Chapter 406: Huli
Having accepted the formula, Hui Yue had rushed back to his mansion, and after seeing that Sha Yun had indeed not yet returned, he moved to his room.
The moment he opened the door, a fluffy ball of black and white fur jumped into his arms. Looking at the fluffy creature a smile appeared on Hui Yue's saddened face.
Although he was sad that Sha Yun was gone, he knew that he could not let it stop him from improving his own strength. He refused to believe that she was dead. He was sure one day she would return to his side.
"What's up with you, Huli?" Hui Yue asked the fox in his arms as he entered into his room and gently pet the fox. At the very start Huli refused to leave Hui Yue’s side, however, as the months passed, the fox understood that Hui Yue would always return. Huli then stopped following him everywhere and instead waited in his room, often sleeping in his bed.
This time, however, Huli had jumped into his arms the moment he appeared, and her head was rubbing against her new master.
Seeing the sudden change in her, Hui Yue was quite surprised. "Is there something wrong?" He asked, but he did not expect to get a reply. But to his surprise, the fox nodded her head rapidly up and down while gazing at Hui Yue with her big black eyes.
Laughing at the human-like expression on the fox's face, Hui Yue petted its head. "It’s a shame you can't speak then I would know what you want you silly fox," He said gently as he kept patting the fox's head.
"Is there any bad news?" Hui Yue asked the fox which shook its head vigorously. "How can something be wrong if it is not bad news?" Hui Yue laughed as he too shook his head. He did not doubt that the fox was as intelligent as any other human, but having issues communicating with one another made it impossible for Hui Yue to know what the fox wanted.
"Sha Yun is not back yet. I want to go out and start searching for her, but I really do not know where to look. Gao Yan sent his experts to scour through every corner of the grave, but even still, there were no signs of her at all... I really don't know what to do." He said as he buried his face in her soft fur as guilt gnawing at his insides.
The little fox gently nudged Hui Yue with her nose as her eyes were filled with worry for the young man.
Moving back from the fox, Hui Yue smiled at the cute fox. "I don't understand why you chose me." He started talking once more, "but I am very happy that you did. I just don't know what I can do for you; I am nothing compared to your previous master."
The fox just looked at him, all it did was get closer to Hui Yue where it made itself comfortable and laid down, relaxing. If it were a cat, it would be purring loudly.
"Sorry Huli," The young man said as he placed the fox on the bed. "I need to see how my ability is when it comes to alchemy. I have never tried it before, so I really need to focus."
Hearing this, Huli just laid down, observing the young man who sat down on the ground. From the palm of his hand, one herb after another appeared into thin air and was put on the ground in front of Hui Yue.
A large cauldron also appeared and a memory stone followed it as the last item summoned. Placing the stone on his forehead, a light shone in the room. Hui Yue had his eyes closed as he slowly immersed himself within the sea of information pouring into him.
"So I don't need to create a medicinal pill, but just a paste is enough," Hui Yue mused to himself as he had read through the entire formula. It was a potion paste which, when smeared on skin allowed for the body to more swiftly absorb the energy of the heavens and the earth.
The reason this formula was chosen for the entrance exam for alchemists was that although this was a paste, it was also an incredibly sought after medicine. Any family within Muchuan City would ensure that their younger generation always had this paste at their disposal so that they could train quicker.
More than half of the paste was purchased by the Royal Academy at a high price, and therefore, as soon as one was able to make this paste, one would be considered an alchemist; that is when they successfully concocted it during the exam.
The paste was called the Devouring Paste of the Red Orchid. The reason it was called this was because the main ingredient was a red orchid. It was not any orchid that was red but a specific one which was considered rather common as a medicinal herb.
Closing his eyes once again, Hui Yue found he needed three red orchids, one green spirit grass, and one drop of summer dew.
Summer dew was obviously not a medicinal herb, but it was part of many common pills and pastes, and thus Hui Yue had gotten quite a few of them when he had gained materials from the experts and the Black Market Auction House.
Summer dew was one of the most common alchemist materials available, but Hui Yue did not mind that the had been paid in cheap materials. He understood better than anyone that he needed to create countless numbers of pills and pastes before he would be skilled at alchemy. Only when he had perfected concocting this paste would he take the exam. Going too early and failing because he had not trained enough would be a waste of time.
Picking up the cauldron, Hui Yue placed it in front of himself and from deep within he summoned forth two flames. One was green colored while the other was a mixture of red and yellow.
These flames poured into the cauldron and moments after it started shining with light as it lifted into the air. Hanging around half a meter above ground the two flames within were swirled around battling one another. Only when Hui Yue focused his will on these flames and forced them to work together did they slowly stop fighting one another and instead merged. They intertwined with one another looking like yin and yang as the two flames slowly rotated within the cauldron.
Nodding with satisfaction, Hui Yue picked up one of the red orchids and tossed it into the cauldron. He watched as the flames burned the flower leaving behind the energy from it.
The red flame destroyed while the green flame created a paste-like base from the energy the red flame took in. It did not take more than a few minutes to fully refine the first red orchid. He saw that the paste the orchid left behind was almost nothing. The flower had filled his entire palm but the essence left behind was less than the smallest part of his pinky finger.
Repeating the action three more times the paste that was formed from the red orchids’ energy had naturally become more than it was before. After refining the three flowers, he then added the green spirit grass.
The green spirit grass was harder to refine than the red orchids had been. Hui Yue had difficulty controlling the heat of his flames as this was something he had not really practiced before. The red orchid did not need a specific temperature to be refined as it was a simple medicinal herb that was easy to deal with, but the green spirit grass was a somewhat rarer ingredient. It required that the temperature not be too high while being refined or it would turn to ash. If this happened and the refined essence of the green spirit grass turned to ash not only would it ruin the paste he was trying to make, but it was also likely to become poisonous.
When concocting pills and something went wrong during the refinement of the materials, two results could happen. One was that the refined energy would simply cause an explosion and the higher grade the materials, the more dangerous the explosion would be. The second thing which could happen was for the paste or pill to become complete, but due to the wrong refinement method it would become poisonous or have unknown, unwanted side-effects.
But Hui Yue had caught it quickly and brought the flames under control. After a short while, he managed to refine the green spirit grass. He did not refine it perfectly, but it was definitely not poisonous, and it was a great result for his first try.
Now, Hui Yue withdrew the red flame back into his body but left the green flame in the cauldron.
The green flame did not burn the materials present but kept them rotating within the cauldron. What Hui Yue needed to do now was to refine the drop of summer dew and mix it in with all the pastes he had refined. He could not do this with a flame that would cause it to evaporate. He slowly placed the summer dew in the cauldron, and as soon as it entered the green flame, it started breaking down into tiny specks of light. As soon as nothing was left of the drop and only small specks of light remained, Hui Yue shifted his attention to the pastes he had refined from the red orchids.
Using his will, the green flame covered the pastes and speaks of light and gently these items started to merge together. Hui Yue used his will to control the green flame which was rotating slightly bringing the items closer and closer to one another until the point where they were pressed so hard against each other with a tremendous force that they started to merge.
Hui Yue kept forcing the pastes and specks together until they had finally merged perfectly. The color of the paste was dark red with some shiny specks within.
Creating pills was many times more difficult than creating pastes, but even then, Hui Yue was surprised how simple it had been for him to create this paste. He instantly looked at the cauldron in front of him and understood that the success rate was due to this priceless cauldron. It was clearly not simple.
Hui Yue had originally planned on waiting for the next month's exam, but after having created ten pastes with no problems at all, he decided to go to the next exam, the one four days away.
"Should I concoct something more challenging?" Hui Yue mused as he looked at the ten jade bottles in front of him. All of them containing the Devouring Paste of the Red Orchid. These ten bottles were enough to make Hui Yue a proper alchemist even though it was the first time refining and concocting.
"No, I should just keep practicing this one," He decided upon. Hui Yue knew that these pastes he created were of no use to his friends, but he also knew that they did sell for a good amount. Although this paste was cheap to create they required an alchemist for the process. Most alchemists would not make them because they were below their rank, and only apprentices would concoct these low level pastes. Thus they were often of even lower quality compared to what a proper alchemist could make.
"I know that the Royal Academy buys as many of these pastes as they can get their hands on." Hui Yue mused, "but I should help my friends before thinking about money."
"I would share them with Deng Wu and Wang Ju Long, but unfortunately neither of them have families anymore. Gao Yan's followers are not really the cultivating kind either. This leads me to the Rong twins and Ma Kong. I guess I should split them evenly amongst these two groups." Hui Yue decided with a nod of his head. "Well for now let us perfect this so that even if I do not use this cauldron, I will still be able to create this paste with no problems."
Having said this, Hui Yue once more submerged himself fully in the refining of the pastes. He could not afford to be idle because if he allowed himself even a short moment of rest, he would end up wallowing in self-hate for not protecting Sha Yun. Sighing, Hui Yue pushed all his thoughts away and looked at the large stack of red orchids in front of him. He would be busy for quite a while.