A few days after settling in, the eight Alchemists sat in a private Hall. They avoided the main Hall because it was too noisy! So they'd asked the servants to provide a place for them to discuss in peace. The City Lord obliged very quickly.
Thus, the Alchemists had once again gathered to discuss Alchemy, right after the Palace was reconstructed to make a Hall for them. It couldn’t be helped, it was just too beneficial to interact with other talented Alchemists! Their different perspectives, ideas and methods clashed, honing their ability
Moreover, there was Xiao Hong who was pretty much acknowledged as the best Alchemist among them! Be it theory, problem-solving, or actual pill production, she was heads and shoulders above them. Of course, Xiao Hong tried her best to remain humble under their praises. It was always better to remain humble, Heavens know when some protagonist might show up to face-slap her?
Just as they were discussing, there was a knock at the door.
“Hm? Oh, it’s a maid.” Li Hao looked over before ignoring it in favour of gazing at Xiao Hong, his sparkling with excitement, “So, you’re saying the Spirit Dream Pill’s condensation can be sped up if you add 10 units of Spirit Grass extract?!”
Xiao Hong nodded, “The Spirit Grass’s neutral nature serves as a great platform for the fusion of the Nightmare Lily and Daylight Moss’s opposing medicinal properties…”
“Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!” Li Hao was so excited he jumped up from his seat, whipped out his cauldron and started refining on the spot!
As Li Hao was excitedly refining away, An Taiping turned to the other Alchemists. With a raised eyebrow, he asked, “Don’t you think the City Lord is giving us more care than is actually needed?” He paused, “I mean a whole bottle of Spirit Wine after every discussion ‘to soothe our sore throats’ is a bit much, right?”
He Ping rolled his eyes, “Why are you so bothered? Since they’re giving it, just accept it!”
An Taiping looked at him speechlessly, ‘Don’t you know that free things are often the priciest?’
“Brother An isn’t wrong, you know?” Chen Yu stepped in. “There is definitely a motive behind giving us so much favour. After all, despite being Grade 2 Alchemists of the Purple Spirit Sect, we don’t exactly have a very high status compared to the City Lord.”
“Well, let’s just go ask him then!” Nangong Wan wanted to run away from these discussions. Watching Xiao Hong show off over and over made her really want to stab someone to death!
With that, she jumped onto her feet and walked towards the door.
“Let’s go as well,” Qi Lijuan stood up gracefully and gestured to meek Yan Bao next to her, who nodded with a red face.
Xiao Hong decided to go too. Maybe there was a show to watch?
Chen Yu followed after her.
He Ping looked at Li Hao who was still excitedly refining pills, ‘... Forget it, what's the point in watching a burly man refine pills? If it were Alchemist Xiao or Alchemist Qi, I’d definitely watch!’ As for Nangong Wan? As a man, he liked curves, not jade slips!
With that, he, too, left.
Li Hao was left all alone, happily refining pills.
City Lord’s Mansion.
In the City Lord’s Visitor’s Room, the City Lord looked at the Alchemists of the Purple Spirit Sect. His gaze feverishly moved between the seven of them.
Just now, Nangong Wan had straightforwardly asked what he wanted.
“Ah… It’s,” He opened and closed his mouth a few times before sighing, “Well, you see, my daughter, she seems to have fallen ill, and I hope for the Esteemed Alchemist to lend me your infinite wisdom!”
“Huh?” Chen Yu was startled, “How could a cultivator become sick? Or is your daughter a mortal? Shouldn’t your Zhenqi suffice then?”
The City Lord shook his head, “My daughter is a Divine Sea peak stage cultivator. Yet a few months ago her cultivation started to decline inexplicably, falling to Divine Sea late stage. A month ago it fell to mid-stage and just yesterday, to initial-stage. Her body has become so weak, even a Sky Spirit could crush her bones.”
Xiao Hong felt her eyebrows rise in surprise. Even though cultivating Essence (Zhenqi) doesn't directly strengthen the cultivator’s body, under the nourishment of Zhenqi, their bodies become stronger. Or rather, if the body doesn’t become stronger, there is no way it would be able to bear the might of Zhenqi. Thus, a cultivator would always be able to fight and defeat a lower-realm cultivator with his body alone!
Meaning, a Divine Sea cultivator, could easily match and defeat a Sky Spirit with the power of his body alone.
That a Divine Sea peak stage cultivator’s body weakened to such a point that a Sky Spirit could harm it, meant there was something really wrong!
Qi Lijuan spoke up, “Have you checked for poison?”
“I have. That was the first thing I did. But no matter how I checked it, no matter who checked it, the result was the same - there was not a single trace of poison!” The City Lord shook his head despondently. If it were poison, he would have solved it by now! After all, he was a peak Celestial Bridge Cultivator. He had tons of connections with Grade 3 and 4 Alchemists. But even they could not figure it out.
The reason he’d put his hope on these mere Grade 2 Alchemists was that they were from the Purple Spirit Sect - a powerful Sect with a history so long, he could not begin to fathom it.
He hoped that at least one of these Alchemists had coincidentally come across a record about such a sickness.
“Well, take us to her. We won’t be able to diagnose without having a look first.” An Taiping suggested.
The City Lord nodded, releasing the breath he’d been holding. There was at least some hope for his daughter - however small.
Entering Huang Yu’s (the city lord’s daughter) room, they immediately caught sight of a young lady lying on a bed, staring up at the ceiling vacantly.
Every time City Lord Huang looked at his daughter’s state, his heart ached. His lovely, lovely daughter, who shone like the sun at high noon, brightening his nightmare of a life, now lay like a dead star, without any light or hope. Her lush brown hair which seemed to have a life of its own now looked like dried twigs, her hazel eyes that shone with starlight had dimmed and become murky - as if hidden behind clouds.
The City Lord’s heart really, really ached!
As Xiao Hong looked closely at the poor woman who lay there dazed, a sense of pity rose in her heart. She could see the extreme pallor of her skin - it was so pale, it looked as though she had no blood in her veins; veins that she could vaguely see through her skin as thin, dark blue lines.
The dark circles under her eyes were so black, it looked like she hadn’t been sleeping for years.
The Alchemists quickly got to work, each testing out their methods, trying to understand the root cause of her ‘illness’.
One by one, Chen Yu, Qi Lijuan, Nangong Wan, Yan Bao and He Ping tried out their methods. But all of them failed to understand what was going on.
The City Lord’s heart grew heavier and heavier, his hope disappearing bit by bit. His unintelligible pleading towards the Heavens slowed down.
An Taiping went up and checked her wrist. With a small Zhenqi blade, he drew a small cut on her wrist drawing a bit of blood.
The City Lord was alarmed, his muscles tensed, ready to explode at a moment's notice, “Sir, what are you doing?”
“Relax, I’m just going to run a diagnostic.” An Taiping waved his hand casually. He placed the blood on a bowl he’d brought out from his Storage Bag. He then started chanting in a low unintelligible tone, causing Rune Patterns to light up one by one in the bowl.
Xiao Hong’s eyes twitched. ‘Are you sure you are diagnosing her and not cursing her?!’
It couldn’t be helped - he looked exactly like some crazed Witch Doctor doing some strange ritual to summon Eldritch entities.
After a while, An Taiping wiped away his non-existent sweat. “It’s as I thought!”
“You know how to treat it??!!!” The City Lord was so excited he held An Taiping by his shoulder, completely disregarding the respectful distance that is to be kept between cultivators! The City Lord could not care less about social norms at the moment - his daughter’s life was at stake!
“Calm down Lord Huang, I do know what it is, but I don’t know how to treat it.” An Taiping shook his head, pouring ice cold water over the City Lord’s excitement.
The City Lord’s shoulders sagged slightly before he shook his head, “Alchemist An, forgive my rude behaviour earlier, I was-”
“It’s alright, Lord Huang.” An Taiping smiled warmly, “It is expected that one would be agitated when it concerns a loved one.”
“I’m grateful for your understanding.” The City Lord clasped his fists and inclined his head lightly. From a higher cultivator, this was a gesture of highest respect!
An Taiping hurriedly stopped him.
After a while, the City Lord asked him, “What is it that inflicts my daughter, Alchemist An?”
An Taiping was momentarily silent before he asked a question, “Have you heard about ‘microbes’?