Chapter 249: Reconciled
“Well, it seems this trip to the Black Sieve Sect was by no means for naught!” Having put away the Spring and Autumn tree, Meng Hao smiled. However, deep in his eyes flickered a bit of doubt.
“There seems to be a deep connection between Han Bei and the East Pill Division. I wonder what secret lies there….” He thought about it for a bit, but then put the matter aside. Early morning light once again filled the sky outside.
“As for Zhou Jie, why did he go crazy? When I reencountered him for the first time earlier, something didn’t seem right… Discarnate souls possessing the body, returned from the afterlife….” Meng Hao sat there lost in thought for a while, before raising his head to look outside.
Moments later, he heard a respectful voice from outside. “Grandmaster Fang, the World Pill Division’s Grandmaster Chen will deliver an alchemy lecture today. Would you like to attend?”
Meng Hao thought about it for a moment. He was curious as to how these alchemists from the World Pill Division understood the Dao of alchemy. He rose to his feet and joined the disciple from the Black Sieve Sect. Together, they descended Black Welcoming Peak.
The location of the alchemy lecture was the fifty-seventh mountain of the Black Sieve Sect. This mountain had no peak; its top had been shorn off to create a massive public square which was filled with rings of seats that could fit tens of thousands of spectators.
By the time Meng Hao arrived, there were already more than twenty thousand Black Sieve Sect Cultivators present. They represented a variety of stages, including Qi Condensation, Foundation Establishment and Core Formation, all seated around a raised dais.
Chen Jiaxi and Li Yiming from the World Pill Division sat cross-legged atop the dais, meditating.
Surprisingly, off in the distance were three tables, seated behind one of which was Patriarch Violet Sieve. Next to him was a beautiful middle-aged woman. Meng Hao recognized her as the same woman who had taken Elder Sister Xu from the Reliance Sect all those years ago.
At the third table was a ruddy-faced old man who sat at his table, his eyes flashing like lightning. It was impossible to fathom the level of his Cultivation base, but it seemed to Meng Hao that he was slightly more powerful than Patriarch Violet Sieve.
To have three Nascent Soul Cultivators present would make this alchemy lecture especially superb.
Seated cross-legged some distance in front of the three tables was Zhou Dekun, who was currently staring grimly at Chen Jiaxi and Li Yiming.
Meng Hao strode over and sat down next to him, his expression the same as ever.
Seemingly ignoring his previous distaste for Meng Hao, Zhou Dekun said, “These two are far too arrogant. They came to visit me yesterday on the pretense of paying their respects. In actuality, their words were filled with haughtiness. Apparently they believe that the World Pill Division has already exceeded the East Pill Division!” He really seemed to hate the two alchemists from the World Pill Division. Furthermore, Meng Hao was a fellow Sect member. There had been friction between them, but now they were in the outside world and had to stick together.
Meng Hao had barely seated himself before Zhou Dekun continued to rant: “The Black Sieve Sect invited alchemists from two other Sects to help train their own alchemists. Instead of having us lecture first, they ask the World Pill Division to speak! It’s outrageous!
“The two of us need to be careful. The World Pill Division clearly has ill intentions. They obviously want to humiliate us. If that happens, then we’ll lose a lot of face when we go back to the Sect.” Zhou Dekun clenched his jaw and stared fixedly at Chen and Li. “I probably have it a bit better off than you,” he continued. “You need to be careful in your pill concocting. Ai… Alright, listen. If you have any problems with your pill concocting in the coming days, come find me immediately. I can answer any questions you have. I’ll do my best to help you get up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Meng Hao smiled. There had been friction between the two of them, but the recent days spent together caused him to realize there was no reason to be so irked by the man. He shook his head with a smile. “I don’t think I’ll make any mistakes, don’t worry.”
“You… Ai… Fang Mu, we’ve had our differences. Big or small, it doesn’t really matter. Right now, the World Pill Division is trying to provoke us. We are here to represent the East Pill Division!” He looked over at Meng Hao. With a sigh, he slapped his bag of holding to produce a jade slip which he handed over. “I prepared this for you last night. It’s a collection of information based on my hundred years of cultivation of the Dao of alchemy. All of my knowledge and experience is collected together here. Take a close look, and we can corroborate and test the information together. I’m sure it will help you improve your skill in the Dao of alchemy.”
Meng Hao stared in shock for a moment. He accepted the jade slip and then scanned it with Spiritual Sense. He studied it silently for a long moment. Finally, he looked back up at Zhou Dekun. The information inside was genuine. It contained all the experiences of one of the most senior Furnace Lords of the Violet Fate Sect. The information therein was incredibly valuable.
After examining the jade slip, Meng Hao knew that he had been a bit rash before. Any Furnace Lord deserved respect, and could be learned from. Zhou Dekun’s way of thinking was a bit rigid, but his detailed understanding of the Dao of alchemy had reached the pinnacle.
Such attention to detail would affect the success rate of pill concoction. Meng Hao might be somewhat more talented than Zhou Dekun in the Dao of alchemy, and have a more profound understanding. However, his success rate in pill concoction was only around three or four batches out of ten.
From the jade slip, though, Meng Hao could see that Zhou Dekun’s success rate was around eight batches out of ten.
“Many thanks, Grandmaster Zhou!” said Meng Hao, his expression serious as he clasped hands and bowed deeply to Zhou Dekun. This jade slip would be of no small help to him.
“There’s no need for that,” said Zhou Dekun. His expression, however, revealed how pleased he was. In his mind, he thought, “This kid might have finagled his way to being a Furnace Lord, but he doesn’t seem that bad. When I get back to the Sect, I’ll have to discuss things with the other Furnace Lords and see if I can improve his reputation.” He cleared his throat, and then sighed and finally brought up something that had puzzled him endlessly, “For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about what you said in the valley that day. Actually, some of it does make sense…. Also, I wanted to ask you something. I really was sure that the plant I was holding was a Seven Leaf clove. I really didn’t think I could have made a mistake. But, I know that the leaves should glow with seven colors at dusk. I just….”
Meng Hao gave an embarrassed grin. With a slight cough, he changed the subject.
If Meng Hao didn’t seem willing to talk about it, then Zhou Dekun wouldn’t press the subject. However, given his skill in the Dao of alchemy, he had some theories already. It seemed the relationship between the two of them was on the repair, and he didn’t intend to cause any further problems. They began to discuss the Dao of alchemy, and both were benefiting. In fact, when the alchemy lecture started, they didn’t pay hardly any attention to it. As the voices of Chen and Li rang out from the dais, they would frequently be filled with displeasure as the two men glared down at Meng Hao and Zhou Dekun.
Inwardly, Chen and Li laughed coldly at the disregard shown by the East Pill Division. However, they weren’t in a position to say anything openly. Meng Hao and Zhou Dekun continued their discussion, and appeared to be benefiting more and more as the time went on.
Zhou Dekun’s eyes gradually began to fill with admiration. Being able to calmly state their differences in opinion regarding the Dao of alchemy caused him to gradually reach new enlightenment.
As for Meng Hao, he realized that his own grasp of some of the finer details was simply insufficient. After getting advice from Zhou Dekun on the matter, he could tell that he was making improvements.
One old man, one youth, discussing matters passionately. Eventually, Zhou Dekun slapped his hand down onto the table and gasped in admiration. The action seemed a bit affected, causing Meng Hao to laugh. He decided that it was time for him to make a scene as well, so he also slammed his palm down onto the table and let out a gasp of admiration.
This instantly caused Chen and Li to exchange a cold look. Then, cold smiles broke out on their faces. Actually, they had long since decided to use this visit to the Black Sieve Sect as an opportunity to intimidate and shame the East Pill Division.
They didn’t plan to do so by means of the alchemy lectures, but rather the pill concocting. In this way, word would spread throughout the Southern Domain, and the two of them would immediately rise to prominence and gain sterling reputations.
Therefore, they held their tongues. Their alchemy lecture went on for two days, and not a single person left. However, throughout the course of the lecture, the spectators gradually divided into two groups. More and more people began to cluster around Meng Hao and Zhou Dekun to listen in on their discussion. They listened in entranced, understanding the majority, but not all, of the things which were being said.
This had been Zhou Dekun’s intention all along, so he was quite pleased.
Chen Jiaxi’s eyes grew darker. Finally, he finished his lecture, then turned to glare coldly at Zhou Dekun and Meng Hao. His voice grim, he said, “You two have been talking for two days. Well, now it’s time for the East Pill Division’s lecture. I’m very interested in hearing your understanding of the Dao of alchemy!”
Next to him, Li Yiming’s face was filled with displeasure. With a cold laugh, he said, “That’s right. The East Pill Division occupies the pinnacle of the Dao of alchemy in the Southern Domain. I’m very curious about your honored Sect’s understanding of the Dao of alchemy. What exactly is so amazing about it?”
Meng Hao frowned slightly. At first, he and Zhou Dekun had really been exchanging important knowledge about the Dao of alchemy. The majority of the time, though, they had mostly been putting on a show. As such, he had been able to listen to some of the World Pill Division’s understanding of the Dao of alchemy. They had some truly unique perspectives, many of which seemed reasonable.
Zhou Dekun gave a cold snort as he stood and headed up to the dais. As for him, he had also noticed some of the special areas from the World Pill Division’s lecture. How could he not have picked up on some of the uniqueness of their understanding? As the assigned lecturer during this trip to the Black Sieve Sect, he would not shrink back. He felt as if his knowledge had been honed by his chat with Meng Hao. Now he would do anything to avoid making any slip-ups.
Chen and Li left the dais, and Zhou Dekun stood there, his heart filled with determination. His current plan was to use his command of all the various explicit details to finagle his way through the first part of the lecture.
“In the great path of the Dao of alchemy, special attention must be focused on the variations of plants and vegetation, which must be committed to the heart. These things form Ultimate Truth! As such, the Dao of alchemy is eternal! Fellow Daoists, today, I, Zhou Dekun, shall elaborate upon the third realm of the plant and vegetation variations.” Zhou Dekun clearly wanted to drag things out as much as possible to give himself time to think.
However before he could continue, a cold laugh rang out from Chen Jiaxi.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing,” he said. “Grandmaster Zhou, you claim that the Dao of alchemy means to commit plants and vegetation to heart, which leads to Ultimate Truth. Therefore, I would like to ask you, what is this Ultimate Truth to which you refer?” He slapped his palm down onto the table. The sound echoed out, bolstered by his Cultivation base, to form an overbearing aura. He stared at Zhou Dekun.
Strange looks appeared on the faces of the surrounding Cultivators. Everything was quiet. Patriarch Violet Sieve and the other Nascent Soul Patriarchs did nothing to interfere. The conflicting views of the East Pill Division and the World Pill division had come to a head.
This chapter was sponsored by Colin Ding and Anonymous