Chapter 27 – Fair trade? Miscalculation.

Zilan didn’t understand why this old man was asking for his master.

“Might as well tell him the truth” joked Zilan.

“I do not have a master, I was just fortunate enough that my father introduced me to a person who then passed onto me some skills that even a cripple could handle.”

The old man could sense that Zilan’s words held a deeper meaning however, as to what that was exactly, he had no inkling.

“An alchemist capable of teaching a cripple, anyone with such abilities I’ve surely heard of. Describe him to me!” said the cloaked man as he stared at Zilan.

“Hmm… I can’t remember clearly since she wore a cloak very similar to yours..Ah!”
Zilan stopped himself as he feigned an expression of “I’ve said too much”.

The cloaked man coughed twice as he tried to think of a female alchemist who had the qualifications to teach a cripple.

“I’ve never heard of such a figure before. The world really is vast!” exclaimed the old toad as he coughed once again. “Did she perhaps pass onto you anything that you could use to barter for this ginseng?”

Zilan furrowed his brow as a warning bell rung out in his mind,

“Why is he directly initiating the trade? He’s the one with the valuable item and what happened to that temper when he was talking to Hula? I even talked so much b*******, there’s no way he actually believed my story, is there?!”

The old toad noticed the change in Zilan however, he believed that the allure of the ginseng would still be enough to thwart the boy’s suspicions.
For the most part, he was right. Zilan did hold the ginseng in high regard especially since the chances of it containing a substantial amount of the Universe’s energy were extremely high. What he didn’t know was that Zilan had one more test. He could ignore the other red flags but if the old toad failed this test then Zilan would immediately go on high alert and find a way to escape.

“Um…she did pass onto me a potion recipe but I don’t know if it’ll be enough. I’ve never been able to concoct it but I know that is only because I don’t have the cultivation to do it, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the recipe itself.”

“Oh! Quick tell me, I promise I won’t cheat you.” urged the old man.

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“Swallow flower root, three barking fruit…..” Zilan began listing all of the ingredients not even leaving out a single one. The ingredients however, were those for a useless ointment that repelled insects.
If the old man still handed Zilan the ginseng after hearing the recipe then something was definitely up.

The cloaked elder stopped all movement after hearing the ingredients Zilan listed. He looked up at the boy and then at the ginseng before angrily cursing,

“Bastard, you think I was born yesterday. You actually had the guts to try and fool ME, a third grade alchemy Master?”

Zilan sighed in relief as he immediately waved his hand in apology,

“Ah~ I only wanted to test and see if Senior was actually who he said he was. In the past this junior has come across some idiots who just happened to pass by and pick some good things not knowing their true value. You can’t blame me for trying to profit.”
Zilan’s excuse was clearly a lie, one that the cloaked old toad would obviously see through. His true purpose then? To send a message!

“I know you’re talking b******* and so am I. Let’s hurry up and finish this transaction already!”

Zilan had already confirmed that the ginseng was legit, whatever this old man had planned he couldn’t be bothered to understand. He had confidence in himself to avoid any traps that awaited him, as for this old man Zilan also wouldn’t let him off scotch free.

“He obviously isn’t one of those people because if he were, I’d probably be dead by now.”  thought Zilan, reassuring himself.
The only conclusion he could arrive at after taking into account the old man’s skill was that he was a scout for some big sect. After all, there truly were few who had the resources to raise an Alchemy master and they needed to pay their debt somehow.
Regardless Zilan was going to give him some medicine that would keep him busy for a while.

“Hehe…”

“Ok, I won’t blame you. So do you have something worth bartering?”

Zilan slowly took out a piece of paper and handed it to the old man,

“Those are the ingredients needed to create an explosive known as Tembu Pain. By looking at the materials needed I’m sure Senior can already guess its effects.”

The cloaked elder carefully went through everything before releasing a pleasantly surprised “Oh!” sound.

“What about the concoction details? Without the precise method this list is useless.”

Zilan smiled as he pulled out a quill and paper,

“No problem! However, whether or not I write it down will depend on your answer.”

The old man casually threw the ginseng towards Zilan,
“My part is finished, now hurry up and fulfil your end!”

Zilan carefully grabbed the ten thousand year old ginseng and placed it into his voidless sack. He then started noting down the exact details needed to successfully concoct Tembu Pain while also making sure to add in a few surprises that would surely keep this old fellow on his toes.

Once he was done, he folded the paper and then handed it over to the old man who slowly and thoroughly inspected it. Only then was Zilan allowed to leave.

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A few minutes after he had left, the old man quickly put the entire stall into his void sack making sure no evidence that could be used to track him was left and then hurriedly departed.
As he jumped from rooftop to rooftop his mind raced as he sighed in relief,

“This boy is becoming too much to deal with. He can now even pull out something like this? Thank the heavens he took the ginseng, now everything should be fine!”

………

After attaining the ginseng, Zilan didn’t immediately head back to the inn. He instead strolled about for a bit, headed to the Merchant’s egg and purchased all the items he needed, then took a roundabout route back to the inn.

When he arrived, the first thing he did was take out the ten thousand year old ginseng.
Two stars appeared in his pupils as he examined the ginseng.

“[Ten thousand year old bone cleansing ginseng] – Contains immense spiritual power as well as a fraction of the Universe’s energy.
Its mainly used to help strong fighters in moulding their body and their inner sea making it stronger in the process however, it has other functions which include, having high medicinal quality allowing it to heal both physical and spirit injuries. It can also be used as a main ingredient in four Rank five potions as well as…….”

Information on the properties, creation and many uses of the ginseng displayed itself before Zilan. He slowly scrolled through skimming the information before finally finding what he was looking for.

“This Bone cleansing ginseng has been laced with spirit mandrake whose only effect is to enhance a spells power.”

Zilan paused as he thought about why the old man would bother adding an enhancing agent. He then continued searching for any more information, particularly on what the spell could be.
Unfortunately, even after an hour of searching Zilan couldn’t find what exactly the spell that needed enhancing was.

“Hmph! It doesn’t matter, I’ll only be absorbing the Universe’s energy anyway. As for the rest of the parts, I won’t even touch them.”

To absorb the Universe’s energy, Zilan didn’t need to absorb any of the properties of the ginseng and that included the part that had the spirit mandrake. He only needed to absorb the essence of the ginseng and not touch the spiritual energy contained within.

The old man had truly miscalculated. He was probably still under the presumption that Zilan was still a cripple, which in normal circumstances would mean that he would absolutely desire the ginseng at least for protective purposes because in times of danger it could give him a temporary boost of energy.
It was impossible for him to know that not only was Zilan no longer a cripple but he also had no need for spiritual power altogether. Not to mention that he had unlocked the second scorched gate allowing him to instantly discover the hidden spirit mandrake.
If it was the Zilan who had unlocked only one scorched gate looking at the ginseng, then it would be very unlikely that he could identify it so easily.
He would naturally know that something different was mixed in but unless he spent a considerable amount of time searching the Book of Path, he would have never known that it was the spirit Mandrake nor what its use was.

In essence, whatever the old man in the cloak hoped to accomplish had been utterly destroyed due to Zilan’s sudden advancement. If it was before, even if Zilan had detected and was aware of the uses of the spirit Mandrake he still wouldn’t have the cultivation to completely separate it from the ginseng.

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