Chapter 219: Not Fair!
As everyone seethed with excitement, Meng Hao stood up. As he did, everything gradually grew quiet. All eyes were focused on him alone. Some filled with complicated expressions, some were purely envious, others were shocked or jealous.
A variety of expressions were directed toward Meng Hao, who appeared to be extremely worn out. He turned toward Wang Fanming and the others, clasped hands and bowed. Then, he left his workstation and found a place to sit cross-legged and meditate.
Wang Fanming took a deep breath. He glanced at Meng Hao for a moment, and then his gaze swept out across the crowd. “In twenty hours, the second round of the master alchemist promotion examination will begin. It is also the final round. Of the ten finalists, only one will become a master alchemist. The second round will consist of a test of the power of your catalyzing technique. You have twenty hours in which you may rest, but are not permitted to leave.”
Chu Yuyan had been watching Meng Hao the entire time. The shock had still not left her eyes. Even though looking at him still annoyed her, she had no choice but to admit that Fang Mu was someone she had to look up to in terms of qualifications.
“Skill with plants and vegetation is only part of being an alchemist,” she said, still unconvinced. “Let’s see if this guy really is qualified to perform alchemy. That includes catalysis, as well as control of the spiritual energy of the Cultivation base. Those are not things to be taken lightly. Let’s see if his skill in that regard is equally astounding.” The more she looked at Meng Hao, the more annoyed she got.
Not a single of the thirty thousand apprentice alchemists chose to leave. They continued to converse in low tones. Seventy percent of the conversations were about Meng Hao. The other thirty were about the other nine finalists who had passed the first round of the examination, and thus revealed their talent, like awls sticking out from a bag.
These other nine were all very nervous. They sat cross-legged, using each and every moment to rotate their Cultivation bases. They wanted to be in peak condition to face the second and final examination.
Meng Hao’s participation in the first round had crushed them down with a weight that made it hard to breathe. That having been said, there was no difference between first place and tenth. All would have a chance to pass the second round of the examination.
The second round was actually the focal point.
As far as they were concerned, there was still a chance to surpass Meng Hao. He might know more about plants and vegetation than them, but to catalyze medicinal plants required use of the Cultivation base, as well as significant practice. It demanded careful control of spiritual power; too much, and the medicinal plant would grow until it burst. Too little, however, and it would not grow healthily. It was difficult to find the perfect balance.
The nine other finalists breathed deeply as they sat in meditation. Images appeared in their minds from their years of experience catalyzing plants. Gradually, they began to fill with confidence.
Meng Hao sat there with eyes closed. Actually, he hadn’t wasted very much energy from his Cultivation base. The main reason he was tired was not because of his body, but because of the effort in wresting away the legacy of the Resurrection Lily, as well as the rotating of the Demonic Core. His head felt like it was swollen. As he rested, his mind slowly began to simmer down.
Soon, the twenty hours had passed. Wang Fanming’s voice suddenly rang out across the square. As he spoke, he moved his arm to rest on the pill furnace next to him.
“The time has come for the second round of this trial by fire. Would the ten final participants please approach!” As he spoke, the sound of furnace bells rang out, shaking the entire square. The eyes of the thirty thousand spectators focused intently on the proceedings.
The square was the same as before, but the thirty thousand workstations had been replaced by ten stone pillars, each one roughly nine meters tall. As they rose into the air, they glowed with an eye-catching light.
With the exception of Meng Hao, all of the final participants leaped up into the air, alighting nimbly onto the stone pillars, excited expressions on their faces.
All eyes were on them; after all, these were people who had distinguished themselves amidst thirty thousand peers. Considering their talent, they quickly covered up their excitement, replacing it with looks of determination.
Meng Hao opened his eyes, and they shone with a bright light. The swelling pain in his head was gone. The nature talent of plants and vegetation was now completely amalgamated, and was a complete part of him.
“I WILL become a master alchemist,” he thought, his eyes shining with decisiveness. He stood up and strode forward. In a flash, he appeared on the final stone pillar. Instantly, everything grew completely quiet. Countless gazes came to be fixed upon him. Everyone would witness the promotion today and see… who would be promoted to master alchemist!
Whoever became master alchemist would instantly rise above one hundred thousand others!
In terms of status, position, renumeration from the Sect, and reputation, this person would no longer be in the same level as the apprentice alchemists. The difference between apprentice alchemists and master alchemists was like the difference between Heaven and Earth. After all, in the entire Violet Fate Sect, there were only about one thousand master alchemists. Later, if one could reach the realm of the Furnace Lord, then he could shake the entire Southern Domain. Any Furnace Lord occupied a lofty position in the Dao of alchemy; be it in the Violet Fate Sect or the outside world, they would receive utmost respect and veneration.
Within the whole of the Violet Fate Sect, there were currently only around a hundred Furnace Lords.
Eight of that group were Violet Furnace Lords. They existed just beneath the three Grandmaster alchemists as the pinnacle representatives of the Dao of alchemy! All of the other great Sects and Clans thirsted to have any one of this group join them. They commanded extreme respect from one and all.
Everyone was watching as Meng Hao stepped onto the pillar. Wang Fanming and the others exchanged glances. One of the old men lifted his arm to push down onto the surface of the pill furnace. It began to emit a droning sound, and then opened up. Ten beams of light shot out and then came to rest, floating in mid-air.
The globes of light were blurry and indistinct, making it impossible to see what was inside.
“Ten different types of medicinal plant seeds, all of different categories. Candidates, make your selection. Whoever catalyzes theirs to the most mature degree, will be a master alchemist!”
With the exception of Meng Hao, the eyes of everyone on the stone pillars began to glitter brightly. They looked up at the ten indistinct medicinal plant seeds. It was completely impossible to tell what they were, causing the nine other participants to hesitate slightly. Then, one of them set his eyes in resolve. He lifted his hand and made a grasping motion, causing one of the glowing globes to shoot into his hand. It transformed into a blue-colored seed.
The other eight participants looked over. “That’s a Bluewater flower seed….” This flower could be used to concoct a variety of medicinal pills useful for the Foundation Establishment stage. It was relatively difficult to catalyze.
Without hesitation, the other participants reached up to lay claim to the various glowing globes of light. One by one, the globes descended into their hands. They looked around to examine which seeds the others had acquired. Some would be easier to catalyze, others more difficult. It would all depend on luck, considering that the differences between them all was not great.
After everyone made their choice, Meng Hao calmly lifted up his hand to retrieve the last glowing globe. The light transformed into a gray-colored seed.
When the surrounding tens of thousands of apprentice alchemists saw the seed in Meng Hao’s hand, they were sent into an uproar. “That’s Flying Ash leaf….”
“Of all the ten types of medicinal plants, Flying Ash leaf is least complex. That Fang Mu got really lucky….”
“You can’t really say that. It’s not necessarily easy to get the leaf to turn into ash.”
As the sound of the discussions rose up, unsightly expressions appeared on the faces of the nine other participants. No one said anything, though. After all, Meng Hao was the last person to take a seed, so he obviously had no choice in the matter. They couldn’t accuse him of cheating.
The old man standing next to Wang Fanming also started when he saw the Flying Ash leaf seed. He exchanged a look with the other old men, but no one said anything. Suddenly, he spoke out in a cool voice which rose up above the hubbub that filled the square: “Begin!”
There was instant silence. Meng Hao and the other nine people on the stone pillars all focused on the seeds in their hands. They circulated spiritual power, then, using the East Pill Division technique, began to nourish the seeds with it. The medicinal plant catalyzing had begun.
After the space of ten breaths, popping sounds began to ring out from the hands of all the participants, including Meng Hao’s. Sprouts appeared, swaying gently back and forth and slowly beginning to grow taller.
Meng Hao concentrated fully, slowly pouring out power from his Cultivation base. He didn’t squander a drop. This convergence technique was what he had learned in the Blood Immortal Legacy tournament 1. During the past months in the Violet Fate Sect, he had practiced the technique daily, especially when working with Li Tao. He channeled spiritual energy into the seed. Soon a gray-colored medicinal plant appeared in his hand, roughly two inches tall, with seven green leaves.
As it grew, gray veins began to appear within the leaves. “When the leaves turn completely gray, it means that the plant is fully mature. Eventually, the leaves will turn into ash. That ash is the true essence of the plant which is used as a medicinal ingredient.” Information regarding this particular medicinal plant appeared in his head, as well as ten hybrid variations.
The plant began to grow taller. It was now three inches tall, and the leaves were about half gray. Now it had twelve leaves in total, which was actually the maximum number of leaves that a Flying Ash plant could have.
As for the other nine participants, none of them had grown their plant past sixty percent; obviously theirs were not as mature as Meng Hao’s.
Their faces were dark and obviously filled with intense discontent. Even many of the surrounding tens of thousands of apprentice alchemists sighed. According to their understanding, it was obvious that Meng Hao’s medicinal plant was superior.
“This test really isn’t fair…. If that Fang Mu had gotten any other medicinal plant besides Flying Ash leaf, then it wouldn’t have been so easy….”
“It’s not necessarily unfair. The Flying Ash leaf might just be particularly suited to Fang Mu’s spiritual energy. If someone else got it, they might not necessarily find it so easy. Growing that particular plant isn’t simple. In fact, to cause the leaves to transform into ash takes more spiritual energy than most other medicinal plants.”
Voices began to echo out. The Flying Ash plant in Meng Hao’s hand made a popping sound. It seemed to be burning. A gray flame covered it, and then gray ash began to spread out.
When this happened, the surrounding nine participants faces tightened. Their eyes were red as they frustratedly looked at Wang Fanming and the others. Nervously, they began to speak.
“Seniors, this isn’t fair!!”
“The Flying Ash leaf that Fang Mu got is way simpler than my medicinal plant. If I’d gotten Flying Ash leaf, I could have done the same thing!”
“We worked hard for so many years for a chance at promotion. Don’t tell me that we lose, not because of skill, but because of luck!? Elders, it really isn’t fair!”
“Please, re-start the second round and give everyone the same medicinal plant. If we lose then, we will be sincerely convinced!”
This chapter was sponsored by Robert Kunzi