needed to create items such as those in this world, as the leaders and serfs all relied on their strength and cultivation to get things done.
The two of them had taken twice the amount of time to climb the stairs, and even as they reached the top, they had been deeply engrossed in their conversation and reviewing blueprints.
The shrill voice had cut through their tranquil state of mind like a knife to butter and roused them from their own world, dragging them back to reality.
Rong Xing was standing in front of Gao Yan, Rong Ming and Ma Kong. Her usually adorable and smiling face had turned as dark as a cloud ready to release an unequalled blizzard second to none. Her arms were crossed over her chest and her fingers kept tapping on the opposite arm, clearly urging the two newcomers to explain themselves.
Ma Kong still had his usual smile on his face, and he tried to act as if the current situation had nothing to do with him. His smile was slightly larger than usual, and laughter could be seen within his eyes. It was obvious that this calm and collected young master thoroughly enjoyed watching Rong Xing getting ready to scold the two.
Rong Ming seemed slightly worried, he did not have his usually dumb smile on his face, instead he had furrowed brows and made random gestures with his arms, which neither Hui Yue nor Deng Wu were capable of understanding.
Gao Yan was the only one who acted as if nothing different had happened. He was tired and yawning, clearly unhappy with how the Rong twins had forced him up early this morning.
As to why Rong Xing was so mad, none of the people present knew.
“Deng Wu!” Rong Xing said with her ice-cold voice and the promise of suffering obvious on her face, “I can accept that you go around playing with random women, and I honestly don’t care if these women are extreme experts. In all honestly, I find it great if you find other women to share your love with, but by no means are you allowed to bring Hui Yue with you!”
The previous day Rong Xing had visited, but no matter how much she called and how hard she knocked on the courtyard gate, no one answered her. Rong Xing had felt how worry was creeping in on her heart as Hui Yue had not mentioned anything about leaving that day, and the only other option that she was capable of thinking up included the Wang family.
Suddenly her young mind was flooded with scenes of the naïve and young Hui Yue being tortured for the sake of his high ranked martial art skills. Images of him being killed as a repercussion for embarrassing their genius son. Generally, all sorts of bad images were surfacing within Rong Xing’s mind and she had with great haste gathered all her friends, only to find that Deng Wu was not present either.
Having seen the panicked expression on Rong Xing’s face, Gao Yan had gone to speak with his friends only to be told that Hui Yue had been seen in Riluo City.
Rong Xing had felt how she went from worrying to feeling indignant. Hui Yue was, after all, only a ten-year-old child. He was not supposed to travel to Riluo City by himself, instead he should have asked the Rong twins for help.
Early in the morning, Rong Xing had decided to wait for Hui Yue to return and scold him, but instead they had heard a rumour about Deng Wu and the unknown expert, and now Deng Wu had arrived with Hui Yue, both of them deeply engaged in a conversation and not noticing their friends who were waiting.
All the hostility which Rong Xing had felt towards Hui Yue instantly shifted to Deng Wu. It was obvious that Deng Wu had tricked the naïve little Hui Yue into joining him for a trip to Riluo City.
“Rong Xing. My heart! My lifeblood! Do I look like a cheating husband?” Deng Wu said with a depressed look on his face as he fell on his knees in front of the stern girl, “I merely accompanied Hui Yue as I assumed he would enjoy a few days in a much better place than this academy.” Deng Wu argued with a presumptuous voice, “We just discussed some business matters as it seems he is capable of assisting me with a matter that I did not fully understand.”
Rong Xing shook her already trembling fists with an excruciating look on her face. Deng Wu was all smiles and Rong Xing quickly felt her anger dissipating into thin air. “Well, little brother Hui Yue came back safely,” Rong Xing mumbled as she turned around and walked towards the closest canteen so that she and the others could get breakfast. They had waited since before sunrise after all.
“I heard that the Shan family ended up leaving Riluo City,” Gao Yan said while they were eating breakfast, “I had this friend who worked as a maid in their family, and she said that after the blaze, all the servants were fired, but she managed to hear the master and young master speak together. They are going to find a bigger city and take it over.”
“It is not like much will change for them,” Deng Wu commented with a knowing smirk, “And it seems like many families are fighting to buy the grounds so that they can expand. We are one of them as well.”
“They should have had an insurance,” Hui Yue said with a small sigh, causing the others to look at him strangely. Hui Yue was happy to eat breakfast twice, so he had not the foggiest idea about the weird looks pointed his way as he focused on the grilled fish and vegetable soup in front of him. However, the sudden quiet was rather disconcerting , so he looked up and saw their weird glances.
“What?” he asked while slurping the soup up with great delight. Every meal meant more energy, and more energy made it easier for Lan Feng to regain his strength.
“Is insurance a high ranked martial art skill?” Gao Yan asked with big eyes and a hopeful expression that caused Hui Yue to burst into laughter.
“No,” he calmed himself while preemptively wiping a tear that had gathered in the corner of his eye, “insurance is a kind of… hmm I don’t know how to explain this,” Hui Yue said while mulling it over.
“Imagine that we here pay a silver coin each full moon to a shared golden memory stone. Then if our houses are to burn down the shared golden memory stone will pay for the repairs of the house as long as we were not intentionally destroying it.” The others furrowed their brows in uncertainty. It did not seem like such a profitable thing. Seeing the other’s expressions caused Hui Yue to sigh. He had to explain it in a different way it seemed.
“Okay, imagine it like this. You have the entire Riluo City, and every house pays between 1 copper coin and 1 silver coin depending on the size of their houses. That is a lot of money. Yes, when an instance such as the one with Shan family’s compound happens, it would be expensive for the insurance company, but how often does that happen? Not very often, right? So insurance is quite a good business.”
Ma Kong who was the one currently learning from the Black Market Auction House was the first to do the calculations, and the result stunned him. Hui Yue smiled slightly upon seeing the shock on his face.
“It can be done with other things as well,” He continued, ready to reel in Ma Kong completely, “Imagine cultivators paying between one copper and one gold a month, the insurance company promises to pay out a large sum of money if the cultivator is to die. This money would go to the family members of the deceased cultivator. That way, a cultivator can ensure that their family is capable of living a good life even after they die.”
Gao Yan was astonished upon hearing that part of the insurance aspect. As a commoner who grew up in the poorer part of Riluo city, he constantly feared what could happen to his family if he was to die while exploring or in a war after joining the army.
“Obviously the insurance does not pay out if you commit suicide or if you are the reason of your own death, such as insulting a much higher ranked expert, but apart from that it should be fine. You should be capable of getting quite a few guards and mercenaries interested in such a concept.” Hui Yue had continued, clearly making a sales pitch tailored for Ma Kong.
Gao Yan, the Rong twins and Deng Wu all stared at Hui Yue with big eyes, astonished about the idea he had come up with. Even Deng Wu who had previously been astonished after hearing about the watermill now knew that Hui Yue was not likely to have found all of this within the magical forest. Deng Wu finally realised that Hui Yue was even more mysterious than first assumed.
“On the next day off, please come with me to meet the manager of our Black Market Auction House,” Ma Kong offered, and Hui Yue quickly nodded in agreement. He had gained what he wanted. Even if he only got 1 percentage of return from telling them about the insurance idea, then that was still worth it. Especially since the main reason was to pay back these friends of his.
But Hui Yue also knew that he was unable to just blurt out idea after idea. Today he had already given Deng Wu the watermill and Ma Kong the concept of insurances. If he were to also hand over methods of increasing the family revenue to Gao Yan and the Rong twins today, instead of gratitude he was likely to be paid back with his friends being alert and unaware of where this profound knowledge originated.
The lessons of the day had already started, but for some reason none of the friends were in a hurry to rush to their classrooms to participate. Instead the five of them were seated for quite some time, chatting about their everyday life until they finally split up.
The feeling of having friends was one which always warmed Hui Yue deep inside, and the feeling of satisfaction and warmth also helped Lan Feng improve slightly. His white feathers were slowly regaining their celestial hue.
While the friends were returning to their courtyards to cultivate, Hui Yue finally felt an excitement growing within him. An excitement caused by one thing. It was time to spend some of the money that he had received from the previous day’s auction.
Money in the academy was once again controlled by the memory stone, so Hui Yue withdrew one spirit coin from his golden memory stone and added it to his student emblem before he moved steadily towards the Medicinal Pill Outlet he had seen previously but never before entered.
The mountains which contained the classrooms were flooded with people, but as Hui Yue reached the Medicinal Pill Outlet he saw how the streets had gotten deserted.
Medicinal pills were considered heavenly-sent help to cultivators, however, their prices were far from what students usually would pay, and most of the young masters relied on medicinal pills sent by their families rather than the ones which could be bought at the academy itself.
The Medicinal Pill Outlet was exactly like the other buildings in this Academy. It was open every day and night, allowing the students to enter whenever they pleased. However, these students would be unable to enter unless they had money inside their student emblems.
No one was present within the room which Hui Yue entered, but the entire room was filled with glass cases that displayed various types of medicinal pills.
The majority of the displayed pills were obviously the three varieties which were distributed each month, the Essence Gathering Pill, the Qi Refinement Pill and the Qi Grasping Pill.
Apart from these pills were the Floating Pill which Hui Yue had seen being used by the academy infirmary when they came to pick up Shan Ping. The description on this pill was to allow the consumer to fly for a short amount of time.
These four pills were without a doubt the most interesting pills for Hui Yue as the others focused mainly on useless aspects such as the Sun Obstructing Pill which would ensure that no matter how much a person traveled under the sun, the skin would stay as jade-white as if they had never seen sunshine.
Hui Yue sighed slightly as he saw the high amount of Qi Grasping Pills and could not help but feel a certain amount of longing. Just as he was about to reach out his hand and prepare to pick up one of the pills a voice broke the silence.
“Student. Why don’t you enter here?” a grim voice sounded from behind Hui Yue, “as long as you have money, then you can purchase much higher quality pills.”
Hui Yue slowly turned around as he felt slightly alarmed. This person had managed to appear behind him without a sound, catching the younger boy completely off guard as he had been too interested in reading the signs about the various medicinal pills.
“Elder, please allow me to hear about these higher grade pills,” Hui Yue said politely as he looked at the man in front of him.
This man did not seem very old, but a profoundness was visible within his eyes, swimming around in a pleasant look. This appearance did in no way suit the voice of an ancient and rather grumpy man as he had previously sounded to be.
“You seem to be carrying a large amount of cash in your student emblem,” the young elder pointed out, “we usually welcome students like you to have a look at a much more refined variety of medicinal pills.”
Hui Yue felt a chill run down his spine as he heard about the elder knowing that he had inserted a spirit coin into his student emblem, and suddenly he was grateful for the fact that he did not fall for temptation and added a couple of spirit coins instead.
The knowledge that the student emblems were currently supervised by the academy made Hui Yue feel slightly uncomfortable and somewhat made him wary about the emblem. He made a mental note as to discuss it with Lan Feng when the bird was feeling better.
Having done that, Hui Yue decided that he needed the high ranked medicinal pills and he followed the young elder into the back room.
As soon as Hui Yue entered, his nostrils were assaulted by a much stronger scent than ever before. It was obvious that the pills in here were much more potent than the others. Not only was the scent stronger, the sizes were bigger and the colours much brighter.
Some of these pills were carrying the same names as the ones in the other room. However, these had a much brighter colour and stronger scent, making Hui Yue understand that these versions were of a higher refinement than the previous room.
Together with the pills from the other room was one pill which allured Hui Yue with a sweet and tempting scent, causing Hui Yue to move towards it.
The outside of the pill was green and so shiny that it seemed as if it had been polished. The pill was called the Qi Congregating Pill and the description said that it would absorb a portion of essence from heaven and earth and create it into a mass of Qi equal to the Qi of the cultivator. The higher quality of the Qi, the less Qi is created from each pill.
These pills were without a doubt the highest rank pill which Hui Yue could find within the store, and he felt that he really needed this pill.
“Senior, do you have more of these pills?” Hui Yue asked with big eyes as he pointed towards the Qi Congregating Pill that was on display.
“We do,” the elder said satisfied, “but they are expensive.”
These pills were what was used as payment to the teachers who worked at the Royal Academy and currently they were being sold for hundred gold each. This price was above the market price, and the elder was perfectly aware of this, but he did not care. The money went towards the royal family anyway.
“I’ll take as many as I can buy for one spirit coin,” Hui Yue said with glistening eyes, and those eyes grew in size as he saw how the elder brought back ten small jade cases, each holding one of the Qi Congregating Pills.
The elder made a beckoning gesture with his hand, causing the student emblem to fly from Hui Yue’s hip into the elder’s hand and he pressed a finger at the top, after which the spirit coin was withdrawn from the emblem. After withdrawing the coin, the emblem and the ten pill cases were returned to Hui Yue , and he quickly bowed deeply before rushing back towards his courtyard.
Although Hui Yue wished for nothing more than to instantly digest one of the Qi Congregating pills within his hands, he sat down under a tree in his courtyard and forced himself to enter his mind and create a mental projection of himself after which he moved towards the dantian cave.
Hui Yue had felt some changes within his body since yesterday and he wished to know exactly which kind of changes they were before he tried to ingest a medicinal pill.
At first Hui Yue saw no changes. However, suddenly he noticed a small strand of blue light which was connected between the mental Projection of Hui Yue and the medicating Lan Feng. The strand of blue light was embedded within the two soul projections’ hearts, causing Hui Yue to furrow his brow slightly as he had never seen anything like it before.
Hui Yue was worried as he saw how Lan Feng was still unmoving. The strand of light was dimmed in the end which was embedded within Lan Feng’s heart, and bright at the end connected to Hui Yue.
No matter which way Hui Yue looked at this odd phenomenon, he was completely unable to understand what it was and why it had suddenly appeared. Out of answers, Hui Yue decided to try to investigate it, and he allowed for his consciousness within the mental projection to probe at this unknown strand of light.
As soon as the consciousness came into contact with the strand of light, all the energy within the Qi cave fluctuated while the Qi spiral itself started swirling around at an insane speed. Shock filled Hui Yue as he felt how some of his energy released itself from the Qi spiral and merged into the blue strand of light.
As soon as it had entered the strand of light, Hui Yue lost all contact with the energy, but although he could no longer sense it, he could still see how it was slowly making it’s way towards the exhausted phoenix.
The energy which moved through the strand of light slowly allowed for the dimmed side of Lan Feng’s side to light up slightly, and in turn his complexion looked slightly better.
This reaction was one which Hui Yue had never expected, but more than shock, he felt mirth, and he instantly gathered more of the excess energy within the Qi cave which he pushed into the strand of light and observed, as it floated towards Lan Feng who got better and better from each portion of mental energy sent towards him.
After a few hours of constantly replenishing his energy, followed by feeding it to Lan Feng, the phoenix finally opened his eyes and looked down on the strand of blue light with a shocked expression on his face
‘Soul Fusion?’ He exclaimed, astounded.