"Brother Zhang, what's going on!?" Junior Leopard said when seeing Zhang Yong kicking the boy, Su Hua. He used to belong to a well-known family of Qingyang market, but his family had fallen into ruin in recent years. Sun Hua's father had run a small warehouse in Qingyang Market, but sadly, he died a few months ago, leaving behind his lazy and parasitic son who did not understand how to run the business. Sun Hua had to sell off the warehouse and all the valuables after being swiftly defrauded by a ruthless competitor. Finally, he was left with only a small room and relied on pawning the family's things to survive. Over a short time, there was nothing valuable left to sell. He would have no choice but to become a beggar.
It seemed that this time he was so starving, and brought the only possession he had on this market day, aiming to exchange for some money, however, lacking knowledge about the rules of the market provoked his trouble.
"Oh, it's Junior Leopard, here to buy books!" Upon seeing Junior Leopard coming over, Zhang Yong immediately broke into a smile, and relaxed the foot that he had raised, softly treading it into Sun Hua's backside. "Now clear off! If I catch you here again, I'll give you an exceptional beating!"
Sun Hua fumed with rage, but he knew he was no match for Zhang Yong. He used a sleeve to wipe his face, which was stained with tears and mucus dribbled from his nostrils. All the on-lookers burst out laughing at this theatrical display.
"Forget it, Brother Zhang, he is just pitiful!" Junior Leopard sighed and walked towards Sun Hua. "Elder brother Sun, did you come here to sell books?"
Sun Hua sobbed a little and glanced at Junior Leopard. He could see that he was young, but couldn't make out anything else, and just nodded his head.
"I will buy all of your books… here is some silver, please see whether it enough or not!"
Junior Leopard took out some pieces of silver and passed them into Sun Hua's hand.
"It's enough, enough!" Sun Hua said with a sob.
Sun Hua had been extremely hungry. He'd only wanted to sell a few old books for some copper coins that he could exchange for some baked sesame cakes. Just one piece of silver that Junior Leopard gave him would be enough to buy several servings. He promptly passed the bundle of books into Junior Leopard's hands, took the silver, and hurried away before there could be any further incident.
"Junior Leopard, you have a good heart. But that boy is merely a dissipate wastrel who has squandered his family fortune, that silver will do him no good! Soon the day will come when he has to sell his decrepit little room and beg on the streets!" Zhang Yong said angrily upon seeing Junior Leopard buy the books. He walked off in another direction, continuing his patrol.
"Heh!" Junior Leopard smiled, said nothing, and carried his pile of books to the front of the bookstall. "How is going? Elder Brother Wang, do you have any new books?"
The middle-aged man at the stall immediately forced his facial expression into a simple and honest smile. "This time, I have no shortage of good books!" He said, patting the pile of old books on the front of the stall as if showing them off.
Junior Leopard smiled, chose a few suitable books from the stall, and took out some money to pay for them. He then, turned down the market street to buy something to eat and drink, before returning to the Wu family forge.
He was now counted as a craftsman. Although he was young, it was recognized that his prospects were surely good, so, he had been granted his own private room.
At only about 20 square meters, this room was not big by modern standards, but it was enough for him to live by himself.
The room was simply furnished—there was a bed, table, and chair, also a little cabinet, which by now was already stuffed full of books—these books were what he had been working on for the last six months.
His books were many, and through them, he knew the world better.
"Strange Tales of Spirits and Devils" was not as fascinating as "Journey to the West" but one day, if he felt an interest, he could make some alterations to "Investiture of the Gods" and "Journey to the West". If he published them, there was a great chance that he could make some money! He flicked through one book, and then put it down to the side. He was no longer like he was at the beginning when he would buy every old book from the stall; these days he would just pick up a few he was interested in, and after he'd finished reading the pile kept at the head of the bed. He opened the bundle that Sun Hua had sold to him. Buying Sun Hua's book was just something he did on the spur of the moment, out of a sense of pity more than anything. It is said that a pitiful person must also have some detestable traits, but Junior Leopard saw no harm in making this very slight effort.
"The Dual-form Rhapsody of Heaven and Earth!? Oh my, there is even such a book as this in this world! Maybe I will feel like reading it… several years from now!" Junior Leopard looked at the cover of the first book, furrowed his brow and rammed the book into the last little space in his cabinet. "The Classic of the Green Emperor and the Girl…? No wonder the Sun family had gone under, how could they have such books?" Junior Leopard's eyebrows had already creased into a frown. Although he had often enjoyed such Japanese specialties in his former life, in this life he was too young, only eight or nine years. He feared this kind of book could turn him into a psycho, so he skipped to the third book— Medicinal Soup Recipes?
My God, I'm a blacksmith, what do I need this for?
Junior Leopard tossed the book disinterestedly to the side.
Oh, what's this?!
He casually flicked through a few pages of Medicinal Soup Recipes. The first page had on it a mnemonic rhyme for the most basic soup recipe, something called "Soup of Four Wise Men". The soup of four wise men is peaceful and just; Blend Tuckahoe and licorice is what you must! Six noble names, stale from the summer sun, will clear your phlegm, and boost your Qi; add a yang bun. Pinellia plant's power is strange, that's true; Now add fragrant salts to cure stomach flu. There was also the "Gentian Slimming Concoction": Slimming gentian with turtle shell, Root of aster, and bones as well! Pinellia, ginseng, radix; we should all be told, to mix these to cure a cold! Junior Leopard did not completely understand this kind of thing, however, he knew this was the sort of book used as a primer for Physicians. When he was in the village, an old blind man had used this kind of book to teach them to read. Because of this, he looked through a few pages and then cast the book aside.
When the book was in mid-air, a stream of air flipped the pages and an old yellowed page filled with writing gently floated out.
Junior Leopard was a little curious and stretched out to grab the page. When he looked at what was on it, he was dumbfounded.
The page was densely filled from top to bottom with someone's tiny, spidery writing.
Anesthetic Pill, Bone-Forging Pill, Tendon-Changing Pill, Pulse Steadying Pill, Blood Changing Pill, Marrow Cleansing Pill!
His facial expression stiffened into a toothy grimace. At the corner of his mouth, a drop of saliva dripped out, and after he had finished reading he abruptly swallowed back a mouthful—he then discovered, that without realizing, the saliva from his mouth had already dripped into a puddle on the floor! It was fortunate that nobody was around to see him, or he would have been relentlessly mocked.
"Could it be, this is a case of 'the good will get their reward', as in legend? No, no it can't be… !" Junior Leopard gripped this page tightly in his fist—he wanted to keep it safe in his bosom, and then he wanted to rip open his bed sheets and hide it inside, and just at that moment, there was suddenly something happening without him knowing. "This isn't a case of 'the good will get their reward', this is as if I am playing the leading role in a legend, how else could I so easily have come across such a treasure?"
Never mind the first anesthetic pill, but the other five, to look upon them made Junior Leopard break out into a cold sweat. All these pills, it was really just too exciting.
He was no longer the simple and crude Leopard holed up in a mountain village, now he was a blacksmith for the Wu's ironware shop. Although his martial arts were still really nothing much, his understanding of the world of martial arts was much greater than it was six months ago. Six months ago, he only knew from Wang Tianlei that all the true fighters under heaven knew how to balance the inner and outer cycles. This process was divided into three stages, or three realms, Skin Toughening, Bone Forging, and Tendon Changing. Wang Tianlei himself could just about be regarded as a Skin Toughening fighter, but nothing more.
At the Wu Family, his understanding had become much more detailed than before. At first, he knew the martial arts realm was divided into three phases, and these three phases were known as three realms. He, now, also knew that they could be further divided into nine levels: Three levels of Skin Toughening fighter, three levels of Bone Forging fighter, and three levels of Tendon Changing fighter. His own brother-in-law Wang Tianlei was only a Level One fighter—he had merely stepped onto the threshold of martial arts.
All those fighters under heaven who had reached Level Nine could be counted on one's fingers. The largest scale schools and best-known families would only produce one or two in a thousand years, at present this was a level that he could not even imagine achieving. For example, the strongest elder of the Wu's had only cultivated himself to Seventh Class. Any family who had someone reached only Level Three already had a powerful deterrent against any attacks on their clan.
Fighters above Level Three were very rare. First, this was because the road was so arduous, and walking it required such willpower, such wisdom, and such good fortune, that it was hard to persist; second, the required potions were hard to find.
In this world's martial arts, the key part of balancing the inner and outer cycles was mutual support between inner and outer. Using the inner to nourish the outer, and using the outer to bear the inner, both equally indispensable. But no matter what tricks you try, the speed of their mutual support is always very slow. For example, you want to use your internal qi to carefully nourish your tendons and vessels, and increase their toughness, strength, and capacity. This usually takes over ten years, and sometimes even decades. Life is so short and bitter, who has time for such things? So, if you want to increase the efficiency of your practice, you must have some potions to assist in strengthening your physique. So, this is why medicinal bath potions emerged, but their effect is not so good, and they cannot utilize the full effect of the potion. Through bathing in the potion one can only get about 30-40% of its effect; however, this 30-40% is still a great help towards strengthening one's physique, so the big families and martial arts schools would spare no effort searching all over for, and plundering these potions to give to their disciples.
And according to folk legends, in the martial arts circles long ago it was not these medicinal bath potions which were prevalent, but rather these pills. The amount of potion wasted by the pills was far less than the bath potions, only about 10-20%, and they were also several times more effective. It could utilize about 70-80% of the potion's power, and if refined well, could even have up to 100% efficiency. But now, these pills belonged only to legend. It is not that the medicinal materials did not exist, but the technique of making the pills and distilling the potion had been lost. The discrepancy between the tablet form and the liquid form was huge. The thing about potions was that even if there was only a single hair wrong, if an ingredient was a bit too much, or a bit too little, that it would not only be ineffective but could also be lethal. Aside from that, the technique and procedure for distilling medicine into pills had long been lost
Of course, it had not been completely lost. In this world, there still existed one type of pill, the bone-forging pill. This was the only one that had not been lost, however, the method was kept under control by the number one sect under heaven. That is to say, it was in the hands of the Black Sky Orthodox, a sacred ground in martial arts circles. It was inaccessible to ordinary people of the martial arts milieu, and even in Black Sky Orthodox, it was passed down through a tight lineage — apart from for use within the sect, only very few were allowed to be circulated outside. Every Bone-Forging Pill that did end up outside the sect was sold for sky-high prices. As for pills a level higher than the Bone-Forging Pill, these had been totally lost.
Not to mention that after the Tendon-Changing Pill, there were still three more types of elixir.
Pulse Steadying Pill, Blood Changing Pill, Marrow Cleansing Pill!
Could it be that this is above Level Nine, the legendary elixir of the mysterious realm?!