The sound of footsteps came from the distance. Lee Yue was following a round, plump old man, his bolstering apparent from all over him.
Old Meng, the royal attendant to the Thousand Herb Garden. A sixth rank Scribe.
His face was completely round, his eyes small. However, they widened into full circles as he laid his eyes upon the black spots.
"Are you still not stopping!?" He exclaimed.
Chu Li let go of the thin grass stick, proceeding to wrap his fist and engaging in an elegant bow.
"Sir Meng Qin Lin."
"Young Chu Li, what do you think youre doing?" Meng Qin Lin rushed towards him.
He walked towards the Cymbidium to have a closer look, taking a whiff as he did. He then bent over and placed his face near the floor, repeating the same action, after which he put a handful of soil in his mouth to taste it.
"Its not the spotted rust!" Meng Qin Lin declares, spitting out the soil.
Lee Yue served a cup of tea, his face adorned with a smile.
Meng Qin Lin pursed his lips in a cross frown. The spotted rust was a common illness that afflicted the Cymbidium, and they existed in multiple different formed. The black spots in front of him were extremely similar to that of the disease; he was almost deceived!
"Young Chu Li..you didnt try to cure this with the cure for spotted rust, did you?"
"Its the Dew Eater."
"The Dew Eater?" Meng Qin Lin blinked his small, round eyes in confusion, something stirred within his memory about the worm after which he asked Chu Li, "Are you sure?"
"About forty percent.."
"Why you little! Some nerve you have!" Meng Qin Lin held out a cup of tea, "If you do kill it doing this...your life is forfeit!"
Chu Li smiled and took the tea cup.
Meng Qin Lin saw the confidence Chu Li was oozing and asked, "How many days till we can see the results?"
"Four days is enough."
"Alright, we shall wait and see, then. If they actually wilt, you dont even have to think about staying here any longer!"
Folding his sleeves, Meng Qin Lin turned tail and left. Lee Yue followed in his heels, his face still brimming with a wide smile. Chu Li again wrapped his hands in a sign of bidding farewell, placing the teacup back down on the table and continuing to wipe the juice onto the other leaves.
Chu Li remained in the Cymbidium parterrer from dawn till dusk. He continued to channel healthy aura onto the infected plants, whereas Lee Yue took care of the food and drinks for Chu Li.One day while he was going about his business, he noticed something out of place.
The Cymbidium that were worse for wear were immediately reinvigorated as soon as Chu Li laid his hands on them, as if the plants had eaten Pills of Energy.
Baffled, he questioned Chu Li out of curiosity, but only told him that he had had a knack for it since birth, asking him to shut up and guard the door to make sure no one came in to see what he was doing, to not go around spreading the news. Lee Yue beat his chest in promise.
The East Garden was indeed a carefree place, but the responsibility they carried was large. If anything were to go south, a harsh punishment would ensue. Knowing this, it was natural for them to panic at the the ill flowers. The mere knowledge of the situation left them unable to sleep or eat well.
Now it was different, because Chu Li had acquired this ability, he could finally sleep in peace!
In a span of three days, the black spots disappeared. The Cymbidiums return to their original crystal clear forms, with no sign of the infection from before.
Lee Yue invited Meng Qin Lin over, who proceeded to praise Chu Li after checking on the Dew Eaters. Looking at to how Chu Li succeeded in saving the flowers, he promised to put in a good word for Chu Lis ranking.
If a Scribe wanted to be promoted, they could do so through various contributions in their name, rather than just waiting for their experience to hit a certain threshold.
In this instance, with so many Cymbidium across the province falling ill, if Chu Lis idea was enough to cure all of them, it would indeed be considered a huge deed. It was very possible for Chu Li to rise in rank because of this.
After Chu Li had finished his lunch. The perfect warmth of the sun lulled him into a laze, and right as he was about to take a nap under the sun, the sound of a jade chime came from a distance. Someone had arrived on the island! Chu Li and Lee Yue quickly rushed to the shore to have a look.
Meng Qin Lin smiled as he disembarked from the boat, his face brimming with joy.
Chu Li and Lee Yue bowed in respect.
"Good, very good!" Meng Qin Lin patted Chu Li on the shoulders and spoke with passion, "Young Chu Li, thanks to you, our East Garden is earning some recognition!"
The Thousand Herb Courtyard was in charge of all the herb related medications within the public house. The East Garden belonged to the Third Lady, Siao Qi, while the West Garden belonged to the eldest Master, Siao Tie Ying. These two factions were in constant strife for fame, and Meng Qin Lin himself was under the East faction.
"Have they all been cured?" Chu Li asked with a smile.
"A total of three hundred Cymbidiums!" Moelow said with a hearty laugh.
Lee Yue piped up with a question, "Sir, is Chu Li getting a promotion?"
"Starting from today, you are now a rank nine Scribe, young Chu Li. As for you, young Lee Yue you also benefit from this; youre now rank eight!"
Meng Qin Lin smiled and took out two bank notes.
"Ten thousand taels for Chu Li, and a thousand for Lee Yue. The money is from us, the Herb Garden."
"Thank you, Sir Meng Qin Lin." Chu Li wrapped his fist with a smile.
To be able to give this big a reward, Meng Qin Lin definitely tried his best.
"Great job Chu Li, you have potential!" Merlow glowed with happiness.
"Now were giving Gu Li Tong a run for his money!"
"Gu Li Tong didnt find the cure? But hes a genius!" Lee Yue asked in surprise.
Gu Li Tong had joined the Public House three years ago. He was a rank eight Scribe, and one who had achieved promotions through merit twice in his career. He had also brought in two unique flowers, and was one people said to have a bright future ahead of him.
Meng Qin Lin raised one of his large hands, "Hes not in the right state of mind for this."
"Sir Meng Qin Lin, I have a small request." Chu Li proposed.
"I would like to visit the Herb Garden."
"Hoho.. such wild ambitions. You want to go into the herb garden?"
"Ive heard many things about it, naturally, Im curious to see it for myself."
"Hmph.." Meng Qin Lin pondered for a bit before cracking a smile.
"Very well, but you may only enter the rank nine herb garden!"
"My gratitude abounds, Sir Meng Qin Lin!"
"Its not as beautiful as you make it out to be, but lets go!"
Meng Qin Lin led them aboard the ship, with Chu Li directing the boat and Lee Yue rowing it. They landed on a small island after a half hours journey.
Four middle-aged Protectors approached them, their gaze as sharp as arrows. As Meng Qin Lin presented his waist tag to them, they nodded and backed down, allowing them through.
Lee Yue covered his nose, looking uncomfortable. He seemed as if he were about to vomit at any moment.
Chu Li shook his head while the smile on his face faded. The smell of the island was extremely pungent, with a number of smells mashed together. A confusing mess of fragrance and stink assaulted their noses, overloading their sense of smell, almost torturing it.
Meng Qin Lin smiled at Lee Yue.
"Young Lee Yue, if you stay here long enough, youll end up smelling the same! Its almost impossible to wash away! How is it? Isnt it pleasant? Haha!"
"Then how am I supposed to go to the New Moon Brothel? What kind of girl can stand this!?" Lee Yue said bitterly.
"You think the generous pay is for nothing?" Meng Qin Lin smiled.
The three of them entered the courtyard.
Chu Lis Omniscient Mirror scanned the courtyard across a one mile radius and noticed it was segmented into multiple yards, which were in turn all connected. Every single one of the segments consisted of different species of herbs.
The yard they were in had herbs spanning the whole field, specifically the Dog Tail Grass. Chu Li was able to discern that this Hollow Grass, a spirit herb rated quite highly in the top list of rank nine herbs.
A skinny, middle-aged man was bent over, carefully tending to the herbs, afraid of disturbing the Hollow Grass. The hoe in his hand was made of jasper; small and delicate.
He turned his head as he heard the footsteps coming toward him, wrapping his fists and bowing thereafter.
Meng Qin Lin greeted him with a wave of his hand, "Young Jing Zhi Hai, continue your tasks. Ill bring them around."
"Are they new?" Jing Zhi Hai asked cheerily.
"They were promoted through merit. Im bringing them around the herb garden as a reward." Meng Qin Lin replied.
Jing Zhi Hais facial expression changed.
"Many apologies. Please make yourselves at home, both of you."
He wrapped his fists and bowed again.
To be promoted was not an easy feat. People who achieved such a feat usually had a bright future. If there were any good openings for good jobs or duties, it was always assigned to Scribes with outstanding contributions.
"Sir Jing Zhi Hai, may I touch them for a bit?"
".....Of course, but youll have to be very careful. They arent the strongest of herbs."
Chu Li nodded as a sign of appreciation, then reached out for a stalk of Hollow Grass. The aura of purity rushed into him, completing a cycle of the Minute Pulse technique.
Only two years were needed now for him to master the Minute Pulse.
A rank nine spirit herb would accelerate the process this quickly. If Chu Li ever got his hands on a rank one spirit herb, the acceleration would be near infinite.
The energy from the herb fused with the Minute Pulse technique, its effect as great as the Fruit of Transformation itself. The fruit was one of many functions, capable of cleansing ones body, completed ones foundations, and many more. Unfortunately, the fruit was merely a legend that had been passed down through time.
The energy of the herb was similar to the Five Grains Energy of a human body. If both were expended, the energy disappeared. The effects of the medication, however, was separate of its energy.
Inner strength was used to convert the energy of the Five Grains into inner energy. There was a limit to the energy that could be gained from the grains, but energy from the grass and trees were limitless. If the source of energy went from grains to grass and trees, the potential progress in training would increase dramatically.
This train of thought made him feel all too hopeful for the future.
"Young man,what beautiful things grace your mind today?" Meng Qin Lin said as he interrupted his thoughts.
Chu Li let go of his hands and smiled.
"Were heading off to look at other places. Jing Zhi Hai, please continue as you were." Meng Qin Lin said as he went ahead with Chu Li and Lee Yue.
Jing Zhi Hai hospitably sent them off to the door.
The three of them visited the next five yards. Chu Li came into contact with many herbs one by one, however the Hollow Grass was by far the purest. He needed to quickly ascend his ranks to be able to train here.
Three of them returned with Lee Yue rowing the boat yet again, with Meng Qin Lin still smiling at Chu Li.
"Young Chu Li, do you want to join the garden?"
Chu Li nodded.
"Youre not going to stay at the East Garden anymore?" Lee Yue shot a question at Chu Li.
"Ill go both sides."
"Young Chu Li, youre underqualified. Youll have to wait a few more years."
"Sir, theres always a way."
"Of course, youll just have to contribute more!"
"And Im expecting some friendly guidance from you, Sir Meng Qin Lin!"
"You know that Gu Li Tong is studying the Moonlight Orchid now, right?" Meng Qin Lin said, brimming with cheer.
"As long as you extend its life before he does, I can assure you, you will enter the rank nine herb garden."
"Moonlight Orchid..huh." Chu Li contemplated within his mind.
It was a plant which had leaves that curved like a crescent moon, emitting white light in the darkness. Hence the name, the Moonlight Orchid.
It only grew on the foreign Moonlight Island. If it ever left its soil, its life span, without exception, would be shortened to a mere month. It was deeply sought after due to its ethereal beauty.
It would cost him at least two hundred silver to even a single stalk over.
That amount of money could buy a small house over at Chong Ming Town.
Chu Li was a rank nine Scribe. Earning ten silver a month was considered a generous sum, but even then, affording the Moonlight Orchid with that would be difficult at best.
With such an expensive flower, it was unclear how many researchers were working on extending its lifespan. No one had succeeded so far; only Gu Li Tong, proud and arrogant as he was, dared to challenge the prospect.
"Backing out?" Meng Qin Lin questioned them.
Lee Yue incessantly hinted at Chu Li.
"Alright, Ill give it a shot." Chu Li nodded
The two of them return to the East Garden after sending off Sir Meng Qin Lin. Lee Yue complained as he was rowing the boat.
"Brother, you idiot! Its the Moonlight Orchid were talking about!"
"Theres no harm in trying." Chu Li said, facing the distance.
"Gu Li Tong would definitely have an opinion if he caught wind of this."
A smile appeared on Chu Lis face.
"Ha. You really do have guts..." Lee Yue shook his head helplessly.
He admired how carefree Chu Li could act, as if he were free of worry, able to let anything slip through him. However, this disposition could easily give the wrong impression to others, and get Chu Li into trouble.
Chu Li could tell that Lee Yue was concerned, and said, "I dont think he would dare to break into the East Garden, eh?
"Definitely not, but his strength still isnt something to scoff at. Theres nothing he wont do. If you ask me, hell definitely get you in trouble."
"Then well keep our mouths shut and do it in secret!"
"Thats fine by me!" Lee Yue bellowed.
Chu Li shook his head in exasperation. Lee Yue was a straightforward and pure, secrets were something he would never be able to keep.
"I wont say a word about it!" Lee Yue exclaimed.