Chapter 20: Awakening of Meridians
February arrived in the blink of an eye after Chinese New Year's Eve.
On her birthday this year, Hui Niang had been the only one who had made Longevity noodles for Lu Mingshu.
Lu Mingshu was already very delighted. Moreover, she would turn eight years old after her birthday, which is the age to start practicing Martial Arts.
A bowl of medicinal soup on the stone table filled the entire stone room with its fragrance.
This bowl contained the meridians-opening herbal soup.
Lu Mingshu was a little nervous. For this bowl of soup, she had spent two months in the kitchen squatting and tending to the fire in an attempt to control the intensity of the heat in the process of learning how to cook soup.
She had exhausted almost all of her savings on this bowl of soup, so it would put her in a bind if it were unsuccessful.
"It's definitely going to succeed, it's definitely going to succeed," Lu Mingshu kept muttering. She had made this bowl of soup according to the recipe devised by the seniors of the Heavenly Wheel after hefty discussion, so how could it fail?
She let out a breath, picked up the bowl with shaky hands, and downed it all in one go.
Returning back to sit on the bed, she didn't feel a reaction in the beginning. But when Lu Mingshu was about to suspect that the recipe had failed, the point three inches below her navel went numb, and then she started to feel a prickling pain.
Numbness in the beginning and then a wave of prickling pain as if being pricked by needles. The prickling pain grew more and more intense, more and more violent.
1A drop of sweat slid down from Lu Mingshu's forehead, shortly followed by a second drop. Soon, her whole body was soaked, full of sweat.
Lu Mingshu clenched her teeth tightly, tearing up from the intense pain. But, when she thought of Mother and Grandfather, she desperately endured it.
The book said that once you forcefully awaken a closed meridian, intense pain would follow. This was a path that one was bound to walk if they were to open their meridians; a pain one must endure.
The pain started to spread to her torso, hands, feet then to her head… Her heart throbbed like a beating drum, and the sticky beads of sweat trickled down from every part of her.
Her fingers twitched as she bit into a cloth, numb from the pain.
Her meridians tore open inch by inch, wracking her with pain as potent as the efficacy of the medicine she had taken.
Lu Mingshu could only forcefully endure in the face of the endless pain, repeatedly murmuring to herself in hopes of ignoring this pain.
But the pain would not lessen because of one's willpower—it would still hurt when it hurts.
After an unknown period of time, when she felt she was about to die from the pain, her whole body suddenly started spasming. It seemed like something that had been agitated inside her was trying to forcefully split open her body.
"Ah—" Had her meridians ruptured from the shock?
Lu Mingshu only felt a strong force break out from her body, and her whole body felt as if it was split open. She cried out in agony, losing consciousness.
Her cry traveled out, alarming Liu Jizhen in the neighboring house. He kicked the door in, breaking into the room.
Lu Mingshu woke up in a daze, soon coming to the realization that she was soaking in a liquid that gave off the smell of medicine.
"Don't move," She heard a deep voice instructing her.
Lu Mingshu called out vaguely, "Master?"
A large palm covered her head, and that usually cold voice she was used to was laced with slight emotion, "Why didn't you mention you were awakening your meridians?"
She answered while her consciousness was still fuzzy, "Master...don't want to trouble…"
Lu Mingshu's small body was folded up in the huge tub filled with steam that diffused the thick smell of medicine into the air.
Liu Jizhen stood by the side, his face hidden in the shadows.
Lu Mingshu seemed to have dreamt a very long dream. In the beginning of the dream, there was a multi-colored light and shadow, and then there was complete darkness as thick as blood. A flood of negative emotions drowned her, leaving her unable to distinguish whether it was pain or sadness through these vicarious visions. Unknowingly, she had burst into tears, yet she continued murmuring that she would not cry anymore in the future.
In the lightless room, someone stroked her head, lightly sighing.
Hence, in her dream, the warmth of that palm was left.
She had been asleep for an unknown period of time. Waking up from her dream, the sunlight filtered into her room through the window.
Silence was all that covered the stone room.
Lu Mingshu moved her stiff limbs, shortly discovering that she was sitting in a bathtub.
The water was still warm, but the smell of medicine had dispersed.
Right when she was hesitating on whether to stand up, the door creaked opened.
Liu Jizhen placed the bucket of hot water down, moving over to stroke her head. "You are fine now."
Lu Mingshu looked at him with a stunned expression.
Liu Jizhen sighed in his heart, "Come out to see me once you have changed."
When the door was closed once again, Lu Mingshu blanked out for a while until the water turned cold before standing up to get changed.
Leaving Heaven Ascension Pavilion, Liu Jizhen sat on a big stone in front of the hut, looking towards the sun.
"Master…" Lu Mingshu lowered her head, not daring to look at him.
Liu Jizhen turned around.
"Do you know your mistake?"
Lu Mingshu answered shortly with guilt, "Yes."
"Where did you make a mistake?"
"I...shouldn't have troubled Master."
Liu Jizhen opened his mouth, unsure of what to say. It was he that had said ‘don't bother me', so it was slightly inappropriate for him to blame her now. He sighed. "Forget it. You should know to awaken the meridians is such an important matter, so how could you do so without supervision and someone to protect you? You should know that if I didn't find you then, your meridians could have been ruined, turning you into a cripple like me?"
Lu Mingshu was greatly shocked—why hadn't anyone in the Heavenly Wheel informed her?
How could she have known this was common sense's common sense? The people in the Heavenly Wheel had not even imagined she wouldn't know that.
"I don't know where you got the secret recipe for awakening the meridians, but you actually dared to attempt such a potent recipe alone!" Liu Jizhen had also been shocked—fortunately, he discovered her in the nick of time and used medicine left from his former days to stabilize her.
Speaking of it, he was secretly surprised. Yu Wen Shi had once said Lu Mingshu possessed a ‘good' body constitution, but to think it would be this good. If it were anyone else, their body would have already burst under the strain of such potent medicine.
He was oblivious to the fact that Lu Mingshu's body had been cleansed by the streamers from the Heavenly Wheel, a cleansing that made her body incomparably better than the average person's.
"I am sorry, Master…"
Liu Jizhen shook his head. "You've accomplished your goal of awakening your meridians. Get a good three to five days of rest, as you've exhausted your mental reserves."
Lu Mingshu felt exultant from the news. "Really?"
"Un. I have brewed herbal tea for you, drink it first."
"Thank you, Master." Lu Mingshu ran into the room happily.
Liu Jizhen stared at her back with a complicated expression. The aptitude she had revealed did not differ from him of his glory days.
He pondered over whether to find a good place for her. Previously, he did not abuse his relationship to send her to the lower house because of her awkward birth status. Given the revelation of her outstanding aptitude now, her talent had moved his heart. He had a pretty good relationship with a few Grand Elders, so it wasn't impossible for him to ask for some favors if Lu Mingshu were to work hard…
Lu Mingshu did not know her Master had a change of heart, to try and send her away. Her body now being much more nimble delighted her, and so did the fact that her sense of hearing and sight had improved, after awakening her meridians.
She obediently rested for a few days, at the end of which there were guests coming to Green Jade Valley.
"Master!" She carried a pot of stew, happily wanting to get her Master to test it out. Once she stepped out, she saw an extra person on that big stone her Master usually sat on.
This man with an imposing aura appeared to be a young man, yet he had white brows and white hair, like a pile of winter snow.
A young boy stood behind him. He was Gao Xiang, the one that had helped her that day.
Once she stepped out, all three gazes fell on her.
Lu Mingshu was stunned upon seeing outsiders so abruptly, unsure on how to greet them.
Thankfully, Liu Jizhen spoke, "Come here, greet Senior Granduncle."