Chapter 278: The Tenth Candidate
A Violet Furnace Lord promotion was not a grand occasion for the Violet Fate Sect only, but rather the entire Southern Domain as a whole. This was not just because a Violet Furnace Lord represented a peak position of incredible height, but also because…
A promotion to Violet Furnace Lord was actually an apprentice-accepting ceremony of Grandmaster Pill Demon!
Currently, there were eight Violet Furnace Lords in the Violet Fate Sect, and all of them were novitiates of Grandmaster Pill Demon. This ceremony was actually a way of formally becoming an apprentice!
Some disciples, such as Chu Yuyan and Ding Xin, were qualified to directly become Grandmaster Pill Demon’s apprentices. However, this generally didn’t meet with the approval of the alchemists of the East Pill Division. Alchemists were partial to those who relied on their own hard work, who started out as apprentice alchemists, then worked their way to become master alchemists, Furnace Lords, and then finally apprentices of Grandmaster Pill Demon, by joining the ranks of the Violet Furnace Lords.
Chu Yuyan was a bit different. Because of her skill in pill concocting, she had a good reputation in the East Pill Division. Add in her incredible beauty, and the alchemists were more easily able to accept her.
Despite that, to Chu Yuyan, promotion to Violet Furnace Lord was incredibly important. She stood there in the crowd, her eyes glowing with determination. This was her chance to become a Violet Furnace Lord, and she was determined to succeed.
Her gaze came to rest upon a man who was standing behind one of the Violet Furnace Lords. He was middle-aged, and his face was flawless and handsome. His expression was tranquil, and he wore the robe of a Furnace Lord. A faint medicinal aroma wafted off of him; he was clearly beyond ordinary.
Within his face could be seen a hint of lonely arrogance. His expression and appearance were exactly how Chu Yuyan imagined Grandmaster Pill Cauldron to be.
“He will be my biggest competition for promotion to Violet Furnace Lord….” she thought with an inward sigh as she looked at him. This proud, aloof man was like a Chosen among the Furnace Lords. His name was Ye Feimu. 
Among the Furnace Lords, Ye Feimu was well known as having incredible skill in the Dao of alchemy. His skill was the type only seen once in a thousand years, and he was generally acknowledged to be the alchemist most likely to be promoted to Violet Furnace Lord. Upon joining the Sect many years ago, he had immediately caused a huge stir in the East Pill Division. Furthermore, Violet Furnace Lord Ye Yuntian took special notice of his talent and showed him favor. This was mostly because they shared the same surname, Ye. [2. Ye Yuntian’s name in Chinese is 叶云天 yè yún tiān - Ye is a surname which also means “leaf.” Yun means “cloud.” Tian means “sky” or “heaven”]
With assistance the entire time, he became the number one apprentice alchemist at the time, then the number one master alchemist. Finally, he became a Furnace Lord, whereupon not much was heard about him for many years. According to the rumors, his skill in the Dao of alchemy had reached the peak of the Furnace Lord rank, and he was halfway to being a Violet Furnace Lord already.
Even more stunning was that it wasn’t just his Dao of alchemy that was so high; he had long since reached the Core Formation stage. He hadn’t cultivated Core Qi yet, but many people speculated that if he hadn’t devoted himself so much to alchemy, he would already be above the mid Core Formation stage.
In this Violet Furnace Lord trial by fire, Ye Feimu was viewed as the most likely candidate to win. Second was Chu Yuyan. There were other candidates, but the general consensus was that the main competition would be between these two.
Chu Yuyan had one advantage; she was an apprentice of Pill Demon. As for Ye Feimu, his advantage, which even Chu Yuyan had to acknowledge, was that he had the support of ninety percent of the Furnace Lords, as well as five of the Violet Furnace Lords. In addition, Pill Demon himself had praised him on past occasions. All of this really put Ye Feimu in a superior position.
Even more importantly, Chosen-like Ye Feimu had been talked a lot about in the past year. More and more people outside the Sect were spreading rumors that… he was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron!
Ye Feimu never made any comments on the subject, which of course caused even more rumors to spread. Soon, everyone was convinced that Pill Cauldron was none other than Ye Feimu.
In fact, many people felt that the reason he sealed his pill with the cauldron (鼎) was because of his name, Feimu (非目)!
The characters 非 and 目 can both be seen in the character 鼎!
Even many of the Furnace Lords agreed with this, as well as a few of the Violet Furnace Lords, who began to pay closer attention to him because of it.
Chu Yuyan was very focused on the matter of Pill Cauldron. She had even gone to visit Ye Feimu to ask about it. While he hadn’t openly admitted that he was Pill Cauldron, he had vaguely implied that such was the case. How could Chu Yuyan not have understood his meaning?
After finally resolving the issue, she actually felt a little bit disappointed. It was an indescribable feeling, sort of like waking to find that reality was very different from the dream world you had just been in.
“Even if he is Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, I will fight with everything I have to become a Violet Furnace Lord,” she thought, taking a deep breath and deepening her resolve. For some strange reason, as soon as she made her mind up, the image of another person suddenly appeared in her mind. Fang Mu.
“Why am I thinking about him…?” She frowned, dispelling the image of Fang Mu from her thoughts.
It was early morning on Eastern Emergence Mountain. Cool sunlight fell upon the snowy mountain peak. The enormous pill furnace emitted an archaic aura of Time, and the surroundings were very quiet.
The eight Violet Furnace Lords of the East Pill Division sat cross-legged. Behind them were the Furnace Lords and master alchemists, over a thousand people altogether.
Also present off to the side were representatives from the other Sects and Clans, here to observe the ceremonies. If someone was promoted to Violet Furnace Lord, they would witness the event and then announce throughout the Southern Domain that there was a ninth Violet Furnace Lord, and that Grandmaster Pill Demon had accepted a new apprentice.
“The hour has arrived!” cried Lin Hailong, the most senior of the Violet Furnace Lords.
As soon as his words rang out, the sound of bells filled the mountain peak. The clouds above roiled, forming together to form an ancient-looking face that stared down at everyone.
At the same time, the enormous pill furnace began to emit a gentle glow. Multi-colored beams of light shot out, twisting around to fill the entire area with brightness.
From off in the distance, it looked as if the entirety of Eastern Emergence Mountain was covered by a massive, illusory pill furnace.
Ripples appeared in the air, out from which a figure emerged to stand atop the pill furnace. He wore a white robe, and his features were ordinary; however, his aura was anything but. He gave off a sense of ultimate refinement.
The air around him distorted as he appeared, as if he didn’t quite belong in the world.
The sleeves of his simple robe were embroidered with images of pill furnaces. His hair was white, and his gaze soft as he looked around at everyone. A smile appeared on his archaic face.
“Fellow Daoists of the Southern Domain, many thanks for coming to attend my ceremony of accepting a new apprentice. I am unable to attend in person, so I’ve embodied my Divine Will to come in my place. I hope you can all forgive me for this.” This of course was the man who occupied the ultimate position in the Dao of alchemy in the Southern Domain, Grandmaster Pill Demon.
His voice caused all the disciples of the East Pill Division to salute respectfully, including master alchemists, Furnace Lords and Violet Furnace Lords. Grandmaster Pill Demon was essentially the Patriarch of the East Pill Division.
Grandmaster Eternal Mountain hadn’t come, but instead, Grand Elder Xiao Xifeng, whose Cultivation base was at the great circle of the late Nascent Soul stage. He laughed, then coolly said, “No need to be so polite, Grandmaster Pill Demon. Accepting an apprentice and promoting a Violet Furnace Lord is a grand event for the entire Southern Domain, I, Xiao wouldn’t think of not coming.”
He occupied a noble and prestigious position within the Golden Frost Sect, and was nearly nine hundred years old, making him a sub-Patriarch. He was not yet one thousand years old, and had not defied the Heavens. If in the next hundred years he could break through to the Spirit Severing stage, then he would truly become a Patriarch.
If not, then he would simply pass away in meditation and become one with the Dao.
Next to him were ten or more Golden Frost Sect Cultivators, including Fatty. Right now, Fatty looked extremely nervous, and didn’t show the slightest hint of being lively or excited. In fact, he was acting unprecedentedly well-behaved.
The person he feared the most in the entire Golden Frost Sect was none other than Grand Elder Xiao.
“After hearing that Grandmaster Pill Demon was accepting a new apprentice, I came as fast as possible,” said Patriarch Violet Sieve of the Black Sieve Sect, smiling. “Thankfully, I didn’t arrive late.”
He sat cross-legged off to the side. Next to him was Zhou Jie as well as Han Bei, who was currently looking around, sizing up the surroundings. It seemed as if she were looking for someone.
A Violet Furnace Lord promotion was a huge event, something that hadn’t occurred for a very long time. It was only natural for the other great Sects to show up. Also present was Daoist Wu Sheng, second of the Solitary Sword Sect’s Three Swordlords, who sat cross-legged, surrounded by Solitary Sword Sect disciples. Chen Fan was there, as was the woman Shan Ling. [3. Shan Ling was introduced way back in chapter 180]
With a slight smile, Daoist Wu Sheng said, “You’re truly too polite, Grandmaster Pill Demon. For a Grandmaster to accept an apprentice is a legacy of the Dao of alchemy that any disciple in the Southern Domain would covet. How could I not humbly come to bear witness to such an event?” His voice was calm. He was an honored senior member of the Solitary Sword Sect who was qualified to look down on a myriad of other Sects. However, in front of Grandmaster Pill Demon, all of his pride turned into respect.
The representative from the Blood Demon Sect was a withered old man in a red Daoist robe. He had silver hair, and his skin was shriveled; he emanated a thick death aura, and his eyes had no pupils; they were completely white.
He didn’t say anything in response to Pill Demon’s words. He merely smiled and nodded his head.
This blind old man was incredibly famous in the Southern Domain. He was the third Demon of the Blood Demon Sect, Tu Luo, the Corpse Demon! The only other person from the Blood Demon Sect to come to Eastern Emergence Mountain was Li Shiqi.
The main representatives from the three great Clans were all of the great circle of the Nascent Soul stage. All of them said various words in response to Grandmaster Pill Demon.
Afterwards Grandmaster Pill Demon smiled and said, “In total, there will be ten Cultivators participating in the Violet Furnace Lord trial by fire. Candidates, please step forward.” His voice was solemn, and as it filled the mountain top, Chu Yuyan, Ye Feimu, and seven other Furnace Lords stepped out from the crowd one by one. They walked over to stand in front of the pill furnace.
Including Chu Yuyan and Ye Feimu, there were only nine alchemists standing there, not the ten of which Pill Demon had spoken. The Cultivators of the East Pill Division immediately noticed this, as did the representatives of the other Sects.
Chu Yuyan and the other candidates for Violet Furnace Lord Promotion exchanged glances, silently wondering who the tenth participant was.
Before anyone could say anything, a beam of light appeared in the distance. It shot through the air toward the mountain peak, then transformed into a panting Meng Hao. Everyone looked over at him, although he didn’t care about that. He glanced around, and immediately noticed Chu Yuyan and the other eight standing in front of the pill furnace, as well as Grandmaster Pill Demon.
As far as Meng Hao was concerned, Pill Demon was just some old man that he didn’t recognize.
“The tenth candidate has arrived,” said Grandmaster Pill Demon, his expression the same as ever. “Fang Mu, step on over.”
Hearing this, Meng Hao walked over without hesitation to join the other nine. Then he looked up at Pill Demon, bottling up his frustration and helplessness.