Chapter 917: Climbing Higher!
The handful of tier 8 alchemists in the area were visibly moved. They looked at Meng Hao on the screen, and their eyes shone with both praise and hope.
The Fang Clan’s Dao of Alchemy Division was not a sect, but rather, a division of the clan. All of the alchemists and apprentice alchemists were clan members, and their sense of clan pride and honor was at the core of what had kept the clan from falling into ruin over the ages.
Actually, merit points were one of several methods that kept clan members from becoming estranged from the clan.
Of course, the Dao of Alchemy Division hoped for a truly Chosen alchemy cultivator to appear, to arouse interest in the Dao of alchemy and to bring glory to the Fang Clan’s Dao of Alchemy Division once again. However, despite the passage of many years, although other divisions of the clan had produced Chosen, the Dao of Alchemy Division had remained a quiet and desolate place. Chosen alchemy cultivators were something that could only be happened upon, and never sought out.
There were some who had the talent for it, but were not the type who were inclined to study the Dao of alchemy, and instead preferred to focus on cultivation. People like that believed that the road to power would only be obstructed by focusing on other practices.
Today, though, these tier 8 Elders finally had a bit of hope.
On the sixth level of the Medicine Pavilion, Meng Hao was taking his 70th step. In that instant, he deeply inhaled the dense odor of plants and vegetation. His nose and brain exploded with soundless rumbling, and a tremor ran through him. All of the blood in his body suddenly began to circulate in reverse.
Images of medicinal plants began to float up in his mind, endless varieties of them. This type of Aroma Scrying did not just test someone’s skill with plants and vegetation, it also tested instincts!
To be able to know how many types of medicinal plants there were by simply sniffing, without thinking about it too much…. This was something… that could really only be done by instinct, and by being incredibly familiar with all sorts of plants and vegetation.
This higher level of skill with plants and vegetation was like the Instantaneous Formula Scrying of the Dao of alchemy. They were actually two branches of the same skill and the same realm. 1
The level of difficulty of this sixth level examination was such that the requirement to pass was that the test-taker successfully take twenty steps. With each of those steps, ten or more misjudgements were tolerated before that step would be counted as a failure.
The reason for the rules being set in such a fashion was because this level was simply too difficult.
Therefore, it was easy to imagine how Meng Hao, who had already taken 70 steps, with lotuses blooming for each step, would be so incredibly shocking to all the alchemists outside who understood how difficult the test was. They could hardly believe their eyes.
71 steps. 72 steps. 73 steps…. Meng Hao didn’t pause. He kept moving forward, heading further and further in. The aromas of plants and vegetation grew stronger, and were filled with even more types.
And yet, Meng Hao continued to produce… lotuses with each step.
It wasn’t until he reached the 80th step that he finally started to slow down, although to the alchemist watching outside, it still looked fast.
81, 82, 83…. With each step he took, the surrounding void of darkness glittered more and more brightly. Botanical lanterns shone with scintillating light, until the entire sixth level now appeared to be brightly lit.
Having taken his 90th step, he only had 10 more steps to go. He was now moving even slower, as if these ten steps were difficult even for him. Each step took a lot more thought, which was clear to the audience.
His instincts now felt clouded, and now he needed to spend more time analyzing and deducing each aroma. It was only after painstaking examination that he was finally able to identify all of the medicinal plants.
The outside world was filled with silence. 300,000 spectators were all staring at Meng Hao on the screen. Behind him was a path of lotuses, and he was surrounded by endless numbers of botanical lamps.
As of this moment, Meng Hao was like an Immortal of plants and vegetation. He was the focus of all attention; even that old woman looked on silently.
91, 92, 93… each step now took approximately two hours. Each time, lotuses would bloom, and bright lanterns flickered everywhere.
The 95th step took him six hours; he stood there motionless within the boundless aroma before he finally imprinted all of the plants and vegetation within it.
The 96th step took twenty hours.
The 97th took two days.
By the 98th step, Meng Hao had long since lost track of time. Everyone in the outside world was staring closely at the screen. Five days later, he stepped forward again, and another lotus bloomed.
The 99th step took ten days, but yet again, a lotus bloomed, and the crowds went wild.
By now, approximately 400,000 people had gathered in the area. All of them were breathing heavily as they waited for Meng Hao… to take the final step.
The 100th step!
There on the sixth level, Meng Hao’s eyes were closed. He had no idea how many steps he had taken. Without even thinking about it, he took another step forward. Rumbling sounds filled his mind, and his body trembled.
Meng Hao was panting. Every imprint he made forced him to sift through a blur of obfuscating information, and required much analysis.
More time passed. Everyone in the outside world waited. Three days. Seven days. Ten days….
Finally, twenty days passed!!
The outside world was abuzz; no one had ever been able to spend so much time testing inside of the Medicine pavilion. Meng Hao had already taken nearly two months to pass from the first level all the way to the sixth.
Five more days passed, when suddenly, all of the innumerable botanical lamps in the sixth level exploded with scintillating light. Beneath Meng Hao’s foot… appeared the 100th lotus!
His eyes opened, and his body shook. Blood sprayed from his mouth. This level was so difficult that Meng Hao only passed it by shedding blood, sweat, and tears. The last step had pushed him to the limits of his skill with plants and vegetation, which, in the end, had enabled him to pass with perfect marks!
Up ahead, the innumerable botanical lamps merged together to form a staircase of vines, something that seemed suitable only for a sovereign of plants and vegetation.
The seventh level was now open!
At the same time, from the view of the outside world, the sixth level began to shine with boundless light. The sky went dim, and all darkness was dispelled. The Dao of Alchemy Division was now the focus of all eyes.
Meng Hao’s name appeared on the stone stele, in the first position on the list of names for the sixth level!
The audience was abuzz.
“He… passed the sixth level! Lotuses blossomed with each step! One hundred steps, one hundred lotuses!”
“Could it be that this Fang Hao is going to bring about a renaissance in the Dao of Alchemy Division!?”
“Just wait until he’s finished here in the medicine pavilion! I’m definitely going to go listen to his lectures on plants and vegetation!!”
Meanwhile, an enormous, ancient bell appeared in the air above the Fang Clan’s ancestral mansion. From the look of it, the bell appeared to have seen the passage of ages. It was engraved with mountains and rivers, and as soon as it appeared, it rang loud and sharp.
The sound echoed out through Planet East Victory, to the ears of anyone with Fang blood in their veins. Outsiders could not hear, but the Fang Clan members could!!
The Fang Clan was shaken. Everyone in the Dao of Alchemy Division who was not already at the Medicine Pavilion was aroused. Sensing the light shining up from the Medicine Pavilion, many of them immediately flew in that direction.
Everyone in the ancestral mansion was equally shaken. First, there was the light shining up from the Dao of Alchemy Division, and then there was the bell. All Fang Clan members were shocked, and many flew toward the Dao of Alchemy Division to see what exactly was going on.
The Grand Elder stood silently in the main temple, his expression complex, and even somewhat confused.
“Did I… make a mistake?” he murmured. “No, I didn’t. Everything is for the clan. Everything I have done is according to the rules of the clan!!” The Grand Elder took a deep breath, but he still seemed to be at a loss. He looked over at the Dao of Alchemy Division, and a fierce glint could be seen in his eyes.
Meng Hao sat cross-legged on the sixth level of the Medicine Pavilion. After meditating for a period of time, he opened his eyes, which were still slightly bloodshot.
“From the difficulty of the fifth and sixth levels, I can see the boundlessness of the Fang Clan’s Dao of alchemy,” he murmured. “I made a lot of mistakes on the fifth level, and the sixth level was actually even harder. It’s only because I absorbed the Resurrection Lily that I can have such instincts with plants and vegetation!
“Therefore… my ability with Aroma Scrying is actually a bit of a cheap trick.
“This seventh level will definitely be even harder than all the others!” With that, he stood up, and his eyes flashed with a glimmer of obsession. When he had started in the Medicine Pavilion, his goal had been to amaze the world and become an overnight celebrity. It had all been for the merit points. Now, however, he was doing it to improve his skill with plants and vegetation.
He wasn’t just concerned with passing the level; he wanted to pass every level at the pinnacle. That was the only way for him to increase his skill with plants and vegetation.
He took a deep breath and began to walk up the stairs.
At the same time that he set foot on the seventh level, all of the hundreds of thousands of spectators outside were looking on. Compared to the sixth level, the seventh level didn’t seem very extraordinary. The only things that were visible were two enormous books.
One of them was, of course, the first volume of the Classic of Plants and Vegetation, with its 1,000,000,000 medicinal plants.
The second was empty. It apparently had no content whatsoever.
Even as Meng Hao laid eyes on the two books, the archaic voice rang out through the seventh level.
“Using grafting techniques and your knowledge of the mutual augmentation and suppression between different types of plants and vegetation, you must create… 10,000 unique medicinal plants. That is the threshold to pass this level. If you wish to pass the level with perfect marks, you must create 100,000.”
Meng Hao’s heart trembled. He took a deep breath, and his eyes began to shine with bright light.
“Finally… a level like this!” He knew that having accumulated so much knowledge regarding plants and vegetation, the time had eventually come to step into a new realm. It was a realm which used the principles of mutual augmentation and suppression, along with grafting techniques, to create medicinal plants that belonged to him and him alone.
Using medicinal plants like that to concoct pills would make it very difficult for others to identify the pill formula. Even if they could, it would still be very difficult to create the necessary medicinal plant ingredients. This was also a higher realm of pill concocting.
Back when Meng Hao was in the Violet Fate Sect, he had encountered such things, but not very often. The ancient Demon Immortal Sect’s Dao of alchemy also touched on such matters, but he had never had a chance to systematically study it.
Now, he settled his qi and calmed his mind, then stepped forward toward the tome and closed his eyes to think.
All of the people in the outside world who had never heard of what the seventh level was like, now gasped. Actually, according to the requirements of the Fang Clan’s Dao of alchemy, alchemists began to explore grafting techniques beginning in tier 5. In order to become a tier 7 alchemist, it was necessary to create 10,000 personally grafted medicinal plants.
Among the hundreds of thousands of spectators, the tier 6 and 7 alchemists all began to whisper among themselves.
“I wonder if Meng Hao will be able to pass the seventh level…. How many kinds of grafted medicinal plants will he create!?”
“It’s going to be difficult for him to pass. No one has ever done so on the first try. Not even his excellency Pill Elder was able to; it took him four tries.”
“Only with a profound knowledge base, and significant experience with grafting plants and vegetation, can someone even attempt the seventh level, let alone pass it.”