"Zhao Fei Yang! Do you concede?" asked Chu Li.
"Zhao Fei Yang!" Zhao Ying responded hastily.
Zhao Fei Yang stared daggers at Chu Li, his breath getting heavier by the minute. He could not believe it; he had not come to terms as to what happened yet. His infuriated heart tortured him from within.
Chu Li smiled and shook his head.
Zhao Ying called for Zhao Fei Yang again, gentler this time.
Zhao Fei Yang turned toward her, and seemingly tore the words from his tongue, "I surrender. "
Zhao Fei Yang slapped himself six times in a single breath, tainting his handsome face with glaring red prints.
"Losing is entirely normal,surely there's no need to go that far," Chu Li smirked as he continued shaking his head.
"You." Zhao Fei Yangs eyes looked on the brink of erupting.
"Chu Li! Thats enough" Zhao Ying forced.
"Fine. My words would be useless anyway" Chu Li replied with a wave of his hand, "Go back and train some more, Zhao Fei Yang. Don't believe all the compliments people give you, believing that you're already on top like an idiot."
"You will pay for this." Zhao Fei Yang managed through his grit teeth.
"Chu Li, youre too much!" Zhao Ying said.
"Zhao Ying, he isn't that fragile. This thick-skinned idiot will be back." Chu Li shook his head as he assured Zhao Ying.
"I'll send for the Moonlight Orchid now." Zhao Ying gently said as she turned and left.
As the three disappeared into the distance on the boat, Lee Yue burst out in jovial laughter. Chu Li, however, stumbled on his feet beside him before propping himself up, using his sword as support. His face flushed into a worrying pale.
"Chu Li?" Lee Yue moved to support him, but was met by Chu Lis hand asking him to stay.
"It's nothing serious. Ive just used too much energy."
"Then sit, quickly." Lee Yue replied.
Chu Li slowly made his way back to the Dasiphora parterre. He held out his hand brushed against one of the Dasiphora, and felt a surge of energy flowing into his body. Using the aura, he activated two cycles of Eternal Youth. With his body invigorated, his exhaustion seemed to vanish.
The Eternal Youth was an internal ability Chu Li had just acquired. It was of Taoist origin,specifically of the internal alchemy cycle. By expediting the essence of the Five Grains Energy, it was able to rid ones body of illnesses and extend one's life.
"Ding!" The jade instrument sang again. Lee Yue ran towards it and brought back with him the Moonlight Orchid. "Zhao Ying is a trustworthy person indeed. She sent it immediately!"
Chu Li glanced at the Orchid with elation, and motioned for it with his hands.
Lee Yue sent it closer to Chu Li, "Do we need to relocate it?" Lee Yue asked.
Chu Li shook his head.
He touched the Moonlight Orchid. A burst of refreshing aura surged into him, operating in tandem with the Minute Pulse.
He spent the following days sitting next to the orchid; feeling it, and trying to identify its properties and patterns.
It was aversive to water. Dew was sufficient hydration, any more would be too much.
It required plenty of fertilizer. The soil in its pot would lose all its inherent nutrients through the night because of the faint glow the orchid gave off.
Chu Li had decided to solve the problem by extracting mud from the bottom of the lake and mixing it with mulch, replacing the soil in the pot with the mud mulch mixture.
However, the Moonlight Orchid was unable to adapt to the mixture. Like a spoilt brat, refusing to eat even at the risk of its own life.
Chu Li extended the orchids life with the aura of the Dasiphora. In a week, it was able to slowly adapt and accept its nutrients.
Chu Li thought to himself again; if it were not for the Scripture of Life and Death, the orchid might actually have just died!
For the entire month, Chu Li had stayed by the Moonlight Orchid, ignoring whatever happened outside this space. From the Orchids stalk germinated a new sprout, which eventually grew to half the Orchids size.
With the fusion of the auras, the Moonlight Orchid sprout grew at an extraordinary pace. This was a discovery of an ability that he had made recently -- the increase of growth speed.
The Tree of Life and Death was considered the king of flora, and held mastery over its life and death.
Countless thoughts rushed into his head. If the orchid was as such, what would happen if other herbs were to take its place? What about the treasures only spoken of in legends?
If he could find their seeds, the scripture could manipulate their growth. The results this would garner was unthinkable!
If he opened a Floral House himself, he could earn an exuberant amount of money.
Lee Yue persistently pushed Chu Li to report this to his superiors to reap the benefits of his findings, but Chu Li just as stubbornly refused. Without producing another fully grown Moonlight Orchid as proof, he would have significantly more skeptics than if he had solid results.
However, no matter the situation, the scripture of Life and Death allowed him to push forward full of confidence.
It was dusk. The sun prepared its journey below the horizon, and Chu Li sat next to both Moonlight Orchids, training his inner strength. Lee Yue joined him from outside, flopping himself on the ground.
"There's something you need to know, Chu Li."
"Did Gu Li Tong succeed?"
"No, its not Gu Li Tong; its Zhao Fei Yang!"
"Zhao Fei Yangs went and challenged the Tower of Ranking just yesterday. Hes since been promoted to a rank seven protector!"
"So hes used his shame to egg himself on..." Chu Li lightly nodded his head, "Not a surprise.. his skills were up to it to begin with."
"You aren't worried?" Lee Yue asked in surprise.
"About him coming after me?"
"What if he comes here for a fight? He might win this time!"
"If that's the case, then we'll simply decline his offer." Chu Li smiled.
The laws of the Public House protect the weak, different from the dog-eat-dog, king-of-the-jungle doctrine the outside world followed. But even so, it wasnt a charity; there were no free lunches to be had.
"Decline..? But.." Lee Yue widened his eyes.
"We are Scribes after all!" Chu Li shrugged and raised his arms,"How could we possibly go up against a Protector with our fists? If they want to come at me, they'll have to beat me at planting!"
"Even so...I still think that something's off." Lee Yue sighed with worry.
"It's fine. Just keep your wits about you, we shall report this to the herb garden tomorrow." Chu Li smiled.
Chu Li kept this piece of information at the back of his head. Zhao Fei Yang was not one to forget. It was only a matter of time before he attempted his comeback.
"Thats more like it!" Lee Yue jolted in excitement. "We should have done something much sooner, knowing this. I'll go tomorrow, after lunchor not, Ill go right now!"
He stood up and left.
Chu Lis expression turned solemn in his absence. Zhao Fei Yang was no easy adversary. It may have seemed like taking him down was easy the last time, but in reality, it took everything he had.
His foundation was five months from completion, but Zhao Fei Yang would become even stronger then!
Old Meng and Lee Yue rushed over, laughing jovially as if they were over the moon at the sight of the Moonlight Orchids, patting Chu Li on the shoulder as their greeting
"You really are something, young man!" Old Meng guffawed, "Youve actually done it!"
"The winds were just in my favor." Chu Li smiled.
Old Meng took a sitting position on the ground, "You didn't cheat did you,Young Chu Li? Dont pull anything funny just to win Gu Li Tong!!"
"Sir Old Meng!" Lee Yue called out.
Old Meng threw a sideways glance at him, "There's no reason to be so stirred up, it was merely a question! This issue puts the reputation of our princess on the line. Not succeeding is fine, but resorting to tricks would be despicable!"
Chu Li sat down and caressing the Orchid. Its aura continuously circulated.
"Sir, this is one the new orchid. That one over there was brought over from The Floral House, about a month ago."
"You succeeded on your first try?" Old Meng asked with a smile.
Chu Li smiled and nodded.
Old Meng was all smiles. Gu Li Tong had brought over ten Moonlight Orchids and poured torrent of money down the drain, but still his efforts were unsuccessful. For Chu Li to succeed with only one plant? What luck!
"Sir Old Meng, the floral house claimed that this was the only one we could get this year. There were problems arising from the Moonlight Island, I doubt that we could get our hands on another one!." Lee Yue said.
"Ha...Dont take the words of a businessman as truth! Unique plants are big sellers, he was tricking you into buying it!" Old Meng smiled, "It seems you guys actuallyfell for it!"
"Sir Old Meng," Chu Li continued with a sheepish smile, "After today, the Moonlight Orchid will no longer be unique to the Floral House."
Old Meng sized up the Moonlight Orchid, rubbing his hands, "It's almost night time. I'd love to have a look at how graceful it is!"
Sir Old Meng held absolutely with skepticism to him at all. Chu Li was smart; he knew not to put all his eggs in one basket.
This feat wasnt one that could be faked easily. If the orchid had been bred successfully, news of it will spread like wildfire throughout every garden in the Public House. They could buy one or two more orchids, perhaps even eight, or ten, but by no means would they be able to buy hundreds. Not even the floral house had that many!
These questions were more hints than inquiries. The West Garden would definitely have a infinitely sour taste in their mouths, and would no doubt attempt to void the discovery, effectively stripping Chu Li of his honor.
Lee Yue put his cooking skills on display, whipping up a feast of eight courses and two soups. The three of them ate to their hearts content.
Soon, night fell, and along with it, soft, azure moonlight. Within this moonlight laid the two glowing crescents of the Moonlight Orchids, indescribable in their beauty.
"Ah" Old Meng gasped in fascination, "It's too beautiful.."
"They get old quickly if you see them too much" Chu Li smiled.
"Good way to ruin the moment!" Old Meng stared at him, "I won't tire of this. Not even in a hundred years!"
Chu Li shook his head and smiled. The moon was indeed a thing of beauty, and there were indeed people who gaze upon it each night.
"Young lei, are you ready?" Old Meng said, looking at the moonlight orchid.
"What for?" Chu Li asked.
"You're going to be famous." Old Meng continued, patting Chu Li on his shoulders. "Even more so than Gu Li Tong!"
Chu Li smiled.
"You'll have to be a little more patient about going to the Herb Garden. The West Garden will get in the way, but with you here, they can't stop us!"
"About going into the herb garden, you need to be a little more patient. The west garden will keep getting in the way, but your contribution is here, they can't stop anything!"
"Yes. I'll be counting on you, Sir Old Meng."
"Finally, thanks to you, the East Garden can raise their heads up high!"
Gu Li Tong himself had already exerted a crushing amount of pressure on the east garden. A genius of that caliber was very rare.
A gardeners skills were like that of a doctors; though their academia was the same, a hierarchy was still evident among them. The key factor, was potential.
"Bring the wine!" Old Meng bellowed.
Lee Yue ran back to the group, two wine jars in tow. Old Meng hastily finished half in delight, and had soon descended into a drunken stupor, sleeping on the floor where he laid. It was not until the next morning that he took his leave.
Just after Old Meng left, a small boat rowed towards them. On the boat was a lady wearing an apricot gown, exceptionally pretty, with a face adorned with a pair of large eyes and two small lips . She looked as if she were a portrait brought to life.
She gracefully brought herself onto shore, and rung on the jade instrument.
Chu Li and Lee Yue appeared. "Chief Su Ru! Please excuse us for the humble welcome!" Chu Li exclaimed.
Chu Li wrapped his fists and bowed. He could tell from how Lee Yue addressed her that she was the personal attendant of Lady Siao, Su Ru.
She was hardly seen without the lady. Although they held labels of master and servant, they acted as if they were close sisters. Her post in the Public House was high; the chief of Lady Siaos islands. To the Scribes of the House, her word was law.
Su Ru gestured for them to stand at ease.
"Thats alright. Theres no need to bother with the formalities. I heard from Old Meng that you have successfully bred the moonlight orchid?"
"Indeed!" Lee Yue nodded proudly, "It was Chu Li who did it!"
Su Rus crystal clear eyes stopped at Chu Li.
Chu Li wrapped fist as he smiled, "It is a pleasure to be in your presence again, Chief Su Ru."
Su Ru smiled.
"You're the one who fought Zhao Fei Yang, correct?"
Chu Li smiled in embarrassment.