Chapter 28: Last resort in a desperate situation, let's go!
3.5 hours later...
Song Shuhang's eyes remained bright and clear, but his body was wracked with exhaustion.
"The forty-first medicinal ingredient. Finally, it's almost over." Song Shuhang mumbled to himself.
He had never thought that he could endure till this step during his inaugural pill refining process. But at this point, he had more or less reached his limit. After this ingredient, there were only the slices of Fresh Overlord Branch, Nine-Yang Scarlet Bamboo, Ocean Trench Frost Crystal and Core of the Snow Demon left. Once these four ingredients had been added, the process would be over!
He removed the lid of the pot and quickly tossed the forty-first ingredient into the pot.
Before Song Shuhang could even replace the cover, something strange had already erupted from within the pot.
The ash-colored liquid that comprised of the first forty ingredients abruptly flared up with a burning stench upon contact with the forty-first ingredient!
What had initially been half a pot of water rapidly evaporated to a fifth of its original volume in the blink of an eye.
"Eh, did it fail?" Song Shuhang wondered miserably. He suspected that since he had added water at the start, he had been doomed to fail from the very beginning.
However, he had already persisted till the forty-first medicinal ingredient without a hitch. His heart could not help but contain a thread of hope and anticipation. Was this the "gambler's fallacy" that was the characteristic of humanity?
But now, had he finally attained utter failure?
"No, this can't be. It's not over." As Song Shuhang watched the charcoal-colored liquid evaporate, he noticed how the gray medicinal liquid continued to tenaciously dissolve the forty-first medicinal ingredient.
He knew that at this point in time he had to do something, or else this attempt would end up as a failure.
As a matter of fact, adding the forty-first ingredient was truly the most difficult step of concocting the "Simplified Body Tempering Liquid".
After this step, it was already in the concluding steps of the process to refine the "Simplified Body Tempering Liquid". The four ingredients after this one would no longer add to the medical characteristics of the liquid.
The first two ingredients - slices of the Fresh Overlord Branch and the 9-Yang Scarlet Bamboo -symbolised yang and firmness. The other two ingredients - the Ocean Trench Frost Crystal and the Seed of the Snow Demon - symbolised yin and softness. These four ingredients were used to purify the "Simplified Body Tempering Liquid".
The purification process was the most important step in creating the Body Tempering Liquid. If it was not purified, the Body Tempering Liquid in the pot would just be an expensive all-nourishing herbal soup. When consumed, a person would feel fantastic but the body tempering effect would be greatly diminished.This all-nourishing herbal soup would transform into Body Tempering Liquid with the addition of the purification process - a transformation from an ordinary medicine into a mystical liquid.
And the forty-first medicinal ingredient acted as the catalyst for the purification.
This step was truly the one where most people were likely to fail at. Soft Feather herself had suffered defeat here dozens of times.
But how exactly was he supposed to reverse the imminent failure?
If Medicine Master was at this scene, he would be able to turn the tides on this furnace by relying on his exceptional refining experience and technique... wait a moment, this was a 'pot' of Body Tempering Liquid.
But Shuhang did not possess any experience, much less any techniques like Medicine Master.
"It's evaporating too quickly. I have to slow this part down a little first. Add water!" Song Shuhang as the last resort in this desperate situation had added another ladle of water into the pot. Although he didn't know if this would have any effect, it could at least slow down the rate of evaporation.
"All that's left are these four ingredients."
Song Shuhang's thoughts were racing.
Timewise, there was no longer enough time for him to attempt another refinement. In an hour or two, his roommates would be probably be back.
To be honest, if they saw the mess he had made in their little kitchen from his "pill refining", Song Shuhang could not guarantee that his compassionate roommates wouldn't tie him up and send him to the asylum.
Judging from the fact that they were so compassionate to the extent that others would distribute each at least ten good friend cards to each of them, the possibility of that happening was very high!
"I'll insert all the remaining ingredients in together just to experiment. It's most likely a failure anyway. I'll just treat this as an experience." Song Shuhang decided.
Within the group, North River's Loose Practitioner and Soft Feather had both failed numerous times. Wouldn't it be more ridiculous if a complete amateur like him was able to succeed on their first time?
Open the pot.
Fresh Overlord Branch, slices of 9-Yang Scarlet Bamboo, Ocean Trench Frost Crystal, and the Seed of the Snow Demon; Song Shuhang simultaneously added these four ingredients into the pot.
Close the lid!
After that, Song Shuhang witnessed the true "Heavenly Ice and Fire Hotpot".
When the two medical ingredients, slices of Fresh Overlord Branch and the 9-Yang Scarlet Bamboo, were dissolved into the liquid and heated, they would turn bright red as if they were burning.. This portion of medicinal liquid would boil violently and evaporate quicker. The steam violently gushed out of the vent holes of the pot lid like a fountain.
On the other hand, the Ocean Trench Frost Crystal and the Seed of the Snow Demon cracked upon contact with heat. From within the cracked shell, an icy blue liquid that seemed to have a very low temperature was secreted. Upon fusing with the other half of the liquid, the boiling liquid began to cool down quietly.
The temperature of the cooled down half spiralled downwards while the boiling half evaporated rapidly. The two halves of the medicinal liquid seemed to be separating from each other.
I can't allow them to separate. Song Shuhang thought of an idea and immediately turned up the heat on the induction cooker. He was trying to make the cool part of the liquid boil again.
As the heat increased, the liquid started to evaporate faster and faster. In less than a minute, only a third of the medical liquid that had filled half the pot remained.
It's at most ten more breaths before it completely evaporates.
"I completely failed." Song Shuhang laughed. After all, he had already made mental preparations for this outcome so he wasn't too hung up about failing.
He extended his hand to switch off the induction cooker. If he continued to let it heat up, the pot would be burned.
However, in the midst of extending his arm, he paused. He saw that the liquid had started to merge together even though it evaporated at a faster rate.
By this curious coincidence, Song Shuhang no longer chose to switch off the fire. Instead, he made up his mind and turned the heat on to the maximum.
It's all or nothing. He might as well go all-in and fuse all of the medicinal ingredients in a single breath, thereby forcing the purification of all of the forty-five ingredients' medicinal properties! This way, perhaps he might still be able to cut his losses before the liquid completely evaporates.
The induction cooker that had been switched on to its maximum power let out a weird noise.
Both fire and ice intersected in the small pot, blossoming into beautiful patterns. The two medicinal liquids toiled and swirled, shaking the pot.
In the end, Song Shuhang could no longer find any changes inside the pot.
After the liquid evaporated, a thick layer of impurities had stuck itself onto the reinforced glass lid of the pot.
This was the sound of the medicinal ingredients rolling in the pot. The sound of each roll lasted exactly one second.
Song Shuhang once again grabbed his phone, and stared at the time.
Since he could not see what happening in the pot, he could only rely on the timing again. He planned to switch off the pot in five minutes.
Three minutes and twenty-three seconds.
At this moment, a huge amount of pressure welled up inside the pot and caused the lid of the pot to fly off.
A pungent smell invaded his nose as black smoke immediately puffed out to envelop the small kitchen..
The smell was too strong, it was as if the world's most unpleasant smells had joined together. Even an accidental sniff would make one have the urge to vomit.
"Bleargh...." Song Shuhang pinched his nose, and frantically turned off the induction cooker.
"So smelly." Even though he had pinched his nose and breathed carefully, this disgusting stench still managed to make its way into Shuhang's nose, like it was impossible to get rid of.
He ran to open the windows. If he still didn't air out the room, his roommates would have to collect a corpse when they return - and the cause of death was definitely due to the putrid smell.
Once the window was opened, the black smoke began to dissipate out of the room. This also allowed the stinky smell in the kitchen to waft out as well.
"This smell, I literally have no words to describe it. What's more, its aftertaste is endless." Song Shuhang exclaimed. He probably wouldn't be able to forget this smell for at least two or three days. Could he even swallow food after this?
"After this thing has been refined wrongly, the killer smell is truly terrifying. Just the smell alone can be used as a bioweapon. If I can have this smell contained, then when someone offends me, I can release this stench into his house. I guarantee that it will leave a strong memory." Song Shuhang mocked to himself.
On the floor, the pot of the lid was still spinning. It was fortunate that this thing was made of reinforced glass and had not been sacrificed. Otherwise, he would be forced to spend his own money to reimburse the school.
After he picked up the lid, Song Shuhang suddenly felt a burst of dizziness. Streams of fatigue rushed towards him like toppling mountains and shifting seas. This was the accumulated stress and exhaustion over the past four hours!
He hurriedly gripped the table for support before slowly sitting down.
After resting for a brief moment, he pinched his nose and gazed towards the bottom of the pot. He wanted to see just what the final result of his failure looked like for it to emit such a foul smell.
In the pot, only a thin layer of medicinal liquid remained from the initial half-full pot.
It was black and transparent, coupled with an overwhelming nose-stinging smell.
"It's black and murky, kind of like a transparent sesame paste. It's way too smelly." Song Shuhang scoffed.
"Eh? This... how can this be?" He suddenly seemed to think of something and hastily retrieved the notebook where he recorded Medicine Master's recipe.
Liquid turned into paste, black in color, transparent, strong smell. These were the characteristics that the medicine master had used to describe the completed Simplified Body Tempering Liquid.
It seems... very similar to this thing that he had just refined?