"Xuefeng, it's your turn. You already know the basics. You should be able to create this Rank two pill."
Showcasing ten pills that she just created, Lisa grabbed Xuefeng's hand and pulled him onto her spot. Her face was full of smiles and eyes shining. There were some leftover tear stains under her eyes, but she was much better already, recovering her cheerful mood.
"Sure," Xuefeng agreed, sitting down on the small stool in front of the cauldron when Lisa sneaked behind him and hugged him.
Before he was able to comment, Lisa explained herself, "Don't get me wrong... It's just easier to control and teach you in this position... It's not like I want to hug you or anything..."
"Oh really? Then why are your hands squeezing my chest?"
Lisa immediately disagreed, twisting facts, "They are not! I'm just checking if your body is ready. You need to be prepared in both mind and body to create amazing pills. I'm doing you a favor!"
"Okay, then how is my body? Is it ready?"
"Mhmm, I think it's good, but I will still need to inspect and check on you while you work. We need to make sure nothing bad happens," Lisa replied with a nod and placed her head on his shoulder. "Don't mind me, just focus on your job. I will assist you."
Xuefeng only smiled and pretended he didn't see right through her. He focused on the cauldron and all the ingredients before starting this new challenge.
Just a few minutes ago, Lisa was crying in his arms, asking him to leave before it's too late yet now she was a cuddly cat who took every opportunity she could get to hug him. Xuefeng was thinking about his decision but he didn't regret it.
His heart was like a broken glass and each girl held one-piece hostage. Only when they were together would the glass be able to fill with water of feelings with everyone getting some. Unfortunately, almost all big pieces were already taken away and he could feel there was very little space left.
Even though he knew all that, Xuefeng couldn't get himself to let go of Lisa's body; he didn't want to leave her alone.
When he heard her crying words, he squeezed her body tighter and whispered into her ear, "What if I don't let go...?"
Lisa sniffed softly and pleaded quietly, "You have to... You will hurt me... I don't like when it hurts... Please... Just leave..."
"I will hug you until you stop crying..." Xuefeng decided, not letting her go.
"Will you leave if I stop crying...?" Lisa asked back weakly but Xuefeng only shook his head in response.
"I don't feel like leaving," Xuefeng replied simply.
They stayed like this for some time before Lisa finally calm down a bit.
"So, you won't leave me...?" She asked with hope in her voice and Xuefeng turned it around.
"How about you won't leave me instead?"
"What do you mean...?" Lisa turned her to the side and Xuefeng finally let go of her, allowing her to look at him.
Xuefeng sighed deeply as he peeked into her eyes and confessed honestly, "I won't lie to you. My heart already belongs to many women and it's filled with feelings for them. If I told you I love you right now, I would not be honest with you. What you want requires time."
Lisa responded with silence, waiting for him to continue as she stared into his eyes.
"If you want to find love in my heart, it's too late to just ask for it. If that was the case, would any relationship with my wives be real? I value each and every one of them, even if it sometimes doesn't look like this. I can't promise I will find feelings for you if you follow me, but your chances are much greater this way. Do you understand?"
Xuefeng knew his wives deserved more than what he offered them, so he proceeded with caution. He also treated this as a test. If Lisa could drop everything and follow him without a certainty that he will replicate her feelings, it would show she actually cared for him.
"I understand," Lisa replied after a pause and finally cheered up, smiling ever so slightly.
"Mhmm, that's good," Xuefeng nodded, patting her on the head. "I know it's unfair to you so I will understand if you-"
"I will follow you," Lisa announced firmly before he even finished and grabbed onto his shirt, clutching it with her small fingers as if he was her last hope. "I want to stay with you."
"Are you sure?" Xuefeng asked to confirm while describing what would await her on such path. "Our journey will be tough, filled with pain, hardships and survival. I'm not the safest person to be around. Once I enter Heaven Realm, I will be targeted by many people. Everyone will try to kill us. Do you still want to join me?"
Lisa didn't take time to think but instead asked back, "Will you try to protect me if you can? Will there be love, friendship and kindness in our group? Will there be many happy and funny moments while our adventure bountiful with twists and turns?"
"Yes," Xuefeng nodded. Everything she described was bound to happen.
She smiled brightly when she heard it and hugged into his chest. "Then I want to follow you. Even if you won't love me in the end, at least I can say I tried. I don't want to regret not taking this opportunity. It sounds much better than how I imagined my life in the future."
Lisa wiped her eyes with shirt by rubbed against his chest and continued, "It was filled with pills, loneliness and boredom. I have been making pills my whole life. I honestly don't know anything else. I love it but I know it's not everything. Would I be stupid not to follow you? I get friends; I get to do what I love and I there is you. I can spend time with someone that makes me happy."
She looked up after her speech and ended with a rhetorical question.
"Isn't the choice obvious?"
"Come on, control your fire! Don't lose focus or you will burn the herbs! Each pill requires different flame temperature. I already told you about it."
"No, no! This is Wild Spearmint! Did you forget the recipe? You should add it last. Now it's time for Thorn Grass. Add it quickly and increase the flames! There is no time to hesitate!"
"Ah! Xuefeng! I told you to mix them properly first before separating them. Look how many impurities are left. Your healing pills turned into poison."
Lisa acted all cute and cuddly later but the moment he started making his pills, she turned into a devil mode, shouting and yelling. He couldn't count how many times he was pinched and poked in the ribs by her.
"What happened? You weren't this terrible last time?" Lisa questioned, giving him a glare. "If you were anyone else, I would already throw you out. Did you forget everything I taught you?"
Xuefeng swallowed and scratched his head embarrassedly.
'How do I tell her that you were helping me at the start but now I decided to do everything myself?' Xuefeng asked in his mind, not expecting alchemy would be this hard.
It seemed pretty easy with Ling's help but now he realized it wasn't the case.
It was extremely hard!
Just the technique to balance the flames, it's temperature and intensity, was hard to perform yet he needed to focus on everything else as well at the same time. It was too complicated.
'I don't mind helping, you know?' Ling informed but Xuefeng rejected immediately. 'No, I don't to rely on you for everything. I want to find something I'm good at without anyone's help.'
"Hey, I'm talking to you," Lisa reminded herself to him, seeing he didn't respond. "If you have any problems, you should tell me. I thought we have those basics behind us..."
"Lisa, I think I'm not really suited for alchemy. I don't see myself mastering it quickly." Xuefeng replied honestly.
Lisa looked at him as if that was obvious and asked, "Dummy, you thought you can master alchemy in a few weeks? I spent years and there is still a lot for me to learn."
"Actually, yes," Xuefeng nodded.
He received a weird stare from Lisa until she finally sighed and commented, "Well, it shouldn't matter much in our situation. If I follow you, wouldn't we have an alchemist already? If you don't think alchemy suits you, there is always Artefact Crafting left which is as popular. Maybe you like it better."
"Mhmm, I thought the same. I am yet to try it so maybe," Xuefeng agreed with her and stood up.
She was quick to realize what did it mean and asked, tugging on his sleeve, "Can I follow you and live in your Palace? I won't get to meet with you otherwise."
Xuefeng blink in surprise but he didn't mind that. He would have to share his decision with the rest anyway so it would be best if they all got to know each other.
He asked just to be sure, "Don't you have any pending orders?"
"I can finish them all today and then move tomorrow..." Lisa suggested, looking at him with hope.
"Sure. We will find place to create a workshop for you," Xuefeng assured her and she brightened, giving him one last excited hug before pushing him out of the room. "Go, go. I will work now. We will meet tomorrow."