Similar to the Nine realms of alchemy, different Dans were also categorized into Nine realms with the First realm Dans being the most difficult and most impressive, and the Ninth being the simplest. What was different was that each individual Dan was also ranked out of ten based on quality.
Dans that are ranked one out ten, though still a Dan, are never consumed by monks. Because the one rank out of ten indicates that 90% of the Dan was slightly venomous.
The slight poison in the Dan was not enough to be fatal. However, it stayed in the consumer's body and affected the organs of the monk. If a monk continuously consumed Dans that are rank one, he or she can develop serious diseases that compromised their ability to move qi freely. With these diseases, it would become difficult to move forward with Taoism.
Consequently, monk with strong abilities would only purchase high quality Dans. After all, the consumption of Dans was to improve spiritual energy and further Taoism cultivation. What was the point of buying a Dan if there were risks of ruining one's body and their journey to Immortality?
Under normal circumstances, Dans ranked above three were considered to be true Dans and can be sold. For this reason, the quality of Dan was one of the major criteria used to distinguish a great alchemist from an okay one. With each progression of realms, the alchemist was required to dedicate huge amounts of time and energy into practicing and perfecting their Dan making skills. There were three major aspects of Dan making: understanding of alchemy, manipulation of spiritual energy, and application of medicinal herbs. All three aspects had to be fully mastered for an alchemist to make Dans that belonged to higher realms.
To brew Dans that were rank three was an easy task for any reasonably skilled alchemists. Dans that were rank five were less common, as it requires a considerable amount of training. For Dans that were ranked seven out of ten, it became very rare. Alchemists that could achieve this were pampered and bribed by the rich and ambitious. Alchemists that can brew eighth-ranked Dans are basically mythical creatures like phoenixes.
Normally, with each level of increase in ranking, the price of a Dan doubled. Therefore, those ranked seven out of ten are usually not found in common markets since the moment they are put out in the market, they are immediately safeguarded by other alchemists, who hope to learn and be inspired by the high-quality Dan.
Ling Xian was very focused. He placed each ingredient in one by one. Having all the knowledge and guidance needed, he carefully studied each ingredient and disposed parts that were considered poor quality.
The Flame of Purity was boiling inside the cauldron. Ling Xian carefully controlled the intensity of the flames in order to burn away the surface of each ingredient first before exposing and burning the essence of it. The flame had been divided into seven smaller flames with each flame burning each ingredient.
Because each herb has different resistance to heat, the alchemist's patience and understanding of each herb was put under the test. If Ling Xian did not have the Essence of Herbalism, it would've taken him years to discover the properties of each ingredient and understand which herbs needed high temperatures and which ones don't. Because he had all the knowledge needed, it didn't take a lot of effort for Ling Xian to control the level of the flames. Soon, all nine ingredients were burned to powder form.
Wiping off sweat, he exhaled deeply. Fourth level qi poured out of him heavily and began to control the nine piles of powders. Pushing with his qi, the nine piles of powder converged and combined in mid-air. Slowly, they crystallized into five dragon-eye sized embryonic Dans.
"Not bad. Your fundamental skills are impressive. Your first time making a Dan has been smooth with very little obvious flaws. I am very pleased." Liao Cang Qiong smiled.
"You have no idea how many times I have imagined myself brewing a Dan by myself in the past six years. It is not something unfamiliar to me." Ling Xian stared at the embryonic Dans he had just created.
This was a scene that he had been yearning for, for years.
Ling Xian began to infuse Heaven and Earth's spiritual energy into the cauldron. The waves of spiritual energy pushed the embryonic Dans back and forth, rushing them to quickly turn into proper Dans.
A bright ray of light flashed out of the black cauldron. The warm and soft ring of light wrapped around the embryonic Dans. The aroma of medicine began to spread. This ring of light was a feature of the cauldron, as each cauldron was charmed to help increase the quality of a Dan. Because this cauldron was from the cheapest room, its ability to improve the Dan's quality was not high.
After a while, Ling Xian formed one hand seal after another - he has moved on to collecting the Dan.
The black cauldron radiated with light as the Flame of Purity danced and transformed into the shape of a human hand. It held onto the five purple Dans carefully, as surges of medicinal scent filled the room.
Bang, bang, bang!
A series of crisp bangs sounded, following it was the birth of five purple Dans. They floated in mid-air with heavy spiritual energy dancing around them. It was as if eating one of them would carry the user to the stage of training.
Ling Xian was excited. He waved his hand and the five purple colored Dans fell into his hand.
"Three sixth rank Dans, one seventh rank and one is unbelievably an eighth-ranked Dan!" Gaping at the Dans, Liao Cang Qiong couldn't help it but exclaim in shock.
The most accurate way to judge the quality of a Dan was to look at the texture - every line on the Dan represents one rank. He thought that Ling Xian's first brew would be a fifth rank at best and that after a few practices, he would brew seventh-ranked Dans.
He could not believe that his apprentice gave him such a big pleasant surprise during his first brew.
Staring at the ecstatic young boy, Liao Cang Qiong nodded softly. His heart was filled with satisfaction and admiration.
Ling Xian also smiled widely. He gazed at the eight lines on the eighth-ranked Dan as a wave of proudness washed over him.
He had reached a level that many alchemists cannot achieve in their lifetime. Thought it was only a Dan that belonged to the Ninth realm and he did rely on the two treasures he was gifted with, achieving an eighth-ranked Dan while he was still a alchemy pupil was a great indicator of his potential. Even alchemists from the Eighth or Seventh realm cannot guarantee that they can make an eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan.
"Master, I have finished my brewing process. Are you satisfied?" Ling Xian chuckled softly.
"Acceptable." Liao Cang Qiong intentionally played it cool. He criticized, "You can improve on controlling the flame's intensity. The way you moved with your qi was also not meticulous enough. If you did well on those, all five Dans should be at the same level instead of such a big variation in quality. Remember, alchemy is as profound as the sea. You must be careful and pay attention. Do not get cocky and lose yourself."
"Yes, I will remember." Ling Xian bitterly snickered under his breath but did not confront Liao Cang Qiong. He clearly saw the surprised and pleased face when he collected the Dans. Despite that, his Master still pretended to be not completely satisfied. Of course, Ling Xian understood that Liao Cang Qiong only meant well.
"Continue your practice. Master I, will return first." Liao Cang Qiong said as his fragile body disappeared into thin air.
When Liao Cang Qiong returned to the Painting of the Nine Immortals, he could no longer hide the excitement in his heart. Traces of mist covered his eyes as he mumbled to himself, "The Gods have showed me their sympathy and granted me with such a talented apprentice. I for sure will have a successor now."
Ling Xian did not know his Master would praise him so highly inside the Painting of the Nine Immortals. He safely stored the five Dans before he readjusted his mana and prepared for a second round of brewing.
The second time around was a lot easier after having that first practice.
Activate the black cauldron, ignite the Flame of Purity, input the ingredients, he followed each step closely and easily despite the difficulty of the process. He was feeling truly fulfilled as he completed the entire practice.
He was so focused on the brewing process that he did not even notice when a beautiful lady dressed in cyan stepped inside the room. Because he was so uncareful in the beginning and did not cast spells that inhibits others from seeing or viewing the room, the lady could clearly see and hear the entire process of his alchemy practice.
Lin Qing Yi gazed at Ling Xian throughout his practice as if it was a creative process. Her shiny bright eyes swelled with bewilderment.
She was the only Eighth Realm Alchemist in the City of Qing. With her skill level, she could easily identify that the one dressed in a black robe and a bamboo hat was brewing the Energy-Freezing Dan from the Ninth realm.
Though she has seen a lot, she had never seen someone who completed the entire brewing process in such a short amount of time. Breathing in the heavy scent of medicine, her astonishment grew.
"This heavy scent must mean…it's a eighth-ranked Dan!" Lin Qing Yi's lips departed in surprise.
Despite her title of an Eighth Realm Alchemist, she could not create an eighth-ranked Energy-Freezing Dan. When she brews a Dan that is sixth-ranked she would be happy about it for a long time. Therefore, when three eighth-ranked Dan appeared before her eyes, the amazement she was feeling was hard to describe.
Forgetting her normally mature, composed, and noble image, she stood there in shock, gazing at Ling Xian. Her expression changed from confusion to jealousy and then finally to fascination.
As if she has forgotten the passing of time, she stared at his every movement, terrified of missing out on a single detail.
Looking at the smooth process, Lin Qing Yi was deeply impressed. Though at first she was unwilling to admit it, but now, she was openly admiring him.
"Who is this person? I have never heard that in the City of Qing there is an alchemy grandmaster with such superb skills. Compared to this grandmaster, my title as the best alchemist in the city is a bit laughable now." The beautiful lady giggled soft, desperately wanting to know who the person before her was and what he looked like.
Her soft laughter startled the highly-focused Ling Xian.
The sudden distraction made Ling Xian jump. The Flame of Purity suddenly got out of control and flared
up. The high temperature made the cauldron creak and the next thing he saw was the black cauldron breaking apart, pieces of the cauldron flew in all directions.
Ling Xian, who was standing right before the cauldron, did not have enough time to cast a shield for himself when the blow from the explosion lunged him backwards, slamming him into the wall.
Ling Xian spat out a mouthful of fresh blood, dying the sheer cloth that draped down from his bamboo hat.
Ling Xian raised his head and stared at the frightened woman before the door. His gaze was frigidly cold.