Chapter 11: Foundation Building
Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The next morning, Chu Li went to the parterre of the Moonlight Orchid upon completing his training. The area where the Nightmare Flower used to grow was completely empty, leaving no traces behind.
Much like a breathtaking firework, the Nightmare Flower turned into ashes right after its dazzling flash. That was the Nightmare Flower.
Suddenly, Chu Li discovered that he could sense signs of life underground, albeit weak. Activating the Omniscient Mirror, he found a seed buried a meter below the dirt.
This seed was no different compared to the one Lady Xiao had gifted him. So that was how the seeds of the Nightmare Flower were conceived!
A normal flower would bloom, produce fruits and bear seeds within them. However, the Nightmare Flower’s unique growth cycle sets it apart from the other plants. It was clear to him why the species was incredibly rare to the verge of extinction.
He pondered for a while, knowing that he would not be able to keep the information to himself for long. With his current status and qualification, it was not appropriate to keep this precious discovery to himself. Hence, he summoned Li Yue to send him to Xiao Qi’s island.
Xiao Qi’s island was almost ten times larger than the East Garden by comparison. It was filled with trees and neatly-lined with extravagant pavilions, the columns exquisitely detailed. It was an incredibly luxurious place.
Chu Li stood at the bow of the ship. Before he had reached Xiao Qi’s island, he could already feel the presence of a tremendously fierce power prying onto him. It felt like it would ambush him at any moment.
He activated the Omniscient Mirror and detected twelve sources of this formidable power coming amongst the willow trees — any of which could immediately end him.
“Remember, this is Lady Xiao’s island. Be careful when you are there. Don’t go around carelessly.” Li Yue reminded, “Be careful!”
Li Yue wore a panicked expression as he stared at the island, as though it were a monster.
Chu Li smiled and nodded.
As the boat inched closer towards the shore, a middle-aged man appeared from the woods. He assessed the new guests in silence with his sharp eyes, his glare cold. It was almost as if his glare could pierce right through them.
Chu Li gave a fisted-salute and bowed before introducing himself. He requested to meet Chief Su Ru.
The middle-aged man nodded without a word, nor moved an inch.
Chu Li waited patiently knowing that his newsof his arrival has been conveyed.
Not before long, Su Ru arrived in an elegant, apricot-colored robe. She looked as delicate as the willow trees surrounding the area.
“Chu Li?” Su Ru said as she gestured with her delicate hand that there was no need for formality. She looked at him with surprise and said, “What is the matter?”
Chu Li nodded without saying a word.
“Follow me,” said Su Ru after realizing that he wanted to talk in private. She walked swiftly, her movements so graceful it was as if she was walking on lotuses. Chu Li followed hastily and they came to a stop at a gazebo.
A bridge connected Xiao Qi’s garden to the gazebo. Eight columns supported the structure in an octagonal shape. The structure floated above the lake without hints of faltered balance.
Su Ru sat down and hinted Chu Li to mimic her. She then spoke, “What is it?”
Chu Li sat down. “Chief, I found a seed of the Nightmare Flower.”
“Wasn’t it all dead?” Su Ru furrowed her brows.
Bringing this topic up always made her feel regretful. The Nightmare Flower was a woman’s weak point as no women could resist the power of claiming eternal youth.
At first, Su Ru did not care for the seeds of the Nightmare Flower and it was left aside. However, when she noticed how incredibly competent Chu Li was in growing plants, she decided to give it a go. Unexpectedly, Chu Li succeeded in growing the plant.
When she saw the two Nightmare Flowers, she blamed herself for her careless behavior. If she had been more vigilant, perhaps the seed would not have perished.
Chu Li explained his deductions to Su Ru.
“So you are saying that the Nightmare Flower will always have seeds?”
“There’s the possibility but would you be willing to take the risk to try it out?” Chu Li asked, “Where did the two seeds come from?”
“Lady Xiao had always kept it with her,” Su Ru said. “It’s part of Lady Xiao’s late mother’s belongings. It was initially thrown in a corner… No one actually knows how it came about.”
“I have a theory that the Nightmare Flower’s presumed extinction was due to its special characteristics and misconception about its germination. The seeds of the fruit won’t germinate and acts as a decoy. The ones left in the roots are the real seeds, yet it is still too risky to examine it.”
“This is not a big deal. When we plant it again the next time, we will keep one flower to ourselves.”
“It’s not that simple. It’s possible that when the plant bears fruit, it won’t be able to form its true seeds any longer.” Chu Li shook his head. “Wouldn’t that mean we would get nothing in the end?”
Su Ru furrowed her brows and nodded. Chu Li’s assessment was very thorough.
“I’m quite worried as the seed has a short lifespan. It might only bloom for two or three times before it disappears,” Chu Li added.
Su Ru stared at him with widened eyes. “What do you suggest?”
“If I had more seeds, I could experiment with it. But since there’s only one remaining seed, I’m not comfortable experimenting with it,” Chu Li said and shook his head.
Su Ru smiled hesitantly. “You can keep this seed to yourself.”
Chu Li was an expert on the plant at this point. He knew the value of the seed while the others did not. He could keep it to himself, yet he chose not to.
Based on what she knew, Chu Li was an intellectually gifted person and intelligent people are likely to be unfair and unjust.
“Between the seed and Lady Xiao, I care more about the Lady. Besides, how do I know this isn’t a test from Lady Xiao?”
Chu Li’s action indicated that he was prodding as well to find out if Lady Xiao was worth expressing his full talent.
“You understand.” Su Ru smiled gently. “Follow me!”
She left the pavilion in a graceful stride. They went through the woods and a few other pavilions before arriving at a tall building. The bronze tower looked like a fitting place for a library. At the top of the entrance, it was written the “Stargazing Tower”.
The Stargazing Tower had three floors, each floor a hundred meters in height. Standing at the base of the tower would cause one to feel insignificant.
Upon entering, they could see servants gliding around with superior Light-body technique. They moved around quietly like a feather. Their skills superior to those of a rank eight Protector.
Without a delay, Su Ru brought Chu Li to the highest floor of the tower.
The top of the tower was wide and spacious. While standing on that floor, they could spot a huge lake and some islands from afar.
A small tea table was in the middle. There were two coasters, a tea set and five plates of exquisite pastry and fruits.
Xiao Qi wore a white top for her sword-training session. The sword she wielded shone brightly and was as clear as spring water. Even from ten meters away, Chu Li could feel the forest’s cold energy and goosebumps engulfing him.
“Lady Xiao,” said Su Ru softly upon approaching her.
With a flash of light, Lady Xiao tossed it to Su Ru, all the while looking towards Chu Li.
Chu Li greeted her with a fisted-salute.
Su Ru caught the sword and sheathed it into the scabbard before hanging it back on the wall. She then said, “Chu Li has found that the Nightmare Flower has left a seed. He suggests that it is able to bloom. He will explain it now with his own words.”
Xiao Qi’s gaze fixated upon Chu Li’s face.
Chu Li then told all of his inferences and concerns to Xiao Qi.
Xiao Qi frowned and raised her head. “You will let the seed bloom. I will look around for more information. If you manage to grow ten flowers, I will raise your position to the sixth rank!”
“…Thank you Lady Xiao!” Chu Li fist-saluted.
He was currently at rank eight. Based on his experience, he will become rank seven after ten years and rank six in thirty years which would advance him to the middle layers. It may only be a one-rank difference, but the differences credit wise was huge.
Xiao Qi said, “I’ll find the seed as soon as possible.”
Chu Li gave a hesitant nod.
“Just say it!” Xiao Qi said.
Chu Li asked, “Are you intending to build the herb garden in the East Garden?”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m planning to do. What are your opinions on it?”
“I think it would be best to build it here.”
“Why so? Are you worried about safety?”
Chu Li nodded. “There are no walls in this world that wouldn’t give way to the wind. When that time comes…”
The unique spirit drugs will make even the most composed person to take risks in desperation. When that happens, the East Garden would be desired by many and this would put Li Yue and himself into danger.
“Let me ponder on this matter.” Xiao Qi said with a slight nod. She needed to consider the advantages and setbacks of the proposal.
Chu Li gave another fist-salute and left.
In the following month, Chu Li rarely left the Moonlight Orchid parterre. He kept himself preoccupied with growing the Moonlight Orchids and constantly watched over the Nightmare Flower.
The Nightmare Flower grew again as expected, this time at a faster growth rate.
He planted a few Deity’s Beard seeds and managed to sprout a few. He grew them based on their habits and properties. If it was as he had thought, the Deity’s Beard required a great amount of spiritual energy to grow.
When the Deity’s Beard were all done growing, the land which had been planted on would be rendered infertile for at least five years. Chu Li did not want the East Garden to have an empty plot of land, like a bald spot on a head.
He concentrated most of his efforts on the Nightmare Flowers. Day and night started to blur as he subconsciously manifested himself as the Nightmare Flower to feel the source of life. His understanding of the source of the withering deepened.
Under the moonlight glow, Chu Li sat on the floor, alone in the Moonlight Orchid parterre.
He plucked two flowers and gently laid them into a jade box. The vigor between him and the Nightmare Flowers was still connected. Chu Li could feel it fading away, but there was still a strand of life. There was death in its life, and there is life in its death. It was the cycle of the Life and Death Scripture.
All of a sudden, the words of the Life and Death Scripture appeared in his mind. A vision of the Tree of Life and Death floated in his head and became increasingly clearer.
“Bam!” A loud noise was heard. Everything in front of Chu Li’s vision went black. His soul sprang out of his body and it went into the Tree of Life and Death. The vast and boundless energy drowned his soul as he became the Tree of Life and Death.
Life flashed before his eyes of its infinite power on this world. He saw a vision of people at the brink of destruction; victims struggled helplessly at the mercy of tsunamis. They screamed in agonizing pain and prayed in desperation. Despite that, nothing had stopped death. After the era of living beings had faded out, the world will regrow again. Plants reclaimed the land but the earth was destroyed again. Again, life returned and was destroyed. This dance of life and death was repeated endlessly…
In this cycle of life and death, the toughest life on the planet are not humans, but rather the plants. They absorbed the essences of the Earth and grew as the planet did. They sprouted during spring and bloomed during summer, bearing fruits in autumn and hiding during winter. They relied on the land to survive and absorbed its power.
Chu Li slowly woke up from his daze. It felt as though a lot of time had passed. Yet, he felt only a moment had passed.
He was rather unsure when his soul had returned back to his body, but it had certainly grown deeper attachments to this world. As his state of mind changed, the entire east garden was now within the range of his omniscient mirror.
The moon was like a silver plate hanging in the night sky. By looking at the position of the moon, he estimated that two hours had passed.
The omniscient mirror has the ability to reflect what was within the subject. Chu Li used it on himself. His spiritual force had doubled compared to his original limits and his omniscient mirror could now reflect as far as three miles away.
He could connect with plants as far as a hundred meters away. Through the ground, their spiritual energies are interlinked and the energies changed into something akin to the viscosity of water. It was very different from the time he absorbed the vapor-like spiritual energy.
He now realized that the spiritual energy of the plants was divided into innate or acquired ones. Before this, Chu Li could access the acquired spiritual energies. Now, he could alter their innate spiritual energies at will. As the innate spiritual energies from the plant flow into his body, his veins expanded in response.
He proceeded to operate the Minute Pulse technique with a grin that grew wider.
His veins released a white ray of light as he conducted the technique. Not only was the foundation building done, it also activated the vein. It was the first leap to the first level!
His body was strengthened by a formless force; the muscles, bones, veins and each part of the body became exceptionally firm and substantial. His body was full of energy that was not exhausting, he really wanted to lift his head and howl to the sky.
After checking thoroughly, Chu Li began to calm down. The Nightmare Flowers planted was weak, so he used the spiritual energy to repair its vitality.
The effect of his spiritual energy was getting stronger. After a while, the seeds became vigorous and started to regenerate its blooms.
The next morning, Su Ru arrived gracefully at the Moonlight Orchid parterre. She looked lovely as usual and her perfume gave off a relaxing scent.
Chu Li felt an intimate connection with Su Ru as he stared at her beautiful face. He felt she was someone close to him in his past lives. Last night, when Chu Li underwent the two intense hours of meditation, he had also undergone many cycles of reincarnation. His mental state has greatly matured.
When he saw Su Ru, it was as if he had just been given a soul. It was the feeling of a brand new life.
Su Ru took out a jade box from her sleeve and said, “Chu Li, here are the two seeds. You can try it with your methods.”
Chu Li took the box with both hands and passed her a bigger jade box in return.
Su Ru asked, “Have you completed growing the Deity’s Beard?”
Chu Li nodded and he proceeded to inform her of his thoughts.
Su Ru widened her eyes. She smiled and said,”Not bad, Gu Litong still has not figured out how to grow them yet!”
Chu Li raised an eyebrow.
Su Ru said, “The Deity’s Beard is a valuable item for a horse. The price of having a few bald spots of land is nothing in comparison!”
“Let’s not be greedy. They shouldn’t eat too much of it, “Chu Li said.
Su Ru replied, “The horses shouldn’t overdose on Deity’s Beard. Half a kilogram is quite sufficient and enough to enhance a horse’s bones.”
“If Lady Xiao were to plant it,” Chu Li continued, “it would be better to plant it outside of the Public House.”
Su Ru raised an eyebrow and said, “Let me check with Lady Xiao… In the meantime, you should concentrate on growing the Nightmare Flower as your first priority. You now have four blooms. Another six and you’ll be upgraded to rank six!”
“Not a problem!”
“Gu Litong didn’t manage to grow it. Consequently, you won’t have to surrender. It will be counted as a tie,” Su Ru said with a smile.
Chu Li returned the smile and nodded.