Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Li Changshou looked at the thirteen nearly-empty storage Dharma artifacts in front of him, as black lines appeared on his forehead. He began to mumble to himself in a low voice, as if a violent storm was brewing, “My Junior Sister is a wastrel! She was fighting prawn demons, who had as much battle skills as ordinary mortals. Yet, she used up more than 80% of the poisonous powder that I prepared for her… This amount was enough to kill 100,000-strong mortal armies!”
Lan Ling’e knelt on the futon in front of him, two streams of tears flowing down her cheeks. She tried to look as pitiful as possible so that she could escape the righteous punishment of her senior brother.
The corners of Li Changshou’s mouth twitched as he picked up a purse and asked, “Did you kill great demons at the East Ocean?”
“Well, Senior Brother said to use this if I met with any danger… Those prawn demons nearly killed me! I poured out the powder subconsciously!”
Li Changshou’s expression darkened. “I remember preparing nine bottles of this for you.”
“I was nearly killed several times…”
Lan Ling’e pursed her lips and continued crying. Indignantly, she whined, “Senior Brother, don’t be angry. I know that you put a lot of effort into producing these things. I didn’t waste them on purpose.”
Li Changshou could not find it in himself to blow up at his junior sister while she looked like that. He sighed and said, “Effort is a small thing, but the ingredients are hard to find. Few people in the Immortal Du Sect know how to produce poisonous pills. I used my own monthly allowance to exchange for these ingredients bit by bit.”
“Senior Brother, I thought about this, too.”
Lan Ling’e blinked, and then patted the girdle wrapped around her slender waist. Then, she retrieved seven or eight simple storage Dharma artifacts.
“That’s why I exchanged the rewards that I earned this time for poisonous herbs and medicines that I found in the sect! We did not incur a loss this time. I think we even made a profit!”
Li Changshou did not know whether to laugh or cry. He studied Lan Ling’e’s widened eyes, which looked like two clear gems. There was a hint of evasion.
“What else do you have to account for? Tell me everything while my mood is still quite good.”
Lan Ling’e sucked in a deep breath and raised up her arms all of a sudden. With all her might, she leaned over, lowered her head, and knocked her palms and forehead against the ground at the same time. Her long hair fell on either side of her face.
She was kowtowing to admit her mistake!
Lan Ling’e closed her eyes tightly and plucked up her courage to shout,
“Senior Brother! Ling’e did you wrong! Two Uncle-Masters became interested in the poisonous powder that you produced. They took several bottles of my most powerful poisons! I really did not know how to turn them down. Senior Brother, I accidentally exposed the fact that you are highly-skilled in producing poisons!”
The house became so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.
Lan Ling’e’s shoulders kept trembling.
She was not afraid of being scolded by her senior brother. In fact, she wanted her senior brother to hit her to release his frustrations.
Her senior brother had taught her everything she knew. She understood his principles. That was why she was so nervous. Lan Ling’e was worried that he would ‘abandon’ her and not want anything to do with her in the future.
‘Why… is it so quiet…? I’m done for, I’m done for. Senior Brother is completely disappointed in me this time! Lan Ling’e, Lan Ling’e. How did you lose control of yourself the moment you stepped outside? You even neglected to take care of yourself and ended up showing off in front of others. Now, other elders in the sect have their eyes on you…’
In the entire world, Lan Ling’e probably understood her senior brother’s character the best.
Li Changshou could hide 90% of his skills as his trump cards. In everything, he prioritized being low-key. He would never incur unnecessary karma.
Lan Ling’e was probably the only person who was cared for and loved by her senior brother, and it was only because they shared the same master. Otherwise, her senior brother would probably have never spared her a second glance!
Lan Ling’e sobbed as she said, “Senior Brother, you can hit me if you want, but please don’t abandon me… I know that I was wrong. I will never unnecessarily show off in front of others again!”
Lan Ling’e caught a glimpse of a hand reaching out towards her, and instinctively squeezed her eyes shut.
Ever since Lan Ling’e had joined the sect, she had never endured physical punishment. Would her first time be a good bashing from her senior brother?
It was a good thing if he would hit her. At the very least, her senior brother could employ such a method of punishment on her.
The hand, which carried countless worries, finally landed. However, it did not hit her. Instead, it made a bend and pinched her ear, and then twisted left and right.
“Ow, Senior Brother, be gentle… It hurts… My ear is falling off…”
“Stop using this tone with me. If Master hears you, he might think I’m doing something else.”
Li Changshou let go of the small ear and said matter-of-factly, “Get up. That’s no big deal.”
Lan Ling’e immediately sat upright and got to her feet. This movement revealed a considerable amount of her slender figure.
Frustrated, she looked at her senior brother and asked softly, “Senior Brother, you’re not hiding your skills? Are you going to have a face-off with the sect?”
“A face-off? What face-off?”
Once again, Li Changshou didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “Do you think I don’t know you well?
“Since I gave you the poisonous powder to protect yourself, I was already prepared for you to do something like that. Actually, I purposely allowed you to reveal these poisons. I had other important considerations, as well.
“Come and sit down.
“Was Senior Wan Linyun of the Pill Tripod Peak among the two elders who took the poisons from you?
“This senior has a disease in his left leg, so he walks with a copper cane. He looks quite cold, too. However, when he talks to others, he tends to put on a stiff smile.”
‘Purposely allowed me to reveal? Other important considerations?’
Lan Ling’e was stunned. “Senior Brother, how did you know? It was that elder indeed. Didn’t you just return last night? The person who first asked me for the poisonous powder was Elder Ge, the organizer of the Priming Meet. Two days ago, at noon, the old man with the cane came over. He gave me many herbs and took those. Senior Brother!”
Lan Ling’e reacted quickly and turned to look into Li Changshou’s deep eyes. Through gritted teeth, she said, “You planned it all!”
“Why put it that way between us, Junior Sister? I was just trying to protect you. The more you knew, the more burdened you would feel.”
Li Changshou waved his hand nonchalantly and smiled. “The poisonous powder that I gave you was made with careful attention being paid to matching the quantity and toxicology of various herbs. There were no high-level refining methods involved. It doesn’t matter even if more people take note.
“Disciples of various peaks can obtain the recipe from the Dao Sutra Outer Hall. They can also obtain the herbs from the Bai Fan Hall.
“Now, within the sect—and even in other immortal cultivation sects in the five continents—most people underestimate poisons’ power. They think that this is an embarrassing skill. People who make use of poisons are often excluded and looked down upon.
“Thus, it’s not a big deal even if people find out that I am well-versed in refining poisons. It would not attract the attention of observers. Instead, they would think that I’m an average disciple who has gone down the wrong path.”
Li Changshou paused mid-sentence, a knowing smile spreading across his face.
“What’s more, the poisonous powder I gave you contains several strange poisons, which are mentioned in the Poison Sutra I copied from the Dao Sutra Pavilion. The author of that Poison Sutra is this Elder Wan Linyun. I think he is the elder with the deepest comprehension of poisons in our Immortal Du Sect. If I can build connections with this elder through this encounter, perhaps I will be able to obtain some guidance from him in this respect.”
“Senior Brother!” Lan Ling’e whined indignantly. “Do you have to make use of me in your plan?! If this was the case, couldn’t you have just informed me in advance? You made use of your gentle and adorable Junior Sister. You really are… too much…”
Li Changshou cast a sideways glance at her and said, “Don’t change the subject. We’re talking about you wasting the poisonous pills. I have to make you suffer for it so that you will remember this lesson. I will punish you by making you do logging in the back mountain tomorrow to reclaim the land. You’re not allowed to use your Dharmic powers as well.”
“So be it. That’s no big deal,” replied Lan Ling’e as she lowered her gaze—submission was written all over her face.
Finally, she could not hold it in any longer and asked, “What are we reclaiming the land for?”
“We’re going to build a Pill Chamber to refine pills and poisons. Through you, I allowed the Sect’s Management to find out that I am good at refining poisons. After this, I will be able to naturally and systematically tinker more pills and poisons in our Little Qiong Peak. I won’t have to do all of this in hiding anymore.”
Once he finished speaking, Li Changshou stood up and picked up all the medicine sachets. Then, he stretched and said, “Once I finish meditating at noon, I will find a suitable position to build the Pill Chamber.”
“Senior Brother, you’re obviously trying to slack off. How could you ask your gentle Junior Sister to log?!”
Lan Ling’e made a face at Li Changshou’s back as she whined.
“This is for you, the gentle cultivator.”
When Li Changshou reached the door, he suddenly recalled something. He pulled a jade box out from his sleeve and tossed it to his junior sister.
Lan Ling’e immediately forgot her frustration and caught the jade box excitedly.
She was just about to open it when she suddenly realized something. Using her Dharmic powers to hold onto her box, she sent it ten feet away before opening it from afar.
A subtle fragrance entered her nose. There was a white flower with six petals lying in the jade box.
‘It’s a herb. I thought it was jewelry or something.’
Lan Ling’e was just about to curse at her senior brother but found that he had already left the room. All that remained was his slightly-exhausted, hoarse voice, saying, “Next time, before you take a bath, put this in warm water. It’ll expand your meridians, detoxify and nourish the face, and make your skin glow. See you tomorrow.”
“Alright, thank you, Senior Brother. See you tomorrow…”
Lan Ling’e heaved a huge sigh of relief and slumped down on her chair. Then, she smiled excitedly.
She made it through safely!
Her senior brother still pampered her. At first, Lan Ling’e thought that she would receive a harsh dressing down after wasting so much poisonous powder. She did not expect that her senior brother would just pinch her ear.
Yet, it looked like her senior brother had everything planned for the Priming Meet, down to the little details.
Lan Ling’e was unhappy about it—she could not help but feel that her senior brother still did not trust her.
‘Forget it, that’s what Senior Brother is like.’
He always burned his cut hair until not even dust remained, and used poison to melt his cut nails until they melted completely. Even after his junior sister got drunk on purpose, he would use Immortal-Trapping Locks to tie her to the bed before tucking her in.
‘Er, I seemed to have revealed a little too much.’ Lan Ling’e blushed. ‘I did not get drunk on purpose last year!’
After returning to his own straw hut, Li Changshou meditated by his bedside. In his mind, he began planning to build the Pill Chamber.
Before this, he had been using the herb tripod, which he always carried with him. However, that had not been enough to satisfy his needs. What’s more, in order to produce much stronger pills like the Immortal-Melting Pill, he needed a bigger and better quality herb tripod.
First, he had to build the Pill Chamber. Then, he would go to the Bai Fan Hall to look for familiar martial uncles and martial aunts for help.
He could desire better tripods, but he could not expect them. This all depended on his luck.
It would be best if he could find an old, worn-out herb tripod. He would try to salvage it and see if he could produce any miracles. Actually, Li Changshou had already been thinking about the Pill Chamber for 30 to 40 years now. He had just been hesitating.
Mediocrity was the best disguise.
From the isolation array formation, which surrounded the place where he lived with his master, to the array formation outside his and his junior sister’s straw huts, and the mountains, water, and trees around the Little Qiong Peak, everything looked ordinary. There was nothing special to speak of.
When building this Pill Chamber, Li Changshou would have to make arrangements both inside and outside to prevent others from discovering his ‘little techniques’ when refining pills and poisons.
From the beginning of his cultivation journey, Li Changshou understood that any intentional disguise would not hide his true progress from experts. Instead, they might attract special attention—being observed by these experts was not necessarily a good thing.
On the flip side, not being noticed by them would ensure that nothing unexpectedly bad would happen to Li Changshou, or at the very least, the chances of that happening were slim.
“The Pill Chamber cannot be too close to our accommodations. If poisonous aura leaks…” Li Changshou mumbled to himself in a low voice and pulled out a storage Dharma artifact, which he used exclusively to store books. From inside, he pulled out a thick stack of sheepskin.
There were array formations and blueprints of structures drawn on each sheepskin. There were also signs of many modifications being done on each drawing. The ink on the oldest sheepskin among them seemed to be fading.