TGL Volume 3, Chapter 24 (2)

I never really understood why people played pranks on each other. However, after seeing Softie’s expression, I get it now. Pranks are pretty fun. Anyway, I tried leaving her in the room with the most stored bodies to do whatever she wanted with them, but she didn’t want anything to do with them. I don’t think she’s even upset she died. Maybe she doesn’t understand the gravity of the situation. “You know, the pill that I used to bring you back to life, Lucia’s been looking for something like it since she first came to the Immortal Continent. There were only enough ingredients for one, and she chose to give it to you instead of Durandal.”

Softie stared at me. Her eyes were as wide as a baby deer’s. “She cares more about me than Durandal…?” she asked in practically a whisper. “That’s…. Really?”

“I don’t know about that; she didn’t even go on a rampage once she saw you were dead. Remember how she eradicated the Star Phoenix Sect because Durandal died?”

Softie shook her head. “Lucia’s changed a lot. She isn’t as immature as she used to be. I’ve seen these changes myself while doing those good deeds with her.” Softie paused, and her forehead wrinkled. “Speaking of which, there was this one request where Pill Valley was kidnapping alchemists from sects…. Do you know anything about that? Lucia defeated those sky-realm experts mentioned in the request, and she turned them into idiots while practicing her Soul Scour.”

People from Pill Valley were kidnapping alchemists with sky-realm experts, eh? I guess they really are greedy. “Don’t worry. They weren’t my subordinates, but I’m not really surprised that they’d kidnap alchemists. Didn’t you say Lucia Soul Scoured them? Why are you asking me?”

“Lucia was practicing her Soul Scour, but I don’t know what information she found,” Softie said and sighed. “And what do you mean you’re not surprised they’re kidnapping alchemists? Was it your idea? I know Pill Valley’s selling those stoves now. Are they really trying to obtain a monopoly on pill forging?”

“Obtain a monopoly on pill forging? That’s just a side effect, not the goal.” Right, alchemy is a very delicate procedure. “You know forging higher-ranked pills isn’t the same as forging simple ones, right? The more potent a pill’s effects, the chances of succeeding in making it decreases. That’s because the ingredients have some degrees of spiritual strength to resist being burned.”

Softie nodded at me. “I know the very basics of alchemy, but I never pursued it further since I have no aptitude with pill forging.”

“Hmm, take the pill I used to save you. It required the core of a world tree, and even if it’s just a core, there’s lots of spiritual energy inside of it. An alchemist would have to send their perception inside to subdue the energy before refining it with fire, but I automated the process with my stove. However, every core would require a different method to subdue, yet my stove can refine any core. Do you know why?” It’s a really, really simple solution.

Softie frowned. “I’m not sure. Does your formation analyze the core before acting? However, formations aren’t flexible without outside input and preparing for every scenario would require a tremendous amount of qi.” Softie’s frown changed into a pout. “If I knew, wouldn’t I be the rich one selling these stoves instead of you?”

“Even if you knew, you’re too naïve for business.”

“Hey!”

“Anyway, the answer has to do with the kidnapping of alchemists. Why would I bring this up if these weren’t related?”

“I know you like teasing people, but it’s not fun to be on the receiving end. Can you please just tell me the answer, Sister Ilya?”

It’s boring when people admit their inferiority instead of following my train of questioning. “Alright. The answer’s really simple; all you had to do was put in a little thought. So, these stoves that are capable of forging higher-ranked pills, there are alchemists inside of them.”

“Excuse me.” Softie shook her head and rubbed her ears. “What?”

“You know how you can send your perception into objects? Like when you’re learning from jade slips, for example.”

“Yes…?”

“What do you think would happen if there wasn’t a way out of the jade slip, and your perception was trapped in there permanently instead?” Right, I went down this path to figure out a way to defeat Lucia. Unfortunately, it’s not feasible to trap Lucia. “Basically, your perception fades away over time and returns to your body. After a few experiments, I found out one’s perception resides in their brain.”

“…What kind of experiments did you do to discover something like that?”

“Don’t worry too much about it.” I experimented on animals, alright? They were cheaper to get. “Anyways, if you reduce someone down to their brain, you can force their perception to take up a new body. Keeping the brain alive isn’t too difficult either. You just have to keep it in a jar of immortal rice wine. So, basically, inside of every higher-ranked stove, there’s a person’s brain inside of it; of course, alchemist’s work better, but even a sky-realm expert’s can subdue most spiritual ingredients. If the people trapped in the stoves don’t want to die, they have to use their perception to subdue the energy within the ingredients.”

“Wait. That’s horrible!” Softie’s face paled. “If I were trapped inside of an alchemy stove like that, I would just let the ingredients kill me!”

“Would you though? The only reason you give up worldly pleasures is to cultivate better in order to become an immortal. There’s a simple truth: no cultivators want to die even if it means living on in an alchemy stove.” Besides, as a brain soaked in immortal rice wine, they’re practically immortal as long as their container doesn’t break. It’s a win-win situation. “Anyway, I just gave Pill Valley the blueprint; I never told them to put it into action.”

Softie bit her lower lip. “Then…, who’s inside of your stove?”

“Don’t worry; I’m not evil. I found volunteers.” Not everyone makes it to immortality. In fact, most people won’t. A large majority of the people won’t even become a saint. Then what about the people who tried their best for hundreds of years to step into the sky realm as an earth-realm expert but couldn’t make it? I just offered them a chance to live forever, and they took it. “Besides, it’s not too different from turning people into weapons.”

“Turning people into weapons is evil as well!”

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