Phoenix’s Requiem - Chapter 57
Chapter 57: The Slaughtering King
“What’s the matter?” Yun Ruoyan half-smiled as she looked toward Pei Ziao. “If you don’t think that this secret is worth it, then forget it!” She made it as if to leave.
“Wait, wait!” Pei Ziao hurriedly called out. “Deal!”
But then, still worried, he added, “What if you still reveal this secret even after I bring you these two things?”
Yun Ruoyan turned around and pronounced carefully, “I promise, if you ever find out that I’ve violated the terms of our agreement, then I’ll remain single till my deathbed!”
For a woman, especially a woman in this era, marrying into a good family was paramount. Yun Ruoyan’s vow was far more vicious than the standard vows about being struck by lightning!
Pei Ziao was immediately satisfied by her words, but Yun Ruoyan’s wording had been very precise. When I kill you, this vow will be instantly nullified!
The saber-toothed tiger’s canine wasn’t with her, but had instead been stored temporarily at the Lin family. Yun Ruoyan would hand him the canine after returning from the Minghuang mountain, and, as for the top-grade pill, because it was so precious, Yun Ruoyan would have to go to the Pei residence herself to claim it.
“Brother Ziao, are we going to let her take advantage of us like that?” After Yun Ruoyan left, Yi Qianying popped out from a corner.
Pei Ziao sighed, saying, “This secret’s really important to the Peis, and I have no other choice but to satisfy her demands.”
“But will she necessarily keep the secret just because of that?” Yi Qianying looked at Pei Ziao somberly. “After all, there’s only one group of people who can really keep a secret.”
Pei Ziao turned toward Yi Qianying, seeing himself in her eyes. “Brother Ziao, for you, I’m willing to do anything, as long as you don’t forget about the promise you made to me.”
During the night, Yun Ruoyan sat on her bed as she began her pillmaster training following Lin Zainan’s manual.
According to the manual, spiritual force was a direct result of condensing spiritual energy, and spiritual energy was itself composed of the five primal elements: gold, wood, water, fire, and earth.
The first step to pillmaster training was to be able to sense the primal element of fire in one’s own spiritual energy, and the instruction the manual gave to this end was short and concise: with your heart, feel your soul. Nothing else.
Yun Ruoyan shut her eyes as she tried to do literally what the manual suggested, but nothing seemed to happen, and she couldn’t help but start to feel frustrated.
“Mistress, don’t forget your grandfather’s instructions! Keep trying, and don’t expect to be able to do it immediately.” Qiuqiu could sense Yun Ruoyan’s irritation growing, and quickly reminded her of her grandfather’s words.
Yun Ruoyan let out a deep breath to calm down before asking, “Qiuqiu, do you have any methods to speed this up?”
“Mistress! Rushing is never the right way of doing things, and all the methods on this continent that boast such rapid results all have some immoral or unethical component.”
“But how long will it take me to see results at this rate?” Her grandfather had spent three whole years before he was able to detect the primal element of fire in his own spiritual energy, and then another two years before he was finally able to condense spiritual fire as a result.
If she mirrored his accomplishments, then Yun Ruoyan would only be able to make pills after five whole years!
“Unless a chance opportunity arises, there’s no way to speed this up,” Qiuqiu concluded.
Such an opportunity arose, for example, when Yun Ruoyan found the phoenix bezoar and successfully cleansed her body of toxins. With Qiuqiu’s help, she accomplished the unimaginable feat of rising three whole ranks in a matter of days, but this sort of opportunity wasn’t something one could simply seek out.
“Qiuqiu, don’t you have some amazing cultivation technique for pillmasters?”
“Only blademasters rely heavily on cultivation techniques. For pillmasters and forgemasters, the most important thing is talent and opportunity.”
Cultivation as a blademaster was simply a basis; doing so would allow a cultivator to form a spiritual vortex in their body, to refine the quality and amount of spiritual energy the cultivator could hold, but in order to transform that spiritual energy into forms applicable to forging or pillmaking was a matter of talent. Even those who weren’t intrinsically talented would be able to accomplish more by consuming spiritual herbs and monster cores from flame-attuned beasts.
But doing so would lead to impurities in the cultivator’s spiritual energy, which meant that such techniques were only used when one had no other choice.
Qiuqiu’s words completely dispelled any notion that Yun Ruoyan had about taking shortcuts.
“Patience, patience, patience.” As if trying to hypnotize herself, she repeated this single word again and again, before closing her eyes and trying to feel for fire once more.
“I don’t have any techniques to rapidly increase your pillmaster cultivation, but I do have a manual for making pills.” Just as Yun Ruoyan thought that Qiuqiu had fallen asleep, it suddenly said this sentence.
“What manual?” Yun Ruoyan immediately opened her eyes. “Is it high-grade?”
“Yes, definitely. You likely wouldn’t find a match for it in the whole continent,” Qiuqiu replied pridefully.
“Quick, show me!” Yun Ruoyan hurriedly closed her eyes and jumped into the bracelet’s pocket dimension.
“Quick, quick!” This time, it wasn’t Qiuqiu running in circles around Yun Ruoyan, but instead the other way around.
Qiuqiu began to regret its sudden pronouncement, but, unable to deal with Yun Ruoyan’s harassment, it finally agreed with one stipulation: she could only look at, but not flip through, the book.
This meant that Qiuqiu would hold up the book in front of Yun Ruoyan, but she couldn’t touch it or read through it.
“Because an unusual poison permeates this book.” Out of nowhere, a book appeared in Qiuqiu’s claws.
All Yun Ruoyan could see was that the cover of the book was black, and there were four large, blood-red characters printed on it: The Dominion of Poison.
Even the cover seemed to promise power.
“At this point, you can’t touch this book, let alone read it!” Qiuqiu warned. “Only when you reach your grandfather’s level can you even start contemplating the pills and recipes here. But are you sure you want to make poisons? After all, they’re used to harm others, and I’m not sure your grandfather would approve.”
In her past life, Yun Ruoyan had died to Yi Qianying’s poison. Since Yi Qianying was able to concoct powders that could deal with magical beasts, she likely also had some expertise with poison, so her learning how to make poisons would help her counteract that.
“No one else needs to know about this. I won’t be lenient against those who’ve harmed me and those who plan to harm me, so even if I have to use unscrupulous techniques…”
“As long as you’re comfortable with your choices, Mistress.”
After this interlude, Yun Ruoyan continued to cheer herself on. “If I can’t be impatient, then there’s nothing to it but practice, practice, practice.”
She was about to close her eyes and continue her sensing when she suddenly heard a commotion by the window.
“That fellow’s here again,” Qiuqiu yawned mentally.
Yun Ruoyan didn’t need to ask to know whom it was referring to. She simply stretched out her hand and applied the lotus-leaf gauze on her face.
Because having that ointment applied to her face for prolonged periods of time made her uncomfortable, she would always try to wash it off before sleeping whenever she could.
The lotus-leaf gauze was particularly useful as a result, and Yun Ruoyan was even considering leaving it on even when she was asleep.
“Oh, you’ve learned how to improve your appearance.” Li Qianhan crept in through the window once again, and this was the first thing he said upon jumping in.
Yun Ruoyan mimicked his tone. “As for you, however, you’ve shown no improvement at all. My first impression of you was as a thief, and time and time again, you’ve just reinforced this impression. If you have the guts, try entering via the front door next time.”
But Li Qianhan didn’t step forward, and simply leaned back on the windowsill. “That’s not difficult, but I’m afraid it’ll cause some trouble for everyone involved. Why do something so unnecessary when your window’s wide open for me?”
The implication that there would be some commotion made Yun Ruoyan even more certain about his status as royalty.
“Who’s ‘Li San’?” She asked directly.
“Eh?” Li Qianhan looked at Yun Ruoyan. “How do you know my nickname?”
“You’re Li San?!” Yun Ruoyan had originally thought that Li San was the man who had kissed her, but he was instead this youth standing before her! “You’re the third prince of the Li kingdom, Li Qianhan?”
“That’s right!” Li Qianhan didn’t seem angry at all that his identity had been revealed. Instead, his expression was one of glee. “The accomplished and carefree third prince, Li Qianhan, at your service. Now tell me, how did you guess?”
Yun Ruoyan frowned as she threw one of the bottles he’d left behind at him. “Why did the medicine bottles that he gave me have your name inscribed on them?”
Li Qianhan took one look before he began smacking himself on the forehead with his fan. “Why was I so careless to have given you these bottles with my name on them as a gift? If Uncle were to find out, he’d have my head!”
A gift! Uncle!
Yun Ruoyan immediately honed in on two crucial phrases. It seemed like this antidote hadn’t been given by that person, but rather by Li Qianhan himself as a gift, and that person was none other than Li Qianhan’s uncle!
As soon as the words left his mouth, he immediately realized that he misspoke, and his fan began to smack his mouth instead.
“Now that you’ve brought it up, why don’t you just tell me everything?”
“I didn’t say anything, anything at all! If he asks about it, tell him you guessed it yourself!” Li Qianhan leaped out of the window and disappeared in a gust of wind.
“Uncle…” Yun Ruoyan stared out the empty window as she mulled over the implications.
If Yun Ruoyan hadn’t remembered incorrectly, there had been a funeral last year for one of the emperor’s three brothers, and another was even older than her own father. Then, the mysterious stranger could only have been the remaining brother.
“It couldn’t be him, could it?!” Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help but turn a little cold. This last brother was named Li Mo, the youngest child of the previous emperor, a legendary figure in his own right.
He was said to possess talents for both pillmaking and summoning, and both talents were supplemented by an extremely high cultivation.
Having just one talent was already a huge sink of spiritual energy, but having two talents simultaneously and an impressive cultivation besides… Yun Ruoyan didn’t even dare to imagine this person’s prowess.
Apparently, this wasn’t even his most scary feature. What made him frightening was how much he enjoyed killing.
He first entered a battlefield at the tender age of ten, and became a general by fifteen. When he was seventeen, he quelled a beastkin rebellion.
Under his command, all fifty thousand beastkin slaves that had ended up in captivity were put to death, dyeing red the river bordering the Li kingdom. Apparently, the resulting stench of blood was so intense that one could even smell it at the capital, brought all the way inland by the northern winds.
It was from that time on that the beastkin lost the power to resist human domination, and Li Mo’s nickname as the Slaughtering King began to spread.
Yun Ruoyan recalled the stranger’s face once more, those black, luminous orbs that shone with killing intent, and she couldn’t help but shudder.