Han Yunxi looked towards Aunt Ru, only to see her gaping at the empty Fire Spring, utterly astounded. She didn’t react until Han Yunxi flew out of the pit, upon which her stare turned to disbelief.
This damned girl, what did she just do? Why is that entire spring gone? And did she just fly up here? Isn’t she a waste who can’t learn martial arts?
Han Yunxi stopped just to serve Aunt Ru with a look of scorn. Although tactics like these were a bore, she could still be a tsundere and crush Aunt Ru!
“The rest will be up to you guys,” Han Yunxi withdrew with her arms crossed, calm and composed.
Long Feiye unsheathed his Profound Frost Sword while Gu Qishao called out the Moye sword spirit. It would be easy work for the two of them to dig through the earth. Seeing them, Aunt Ru quickly got out of the way. Despite her reluctance, she still ended up approaching Han Yunxi to ask, “Princess, just then...how did the water in the Fire Spring disappear?”
Han Yunxi stared straight ahead without a word.
Aunt Ru found it awkward, but raised her voice to try again. “Princess, how could all the water disappear from Fire Spring? All of it’s poisonous.”
Slowly, Han Yunxi turned to face her and said, “I don’t know either.”
Even an idiot could tell that Han Yunxi didn’t want to tell Aunt Ru, much less waste words with her. She was left both embarrassed and humiliated as she walked off to one side. I shouldn’t have invited that snub! But she really was curious, and looked towards Tang Li next. Unfortunately, he just turned away and acted like he never noticed.
Meanwhile, the air was filled with the aura of sword qi as Long Feiye and Gu Qishao cleaved through the dirt. Their sword awns made it impossible for one to keep their eyes open. Soon enough, everyone heard the loud tremors of an earthquake filling the air. Even Han Yunxi was a little struck by the results. This was the combine strength of sword and men. Whoever said men couldn’t win over the Heavens at times?
As the sword awn faded away, everything resumed its former calm. A “十” shaped scare was left in the bottom of the dried-up spring, the center deep and wide enough to allow two people passage.
“Gu Qishao’s sword skills suddenly got much better?” Tang Li was shocked.
In actuality, it was the ancient sword spirit Moye giving him a boost. However, Han Yunxi had no time to explain. She quickly went to the center of the spring. Long Feiye and Gu Qishao were close behind. Before Tang Li and the rest could catch up, Han Yunxi stopped them all.
“There’s poison here. All of you step at least ten paces back!” she declared.
The crowd was forced to withdraw while Han Yunxi activated her detox system to pinpoint the origins of the poison. It wasn’t far down, but located at a depth the height of a common human. The temperature of the earthly fire differed from that of celestial fire. The latter was simply heat, while the former carried toxins with the flame. Anyone who got in contact with it would risk being poisoned. If they had open injuries, the poison would spread even faster.
Although she was protected by the poison storage space and immune to hundreds of toxins, she still remained cautious and soon retreated to the edge of the spring.
“Long Feiye, the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace should be right down there,” Han Yunxi said.
Hearing this, Long Feiye raised his sword and slashed at the ground again, causing the 十-shaped scar to cave in. As the ground collapsed, everyone expected the furnace to come into sight. After all, the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace was around ten stories tall. The Earthly Fire Kun Furnace couldn’t be any less. But none of them saw any signs of it in the bigger, deeper hole. They only felt waves of heat sifting out, all of which carried poison! Before, the poison had been contained by the spring water. As long as one didn’t fall in, they would be safe. But there was nothing standing between them and the poison flame’s heat now. It soon mixed with the air and began to scatter as heatwaves.
This was akin to poison gas!
Sensing the poison approaching, Han Yunxi immediately ordered everyone to keep drawing back. Long Feiye would be worried for her in any other place, but he could set his cares at rest within the Tang Clan. Even the antagonistic Aunt Ru was no threat, for he was certain she hadn’t laid any traps. Moreover, Han Yunxi was no longer the woman who couldn’t even fight properly at the Duke of Qin’s estate.
She had her own unique set of abilities and nerves.
Long Feiye and the rest kept drawing back until he simply leaped into a tall tree and stood on a branch. Gu Qishao chased after him to sit by his side. Perhaps his loss at the drinking contest had been a big blow; perhaps it was because the Tang Clan was Long Feiye’s turf, but Gu Qishao had been quiet this whole time. The two men fell into silence as they watched the woman they both loved from a distance. Han Yunxi was probably the only source of commonality between them.
Han Yunxi soon finished surveying the spread of poison from the fissure in the ground. She felt that it was strange: the source she’d found before was much further down now, meaning it had sunk with the cave-in of dirt.
How come? If the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace is similar to the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace, then the source shouldn’t be this small. Nor should it sink down with the dirt. All these treasured furnaces were extremely heavy objects. It shouldn’t have shifted places just because some dirt moved around.
While Han Yunxi didn’t fear poisons, she dreaded fire. Carefully, she braced herself against the heatwaves and stepped into the deepest part of the fissure. There was the source of the poison! At the entrance, she found an unexpected sight: a tiny furnace. If her eyesight hadn’t been so good, she never would have spotted it at all. The furnace itself looked more like a metal handwarmer used during the winter months, or perhaps a container for burning incense on tea tables. But the poisonous heat waves had emanated from this very object, so it had to be the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace! It really was a world of difference from the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace.
Han Yunxi jumped down and hauled the furnace up. Like its celestial kin, it gave off waves of heat despite not being hot to the touch. There were no marks from any flames, either. If Han Yunxi didn’t have the ability to sense poisons, she’d never believe this dusty little thing was the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace and might even treat it as an antique curio. She held it in one hand while waving to Long Feiye and the rest, indicating that she’d found it.
Both Long Feiye and Gu Qishao were surprised by the sight.
“That’s the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace? How can it compare to the Celestial Fire Qian Furnace?” Gu Qishao found it inconceivable.
Long Feiye glanced at him in silence before jumping off the tree.
“What are you lookin’ at?” Gu Qishao was unhappy, but followed after him. By now, Han Yunxi had already set the furnace on the edge of the spring’s ruins and was walking towards them. Because it was giving off poison waves, it was best to keep it away from everyone else.
“That’s really it?” Long Feiye asked.
“Can’t be wrong. That’s the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace,” Han Yunxi was certain.
“Then we need to ignite it,” Long Feiye declared. They weren’t after the furnace itself, but the toxic earthly fire it gave off, the so called phosphorescent flames. Han Yunxi nodded.
“We can’t confirm it’s the Fire of Ten-Thousand Poisons unless we get the fire.”
“Poison lass, try that old loony’s refining technique. Celestial fire and earthly fire have to work the same way!” Gu Qishao cried.
“It’s worth a try,” Long Feiye agreed.
Han Yunxi nodded and doubled back. For some reason, she felt like this was too easy. Something seemed off. Once she reached the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace, she used Pill Furnace Master’s method to draw out the heatwaves from inside and convert into fire. Long Feiye and Gu Qishao were tense as they watched, but Han Yunxi didn’t get a speck of flame after trying for ages. At last, everyone grew uneasy and realized things weren’t so simple.
Han Yunxi tried a bit longer, but still didn’t succeed. She refused to accept it and used the Phoenix energy to coax out the flame, but that didn’t work either.
“Looks like it’s gonna be troublesome!” Gu Qishao muttered to himself.
“Big bro, did we find the wrong one? How could something so tiny be the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace?” Tang Li asked.
Long Feiye only looked at Han Yunxi without a sound. Aunt Ru watched as well. She didn’t have full knowledge of the situation and was filled with doubts. Han Yunxi finally gave up and approached the group again. “Looks like we’ll have to find another way to light the fire.”
“Xu Donglin, send a letter to the Medicine Hut,” Long Feiye ordered immediately. Pill Furnace Master was probably the only man in the world familiar enough with the topic. Gu Qishao’s eyes flickered as he started to speak, but thought better of it and shut up. This was the Tang Clan’s turf, so they naturally wouldn’t lose anything. Moreover, not just anyone could approach the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace. Han Yunxi left it where it was and went back with the rest of the group.
The Tang Clan wasn’t far from the Medicine Hut, so Pill Furnace Master replied within a day. Everyone was stunned by the contents of his message.
“Pill Furnace Master says there’s only one way to coax out the fire of Earthly Fire Kun Furnace, and that’s by using heavenly lightning!”As Long Feiye finished speaking, Aunt Ru laughed.
“Is there really such a thing as heavenly lightning igniting a flame?” she chuckled, but quickly felt awkward when no one else laughed.
“What is heavenly lightning?” Han Yunxi asked. She wasn’t naive enough to believe it was simply lightning from the skies!
Long Feiye kept reading before he replied, “Spring lightning lured down by celestial fire. It’s basically spring now, so looks like we came at the right time.”
“Then we’ll have to take the Earthly Fire Kun Furnace to the Medicine Hut?” Tang Li asked.
“No can do, that thing’s poisonous. We mustn’t take it out of the mountain woods,” Han Yunxi replied. “We can only have Pill Furnace Master deliver the celestial fire to the Tang Clan.”
At this, Aunt Ru laughed again. “Princess…”
1. So while “Old Loony” was Pill Furnace Master’s nickname it’s also a general term like “crazy old coot” or “madman.” It’s not clear whether Gu Qishao is using the name as a refernece to his old master, or just as a regular noun + adjective.
By now I'm feeling secondhand embarrassment for Aunt Ru too. She's still delusional about, well, everything Han Yunxi...
We will continue this journey tomorrow! It's until 1047 before I catch up with the 22!