Inside a secret chamber in Master Fang's pavilion, the spirits of heaven and earth swarmed inside a red cauldron like wild ocean waves. A gush of unique medicinal fragrance began to scatter - announcing the near conclusion of the brewing process.
Master Fang, one of the only three alchemists in the City of Qing, had a solemn look on his face. All 10 of his fingers were moving frantically as he drew out Alchemistic techniques one after another in an attempt to proceed with the final step of the brewing process: collecting the Dans.
The fragrance of the medicine continued to diffuse, its spirit prancing. 36 purple Dans rose out of the cauldron in the size of dragon eyes, they froze in mid-air, emitting waves of refreshing scents.
Master Fang rolled up his sleeves and collected the Dans inside a ring. A glimpse of a smile flashed across his aged and tired face.
The Dan he has brewed was named the Dan of Cleansed Marrow - the hardest to brew out of the Nine Traditional Medicine. Based on his past achievements, refining this Dan was not easy. However, if he was able to successfully brew the Dan of Cleansed Marrow, he would be only one step away from reaching the Eighth Realm for alchemy.
The closeness of achieving this goal is the reason for his happiness. He started practicing alchemy at the age of 18 and became one of the Ninth Realm Alchemist when he reached 30. He has paced around in the Ninth realm for 20 years, unable to achieve further success. Though disappointed and regretful, the successful brewing of this Dan showed him a sliver of hope. It was as if the door to the Eighth Realm was slowly opening for him.
"Ling Xian, it is all thanks to your support that I was able to create the Dan of Cleansed Marrow. I hereby thank you." Master Fang smiled gently, looking at the boy beside him, who was dressed in a robe made out of sackcloth.
The youth was around 14 years old; he had handsome features and a tall and straight stance. Even though his robe was coarse and thick, he still gave out the vibe of calmness and serenity.
"Master Fang you have over praised me. I am simply a student who is trying to learn the art of alchemy by assisting you," Ling Xian grinned. He radiated with a degree of maturity and reliability that did not match his young age.
Master Fang exclaimed, "you need to stop being so humble. You have been my apprentice for six years and I have grown to know you well. If it wasn't for your precise mixture of the different powders and your comprehensive assistance, I would not have finished brewing the Dan of Cleansed Marrow."
"I only did what I was supposed to do. Even if I did not exist, Master Fang could have easily refined the Dan of Cleansed Marrow with your profound experience," Ling Xian said softly.
"Haha, don't flatter me boy, I am well-aware of my own abilities." Master Fang stroked his beard. Even though he knew Ling Xian is simply boosting his ego, he couldn't help but to laugh. Obviously what Ling Xian said was effective.
Ling Xian smiled silently. He was a child of the Ling Clan. His parents had passed away since he was a child. Before the age of eight, he survived purely off his Clan's savings and charity. It was only when he became an alchemy student here six years ago to assist Master Fang, did his life improve a little.
Towards Master Fang, who gave him shelter and taught him alchemy, Ling Xian has always been grateful. Therefore, he would never claim credit for himself for their work or do the types of things that might annoy Master Fang.
"Regarding medicine, you have just as much knowledge as me. Shame though, if you were able to go under training for Taoism, then you would've became a Ninth Realm Alchemist three years ago." Master Fang sighed as he gazed at the handsome boy before him regretfully.
"Master Fang, you have said that 37 times," LingXin chuckled bitterly. Ever since he started retaining memories, the most common sentence he's heard was how much of a pity it is that he cannot go under training.
Unfortunately, he just simply cannot practice Taoism.
"If me repeating those words several times will allow you to become an alchemist, then I am willing to say what I said everyday." Master Fang stroke his beard again, the regretful feeling he had grew stronger to a point where it became hard to explain.
If Ling Xian could go under training, he would have gone under a prestigious trainer a long time ago and would have inherited the Buddha's mantle.
After a long time of interaction, Master Fang have sensed the youth's greatness. He has been deeply shaken by his talent, as for all his life, he had never met anyone with talent that even compare with Ling Xian's. Ling Xian had memory abilities that surpass regular mortals, a calm attitude, as well as a rare understanding of the world.
However, because of his lack of ability to draw out spirits from heaven and earth, his great talent had no value.
"This is what fate is. It is something I cannot change." Ling Xian softly sighed.
For 10 years, he tried all the methods he could think of to draw spirits into his body. However, no matter what he does, the moment he pulls in these spirits, they disappear instantly as if they weren't there in the first place.
According to ancient literature, there were two main reasons why someone cannot attract spirits. The first reason was that many people are simply mortals who were not birthed with the ability to gather spirits. The second reason explained that those who have been castrated cannot converge the spirits gathered, therefore they are considered disabled.
Ling Xian was different. He was not a mere mortal, nor was he a handicap. However, no matter how much effort he puts into practicing and training, no matter how much medicine he takes, he cannot gather spirits and become an apprentice who works towards achieving greatness and immortality.
There was nothing he could do.
Since he was little, he's had the dream of climbing up to the First Realm to view the mortals from above.
However, if he cannot even go under training, how can he reach the top of the peak?
"The idea of Taoism is to reach immortality and go against the principles to seek the great truth about life. Ling Xian, do not give up. Even though your situation is a little special, I truly believe that there are ways to resolve it." Master Fang comforted him as he shook his head.
Ling Xian nodded and said, "I never thought of giving up. It's just that I don't want to put in anymore futile effort by continue consuming the same medicine. But I am prepared to purchase a Dan of the Inner Eye as a final resort."
"Dan of the Inner Eye?" Master Fang frowned, "Ling Xian, though the Dan may increase the probability of you overcoming your inability to train, but we both know that this probability is tiny. For the ten thousand years the Dan of the Inner Eye existed, there has only been three cases where it worked out. The possibility is one out of a billion."
"I am fighting for that one in a billion chance." Ling Xian said, his eyes reflecting his determination, "other than using the Dan to try and unlock the Inner Eye, I cannot think of any other method to change my fate."
The Inner Eye is one of the strongest and most mysterious techniques in the Taoism community.
There are 108 types of Inner eyes and each type possesses abilities that are mysteriously forceful. The ones who could wake the Inner Eye were not just those who are favored by God. Even if the Inner Eye unlocked were not useful for battle, the ones who unlocked them were fought over and praised by all prestigious Clans.
A classic example was the 99th ranked eyesight that allowed one to see the light all treasures emit. Even if the treasure was sealed with many different spells, one with such eyesight is able to notice the them. The eyesight could also be used to search for spirits and historic remains. Its uses were countless.
Based on the history record, 30,000 years ago, a casual trainee acquired those pupils out of sheer coincidence. Within a few short years, he discovered many spirits and found treasures that were worth millions. In the end, he became a famous powerhouse within the community. People called him The Gentleman with Many Treasures.
"Since you have made up your mind, then I will no longer try to talk you out of it. Here are 500 spiritual stones, take it as your compensation for helping me." Master Fang waved his hand in the air, and uniquely shaped stones appeared out of thin air.
Ling Xian felt a wave of warmth. To assist the brewing of a Dan, the most you can earn was five stones. This time, it was rather obvious that Master Fang was trying to help him purchase the Dan of the Inner Eye.
Master Fang saw his hesitation, and chuckled softly, "there is no need to quarrel with me. Just think of it as my sponsorship. With your natural latent, once you acquire the Inner Eye and start training, you will for sure be highly regarded in the future. Think of this as an early investment."
Ling Xian was silent. He has always been a lonely kid with nobody on his side because he had no ability to practice Taoism. All his life he has been mocked and taunted. But now, he was being taught by one of the only three alchemists in the City of Qing, and his Master was willing to invest in him so he can fight for that tiny chance of releasing the Inner Eye. Ling Xian was truly touched.
After a few moments of silence, Ling Xian placed the 500 stones inside his pouch. He bowed deeply towards his Master who was smiling kindly. "If I am able to reach the Cloud of Qing, I will walk through fire and swim across the ocean to pay you my gratitude."
"You saying that is already enough. I do not seek any return. I simply think you have great potential, and you have been through such roughness. I want to help in ways that I can." Master Fang chuckled again, "go on. It is already noon. I know you will be going to work at Mr. Wang's, so I will not ask you to stay for tea."
Ling Xian nodded and exited the secret chamber. His heart was filled with appreciation and excitement.
What Master Fang has given him was not simply 500 stones in payment - it was an opportunity. An opportunity to fly like a dragon at the highest point in the sky!
"I will succeed," Ling Xian thought silently, as he walked toward the direction of QiZhen pavilion.
Though the Dan of the Inner Eye was one of the most recognized medicine, the real and good quality Dans were only sold in specialized counters that sell luxury treasures, namely inside the Qi Zhen pavilion.
With a market price of 700 stones, it was not that expensive for a monk with somewhat of a background. However, for Ling Xian, 700 was an astronomical figure. By working part time, staying frugal, and combining those past compensations with the stones he received from Master Fang, he had enough to pay for the Dan with his savings.
Soon, Ling Xian arrived before the three-floored Qi Zhen pavilion where merchants meet.
As he was about to enter, he suddenly heard a hoarse voice in his head. The voice seemed to be faraway, yet it seemed to be right beside his ear.
"Huh, it is someone with a ban. How can a being with such rare talent show up at such a place?"
Who was it?
Ling Xian jumped. He could clearly feel a set of eyes gazing at him.
"I have slept for tens and thousands of years. I cannot believe that as soon as I wake up, I am able to encounter a boy with such potential. I have such good luck." The voice continued to murmur. He seemed to be exclaiming about the passing of time, but he was also exclaiming his own good luck.
"Not sure which grandmaster this is, but please do not joke with me. I was born disabled, I am not a rare talented being as you have described me." Ling Xian carefully said, his voice showing a hint of nervousness, but he was not at all flustered. 14 years of hardships, he has endured countless mockery and eye rolls. These experiences have shaped him into someone who perseveres, who is mature, who is always composed.
"Disabled?" The voice asked before bursting into laughter, "that is the funniest joke I have heard in 30,000 years. If you are someone with a disability, then the Nine Heaven Clans and the Three Spiritual Bodies are all trash."
Ling Xian frowned. He knew about the Nine Heavenly Bodies. Each one of them had a shocking talent and powers that were out of the world. So what the hoarse voice meant is that, his potential as a handicap was stronger than the Nine Heavenly Bodies?
"I know you do not believe me now, but you will believe me in a little bit." The voice spoke again.
The next second, Ling Xian watched as a painting flew out of the Qi Zhen pavilion. Glistening with nine different colors, it flew with the vibe of desolation. It swaddled Ling Xian and disappeared.
It was as if they disappeared into a different world.