Jinde stopped paying attention to Qiu Ling and focused on the task at hand. It had been thousands of years since the last time he refined anything. For a moment, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to manage. If anything went wrong …
He took a deep breath and pushed the thought aside. No, he had been the best pill refiner in all the immortal realms. Even the God of Medicine couldn’t hold a candle to him. As soon as he started, everything would come back. It had to.
He activated the crystal embedded at the bottom of the cauldron, lighting up the fire in the lowest compartment and waiting for it to reach the right temperature. His nerves calmed down and he didn’t hesitate any longer when he threw the first herb into the cauldron.
As if on their own, his fingers reached for the next ingredient, waiting for the right moment before adding it. He controlled his spiritual energy to mix them while controlling the heat of the flame at the same time.
Qiu Ling, the special dimension, the endless years of waiting … None of that mattered. Right now, it was only he and his task, the familiar feeling of the herbs between his fingers, the sizzling coming from inside the cauldron while mixing the ingredients, the heat emanating from the fire, the faint smell of medicine, and the rush of spiritual energy being set free.
Ah, if only life could always be like this.
While Jinde immersed himself in his task, Qiu Ling sat behind him and bit his lip. Damn. Right now, he regretted his life choices. Why had he never tried to learn about alchemy? He shouldn’t have been so childish to reject the option just because the old geezer was good at it! If he had learned at least a bit, he’d be able to judge for himself whether everything was going alright. Ah, he wanted to know! What if the old geezer messed up?!
With each passing minute, Qiu Ling grew more and more anxious. He wanted to stand up and go over to take a closer look but he finally held back. No, the old geezer had said that he couldn’t disturb him. If he lost his focus and something went wrong … He couldn’t take responsibility for that. Jing He’s future in this mortal lifetime depended on this!
Qiu Ling closed his eyes and tried to imagine how deeply moved Jing He would be when he brought the pill over. Mn … His brows furrowed. Actually, it wasn’t easy to imagine at all. Whenever he closed his eyes he saw Jing He as he had been in the Nine Heavens. He just couldn’t reconcile his name with the appearance of his mortal reincarnation.
Qiu Ling repressed a sigh. It was time that Jing He returned to the Nine Heavens. He wanted to hold him in his arms and tell him how much he loved him. He finally wanted to make good on the promise they had given each other before Jing He left! Surely, this time nothing would go wrong and they could finally get married. In the worst case … he’d really kidnap him and marry him secretly.
Qiu Ling’s lips quirked up when he imagined that. Certainly, Jing He wouldn’t mind if he did that, would he? No, he loved him way too much to get angry at him for that. And he knew that his beloved wanted to marry him! Jing He had said so. It was just that old bastard’s fault for hindering them at every corner! Hmph. He wouldn’t let that happen again after the trial. No, no, he wouldn’t.
Qiu Ling sighed again. Ah, well, at least Jing He would return sooner if his mortal reincarnation cultivated. Maybe it would only take a few more years? He had to support him as much as possible!
While Qiu Ling considered what else he could do to speed up Jing Yi’s cultivation, Jinde seriously refined the pill. The medicinal smell coming from the cauldron intensified with every hour, as did the spiritual energy that emanated from it. But at the same time, Jinde’s originally pale face lost color and a sheen of sweat covered his forehead. His golden brows furrowed lightly but he continued on, making sure that he refined the pill to the best of his ability.
Eventually, the last light of the day receded and night fell. The only light accompanying them were the stars overhead and the fire burning on the lowest compartment of the cauldron. Jinde’s golden hair sparkled in the shine as if it was truly made out of gold.
He still didn’t stop working, making Qiu Ling anxious again. How long could it take to refine one pill? Qiu Ling still held back though, not daring to even breath loudly or give a sigh. Looking at him like this, the old geezer seemed to be seriously at work. It was probably true that he couldn’t be disturbed. He shouldn’t take any chances!
Finally, the day brightened again. Jinde extended his hand and a pill flew out of the cauldron and landed on his palm. Qiu Ling leaped up and jumped behind him, looking at the result of Jinde’s work with glittering eyes.
Finally! The pill finally was finished! Ah, the old geezer hadn’t let him down! Although … Well, the pill itself was a bit of a let-down. The Amethyst Lightning pill was just as big as the nail of his pinkie although the energy inside was distinctly perceptible. The lightning pattern on the surface was dark but the amethyst-colored base of the pill seemed to glow from the inside. Still, with it being so small and Jing Yi being unable to sense spiritual energy, would his beloved be able to understand to what lengths he had gone to help him? That truly was cause for worry!
Well, whatever. As soon as he took it, he should be able to see just how great he was! Qiu Ling smiled with satisfaction and tried to grab the pill.
Jinde closed his hand around it though and pulled it out of his reach. “Qiu Ling, before you go, let me say one thing as your Elder.”
Qiu Ling blinked. Was it really necessary to do that now? He hadn’t seen Jing He for a long time already! He wanted to hurry back to his side and surprise him!
Jinde saw his expression but since he was still keeping the pill hostage he didn’t have to fear that Qiu Ling would just leave. He took a deep breath and sat down on the edge of the boulder. “You’ve fallen in love. That’s great. But you also know what that means for us dragons. You haven’t told me much about him but I gather that he isn’t one of us. Especially in that kind of situation … Don’t wait too long. Don’t repeat the mistakes your father and I made back then. Some things, once lost, will never be able to be brought back.”
“Mn.” Faced with Jinde’s serious attitude even Qiu Ling didn’t manage to say something inappropriate. In fact, he even had to admit that they thought the same this once. “I’ll do that. Now …” He extended his hand and Jinde dropped the pill into his palm.
Qiu Ling turned around and wanted to leave but in the end, he faced Jinde once again. “Thank you. Even though I can’t stand you, you’re not that bad, actually.”
Jinde smiled. “No need for flattery. Just go and woo that person.”
Qiu Ling nodded and hurried away. Jinde’s gaze followed his leaving figure and his gaze grew complicated. This boy … he looked so remarkably similar to his father that he couldn’t help but worry that he might also have inherited his brash personality. Would that bring him trouble in the end? Well, this was hardly the moment to worry about that.
For one, it was futile to think about it. The things that had passed had passed. He couldn’t bring them back. He could only hope that someday some sort of opportunity would present itself for them to meet again. That was his sole wish.
And other than that … Jinde held onto the boulder and stood up, swaying on the spot. He touched his chest and took the few steps toward the lake with effort. “Ah, I guess there’s no way to go back to being an alchemist. As much as I love it … That is also something that can’t be brought back.” He grimaced and then plunged head-first into the water.
Who knew if it had still been a conscious effort or just his strength running out?