Chapter 220: Promotion to Master Alchemist!
Meanwhile, outside the square, on a mountain peak in the East Pill Division, Chu Yuyan’s master, Grandmaster Pill Demon of the Violet Fate Sect, looked away from the pill furnace calmly and lifted his hand. There on his palm was a small pile of gray powder.
This was none other than some of the ash created by the burning Flying Ash leaf that had been catalyzed moments ago by Meng Hao.
Pill Demon lifted his hand and closely examined it, his eyes thoughtful. He then waved his hand, and the ash dissipated.
“No seepage of spiritual power….” he murmured faintly after a while.
Down in the square, Chu Yuyan silently watched Meng Hao along with the other nine complaining finalists. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt somewhat pleased to see what was happening. The sound of all the condemnation piling up against Fang Mu was quite pleasant to the ear.
As the nine other participants continued to make repeated requests, Wang Fanming and the seven others looked at each other, brows furrowed. After a moment of discussion, Wang Fanming stood up.
As he did, everything grew quiet.
“If all of you truly desire to be completely convinced, well, Fang Mu, do you agree to restart the round?”
Meng Hao smiled. He said nothing, but simply nodded.
Wang Fanming nodded back in admiration. “Very well. In that case, we shall restart the round. This time, all ten of you will receive exactly the same type of medicinal plant. Those who do not win, will have no grounds for complaint!” He waved his right hand, and ten identical seeds shot out toward Meng Hao and the others.
The seeds were crimson, and emanated a plant-like aura.
“Crimson Spirit sapling!” thought Meng Hao, his eyes glittering. The hearts of the other nine participants trembled. They frowned as they examined the crimson seeds in front of them.
A collective gasp could be heard from the onlookers as they peered forward.
“So, it’s a Crimson Spirit sapling. That’s a medicinal plant useful for the great circle of Foundation Establishment. It has the appearance of a fire type, but actually, all types of spiritual energy can be used to nourish it.”
“Considering the level of our Cultivation bases, catalyzing a medicinal plant like that would be just too difficult…”
On the pillars, all the participants except for Meng Hao hesitated for a moment, then clenched their jaws and grabbed the seeds which floated in front of them. Then they used all the power of their Cultivation bases to begin catalyzing.
Meng Hao reached up and took the seed into his hand. He looked at it closely, then closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, a violet glow appeared in his hand, encircling the crimson seed. Spiritual power emerged, and the catazlying began.
After enough time passed for an incense stick to burn, one of the middle-aged men on the pillars began to sweat profusely. His face was pale white, and his body trembled. However, he gritted his teeth and slapped his bag of holding to produce a Spirit Stone. He gripped the Spirit Stone in one hand and catalyzed the Crimson Spirit sapling in the other.
One by one, the other participants began to follow suit. An hour passed. Soon all of the participants, excluding Meng Hao, were relying on Spirit Stones to catalyze the plants. One and all had pale faces and bloodshot eyes.
Only Meng Hao looked as calm as ever. His gaze was fixed on the Crimson Spirit sapling as he carefully controlled his spiritual power. Not a drop leaked out. All of it poured into the seed of the Crimson Spirit sapling.
Clearly, none of the other participants were able to do such a thing. Of all the spiritual power they sent out to nourish the medicinal plants, only thirty percent actually ended up being used.
Another hour passed. The man who had been the first to produce the Spirit Stone suddenly staggered. Face white as a sheet, he coughed up a mouthful of blood and took a few steps back. He stared mutely at the seed in his hand. He had expended all of his power and hadn’t been able to produce a single sprout.
He shook his head bitterly and chose to withdraw.
Not much time passed before a second, third and then fourth participant left. By the time more than two full hours of the catalysis round had passed, only five participants were left.
It was then that a popping sound rang out, causing everyone to look toward Meng Hao’s right hand. There in his palm, a sprout suddenly popped out from the crimson seed!
Moments later, a sprout popped out from the seed of one of the other competitors. This seed belonged to the man who had lasted in the first round of the competition longer than anyone else except Meng Hao.
His face was somewhat unsightly as he tightened his grip on the Spirit Stone in his hand and then gave Meng Hao a grim look.
As for the other three participants, their faces were white. Despite using all the power they could muster, they were still unable to cause the Crimson Spirit sapling seed to sprout. All of them withdrew.
The true test of the second round had arrived. Once again, it was a battle between the middle-aged man and Meng Hao.
“I prepared a lot of Spirit Stones for this part of the examination,” said the middle-aged man, his eyes red. “There’s no possible way that I can lose to you.” The pillar he stood on was situated directly opposite of Meng Hao. He looked up and glared at Meng Hao, then pushed down on his forehead. A roaring sound filled the air as his Cultivation base suddenly began to soar.
It flew from the eighth level of Qi Condensation all the way to the ninth, the great circle of Qi Condensation! Clearly, he had been suppressing his Cultivation base the entire time, all with the intention of unleashing his true power in the end of the catalysis exam. In this way, it would only take one step to sweep past any opponents.
When the man’s Cultivation base suddenly erupted, it caused quite a commotion among the onlookers. At the same time, the Crimson Spirit sapling seed in front of him slowly began to grow.
Meng Hao’s expression was the same as ever. He didn’t employ the power of his Foundation Establishment Cultivation base. He relied only on the spiritual power of Qi Condensation to catalyze the Crimson Spirit sapling. He completely ignored the middle-aged man, and in fact closed his eyes to focus solely on catalysis.
More time passed. Both Crimson Spirit saplings continued to grow taller. Several hours passed. By now, both plants were about the height of a person.
The middle-aged man’s body quivered and veins bulged on his face. He had lost track of how many Spirit Stones he had used, and felt like he was beginning to grow crazy. As soon as a Spirit Stone was used up, he would produce another. His Qi passageways seemed unable to bear up under the strain, but he ignored them. Determination filled his eyes. He must win! He must become a master alchemist! For that, he would charge on regardless of anything.
Finally, blood sprayed from his mouth, and even as his body trembled violently, he pushed all out with his Cultivation base, which was now beginning to sink down in level. Spiritual energy which stemmed from his very life force poured out to catalyze the Crimson Spirit sapling. This instantly caused the plant to grow up about three meters. As of now, it no longer looked like a sapling, but instead a tree. The middle aged man staggered backward several paces, unable to continue. He had already risked his life, and to continue on would no longer be risking it, but delivering it up!
His Qi passageways burned as if with fire, causing his entire body to spasm. Sweat poured out, and his Cultivation base continued to sink lower. Despite all this, his eyes glowed with loftiness and pride.
Amazed discussions instantly broke out among the surrounding apprentice alchemists. Even Wang Fanming and the others exchanged glances. Chu Yuyan nodded her head. Clearly, what he had done was no slight accomplishment.
“My Crimson Spirit Sapling had grown so tall it’s now a tree! Your sapling isn’t even seventy percent as tall as mine. Let’s see how you secure the master alchemist position now!”
For the first time, Meng Hao looked over at the middle-aged man. “I’m not finished yet,” he said coolly. The Crimson Spirit sapling in his hand slowly began to grow higher. From seventy percent of the height of the other man’s, it grew to eighty, then ninety…. In the time it takes an incense stick to burn, the middle-aged man’s face grew paler and paler. His body trembled, and his eyes filled with disbelief. Meng Hao’s Crimson Spirit sapling was now three meters taller than his.
Everything was completely silent. Everyone stared blankly at Meng Hao. They had already been astonished by his nature talent in the first round. Now, in terms of catalyzing skill, the results caused everyone to stare with deep shock.
However, Meng Hao still wasn’t finished. He stared at the Crimson Spirit sapling, his eyes blazing with determination.
“If I’m going to put on a show,” he thought, “I might as well go all out. I’m really curious to know how much I can grow the Crimson Spirit sapling with this catalysis technique!” Eyes glittering, more spiritual energy appeared in his palm, pouring into the Crimson Spirit sapling. Of course, he did not use the power of Foundation Establishment; he wanted to show off, but he wouldn’t forget himself in the process.
Six meters, nine meters… slowly, the Crimson Spirit sapling stopped growing up, but began to grow out instead. Thicker and thicker it grew until it was now a large tree!
This tree might not be amazing enough to attract the attention of the entire world, but it certainly became the focal point of the entire examination square.
Meng Hao catalyzed the tree to such an extent that suddenly a single flower appeared on it, along with a fruit. It was a crimson-colored Spirit Fruit that instantly began to emanate spiritual energy.
When Chu Yuyan saw this, her eyes went wide and filled with an expression of disbelief. Wang Fanming rose to his feet, as did the other old-timers. Strange expressions filled their faces.
“The Crimson Spirit sapling is blossoming!! It’s bearing Spirit Fruit!”
“He’s a Qi Condensation Cultivator, but can do this? Inconceivable!”
The tens of thousands of observing apprentice alchemists couldn’t hold back; a buzz of discussion instantly filled the air. All the other participants who had failed stared blankly. As apprentice alchemists themselves, they were well aware of the significance of the Crimson Spirit sapling bearing fruit.
“Crimson Spirit saplings can be used to refine medicinal pills for the great circle of Foundation Establishment. But their fruit contain the essence of the entire plant; they can create medicinal pills for the early Core Formation stage!”
“I can’t believe Fang Mu did it! This technique can catalyze out all types of medicinal plants suitable for the Qi Condensation stage, and even some for the Foundation Establishment stage. But it’s impossible to use on medicinal plants needed for the Core Formation stage. And yet… he actually catalyzed Crimson Spirit Fruit!”
As the sound of conversation drifted in the air, Meng Hao took a deep breath and waved his right hand. The Crimson Spirit sapling abruptly trembled, as if it had suddenly lost its source of power. It began to wither. Even as it withered, though, Meng Hao’s left hand reached up and grabbed the Crimson Spirit Fruit. Without a moment’s hesitation, he placed it into his bag of holding.
The nine meter tall Crimson Spirit sapling was now completely withered. Amidst the continuous buzz of conversation, Meng Hao hopped off of the stone pillar.
Wang Fanming took a deep breath, then gave Meng Hao a deep look and said, “The person promoted to master alchemist today is… Fang Mu!” His voice rang out across the square, and then seemed to enter the pill furnace and echo out throughout all the valleys of the entire East Pill Division.
All one hundred thousand apprentice alchemists heard each and every word!