Hengtian Courtyard , a secret room, in front of a small pill cauldron…
A rather soft and tender youth was sitting crosslegged, with both his hands intwined. His ten fingers rapidly performed numerous hand arts, and everything was thrown into the cauldron.
The blaze was intermittent. It flickered and changed size as it lapped against the small pill cauldron. This caused the medicinal ingredients within to constantly emit a refreshing fragrance.
The soft and tender youth abruptly raised his hand, and called out: “Receive!”
In a split second, sixteen l.u.s.trous and glossy medicinal pills steadily entered a jade tray, creating the sound of ringing bells.
The youth fetched a large gourd and put the pills inside. Afterwards, he grabbed the medicinal ingredients next to him, and threw them into that same pill cauldron.
Soon after, the fire resurged and the high-pitched sounds of evaporating water was heard.
The youth's movements were like rows of clouds and running water, exceptionally smooth and practiced. However, if someone were to closely examine him, they'd discover that his expression was rather dull and sluggish. Obviously his mind was elsewhere, and wasn't focused on pill refining.
After refining five cauldrons worth of medicine without any breaks, the youth's hands finally stopped. He stood up and asked the shadow in the room's corner: “Young master Tianheng still hasn't come back?”
At this moment, from the shadow appeared a black clothed, strong and slender young man.
He was called “Dragon Two,” and belonged to Gongyi Tianheng's Tianlong Guard. His position was just beneath Dragon One as his second-in-command. Ordinarily, Dragon One would act as Tianheng's trusted aide and rearguard. When they were out, Dragon Two was a.s.signed as Gu Zuo's personal bodyguard.
Dragon Two was a young man of few words, but his loyalty was not less than the hound Dragon One. After he heard Gu Zuo's question, he rapidly vaulted out of the room and then shot back in. He replied: “Reporting to Pharmacist Gu, the young master has not returned yet.”
Gu Zuo wrinkled his brows, and let out a tiny sigh.
After the Clan War ended yesterday, his patron received an invitation and didn't hide it from him. Once Gu Zuo read it, he discovered that the person who sent it was the ninth son of the Cangyun Emperor, Cang Yu. He invited his patron to attend a banquet.
This banquet was open only to the Clan War's top eight finalists. Apart from his patron, due to extraordinary circ.u.mstances, he also brought along Dragon One. The other finalists could only attend by themselves. Naturally, Gu Zuo couldn't tag along, and wasn't likely to understand what was to happen at the banquet.
It was strange to say that regardless of his memories from Qi Tianyou or his discreet inquiries afterwards, he only knew that the imperial capital's five young masters were the stars of the younger generation. While everyone in the imperial family had the reputation of princes, they still seemed inferior to the famed strength of the five great young masters.
He muddled things over, and thought that as the whole household were princes who were born with silver spoons in their mouths, compared to those people, what reputation of those “young masters”? However, on account of this, he was unclear about the princes' strengths in the end. What he didn't know was whether the five great young masters were stronger or weaker than them.
Gu Zuo thought and rested for a bit, until he was ready to continue refining pills.
Just when he was getting ready to sit down, Dragon Two seemed to hear some movement. His eyes shined: “Pharmacist Gu, the young master and commander-in-chief have returned!”
Gu Zuo promptly set aside the medicinal ingredients in his hand, and scampered over to the secret room's doorway.
As expected, right in front of him was the calm and collected, magnificently robed, young master. Was it not his dear patron?
Gongyi Tianheng saw Gu Zuo's worried eyes, and openly laughed: “Has Ah Zuo come out to personally welcome me?”
Gu Zuo nodded: “Young master Tianheng, the ninth prince who invited you guys over, he didn't say anything bad, did he?”
Tianheng smiled: “Don't worry, there wasn't anything bad.”
Gu Zuo felt relieved.
Everything was fine when his patron was alright. It would be great if nothing bad happened.
Gongyi Tianheng and Dragon One both entered the secret room. Then Dragon One sealed the door.
Gu Zuo saw them behaving cautiously, and he felt something in his heart. He said: “It wasn't anything bad, but it should be some really big deal, right?”
Tianheng faintly nodded: “Correct. Concerning one year from now, the Azure Dragon Pool will open.”
Gu Zuo didn't understand: “Azure Dragon Pool?”
Tianheng patiently explained: “If a perfect-grade Houtian martial artist entered the Azure Dragon Pool, so long as their apt.i.tude was satisfactory, it'd be practically guaranteed that they'd take a half-step into the Xiantian realm. At that time, they'd only need to consolidate for a bit and, through their own comprehension, directly breakthrough to Xiantian.”
Gu Zuo voiced his thoughts: “If a perfect-grade Houtian martial artist didn't enter the Azure Dragon Pool, how long would it take for them to take half a step into Xiantian?”
Tianheng praised: “Ah Zuo found the key point.”
He continued, saying, “From perfect-grade Houtian to Xiantian, it usually takes many years to actualize and consolidate. This hurtle is very challenging, so much so that a martial artist may find themselves trapped in this situation their whole life, and never reach the Xiantian realm. This is all because, in a comparison between Xiantian and Houtian, there is an inherent transformation. If a martial artist can't find an opportunity, they'll end up squandering their whole life.
“And the Azure Dragon Pool is something profound among heaven and earth. It can directly raise the awareness of a martial artist concerning the experience of the Xiantian realm, allowing them to touch upon it. They'd automatically attain a half-step to Xiantian. For a martial artist with inadequate apt.i.tudes, merely wanting to advance further through their own efforts and utilizing the Azure Dragon Pool to forcefully promote their life essence would be unsuccessful.”
It was also due to these things that the available spots for the Azure Dragon Pool was incredibly precious. It absolutely wasn't casually given to people.
Even with the brilliant reputation of the five great young masters, it wasn't a.s.sured.
Gu Zuo's heart stirred: “Don't tell me that it's the imperial family who issues the available spots?”
Gongyi Tianheng had a smile on his face and said: “Precisely. However, these spots aren't distributed according to their whims. Rather, a year from now, the imperial family will be holding an a.s.sessment. If you pa.s.s, you can get a seat, and if you don't pa.s.s, you won't get anything.”
Mentioning this matter, he sighed: “Azure Dragon Pool doesn't easily open. It usually requires thirty to fifty years to open once. This time around, His Majesty is regarding this as a big deal.”
Gu Zuo got it: “So originally, it was like this.”
He didn't say anything else, only holding some pity for his patron.
It was very obvious. Although his patron was invited to this negotiation, in reality, it was only for the sake of showing an impartial face. The Azure Dragon Pool would have absolutely nothing to do with his patron. The other top seven had their chances a year from now, excluding his patron — after all, this kind of matter couldn't be subst.i.tuted with Dragon One.
Thinking this way, Gu Zuo suddenly found his patron's eyes meeting his wobbling gaze.
Gu Zuo looked away distractedly, feeling his thoughts fry to a crisp in his mind… That's not it?
Tianheng's smile deepened.
Gu Zuo hesitantly asked: “Young master Tianheng…wants to go partic.i.p.ate in that test?”
Tianheng gently answered: “Ah Zuo understands me.”
Gu Zuo: “…”
Although he was very happy to speak like that, wasn't his patron being a little air-headed?
Gongyi Tianheng's expression was a bit solemn: “So, I have to ask Ah Zuo, how long will it take for me to be capable of practicing martial arts?”
Gu Zuo understood this time.
His patron, he really wanted to go!
At first, Gu Zuo wanted to directly say “Impossible!” At the very least, the initial stages of the treatment were still incomplete. Currently, they were at the body nourishment stage. The meridians were still blocked, so how could he practice martial arts? Moreover, even if he were able to open his meridians this year, how could the remaining time be sufficient for his patron to jump from a guy without any martial foundation to Houtian ninth stage perfect-grade? If he didn't have the strength of this martial rank, how could he stake everything against the other four great young masters?!
However, when Gu Zuo saw such fervency flash within Gongyi Tianheng's eyes, there was an unexpected coincidence as he spoke of another matter: “There is a way, but that method will be extremely painful…”
Gongyi Tianheng's countenance didn't lack a bit of elegance. On the contrary, he seemed relaxed: “If it can allow me to achieve the conditions necessary to practice martial arts, even if the suffering is ten times greater, it would be like a sweet wine to me.”
Gu Zuo pondered at lightning speed.
He couldn't allow any mistakes concerning the treatment method of the Tiandu Body. At an early time, he already memorized it all by heart. In fact, after carefully reading through it, he found that there were many different dosages available. The prescription was written on the first few pages. The course of the treatment was the longest, and also the least painful.
Gu Zuo thought that it was to allow the Tiandu Body to endure things more easily — after all, not every Tiandu Body had to reach a certain age to be treated.
When a person with the Tiandu Body was born, their meridians were weak. Thus, strong medicines couldn't be used. As one aged, the meridians would widen slightly, but would also begin to suffer blockages. However, contrary to that, the older meridians couldn't be compared to the initial ones.
Generally speaking, it was only natural that treatment at the moment of birth would be the most optimal. Merely, the infant's body would be very weak. Using the weakest medicines with precise dosages would be the most appropriate to slowly nurture the infant's body.
What was written on those pages ought to be the optimal treatment plan used from infancy.
But if his patron was brought into their world, and was already an adult… Gu Zuo silently thought.
Moreover, only two meridians were left unblocked.
When his meridians were blocked, trying to use medicine to unclog them would easily cause damage. Thus, his patron should be taken care of as an infant at first, and once the meridians were opened, then medicine could be used inside and out. Simultaneously strengthening the meridians and magnifying the medicinal properties in order to accelerate the speed of recovery.
This was the exact difference between an adult and infant.
It was only that as the medicinal properties got stronger, the pain would also get more severe.
Gu Zuo originally wished for his dear patron to slowly recuperate. Granted that the time period was long, the pressure on them was light. However, now it seemed that his patron wasn't like before.
He kept thinking about the pre-determined procedures of the treatment. After, he once again inquired: “Young master Tianheng, it'll be extremely, extremely painful… Are you certain?”
Gongyi Tianheng face slowly blossomed into a smile. One didn't know for what reason, but it would give a person a serious and sharp feeling like a knife: “A person who practices martial arts is bold and powerful, and forges ahead vigorously. Seldom are these kinds of opportunities. I naturally will strive forward with my all. I have lived for eighteen years as a person who was never willing to lag behind. My body has suffered every kind of pain and suffering, and I don't regret it in the least!”
Gu Zuo sucked in a deep breath, and showed a glittering, brilliant smile: “Since it's like this, I'll also accompany young master Tianheng to risk it all! At most, it's only that…we'll start from the beginning again.”
 The author originally wrote 珩天, which is Tianheng's name reversed. I don't know if this was a typo or not.
T/N: Changed the translation of 大圆满 from the use of the adverb “successfully” to the adjective “perfect-grade.” Mostly because it's being used so often that an adverb makes less sense.
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