Chapter 254: Thunder Across a Plain
Meng Hao’s face looked the same as it always did. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking. His voice echoed out as if from unfathomably deep waters, immediately attracting the attention of all the onlookers.
Everyone, even Zhou Dekun, seemed to have assumed that Meng Hao had already lost. He didn’t appear to have even the slightest hope of achieving victory. Even a Violet Furnace Lord wouldn’t be able to identify the pill formula of an ancient pill.
“What of this pill?” interrupted Chen Jiaxi. “Fang Mu, why be wordy about it? Losing is losing! There’s no need to struggle against it!” He gave a cold laugh.
Meng Hao looked calmly at Chen Jiaxi.
When he spoke, his words were neither hasty nor halting. “The outer layer of this pill bears evidence of having been buried in the ground for at least one thousand years. Its death aura is dense, infecting even the jade box. However, the pill has not been harmed at all.
“The strange thing is that the middle layer of the pill is different. It contains only seven hundred years of time. Furthermore, although some of the plant and vegetation variations appear at first to have been refined with the ancient non-smelting technique, in fact, there are actually traces of smelting fire on them.” As Meng Hao spoke, Chen Jiaxi’s cold smile grew wider.
“The inner layer of the pill,” continued Meng Hao, “is very strange. There are seventeen various plant and vegetation variations there, none of which exceed two hundred years in age! That is why it took me a bit longer to inspect it. I’m not sure why this supposed Primordial Heavenly Replenishing Pill, which can extend one’s lifespan by one thousand years, would have an exterior, a middle, and a center, that are so vastly different!” As soon as he finished speaking, a buzz rose up from the audience.
“What does that mean? Don’t tell me the pill is a fake?”
“How could it be fake? There was obviously celestial music just now, and the dancing child. Those things couldn’t be fake!”
“Don’t tell me Fang Mu is just babbling nonsense?”
As the Cultivators discussed the matter, Chen Jiaxi began to laugh uproariously. His grim, cold laughter echoed out in all directions.
He flicked his sleeve, and once again spoke, his voice dripping with ridicule: “Fang Mu, by simply admitting defeat, then I, Chen Jiaxi, could show respect to your status as a Furnace Lord of the East Pill Division. But instead, you use low-down, underhanded means to attempt to achieve victory! You try to besmirch this ancient medicinal pill by saying that it’s a forgery!? Competing with you has truly brought me great loss of face! What a waste!
“I can’t believe the East Pill Division has produced an alchemist such as you. Such an utter disgrace! No wonder you had to finagle your way into being a Furnace Lord. Now I, Chen Jiaxi, thoroughly understand the entire situation.”
Li Yiming’s expression also filled with derision. Zhou Dekun’s face was bright red. As an alchemist, defeat should be recognized, and respect for the Dao of alchemy should never be forgotten.
He sighed inwardly, and was just about to open his mouth in an attempt to smooth the situation over, when Meng Hao’s calm voice once again rang out.
“When did I ever say the pill was a forgery?” he asked, his expression the same as ever. He appeared to be completely oblivious to the gazes of the onlookers, as well as to Chen Jiaxi’s complacency.
“You sharp-tongued punk!” cried Chen Jiaxi, throwing any thoughts of mercy to the wind. “Are you still trying to argue? Just now you obviously implied that the pill was fake, didn’t you? Do you have an explanation for that? Fang Mu, do you have even the slightest scrap of face left?”
All the Black Sieve Sect disciples were now looking at Meng Hao. Their faces were filled with strange expressions. Patriarch Violet Sieve and the other two watched on wordlessly with furrowed brows.
“Would you pipe down!?” roared Meng Hao. His eyes filled with a brilliant light that shone like lightning on a pitch black night. His words echoed out like thunder across a plain, echoing out with such force that Chen Jiaxi’s mind was instantly shaken. Without realizing it, he stepped backward a few paces, the sound ringing in his ears.
Meng Hao stepped forward. He spoke, his words devoid of any courtesy: “You babble nonsense! You invert right and wrong! You don’t measure up to me when it comes to the Dao of alchemy, nor can your skill with plants and vegetation compare to mine. You are even further behind when it comes to Instantaneous Formula Scrying. And yet you still dare to bare your fangs and brandish your claws in front of me?!
“I, Fang Mu, made three points just now, and none of them contained the word ‘forgery.’ That word came from you, you self-righteous twit! This competition was your idea. Defeat after defeat has revealed your true face, you stooge! You ask me if I have face? Let me ask you? Who is there that would possibly give face to you?” Meng Hao’s voice grew louder and louder, each sentence stabbing into Chen Jiaxi’s psyche like a sharp sword. His eyes filled with flames of fury. However, as Meng Hao approached him, dread welled up in his heart, and he again retreated.
“You are a mere scarlet-robed master alchemist of the World Pill Division. Even people above you in the World Pill Division don’t qualify to constantly accuse me of finagling my way into being a Furnace Lord. I became a Furnace Lord because of the graces of Grandmaster Eternal Mountain, and he approved of the pill I concocted. Therefore, repudiating me is the same as repudiating Grandmaster Eternal Mountain, and therefore the whole of the World Pill Division!” Meng Hao took another step forward, his words ringing out around him in a roar.
“Such actions on the part of a member of the World Pill Division are nothing less than treason against your Sect!”
The roar of Meng Hao’s words sent Chen Jiaxi’s mind spinning. His eyes filled with veins of blood. “You….” His body trembled and he raised an accusatory finger toward Meng Hao. He was normally capable of sharply incisive words, but now, his mind was in chaos, and he couldn’t even speak.
Meng Hao’s words roared out like thunder: “In an attempt to further your personal glory, you’re even willing to repudiate Eternal Mountain and commit treason against your Sect! You are a lowlife, worse than pigs or dogs! What makes you think you have the face to stand in front of Fang Mu and rave so arrogantly? What gives you the courage to stand on the same stage as me when I am lecturing about alchemy?” Meng Hao flicked his sleeve. His words slammed into Chen Jiaxi’s ears, causing his body to shake and his mind to reel and rock.
“Fang Mu!” he shrieked shrilly.
“Finally, let’s discuss this medicinal pill of yours. Its exterior is a thousand years old, its middle is seven hundred, and its interior roughly three hundred. It is no forgery. However, it will not add a thousand years to your lifespan. Why? Because this pill is clearly a poison pill! The outer layer is simply a coating, while the middle layer serves to conceal the poison congealed within the center!
“What kind of scoundrel alchemist are you to produce such a pill? Furthermore, what is your intention in bringing it out? Don’t tell me you planned to sell it to the senior generation of the Black Sieve Sect? Upon consuming this pill, the Qi passageways will turn backward, and the Qi and blood will reverse their flow. Within the space of three breaths, you will begin to bleed from your eyes, nose and mouth. Within ten breaths, your garments will be soaked with gore, and you will be in such excruciating pain that you will wish you weren’t alive. After enough time passes for an incense stick to burn, your blood will freeze, and you will be dead!” Meng Hao waved his hand, sending the jade box and the red pill flying back to Chen Jiaxi, who stood there, his hair disheveled, his entire body quivering.
Meng Hao gave a cold snort, then continued in a voice that could sever nails and chop iron: “That is the response of Fang Mu. If you pulled out a forgery, I could identify it easily. But to pull out a poison pill like this shows how truly pernicious you are. Worthy of death! There is no need for me to continue to compete with you!!”
Chen Jiaxi felt as if his mind were being ripped in two. “This is no poison pill!!” he bellowed madly.
“If so, then why don’t you consume it?!” said Meng Hao, his voice as sharp as a blade, his eyes flickering like lightning.
“You!” raved Chen Jiaxi. He had gone through countless hardships to acquire this pill, and actually had planned to sell it at an exorbitant price to the Black Sieve Sect. However, Meng Hao’s words just now had caused Patriarch Violet Sieve and the other two Patriarchs to stare suspiciously. The surrounding Black Sieve Sect disciples also stared, their expressions grim.
Li Yiming felt as if his internal organs were about to burst. The tables had turned too quickly. Just now, Chen Jiaxi had clearly been in the superior position, and then in a blink of an eye, everything had been reversed. Li Yiming’s mind spun blankly.
It wasn’t just him. Zhou Dekun watched on dumbly. He had been very sure that the pill was real, and had never imagined that the events just now could occur. Everything Meng Hao said seemed perfectly reasonable.
“You… you!!” Chen Jiaxi’s mind spun so violently he almost couldn’t comprehend what was happening. He had been pushed into the ultimate corner by Meng Hao. If he didn’t consume the pill, then everyone would obviously suspect him.
“Fang Mu!!” he howled.
Suddenly, he threw the pill into his mouth. Immediately, streaks of blood snaked through his eyes, and blue veins bulged on his forehead. He looked like some sort of devilish fiend. Patriarch Violet Sieve hesitated for a moment when this happened, but didn’t move to interfere.
The ruddy-faced man sitting next to him also was shaken inwardly, yet did nothing.
“I’ve consumed it,” he howled glaring at Meng Hao. “Did you see, Fang Mu? I consumed the Primordial Heavenly Replenishing Pill!!”
“One, two, three…” said Meng Hao, his voice light. When he said the word “three,” three breaths had passed. Chen Jiaxi’s face suddenly changed. His body began to tremble, and his face distorted. He let out a blood-curdling scream, and then blood began to ooze out of his eyes, mouth and nose.
Immediately, all of the Cultivators present on the fifty-seventh mountain of the Black Sieve Sect burst into a commotion. Many of them shot to their feet, their eyes filled with astonishment.
Li Yiming’s vision began to grow dark, and his mind filled with a spinning roar that caused him to nearly lose consciousness.
Zhou Dekun gasped, his face filled with disbelief as he looked at Chen Jiaxi standing there, screaming miserably, blood dripping down his face.
Patriarch Violet Sieve’s pupils constricted, and then began to fill with fury. Next to him, the ruddy-faced old man frowned, and his eyes began to fill with displeasure.
Meng Hao stood there on the stage, continuing to count softly.
“Four, five, six….”
As Meng Hao counted, Chen Jiaxi fell to the ground, screaming shrilly. His body thrashed, and blood flew everywhere. His Qi passageways had reversed, and popping sounds could be heard ringing out from within his body. A mist of blood sprayed from his mouth, turning his red robe into a true garment of gore.
All of this was exactly as Meng Hao had described. Soon, the tenth breath would arrive, and Chen Jiaxi would die. However, the moment Meng Hao spoke the word nine, his body suddenly flickered forward. His right hand pressed down onto the top of wheezing Chen Jiaxi’s head.
Immediately, Chen Jiaxi’s screaming ceased. His body trembled, and his aura was feeble, but it seemed that his trip down the road of death had paused momentarily. From the look of it, though, he only had a few moments left before death found him.
“For the sake of Grandmaster Eternal Mountain, Fang Mu is going to save your life today,” said Meng Hao coolly. His face was as calm as ever. Therefore, no one knew that his heart was actually surging with waves of indescribable excitement.