Chapter 235: Apprentice's Fee 
After the violet-robed man emerged from the portal, the eyes of the onlookers fell upon the person behind him, a hunchbacked Cultivator. His expressionless face was filled with scars that seemed to be self-inflicted.
An indescribable sense of power emanated from him, which seemed to bolster the powerful pressure which maintained silence within the auction stadium.
“So it’s Patriarch Hunchback! They say his Cultivation base is at the mid Nascent Soul stage. Three hundred years ago, he gave up everything to become the Alchemy Protector of Violet Furnace Lord An….”
“For Patriarch Hunchback to appear means… the man in the violet robe really must be one of the eight Violet Furnace Lords of the Violet Fate Sect, An Zaihai!” [2. An Zaihai’s name in Chinese is 安在海 ān zài hǎi - An is a surname which also means “safe” or “quiet.” Zai means “at” or “in.” Hai means “ocean” or “sea”]
The eyes of the hundred thousand Cultivators immediately shone with respect. The rank of Violet Furnace Lord was virtually the pinnacle of the Dao of alchemy. Other than Grandmaster, there was no higher position.
An Zaihai’s expression was calm. He nodded to the ten Furnace Lords, then lifted his right hand into the air and made a grasping motion. The Bedevilment Pill flew over and settled onto his palm. He didn’t sniff the pill, but rather let it rest in his palm as he closed his eyes.
Time slowly passed. The surrounding Cultivators watched with rapt attention. Meng Hao maintained his silence, watching thoughtfully as Violet Furnace Lord An Zaihai used his skill in the Dao of alchemy to gain enlightenment regarding Meng Hao’s pill.
After enough time passed for an incense stick to burn, Violet Furnace Lord An Zaihai slowly opened his eyes. His face looked moved, and as he stared at the pill in his hand, a strange light filled his eyes.
“What is the name of this pill?” he asked slowly, his voice somewhat husky.
An excited expression filled the face of the auctioneer. He clasped hands and bowed to An Zaihai, then said, “According to the records, the name of this pill is Bedevilment.”
An Zaihai looked at the pill for a long moment, then sighed and said, “What an amazing pill. Bedevilment. Melt the soul and transform it into evil. Rely only on the self to rise to the skies. It is not a burning of the soul, it supersedes that!” This was his attempt to state the essence of the pill. He couldn’t possibly deduce the formula of the pill in such a short time.
Others might not understand his words, but as soon as Meng Hao heard them, his pupils constricted.
“No wonder he’s a Violet Furnace Lord. In one glance, he was able to determine the true essence of the pill.” Meng Hao was lost in thought for a moment. In the future, he would need to add some confusing elements into his medicinal pills, so that they wouldn’t be so easy to analyze. Despite the man being a Violet Furnace Lord, the whole situation made Meng Hao feel a bit uneasy.
“This is not a one hundred percent pill,” said An Zaihai. “Its medicinal strength is actually ninety-five percent. However, even more deserving of praise is the fact that this pill was concocted amidst alchemic enlightenment. There is no formula for it.” The instant the hundred thousand Cultivators heard his words, they began to pant, and their minds reeled, especially because of the words alchemic enlightenment.
“This pill was created because of alchemic enlightenment. There’s no formula for it!”
“A pill created during alchemic enlightenment is one of a kind. You’ll never find another pill like it! That means… its value is at least double!” The hundred thousand Cultivators continued to discuss the matter, their burning eyes fixated on the Bedevilment Pill. They seemed to be going mad once again.
An Zaihai looked at the Bedevilment Pill for another long moment, then lowered his hand, allowing the pill to float in the air. Then he stepped back a few paces and closed his eyes.
It seemed he had only appeared to verify whether the Bedevilment Pill had been created during alchemic enlightenment.
“20,000,000 Spirit Stones! The Li Clan must have this pill!”
“20,500,000 Spirit Stones! A consummate pill like this, created in alchemic enlightenment, is unique under the heavens.“
The entire place boiled with excitement as more bids were called out. Meng Hao was breathing heavily, and his eyes were shining. Hearing all the bids filled his heart with excitement. However, a bit of hesitation suddenly appeared. After hearing the explanation from the Violet Furnace Lord, he now knew that the strange state he had been in when concocting the pill that day was known as alchemic enlightenment. However, what he didn’t understand was that the Violet Furnace Lord had described the pill as one of a kind, which seemed incongruous with what had actually happened.
“Maybe there are some variations that I don’t quite understand….” thought Meng Hao, suppressing his confusion and instead listening to the excitement with which the bids for the pill increased. Before, he had understood that it wasn’t difficult for alchemists to make profit from pill concocting, but he had never imagined the Bedevilment Pill would sell for such an incredible price.
He suddenly realized that his choice to join the Violet Fate Sect had definitely been a wise one.
Soon, the price for the Bedevilment pill reached 40,000,000 Spirit Stones. Such a price could bankrupt most Sects. Other than the four great Sects and three great Clans, no one else was even qualified to compete for it now.
“43,000,000 Spirit Stones!!” cried Fatty, leaped up onto the table.
“48,000,000!” yelled someone from the Black Sieve Sect.
“60,000,000!” raved Fatty. “Screw your granny! Do you dare to try to snatch my belongings!?”
The price had reached an unimaginable height. To most of the onlookers, this might be a rare, consummate pill, but it wasn’t worth that much, even with the added factor of Alchemic Enlightenment. After all, the pill had incredible medicinal strength, but it wasn’t clear what the results would be if it were consumed by the Core Formation stage. Considering it was apparently designed for the Foundation Establishment stage, a price of 60,000,000 Spirit Stones for such a pill was already relatively high.
The value of being able to research the Bedevilment Pill was already hard to determine. However, if after complete research it was found that the pill was effective for the Core Formation stage, then the value would be nearly limitless.
It must be stated that for an alchemist of the Southern Domain to reach the Grandmaster level, he must concoct, not just one ninety percent consummate pill, but one for each of the five stages of Qi Condensation, Foundation Establishment, Core Formation, Nascent Soul, and Spirit Severing. After concocting all of those ninety percent consummate pills, one could truly be considered a Grandmaster of the Dao of alchemy.
In any case, the research value of the Bedevilment Pill was truly hard to imagine. It was incredibly exciting because it was not only a consummate pill, but a supposedly unique pill concocted amidst alchemic enlightenment.
Meng Hao continued to grow more excited. He wanted the price to increase even more. In fact, were it not for his low Cultivation base, despite deep anxiety, he would pull out the second Bedevilment Pill and auction off that one too.
Although, now he was wondering how he would be able to retrieve his profits after the pill was sold. That was a bit of a problem.
It was at this moment that An Zaihai’s eyes suddenly opened.
Hearing this caused the surrounding Cultivators to stare, dumbfounded. Fatty and the others looked over at An Zaihai, and their faces slowly filled with anger.
Everyone knew of the unwritten rule of the Violet Fate Sect Pill Auction, that Violet Fate Sect Cultivators do not participate. Earlier, during the auction for the Foundation Establishment Day, the East Pill Division had let it be sold for research without batting an eye.
But this was a consummate pill…. Violet Furnace Lord An Zaihai was participating, creating a situation in which seller was competing along with buyer. Who could truly compete?
How could the bidding continue…?
“110,000,000!” yelled Fatty, his eyes red. He didn’t care about Spirit Stones, but about face. It didn’t matter if he was up against a Violet Furnace Lord. After his previous high bid, he had been trampled upon, which made him extremely unhappy. This wasn’t an actual fight or a battle. As far as Fatty was concerned, crushing Spirit Stones was nothing, and he surely had more.
“200,000,000,” said An Zaihai calmly. All of the one hundred thousand Cultivators gasped. Such a price was inconceivable. Even ten consummate pills, all concocted in alchemic enlightenment, would not be worth such an incredible price.
200,000,000 Spirit Stones could fund a great Sect for ten years.
“200…” Fatty’s anger raged to the heavens. He was just about to increase the bid, when An Zaihai’s cool voice rang out.
“I’m not purchasing this pill for myself. I’m purchasing it at the behest of Grandmaster Pill Demon, as his agent.”
These words caused silence to fill the air. Everyone looked on thoughtfully. Now, they understood. No matter what anyone said, the Violet Fate Sect wouldn’t allow such a pill to be sold. Even if the tradition of the Pill Auction was broken, their mind had been made up. This Pill would not leave the Violet Fate Sect.
Giving no regard to this, Fatty still seemed willing to increase the price. “200…” Suddenly, one of the disciples from his Sect grabbed him and whispered something into his ear. Face filled with an irritated look, Fatty gave an unwilling harrumph, but didn’t say anything more.
No one else said anything either. An Zaihai made a clutching motion with his right hand, and the Bedevilment Pill flew into his hand. Without another word, he turned, followed by the hunchbacked old man, and then disappeared into the glowing portal.
Meng Hao watched with wide eyes as all of this happened. Suddenly, he was feeling a bit nervous.
He hesitated for a moment. “Grandmaster Pill Demon bought it. Considering how prestigious he is, he wouldn’t… he wouldn’t hold back the money, would he…?” Thinking about Grandmaster Pill Demon’s position, he felt a bit more secure.
After An Zaihai left, there was no way to continue with the auction. Meng Hao grabbed Bai Yunlai, who looked somewhat absent-minded, and left.
After returning to the Sect, Meng Hao spent quite a bit of time repeatedly giving various instructions to Bai Yunlai. The entire time, Bai Yunlai looked at him with a strange look. The look of respect in his eyes far exceeded that from before.
Watching Bai Yunlai leave, seemingly in a trance, Meng Hao couldn’t help but laugh bitterly. After thinking about it, he decided that even if someone found out he had concocted the pill, it wouldn’t matter too much. Deciding not to worry about it any more, he headed back into his Immortal’s Cave.
“200,000,000 Spirit Stones! Even if I only get eighty percent, that’s still 160,000,000!” He sat down, thinking about the Spirit Stones, his eyes shining.
Deep in the East Pill Division of the Violet Fate Sect, at the main peak of the mountain range, An Zaihai stood respectfully next to an old man. The old man was, of course, none other than Pill Demon. In his hand was a black pill which was… the Bedevilment Pill.
Pill Demon examined the pill for nearly two hours. Slowly, a smile began to appear on his face. The smile was filled with both kindness and admiration.
An Zaihai looked at Pill Demon, his eyes filled with respect. In his entire life, he had never admired anyone more than Grandmaster Pill Demon. He was a Violet Furnace Lord, but it was actually because of that that he understood the vast gap between himself and his master. This caused his respect to grow even deeper.
Every time he stood in front of Grandmaster Pill Demon, he felt as if he were a tiny fish in the vast sea of the Dao of alchemy.
“Master,” said An Zaihai, “I’ve already looked into who concocted this pill. There are a few problems with his background. He’s….”
“Don’t say it,” the old man said coolly. “I forbid it. There’s no need.” He put the pill away with the wave of a hand.
An Zaihai stared in shock for a moment, then respectfully said, “Yes.”
“Don’t bother him either. Allow this little Grandmaster Pill Cauldron to maintain his mysterious anonymity in the Sect.” Pill Demon smiled, a smile filled with happiness and an indescribable contentment. Even as his voice continued to echo out, he disappeared into the distance. The entire time, he didn’t mention the Spirit Stones.
“Master, what about the Spirit Stones….” said An Zaihai hesitantly.
Pill Demon’s voice could be heard from off in the distance. “What Spirit Stones? Those are his apprentice’s fees!”
An Zaihai watched his master disappear into the distance, and then laughed. As he turned, a name floated in his mind.
Time passed. Soon half a month had gone by. It was on this particular day that, with great anticipation, Meng Hao asked Bai Yunlai to go check to see if the Spirit Stones could be collected. Bai Yunlai returned in the evening, his face long. His explanation was like a bolt from the blue.
With great care, he said, “I used a variety of methods to ask around, but the answer was always the same…. Aiiii, after the pill was sold, no Spirit Stones were deposited into the account…. I’m not really sure what exactly is going on, but how could we expect the auction house to dare to go and demand Spirit Stones from Grandmaster Pill Demon…?”
Meng Hao gaped in astonishment. He felt as if he had just been struck in the head with five lightning bolts. His eyes went wide with fury.
“My Spirit Stones! My 200,000,000 Spirit Stones! Pill Demon, you bought my pill. Give me my Spirit Stones!” Meng Hao gnashed his teeth. However, there was nothing he could do except sit there feeling at a loss.
This chapter was sponsored by Anon from SG, Jaziel Ramirez, DS