Great Yue Dynasty, Pingnan City
The blazing sun was high in the sky, and corpse Qi filled the air.
In the three narrow alleys, people squatted in the corners of the walls. They were skin and bones, and their ragged clothes swayed in the wind.
On the right side of the alley, there was a ditch that flowed in the right direction. The thick water from the corpses was mixed with the muddy yellow water. There were also a few open toilets with a pungent smell around them. The smell of the alley was even worse when mixed together.
However, no one cared. They scooped up water to cook, washed their bodies, and cleaned their farming tools.
There was a short man in the crowd. He had dark skin and was shirtless. His lower body was wrapped in a short brown sackcloth, and he was wearing a pair of straw sandals. The only difference between him and the people around him was that his eyes were bright and full of energy.
Qin Huai tried his best not to breathe too much. Although he had been here for half a month, he still couldn't stomach the smell. It wasn't that he was pretentious, but the stench made his body strongly resist.
At the end of the alley, a notice was hanging in front of the Liu family's apothecary, which was recruiting apprentices.
On Changlong Street, people were scrambling to be the first.
Qin Huai licked his dry lips, feeling a little restless. "I've been in this world for more than half a month, and I've finally found one."
He was a transmigrator, and in his previous life, he was a social animal who had just graduated from university.
His boss had promised he'd make him a regular employee after their project was completed, so he made Qin Huai work overtime for 29 days in a row. On the day he became a regular employee, he heaved a sigh of relief, and before he knew it, he had arrived here.
In this world, martial arts were respected, demons ran wild, and there were many powerful people.
Cultivators who could not practice martial arts were like floating duckweeds, and their lives were like grass.
He was a refugee who had escaped to Pingnan City because of the demons. Along the way, they had seen too many tragedies of people robbing children and losing their families because they were weak. This made Qin Huai decide that he had to practice martial arts in order to live well in this world.
It just so happened that the Liu family's apothecary was recruiting apprentices, and there was no registration fee for the opportunity to learn cultivation techniques. That was why the queue for registration was as long as a street.
Qin Huai also came to try his luck.
"There are already around forty people in front, but I don't see any of them."
"Is the shopkeeper of the Liu family's apothecary choosing a husband?"
Everyone was anxious and restless, and Qin Huai couldn't help but feel the same. The registration fee for the martial arts centers in Pingnan City alone was dozens of taels of silver, and a refugee like him couldn't afford to pay this money.
Did this apothecary take in apprentices for free because they had some special talent?
Finally, Qin Huai reached the front, and before him was a young girl with a mature expression.
"Do you have any special skills?" The young girl looked up. 'This guy would look pretty good after washing his face and changing his clothes,' she thought.
"Does literacy count?" Qin Huai was serious.
This world's language was almost the same as Chinese characters, so Qin Huai, who had gone through nine years of compulsory education, was very confident.
In this world, where everyone had to go through education, literate people were a huge blow to others.
Well, except for the town where he had escaped from. It didn't matter if he could read or not, as long as he could help. Therefore, Qin Huai, who couldn't find an opportunity to display his skills, achieved nothing in the first half of the month.
"Oh?" The young girl was surprised. She took out a reference book and placed it in front of Qin Huai, nodding.
"Angelica, wolfberry, ginseng, snake gall, Chinese creeper, and octagonal lotus root." Qin Huai flipped open the table of contents and read out the names according to the places the girl's finger pointed at.
Qin Huai was already confident. Pingnan City was indeed a big city.
"He really can read!" The young girl was shocked, and the smile on her face instantly brightened.
The people behind him were even more incredulous as they looked at Qin Huai, who was dressed almost the same as them, in surprise.
"There's no need to line up anymore. We've found enough apprentices!" The young girl shouted at the top of her voice.
The people at the back dispersed faster than the young girl had shouted. When they heard that Qin Huai could read, they scattered while cursing.
"No matter which world I go to, it's good to be cultured." Qin Huai couldn't help but sigh when he saw how easily he stood out.
The girl brought the three apprentices to the backyard.
There was a middle-aged man with a goatee, who was slender and elegant. He wore a gray-black robe with vertical stripes and was sitting at the stone table sipping tea.
This was Liu Changyue, the owner of the Liu family's apothecary.
"From now on, the three of you will be apprentices in my apothecary. You will follow me to memorize some prescriptions, buy medicinal herbs, clean the shop, and do other chores. If you learn it well, I will also teach you a cultivation technique." Liu Changyue rolled up his sleeves. Everything was prepared.
Qin Huai and the other two perked up. The reason why there was such a long line in front of the apothecary was that the cultivation techniques taught here were free of charge.
"What does it take to be considered good?" Gao Cheng, who was the first to arrive, was curious.
"There are two types of apprentices in our apothecary, the chores apprentice and the internal affairs apprentice." The young girl walked up to the three of them. "For the first one, you usually do a series of chores such as grinding herbs, buying meat, transporting medicinal herbs, picking medicinal herbs up the mountain, and so on. You have two meals a day, food and accommodation included, but you don't have a salary. You have to be a chores apprentice for two years.
"The second one involves refining medicines, writing prescriptions in the front hall, and attending to patients. You'll have three meals a day, half a jin of meat, 500 wen a month, and can learn the Qi-nourishing skill of the apothecary.
The three of them listened carefully and nodded.
"Then, is there any way for me to become an internal affairs apprentice sooner?" Gao Cheng smiled. Two years was too long.
"There is. If you can learn how to distinguish herbs in a few months, understand the properties of more than 50 herbs, and formulate at least three out of ten herbs that are different from the apothecary's prescription but have similar effects, you can be promoted."
Gao Cheng felt a headache just by listening to this long list of requirements.
It was the same for Qin Huai, but he had no other way out now, so he could only endure it for now.
"There will be a test once a week. If the results of the test are not ideal, you will be fired. So, don't be lazy. Work hard."
After that, Liu Changyue gave some simple instructions, and the three of them acknowledged him as their master.
Liu Changyue didn't have any rules when it came to accepting a master. The three of them served tea according to the order of recruitment, and they were considered disciples.
Qin Huai was the youngest junior brother. The girl who was shorter than Qin Huai was called Liu Xiaomei. She was their master's only daughter and the eldest senior sister of the three of them.
After the ceremony, the three of them were brought to the backyard and given their own living quarters.
The courtyard of the Liu family's apothecary was extremely large, with a total of 2,000 square meters. There were five medicine rooms alone.
Qin Huai and the other two weren't the only apprentices. The place would accept apprentices every other month.
Qin Huai saw that there were about 30 to 40 people living in the backyard, but he didn't know how many apprentices were in the chores and internal affairs departments.
The next morning, Qin Huai and the other two had changed into short brown clothes with the word "Liu" embroidered on the chest, as well as a pair of long pants.
After coming to this world for half a month, Qin Huai had his first pair of pants.
"I finally have pants." Qin Huai sighed. There was no longer the feeling of wind and rain pouring in from below, and he felt especially at ease.
Soon after, he was called to the pill refining room.
In the apothecary, more than a dozen similarly dressed youths had already started to fiddle with things in full swing. The small wooden stick knocked on the wooden bowl, and the clattering sounds rose and fell in the refining room.
"Grind all these red ginseng into powder and fill these twenty jars." The tall man pointed at the medicine jars beside him.
Qin Huai glanced at the fist-sized brown earthen jars and didn't say anything. He rolled up his sleeves and started grinding silently.
After hammering it twice, Qin Huai saw a white ball of light fall out of Gao Cheng's body. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes hard. It was indeed a ball of light, and the others didn't seem to be able to see it.
He stretched out his hand toward the white ball of light, and it actually flew over by itself.
"Ding! You have collected a [ Potion Essence (White) ], [ Potion ] Experience +1."
Qin Huai's vision darkened, and something suddenly appeared in his mind.
"Red-eyed ginseng, roots used as medicine. It has the effect of dispelling blood stasis, regrowing new blood, promoting blood circulation, and regulating meridians," Qin Huai muttered in his heart.
Information about the red-eyed ginseng and some of its effects actually appeared in his mind as his experience increased.
"The experience points are not vague numbers or progress bars, but actual knowledge. When my experience points are full, it also means that my alchemy skills have reached a certain level."
The next moment, a panel appeared before Qin Huai's eyes.
Name: Qin Huai
[ Cultivation method: none ]
[ Skills ] [ Medicine (unlearned, 1/100) ]
[ Stage: none ]
The golden opportunity had finally arrived.
Qin Huai looked at the personal panel in front of him and was overjoyed.
While he was thinking, the other people around him also started to drop white light balls.