"Hehe, I knew that my brother would not lie to me." Ling Hu stared at the pile of spiritual stones hazily. His normally simple and honest face turned into a flower.
This was the same amount of stones as half a year's income for the Ling Clan. This money could be used to trade resources for its citizens or purchase a few treasures. It could also provide a mortal with food and clothes for centuries!
For so many years, he woke up before dawn and went home after sunset to earn only 1,500 stones. But now, as much as 20,000 stones were before him; an insane amount that he could not dare to even dream about. He couldn't believe that he was seeing so much money in his lifetime, and even touching it.
More importantly, these stones could save his mother's life!
It took a while for Ling Hu to calm down. He suspiciously asked, "brother, there's so many stones… about half a year's worth of income for the Ling Clan. How did you get your hands on it?"
"I know what you are worried about, but every single stone you see on the ground is earned fair and square. You can let go of your worries and save your mother with them." Ling Xian noticed his suspicion and smiled at him.
"If you say so. Then I will not worry. However, if my need of using your stones will cause you trouble, then I would rather not have them." Ling Hu innocently grinned. He was almost drooling just from looking at the dazzling stones.
He carefully picked up a stone and bit it with his teeth. Immediately an "oww" followed. He rubbed his cheek. "Brother, how did you do it? It's 20,000 stones! I can work all my life and not earn this much."
"Look at how little ambition you have!" Ling Xian uncontrollably laughed. He said arrogantly, "your brother I, have a lot of capability now. From now on, my life will not be as thin as a piece of paper, neither will your life or your mother's life!"
The arrogance he displayed was not exactly showing off, rather, it was a type of proudness that came from the fact that he now has the power to choose his own fate and change others' as well.
"Hehe, brother, could it be that these stones were gifted to you by Lady Ling? The entire Ling Clan is saying that you are dependent on her." Ling Hu winked as he smiled wretchedly.
"Screw off!" Ling Xiang cursed at him, "stop joking with me, take these stones, and go to the Pavilion of Qi Zhen. There are no other places that offer higher quality medicinal Dan than there."
Ling Hu nodded but hesitated when it was time to take the stones. "Brother, if I take these stones what will you do? You need resources for your cultivation journey. Also in two days, it will be the combat competition. You will probably need to buy some weapons or medicinal Dans for that."
"Your mother's life is more important than everything else. Plus, I am not planning on attending the combat competition." Ling Xian waved his hand. A white jade bottle appeared out of thin air. Looking at the anxious Ling Hu, he soothed, "Hu, do not worry for me. With your mother's health on the line, it is not the time for you to be contentious. Also, I am an alchemist now, I do not need to buy medicinal Dans."
"Alchemist?" Ling Hu froze. "Brother, you finally became an alchemist?"
An alchemist's position in the Taoism community was high. It was considered one the three noble careers, alongside Armorers and Strategists. Normally, there has always been a lack of alchemy talents in the world. This was as apparent fact, as there were only three alchemists in the City of Qing.
When one becomes an official alchemist, even if the individual was the lowest ninth-ranked alchemist, he or she will still be aggressively pursued by the public. For example, Master Fang, Ling Xian's teacher, was immensely admired by all three clans in the city. He only chose to open his Dan selling business because he did not want to be restrained by choosing a clan to side with.
"If I could practice Taoism, then I would've become a Ninth Realm Alchemist three years ago. Now that I finally was able to begin my cultivation, naturally I became an alchemist." Ling Xian nodded with a smile.
"Haha, this is great." Ling Hu's two eyes were full of fondness. He guffawed, "The fourth alchemist in the City of Qing. What a great honor! From now on I can eat medicinal Dans like they are peas."
"In your dreams!" Ling Xian didn't know whether he should laugh or cry. "You think medicinal Dans are vegetables you can find on the side roads? I am only a Ninth Realm Alchemist, do not go around and spread rumors."
"I understand. You like keeping a low profile." Ling Hu chuckled.
"Here, take this. After your mother is healed, you should focus all your time and energy on your training and aim to gain a title from the combat competition. From there, enter the hidden territory." Ling Xian waved his hand and the jade bottle with three Energy-Freezing Dans dropped onto Ling Hu's hand.
Ling Hu opened the bottle and saw the dull purplish medicinal Dans.
A heavy medicinal aroma filled the room. Ling Hu's mouth moved in shock. He questioned, "Brother, I had one of these before. It was a third-ranked Dan. I don't think the smell was as strong as this one."
"This Dan is eighth-ranked. Of course, its quality is different than the one you had." Ling Xian knew very well that an eighth-ranked Dan represented many things. Many cultivators did not have the luck to even see one in their lifetime. Ling Xian was excited to see how Ling Hu would react.
Ling Hu's eyes widened into the size of balls. His heart was thumping at an uncontrollable rate, as he became even more excited than when he saw the 20,000 stones. Subconsciously, he held tightly onto the jade bottle, as if he was holding onto the most precious treasure in the world.
Even though he had little experience, he had fundamental knowledge about medicinal Dans. Any medical Dan, when it reached eighth-ranked, it could be sold for an astronomical amount of money. Also, there was a market for it but absolutely no supply. Back in the days, he used two months' worth of salary to buy a third-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan. Even then he felt like he was cutting into himself to make that purchase because of how expensive it was. An eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan… He was scared to even think about it.
An eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan could cause any cultivator to drool three inches and have them battle each other to get their hands on the Dan. Even the three clan leaders have never seen a medicinal Dan at this rank. In fact, in the entire City of Qing's history, there hasn't been an eighth-ranked spiritual Dan!
Right now, Ling Hu's hand was holding onto one. He felt like he was in a deep dream, a deep and wonderful dream.
The dumb fella slapped himself again. He only began to laugh after he confirmed that the pain meant he was not dreaming. "Hehe, I am not dreaming. An eighth-ranked medicinal Dan… I assume even our leaders have not seen one."
"Hey, is there really a need to behave this way? You have hit yourself twice! Aren't you in pain?" Ling Xian was a bit annoyed but very happy at the same time. He really did not think that three eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan would shock Ling Hu to this extent.
This was normal, as Ling Xian brewed the eighth-ranked Dans very casually. So of course, he did not think it was too big of a surprise. However, to a young cultivator who was very low in training, both 20,000 stones, and eighth-ranked Dans were concepts that were unimaginable for Ling Hu. Like the moon in the sky, they were ideas that were out of reach. One could only gaze from afar and be amazed by it, but one could never reach up and touch it.
When the moon he's been gazing up at was suddenly within his reach, the amount of excitement he felt was something that could not be understood by people who have always been high above others.
"Hehe, nope, not in pain. For these Dans, I am willing to take more slaps to the cheek." Ling Hu laughed naively, his big hand grasped onto the bottle, terrified that it might drop and break.
"Ah, you… so little prospects." Ling Xian shook his head as he beamed.
"Hehe," Ling Hu did not care at all about what Ling Xian said. He examined the Dans, completely intoxicated by it. It was like he saw a timeless beauty, who was giggling and flirting with him.
After a long time, he clenched his teeth and unwillingly gave the bottle back to Ling Xian. "Brother, I can't. This is way too precious. I am satisfied by seeing it, but you need it more than me."
It was a simple gesture, but a lot of courage was hidden inside it. Not everyone can endure the temptation given by an eighth-ranked Dan. Even though Ling Hu was a cultivator at the bottom of the food chain, he had many morals and rules that well-known cultivators never display.
Ling Xian felt a wave of warmth and looked at Ling Hu boastfully. He smiled. "I know you are thinking on my behalf, but you keep on forgetting that I am an alchemist now. These Energy-Freezing Dans were brewed by me yesterday. I do not lack in Dans. So, just listen to me and do what I say. Take it, and focus on your training. Then, come find me after."
"What? These eighth-ranked Dans were created by you?" Ling Hu shuddered, almost dropping the jade bottle.
Though he did not have a thorough understanding of the different stages in alchemy, he knew clearly what an eighth-ranked Dan meant for the alchemist that made it. Not only were these alchemists rare to find, they also had bright futures. It also meant that these alchemists were an indestructible and moving source of spiritual stones!
An eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan was 5,000 stones. Ten of them were 50,000 stones. If Ling Xian did nothing but brewing all day, how many Dans could he create? How many stones would he be able to sell them for?
Ling Hu stopped himself from even thinking that far. Ling Xian has brought way too many surprises today. First, he placed 20,000 spiritual stones before him and then gave him the priceless eighth-ranked Dan. Finally, he was told that Ling Xian brewed the Dans himself. He was delivered one shocking blow after another. His heart would not stop thumping loudly and he was at loss for words.
"I brewed it, and it was not very difficult. So take it in peace." Ling Xian nodded. He was completely unaware of how much weight this casual sentence cause Ling Hu to feel.
Ling Hu grinned bitterly and shook his head. "Not only did you amaze the mortals with your achievements, but you also soared into the sky and shocked the heavens."
"Stop flattering me. Hurry, take the stones and leave. Your mother is waiting to be saved with the Dan you buy." Ling Xian gestured for him to leave. "Do you have a storage pouch? If not, I will give you one."
"Yes, yes that is something I have." Ling Hu's olive face turned red. Even though they were close like real siblings, he was a little embarrassed now. Not only did he accept 20,000 stones, he also received three eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dans. Every single item was a treasure he never dared to dream about.
"Hu, there is no need to feel any pressure. Before, when I could not cultivate, it was you who always took care of me. Now, it's my turn to take care of you. There has to be a reason as to why you call me brother," Ling Xian patted his shoulder and said in a serious tone.
Ling Hu scratched his head and chuckled. "Brother, if mother knew how far you have come, I wonder how happy she would be."
"Alright, go to the Pavilion of Qi Zhen. If they don't have the Dan there, then go to the Fang Pavilion," Ling Xian instructed, "send my greetings to your mother. Tell her I will go visit in a few days."
"Okay. Brother, I will leave now." Ling Hu nodded and waved goodbye. He threw all the stones from the ground into his pouch and turned to leave the room.
Watching his silhouette, Ling Xian's lips curved upward.
20,000 stones and three eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan- items that were priceless in others' eyes, could not match what this friendship meant for him. Giving everything to Ling Hu did not pain him one bit.
After all, they were each other's lifelong brother.