Chapter 916: Lotuses With Each Step!
As time passed, a few people noticed that under normal circumstances, the fifth level would have already concluded. However, Meng Hao was still plugging away.
Apparently, the time limit had been cancelled, leaving Meng Hao free to spend as much time as he wanted there.
Slowly, the number of plants and vegetation he identified increased. Eventually, three days went by.
Meng Hao could never have imagined that he would need to spend so much time and energy on the fifth level. His eyes were bloodshot, and he felt that he was on the verge of mental exhaustion. However, he was still excited and his spirits were high.
Among the final twenty percent were many types of of the plants and vegetation that Meng Hao didn’t recognize. Each one required a great deal of time and energy to analyze and judge before he could identify some clues that would lead him into further levels of investigation. Eventually, he would get enough information to be able to create a divine sense imprint.
Detailed introduction on the plant would appear every time he made his imprint. That was what he truly looked forward to; he was like a dried-up sponge, just waiting to absorb boundless knowledge about plants and vegetation.
Three more days passed…. None of the audience members left, but instead settled themselves cross-legged in the area. Were these ordinary cultivators, they would probably find the affair boring. However, they were alchemists and apprentice alchemists, people who had devoted their lives to the Dao of alchemy. Watching Meng Hao’s examination on the screen enabled them to see medicinal plants that they might otherwise never be able to see, which was an incredible opportunity.
Everyone was imprinting the information into their minds, studying and learning.
More and more people joined the crowd. On the tenth day, there were nearly 300,000 people present, densely packed together as far as the eye could see.
On the fifth level, a tremor ran through Meng Hao’s body as he woke up from his reverie of plants and vegetation. There in front of him was the final page of the ancient book.
At that moment, all of his exhaustion from the past days enveloped him, and his head felt swollen and began to pulse with pain. To him, these past ten days left him feeling more worn out than when he had fought the three black-robed Immortal Realm cultivators.
And yet, he did not close his eyes. He examined the tome, upon which his results for this level were revealed.
He hadn’t paid any attention to the results for the first four levels, because he was absolutely confident that he hadn’t made any mistakes. However, on this fifth level, he wasn’t so confident.
“I missed more than 200….” he murmured, “all of them in the final 300,000,000 plants.” Finally he closed his eyes and rotated his cultivation base to restore his composure
He wasn’t happy with his results at all. However, he had been introduced to many, many unfamiliar medicinal plants on this level, and his skill with plants and vegetation had increased by a whole level.
To the outside audience, the results were completely shocking, and that included the three tier 8 Elders. Everyone gasped, and then a huge uproar occurred.
“1,000,000,000 plants and he only missed a bit over 200…. He’s definitely inhuman!!”
“Any tier 5 alchemist would pass by identifying the first 100,000,000. But Fang Hao required more of himself! He went through all 1,000,000,000. From the look on his face, he seems a bit disappointed.”
The sound of the conversations among the 300,000 audience members was like thunder that spread out in all directions, and was heard by quite a few of the Dao of Alchemy Division’s apprentice alchemists and full alchemists. The ground trembled and the clouds in the sky shattered.
The three tier 8 alchemists wore forced smiles on their faces as they exchanged glances.
“When I attempted the fifth level that year, I couldn’t have done that.”
“Forget about back then. Even right now, we’re probably the only people who could. Even the tier 7 alchemists probably couldn’t pull something like that off.”
Bright beams of light appeared off in the distance as more tier 8 alchemists appeared. Of course, no one present could see them. As they arrived, they looked at the Medicine Pavilion… and their eyes were filled with anticipation.
“Finally, our Dao of Alchemy Division has… a truly Chosen member of the clan!”
Back on the fifth level of the Medicine Pavilion, Meng Hao opened his eyes. Much of his tiredness and exhaustion had vanished. He took a deep breath, rose to his feet, and stepped forward toward the ancient tome. Then, he clasped hands and bowed deeply.
“Many thanks for bestowing me with such kindness!” he said softly. Each and every word rose up from the depths of his heart. To cultivators of the Dao of alchemy, Meng Hao’s experience just now was truly like being gifted with an amazing Dao.
The tome vanished after Meng Hao bowed, and a flight of stairs appeared up ahead of him. At the same time, his name moved from its previous position up to the fifth level, where, as before, it was now in first place on the list!
His expression was somber as he strode forward toward the steps and began to climb up to the sixth level. When he arrived, what he saw absolutely nothing.
There were no medicinal plants, there was no tome, there was no mist. There wasn’t even any light. There was only complete darkness. Everything seemed empty, as if nothing at all existed there.
Meng Hao gaped in shock, and he wasn’t the only one. The people outside were also staring at the screen, astonished.
The only ones who didn’t were the alchemists who had previously been on the sixth level. Their faces were grave as they stared closely at the screen. The tier 7 old woman looked on, her face grim. Now that she had seen how inhuman he was, she regretted what she had done earlier. She had offended him, but she also knew that there was little she could do about it now, and so she might as well stick to her guns.
After all, from her perspective, he might be inhuman, but he couldn’t compare to the people who had sought out her help in the clan. The compensation they had provided was incredible.
“I might not be able to do what he did in the fifth level,” she thought to herself, “but that doesn’t matter. As an alchemist, you don’t need to have such breadth and depth of knowledge regarding plants and vegetation. It’s enough to be intimately familiar with the ones that you do know.
“I failed dozens of times at this level before finally passing. There’s no way this Fang Hao will succeed on his first try. After all, the sixth level is completely different from the first five.” She smiled coldly.
The nearby tier 5, 6, and 7 alchemists were shaking their heads. All of them had challenged the sixth level of the Medicine Pavilion, so they knew how difficult it was.
“This level is a watershed,” commented one of the tier 8 Elders, his voice light.
“The first five levels require sufficient knowledge of plants and vegetation. The last four levels are completely different, and it only gets harder and harder.”
On the stone stele outside of the Medicine Pavilion, hundreds of thousands of names could be seen on the first level. There were only 100,000 on the second level, 50,000 on the third level, 20,000 on the fourth level, and less than 10,000 on the fifth level.
As for the sixth level, only 5,000 people had ever passed it.
The seventh level had 1,000 names and the eighth level only had a bit more than 200. The last level, the ninth… only had 10.
It mustn’t be forgotten that those numbers represented the accumulation of all the generations that had existed since the founding of the Fang Clan’s Dao of Alchemy Division. From this, it was easy to imagine how difficult the Medicine Pavilion was.
Furthermore, whenever anyone passed the sixth level, the first thing that would happen would be that a Dao Bell would appear in the sky above the ancestral mansion. No outsider could see that bell, and when it tolled, only the members of the Fang Clan on Planet East Victory could hear it in their minds.
That bell represented true honor and glory!
Meng Hao stood on the Medicine Pavilion’s sixth level, looking around at the pitch black around him. Even after sending his divine sense out, he could sense nothing but darkness. After hesitating for a moment, he took a step forward.
As soon as his foot landed, he stopped in place and cocked his head. His expression flickered.
Just now, he hadn’t seen anything within the darkness, but had been able to smell the fragrance of medicinal plants. Some of the aromas were faint, some were dense. They all melded together to fill the entire area, and seemed to grow even thicker further on.
It was at this point that the archaic voice echoed out through the sixth level.
“Aroma Scrying is one of the realms of skill with plants and vegetation. You may take up to 100 steps. With every step, you will smell the fragrance of different medicinal plants.
“Determine what each plant is based on its smell, and imprint the information into the darkness. One mistake means failure.”
Meng Hao wasn’t the only one who could hear the voice. The audience of more than 300,000 in the outside world could also hear it, and it caused their faces to flicker with expressions of disbelief.
“How… how could you possibly provide all the answers! No wonder this sixth level is considered so difficult. Aroma Scrying is virtually a legendary realm!”
“I never thought that the test would involve Aroma Scrying! I heard about this realm when I first became an apprentice alchemist. To think that over all the past tens of thousands of years in the Fang Clan’s Dao of Alchemy Division, 5,000 or so people have actually passed this level!”
The outside world was in a huge commotion. Virtually everyone took this test to be excessively difficult. It was in a completely different league than the previous five levels.
The tier 7 old woman chuckled coldly. As she thought back to the difficulty of this level, she actually felt frightened.
“The seventh level is even harder, for any alchemist,” she whispered to herself. “And then there’s the hell-like eighth level!”
Back on the sixth level, Meng Hao began to breathe deeply, allowing the fragrances of countless medicinal plants to enter his nose. Immediately, his mind exploded as images of numerous medicinal plants appeared, each one of which was associated with one of the fragrances he had detected.
There were no less than 10,000, but in the blink of an eye, his divine sense swept out, and the images of medicinal plants began to appear in the dark void around him.
Furthermore, the outline of an illusory lotus appeared beneath his feet.
He took a second step, and once again breathed in deeply. A tremor ran through his body, and another 10,000 images appeared around him. A second lotus appeared beneath him.
One step after another, and another….
Meng Hao proceeded forward, and with each step he took, he breathed in deeply. Afterward, numerous medicinal plants would appear around him, causing the pitch-black world to be lit up by what looked like a procession of blazing lanterns.
Furthermore, lotuses continued to appear beneath his feet.
After taking 69 steps, 69 lotuses had appeared, and he was surrounded by millions of shining medicinal plants.
To everyone who was watching, Meng Hao almost looked like a holy being, surrounded by swirling plants, lotuses blooming with each step he took.
“Lotuses with each step!!” thought the old woman. Her eyes were wide, and she was panting. She well knew how difficult the sixth level was, and also knew that the only way a lotus would appear would be if he correctly identified the fragrance of every single medicinal plant, and imprinted it correctly.
When she had passed the sixth level, she had only caused three lotuses to appear. But Meng Hao… shockingly… created lotuses with each step!
She wasn’t the only shocked one. All of the alchemists who were familiar with the sixth level were shaken. They watched Meng Hao on the screen, and the image they saw would eternally be imprinted into their minds. It was an unforgettable scene that they would never forget for the rest of their lives.