Nine Astra Skies

Mad Snail

158 The Latecomer

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Compared to Chi-ama.s.sing Pills, it was drastically more difficult and time-consuming to refine and produce Chi-consolidating Pills.Ye Chen's continued refining pills for the rest of the night. 

After five hours, it was the break of dawn. It was almost time for Master Apothecary Xuanyi's lecture but Ye Chen had not successfully refined a Chi-consolidating Pill. Soon, he was feeling agitated. He had refined non-stop for more than five hours, so if he were to give up so close to the end, his previous efforts would go to waste.

Ye Chen gritted his teeth and thought, 'Forget it. I'll deal with whatever's next after I finish refining this furnace's Chi-consolidating Pill.'

The lecture hall was located in the northeast corner of Xuan Pavilion and it was very s.p.a.cious. There were many herbs placed at the corner such as refining furnace herbs and whatnot. Master Apothecary Xuanyi sat on the top seat while the rest of the apprentices sat on the floor.

The content of Master Apothecary Xuanyi's lecture was relatively shallow as his target audience was registered apprentices. The four official apprentices - Li Xu, Lei Yi, Hao Feng, and Yan Cheng - were absent.

"Is everyone here?" Master Apothecary Xuanyi asked as he scanned through the audience.

"Master, all thirty-two registered apprentices have arrived," one of the apprentices sitting at the front said.

Master Apothecary Xuanyi glanced at the crowd but Ye Chen was not there. It was only the first lecture and Ye Chen was already late. Master Apothecary Xuanyi frowned.

"Ye Chen didn't come? Is he lost? Xuan Yu, get someone to go and have a look," Master Apothecary Xuanyi said sternly.

An apprentice replied "yes" and immediately ran out.

The entire group of apprentices started exchanging whispers.

"Who's Ye Chen?"

"I heard that he's a registered apprentice recommended by Senior Brother Li."

"Recommended by Senior Brother Li?" Several apprentices displayed weird smirks. The last few registered disciples that Senior Brother Li had recommended had been bullied by them. Out of the seven, six had already left and the only one who remained was bullied until he had submitted to them.

"How dare he come late for the first lecture? I'm sure Master's impression of him must now be extremely poor."

"Who does he think he is?"

After a while, the apprentice who had run out returned. "Master, I don't know where Junior Brother Ye Chen is. I went to Senior Brother Li's side courtyard and called out a few times in front of the door but no one responded."

Master Apothecary Xuanyi was visibly unhappy. Ye Chen was talented but unfortunately, he was too lazy. He was worried that Ye Chen's future success would be limited. Master Apothecary Xuanyi had seen many geniuses throughout his life. Many were more talented than him but because of extreme sloth, they only ended up as ordinary people. Ye Chen was still young and it seemed that he needed to find time to properly educate him. Master Apothecary Xuanyi shook his head and said, "Forget it, we shall not wait for him. Let's begin."

The entire hall of apprentices fell silent.

"I've asked all of you to go back and practice alchemy, right? If you've encountered any problems, feel free to ask me now. I'll help you solve your queries." Master Apothecary Xuanyi's expression calmed down after he spoke of alchemy, "Xuan Yu, let's start with you."

"Yes, Master." Xuan Yu immediately straightened his back. Among all registered apprentices, Xuan Yu was one that Master Apothecary Xuanyi was more satisfied with. He was now an intermediate apothecary. There was still room for improvement in his flame mastery but he was the one most likely to become a formal apprentice. "I went back and refined three furnaces of Chi-ama.s.sing Pills and one furnace of Chi-consolidating Pill. The success rate of refining the Chi-ama.s.sing Pill was about thirty to forty percent but I encountered some problems during the process. On the first day, the process was rather uneventful but on the second day, the herb mixture grayed out. I wanted to salvage it but unfortunately, it failed in the end. I'm a little confused as to why that happened."

"Your control of the flame isn't proficient. You must know that alchemy is a skill and it must be executed extremely meticulously, especially the control of Fire-type Celestial Chi..." Master Apothecary Xuanyi explained. He described the minor details of refining a Chi-consolidating Pill, the catalytic reactions between herbs, and so on. "Herbs have five basic attributes - metal, wood, water, fire, and soil. There were also some other derivatives due to different growing environments. The Chi-consolidating Pill had a total of six fusions. It was dozens of times more complicated than the Chi-ama.s.sing Pill, so it's very easy to fail. The second day is the ending stage of the first fusion. Under the catalyzation of the flame, the medicinal power of Spirit-flourishing Herb and Yin-precipitating Herb would fuse. If there was any slightest error in the control of the flame in this process, the fusion would fail and it'll cause the entire alchemy to fail ... "

After listening to Master Apothecary Xuanyi's few-minutes-long explanation, Xuan Yu humbly thanked him, "I've learned a lot, Master."

"If you're humble and serious about it, you could go one step further in your alchemy. All you need is to have a better mastery of Fire-type Celestial Chi and be more focused when refining pills. In alchemy, the most important thing could be summed up in one word - tranquillity. If your mind is tranquil, you'll then be able to achieve great things." Master Apothecary Xuanyi taught meaningfully.

"Yes." Xuan Yu felt a bit ashamed. Like what the Master Apothecary had said, he was indeed a little distracted when he was refining those pills.

The crowd of apprentices looked at Xuan Yu enviously. Despite all that lecture, they could see that Master Apothecary Xuanyi quite adored Xuan Yu. Who could blame him? Xuan Yi was truly talented. Among the three dozen or more registered apprentices, Xuan Yu was one of the most recent to have joined them. Nevertheless, he was already an intermediate apothecary and his cultivation had also reached the beginner Eighth Level. His progress was much faster than the rest of them. Among the public, Xuan Yu was also widely claimed to be the Master Apothecary's next official. Everyone was confident that it would be him. Although some were jealous and felt that Xuan Yu was arrogant, there was nothing they could do except to flatter him cautiously.

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Deep down, the many apprentices were dueling and besting each other in private but in front of Master Apothecary Xuanyi, they appeared modest and focused on learning.

"Little Wingsy, stay put in this courtyard with Sister Tanuki!" Ye Chen instructed Little Wingsy then hurried away toward the lecture hall.

In the lecture hall, Master Apothecary Xuanyi had finished answering several apprentices' questions and was talking about the essentials of cultivation and alchemy.

Soon, Ye Chen arrived outside the lecture hall and heard Master Apothecary Xuanyi's voice. He could not help but scratch his head, just like a student who was late for his cla.s.s.

After pondering for a while, Ye Chen toughened up and walked in anyway, taking a seat behind the group of registered apprentices.

Master Apothecary Xuanyi did not stop despite noticing Ye Chen sneaking in. He continued his lecture and moved on from his current topic, the essentials of alchemy to talk about the control of Fire-type Celestial Chi.

A few registered apprentices swept a glance at Ye Chen, slight mocking smiles appearing on the corner of their mouths. Ye Chen was about half an hour late on his very first day and he must have now given the Master Apothecary a bad impression.

Hearing Master Apothecary Xuanyi sharing his thoughts and experiences on the mastery of Fire-type Celestial Chi control, a light bulb lit up in Ye Chen's mind. He gave no regard to the expressions of those apprentices and listened attentively to the lecture. Alchemy was all about the control of Fire-type Celestial Chi and the refining of medicinal pills mainly revolved around that. If one had cultivated Fire-type Celestial Chi to a certain level, his manipulation of the flame could then reach the desired level. With that, he could utilize alchemy to increase his own Fire-type Celestial Chi cultivation base.

If one wished to attain the Advanced Apothecary level, his Fire-type Celestial Chi cultivation base must first achieve higher than the Ninth Level. To attain the Master Apothecary level, his cultivation base must reach beyond the Venerable Earth Rank.

Ye Chen swept a glance at Master Apothecary Xuanyi with his Astral Body. Master Apothecary Xuanyi's cultivation base was much higher than the three elders of the Stalwarts of the Heavenly Stars Sect that he had encountered at the Sunken Jade Tower. By Ye Chen's estimation, Master Apothecary Xuanyi should already be at the top Earthly Venerable Rank. He was only a tiny bit away from the Heavenly Venerable Rank.

With regard to alchemy, Master Apothecary Xuanyi had a profound knowledge. Ye Chen could not help feeling respectful toward Master Apothecary Xuanyi as he listened to his lecture. The things that Master Apothecary Xuanyi had talked about were easy to understand. He was very good at explaining them in simple terms and everything that he taught was the experiences that he had gained from alchemy.

After finishing a section, Master Apothecary Xuanyi's eyes turned to Ye Chen. Seeing Ye Chen listening intently - sometimes frowning, sometimes stretching - the unhappiness he had due to Ye Chen being late started vanishing. He nodded slightly and thought, 'This kid isn't really uneducable!'

"Ye Chen, do you have anything that you don't understand about the control of flames? Why don't you share with us?" Master Apothecary Xuanyi looked at Ye Chen with a smile.

All the registered apprentices laughed upon hearing Ye Chen's name being called out by Master Apothecary Xuanyi. Ye Chen was a new recruit. No matter how high his cultivation base was, he could not possibly have much clue about flame control. They were waiting to see Ye Chen making a fool of himself.

Xuan Yu glanced back at Ye Chen and sneered coldly. Previously, he was also brought into this place by Li Xu. After being bullied by Lei Yi and his people, he had defected to Lei Yi's side and in the end, managed to stay in this tutelage. Seeing Ye Chen, he thought of his previous bad experiences. A vicious thought stemmed in his mind as he wondered whether Ye Chen would become one of those six other recruits who had quit or would he turn to Lei Yi like him? He predicted that Ye Chen was not going to have a pleasant experience here in the near future.

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