The intense force from the explosion erupted across the room. Lin Qing Yi waved her delicate hand and level-eight qi permeated out of her tyrannically. Like an angry tide from a stormy sea, it rose up high into the sky and sheltered her from the black pieces of the cauldron.
After the fog and smoke faded, Lin Qing Yi's face turned white when she saw the blood covered Ling Xian against the wall. She knew very well that alchemists, when in the middle of a brew, resented being interrupted the most. During the stage of Dan collection especially, if the spirits the alchemist summoned are disturbed, the Dan would be damaged and the alchemist's life would also be put in danger.
To only spit out some blood was considered to be really lucky.
"Grandmaster, I am so sorry. I did not do this on purpose," remorsefulness could be clearly seen in her glistening eyes. She gently nudged over and bowed deeply.
"It seems that you have been watching me for a very long time. Has nobody taught you that watching someone practice is very immoral?" Ling Xian sneered, he carefully checked out the woman who was not far from him. Her beauty stunned him for a few seconds.
Her complexion was glowing, her brows were like a painting and thousands of strands of black hair poured down her back like silk. Her cyan colored palace gown wrapped around her graceful figure perfectly. Like a pistia floating in water, her movements were serene, and her expression was demure and dazzling.
It was difficult to identify her age. Based on her facial features and her body language, she could not be older than 16. However, her temperament also gave off an aura of someone who experienced strong wind and heavy rain. There was a sense of sophistication that could only be found on someone who took the time to blossom and mature. She was charming and extraordinary, elegant and noble.
"I… Grandmaster you did not cast any spells to conceal yourself. I was careless and too fixated on the way you practiced," Lin Qing Yi apologized. She was a little surprised, as the voice that spoke sounded very much like a young boy.
She denied that thought immediately. It was not possible. A young boy would not have such a profound understanding of alchemy. Based on her estimation, the man underneath the hat should be an elderly who had lived for more than a century but unfortunately had the voice of a young man.
"You mean… it was my fault?" Ling Xian frowned.
"Grandmaster you have misunderstood. That is not what Qing Yi meant," Lin Qing Yi stood tall and straight, like a Goddess who just descended from the Heavens and landed on Earth.
"Please don't call me grandmaster. I do not deserve that title," Ling Xian stood up, "Say... How do you plan to make it up to me?"
"Make it up to you?" Lin Qing Yi's face turned cold, "I thought you were a renowned and well-train alchemist, I guess you are only a loafer."
"By making it up I meant compensating for the financial loss, not making it up in other ways," Ling Xian squinted his eyes in anger. If he did not notice that she had eighth level qi, he would've stepped up and punched her. To be interrupted while he was collecting the Dan, even if it was unintentional, was unforgivable.
To be disturbed during the Dan process was not only a huge taboo, it was also a matter of life and death. He was lucky that the room he chose was the cheapest and therefore the cauldron was light, bad quality and didn't have a lot of power. If the cauldron was any heavier or any more powerful, he would have easily died.
Ling Xian clenched his teeth together. At that moment, he really wanted to make her bleed.
Hearing what he had said, Lin Qing Yi froze. Redness rushed to her cheeks.
"Of course. I misunderstood. How many stones is it? Qing Yi I will definitely pay up."
"Because of your disturbance, the cauldron broke. You need to compensate for that. I am also wounded. You must also pay for my pain. The Dans themselves… you do not have to make up for them," Ling Xian raised his right hand. The Flame of Purity was burning inside his palm. On top, six purple Dans were floating.
The refreshing smell of medicine again filled the room. Lin Qing Yi inhaled deeply and stared at the lines on the Dans.
"Even after the cauldron exploded you were able to collect the Dans? Not to mention the fact that there were six of them and all of them are eighth-ranked!"
Though surprised, these were not the facts that bewildered her the most. What she was really gaping at was the silver flame on his palm.
"A Godly Fire!
One of the two most sought after treasures by alchemists!
Who was this person? Who was he to own the Godly Fire that all alchemists beg for but cannot receive?"
If she knew that Ling Xian also possessed the second most sought after treasure, the Essence of a Dan, what kind of reaction would she have?
"Until today, I did not realize the number of amazing people outside the world I live in," Lin Qing Yi smiled bitterly. She felt like she saw more shocking news today than she did for the past 30 years.
She was first amazed at the near perfect brewing process, then the eighth-ranked Dans caught her off guard, and next she was astonished by Ling Xian's ability to collect the Dans even after the cauldron broke. Finally, just when she thought it was over, Ling Xian showed her that he owned the treasure she has desperately wanted all her life, a Godly Fire. Everything that has happened was stabbing her heart and making her bleed.
Ling Xian frowned. He revoked the Godly Fire, put away the Dans and said coldly, "Stop looking. Let's talk about what you can do to compensate."
"There is no need to compensate for the cauldron. Your wound however… is 10,000 stones enough?" Lin Qing Yi snapped back to reality and asked tentatively.
"10,000 stones?" Ling Xian responded in surprise.
"Oh, I'm assuming grandmaster you are not satisfied with that number? How about… 20,000 stones then?" Lin Qing Yi thought his surprise was due to the lack of compensation. She quickly increased the amount.
Ling Xian composed himself. He did not believe that this magnificent lady could really give him that ridiculous amount of money. He softly said, "Okay, hand it over."
Lin Qing Yi sighed in relief. She had always been a kind and gentle woman. When she remembered the fact that she almost killed an alchemist who was deeply trained and was in possession of a Godly Fire, she felt very ashamed of herself.
She waved her hand and 20,000 spiritual stones neatly appeared on the ground.
"You really want to give all this to me?" Ling Xian's eyes widened.
"20,000 stones! A number that matched six months of the Ling Clan's income. This woman is really that rich?"
"Of course. These stones mean nothing when compared to the fact that I caused you harm. You are obviously a grandmaster with a long road ahead of you. If you had died due to my carelessness, I would have lived the rest of my life in shame and guilt," Lin Qing Yi grinned, dazzling him.
It was Ling Xian's turn to be embarrassed. Reality was that he was fine. The explosion just now was not even that strong. He simply felt some pain and bled a little, nothing too serious. He could not get over the anger however, which was why he was determined to con some money off the lady.
He did not think that the out-of-the world beautiful lady would have a Buddha-like heart and cannot forgive herself over the pain she had caused him.
"Whatever. I am not in a lot of pain. I will take 5,000 stones and you can take back the rest," Ling Xian was silent for a while. He thought that taking 5,000 stones was reasonable considering the damage she had caused. As tempted as he was to take all 20,000 stones, he realized that he would be committing fraud as his body was feeling completely fine.
"A person cannot live their life like that."
Ling Xian silently applauded himself.
"Is it because you think 20,000 is too little? Ying Qi can add another 10,000," Lin Qing Yi clenched her teeth. Even though she was an Eighth Realm Alchemist, 30,000 stones was still a lot of a money.
Ling Xian chuckled and said, "How about this. I will give you these three eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dans in exchange for your 20,000 stones. This way, I will count us even. What do you think?"
Based on market price, an eighth-ranked Energ-Freezing Dan is 5,000 stones. Despite the huge demand for it, there was never enough supply. Therefore, exchanging three eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dans for 15,000 stones was an offer that ensured neither party loses.
"Then I will do as grandmaster says," Lin Qing Yi said cheerfully. She had been stuck with level-eight qi for a long time now and had been unable to ascend to the next level. With these eighth-ranked Dans, perhaps she could train and finally reach qi level nine. On top of that, she could maybe get inspiration from the Dans themselves, figure out the ingredient list, ratios, and perhaps make an eighth-ranked Dan herself.
"Please stop calling me grandmaster. I really cannot afford the title," Ling Xian waved his sleeve and seized the 20,000 stones into his storage pouch. Then, he pulled out a little jade bottle with the three Energy-Freezing Dans inside.
Accepting the jade bottle, Lin Qing Yi studied the eight lines on each of the Dans. Her face was full of envy and admiration.
She had been infatuated with alchemy since a young age. Under the guidance of her grandfather, she slowly displayed her talent and potential as she grew up. After rising to become an Eighth Realm Alchemist, she ventured out of the city to gain experience and knowledge. It was only a short while ago did she return to the City of Qing.
Just now, she was reading books in a room beside the cauldron room when she suddenly recognized the strong scent of medicinal Dan. This caused her to be curious and motivated her to check out what was going on. When she arrived, she couldn't believe that no sight or smell seals were in place and that the door was not even fully closed. She decided to peek in and was lost in awe at what she was seeing.
The few years she was out and about, she met numerous alchemists who called themselves grandmasters. Compared to the one before her however, they really lacked in skills. The meticulous way the flame was controlled, the conscientious way the ingredients were used, and the impeccable way the brewing was done; every detail Ling Xian did throughout the process would put the other alchemists to shame.
"There is no need to be humble, grandmaster. Though Qing Yi is not talented, I have been in the alchemy community for many years and I understand what makes one great. For so many years, I have never witnessed anyone who has the skill to make an eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan in such a short period of time," Lin Qing Yi revealed a radiant smile so stunning that flowers paled in comparison.
"You have flattered me," Ling Xian's face turned red. He was lucky that there was a sheer cloth covering his visage and hid his blushing cheeks from Lin Qing Yi. After all, he was a 14-year-old boy. Though life had been rough for him and as result he was always poised, being complimented by a beautiful woman still made him feel a little shy.
Moreover, he was simply a Ninth Realm Alchemist, who brewed eighth-ranked Dans under the help of the two treasures. He could not accept the grandmaster title.
"Oh, I have yet to learn your name," Ling Xian changed the subject.
"My name is Lin Qing Yi, and my grandfather is Lin Yuan," the beauty grinned elegantly again.
"I don't know you, but the name Lin Yuan seems to ring a bell," Ling Xian frowned in thought.
"My grandfather is the owner of this pavilion. He is one of the three alchemists in this city," Lin Qing Yi's face darkened, disappointed at the fact that he did not recognize her name.
"I see. You are a granddaughter of the Lin Clan. No wonder you acted all rich and mighty," Ling Xian realized that this is why she said there was no need to compensate for the broken cauldron.
Lin Qing Yi was a little disappointed. Though she had always kept a low-profile, as the only Eighth Realm Alchemist in the city, people from within the alchemy community should at least recognize her name. Unless, he was not from the City of Qing?"
"Alright then, Miss Lin. I will leave the mess to you. I have other businesses to attend to, so I will leave first," Ling Xian marched towards the door.
"Wait a minute," Lin Qing Yi recollected her emotions and reverted to her graceful self. She softly asked, "Yesterday, the daughter of Mayor Ye fell ill to a strange poison after a hunting trip. Her life is currently on the line. Mayor Ye is hiring for alchemists to create an antidote for the mayor's daughter. Rumor has it that whoever successfully creates a cure for her will be granted with the Lotus of Three Wonders. I was thinking that perhaps you would be interested in trying?"
"Lotus of Three Wonders?"
Ling Xian abruptly turned around, just in time to see the beauty leaning herself against the door, and bathing in the maroon light from the sunset.
Her shallow dimples deepened as she grinned wider; alluring the whole city with her cyan gown.