Ling Xian frowned as the color drained from his face. What hit him hard wasn't the fact that he failed, rather, it was that he could not think of the reason behind his failure.
The way he handled each spiritual medicine and the way he controlled the Flame of Purity were both perfect. Every move he made was precise and flawless. How could he have failed?
Lin Qing Yi looked at the unmoving Ling Xian with a confused look on her face. She didn't think there was anything unusual with failing to brew a Dan on an alchemist's first attempt. Under normal circumstances, no alchemist, not even those who are top-tier, could make the promise of successfully brewing every single Dan. However, she was puzzled over how a procedure that was flawless from beginning to end could suddenly go wrong?
Ling Xian was thinking about the same thing. He had the Essence of Herbalism, and he knew every ingredient like the back of his hand. There was no way he could have made a mistake when combining the spiritual medicines and there were no unusual activities with the Flame of Purity. Additionally, the recipe was given by his master. There was definitely no issue with that.
Wait a minute!
Ling Xian recalled the hints that appeared in his brain when he picked up every ingredient. He worked through every property of every ingredient and slowly recognized the irregularities.
The second spiritual medicine was the Fruit of Energy. This type of medicine grew in places full of spiritual energy, where spring lasted the entire year, and the temperature was always warm. This fruit was compatible with every type of spiritual medicine except for the Mint Yellow Grass. However, Mint Yellow Grass was the last ingredient listed on the recipe.
The moment the Fruit of Energy combines with the Mint Yellow Grass, they clashes and results in the failure of the Dan.
After pinpointing the area that caused the failure, Ling Xian became a lot more relaxed. He understood then that Liao Cang Qiong intentionally gave him the wrong recipe to create some difficulties for him in order to test his attention to detail.
Ling Xian shook his head and chuckled, "Master, this is too easy. You know I have the Essence of Herbalism, and therefore I possess the knowledge for every spiritual medicine. How could I not realize the reason for my failed brewing?"
Just as he was getting ready to start brewing for the second time, he frowned and pondered. [Wait a minute. If the Master wants to test me, then he wouldn't use such an easy method. I cannot be too careless. I should check everything again.]
He calmed himself down and again thought through the properties of each ingredient. After a while, he couldn't find any issues other than the Mint Yellow Grass.
"I have a question for you. If I were to tell you that out of the nine spiritual medicines here, one ingredient has problems that resulted in the failure of this Dan, which ingredient do you think is least likely to be the problem?" Ling Xian asked Lin Qing Yi.
"The least likely?" Lin Qing Yi froze for a moment. His question was a little strange, but she did not argue. She didn't even need time to think before she answered, "Definitely the Fruit of Energy. Its spiritual properties allow it to be combined with any ingredients. It is least likely to be the problem."
"What everyone thinks is the least likely is sometimes the most likely." Ling Xian's eyes brightened, and he finally understood the fundamental issue of this failure.
It wasn't the Mint Yellow Grass, it was the Fruit of Energy.
This spiritual medicine did not belong to the simplified recipe of the Qing Hua Dan. It was added by Liao Cang Qiong as a way to test him. Due to its unique property of allowing it to be combined with any other medicine, Ling Xian overlooked it since the beginning. Also, logically, Mint Yellow Grass was most likely to have been the issue.
This created a blind spot in his logic, or what they called inertia thinking - they believed that the Fruit of Energy would never be the problem because of its special properties.
If Ling Xian went ahead and removed the Mint Yellow Grass from the recipe, then he would've truly fallen into the trap set up by Liao Cang Qiong.
Luckily, Ling Xian was naturally smart and realized that Liao Cang Qiong would never test him with obvious concepts that could be easily figured out. This was why he asked Lin Qing Yi a simple question, and her answer made him realize the real problem.
[Master, you must be laughing hysterically right now and thinking you are so witty. Laugh as much as you want now because I don't believe that you can squeeze out a smile when I present the Qing Hua Dan before you.] Ling Xian confidently grinned.
He adjusted himself and began the brewing process for the second time. He waved his hand, and the Flame of Purity entered the cauldron. The spiritual medicines that were floating in midair entered with the flame.
He again divided his energy into eight sections, with each section engulfing a spiritual medicine. He started the first step of brewing by drawing out each ingredient's essence.
This time, he was a lot faster with the brewing process. Before long, essences were drawn out of all eight spiritual medicines under his precise manipulation. Spinning under his control, the ingredients mixed together. This time, without the Fruit of Energy, the entire combination process went smoothly. Very soon, the ingredients turned into an aromatic powder form.
Beside him, Lin Qing Yi watched him streamlining the process efficiently, and she couldn't help but become mesmerized. Her sparkling and starry eyes flashed with yearning.
[This is what a real grandmaster is capable of. To draw out the essences of eight ingredients all at the same time. To do so, the alchemist needs perfect control of the flame and flawless manipulation of his spiritual energy. On top of that, the alchemist must believe in himself because who else would dare to attempt something so crazy? The biggest risk I ever took was to draw out essences of three different spiritual medicine at once.] Lin Qing Yi was in awe. She fully believed that the real identity of the man before her was a grandmaster.
Looking at the powder surrounded by the silver flame, Ling Xian nodded lightly and enhanced the strength of the flame. His actions forced the energy he poured into the cauldron to boil.
After a dull noise, the powder was solidified under the pressure of his energy. Slowly, inside the cauldron, it formed into a giant Dan.
A heavy Dan aroma seeped into the room, awakening everyone's heart and mind.
Lin Qing Yi sniffed with her small nose and shock flashed across her shiny eyes. She asked, "With such a heavy scent, this is a Dan that is higher than the seventh rank. However, the way the energy is moving shows that this isn't the typical sixth-ranked Qing Hua Dan?"
"This is a simplified version of the Qing Hua Dan. It is ninth-ranked. I found the recipe in a relic somewhere," Ling Xian lied.
"That makes sense. I was wondering why its energy movements were like a ninth-ranked Dan," Lin Qing Yi realized, "even though it is a simplified version of the Dan, it is still very valuable. In the Taoism community, too many cultivators lose their ability to summon energy due to unfortunate accidents. If any of them find out that the lost Qing Hua Dan has been created again, I bet they would be willing to trade anything to get their hands on one."
Ling Xian shook his head and said, "I don't want people to know about what happened here today. You can keep this secret for me can't you?"
'Of course, I can keep this a secret. I promise not to let out a single word about what happened," Lin Qing Yi smiled brightly. It seemed that she was over joyous to now have a secret between herself and Ling Xian.
Ling Xian nodded in satisfaction. Staring at the giant Dan inside the cauldron, ten of his fingers danced and mysterious spells were cast.
After a loud shout, the fist-sized Dan emitted waves of light and cracked in six places. Then, it divided into six dragon-eye-sized milky white Dans. They turned gently under the Flame of Purity, and the heavy and strange aromatic smell became even deeper than before.
He waved his sleeve and six of those milk white Dan flew out of the cauldron and hung in mid-air. They shone with a dizzying ray of light.
The long lost Qing Hua Dan reappeared into the world!
Staring at the seven imprints on the Dans that indicated its seventh rank, Ling Xian became more emotional than words could describe. This means not only did he pass Liao Can Qiong's test, but he now also could save Ling Hu mother's life!
Even though this was only a simplified version of a Qing Hua Dan, it was still priceless. Many cultivators who could no longer practice due to blood and energy problems would trade all their possessions for one of these in order to continue their cultivation journey.
Waving his hand again, a Qing Hua Dan flew in front of his eyes. Using his mana, he carved the word "immortal" onto the Dan. He flicked his finger, and it turned into a ray of light and flew to Lin Qing Yi's side.
"This one's for you. Just think of it as compensation for all the ingredients you brought me."
Lin Qing Yi carefully took over the Dan. Looking at the imprinted "immortal" on there, her face was full of happiness. She said, "Thank you! I will treasure this all my life."
Ling Xian grinned lightly and placed the other five Dans into his storage pouch. Then, he purposely picked the one with the best quality and sent it into the Painting of the Nine Immortals.
He knew that Liao Cang Qiong would be able to feel it.
As expected, a voice whispered in his head.
[Wow way to go. You actually brewed it, and it is a top-tier seventh-ranked Qing Hua Dan. Not bad, not bad. As your master, I am very pleased.]
[Master, next time, test me in a different way. This is way too easy. Figuring out the riddle was not hard at all.] Ling Xian said shamelessly.
[Just because I complimented you doesn't mean you should get cocky. How many sets of ingredients did you use?] Liao Cang Qiong questioned.
[Two sets.] Ling Xian replied smugly.
Liao Cang Qiong stopped talking then. He thought that Ling Xian would at least use three sets of ingredients and try brewing it three times. He predicted that the first time he would fail because of the combination of Fruit of Energy and Mint Yellow Grass. The second time he would fall into his trap and fail because he would believe that the problem was Mint Yellow Grass. Finally, he would find the root issue during the third brew, therefore, succeed in brewing.
He did not expect Ling Xian to be intelligent enough to find the core issue after failing just once. He was very much surprised at the result.
After staying silent for a while, Liao Cang Qiong's voice rose again. [It was a simplified version of a Qing Hua Dan yet it took you two attempts to brew it. What are you so smug about?]
[Master, you purposely wanted me to fail.] Ling Xian said helplessly.
[What are you talking about, little guy? Why would I dig you a hole to fall into? What I did was for your benefit. I wanted you to practice alchemy carefully and thoughtfully. First of all, I wanted you to precisely practice every step of the Dan brewing process. Second of all, I wanted you to learn the lesson of not trusting others so easily in case you get scammed in the future. The community we live in is a dangerous one, it's hard to predict what others are thinking.] Liao Cang Qiong said with a heavy heart.
[Master you are good at digging holes for me. It is obvious that you purposely wanted to make fun of me, watch me fail and laugh at me. Yet you say it's for my own benefit.] Ling Xian pouted.
[Why would you say this! I took the effort to set a trap not with the wish of you failing in mind, rather I wanted you to find the trap and dodge it. Do you even understand?] Liao Cang Qiong's voice sounded like he was very offended.
[Yes, yes, I understand. You have done everything for my benefit.] Ling Xian bitterly smiled. At this moment, he realized that the famous Liao Cang Qiong had the personality of a child. He was terrified of being misunderstood, and he loved to tease others.