Only after they had fled all the way back to Hidden Cloud Peak did the two slow down, Yang Kai suspiciously looking at Dong Qing Yan, his face filled with confusion, not able to understand why she was blushing so red.
“Why did you do that?” Yang Kai frowned.
Dong Qing Yan glared back at him but managed to calm herself after taking a few deep breaths, carefully explaining, “Silly cousin, when Alchemists say they want to exchange pointers, they’re referring to competition in Alchemy, both sides take out the same set of materials and then refine them into pills. The one who produces the highest number of pills at the highest level of quality in the shortest amount of time is the winner, not like…”
While talking, she raised her small fists and swung them about a few times, “It’s not like that…”
Yang Kai was stunned; his face couldn’t help turning a bright shade of crimson, quietly whispering, “They never said anything about that, how was I to know?”
Dong Qing Yan smiled wryly, “It’s common sense amongst Alchemists… Fortunately, you didn’t go all out, so none of them were actually hurt. If you had really wounded them, the consequences would be quite serious.”
Done explaining, Dong Qing Yan rubbed her forehead helplessly, “Sure enough, cultivators following the Martial Path are really just a group of muscle heads who only know how to fight…”
Yang Kai was also very embarrassed, now understanding why those three disciples were so excited when he agreed to an exchange of pointers, as if they were looking at an idiot who didn’t know how to write the word dead.
They thought they were going to compete in Alchemy…
So the beating they received really was him wronging them.
Aware of his wrong, Yang Kai remained silent the rest of the way back, occasionally hearing Dong Qing Yan burst into giggles as she recalled the events that had just transpired.
Arriving back at Hidden Cloud Peak’s summit, the two of them handed the herbs they had collected to the two beautiful women, ate a medicinal meal which was prepared for them, then went back to their own houses to rest.
The next day, before Yang Kai had even left his residence, a strong medicinal fragrance wafted over to him; as soon as this fragrance entered his nose, he felt a calm relaxing sensation envelop his body.
Curious, Yang Kai opened his door, went out, and followed the scent to a nearby hut.
Looking around, he found a pair of rooms not far away, each one containing a large steaming basin in which a mixture of herbs was being brewed. Each of these basins had one of the two beautiful women tending to it, fanning the flames and stirring the water, their brows covered in a thin layer of sweat.
“Is Master going to use these to refine some pills?” Dong Qing Yan had also come out, looking around curiously, her two big eyes flashing with an excited light.
Yang Kai observed for a while before asking, “Do you want us to help?”
Hearing this, the beautiful Aunty Xiang got up and looked towards the young pair with a smile and nodded, “Please.”
Yang Kai quickly rolled up his sleeves and inquired, “What should we do?”
However, Aunty Xiang simply smiled, “You don’t need to do anything for the time being, we’re actually preparing these medicinal baths for you two; they’ve been boiling like this since last night but should be just right very soon.”
“Prepared for us?” Yang Kai was surprised.
Aunty Lan nodded, “Yes. This past month, Old Xiao has been configuring the herbs required for these baths; in fact, the herbs you collected yesterday have also been included.”
“I also have one?” Yang Kai couldn’t help feeling touched. Old Xiao preparing such an elaborate treatment for Dong Qing Yan was only to be expected, Yang Kai understood that, after all, Dong Qing Yan had worshipped him as her master and would one day become the successor to his mantle, but he too receiving the same treatment surprised Yang Kai.
But to his surprise, Aunty Xiang just nodded and said, “Naturally, since the two of you came to Hidden Cloud Peak you are both our Hidden Cloud Peak’s people. The two of you should eat something first and then prepare yourselves; return here in an hour.”
Yang Kai’s jaw slackened a bit, his eyes filling with gratitude.
Dong Qing Yan and his breakfasts had already been prepared in the kitchen and were still steaming, clearly showing they had been cooked just recently. While eating this delicious meal, Yang Kai couldn’t help watching Aunty Xiang and Aunty Lan busily working on the two medicinal baths, spontaneously feeling a faint warmth rise up within him.
This warm and happy feeling was something he had not experienced in a long time.
After an hour, Yang Kai and Dong Qing Yan each entered one of the rooms.
Aunty Xiang was in charge of his room and under her instructions Yang Kai removed his robes down to a thin pair of pants and jumped into the bath.
Towards these two beautiful women who resided on Hidden Cloud Peak, Yang Kai held great respect.
Both of them had silently given Hidden Cloud Peak over twenty of their years. They had dedicated some of their best and most beautiful years to this place, but when the world heard of Hidden Cloud Peak, the only name they knew was Xiao Fu Sheng. No one knew or bothered to know anything about these two women.
Even Yang Kai himself, after staying on Hidden Cloud Peak for a whole month, his daily life and living arrangements being meticulously cared for by them, only knew to call them Aunty Xiang and Aunty Lan, not even knowing their full names.
So even though at the moment he was baring his upper body before them, he didn’t have the slightest unnatural behaviour.
“Aunty Xiang, now what should I do?” Yang Kai, feeling the warmth in his surroundings, physically and mentally comfortable, couldn’t help but ask.
“Just circulate the Secret Art Old Xiao passed to you! Old Xiao specifically designed that Secret Art to allow you to properly absorb the effects of this medicinal bath and actually has no other use for him. Old Xiao spent a great deal of effort to gather together the required herbs for these baths and there are only two of them, so you must be very careful not to waste them so you can live up to Old Xiao’ s kindness.”
“I understand!” Yang Kai said as his face became solemn, closing his eyes and beginning to circulate that unnamed Secret Art.
The moment he began operating the Secret Art, Yang Kai felt as if his every single one of his body’s hundreds of millions of pores opened, the medicinal baths effects flooding into him like millions of sharp needles.
Omnipresent and pervasive.
There was nowhere on his body that did not experience this sensation.
Involuntarily, Yang Kai’s brow wrinkled, his body trembling slightly.
On the other hand, from next door, Dong Qing Yan’s voice cried out.
After all, Dong Qing Yan was still just a young girl and had grown up spoiled, when would she have ever had to endure such pain?
As the sound of Aunty Lan’s comforting voice also drifted over from next door, Aunty Xiang carefully observed Yang Kai’s reaction, her beautiful eyes flashing a dignified light, secretly impressed.
Old Xiao had told them before that the effects of this medicinal bath on one’s body and their cultivation aptitude were very significant, but the pain that had to be endured was akin to an inhuman torture. He had been worried about Yang Kai and Dong Qing Yan’s ability to bear this, but now it seems that Yang Kai would have no problem with it.
As time passed, the pain only seemed to strengthen, not only appearing on the outside of his body, but also coming from his meridians, five viscera and six organs.
It was like there were tens of millions of ants crawling around inside of him, biting his body.
As big drops of sweat rolled down his forehead, Yang Kai’s skin became blood red, yet he never stopped circulating the unnamed Secret Art.
This kind of torturous pain continued for an entire hour before suddenly decreasing sharply.
It was as if the medicinal effects had somehow reached their limit and the resulting pain they had caused rapidly faded; but a moment later there wasn’t even any discomfort left.
What replaced it was a comfortable, pleasant sensation.
Yang Kai couldn’t help taking a deep breath and slowly opened his eyes as a brilliant light flashed across them.
Aunty Xiang watched all of this approvingly, smiling towards Yang Kai for a moment before nodding and saying, “It looks like Old Xiao underestimated the two of you, you managed to endure that well.”
As she spoke, her hands never stopped moving, tossing various new herbs into the medicinal bath before once again fanning the flames below.
Since the pain faded away, Yang Kai found that there was no longer any need for him to consciously operate the unnamed Secret Art; instead, just by sitting in the bath, the medicinal effects of the herbs would be absorbed into his body and would automatically circulate.
With each revolution, Yang Kai could feel his physique improve and become more solid; his meridians became wider and more elastic while the True Qi in his body became more and more pure.
“Aunty Xiang, the rest of this medicinal bath should be left Young Lady Dong.” Yang Kai said as he felt a pang of guilt in his heart, he had come to Hidden Cloud Peak not to learn Alchemy but for an ulterior purpose, yet Old Xiao still did not treat him as an outsider even though he was not his disciple.
However, Aunty Xiang simply chuckled, “This medicinal treatment Old Xiao created is too overbearing so it can only be used once in a cultivator’s lifetime, if your family’s Young Lady were to attempt it a second time, her meridians would not be able to handle it.”
Pausing for a moment, Aunty Xiang continued, “In fact, you don’t have to burden yourself over this so much. Old Xiao is actually quite optimistic about you; it is just that the path you pursue is different from most Alchemists.”
“What kind of effect is this medicinal bath supposed to have?” Yang Kai asked curiously.
Aunty Xiang pondered briefly before replying, “According to Old Xiao, this bath’s main purpose is to fundamentally improve a cultivator’s meridians, so that afterwards, when one cultivates, they can more easily quench their Yuan Qi, allowing it to become more pure.”
“Is that related to Alchemy?” Yang Kai frowned, quietly thinking back to words Old Xiao had spoken when they had first met.
“About the Alchemic Path, many people are wrong, even this Old Master is wrong!”
Yang Kai still vividly remembered the frustration and regret that filled Old Xiao voice back then.
To his spontaneous question, Aunty Xiang nodded, “Naturally it is related to Alchemy. Old Xiao also only realized this truth in recent years just… for him this enlightenment came too late. Alchemists, in the end, are also cultivators, they too need pure Yuan Qi to fully display their abilities when trying to refine good pills, so he specifically set his disciple recruitment test to screen for that.”
Brushing the hair back behind her ear, Aunty Xiang thought for a moment before saying, “Old Xiao once said, if he received a successor, he would first teach him a fundamental truth.”
“Before reaching the Immortal Ascension Boundary one must not practice Alchemy!” Aunty Xiang grinned, “Perhaps this thinking is not completely correct, but it is still a valuable insight into the Alchemic Path that Old Xiao discovered.”
Before Immortal Ascension, no practicing Alchemy! No wonder Old Xiao didn’t teach Dong Qing Yan anything about Alchemy this past month, and instead had been completely focused on the growth of her cultivation.
“If you are determined to learn the art of Alchemy, Old Xiao would very willingly teach you!” Aunty Xiang smiled.
Old Xiao wanting his successor to reach the Immortal Ascension Boundary before cultivating their Alchemic Path meant that any disciple of his had to have a passion for the Martial Path as well.
Yang Kai’s desire to reach the Martial Peak was clearly in line with this condition.
“I appreciate Old Xiao’s care but unfortunately I cannot.” Yang Kai shook his head; before his cultivation had reached a certain height he refused to have any other pursuits distract him.
Alchemists were indeed distinguished, garnering admiration from around the world, but this was not the path Yang Kai sought.
“Oh yes, I heard yesterday you exchanged pointers with Hidden Cloud Peak, Elder Duan’s three disciples?” Aunty Xiang quickly changed the topic to avoid putting Yang Kai into an awkward position.
Yang Kai’s face instantly went red as he scratched his cheek and whispered, “I didn’t know that when they said ‘exchange pointers’ they meant about Alchemy…”
Aunty Xiang couldn’t help trembling slightly as she laughed, only able to compose herself a good while later, “Now there are rumors outside that one of the disciples that came to Hidden Cloud Peak to learn Alchemy is an underhanded rogue!”
“Did I make trouble for Old Xiao?” Yang Kai asked guiltily.
Aunty Xiang shook her head, “No, you didn’t injure them, but this morning someone did come here to complain. Well, just remember not to let something like this happen again, otherwise there may be an issue.”
“Of course, of course!” Yang Kai nodded again and again.
This event was simply too embarrassing, any time he thought back on it he couldn’t help blushing.