Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Just as Zhou Donghuang finished speaking, Zhao San had already risen from his seat and was staring intently at Zhou Donghuang.
“You are Guild Master Lin’s son, Zhou Donghuang, the one who is unable to manifest his qi, right?”
Zhao San had deduced Zhou Donghuang’s identity earlier when Granny Lian had greeted him with the title of “Young Master”.
“So, what do you say? Have you ever wished to regain level-three of the Qi-gathering…? Well… I should be asking, have you ever wished to recover to level-four of Qi-gathering?” Zhou Donghuang asked unhurriedly, gazing profoundly at Zhao San.
“Do you have a solution?”
Zhao San’s eyes were round with anticipation. Although there was still a hint of doubt in his eyes, he looked at Zhou Donghuang incredulously.
“From what I know… You are unable to even manifest your qi, how are you going to help me?”
“What? Aren’t you even interested in giving it a try?” Zhou Donghuang asked calmly, a serene expression on his face.
“If you are indeed able to help me regain level-four of the Qi-gathering… No! If you are able to help me regain just the level three of the Qi-gathering, you can keep all the money I have loaned to the Magnolia Guild. Besides, I will even give you Yunxuan Restaurant!” Zhao San solemnly swore.
Zhou Donghuang had never imagined that Zhao San would swear something of this magnitude.
Yunxuan Restaurant was the largest and best restaurant in Qingshan Town and had an uninterrupted flow of customers every day. It was the most profitable business in Qingshan Town.
It was the fortune Zhao San had earned from Yunxuan Restaurant that made him the wealthiest man in Qingshan Town. His other sources of income were a mere trickle in comparison.
The money that Zhao San had loaned to the Magnolia Guild was nothing compared to the value of Yunxuan Restaurant.
Hearing Zhao San’s words, Granny Lian took a deep breath and looked at Zhou Donghuang with an expression full of emotion.
If the young master of her house could cure Zhao San, that would solve everything!
In the past, if Zhou Donghuang had claimed that he could have cured Zhao San’s chronic ailment caused by his overexertion, she would have chided him for spouting nonsense.
However, after witnessing Zhou Donghuang, who had not yet manifested his qi, defeat Guild Master Hong Yue of the Sunset Guild and produce a formula for a blood-staunching elixir superior to the one formulated by the Lin family’s intermediate-level medicine master, she did not dare doubt Zhou Donghuang’s abilities.
Zhao San had assumed that by making such a solemn promise, Zhou Donghuang would be so excited that he would lose his composure. He never imagined Zhou Donghuang would remain unruffled, as though he could remain indifferent in the face of a landslide.
Zhao San’s esteem for Zhou Donghuang increased several notches in that moment.
This son of Guild Master Lin has more to him than meets the eye.
“Granny Lian, please prepare a quiet room for us,” Zhou Donghuang instructed Granny Lian.
Granny Lian left to arrange it at once, and when it was ready, she personally escorted Zhou Donghuang and Zhao San into the quiet room.
Granny Lian herself stood watch outside the door, preventing anyone from approaching and disturbing Zhou Donghuang and Zhao San.
As she stood watch outside the door, Granny Lian’s face betrayed her uneasiness. She could not be completely sure that Zhou Donghuang could really cure Zhao San’s chronic ailment.
If he could not, Zhao San might be shamed and that shame might turn into fury, and he might insist that the money he had loaned to the Magnolia Guild be returned to him.
Roughly an hour later, Granny Lian heard Zhao San’s hearty laughter coming from the quiet room, as though the cloud hanging over his heart had been swept away in an instant.
Granny Lian’s eyes lit up.
In the quiet room, it was only after Zhao San’s laughter had died down that he calmed his raging emotions and bowed in salute to Zhou Donghuang, who was drenched in sweat from head to toe.
“Esteemed Master Zhou, till my dying day, I will never forget this service!” he said earnestly.
“I have already cleared the meridians in your body that had been blocked by your overexertion… go home and practice for two to three days, you should be able to properly attain level-four of Qi-gathering stage.”
Zhou Donghuang’s eyes were closing, and his body was swaying. He said in a weakening voice, “If nothing goes wrong, you…”
Before he could finish, Zhou Donghuang collapsed into unconsciousness due to his exertion.
“Esteemed Master Zhou!”
Zhao San’s expression changed, and only after he was assured that Zhou Donghuang was unharmed and had only fainted from the exertion did he let out a sigh of relief.
Granny Lian burst into the room, realizing by now that something was wrong.
“Don’t worry. Esteemed Master Zhou fainted from overexerting himself in the process of clearing the flow of my meridians. He should be fine after resting… when he awakes, may I trouble you to tell him that I, Zhao San, will return another day to express my gratitude!”
After relaying his message to Granny Lian, Zhao San left.
Zhao San now walked with a swagger in his step.
He had now regained the level three of Qi-gathering, and after accumulating his qi for another two to three days, he could attain level-four of Qi-gathering, and become a level-four adept, possessing the strength of four bulls!
Right then, Zhao San was eager to get home and practice.
As soon as he had confirmed that Zhou Donghuang was unharmed, he felt an urgent need to leave the Magnolia Guild and return home to practice.
It was evening when Zhou Donghuang awoke.
“Young Master, you’re awake.”
Granny Lian had kept a constant watch beside Zhou Donghuang’s bed. Seeing that he had awoken, she could not help but heave a sigh of relief.
“Granny Lian, I’m hungry,” Zhou Donghuang told her, rubbing his empty belly.
“No problem! I’ll tell the servant girls to prepare something for you to eat at once!”
Granny Lian left immediately.
Without qi in my body, even performing some simple massage techniques on Zhao San caused me to faint from overexertion… I am still really weak right now.
Zhou Donghuang smiled bitterly after Granny Lian had left.
Zhao San’s ailment had not been serious, and he had been able to cure the ailment with some basic massage techniques.
Of course, Zhou Donghuang had helped Zhao San because he remembered from his previous life that Zhao San was a principled man who stood by his friends. If Zhao San had been an ingrate, he would not have bothered to offer his help.
“Young Master, before he left, Zhao San of the Yunxuan Restaurant wanted me to tell you that he will return another day to express his gratitude.”
Granny Lian had returned to Zhou Donghuang’s room after she had instructed the servant girls to prepare food.
“Young Master… you, really healed his chronic ailment?”
Even now, Granny Lian did not dare to believe it.
Zhao San from the Yunxuan Restaurant was known to be very resourceful, and if it had been just an ordinary ailment, he would have found someone capable of healing him long ago. Zhou Donghuang would never have gotten the opportunity to treat him.
“Yes.” Zhou Donghuang nodded. “I used a special technique to help him clear the blockages in his meridians caused by his overexertion, allowing him to regain the level-three of Qi-gathering. Under his present circumstances, he only needs two or three days of practice before he can smoothly attain level-four of Qi-gathering, and become a level-four adept with ease.”
“Granny Lian, Zhao San’s reputation is formidable… Rumor has it that he is a direct descendant of the Governor’s Household of the prefecture capital?”
In Zhou Donghuang’s opinion, Granny Lian would be more knowledgeable in these matters than him, because Granny Lian had lived in the prefecture capital and served the Lin family from early on. It was only later that she came to Qingshan Town with Lin Lan.
“I have heard this rumor too,” Granny Lian said, shaking her head. “However, it is probably true… if not, he could not have run Yunxuan Restaurant in Qingshan Town for so many years.”
“Yunxuan Restaurant is a big money-spinner in Qingshan Town, even the Magnolia Guild and the Sunset Guild combined do not earn as much. Moreover, Yunxuan Restaurant is unlike the Magnolia Guild or the Sunset Guild in that it does not have to hand nine-tenths of its profit to the family that is backing it… It is the personal enterprise of Zhao San, and the money it brings in belongs entirely to Zhao San.”
Even though Yunxuan Restaurant is only a restaurant in Qingshan Town, it was already a significant enough prize to be coveted by the other great houses of the prefecture capital.
However, no one had dared to attempt a takeover since Yunxuan Restaurant had opened for business. Evidently, it was no mystery that the owner of Yunxuan Restaurant, Zhao San, had some influence.
“Granny Lian… in the prefecture capital, how would a level-four adept of Qi-gathering stack up?” Zhou Donghuang asked.
As far as he could remember, the strongest adepts in Qingshan Town were those few second-level adepts of Qi-gathering: Zhao San of Yunxuan Restaurant, those few senior members of the Wang family and other local families, and the second-level adepts stationed at the Magnolia Guild and Sunset Guild.
“Young Master, in the prefecture capital, there is only one fifth-level adept of Qi-gathering, that is the governor himself… in the Lin family of the prefecture capital that backs our Magnolia Guild, the strongest are three level-four Qi-gathering adepts. Therefore, a level-four adept is considered powerful in the prefecture capital, and is strong enough to support a preeminent family,” Granny Lian explained.
In the country of Yunyang, power was effectively held by the various families. The Royal Household was the greatest family, next was the Wang Household, and then came the tycoons, the grand families, the preeminent families, and the lesser families.
A family in Qingshan Town that included a second-level adept of Qi-gathering, such as the Wang family, would barely qualify as a lesser family.
“If Zhao San is really a direct descendant of the Governor’s Household of the prefecture capital… he will return to the Governor’s Household once he has recovered his abilities. The Governor’s Household will not allow a level-four adept of Qi-gathering to languish in a backwater town like Qingshan,” Granny Lian said.
Several servant girls sent food over after Zhou Donghuang and Granny Lian had chatted for a while.
Zhou Donghuang was ravenous, and after devouring the food, he left Granny Lian to instruct the servant girls to prepare the bathtub and bath water.
Today was the second day of soaking in the medicinal bath, and he would be another step closer to loosening the seal within his body.
This is comfortable.
Soaking in the bathtub, Zhou Donghuang soon fell asleep and did not awake until dawn the next day.
Seeing that the medicine in the water had been absorbed into his body, Zhou Donghuang dressed himself, tore off the old page of the calendar, and returned to bed.
It was now a new day.
The Ziyun Era had entered into the fourteenth day of the twelfth month of the year 1227.
The seal within my body is even looser now… one last soak tonight will be enough to completely remove it tomorrow by morning.
When that happens, I can begin to manifest my qi, and start afresh on the path of the Martial Way!
At this thought, Zhou Donghuang could not help being excited, even though he had a thousand years of memories from his previous life. He felt alert and energetic, not the slightest bit of sleepiness.