Chapter 24: Refining Medicines
After he took a bath, Xiao Chen changed into a fresh set of clothes. He laid on his bed and began to read the introductory alchemy book. To lie down and read was a habit he gained from his original world, it was something he did not bother to change even after he came to this world. If someone from this world saw him now, they would be very shocked.
Alchemist was the most respected profession in the Tianwu Continent. This respect came from their medicines that could heal wounds, their miraculous pills that could change the body's talent for cultivation, and the pills that sped up the speed of cultivation.
To every cultivator, alchemy held a certain level of attraction. Alchemists were rare and they were highly demanded, this naturally caused the profession to be respected far more than the others.
Xiao Chen flipped through the book page by page. This introductory book was not very thick, it only contained tens of pages. Xiao Chen skimmed through the book and finished it in no time.
It was truly just an introductory book, there was no solid content inside and it only provided a brief preview to alchemy. However, Xiao Chen still benefited from this, as he now had a rough understanding of the alchemy in this world.
Alchemist in the Tianwu Continent could be separated into seven ranks, with one being the lowest and seven being the highest. All of the ranking examinations were conducted by the Alchemist Association.
To become an alchemist, there were three prerequisites. First, one needed a fire attributed Martial Spirit or a fire attributed technique. In other words, they needed to have the ability to condense a flame.
The second prerequisite was to do with one's knowledge of medicinal herbs. This condition required very solid fundamentals and an individual had to have a very thorough understanding of medicinal herbs and their usage. There were no shortcuts to this, it could only could be accomplished by rote learning.
The third prerequisite was Spiritual Awareness. This was the vaguest condition and it seemed very enigmatic. Spiritual Awareness was similar but distinctly different to perception.
Even if an individual had walked very far on the road of cultivation, they still might not be able to awaken their Spiritual Awareness. Cultivation and Spiritual Awareness were not directly linked. There were some individuals who had awakened their Spiritual Awareness and possessed a very great Spiritual Awareness. However, they did not manage to have any accomplishments in terms of cultivation.
The so-called Spiritual Awareness referred to the intuition, senses and Mental Connection of the alchemist. The most important of these was their Mental Connection to medicinal ingredients. If their Mental Connection could be fast, stable, and meticulous, then they would be able to go far on the path of alchemy.
Xiao Chen thought about these three prerequisites and checked himself. He had the Purple Thunder True Fire, thus he had naturally cleared the first prerequisite. Additionally, he had memorized the chapter on refining pills in the Compendium of Cultivation and was able to recall the information on medicinal ingredients in detail.
After reading the Compendium of Cultivation for three years, he was already as familiar with it as the back of his palm. Furthermore, he had discovered that the medicinal ingredients of this world were the same as those recorded in the Compendium of Cultivation. Thus, Xiao Chen had cleared the second prerequisite too.
As for the third prerequisite, it seemed very mysterious. The Compendium of Cultivation did not have any records of Spiritual Awareness in the chapter on refining pills. However, he was not worried. After all, the alchemy recorded in the Compendium of Cultivation was slightly different from this world's. Even if he did not have Spiritual Awareness or only had a weak Spiritual Awareness, he was still confident that he could learn to refine pills. If he could not become an alchemist of this world, he would follow the method recorded on the Compendium of Cultivation instead.
Furthermore, the pills recorded on the Compendium of Cultivation were more profound and mysterious than the pills of this world. For example, he intended to refine the Fasting Pill. This pill would removed the need to eat or drink for a month after its consumption. This kind of effect was unheard of in this world.
When the sky had almost darkened, Bao`er finally returned with a big bag of medicinal herbs. After he saw her sweat covered and dusty appearance, Xiao Chen felt somewhat disturbed. This girl did not look older than fourteen or fifteen years old. In his original world, she would still be in middle school.
He said in an apologetic tone: "I'm sorry, I forgot to tell you that I did not urgently need these medicinal herbs and that you could take your time."
As Bao`er wiped her sweat with her small hands, she heard these words and was stunned. Did I hear incorrectly? The famous prodigal son of the Xiao Clan actually apologized to a maid?
When Xiao Chen was still trash, he had a very bad reputation. Although he defeated Xiao Jian and proved that he was not trash, they still did not have a good impression of Xiao Chen. Everyone said that he was a vile person that was intoxicated by success, becoming even more overbearing than before. There were even rumors that he had taught everyone who had humiliated him in the past a lesson. Bao`er had heard plenty of these rumors.
If Xiao Chen knew of these rumors, he would definitely become incomparably depressed. When he saw Bao`er's stunned expression, Xiao Chen felt a little worried and asked in a soft voice: "Are you alright? Are you not feeling well?"
Bao`er quickly recovered her wits. She was not used to Xiao Chen's tone, thus she blushed and replied in a soft voice: "Bao`er is fine, many thanks for Young Master's concern."
Xiao Chen relaxed, "Go back first, there is nothing else for you to do for now."
When Bao`er heard these words, she looked at Xiao Chen in surprise and said nervously: "Is Young Master chasing me away? The First Elder said that I am now your personal maid and will stay here from now on. If you chase me out, the First Elder will think that I did not serve you well and will punish me."
Xiao Chen did not expect such a situation. These servants and maids were all orphans or the children of poor families. They had already been sold away. Even if they were beaten to death as a punishment, the offender would not be held responsible. Although the Xiao Clan was not that strict, there would still be some form of punishment.
Xiao Chen frowned, he had never been in such a situation before. There was plenty of space in Xiao Chen's courtyard but he had too many secrets. Having a stranger by his side made him feel uneasy.
After thinking for a long time, Xiao Chen did not manage to think of a solution that would benefit both sides. Looking at the pitiful Bao`er, Xiao Chen's heart softened, "Stay here first then, there is an empty side room in the east wing, you can stay there tonight."
Bao`er said joyfully: "Bao`er thanks the Second Young Master, I will go and prepare supper for Second Young Master now."
Xiao Chen looked on helplessly as Bao`er left and shook his head. He then turned his attention to the medicinal herbs she brought back and inspected them carefully.
Twenty saffron, fifty star anise, twenty spearmints, twenty Tiger Paw Grass...
Xiao Chen carefully counted them one by one. This girl was quite capable, she had brought back the exact amount that he had requested. Xiao Chen smiled to himself as he picked up a stalk of Tiger Paw Grass to examine it carefully.
The topmost part of the foot long grass had four purplish green leaves. As he looked at this stalk of Tiger Paw Grass, that was no more than ten years old, he felt quite puzzled. Xiao Chen thought, what is this Spiritual Awareness? How do I make a Mental Connection with a herb?
He held the herb gently in his hands and closed his eyes as he sank his consciousness downwards. His consciousness followed his Essence as it slowly moved towards his right hand. His Essence left his body and wrapped around the herb gently. However, his consciousness was stuck in his body, hindered by the skin and flesh of his palm. It was unable to break out of his body.
Even after he attempted a few times, his consciousness was still unable to make any kind of connection with the Tiger Paw Grass. Consciousness and Spiritual Awareness were quite different. Just as Xiao Chen was able to give up, his consciousness that was hovering around his palm suddenly managed to catch a hold of a strange green energy net.
There were many small threads of energy that flowed into his body via the Essence from the green energy net. It rapidly connected together with his consciousness and a green space immediately appeared in Xiao Chen's consciousness.
Within this green space, there was a complicated network of threads, it looked like a complex maze. Streams of this green energy extended everywhere in this green space. The energy then firmly connected with Xiao Chen's consciousness. In that instant, Xiao Chen felt as though he could feel the Tiger Paw Grass' breath and pulse. It was a very mysterious feeling.
Xiao Chen felt incomparably joyfully, this must be that Spiritual Awareness! Within that firm connection, he felt as if the herb was part of him. Under such a state, he would be able to bring his understanding and control of the herb to a deeper level. During a refinement, he would be able to accomplish twice the effect with half the effort. It was no wonder that Spiritual Awareness was a requirement to becoming a good alchemist.
As he withdrew his consciousness, a stream of green energy traveled from the meridians in his hand to his sea of consciousness. After the green energy circulated a few times, it formed a green sphere and merged with Xiao Chen's consciousness.
He was puzzled by this green sphere in his sea of consciousness. However, he decided not to bother with this sphere. With his rudimentary understanding of the alchemy of this world, he probably would not understand anything.
He tossed aside his bewilderment as he opened his eyes and looked at the Tiger Paw Grass once again. He now had a deeper understanding of the herb, its root also had many medicinal properties. It was not like what was written in the book wrote, which stated that only the leaves were useful. With this deeper understanding, he was even more confident in his ability to refine pills later.
Taking out the Azure Dragon medicine cauldron, Xiao Chen condensed the Purple Thunder True Fire and began his first attempt at refinement, he aimed to refine a Fasting Pill.
In the Compendium of Cultivation, the Fasting Pill was among the pills of the lowest grade in the Immortal World. Only a few cultivators who had not reach a realm where they did not need to eat would take this pill. Thus, it was very suitable for his usage.
Xiao Chen placed the Tiger Paw Grass into the Purple Thunder True Fire and carefully started to refine it. He controlled the Purple Thunder True Fire's strength attentively. Xiao Chen did not dare to be even slightly careless.
The four green leaves quickly melted to become four clear drops of green liquid. This green liquid continuously boiled in the cauldron. Xiao Chen took out a porcelain bottle he had prepared earlier. With a flick of his finger, he poured the liquid into the bottle.
Next up, Xiao Chen focused his gaze on the unmelted root. Before he awakened his Spiritual Awareness, he would have treated this root as garbage and thrown it out. Now that he knew of its medicinal properties, he naturally would not throw it out.
The roots were tougher than the leaves, thus he had to raise the temperature of his flames. Xiao Chen slowly increased the strength of the Purple Thunder True Fire. Controlling this flame seemed easy but it was very tiring. Furthermore, it tested his abilities to control his flame to its extremes.
If the flame was too small, it would not be able to extract the medicinal liquid. If it was too big, the medicinal liquid would be burned. Only at that perfect size could he successfully extract the medicinal liquid. It was a good thing that the Compendium of Cultivation had described this very clearly. As long as he was careful, it should not be too hard to achieve.
After he extracted five drops of green liquid from the roots, the table was filled up with some waste products. Xiao Chen quickly took out another five stalks of Tiger Paw Grass to refine. However, he was not as fortunate this time. Even when he knew how much to increase the size of the flames by, he still damaged two stalks of the Tiger Paw Grass.
It was a good thing that Xiao Chen had anticipated this situation and had gotten Bao`er to purchase two times the materials that he needed. All in all, he managed to extract fifty drops of medicinal liquid from the Tiger Paw Grass before he stopped.