Chapter 291: A Thousand Pills Form a Cauldron!
Bitterness arose from deep within Chu Yuyan’s heart. She thought about everything that had happened within her world of illusions. Then she looked up toward the two trial by fire candidates who were at the peak of the mountain.
One was Fang Mu, whose presence, she felt, was somewhat of an accident. For some reason, though, she also felt like she had known all along that it would happen like this.
Then there was Ye Feimu, Chosen of the Dao of alchemy. Were he not there, she would have been surprised.
“I lost…” she said with a sigh, then turned and began to walk down the mountain. This mountain could be ascended, but not descended. One step back signified forfeiture, and departure from the Celestial Land.
As her foot descended, her vision blurred. When everything grew clear again, she was back on the peak of Eastern Emergence mountain. She looked over at the alchemists of the East Pill Division, and then the Cultivators from the visiting Sects. Finally, she understood; these people could not see what had happened inside her world of illusions.
This was because as she turned her head to look at the screens projected by the pill furnace, all she could see was Fang Mu’s thoughtful expression, not the world he was in.
“Welcome back,” said Pill Demon with a slight smile.
Chu Yuyan suddenly wanted to weep. The realism of the world of illusions had lasted until the moment she returned to reality, and it was still hard to tell one from the other. Wordlessly, she walked over to stand next to Pill Demon.
After Chu Yuyan, the old man and the middle-aged man appeared in quick succession, also having admitted defeat. Their eyes were vacant as they walked toward the other alchemists and then sat down cross-legged. They seemed as if their souls had been lost, and all they could do was stare blankly.
Hushed discussions immediately sprang up.
“Just what exactly did they experience in the final test in the world of illusions? Why do they all look so confused?” Even the majority of the master alchemists of the East Pill Division were unclear about the details and began to make various speculations.
Seeing the questioning looks on their disciples’ faces, the sub-Patriarchs from the various Sects began to discuss the matter.
“The world of illusions in the Violet Fate Sect’s Celestial Land uses the heart as a seed upon which to grow illusions. Under the influence of this art, no one would be able to tell the true from the false, not even someone with a Nascent Soul Cultivation base. You can never come to your senses within the illusion; therefore, it is really another life.”
“Yes, exactly. While inside, previous and future lives don’t matter, because it’s a dreamland. As for telling the difference between reality and the dream, between the past lives and the future… well, few people nowadays could do that.”
“Upon waking, the illusions will shatter, and that is when they wake up. That’s why they look so confused.”
It seemed as if they were simply discussing the matter, however, what they were actually doing was taking advantage of this East Pill Division trial by fire to train their disciples about the difference between reality and illusion.
After all, it wasn’t often that a spectacle such as this could be observed; any enlightenment derived therefrom was nothing more than good fortune.
Li Shiqi muttered to herself for a moment and then quietly asked, “The illusion shatters the moment they wake up? What happens if someone gains enlightenment, but the illusion doesn’t shatter? Would it be possible for them to gain even deeper enlightenment?”
Next to her, Tu Luo coolly responded, “For the moment, don’t even contemplate the value of such enlightenment. If someone becomes clearheaded, and is able to prevent the world of illusion from collapsing, well… that would require incredibly powerful Spiritual Sense. In fact, it would require Dao enlightenment! Therefore, something like that can only happen serendipitously, and not by choice. In my entire life, I’ve only seen one person do such a thing.”
Off to the side, the second Swordlord of the Solitary Sword Sect heard their interchange and added, “Furthermore, doing such a thing is incredibly dangerous. The more time that passes, the more likelihood by the time that person came to their senses, they would be lost, and never be able to emerge.”
As everyone engaged in their discussions, a rippling buzz filled the air as people noticed that Ye Feimu had awoken. They watched the screen as he looked over at Meng Hao. A dark look washed across his face. However, in the end, he chose to retreat, leaving the world of the Celestial Land and returning to the peak of Eastern Emergence Mountain.
The moment he appeared, calls of welcome could be heard coming from the mouths of the various alchemists he was close to.
“Congratulations in your efforts to secure the win, Furnace Lord Ye. Your rise to Violet Furnace Lord will bring about a true golden age for the East Pill Division!”
“Furnace Lord Ye, as Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, your efforts to secure the win are simply a formality. I’m just afraid that the visitors from the outside Sects might still be curious about the details of everything.”
“Congratulations Furnace Lord Ye….”
As one person after another spoke out from the crowd, Ye Feimu’s expression was no longer proud. With a slight smile, he clasped hands to the crowd. As for the title of Pill Cauldron, he hesitated, neither endorsing it, nor offering any explanation. This, of course, created a feeling of tacit approval.
While everyone was looking at Ye Feimu, Furnace Lord Ye Yuntian gave a hearty laugh. He stood and looked approvingly toward Ye Feimu.
“Feimu, why don’t you take out your pill furnace so everyone can see that you are qualified to be a Violet Furnace Lord!” Immediately, the eyes of the surrounding alchemists began to glow brightly.
An Zaihai’s brow furrowed, but he didn’t say anything.
Ye Feimu took a deep breath, and then once again, a proud expression covered his face. He smacked his bag of holding with his right hand to produce the pill furnace. It was none other than the one he had acquired within the world of the Mother of Furnaces. It had started out white, but was now violet, and emitted a violet glow which caused the glimmers of violet to reflect within the eyes of all the observing Cultivators.
Ye Yuntian looked at the violet furnace and immediately let out a loud laugh. He turned toward Pill Demon, clasped hands, and bowed deeply.
“Congratulations, Master,” he said excitedly. “It appears that this Violet Furnace Lord promotion has resulted in you acquiring a new apprentice, and that we have acquired a new Junior Brother. Feimu, why haven’t you bowed to your new Master yet?”
A glow of excitement also appeared in Ye Feimu’s eyes. He took a deep breath, and was just about to walk forward, when An Zaihai spoke up. “Junior Brother Ye,” he said coolly, “this is somewhat incongruous with protocol.”
The interchange between the two immediately caused the expressions of the six other Violet Furnace Lords to flicker. However, they didn’t reveal what they were thinking. The expressions of the Furnace Lords, however, all changed; naturally they could pick up on what was happening.
Ye Yuntian’s goal was all too obvious. That having been said, the Furnace Lords generally didn’t favor Fang Mu, and most of them liked Ye Feimu. Each and every one of them watched with various thoughts and ideas running through their heads.
As far as the ordinary master alchemists, not many of them understood what was going on. However, they could pick up on some of the clues. They watched on, speechless, waiting to see what would happen. The sub-Patriarchs from the other Sects were all experienced and astute; how could they not see what was going on?
In fact, they had begun to expect this development some time ago. Of course, they were more than happy to watch such a scene unfold.
Fatty watched on wide-eyed. He glared at Ye Feimu, and had long since begun to curse him inwardly.
Pill Demon was the big exception. From the very beginning, he hadn’t said a single word. It was as if he hadn’t heard or seen anything that had transpired.
As all eyes came to fall upon the scene, Ye Yuntian gave a slight smile. “Oh?” he said, a strange note in his voice. “Elder Brother An, Junior Brother doesn’t really understand what you mean. Would you mind clearing up my confusion?”
“Ye Feimu wasn’t the only person to step foot onto the peak of the mountain,” replied An Zaihai calmly.
Ye Yuntian laughed loudly. “Oh, so that’s the protocol you were talking about, Elder Brother An. Junior Brother would of course never overlook such a matter. However….” He was only half-way finished speaking when suddenly, a booming sound erupted from the screen depicting the world from the Celestial Land.
When the booming sound appeared, it was obvious that it was coming from within the Celestial Land itself. The entire Celestial Land was shaking, and the nexus of it all was none other than Violet East Mountain. Immediately, all of the spectators looked over.
Even Ye Yuntian’s words were immediately drowned out by the boom.
No one noticed, but Pill Demon’s eyes suddenly emitted an unprecedented glow, and a smile slowly spread out across his face. It was a smile of satisfaction, filled with emotion and contentment.
Back in Meng Hao’s world of illusion, he continued to reside in Eastern Emergence County. Three more years passed. Meng Hao was currently ninety-nine years old, and had once again returned to his Master’s grave. He looked at the gravestone, and his face filled with emotion.
“Heaven and Earth are just resting places for the myriads of living creatures. Time represents the passage of hundreds of generations of passing travellers.” A smile broke out on Meng Hao’s face. Life is a journey, every turn of which is filled with new scenery. This path that he tread now contained his mark. Whether the mark was shallow or deep didn’t matter. That was because, it was his choice.
“Maybe my path hasn’t even arrived.” He shook his head. Perhaps in the future he would realize what his purpose in life was. For the moment, he still didn’t know. Since he didn’t know, he wouldn’t force himself to choose. When traveling, it is never possible to know what unfathomable things might occur. That is what makes it beautiful.
A carefree smile broke out on Meng Hao’s face. When it did, his white hair became black. His crooked frame straightened. His features were no longer ancient, but once again filled with the vigor of youth.
He took a deep breath, then looked at the gravestone and dropped to his knees to kowtow a third time!
The kowtow of Sunset Gazing!
With this kowtow, Karma was finalized, and the Master and apprentice relationship solidified. If you do not sever the bond, then neither shall I….
With this kowtow, Eastern Emergence County began to turn translucent behind Meng Hao, and then disappeared.
With this kowtow, the entire world around him began to disintegrate, leaving behind only the grave.
With this kowtow, a roaring sounded out between Heaven and Earth. Everything began to fall apart. Meng Hao… opened his eyes, and the world vanished. He saw the sky once again, the world of the Celestial Land. And there he stood on the peak of Violet East Mountain.
He looked off into the distance, and then took a step forward. As he did, ripples like that on the surface of water spread out. His body melted away. When he reappeared, he had left the world of the Celestial Land, and was now standing on Eastern Emergence Mountain, outside of the pill furnace.
His appearance garnered much attention, including a dark glare from Ye Feimu, and a cold smile from Ye Yuntian!
Everything was quiet for a moment, and then Ye Yuntian’s cool voice echoed out.
“Just now I wasn’t able to finish speaking. Elder Brother An, two people did step onto the peak of the mountain. However, when that happens, the resulting decision is not made by those two people, but rather, by you, me and the other Violet Furnace Lords, as well as all the Furnace Lords. We make the final decision. That is the protocol for the raising of a Violet Furnace Lord. Does this explanation suffice, Elder Brother An?” Ye Yuntian smiled. An Zaihai, on the other hand, said nothing. He merely flicked his sleeve.
“According to Sect protocol, because two people stepped foot on the peak of the mountain, it requires a decision to be made on our part. Whoever receives the most support will become the Violet Furnace Lord. I am Violet Furnace Lord Ye Yuntian. Please, will all Fellow Daoists of the Violet Fate Sect bear witness today? I believe than Ye Feimu is more qualified than Fang Mu. As such, I select Ye Feimu.”
“Violet Furnace Lord Chen Xuyang selects Ye Feimu!”
“Violet Furnace Lord Shen Long selects Ye Feimu!”
“Violet Furnace Lord Yuan Daoming selects Ye Feimu!”
“Violet Furnace Lord Ma Feifeng selects Ye Feimu!”
In an instant, five Violet Furnace Lords had picked Ye Feimu as their choice. This caused Ye Feimu’s expression to fill with pride and excitement.
Lin Hailong hesitated for a moment. He thought for a moment as he looked at Meng Hao, not making his decision immediately. The Violet Furnace Lord next to him was a middle-aged woman. her expression was one of indifference, and she didn’t speak immediately either.
The disciples from the other Sects watched as all of this happened. The sub-Patriarchs watched with vague smiles, not speaking.
Behind the Violet Furnace Lords were the Furnace Lords, who now began to speak.
“Furnace Lord He Jin selects Ye Feimu!”
“Furnace Lord Sun Zexuan selects Ye Feimu!”
As the voices rang out, it seemed that the greater part of half of them all selected Ye Feimu.
An Zaihai’s face was extremely unsightly. He was about to open his mouth to say something, when suddenly, Meng Hao’s voice calmly filled the air.
“Violet Furnace Lord Ye, I would like to ask a question,” he said. “Could you please explain exactly why I, Fang Mu, am not as qualified as Furnace Lord Ye?” His expression was as calm as always as he asked the question.
Ye Yuntian looked at him, and in a very impolite tone replied, “At the moment, it doesn’t matter whether we discuss your skill in the Dao of alchemy, or your reputation, or even your ability to create new medicinal pills. In my judgement, you are less qualified that Ye Feimu in all of these areas. Even more importantly, Ye Feimu became famous in the Southern Domain ten years ago. Half a year ago, he concocted a ninety percent consummate medicinal pill. He is destined to become a Violet Furnace Lord. As for you, you lack such qualifications!” His words sounded almost like a reprimand, and in fact, as a Violet Furnace Lord, he was qualified to say such things to a Furnace Lord.
“Qualifications?” replied Meng Hao, glancing at Ye Yuntian for a moment. Then he flung his sleeve out in front of him. A medicinal pill flew out. Then ten. Then one hundred. Then one thousand….
In an instant, more than a thousand medicinal pills flew out. Meng Hao swirled his sleeve, and they rolled through the air. Each medicinal pill was clearly marked with the symbol of a cauldron. That symbol was exactly like the mark which had been branded into the Bedevilment Pill!
When the pills appeared, the air was filled with an intense medicinal aroma like nothing anyone had ever encountered before. Every single pill in this shocking display contained ninety percent medicinal strength. These were all ninety percent consummate pills!
These were all the highest value pills that Meng Hao had concocted after the Bedevilment Pill. He had concocted such pills often, in the hopes of finding an opportunity to sell them off one at a time. However today, he put them all on display, to shocking effect!
The medicinal pills floated in mid-air. The cauldron symbol instantly caused the minds of all of the alchemists to spin. Chu Yuyan immediately rose to her feet, an expression of disbelief on her face.
The minds of the disciples from the visiting Sects began to reel, even the sub-Patriarchs. Their eyes went wide and they stood up, their faces shining with shock.
The medicinal pills filled the air, and the medicinal aroma was as thick as fog, roiling out and filling the peak of Eastern Emergence Mountain. The grass in the earth struggled upward. Dark clouds filled the sky. Thunder crackled across the entire State of Eastern Emergence.
Even more surprising was that when Meng Hao tossed out the medicinal pills, they began to mass together in mid-air. Slowly, they formed together into the shape of an enormous cauldron, which gave rise to a resplendent glow that rose up with boundless radiance!
Meng Hao’s cool voice rang out in all directions: “If you add in the fact that I’m Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, then would you say I’m qualified enough?”