Pill Furnace Master glared at Gu Qishao and immediately caught the vicious glint in his eyes. Like a stubborn child, Gu Qishao recklessly did as he wanted, his gaze demanding answers. The sight startled Pill Furnace Master, who found it extremely familiar. It seemed like something he’d experienced before. For a moment, he didn’t know how to answer.
Gu Qishao kept glaring at him, but didn’t harm the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace any further. He grabbed onto the handlebar and pulled the door down, sending a waft of medicine into the air. Everyone looked over nervously. If the fourth of five pills were ruined too, it just be too depressing. Instead, what they saw were two round, intact pills of gloomy hue sitting in wait.
“Two pills,” Gu Qishao exhaled.
Everyone else’s hearts settled as well. They couldn’t begin to imagine their disappointment if all their efforts had led to nothing. Although they only got two, it was better than one! At least one of them would be worth using. Still, Pill Furnace Master spoke up and said, “Hold on, let this old man inspect them.”
Mere sight alone couldn’t confirm whether the pills were successful. Once again, everyone grew tense. Before Pill Furnace Master could take the pills, Gu Qishao beat him to the punch and tossed the pills to Long Feiye. “Catch!”
“Dan pellet pills are refined with external fires, so it’s likely the potency is inadequate. From a prudent standpoint, it’s better to examine it thoroughly,” Pill Furnace Master as he extended his hand towards Long Feiye. But he was soon quailed beneath the man’s icy stare.
His little act could fool the rest, but not Gu Qishao and Long Feiye’s eyes. How could the Returning Dragon Pills be inadequate after being refined with flame within the furnace? Otherwise, what would be the difference between this Celestial Fire Qian Furnace and one of ordinary make? Pill Furnace Master clearly wanted to trick a Returning Dragon Pill for himself. Once he got his paws on them, he’d definitely hold onto one and claim it needed more time for refining. Thus, that would leave Long Feiye’s group with a single pill.
Seeing Long Feiye’s icy visage made Pill Furnace Master resentful, but he finally gave up his final effort. Han Yunxi couldn’t help thinking that Gu Qishao really was Pill Furnace Master’s disciple. He could see through the old man’s machinations with a glance. This madman had no shred of trust to him and tricked others by feigning his might. Even his ignorance was a front for his shrewd and devious ways. If not for Gu Qishao’s sake, even she couldn’t stand him, much less Long Feiye.
No matter what, the Returning Dragon Pills were in their hands now.
“There’s finally hope for Gu Beiyue!” Han Yunxi sighed. Even getting the pills wasn’t as important as Gu Beiyue recovering his shadow arts! Could this count as their New Year’s present? Wouldn’t he be happy to hear the news? In her memory, Gu Beiyue had never lost his cool from happiness or sorrow. He was eternally gentle and amiable, unruffled by honor or disgrace.
“Here!” Long Feiye gave the pills to Han Yunxi for safekeeping.
As a pill to recover the loss of internal energy, it specifically targeted the dantian used for cultivation. After the dantian healed, the practitioner was responsible for regaining his or her internal energy through their own efforts. Of course, a healed dantian only needed time to recuperate before quickly restoring the lost internal energy. They even had one extra pill now, though Han Yunxi hoped they’d never have to use another one again. If any of them needed it, it meant they were already 90 percent dead!
Now her group would naturally return to the Three-Way Black Market as soon as possible. They had tarried enough at the Medicine Requesting Cave and still needed time to travel back. It would be the middle of the twelfth lunar month by the time they arrived. Judging from the war situation in Northern Li, Jun Yixie’s forces would reach a stalemate with the emperor come spring. In other words, they would have to start on two major plans as soon as they reached the Three-Way Black Market.
First was the rescue, second came the punitive expedition to the north.
There wasn’t much preparation needed for the first mission with an insider like Bai Yuqiao on their side. Because she was watching over proceedings at Tiger’s Prison, they could afford to leave Ning Jing and Mu Linger there to prevent raising Jun Yixie’s suspicions. However, a northern campaign demanded negotiations and carried risk. A concerted effort was needed to divide up tasks and duties. For one thing, Northern Li’s borders on the Three-Way Battlefield was protected by a hard-to-cross natural barrier. Both the Ning Clan troops and the East Qin Army had never crossed beyond that stretch to enter Northern Li itself. Though they had the superior forces, this wasn’t an obstacle Long Feiye took lightly.
Secondly, the Di Clan and East Qin had never cooperated in their lives. There would be plenty of problems incorporating both armies. Even if they could pool the wisdom of the masses, more people meant more opinions and chances for delays. Sometimes it was more effective to just act alone. Thus, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye treated the northern campaign both as a chance for their two sides to work together and a big challenge in itself. They had to make ample preparations before they even set out.
“Your Highness, the carriage is ready,” Xu Donglin muttered.
“If you leak any news about the Returning Dragon Pill or Phoenix energy, this old man turn your furnace into a heap of slag! I mean my words!” Gu Qishao understood Pill Furnace Master very well and knew the old man would never leave Medicine Requesting Cave, much less interact with the outside world. But he still tossed him some ruthless threats.
Long Feiye remained silent. If not for Gu Qishao’s sake, he would have sealed up Medicine Requesting Cave for everything Pill Furnace Master did for the Returning Dragon Pills. Han Yunxi hesitated, but still had Xu Donglin bring over the leftover snow wine. With a smile, she said, “Old man, how about we make a deal?”
Pill Furnace Master couldn’t get a Returning Dragon Pill or keep Han Yunxi. Losing both treasure and people had turned his heart into ashes, so he immediately grew alert at her tone. “Heheh, this old man won’t do business that gives me losses!”
“Here, I’ll leave the leftover snow wine. Help us make a few more Returning Dragon Pills. No matter how many you refine, they’ll all belong to us.”
Pill Furnace Master broke into a strange and mocking grin at her demand. Ignoring him, Han Yunxi went on, “Every time you create a Returning Dragon Pill with no poison, I’ll grace your furnace once with the phoenix fire. How’s that?”
Pill Furnace Master’s smile suddenly widened before he laughed. “Good! Han Yunxi, keep to your promise!”
“Heheh, I’m not like you!” Han Yunxi replied with disdain.
Pill Furnace Master didn’t even blush. He stroked his beard and combed his hair, delighted beyond words. For an eccentric like him, threatening him to keep a secret was as good as reminding him of a potential ace in his sleeve. It was better to cater to his tastes and entice him with advantages! With Pill Furnace Master’s abilities, it’d take a few years to create fully non-toxic Returning Dragon Pills. By then, they wouldn’t have to worry about him leaking any of these secrets.
Long Feiye glanced at Han Yunxi and suddenly realized that she was quite fitting for a royal court. Her ploy of kindness just now had worked quite well. Gu Qishao was quiet. Although he had means to guarantee Pill Furnace Master’s silence, Han Yunxi’s methods were right too. This way, there was only gains and no losses.
“Heheh, he’d agree to anything for the sake of that crappy furnace,” Gu Qishao tossed back before flying out through the opening at the top of the cave. He didn’t even bother looking back or giving Pill Furnace Master a chance to retort.
Han Yunxi and Long Feiye didn’t delay and prepared to leave as well. However, Pill Furnace Master stopped them. Dead serious,, he asked, “Lass, do you remember what you promised this old man in the very beginning?”
Han Yunxi immediately glanced towards the hole in the ceiling, but Gu Qishao was long gone. Only then did she reply, “I do. I find your disciple and you’ll surrender the Medicine Requesting Cave.”
Pill Furnace Master grew incensed. “Damned lass, so you do remember! If you hadn’t broken your word first, this old man wouldn’t have lost my trust in you, either! Even if you asked me to make you a pill of longevity, I’d agree and made what I promised!”
“I...when did I break my word to you?” Han Yunxi was confused. Everything’s done now, so why’s this mad old coot still lashing out?
Pill Furnace Master accused, “You promised this old man, which meant you should have been thinking about your word. But after all this time, you haven’t sent me a speck of news. It’s obvious you don’t care about it at all!”
If Han Yunxi was truly searching for his disciple, she would have written him to ask for more clues if she couldn’t find anything at all. But she had all but dropped the matter after she promised. Only now did Han Yunxi understand why Pill Furnace Master thought she’d broken her promise. Yes, she hadn’t gone looking for his disciple, because there was no need to search at all! Pill Furnace Master was looking for none other than Gu Qishao, who had just left!
Since Gu Qishao wouldn’t admit it, Han Yunxi was planning to play ignorant, but now she couldn’t bear it in the face of Pill Furnace Master’s earnesty. She said in a serious tone, “Old Pill master, if you’re even willing to surrender Medicine Requesting Cave just to find him, why did you let him leave in the first place?”
She knew that Gu Qishao had been evading this place and denying his master even before they came. He didn’t want to be here at all. After living together for the past few days, anyone with eyes could tell that Gu Qishao harbored a grudge against his former master. Just what had happened between master and disciple in the past?
If Han Yunxi’s guesses were right, Gu Qishao should have just escaped from Gu Yuntian’s clutches when he found his way here. Little Qi had just suffered through all kinds of torment and escaped a narrow death. Anyone would treated him well would earn his unending kindness in return!
So what did Pill Furnace Master do to make him so resentful?
“Why?” Han Yunxi pressed on.
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HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR!
HAPPY PGC MASS RELEASE DAY!
I, for one, am really glad we're going to speed through the conclusion of this arc in one shot! Lots of exciting developments in the chapters ahead, so grab your drink and popcorn and get ready for a binge-reading rush! So how this works is I'll be releasing a chapter an hour until nighttime, when you get the rest in one shot. The reason?
(> u >) I-I need more time to finish translating the last batch of chapters. Look forward to frequent updates today!