Ye Shaochong stopped in his tracks and slowly turned. He flashed a deadly glare so terrifying that everyone felt a chill down their spine.
Noticing that the tinderbox might be setting off, Princes Qi and Yan threw themselves at Meng Qi trying to hold him back while Prince Zhao went to Ye Shaochong with a welcoming smile, "All is well, all is well, Senior Brother Ye. We will pay our dues of Spirit Stones next month with no delay."
Ye Shaochong smiled wickedly, "Smart. Remember, I am king here. You can get all the help you want. I will be here waiting for you." When he had finished, he turned and walked off smugly.
A while later, both Princes Qi and Yan were rubbing Xiao Chen's chest to soothe his anger, "Be calm, Brother Xiao. There is no need to sully your hands with such trash..."
Prince Zhao came over and sighed, "We only wanted you here to accompany us, Senior Brother Xiao. Your presence calms us. We did not expect you to go against him on our behalf..."
Xiao Chen looked at the slap mark on his face and said, "I'm sorry. Wait for me. I'll reach Lv 2 Qi Refining Realm soon enough."
Not long after that, two young men in white approached them. One of them spoke first, "Are you Xiao Chen? Our leader, Brother Qi, likes you. He is interested to know if you are interested in joining our clique, North Mountain?"
Prince Zhao, who had fallen into a sullen mood, leaped with surprise, "Are you the clique who are rivals with that wretched Ye Shaochong?"
One of the young men in white nodded, "Indeed we are."
"Good, good, good..." Prince Zhao grew excited. But before he could continue, Xiao Chen replied flatly, "I'm sorry. I'm not interested in your offer."
The young men nodded, "We'll take our leave then. Please consider our offer. You can only do so much, being alone. The North Mountain clique will welcome you anytime." They then leave briskly. They could not stay long in the southern side of the gorge.
Two cliques of disciples reigned in Sunset Peak. Ye Shaochong lorded over the southern side of the Peak while the northern gang, North Mountain, was led by Zhuo Wuhen. Disciples unaffiliated to any of the gangs were required to pay one Spirit Stones each month. Those who did were not required to pay, but they owed complete compliance to the will of their leader.
It was a tradition that even the three Elders would never intercede, for they too have once joined such gangs during their days as disciples.
At length, Prince Zhao said, "Let us not trouble ourselves with all this bedlam, Senior Brother Xiao. We must increase our powers and advance to become Inner Disciples."
Xiao Chen made no reply. The current world they live in was the same everywhere: the biggest bully ruled with absolute power. Without power, anyone would be able to have their way over them. At his family's residence he had encountered Qin Xiu from the Skygale Sect, and now at the Sunset Peak, Ye Shaochong was here to torment them. He did not forget that there was still a certain Mo Yu who ruled the ranks of the Inner Disciples with tyranny.
He was no longer a disciple of the Mystic Cyan Sect. There was once a time when the mere mention of his tutelage with Immortal Miaoyin of the Mystic Cyan Sect would have sent all foes fleeing.
However, how things were different now that even a mere Cultivator of the Qi Refining Realm dared to antagonize him. Hence, he knew that there was no other way. He must become stronger; so strong that all would speak of his name with fear. He would want to be like Brother Yifeng, whom even the five Elders fear.
"I'm going back," he said as he rose to his feet, leaving the gorge.
"So be it then. Let's go. We're leaving too," said the three princes who followed behind.
As they walked, Prince Zhao sighed heavily, exasperated, "Do not fret! We have few people with us now. Wait till we have more people with us. I still have legions of hosts at my command..."
"Keep that figment of imagination to yourself! I have not even seen before the shadows of your so-called legions!" Prince Yan teased.
Xiao Chen smiled lightly at their banter, waving his hand and conjured a Spirit Stone. Prince Zhao gaped at this, "Oh my God! You are extraordinary, Senior Brother! In such a short time, you have mastered the Divine Vessel technique!"
Xiao Chen smiled and tossed the Stone to him. Prince Zhao scratched his head, Is he hinting for me to try out the technique myself?
For some time, he stood there, wondering until he remembered, he had given one of his Spirit Stones to Ye Shaochong earlier. Hastily, he spoke, "The Spirit Stone is yours, Senior Brother! I will not accept it!" He shoved the Stone back into Xiao Chen's hand.
Back at the courtyard, Lil Ruo saw that Xiao Chen was back early today. She anxiously looked to see if he was injured, gasping with relief when she finally found that he was well. Giggling, she said, "Let me cook something for you, Young Master."
"All right." Xiao Chen smiled and nodded. He went to his room and laid on his bed; his eyes fell on the broken sword that hung over his bed. He laughed to himself, "Power! I need power!"
The Mystic Cyan Cultivation Method would never be able to help him unless he could find some place with a richer concentration of Spiritual Qi. He took out two more Spirit Stones and absorbed their energies, feeling the slight increase in his powers.
He would need at least twenty more such Stones if he wanted to reach Lv 2 successfully. Still, with only three Stones distributed to him each month, from where could he find twenty pieces in a short time? Moreover, he did not have much money left...
Suddenly, an idea came to him in a flash. He rushed outside and called, "Lil Ruo! Lil Ruo! Stop cooking! I need you to head to the town to buy me some things!"
Lil Ruo sped out from the kitchen and wiped her hands, asking, "What do you need, Young Master?"
Xiao Chen said to her happily, "Listen closely. I need you to buy all these medicinal herbs for me. Get as much as you can..." He then continued reciting a list of the herbs to her. Fearful that she might forget any, he wrote her a list that she could refer to.
"Oh, oh! Understood. I will go right away."
He then returned to his bed, a smile hanging across his face, thinking, "It is near now, Ye Shaochong... Just you wait... Lv 2 Qi Refining Realm is in my grasp now..."
Lil Ruo finally returned at sundown, her forehead doused with sweat as she returned with packages of medicinal herbs. Xiao Chen received the bags from her and told her, "All right. Go have some rest now. There shall be no more work for you today."
Xiao Chen went back to his room. He would then begin brewing three different elixirs: Qi-refining Pills, Energy Pills, and Energy-fortifying Pills. Qi-refining Pills, as the name suggested, helped disciples of the Body Refining Realm and the Qi Refining Realm enjoy huge increases in their powers; a supplement which has always been popular amongst the students of the arcane arts in the Sunset Peak.
Energy Pills were used to restore one's True Energy — a most commonly-used elixir among the disciples. Energy-fortifying Pills were used to strengthen one's mastery of their present realm, being used mostly in conjunction with the ingestion of Qi-refining Pill for better efficacy.
For one entire night, Xiao Chen busied himself with brewing dozens of Energy Pills and more than ten Energy-fortifying Pills, along with three Qi-refining Pills. He held in his hand a pearly-white elixir and studied it as if the pill had a rapturing allure.
It was one of the Qi-refining Pills. One could quickly rise to Lv 2 Qi Refining Realm within two hours of ingestion. One might even consume a little more to rise up to Lv 3 swiftly.
He shook his head, as if waking up from a trance, and filled the elixirs into three different jade flasks. The words of his master, Ling Yin, echoed in his mind from his memories from thousands of years ago, "Remember, Chen'er. Elixirs may increase your powers tremendously for a short time. Then again, these are foreign supplements nonetheless. They will never be as effective and potent as the powers that you obtain on your own through painstaking training and meditation. You will understand me fully when you reach certain levels one day."
Elixirs such as Qi-refining Pills, Foundation Building Pills, Core-forming Pills, Nascent Soul Pills, Nirvana Pills, and Apotheosis Pills were all widely acclaimed as the rarest and most potent of all elixirs, for they could instantaneously increase one's levels of power. This was precisely the reason that they were most popular among Cultivators of the arcane arts.
However, be it a Foundation Building Pill, or even a Core-forming Pill, Xiao Chen would never consume any of them.
With his wares packed and ready, Xiao Chen brought the items with him to the Sky-gazing Gorge, where he found the three princes already there meditating. They saw Xiao Chen coming and immediately left him space.
An hour later, Xiao Chen peered around and found that most disciples of the Sunset Peak were already present. He turned and whistled to the three princes and motioned them to him. Feeling curious, they crept to him and whispered, "What is it, Senior Brother Xiao?"
Xiao Chen looked around to make sure no one was looking and quietly produced the three jade flasks. He snuck the bottles to Prince Zhao and breathed quietly to him, "Take and sell these."
Prince Zhao almost jumped with shock, his eyes wide as ever, "You are smuggling forbidden medicines!"
Xiao Chen scowled at him and hastily motioned for silence, "To hell with your forbidden! These are common Qi-refining Pills, Energy Pills, and Energy-fortifying Pills!"
Prince Zhao shook his hand, "No, no, no, no! I am a Prince! You want me to go peddling elixirs? My father will kill me if word of this travels back to the State of Zhao!"
Xiao Chen's face turned dark, "So you'd have me, a Young Master of a wealthy family, to sell them instead?"
Prince Zhao gulped hard.
"Are you going or not?"
"All right then! I'll go!," Prince Zhao roared, vexed, as he threw the other two flasks to his companions, "You two! Come with me!"
Hence, Prince Zhao found an old and battered pot and began beating on it with a branch as he moved into the crowd of disciples huddled together, yelling, "Everyone, everyone! Come and have a look and not miss our offer of the day!"
"Silence! Be quiet!"
He then moved to another group of disciples.
"Hi there! Come, have a look..."
"Ahem. Very well..." Prince Zhao continued wandering around before he moved to the deserted area at the center of the gorge. He took out a Qi-refining Pill and called out loud, "Everyone! Elixirs freshly-brewed from the Elixir Room of the Black Dragon Peak! We have anything that you could possibly need: Qi-refining Pills, Energy Pills, and even Energy-fortifying Pills! Reasonable and honest prices!"
He yelled for quite some time, but only a few people raised their heads to looked at him before returning to their meditation with their heads shaking.
It was until close to noon, when the three princes returned to Xiao Chen, their throats hoarse from all the yelling. Still, none of their wares were sold.
"What an embarrassment! Nobody is buying anything!" Prince Zhao grumbled as he threw the broken pot to the ground.
Xiao Chen frowned, the three elixirs he had brewed were supposed to be selling well, especially the Qi-refining Pills. Why were his fellow disciples not interested?
Just then, a young man came to them and asked quietly, "Are you selling Qi-refining Pills?"