At the foot of the Verdant Mountain, a rustic idyll of farmhouses and fields dotted the landscape. It looked every bit like a small pastoral village.
However, the quiet farmlands beneath the Verdant Mountain were not a village. This place was a mountain peak within the Artifact Refining Sect. And those fields didn't grow ordinary crops, but medicinal herbs instead. This was the place where the disciples who refined elixirs resided.
In one such herb garden, a seventeen or eighteen-year-old young man was solemnly tending to the herbs in his hands. He was slightly plodding in his manner, with a round, modest, dark face that suggested a quiet solidity. After harvesting some matured herbs, he carefully brought them back to his dwelling.
However, he had just arrived in front of a wooden house when a derisive snort sounded. A figure shot out seemingly out of nowhere and forcefully shoved him.
The force behind the push was by no means mild. It sent the young man sprawling to the ground in an inelegant heap, his herbs scattering to the wind.
"Hehe... Lin Xu, you good-for-nothing, you're useless for anything other than taking care of this garden. The quality of these herbs is not bad, the soul power they contain is quite remarkable indeed."
Another young man, of about the same age as Lin Xu, sauntered forward with an air of triumphant satisfaction. He picked up the scattered herbs, swiped them into his arms without the slightest shred of courtesy, and looked towards Lin Xu, now covered in dust, with a cold smirk.
There were several others with him, smirking and picking up the discarded herbs. In no time, they had swiped all the herbs for themselves.
"In this world, even a rabbit can possess soul power. And this good-for-nothing Lin Xu, after all these years, still can't wield any. If it weren't for his grandfather—a former pill master of the Artifact Refining Sect—would our sect even bother harboring such a waste of space?"
"Right? With his abilities, if he ever left the sect, he might just be killed by a rabbit halfway home. That would be a real joke."
"His good-for-nothing grandfather is long gone, too. Back then, it was his grandfather's friend who vouched to keep him in the sect. If it weren't for his knack for farming herbs, he would've been kicked out years ago."
Lin Xu pulled himself off the ground, glaring at the triumphant fellow and other teens, his hands clenched in tight fists and his veins popping out.
Upon seeing him, the guy who had shoved Lin Xu earlier snorted coldly and lashed out a kick straight to Lin Xu's belly. A wisp of gray fog emerged from the kick, sending Lin Xu flying. His slightly dark complexion turned deathly pale.
"I've told you before. When I take your herbs, you're supposed to smile!"
The aggressor's eyes gleamed coldly. With a swift step, he approached Lin Xu at an incredible speed and raised his foot to stomp down heavily.
Lin Xu let out a muffled groan, blood immediately leaking from the corner of his mouth and his pale face growing even more haggard. However, the anger in his eyes didn't change in the slightest.
His look infuriated the man, whose expression became even more ferocious. He continued to ruthlessly stomp on Lin Xu. Each strike was imbued with a power that felt like it weighed tons. Observers who had arrived with the man were scared and hurried to pull him away.
"Brother He, stop it! If you continue, you're going to kill him!"
"Yeah, Qing, without him, we won't have any place to earn some extra money. We'd struggle to fulfill Teacher Ge Dan's monthly medicine herb orders without him."
"Right, Brother He, he's like a stone in the latrine, just ignore him. The herbs are more important."
Perhaps thinking about the medicinal herbs they could get made He Qing let out a cold snort.
"This lowlife, if he wasn't slightly useful, I would've butchered him long ago."
The person next to He Qing spoke with a flattering smile: "True, Brother He, you're unparalleled in bravery. With your power already at the fourth level, becoming a disciple of the Refining Sect and even a renowned alchemist in the future isn't a fantasy. Why would you care about someone who’s even lower than a dog?"
"Exactly. And in three days, all the apprentice herb gatherers will enter the Dan Qing Garden to pick medicinal herbs. If we kill him now, won't that be letting him off easy? At least let him be useful a little longer."
He Qing strode away, accompanied by his entourage. In the other medicinal herb gardens, people witnessed this scene without showing any emotion. It seemed like they had gotten used to such cruel treatment.
Lin Xu struggled to his feet, spat out a mouthful of blood mixed with dirt and staggered towards his herb garden. After picking some herbs, he then returned to his humble home.
Inside the cabin, Lin Xu's eyes turned blood red, his teeth were clenched, and his eyes were full of killing intent.
"He Qing! Lin Xu will one day, you will be exterminated!"
But these were empty words. Lin Xu had no spiritual power at all in his body. Besides his boyp being slightly stronger than others, there was not a hint of spiritual power within him.
The wooden cabin was simple; besides a bed and a chair, there was nothing else. On the table, there was an old plaque. Despite its age, not a speck of dust was on it, making it seem distinctively clean compared to the rest of the house.
That was the memorial tablet of Lin Xu's grandfather, which was also the most important item in the entire wooden house. His grandfather was once a pharmacist of the Refining Sect, but had passed away. Lin Xu was the child his grandfather had brought back from his outdoor travels.
Legend has it that, overnight, a meteor from the sky fell and directly destroyed a small town. Not a single living being was left in the town. When Lin Xu's grandfather arrived, he found Lin Xu, who was crying loudly. At that time, Lin Xu was still a baby in swaddling clothes.
The incident caused a stir among some people within the Refining Sect, making them curious about Lin Xu. They did numerous studies on Lin Xu, but couldn't find out anything.
As Lin Xu grew up, there was still no trace of soul power in his body, he couldn't even attach souls to it. People in the Refining Sect lost interest in him. The only one who was persistent was his grandfather.
Lin Xu's grandfather tried many ways and even used a lot of elixirs. However, any soul attachment or elixir that entered Lin Xu's body would vanish like a stone sinking into the sea. All the soul power disappeared without a trace, and all the attached souls were completely shattered.
This was undoubtedly a genius among failures, a once-in-a-millennium prodigy. He was rubbish to an incredible extent, a unique existence.
Carefully cleaning the tablet, Lin Xu struggled back to bed after shining it spotlessly. He was not content with his situation, not satisfied with the inability to produce a single bit of soul power. But he had no choice, even the pharmacists in the Refining Sect could not figure out the cause, what could he do?
While trying to circulate his cultivation technique, Lin Xu could feel strands of soul power entering his body. However, these powers would dissipate instantly upon entering his body.
“I do not believe in this evil! Why can everyone in the world practice, but only I, Lin Xu, cannot!"
The relentless humiliation and resentment turned into a full-blooded roar, with madness in Lin Xu's eyes as he desperately urged his cultivation technique. He could strengthen his meridians and make his body stronger through cultivating, he could benefit from all the changes that cultivating the technique brought, except soul power could not exist in his body. His body had no trace of soul power.
If it weren't for the changes that the cultivation technique brought to him, he would not have been able to bear the humiliation from He Qing.
Three days passed, Lin Xu never went out. During these three days, he had been circulating his cultivation technique every moment, praying for a miracle. But the result remained the same. There was still no soul power in his body.
Emerging from the wooden house, Lin Xu had numbness and dissatisfaction in his eyes. He dragged his feet and headed to the other side of Cui Shan Peak. Today was the day to enter Dan Qing Garden. It was a significant day for the Refining Sect's pharmaceutics disciples.
Within the Dan Qing Garden, disciples could pick and keep some herbs. These herbs were key to improving their cultivation. Most disciples were only at the third level of soul introduction, while those who reach the fifth level were eligible to become true disciples of the Refining Sect and choose to follow a certain path within the sect.
That was when they could truly soar into the sky.
The work of a Medicine Disciple was extensive and the time they could take out to cultivate was limited, consequently, their progress was quite slow. For this reason, the herbs they were able to collect in Danqing Garden were key to their cultivation advancement.
When Lin Xu arrived on the other side of Cui Shan Peak, there were already many Medicine Disciples. Seeing Lin Xu arrive, they all bore indifferent expressions, many of their eyes filled with amusement and cold laughs. Among them, He Qing and the one who had snatched Lin Xu's herbs three days ago were presently looking at Lin Xu with a sneering smile.
"This waste insists to come every time. He is so diligent in making wedding clothes for others, truly moving the top figures in the Refining Sect," they jeered.
"Hehe... this time, it seems that He Qing will have another big harvest. This waste enters Danqing Garden each time only for his collected herbs to get snatched away. Who knows why he is putting in so much effort?"
Amidst the endless mocking and taunting, Lin Xu kept a calm face, but his hands were clenched tightly. Such an expression only invited more mockery.
Not until a figure leisurely descended from Cui Shan Peak, looking at the noisy crowd, his eyebrows furrowed.
"Shut up! When in Danqing Garden, remember that you all are part of the Cui Shan faction and should support each other."
Having said that, the figure flicked his sleeves, sweeping the nearly hundred Medicine Disciples on the foot of Cui Shan Peak, and headed towards the sky.