The room was steamy, with the scent of herbs.
The smell did not irritate the nose, nor was it unbearable. Within the clear and fresh smell was a slight bitterness. Steam was in the air, and the humidity of the room could be felt the moment he walked in. The bath robe he wore instantly turned heavy, the fabric sticking onto his body.
Xiaodong reached the barrel and first stretched out his hand to test the water temperature.
The herbal water had just been boiled earlier, and so it was still incredibly hot.
Mo Chen seemed to have not seen through his hesitation and urged again, “Enter then.”
In any case, it was not the first time. Xiaodong steeled himself as he climbed into the barrel. The moment his hands loosened, his entire body sank into the barrel.
Eh, this smell… Xiaodong instantly recalled the scene of the fat chef’s croquettes. The white meatballs were thrown into the oil, and were instantly seared, letting out a sizzling sound. Very quickly, where the meatballs touched the pan were half fried.
However, the problem was meatballs were non-living and do not feel pain.
The hot herbal water was like countless little needles piercing his body. Xiaodong gritted his teeth from the pain, and his entire body was as stiff as a wooden block.
As for Eldest Senior Brother, who had always been kind and gentle, he smiled as he pulled out a leathered needle pouch and slowly spread it open on the table next to the barrel.
Sparkling silver needles came pouring out just like that. The shortest one was also the thinnest, thin to the point where if one did not pay attention, it would be impossible to see a needle was there. It truly was as thin as a cow’s fur, uhh, it might even be much thinner than a cow’s fur.
No matter how thin it was, it would still hurt if pricked into his body!
As for the thickest one…
Xiaodong silently turned his head away the moment he made eye contact with it.
Fortunately, Eldest Senior Brother did not have any plans to poke him with the thickest needle.
He would be able to endure if only his skin was being seared. After all, it would all go numb after hurting for a while. However, the heat from this herbal bath did not stop at the skin, but would drill into every acupuncture point of his body, following his breathing.
That was the hardest part to endure.
Mo Chen gently placed his hand on Xiaodong’s wrist. Then he picked up a needle, and very quickly and precisely stabbed it into Xiaodong’s elbow.
The stab felt both numb and blunt. It felt as if, rather than stabbed by a needle, a hammer had smashed heavily into his joints. However, things seemed rather strange. The heat that earlier did not seem to gather at any particular location, suddenly looked as if it had recognized its destination after that knock, and climbed upwards while following his meridians.
Mo Chen moved swiftly. In the blink of an eye, Xiaodong’s two arms were fully stabbed with silver needles.
He felt as if his body was no longer his own.
From head to toe, his body was completely out of his control. His legs, his back and the front of his chest were stabbed with needles as well. After all this was done, the heat circulated in his body. It was as if hot oil was being splashed onto his organs. He could feel his blood boiling, yet it felt as if his body was floating, like a wooden log soaked in water.
It surely felt like punishment, but it wasn’t pain that he felt. But he couldn’t exactly express how he felt. Pain, numbness, itchiness. There seemed to be countless worms crawling through the seams of his bones, biting him. He wanted to shout yet he couldn’t. He couldn’t move even if he wanted to.
Mo Chen understood that this feeling was unbearable.
However, Little Junior Brother’s bones were indeed bad. They were only a mere bit better than a regular person’s. His bones were actually a bar lower than the standard Returnflow Mountain used to take in disciples. Another point was that Little Junior Brother was actually pretty old. In order to nurture their descendants, the famous families and sects in the cultivation world would wash the meridians and shape the marrows of their children the moment they were born. Little Junior Brother was already more than ten years old, yet he was only starting now. Not only would the results be much less than expected, the amount of pain that he had to endure was huge as well.
However, if he did not cross this ditch now, Little Junior Brother would not be able to make any progress in his cultivation either. At the very most, he would live a few dozen more years than a regular person, but what good would that be?
Mo Chen could not currently express how he was feeling. He did not want Little Junior Brother to suffer so much, yet he was unwilling to see Little Junior Brother die of old age and suffer from sickness like a regular person. He did not want their encounter to last only a few dozens of years.
After a while, Mo Chen pulled out the needles. Seeing Little Junior Brother still kneeling in the barrel without the slightest bit of movement or sound, Mo Chen wondered if Little Junior Brother was still dizzy. Rolling up his sleeves, Mo Chen carried him out of the barrel and helped remove his bathrobe and underwear, which were drenched in herbal water. Rubbing away the remnants of herbal water off Little Junior Brother’s body, Mo Chen then spread open the blanket and put it over him. Only after this was done did he finally have someone carry the barrel away.
Compared to before the bath, the herbal water looked as if it hadn’t changed. There wasn’t any more or any less of it in the barrel. However, if one were to take a closer look, it was actually different. Before Xiaodong soaked himself inside, there were still fumes surging out from it, so that one could hardly see that the herbal water inside the barrel was actually crystal clear. No matter how many herbs were added, it still looked like the color of a good tea soup. After the bath, the volume of the herbal water indeed did not change, but the water had turned incredibly turbid. Putting aside the faintness of the herbal scent, there was now another smell mixed within. It was a little fishy, and a little sour… In any case, when mixed with the herbs inside, it was not a good smell at all.
Mo Chen’s clothes was also greyed from the fumes. When he returned after changing them out, he saw that Xiaodong had woken up. The little boy was obediently staying put while nestled inside the blanket.
“How does your body feel?”
Xiaodong opened his mouth and gave an irrelevant answer, “Thirsty.”
Mo Chen laughed.
How could he possibly not be thirsty?
The herbal tea that was prepared beforehand was placed next to Xiaodong. Mo Chen passed it to him, but Xiaodong did not even have the strength to lift his fingers, and so he was fed a bowl of herbal tea by Mo Chen. The herbal tea was slightly cool, dispersing the final hints of heat that remained in his body.
“My body feels weak, and I don’t have any strength…” Xiaodong blinked. “But I also feel very light… as though a few kilograms of fat has been shaved off…”
There seemed to be a little of something else as well, but right now his head was still a little dizzy and he couldn’t express what it was.
His eyes felt a little different too, as though a bit of dust that had always clogged up his vision had been rubbed off. He didn’t know if there was any change to his ears, but he seemed to still hear the same messy noises that he heard during the bath earlier, circulating round and round. Even now, it still had yet to stop.
“Circulate your martial arts once before you head off to sleep again.”
Xiaodong obediently responded, closed his eyes, and then silently recited the incantation in his heart.
From the looks of things, the herbal bath was effective, but it was impossible to show immediate effects.
Mo Chen silently calculated. If Little Junior Brother were to continue soaking in the herbal baths like this once or twice a month, at the very least, it would take up to a year or so for the preliminary effects to show.
After that process, he had to circulate his martial arts and be fed medicine. Things had to be taken slowly.
This matter was not something to be rushed in the first place, but Mo Chen just could not shake off the uneasiness in his heart. He was not afraid of anything, but surely, he was worried about the situation at hand. Returnflow Mountain was peaceful for many years, yet the investigation of the incident that occurred in winter had yet to be completed. If a huge change were to truly occur in Returnflow Mountain, and Little Junior Brother still had yet to mature in his martial arts, he might not even have the strength to protect himself when that time came.
However, this matter could not be rushed. There weren’t any overnight shortcuts to such things. As the saying went, a person would not turn fat with a single bite, and in the path of cultivation, there wasn’t a blessing that could allow someone to reach the heavens with a single step.