Chapter 282: The First Region
This scene caused everyone on the outside world to stare with wide eyes.
Many of the East Pill Division alchemists had faces filled with disbelief. The furnace within the Celestial land was emitting shocking booms. The roaring was so intense that the massive furnace rocked back and forth.
Quite a distance away, Meng Hao suddenly looked back. No one in the outside world would know why the furnace was doing this, but he did. The hundred thousand pill furnaces inside were attempting to bash their way out to pursue him.
His eyes glittering, he shot away from the pill furnace, reaching the final path available to tread on Violet East Mountain. He was exhausted, but he still propelled himself forward with full power. In the space of a few breaths, he was on the path, climbing upward. The mountain path disappeared behind him.
The pill furnace’s booming grew even more intense, and popping sounds rang out. Meng Hao wasn’t worried. Not even looking back, he continued up the mountain path.
Everyone in the outside world could see the pill furnace rocking violently back and forth; it seemed as if it would explode into pieces at any moment.
“Crafty move, kid,” said Pill Demon with an enigmatic smile. He reached his hand out toward the image of the Celestial Land, and extended a finger. When his finger descended, a roar filled the sky of the Celestial Land, where magically appeared the massive image of a finger. The finger seemed to fill the entire sky and cover the entire land, becoming a canopy covering the whole Celestial Land.
The finger was incredibly thick and coarse; the fingerprint was clearly visible on its surface. The appearance of this immense finger seemed to shake the Celestial Land like the will of the Heavens itself! The sub-Patriarchs from the outside Sects were also astonished.
They watched the screen mutely as the scene unfolded within the Celestial Land. The power it emitted shook the heaven and rocked the earth, as if it had governance over both. Endless, infinite ripples emanated out, as if the finger had a will of its own. It slowly pressed down on the furnace at the foot of Violet East Mountain.
The instant it pressed down, the entire world of the Celestial Land shook; after that, everything was still. The previously rocking and trembling pill furnace was now incapable of any movement whatsoever as the finger pressed down on it.
All of this lasted for the space of about two breaths. Then, the enormous finger disappeared, and the pill furnace was once again calm.
On Eastern Emergence Mountain, everything was quiet. Patriarch Violet Sieve was panting as his heart raced. He looked over in shock at the expressionless Grandmaster Pill Demon.
“According to the rumors,” he thought, “the most powerful expert in the Violet Fate Sect is not a Patriarch of the Violet Qi Division, but Grandmaster Pill Demon himself. The rumors also say that Grandmaster Pill Demon’s Cultivation Base reached the Spirit Severing stage years ago. If it hadn’t, how could he have lived more than a thousand years?”
The sub-Patriarchs from the other Sects all seemed to be thinking the same thing. The Second Swordlord of the Solitary Sword Sect lowered his head slightly. He was one of the few people present who knew how frightening Grandmaster Pill Demon’s Cultivation base actually was.
Because Pill Demon didn’t want to make a big deal about it, he’d only invited these sub-Patriarchs to the apprentice-accepting ceremony. Otherwise, he would have invited the true Patriarchs of the great Sects and Clans.
Xu Luo from the Blood Demon Sect was panting slowly, and his eyes glowed with a blood-colored shine that quickly turned into reverence. He thought silently about how much the Blood Demon Sect feared Grandmaster Pill Demon. They had compiled many of the rumors regarding Grandmaster Pill Demon, and had uncovered a shocking secret.
Unfortunately, such a secret would never be known to very many people.
Zhou Jie of the Black Sieve Sect looked on with narrowed eyes. A cold will gleamed in his eyes, mixed with an unprecedented sense of concentration.
“Seems somewhat familiar, like the aura of an old friend….” His eyes flickered as he looked at Pill Demon.
As the outsiders were shocked by Grandmaster Pill Demon’s actions, Meng Hao was walking up the steps of the path on Violet East Mountain. Occasionally he would look up ahead, but all he could see was mist. The peak of the mountain itself was not visible.
Time passed slowly. Meng Hao trudged up the steps, feeling more and more apprehension at how tall this mountain was. Five days had passed already. He had long since lost sight of the land below; clouds and fog completely surrounded him, obscuring his vision, making it impossible to see the world outside the mountain.
However… however high he was, Meng Hao got the feeling that when compared to the peak of the mountain, he was still at its base.
The higher he went, the thinner the air got. There was nothing that could put pressure onto his Cultivation base, but the further along he went, the more effort it took to take each step. Soon it took twice as much as it had when he started out.
Meng Hao had started out his journey along the path at a dead rush, and already exhausted at that. Add in the effort he spent struggling with the black pill furnace, and he could no longer race ahead. Now, he went one slow step at a time. Every once in a while he would pause and look around. The immediate surroundings were lush and verdant. Grass grew all around, which Meng Hao would occasionally pick.
From the perspective of the outside observers, Meng Hao had already fallen far behind. All the other candidates were much further ahead of him.
This was especially true of Ye Feimu, who was the first alchemist to enter the first of the four regions. Just up ahead of him was an enormous stone boulder which was covered with dense inscriptions. After examining it for some time, Ye Feimu sat down next to it cross-legged. After that he pulled out a pill furnace and began to concoct a pill.
The next day, the pill emerged. Holding it carefully with both hands, he proceeded past the boulder.
Not long after, Chu Yuyan also concocted a pill, and then proceeded forward. All of the other alchemists except for Meng Hao did the same.
The master alchemists of the East Pill Division began to discuss what was happening.
“No wonder Ye Feimu is at the peak of the Furnace Lord rank. His Cultivation base is extraordinary, and he was the first person to step into the first region. His ability to recognize medicinal pills as well as his pill concocting skill are both anything but sloppy. I bet he’s going to win.”
“Chu Yuyan is also doing well. This promotion trial by fire is most likely going to come down to a decision between the two of them. Earlier, I thought Fang Mu might have had a chance, but I never thought he would spend so much time getting a pill furnace. What a pity.”
“Right. If your first step is slow, then all of them will be slow….”
Most of the sound of discussion came from the ordinary master alchemists. The Furnace Lords and Violet Furnace Lords just watched on thoughtfully, opting to say nothing.
A few days later, Meng Hao finally reached the first region, and saw the enormous boulder. He looked at the inscriptions, studying them for a while, before glancing at the path which proceeded on upward.
“This is the first region. After this boulder, the path to the second region is covered with a poisonous miasma…. One must concoct a poison repelling pill to be able to get through safely. The greatest difficulty is that throughout the journey, different miasmas will appear, and special pills will have to be concocted for each one.” Meng Hao thought about the situation for a moment. Finally, he pulled out the black pill furnace and looked it over. It seemed to him that he hadn’t truly won out over it, so he decided to put it back into his bag of holding, leaving it suppressed for the time being. Instead, he took out the Ten Thousand Refinements Furnace, put some medicinal plants in it, and then started concocting.
After two hours he had produced a medicinal pill. He swallowed it, then glanced around at the scenery once more, and then walked past the enormous rock. As he proceeded onward, his body was enveloped by a thin mist.
The master alchemists immediately started to discuss what had just happened.
“Furnace Lord Fang Mu thinks a bit too much of himself. He only used two hours to concoct the pill. Of all the other candidates, the one who used the least amount of time was Ye Feimu, who took four hours. The longest was a day.
“How could he possibly compare with Furnace Lord Ye? Furnace Lord Ye is Grandmaster Pill Cauldron. Look, he’s the furthest ahead, and is already half way through the first region.”
Everyone watching the screens could clearly see what was happening, and knew exactly how far everyone had progressed. Even some of the Furnace Lords exchanged glances; to them, it really did look like Meng Hao was being sloppy and careless.
Of course, Meng Hao had no idea what things they were saying, nor did he care to know. He continued on relentlessly through the miasma. It grew thicker as he went, and the color changed as well, to dark gray.
All the plants and flowers in the area were withered, and seemingly had been for years. A gloomy, cold aura filled the air. As Meng Hao went on, he occasionally caught sight of arm-length centipedes, scurrying about quickly through the shrivelled grass.
However, whatever poisonous bugs that appeared as Meng Hao walked along, would suddenly pause, seemingly incapable of doing anything to him. They would just let him continue on his way.
Time passed slowly. As he traveled he would occasionally take break, using some of the nearby withered grass, as well as some of the poisonous bugs, to concoct a medicinal pill. He did this a total of three times.
More and more poisonous bugs began to appear, soon, they were swarming. But as soon as Meng Hao neared, they would either begin to tremble, or run away. As for the roiling miasma, it would consistently move out of the way, making way for Meng Hao to travel along the path.
This too, was clearly visible to the observers, who watched on with wide-eyed astonishment. Soon, more and more eyes were focusing on Meng Hao’s screen. It wasn’t just the East Pill Division; even Cultivators from the other Sects were watching closely.
“He’s using the poison bugs to make medicinal pills, but what pill exactly?”
“What medicinal pill is that? It has such an incredible effect….”
The Cultivators watched on in astonishment, then glanced over at the screens of the other candidates, including Ye Feimu and Chu Yuyan. It seemed most of them were reaching the end of the stairs that were part of the first region. Most of them had concocted medicinal pills on many occasions during the journey. They also would concoct pills to ward off the poison, but none of them were as dramatically effective as Meng Hao’s.
This, of course, was because the poison bugs along the path didn’t seem to have any inclination of avoiding Ye Feimu and the others. However, in their terror, they clambered over each other in order to get out of Meng Hao’s way.
If this scene was taking place anywhere except the Violet Fate Sect trial by fire, then plenty of people would begin to make connections. But this was a Violet Furnace Lord promotion, so there ended up being only one conclusion drawn by the observers.
The pills Fang Mu concocted were anything but ordinary!