Sensing such high hopes from Master Fang, Ling Xian smiled slyly, "Seeing that Master had summoned the Cups of the Midnight Glow, I gather that this is a Wine of the Divine, fermented with spiritual grapes cleansed of their earthly components and rested for 81 days. It is a premium wine of the highest quality."
"Excellent!" Master Fang exclaimed, "I had feared that drinking with you would've been a waste of such fine wine, but it seems now that I have found my match."
"I am no match for you. I only know a thing or two." Ling Xian shook his head humbly. Raising his cup, Ling Xian continued, "Master Fang, I dedicate this cup to you, for teaching me everything I know."
He chugged the entire cup of wine in one motion.
Master Fang waved his hand and replied, "I didn't teach you everything. You have always had the uncanny ability to enlighten yourself with the little that you were taught."
"Regardless, I would not be sitting here today if it weren't for you, please accept another salute from Ling Xian." Ling Xian gulped down another cup of wine.
"This is too much of a compliment. From a mortal who couldn't practice cultivation to the best in the City, your talent and resilience brought you here today. I didn't do anything." Master Fang looked at Ling Xian with a proud smile.
He had watched Ling Xian grow up, day after day. He knew Ling Xian's potential. For this talented young man, the sky was the limit.
Talent, enlightenment, and determination, an average cultivator would be lucky to have one of these qualities.
But Ling Xian had all three!
Even with these qualities, Master Fang could have never imaged it would take Ling Xian such a short period of time to transform into a hero.
Only one year.
From the uncultivable boy to the mightiest cultivator the City had ever known, there had never been and will never be another like Ling Xian. Who else would have slain two foundational-level enemies in one battle?
"Master Fang, do you remember what you said to me when you gave me the 500 spiritual stones?" Ling Xian asked.
"Of course I do." Master Fang brushed his beard and continued, "If you achieved greatness in this lifetime, don't forget to return. Why, are you here to repay me?"
"Yes, even though I have yet to accomplishment greatness, I am leaving the City of Qing. Perhaps after this day, I won't have the opportunity in this lifetime to repay you for your kindness." Ling Xian nodded.
"15 years of age, already decorated as the Master of the City, how can you say you have yet to achieve greatness?" Master Fang caught up to Ling Xian by downing another cup.
"Not worth mentioning." Ling Xian shook his head, though a glare of ambition could be detected briefly from his gaze. He continued, "I'm not afraid to make a fool of myself in front of you, but my goal is to conquer the Nine Heavens. Today I have nothing."
"Good ambitions." Master Fang did not stir. But deep down, he was overcome with pride. "The old you had ambitions that rose beyond the clouds yet you lived a shattered life. The new you still have the ambitions, but now you have the life to go after them."
After Ling Xian had gulped down another cup of wine, he shook his head and sighed. "My life is nothing special. The rest of the journey is destined to be a rough one. But I am ready for it."
Master Fang caught up again and said, "You possess the Eyes of Execution, the Flame of Purity, the Heaven Shadowing Palm Technique, they will not let you down. Ling Xian, your future will be much brighter than the one you imagined."
"Ok, Master Fang, let's talk about something else. Let me show you what I brought you." Ling Xian waved his sleeve and a black scroll darted across the air and landed in the hands of Master Fang.
"What's this?" The Master beamed. "Don't even think about fooling me with something worthless. I only accept the best."
"Master will know when he opens it." Ling Xian smiled back, knowing he is certain to be pleased.
Master Fang is one of the top three alchemists in the City of Qing, not easily impressed by pricey artifacts. But seeing such confidence from Ling Xian, he became curious.
Slowly and carefully, Master Fang opened up the scroll. He read the title of the scroll and instantly froze.
Formula for the Foundational Dan!
Dear Heavens! The Formula for the Foundational Dan!
Master Fang became ecstatic. With trembling hands, he whispered, "Ling Xian… this, this is really the Formula for the Foundational Dan?
"Correct." Ling Xian smiled back at him.
He knew nothing mattered more to Master Fang than formulas of the Dans. So he skimmed through the pages of the "Encyclopedia of Dans" and found the formula for the Foundational Dan, which he knew would please the Master.
Dan formulas were priceless to any alchemist. Such a formula was highly sought after by the best of the alchemists.
The foundational Dan, as its name suggests, is an incredibly rare and priceless Dan that could help a cultivator break through to the foundational level of cultivation. The formula for such a Dan was beyond priceless.
Master Fang was elated. He held the scroll firmly in his hands, as if it was the rarest treasure in the world.
This was the priceless formula for the foundational Dan. If he could master its brewing process, spiritual stones will fly through his front door nonstop on their own.
Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.
If Ling Xian had gifted him one Foundational Dan, he'd be happy. But what Ling Xian gifted him was the formula itself, how could anyone not die of pleasure upon receiving such a gift?
After a long pause, Master Fang finally regained his composure. He smiled bitterly and said, "Formula for the Foundation Dan. I wouldn't dare dream of ever possessing it. Ling Xian, you leave me in a difficult predicament."
"To accept or not to accept?" Ling Xian guessed it immediately. It must be that the gift was too valuable of a gift for the Master to accept comfortably.
"Of course, what I did for you is nothing compared to what you are giving me," Master Fang said earnestly. He wanted nothing more than what Ling Xian was offering him, but he knew, deep down, he was not deserving of such a gift.
Ling Xian eyed him in silence for a moment, then poured him another cup of wine and said, "A good deed never too small to be repaid. You took me in all those years ago, a small gesture to you but it spared me a lifetime of struggle and hardship. So, Master Fang, please do not refuse. I cannot accept your refusal."
Master Fang pondered a moment, then said, "Well then, if you put it that way, I'll take it."
"That is the right decision." Ling Xian let out a bright smile and raised his cup. "Cheers!"
"Cheers!" Master Fang yanked his head and downed the wine in one breath. He reminisced fondly about the early days. He could never have imagined that such an insignificant gesture all those years ago had led to possessing the formula for the foundational Dan so many years later.
Ling Xian smiled. The formula for the foundational Dan was only valuable to alchemists of small cities and towns who didn't have access to exclusive collections of manuals and scrolls. For alchemists of prominent establishments, this was not anything of great value.
Not to mention this formula was only one of countless formulas from the Encyclopedia of Dans.
"Right, Ling Xian, you mentioned you are leaving the City of Qing, where are you going?" Master Fang suddenly remembered what Ling Xian had said moments ago.
"An Elder from the House of Wan Jian came with an invitation to join them. I am going to the House of Wan Jian," Ling Xian answered truthfully.
"House of Wan Jian?" Master Fang opened his eyes wide then let out a roaring laughter and said, "Good, good, good, Heaven's Favorite indeed, the House sent an Elder to retrieve you."
"He was merely passing through and witnessed the battle by chance," Ling Xian corrected him.
"That's because you showed great qualities and potential." Master Fang exhaled deeply and continued, "That's a good place for you. The City of Qing is too small and ordinary to keep you grounded. It is time you seek out your own journey and let your talents shine."
"I know, I'm going there to complete the first step of my goal." Ling Xian looked out the window in contemplation.
"Ling Xian, I don't have anything of value to give you for this journey, only a few words I hope you will always remember." Master Fang's tone suddenly turned serious.
"Please speak." Ling Xian refocused his gaze.
"Regardless of what you become, always remember that the City of Qing is your home, your root. Come home when you have the chance. If I'm still alive, I shall welcome you always with open arms," Master Fang said heavily.
"Ling Xian will never forget Master's words," Ling Xian replied in a tone of solemnity.
"Good, with these words I can rest assured." Master Fang beamed at Ling Xian. "I'll wait for you then, I hope you come home soon. Don't wait until I'm dead and gone with the wind. Then you'll have nobody to drink with."
Ling Xian laughed out loud unintentionally, "Master is mocking me. You will live peacefully until I return. I promise to bring back the best wines from each corner of the earth, and we shall finish them together."
"Ha ha, then I must keep practicing. I'll need to stay alive and strong if I want to taste the best wines of this world!" Master Fang laughed.
They continued drinking until the moon was high and the wine had run dry. Ling Xian stood up, bowed deeply and said, "Master Fang, Ling Xian has a few things to take care of, I bid you farewell."
"Ok, I won't keep you." Master Fang was now moderately tipsy. He continued with sadness in his eyes, "Remember what I told you, come home when you get the chance. Come visit me."
Ling Xian nodded deeply, then turned around the headed for the resident quarters of the Lings.
Night had fallen. The moon shone brightly, high in the sky.
A gust of evening wind sent chills down Ling Xian's spine, diminishing his tipsiness slightly.
"Ling Xian, I've been waiting a long time."
A deep voice sounded in the near distance. Ling Xian frowned as he came face to face with the figure that emerged into the light, "May I ask why you were waiting?"
I've come to challenge the mightiest warrior of the City of Qing.
The shadowy figured turned around to reveal a familiar face - Master of the City, Ye Xiao Tian.
Dressed in an emerald robe, he stood tall, elevating his thick physique.
"Master Ye?" Ling Xian was slightly startled by his appearance. He had guessed why the Master of the City had come, but asked regardless, "You want to battle me and retrieve the title of the mightiest warrior."
"Correct. That day, I admit I was no match for you, and thus gladly handed over the title." Ye Xiao Tian continued coldly, "But since you have decided to leave the city, then this title, I must get back. Let's settle this now."
Ling Xian curled his lips and felt his fighting urge race through his body. He responded, "Let's settle it then. If you win, I will gladly hand you back this title on a golden platter."
Ye Xiao Tian let out a roaring laughter. A violent windstorm followed.
"Ling Xian, first round, take my fist!"