Chapter Thirty Nine - Starting Making Dan
"From today onwards, you will learn how to make dan with me. The job this month is very simple. Five Fasting Pills, doesn't matter what grade they are. Give them to me by the end of the month," Shi Feng Rong coldly said, "I have prepared ten portions of ingredients for you. If there isn't enough, buy more yourself. The method to make fasting pills is in the study. You can read all the jade sticks in the study. Those that are over your cultivation, you won't be able to see. Everything is in the room in the west wing. In the future, that would be your dan making room. Alright, you can go."
Finishing, Shi Feng Rong turned and entered her dan making room. With a bang, the dan room was shut tightly.
Zuo Mo dumbly stood.
This... ... this was called learning dan-making with his master?
He turned to look at the surroundings. Empty. Not a single person.
Zuo Mo grimaced. Why did he only ever encounter these kind of people? It was like this when he learned things from Pu Yao, there were never any explanations. And this master was even more extreme. Not just throwing him to the side, she also stipulated how much he had to make.
When Zuo Mo went into the study, he stared dumbly.
How to find the recipe?
In the study, there floated hundreds of jade sticks in different shapes and colors. They were like a group of mischievous children, drifting to and fro in the study. There was an energy whirlpool of various colors around each jade stick. It was these whirlpools that carried the jade sticks in flight.
"Fasting pill!" After musing for a long moment, Zuo Mo shouted helplessly.
The jade sticks unconcernedly floated about, not responding.
That way wasn't right! But there wasn't anything else in the room. Zuo Mo scratched hard at his head, he was at his wits' end.
Maybe he needed to use his consciousness?
After hesitating for a while, he reached out with his consciousness. When his consciousness touched the energy whirlpool around a jade stick, something instantly flooded into his head.
"Energy diagrams of ling herbs. Authored by Dong Ming sanren [i]of Little Link Jie. Includes more than four hundred ling herb energy diagrams......"
Zuo Mo's mind instantly jumped, his consciousness going to touch all the other jade sticks. The information from each jade stick was released inside his mind. Very quickly, he found inside one jade stick the method to make fasting pills. This jade stick had, in total, the recipe for three different basic dan.
Fasting pill was the most basic dan. Its use was very simple, to satisfy hunger. Using it would guarantee a long time without hunger. It counted as a type of useful dan. His consciousness locked onto this jade stick and the jade stick automatically flew in front of him. Picking up the jade stick, he poured ling energy in and the recipe to make fasting pills was revealed in his mind.
And then, the pitiful Zuo Mo could only stare dumbly again!
"Monarch Pachyma leaves, subject yellow stone, three by three flowing fire, cauldron energy sinking to bottom......"
Zuo Mo recognized every character. However, if he put the characters together, it was like he was in a thick mist, completely lost.
Calm, he had to be calm!
Zuo Mo furiously told his frantic self. He had always assumed that when he became an inner sect disciple, it meant that his hard days had come to an end and his good days were coming! But now he knew, he was wrong, extremely wrong! He had only jumped from one hole to an even deeper hole. He wanted to cry because he had willingly jumped, tried everything to jump in! He had thought his previous days were hard because no one was there to guide him. But now that he became an inner sect disciple, had a master, what was the difference?
After a long moment and then his emotions steadied.
He was completely disregarded by his master, Zuo Mo's stubbornness came on. Wasn't it just a fasting pill? Wasn't it just making dan? Wasn't it just not being taught?
After half a day's worth of effort, he had read every single jade stick in the room. The total amount was five hundred and seventeen jade sticks. And what he could see were only twenty one of them.
The twenty one jade sticks that he had picked out were all floating in front of him.
[Fire Cloud Dan Chapter], not what he wanted, thrown to one side.
[Blue Ice Dan Chapter] no, thrown to one side.
[Vaporized Dan Chapter], thrown.
Only when he saw [Basics of Making Dan] did Zuo Mo's mind become alert. He grabbed it and brought it over. This was what he wanted.
As though he was starving, he read [Basics of Making Dan]. He quickly became enraptured. The contents inside the jade stick were extremely new to him, a completely new world for him to explore. There weren't any complex contents inside [Basics of Making Dan]. Everything was some of the basic fundamentals of making dan, like the matching of herbs, the usage of the cauldron, how to control the fire etc etc.
When he raised his head, he saw that the sky had darkened. Unknowingly, he had stayed for a number of hours in the study.
Exhaling a breath, he stood up and moved his sore neck and legs. His eyes were still slightly dull. He was still thinking. [Basics of Making Dan] wasn't a high grade jade stick but the details of the contents weren't anything that could be brought on the market. Having the experiences of being an outer sect disciple, Zuo Mo deeply understood the value in this opportunity.
As to whether his master would teach him, it had been thrown to the back of his head. It was like he had found treasure as he repeatedly started to read again.
The following days, he spent soaking in knowledge at the study. Any jade stick that he could read, he didn't miss a single one of them. They might be useful in the future. Putting in some effort now, he didn't need to worry in the future. If he converted these jade sticks into jingshi, it was enough to buy ten Zuo Mo.
If there was one day when he was in poverty, he could sell the contents of the jade sticks for jingshi.
In the study, Zuo Mo snickered.
After memorizing the jade sticks until he was dizzy, Zuo Mo finally managed to remember the entire contents of the twenty one jade sticks. Only now did he remember the dan room in the right wing was going to be for him and excitedly ran into the right wing.
What was most eye-catching in the room was a copper cauldron in the middle of the room. About two people tall, three round bellies protruding out, and several mats laid around it. There were a few tables against the wall with things piled up on it. The ten portions of materials that Master had prepared for him were also there.
Zuo Mo circled around the dan-making cauldron, muttering: "So stingy."
Don't just look at the size of the thing but in reality, it was only a first grade cauldron. The most important part of a cauldron was the Li [ii] Fire Seal Formation. Beside the body of the cauldron, there was a yinyang eight trigrams plate. Pouring ling energy in that could control the li fire seal formation.
Controlling the fire was the most important step in the process of making dan. Like the 'three by three of flowing fire'. Three by three meant vertical three, horizontal three, and flowing fire was a very special kind of fire. Its main flame would roll along the channels.
Zuo Mo put his hands on the eight trigrams plate and added ling energy. As expected, a ball of fire lit up at the bottom of the cauldron.
According to the method recorded in [Basics of Making Dan], he carefully controlled the li fire seal formation. The li fire seal formation in a first grade cauldron wasn't some high end thing and only had six transformations. Zuo Mo quickly familiarized himself with the process.
As he played around with the flame, Zuo Mo suddenly felt that the feeling of controlling fire was very similar to him casting [Art of Crimson Flame].
The five basic spells of a ling plant farmer belonged to the five elements and yinyang. Supposedly, ling plant farmers believed that all things in the world were either yin or yang and belonged to the five elements. [Art of Crimson Flame] belonged to fire in the five basic element spells. Speaking from that perspective, the two were connected. However, while the five elements and yinyang had once been a popular path, but as sword cultivators rose, they gradually became a separate system and most practitioners were roaming cultivators.
Whether making dan had similarities to ling plant farmers, Zuo Mo wasn't clear.
But, if sword essence could merge with [Art of Aged Gold], he wouldn't be surprised at a connection between controlling fire and [Art of Crimson Flame].
The [Art of Crimson Flame] that he had brought was very rough. Learning it to the third level was already at the extreme limit. There were no instructions for anything further. What he could study were only the first three levels.
Closing his eyes, his two hands were spread on the eight trigrams plate on the wall of the cauldron, he carefully experienced the subtle aspects of the li fire seal formation.
After a long time, he didn't have any breakthroughs. He had the feeling that those two could be combined together but no matter how he changed it, there was no reaction. With no other solution, he temporarily put the thought to the side. In the area of dan-making, he was the greenest of the green. It was too early to start discussing inventions.
He should obediently make the fasting pills. Otherwise if he couldn't give out five at the end of the month, he didn't know how his cold-faced master would punish him.
The method for making fasting pills, he remembered it, but what he was lacking was actual experience.
There were ten portions of materials piled on the table. They had all been treated. One of the jobs of the female disciples in the yard was to simply treat all kinds of medicines. Fasting pills were the most basic dan and naturally didn't have very complicated preparations.
Carefully putting each type of material in the cauldron according to the ratio, Zuo Mo sat down facing the cauldron. He sorted out his mind, his two hands on the eight trigrams, and sent ling energy in.
A light red light came out of the bottom of the cauldron. Zuo Mo carefully and nervously manipulated the ling energy.
Two hours passed. A fine layer of sweat appeared on Zuo Mo's forehead.
He felt it was becoming difficult. It was extremely laborious to continuously input in ling energy steadily for a long time. Damn it! Two hours had passed but the ingredients had just seemed to start combining together. Based on the progress, if it didn't take a few hours, he guessed it was hopeless.
Thinking that he had to continue to maintain this level of ling energy for long hours, Zuo Mo felt that it was going to be trouble.
After another two hours, sweat poured down his back.
Suddenly, his ling energy became unstable.
A black wisp of smoke came out of the cauldron. A burnt smell filled the room.
Huff, huff, huff. Having no time to be angry, Zuo Mo took back his ling energy and sat on the floor as he panted. His entire body was soaked in sweat. One factor was exhaustion from long term ling energy output, another was that he was very close to the cauldron. The fire inside the cauldron cooked him like a cooked shrimp, body completely red.
He didn't immediately start making dan a second time. He struggled up and climbed onto the grey beaked goose to return to West Wind Valley. It was lucky that he was an inner sect disciple and could ride a steed inside the mountain. He hadn't felt it a moment ago, but lying on the back of the grey beaked goose, he felt weak all over, not willing to raise even a finger.
He had never felt such deep exhaustion like today. Fighting was gathering up all the strength in the body at one and making dan was like spinning silk from cocoons. Bit by bit, until it wrung out the last bit of ling energy from the body. Even if his ling energy wasn't weak now, but facing such intense ling energy output, he couldn't bear it. And if he was the slightest bit inattentiveness, all the effort before were completely ruined.
Zuo Mo sighed in grief inside. From his perspective -- as expected, any method that easily earned jingshi, none of them were simple.
Jingshi wasn't easy to earn!
[i] : title for a roaming xiu.
[ii] : One of the Eight Trigrams, li represents fire