Chapter 218: First Round First Place!
The middle-aged man’s eyes were blood red as he stared at the medicinal plant in front of him. “I joined the Sect twenty years ago,” he said “I’ve been an apprentice alchemist for half my life. Do you really think you can compare to me?” However, his face was gradually growing white. He had already made nine mistakes, so he now had only one chance left. Unfortunately, as for the plant in front of him… he didn’t recognize it.
After a long time passed, the middle-aged man laughed sadly, then slowly stood up. He didn’t record an answer. He took a long look at the medicinal plant, committing it to memory, then walked away.
As of now, Meng Hao was the only person left in the square!
The gaze of every single person, including Wang Fanming and the seven other old-timers, was focused solely on Meng Hao!
This was because… he was still filling out answers!
Meng Hao had no idea many how many answers he had provided. One hundred thousand medicinal plants, one million variations. Perhaps he had recorded half, perhaps more. He took a deep breath and focused on the medicinal plants on the screen in front of him. He gradually became aware that some of the medicinal plants were ones he had never seen before. However, after looking at them and thinking for a moment, the information regarding them would appear in his head.
The hundred thousand plants and one million variations that he had studied were simply a foundation. However, that foundation enabled him to awaken the nature talent of the Resurrection Lily that he acquired. That nature talent of plants allowed him to expand on what he had built in his head, using that accumulated knowledge to form answers.
Inside his bag of the Cosmos, the portrait of the Resurrection Lily painted by Shui Dongliu was trembling. It seemed to be struggling, resisting, screaming a noiseless scream. This was because as Meng Hao continued to answer questions and corroborate what he had learned, the endless images of plants that appeared in his head were all being plundered from the Resurrection Lily! He was wresting away the talent of the Resurrection Lily!
If that were simply it, perhaps it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, as Meng Hao continued, he realized that the Demonic Core within his Dao Pillar seemed to be rotating. With every rotation, strands of invisible power would emanate out, entering into his mind, causing the nature talent from the Resurrection Lily to grow even more powerful.
This examination of plants and vegetation, was also a chance for him to steal away nature talent from the Resurrection Lily! There was no other method that could possibly be faster, that could push Meng Hao to such heights! This examination was essentially a huge stroke of good fortune!
He proceeded on, even more lost in thought than he was before. He continued to fill out more and more answers, more and more quickly. No one could hear the screams of the Resurrection Lily as its nature talent was wrested away and fused into Meng Hao, becoming his and his alone!
If someone asked Meng Hao to stop now, he would refuse.
His eyes were bloodshot. Sometimes he had to think, but he never made a mistake. As he thought and recorded his answers, everyone around watched with baited breath, stupefied at what was happening. Wang Fanming and the seven others exchanged glances. All of their eyes were filled with shock.
Some of the information Meng Hao filled out, even they would have difficulty with. Some of these hybrid plants required ten varieties of medicinal plants to be grafted together at different times to produce the final rare version.
Wang Fanming and the others exchanged excited glances and then began to transmit a conversation between themselves.
“One hundred thousand medicinal plants, one million variations, ten million hybrids. Three realms of plants and vegetations. Mastering even the first indicates one has the nature talent required to become a master alchemist…”
“In the Southern Domain, only Violet Furnace Lords have enough talent to master the second realm. As far as the third realm goes, there are only three: Grandmaster Pill Demon and the other two Grandmasters!”
“Just how skilled is this Fang Mu when it comes to plants? He’s simply inhuman! He’s already passed the second realm and has now encroached into the domain of the third realm…. If his alchemic skill is comparable to his talent with plants, then he… he will be able to rock Heaven and Earth!”
“Not necessarily. His talent with plants is inhuman. But skill in alchemy is different. However, if he does possess some skill, then even if he doesn’t become a Violet Furnace Lord, he will surely reach the pinnacle of the Furnace Lord rank!”
“It will all depend on the results of his alchemy, and the level of the medicinal strength he develops. Ordinary master alchemists can produce about thirty percent. Only Furnace Lords can draw out fifty percent or more of the medicinal strength. Violet Furnace Lords can extract seventy percent. In all the Southern Domain, only Grandmaster Pill Demon and the other two Grandmasters can refine ninety percent or more! And Grandmaster Pill Demon is the only one who can concoct pills of one hundred percent medicinal strength, pills that do not lose any effectiveness!”
As the eight men continued their discussion, the apprentice alchemists watched on, dumbstruck. Their minds reeled as they watched Meng Hao. The other tenth-place finalists also watched on, some with admiration and respect, others with jealousy and discontent.
Time passed, and Meng Hao continued on without stopping. As the medicinal plants flashed in front of him, his expression slowly grew more and more excited. More and more information flooded into his head, and the legacy Demonic Core inside him rotated even more rapidly.
Meanwhile, elsewhere within the Violet Fate Sect, on an isolated peak deep within the East Pill Division, an old man sat cross-legged, observing a pill furnace which floated in front of him. He wore a white Daoist robe, and his entire person emanated the aroma of medicinal pills. His eyes were focused completely on the pill furnace.
His features were not particularly impressive. However, his eyes were clear, like deep springs. At first look, his white Daoist robe seemed ordinary. However, on each sleeve was embroidered a pill furnace.
He was archaic, ancient, as if he had existed for countless years. As he looked at the pill furnace, he smiled. It was impossible to tell his Cultivation base, but his presence on the mountain seemed to cause the clouds to disperse and the wind to calm. It seemed that with him present, the world would always be like that.
Next to him was a young woman clad in a long, violet robe. She was consummately beautiful, although her brow was wrinkled in a frown. It was none other than Chu Yuyan.
The old man… was he who commanded high prestige and universal respect within the Violet Fate Sect. He was the Grandmaster alchemist whose name had dominated the Southern Domain for a thousand years. His two novitiates had forsaken him to become Grandmasters in their own right. This was… Pill Demon!
Demons can take countless forms, just like the variations of medicinal pills. The day this old man achieved his Dao, he took the name Pill Demon. This Grandmaster Demon whose name had filled the Southern Domain a thousand years ago, now spoke. “Were you able to concoct the Three Mortalities Pill?” he asked, shifting his gaze from the pill furnace to Chu Yuyan.
“I failed again,” she replied, frowning. “Master, the Three Mortalities Pill is too difficult.” She looked at the floating pill furnace.
The old man shook his head and chuckled. With an expression that seemed to be filled with the emotion of many years, he looked off into the distance, toward the enormous statue of Reverend Violet East. Eventually, he looked back to the pill furnace. After some time passed, he spoke again: “Your heart is unsettled, and is lacking in determination. It seems you still do not grasp the purpose for which Master asked you to concoct the Three Mortalities Pill. In that regard, you could really learn something from him.” He pointed toward the pill furnace. As he did, the furnace grew blurry, then magically transformed into an image of the Meng Hao on the square.
When she caught sight of him, Chu Yuyan’s brow furrowed instantly. She remembered him. She recalled how seeing him had for some unknown reason caused her heart to fill with irritation. It had filled her with an almost unstoppable impulse to beat some sense into him.
Even afterward, she couldn’t explain it. Casting eyes on him again today caused that same irritated feeling to reappear.
“On the path of the Dao of alchemy,” Grandmaster Pill Demon said coolly, “talent is only an assistant. Unswerving determination is even more important.” He waved his right hand and the scene disappeared. The pill furnace was once again a pill furnace. “Go back. When you finish concocting the Three Mortalities Pill, then Master will permit you to leave the Sect.” With that, he closed his eyes.
Chu Yuyan’s lips curled into a pout. Clearly not happy, but unable to do anything about it, she stamped her foot as she turned and left. For some reason the face of Meng Hao, or rather Fang Mu, appeared in her mind, and her irritation rose again.
“I’m going to go see why this guy makes me so uncomfortable!” she thought, clenching her jaw and transforming into a beam of light that shot off into the distance.
Back in the master alchemist examination square, tens of thousands of eyes were all focused on one thing as the time slowly passed. When Chu Yuyan arrived, she saw Meng Hao, and once again frowned. She examined him intently for a while, but in the end, his features were unfamiliar. And yet within that unfamiliarity was something that she seemed to know.
More time passed. A day. Two days…. Eventually three days had passed.
Chu Yuyan’s eyes were glued onto Meng Hao, but in the end, her eyes filled with frustration. Much the same as Wang Fanming and the others, she was familiar with the third realm of plants and vegetation. Seeing Meng Hao answer question after question, how could she not be filled with astonishment?
At the end of the third day, the screen in front of Meng Hao suddenly flickered. No more medicinal plants appeared. He slowly looked up.
Everything was completely silent. Everyone was staring at the screen in front of him. Wang Fangming gasped and stood up. The other old men also stood up one by one, their eyes filled with disbelief.
“He answered all the questions….”
“Grandmaster Pill Demon personally prepared all of the images of the medicinal plants. In one thousand years, no one has ever answered all the questions. What… just what inhuman talent does he possess…?”
As the words of Wang Fanming and the others echoed out, the excitement that had been suppressed for days by the surrounding apprentice alchemists suddenly exploded out. A deafening hubbub filled the air.
“No more questions…. How is that possible!?!? He answered all the questions!”
“From ancient times until now, no one has ever done that….”
“Is it possible that this Fang Mu will become another blazing sun of the East Pill Division…?”
Even as the commotion filled the air, exhaustion washed over Meng Hao and he closed his dry eyes. He had no idea how long he had been sitting there. Once the screen went out, his energy seemed to disappear. The knowledge of plants and vegetation in his mind seemed to surge with life, buffeting up against and overwhelming any ignorance that might have existed before.
It surged again and again until finally it began to stabilize. Now that the ignorance had been broken, Meng Hao wasn’t sure the extent to which his skill with plants and vegetation would grow.
He had attained… Instantaneous Formula Scrying!
By simply placing a medicinal pill in his hand, he would be able to see the pill formula floating in his head. This was a realm that only Violet Furnace Lords could achieve.
Chu Yuyan took a deep breath as she stared blankly at Meng Hao. There was no doubt about it; just looking at him caused her to feel irritated. And yet, she had to admit that Fang Mu’s skill regarding plants and vegetation was beyond human!