Chapter 243: I Dare You To Say That Again!
One of the valleys in the East Pill Division was called Alchemy Day Valley. Twenty thousand people were gathered, seated in a semi-circle around a high platform.
This was one of three locations where Furnace Lords would give lectures about alchemy. Back when Meng Hao had been an apprentice alchemist, he would often go to those three places to hear the Furnace Lords speak about medicinal pills, plants and vegetation. The benefits he had received were significant.
In addition to these three valleys, there were ten other valleys where master alchemists would lecture. It was for this reason that Meng Hao felt as if the East Pill Division was not a Sect, but rather an institute of higher learning. Thirteen valleys existed in which either master alchemists or Furnace Lords would come to lecture, not because they were required to, but because they wanted to.
Furthermore, the content of the lectures of the various master alchemists and Furnace Lords was always different. The Cultivators of the East Pill Division could choose which lectures they wished to attend.
Some lectures would be attended by only a few hundred or thousand. Others would be packed. Of course, the lectures by the Furnace Lords were usually different from those of the master alchemists. The Furnace Lord lectures were always extremely popular.
Except… Meng Hao’s first lecture after becoming a Furnace Lord had only been attended by a few thousand. It was by no means packed. Meng Hao hadn’t really cared, though. He had spoken for about four hours, then flicked his sleeve and left.
Accompanied by the two apprentice alchemists, Meng Hao arrived at Alchemy Day Valley. He hadn’t minded when his first lecture was sparsely attended. However, he was shocked to see how many people were currently in the valley.
As he approached, he could see apprentice alchemists sitting cross-legged everywhere, as well as some master alchemists. All of them were looking up at the high platform. There stood a white-haired old man who emanated the aura of a transcendent being.
The old man was a Furnace Lord, and a very senior ranking one at that. He spoke in a cool voice which rang out in all directions. Everyone could hear very clearly. Some people’s eyes glowed brightly, apparently in the midst of enlightenment.
Meng Hao’s lecture slot was actually a few days earlier; unfortunately, he had been delayed because of his pill concocting. Now, he would have to wait for this senior Furnace Lord to finish his lecture before he could take his turn.
He would have to wait, but as a Furnace Lord, he wouldn’t have to wait outside the valley. As soon as he entered, he was noticed by the nearby apprentice alchemists. One head after another turned to look at him, whereupon they would stand and salute him respectfully. He smiled and nodded in return. They parted, making a path for him, which he walked down, feeling a bit embarrassed.
It didn’t take long before everyone in the entire valley had caught sight of him, including attendees far off in the distance. Even they stood to salute him in greeting.
In short, his entrance to the valley caused a small-scale commotion. The old man on the stage frowned and stopped talking, eyeing Meng Hao with a look of displeasure.
“Alchemist Fang, don’t tell me you’re unaware of the rules?” he said coolly, his voice sounding out clearly throughout the valley. “I’m giving a lecture on alchemy at the moment. Why, pray tell, are you here? This ruckus is really ruining my mood!”
Meng Hao glanced at the old man with a slight frown. He knew the other Furnace Lords weren’t too happy with him. Were the situation different, Meng Hao wouldn’t let the man’s words slide. However, his presence here really did cause a commotion, and he had interrupted the man’s lecture.
“Forgive my inconsiderateness,” said Meng Hao with a slight smile, and then sat down off to the side. He was here, so he might as well wait for the lecture to finish.
Hearing this, the old man snorted coldly, then ignored Meng Hao and continued with the lecture.
Time passed by slowly. The old Furnace Lord prattled on, occasionally holding up some medicinal plants to analyze. The surrounding apprentice alchemists listened thoughtfully. Many appeared to have looks of enlightenment on their faces. It seemed as if they were really benefiting from the lecture.
Meng Hao, however, was feeling a bit drowsy. Strangely, it seemed he was the only one. Perhaps it was because he was tired from his pill concocting; plus, the old man lectured in a very wordy way. Generally, after only one sentence, Meng Hao would understand the point he was trying to make. But then the man would go on to explain with ten or more additional sentences. Furthermore, Meng Hao was already familiar with the aspects of plant and vegetation variations about which he lectured. Among the Furnace Lords, if Meng Hao placed second in terms of plants and vegetation knowledge, then there was no first.
Whatever reasons Meng Hao had for being bored, the man was giving a lecture about alchemy. He may be long-winded, but Meng Hao would not do anything to supplant him. Do not do to others what you would not wish them to do to you.
After some time passed, though, he couldn’t hold back from letting out a yawn. He wasn’t located very far away from the lecture platform, so the long-winded old man noticed, and was clearly displeased. His mood seemed to sink even lower than before. Seeing Meng Hao’s indolent attitude, he suddenly got angry.
He stopped lecturing and looked at Meng Hao; his eyes burned and his words were ear-piercing: “Furnace Lord Fang Mu, don’t tell me you have some doubts regarding my lecture!?”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the surrounding apprentice alchemists no longer had entranced looks on their faces. Instead, they looked excitedly toward Meng Hao.
From the look of things, it seemed the entranced looks on their faces just now had been there out of force of habit. Some may have been real, but the majority were apparently fake.
Silence reigned among the apprentice alchemists, but a variety of thoughts ran through their heads.
“Two Furnace Lords are arguing. I’ve been to lots of lectures, but I’ve never seen anything like this before!”
“Furnace Lord Zhou sure can talk. If he’s not happy during his lecture then he’ll really flip out. That’s why we all have to pretend to be so interested. If we don’t, bad luck will surely strike….”
“Ah, that’s the new guy who’s on the rise. All the Violet Qi Division Inner Sect disciples are crazy over Furnace Lord Fang. Furnace Lord Zhou, on the other hand, is one of the most qualified of all the Furnace Lords. I wonder which one will come out on top…?”
Meng Hao frowned and looked up at the old man named Zhou.
“I don’t doubt anything you’ve said, Furnace Lord Zhou,” he said coolly. “I’m just a bit exhausted from concocting pills and need a short rest.”
Seeing Meng Hao back down twice in a row caused contempt to flicker in old man Zhou’s eyes. “Lies! You’re clearly being disrespectful on purpose! Please, I would very much like for you to explain in detail what various doubts you have. If you’re unable to, then please leave immediately. I’m really fed up with your ‘resting’ here!”
A cold glow appeared in Meng Hao’s eyes. He had already backed down twice in a row. He knew that it truly was improper for him to have interrupted the man’s lecture, but the man was really going overboard. Although Meng Hao had a relatively good temper, the cold light in his eyes showed the level of his displeasure.
“Originally, I, Fang Mu, did not want to cause any embarrassment because of the black Furnace Lord’s robe which you wear.” Meng Hao’s indifferent voice suddenly turned sharp. “But since Furnace Lord Zhou is so insistent, then I guess I will express a few doubts!”
Instantly, all of the surrounding apprentice alchemists perked up. Something interesting was about to happen! Even the master alchemists’ eyes began to glow. These expressions were far more genuinely enthusiastic than those from moments ago.
The man named Zhou gave a cold harrumph, and was about to say something, when Meng Hao interrupted him without the slightest trace of politeness.
“According to your understanding of the Dao of alchemy, one must first embrace into one’s heart all of the variations of plants and vegetation, and then craft out a thorough plan. Afterwards pills may be concocted. This concept is nothing more than a load of dog crap!”
“Fang Mu, you’ve really got guts!” roared the man, glaring furiously. “I dare you to say that again!”
When Meng Hao replied, his voice was calm, but his words were aggressive and menacing. “What pills do you intend to concoct with such a method? The Dao of alchemy was created by the Heavens, and requires personal enlightenment. Success can only come after constant defeat and subsequent improvement. It is the result of the concoction process itself! When concocting, one must identify what is true from what is false, select the proper time and location, adjust the flame to the proper temperature, and modify the interactions between the medicinal plants! Was I mistaken to say your words are dog crap? You want me to say it again? You’re the senior, so in accord with your demand, I’ll say it again. Your words are a load of dog crap!”
The words blew over Zhou, making him so angry that his body trembled. He lifted a finger and pointed at Meng Hao, a ferocious look filling his eyes. “Treason! Heresy!” he shrieked. “There are rules on the path of medicinal pills! You ignorant child! The fact that you finagled your way into a Furnace Lord promotion is a humiliation to all other Furnace Lords. We’re ashamed to even be associated with you. Apparently, you aren’t familiar with the word ‘rule,’ or the term ‘pill formula.’ Pill formulas themselves are rules. The pill concocting to which I refer is one in which a pill formula is followed!”
“Pill formulas are merely a simplified way of recording the process of pill concoction,” replied Meng Hao calmly. “They are there for alchemists to refer to, like a roadmap, or a light to use on a dark night.”
Meng Hao’s words were growing more relentless. “If you follow a pill formula, then of course you can concoct a pill. But if you concoct pills in such a way, doesn’t that make you a mere master alchemist? Do you really deserve the title of Furnace Lord? It seems to me that you’re nothing more than a boring old pill-concocting puppet!”
“Y-you…. Pill formulas are rules! You….” The old mans sputtered in his anger, and was about to continue to explain when Meng Hao held his head high and interrupted again.
“You can’t even speak clearly! Pill formulas are rules? Examine all of the pills that exist under heaven. How many of those pills have a variety of formulas which have been handed down throughout the generations? In fact, for some pills, more than a hundred formulas exist, all with different interactions. And yet, each one produces the same pill. You speak of rules. Are you trying to say that multiple sets of different rules exist for each pill?!
“Very well, assuming there really are rules, then after the first pill formula appeared, who was it that created the second pill formula? What about the third? Or the fourth? By the time you reach the hundredth pill formula, can you explain who exactly created that pill?” Meng Hao’s indignant words filled the entire valley. All of the apprentice alchemists who were listening had looks of excitement on their faces, as well as the glow of enlightenment. The master alchemists were panting as they pondered Meng Hao’s words. The looks on their faces were much similar to the looks on their faces as they had been listening to Zhou’s lecture just now. However, the difference between the words of the two different Furnace Lords was incredible.
Zhou’s fury rose to the heavens. His entire body shook as he howled: “Treason! Heresy! Rebellion against the Dao of alchemy…!”
“Do you dare to proclaim that the creator of the next pill formula, the one hundred and first, isn’t among the East Pill Division disciples present today?” Hearing this caused a wave of excitement to pass through the apprentice alchemists. Ignoring old man Zhou, they immediately spoke out their agreement.
Meng Hao’s words smashed down onto old man Zhou like an iron hammer. He couldn’t help but walk back a few steps, staring back at Meng Hao with bloodshot eyes.
This chapter was sponsored by Caleb Gleason