There were no rats on the Scented Cloud Mountain. It was a land of cultivation, and rats, who were not spirit beasts, had no place there. However, in the mountains, quite a number of ants dwelled.
These ants were animals of nature, and their daily activities in the cracks of mountain rocks bothered no one. They were seen as a part of the mountain, and no one paid much attention to these little creatures.
But this day near the Medicine Refinement Pavilion, the sentries stationed there abruptly stood up as an immeasurable amount of ants streamed out from the ground, heading for the pavilion.
"W-what's happening?" A sentry took in a deep breath as he gazed at the endless swarm of ants, frightened.
At the same time, the rooms in the Medicine Refinement Pavilion were full of disciples refining pills. Upon seeing the ants, all of them jumped up as even more swarms of ants filled the room despite the protective formations. After all, the pavillion was part of the mountain, and the ants had plenty of cracks here and there to enter from.
And the entirety of the swarm was headed in a single direction.
This direction lead to the room where Bai Xiaochun was. At the moment, Bai Xiaochun was curiously inspecting the black pill in his hand when rumbling sounds suddenly came from outside. He blinked, realizing that swarms of ants were entering his room.
These crazed ants charged at Bai Xiaochun.
"An ant crisis in the Scented Cloud Mountain!" Bai Xiaochun jumped up, feeling uncomfortable from the sight of these ants. The ants, to his surprise, jumped with him, aiming for the black pill in his hand.
Bai Xiaochun's hair stood on end after witnessing such a scene. For him, it didn't matter whether the black pill was useful or not. Without hesitation, Bai Xiaochun tossed the black pill out of his hands, and as soon as the pill left his hands, the ants madly charged towards where the pill was thrown.
Once it touched the ground, the pill was covered in ants within the blink of an eye. A huge sphere formed, causing Bai Xiaochun's face to pale.
In the next moment, the sphere made of ants collapsed, and the countless ants retreated into the cracks, leaving not even a trace of the pill behind.
The entire pavilion was void of ants from that point onwards. The ants came and left just as fast. The sentries didn't feel comfortable about that ant invasion, but seeing that nothing was damaged or lost, they didn't give it much thought, and didn't report it either.
After all, only Bai Xiaochun witnessed the ants' insanity. To others, it was just a great number of ants passing by.
Bai Xiaochun picked up the pill he was refining, his thoughts still filled with ants. There didn't seem to be a problem, until he realized he was way too attentive toward the details. He wanted not just success, but utter perfection.
"Could it be that the pill I refined is suitable for ants?" Shaking his head, Bai Xiaochun couldn't help but feel proud from the fact that he could make pills not only for humans, but even for ants.
Upon leaving the room, he saw other disciples who were just leaving as well. The surrounding rooms were full of whispers and moaning, which was partly Bai Xiaochun's fault, so he left in a haste.
A few days later, after seeing that nothing about the ants was being discussed, Bai Xiaochun went back to the pavilion, and exchanged his pills for contribution points. He picked another room and started refining once again.
This time, he started refining the Longevity Incense Stick.
Refining incense sticks and refining pills may sound similar, but the technique involved was very different. After all, one inhales from an incense stick, but pills were consumed..
With the experience from his last refinements, Bai Xiaochun was much more careful and calm when he was refining the incense stick. After two months, he had finished seven.
He left with satisfaction, taking the seven Longevity Incense Sticks with him. In his wooden cabin, the three successive refinements resulted in a deep purple hue on the incense sticks. The patterns on the sticks dulled, but they were still standing out. These incense sticks were on a completely different level compared to before.
Bai Xiaochun was deep in thought as he held the sticks in his hand. He was different now. His knowledge of spirit medicines had vastly expanded, and as he refined them, it increased even further. He knew that any medicine that came out after refinement had impurities inside them. The impurities weren't supposed to be consumed, but they were extremely difficult to separate from the medicine. But nonetheless, if impurities entered the body, they would build up and coagulate into toxicity referred to as medicine toxicity.
This was also the reason why many of the sect elders were unwilling to let the disciples consume pills. The underlying problems, theoretically, shouldn't be too serious as a certain amount of the medicine toxicity would be expelled from the body over time. However, if the medicine pills were consumed more than necessary, the medicine toxicity would naturally increase. By letting it gradually build up, it would hinder future cultivation.
Thus, based on the amount of impurities, medicine was classified into six levels.
"Low, medium, high, fine, great and supreme…" Bai Xiaochun looked at the incense sticks in his palm while mumbling. If the impurity level of the medicine was ninety percent: it was poison. Unless forced to do so, no one would consume it.
If it was eighty percent, it would be classified as a low quality medicine. This was the most common type. Sixty percent would be a medium quality medicine, which was uncommon these days, and was only crafted by true Medicine Masters.
As for those with a forty percent impurity level, they were high quality medicines. Rare. The ones with only twenty percent impurity level were fine medicines, and those with ten percent were known as great medicines which could only be seen in large scale auctions every once in a while.
The supreme medicine that had zero impurities only existed in legends.
Bai Xiaochun stared at the incense sticks. When he was refining medicine last time, he didn't understand anything. Now, as he inspected the incense sticks with heightened attentiveness, he immediately discovered that refining medicine with the turtle-shell pot was about changing the quality rather than improving it the way he strengthened the power of his equipment.
And the incense sticks in his hand had only forty percent impurities. It was a fine medicine.
This discovery excited Bai Xiaochun. He headed to the Purple Cauldron Mountain, not for Zhang Fatso One, but for the South Bank of the Spirit River Sect, towards the Spirit Refinement Hall only found on the Purple Cauldron Mountain.
The disciples could pay contribution points for the elders of the Spirit Refinement Hall to help with their refinements. The success rate wasn't too high, but nevertheless, many disciples still came.
Bai Xiaochun looked around as he entered the Refinement Hall and did some research. He confirmed that it was possible to learn how to remove impurities from refined medicine.
Returning back to the Scented Cloud Mountain, Bai Xiaochun looked happily at the results of his work in his hands. He lit one of the incense sticks and sniffed, feeling a sense of satisfaction one would have after finishing a lavish meal. The scent entered his body wave after wave, filling him with warmth. If life was a ball of fire, then at this moment, this fire had firewood thrown inside, blazing it.
Sniffing the incense stick and cultivating the Unending Longevity Technique, things were going well. As soon as he felt hunger from cultivating, he would take a deep breath to abate it.
Seven of these incense sticks supported his cultivation for half a month, until he felt that his impenetrable iron skin had obviously toughened, and his body had become indisputably stronger.
The success rate in refining these Longevity Incense Sticks rose under his care, from seventy percent success rate to eighty, ninety, and in the end, one hundred.
But Bai Xiaochun still felt dissatisfied. He had a perfect success rate, but the medicines he created were still only low quality medicines.
But this sort of thing was hard to improve in the short term. All he could do was use refinement to remove impurities and sniff an incense stick from time to time. It made him incomparably happy.
His Unending Longevity Technique improved day by day along with his cultivation, reaching the peak of the sixth level Qi Condensation.
As for the Unending Longevity Technique that was improving the fastest, only a bit more was left before he could reach the peak of the Impenetrable Iron Skin. The hardness of his skin had vastly improved, and his two fingers now had a much darker colour when he casted his Throat Crushing Grasp.
But the effects of the incense sticks wore off. In the end, there was almost no effect from sniffing them. Bai Xiaochun sighed. He understood that his body had gotten used to the incense sticks after using them too much.
He wanted to continue training, but he needed a replacement for the incense sticks. This type of medicine was controlled strictly, and wasn't sold in the city square. The only way he could get them was to pass the promotional examination and exchange contribution points for them afterwards.
Or he could go to an even larger city. However, those city squares were a long way from the sect. After careful consideration, Bai Xiaochun made a decision.
"Onwards to the promotional exams!"
He thought that with his experience in refinement, and his knowledge about herbs, passing shouldn't be very difficult. However, to be safe, Bai Xiaochun purchased more recipes and practiced all of them. He signed up for the examination after feeling sufficient confidence.
This type of promotional examination was not open for only a single person. After enough people had signed up, the promotional examination's preparations would begin. After he had waited for a month, Bai Xiaochun was pondering a question regarding the refinement of Spirit Medicines when his identity plate vibrated in his pouch. Taking it out, an elderly voice rang inside his head.
"Tomorrow, at dawn, at the Medicine Master's Temple, the promotional examination will commence."
Regular Chapter 1/4 of the week. Schedule has been changed to 4 guaranteed chapters a week and up to two sponsored chapters a week.
Translated by: Marcus
TLCed by: Nat Nat
Edited by: Arch, Crimsonguard