Cultivation of the gray mushrooms was also going smoothly. Sang Rubei had studied plants for years, and quickly identified the optimal cultivation conditions. They had even found a few areas with suitable strength of gravitational force to cultivate the mushrooms.
The Sang Family Village gave their all in these revolutionary changes. With the exception of the hunting troop, all other young men were sent to mine lavagold ores, while the women learned to cultivate gray mushrooms from Sang Rubei.
The hunting troop were all equipped with new pikes. Lavagold heads were fastened to the bitterwood shafts. The sharpened and polished lavagold head gleamed with a beautiful and deadly luster, envied by the rest of the villagers. However, the thought of having one for each of them soon encouraged them to work much harder. A warrior’s love for weapons was like a playboy’s love for beautiful women.
The first the new pike tips were used, the hunters returned with glorious fruits of labor. Their first catch was thrice the number of usual hunts. Old Sang De was all smiles looking at the huge pile of dead prey. This proved the incontrovertible power of metal weapons. All the villagers treated Ye Chong with the utmost respect. This was a respect born out of the hope that he had given to them. To receive advice from the man was the dream of every member of the younger generation.
Hence, when Ye Chong asked the village head for more helpers, all the young people except for Sang Ling came to Sang De to volunteer. Even Sang Pu could not help but try it himself, but was lectured by Old Sang De instead.
In the end, Old Sang De chose 10 people, all aged between 13 and 14 years old. These young people were more malleable and receptive to new ideas.
Ye Chong needed help for his current project. He had left the metal weapon forging work to Sang Fan. Now, he was focused on his new research - the mildstone.
It was a race against time. His objective was to save Mu, Shang and the rest. Everything else was meaningless without achieving this.
This d*mned mildstone! Ye Chong still could not figure out how to harvest its potential energy. This was the biggest obstacle for Ye Chong now. Without energy, he could do nothing. Ye Chong knew that the metal weapons would improve the lives of the Shang Family villagers, but they would not help with rescuing Mu, Shang and the rest.
Ye Chong was now considering the idea of using alchemy to harvest the energy within the mildstone.
After all this while, Ye Chong was more knowledgeable in alchemy. He was beginning to learn to think from an alchemist’s point of view.
This research was never done before. In the chip left by Lunatic Guan, Ye Chong could find nothing on this mineral. However, reality forced Ye Chong to deal with it head on. He must try everything he could think of.
Ye Chong never liked to express his emotions. In fact, he had done so but Mu, Shang had never discussed about this. He never imagined that Mu and Shang would be separated from him. It came to be that Mu and Shang had become an integral part of his life. When he was first separated from them, he was struck with moments of loss and helplessness, but he quickly found another reason to strive besides surviving - rescuing Mu and Shang.
All this while, Mu and Shang took the role of protectors, while Ye Chong had never done anything for them. Now, they were stuck in the Red Sea, their fates unclear. Ye Chong must rescue them, but not out of so-called gratefulness. It was simply what he had to do.
Alchemy required knowing the material’s properties. This was the most basic principle for every field. Alchemy used plants, but all the plants here were new to Ye Chong. He knew less of the plants here than the children of the Sang Family Village, but unlike them, he was also equipped with the skills of a scientist.
To know more about the plants would require continuous experimentation. Usually, Ye Chong would do it all by himself. It would take time, but that way he would understand even more about the plants.
Now, however, Ye Chong lacked time.
Hence, he needed helpers. The villagers here were all very familiar with the native plants, and most suitable for the role. With them, Ye Chong need only explain the experimental procedures, and leave the execution and documentation of results to them. This way, he could speed up the research significantly. Even Sang Fan was called to join in this research project.
No one doubted Ye Chong’s research. In fact, they all came, full of reverence, to the laboratory that seemed so sacred to them, even though to Ye Chong, the lab was badly under-equipped and primitive.
They were instilled with knowledge of all kinds of plants from a young age. This was knowledge accumulated over time from the previous generations, sometimes at the cost of their lives. Their understanding allowed them to learn alchemy more easily and quickly, as they picked up the skills for laboratory work. Hence, Ye Chong gave them full control of their own experiments on various plants, only asking that they record all experiment procedures and results. As for Ye Chong, he had to analyze all these results, aside from running his own experiments.
Ye Chong was now slowly getting used to the environment of strong gravity. Even in this hectic situation, Ye Chong did not forget to train himself. Everyone here was a warrior, and Ye Chong did not lack sparring partners. Ye Chong learned quickly, impressing his sparring partners. They all admired how smart he was, to pick up even combat skills so quickly.
Even Ye Chong was surprised at his own improvement. Ye Chong’s physical strength had long reached a bottleneck, and the occasional improvements were only in small leaps. Ye Chong had repeatedly thought that he had reached the limits of the human body. Now, however, with the strong gravity environment, he found that his body was also strengthening quickly to keep up. He was finally breaking through this bottleneck. It happened so fast that sometimes Ye Chong would feel imbalanced in his own body. This was why, despite the urgency of his objective, he was still determined to train himself.
As for Ye Chong’s helpers, they were all busy, all the time. Ye Chong was almost embarrassed with himself, watching them so focused in their work. There was finally hope for this centuries-old tribe. The sudden burst of energy they showed had surprised Ye Chong
His research progressed quickly. With Sang Rubei in the team, they advanced leaps and bounds. This made Ye Chong realized something - an expert was more useful than a bunch of newbies.
Every day, Ye Chong analyzed the research results, and keyed them into the photon processor in a new database.
Time passed by, but Ye Chong had not found a way to harvest energy from the mildstone. He was growing more anxious by the day, but was helpless at the same time.
In the strong gravity region, Ye Chong trained intensively. The days passed, and he felt more and more pressured. If it were anyone else, he would not be so affected. However, this was Mu and Shang. He was greatly troubled.
As he trained, he grew stronger and stronger. Ye Chong was now a formidable fighter, even for Sang Pu.
Ye Chong swinged and kicked faster and faster. He was anxious deep inside, and could not help but let out a long howl. His voice echoed throughout the lands. The usually crowded strong gravity region was empty, since the villagers had all gone to mine lavagold.
It had been three months since he was separated from Mu and Shang. Harvesting the mildstone’s energy, building a skeleton-made flying transport, and teaching the Sang Family villagers to fly them all seemed to be so far away. He thought of Coxcomb, Mu and Shang, trapped in the Red Sea, and felt renewed anxiety.
Everything in the strong gravity region became his victims. Ye Chong punched and kicked, and everything hit crumbled easily. Even the ground, tough as steel, dented in many places.
Before entering Archipelago, Ye Chong could punch through alloy doors with his bare hands. Now, he was stronger than the average Sang Family villager. However, Ye Chong did not feel like he had attained Jie. Lan Yixing’s chip had informed him that when a combat expert reached a certain level of skills, he would experienced a bottleneck. Some would never break through this bottleneck, but the ones who did will attain Jie.
Jie experts were the most formidable. They were more knowledgeable in combat techniques than any ordinary combat expert, but most importantly, they had extra extraordinary abilities.
Lan Yixing, for example, was able to control his muscles to a mind bending extent when he attained Jie. These were biologically impossible feats. Besides, his senses were greatly heightened.
All these special features in Jie experts were absent in Ye Chong right now. Ye Chong believed that he must be even stronger than Lan Yixing now, but he still had not attained Jie. However, the chip had said that only a Jie expert can defeat another Jie expert.
"It looks like I’m a weirdo, after all," Ye Chong thought wryly to himself. Fortunately, he did not mind about attaining Jie or not. To him, strength was his priority. If he could defeat a Jie expert, then it did not matter if he was not a Jie expert anyway.
The Sang Family’s battle techniques had influenced Ye Chong a lot. Now, Ye Chong’s combat style had changed drastically. He had combined the essences of combat from the September Lan family, Black Cove and the Sang family, such that his techniques could be considered an entirely different style altogether.
Bare handed combat was not that important to Ye Chong, not like mech combat. However, he still could not find an energy replacement so far. Ye Chong dared not withdraw Han Jia to train, since the remaining energy must be conserved in cases of emergency.
After venting out his frustration, Ye Chong felt a lot better. He was about to return to his laboratory when he saw someone running to him. Ye Chong squinted, and saw that it was Sang Pu.
Sang Pu was quick. He was by the boundary of the strong gravity region in the blink of an eye, and easily crossed the boundary without stopping.
Seeing Sang Pu in a rush, Ye Chong guessed that he must be here for him.
As expected, when Sang Pu saw Ye Chong, he began urgently, "Sir, please come quick."