In the Fang Clan’s Dao of Alchemy Division, there was currently only one tier 9 alchemist, the man known as Pill Elder… Fang Danyun.
Meng Hao looked at the ten names on the ninth level of the stone stele, and suddenly thought of his master Pill Demon.
“From my current perspective, it’s now obvious that Pill Demon’s skill in the Dao of alchemy vastly exceeded any standards for Planet South Heaven. Were it not for the fact that he lacked certain medicinal plant ingredients, he would surely have been able to concoct some medicinal pills that were famous in all the Ninth Mountain and Sea.
“Now, he’s a member of the Kunlun Society, with even more resources at his disposal and able to focus completely on the Dao of alchemy.” When Meng Hao thought of his master, he couldn’t help… but also think of a certain woman. It was Chu Yuyan, who had left with Pill Demon to go to the Kunlun Society.
“Waiting to meet out in the big wide world… is a beautiful type of regret.” Meng Hao shook his head. To him, emotions were not everything. In this life, it was enough for him to have only Xu Qing.
Even more important was to accomplish something incredible, all on his own.
“I’m going to become the richest person in all the Ninth Mountain and Sea!” he thought, his eyes filling with determination as he strode into the Medicine Pavilion.
As soon as he entered, a gentle light swept over him, and his identity jade medallion flew out. Glittering light could be seen as one hundred clan merit points were deducted from within.
Meng Hao’s heart twinged in pain. Those one hundred merit points represented lecturing to a hundred apprentice alchemists for two hours.
“No pain, no gain!” he thought. “I’m going to go for it!” Gritting his teeth, he continued onward into the Medicine Pavilion. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by thick mists that made it difficult to see.
After a moment, a glowing light appeared in front of him, within which were 1,000 types of medicinal plants. It was hard to see them clearly, as they were obscured by mist. Simultaneously, an archaic voice echoed throughout the first level.
“One hundred breaths of time. Identify at least 900 medicine plants and imprint them with divine sense. You will be given ten sets; completing nine of them will count as passing the level.”
As soon as the voice finished speaking, the mists covering the 1,000 medicinal plants vanished, leaving them clearly visible. Meng Hao’s gaze passed over them, and he immediately recognized all of them. However, he did not imprint any of them with divine sense, but instead committed all 1,000 plants to memory.
One hundred breaths of time quickly passed, and the light flickered. The 1,000 medicinal plants vanished, to be replaced by another set of 1,000.
Meng Hao quickly looked them over, and his eyes sparkled as if with electricity. After committing the medicinal plants to memory, he waited for the hundred breaths of time to end, and the third set of 1,000 medicinal plants to appear.
In this manner, he consumed all ten opportunities that he was given. After being shown 10,000 medicinal plants, he was wrapped up by a gentle force, and, in the blink of an eye, sent flying out of the first level of the Medicine Pavilion, to appear outside.
Fang Qun was waiting outside, filled with anticipation. As soon as he saw Meng Hao appear, his jaw dropped. Whenever anybody passed the first level, glowing lights would appear. And yet, the first level looked exactly the same as when Meng Hao had entered it.
Fang Qun gaped in shock, and was about to step forward when Meng Hao suddenly strode directly back toward the entrance, paid his one hundred merit points, and entered the Medicine Pavilion again.
Inside, he once again memorized the 10,000 medicinal plants that were shown to him, and was expelled. Gritting his teeth, he went in again.
Twice, three times, four times…. In a relatively short period of time, Meng Hao entered ten times. His merit points were vanishing rapidly. However, he stuck with it. Fang Qun was struck dumb, and could scarcely believe that Meng Hao couldn’t pass the first level of the Medicine Pavilion. And yet, here he was watching the bizarre scene play out right in front of him.
“What exactly is he doing?” thought Fang Qun. In his estimation, it should be a relatively simple matter for Meng Hao to pass the first level of the Medicine Pavilion. He just couldn’t figure out why he would want to go in at the same level over and over again.
Time passed. Meng Hao, seemingly bewitched, tried out the first level ten times, twenty times, thirty times. In the end… he entered the first level a hundred times.
That was 10,000 merit points, and considering he hadn’t even earned 20,000 merit points over the last month or so, that meant he had now depleted his supply by more than sixty percent.
“100 times!” he said after appearing outside. He looked over at the Medicine Pavilion and took a deep breath.
After taking the examination over 100 times, he had been shown 1,000,000 medicinal plants. However, many of those were actually duplicates. After some thought, he looked at the more than 4,000 merit points he had left, gritted his teeth, and entered the Medicine Pavilion yet again.
After passing through 40 more times, Meng Hao had less than a hundred merit points left. The two old men sitting outside the Medicine Pavilion watched his odd behavior with fascination. They could clearly sense the determination that filled him.
“140 times! You would think that 1,400,000 medicinal plants would appear. But in reality, when you eliminate the repetitions, there were only about 1,000,000.
“From all those 1,000,000 medicinal plants, each section of the test only selects 1,000. All you need to do is recognize 900, and then, do that nine times…. In other words, in any given test, you actually only have to identify about 8,100 medicinal plants correctly!
“When you think about it that way, it’s not really that hard.” Meng Hao mused thoughtfully. In particular, there were about 5,000 medicinal plants that recurred most often in the test, which had special significance. These were plants that were easily confused with others.
Eyes glittering, he turned and left, followed by Fang Qun. Fang Qun wanted to ask some questions, but after seeing Meng Hao’s thoughtful look, he hesitated, and then decided not to interrupt.
Evening was falling, but Meng Hao did not return to his Immortal’s cave. Instead, he accepted Fang Qun’s invitation to stay at his Immortal’s cave for the night. During that time, he did not practice cultivation, but instead took out a jade slip and began to analyze and record information from his 140 examinations in the Medicine Pavilion, and to gather together information about the most common medicinal plants to appear.
Day and night, he classified and categorized the different plants. Three days later, he emerged, his expression one of exhaustion, and yet with brightly gleaming eyes.
“Measly Medicine Pavilion,” he thought. “I’m going to help all of the apprentice alchemists who listen to my lectures pass the first level of the Medicine Pavilion. When that happens, there will definitely be a huge increase in my audience.” He laughed heartily, and his eyes shone with anticipation and determination. To do something like he was doing was something no other alchemist would ever think was possible.
The reason Meng Hao could do it was because his skill in plants and vegetation had reached a completely terrifying level. Because of that, he was capable of memorizing and then organizing all of those 1,000,000 medicinal plants.
Of course, other high level alchemists might be able to do the same thing. However, they would never think to use the same method, to waste such energy and such a large amount of merit points, to organize all that information for the purpose of cheating.
After spending a few more days organizing all of the information and data, Meng Hao was completely confident. The next time he went to lecture the more than 400 fanatical apprentice alchemists, all the content was regarding information about those specific medicinal plants.
He especially focused on the most common plants, as well as the ones that were most easily misidentified.
This was a method that focused specifically on memorizing correct answers. Meng Hao completely forgot any exhaustion he felt, and committed himself to lecturing. A month later, the number of apprentice alchemists didn’t increase, but neither did it decrease.
By the time that month ended, Meng Hao had finished introducing all of the plants that most commonly appeared in the Medicine Pavilion test. After finishing a lecture, he would wave his hand, and use the magic of a divine ability to cause 1,000 medicinal plants to appear.
“Next, I’ll give you a little test,” he said. “I’ll give you two hours to try to identify as many of these 1,000 medicinal plants as possible. Mark down any that you don’t know. When the time limit is up, I’ll give you the correct answers.”
This was a completely fresh and new experience for these apprentice alchemists, but as for Fang Qun, he looked on with wide eyes. After listening to Meng Hao’s lectures for a month, he was starting to feel a bit apprehensive. After all, he had passed through the first level of the Medicine Pavilion, and was starting to pick up on what Meng Hao was doing. This was especially the case when Meng Hao started using the same testing method as the first level of the Medicine Pavilion. It was at this point that he started panting, and a look of astonishment could be seen on his face.
“Don’t tell me… he actually went through the first level of the Medicine pavilion more than a hundred times just to be able to see all the test’s contents!
“That’s… that’s basically the same as just seeing all the answers! Now that he’s giving specific lectures about the answers, these apprentice alchemists will have a much, much higher chance of passing the examination. That’s… that’s cheating!
“It’s even more so the case considering he’s using the same testing method as the Medicine Pavilion, just to get them used to it….” Fang Qun couldn’t help but gape in shock.
Two hours later, the images vanished, and the apprentice alchemists began to ask questions about the medicinal plants they couldn’t identify. Meng Hao emphasized various key points, and then waved his hand again, causing another set of images to appear.
It was in this fashion that time slowly passed. Meng Hao rarely returned to his Immortal’s cave. Most of his time was spent in the Dao of Alchemy Division. Eventually, he reduced the amount of time he gave the apprentice alchemists from two hours to one hour. Then to the time it takes an incense stick to burn. Then half that amount of time.
By the time another month had passed, Meng Hao had reduced the time limit to one hundred breaths.
His audience gradually got used to it, and eventually started to get excited about the continually increasing number of medicinal plants they could identify, and the continuously increasing speed at which they could identify them. Actually, it was virtually impossible for them NOT to identify the medicinal plants, because during that time, Meng Hao lectured exclusively on the contents of the Medicine Pavilion examination.
During that three month period, the apprentice alchemists gave most of their merit points to Meng Hao. In exchange, there were more than a hundred among the group who had reached the point of being able to identify more than 900 medicinal plants in one hundred breaths of time.
On that day, Meng Hao ceased lecturing. Instead, he looked seriously at all of the four hundred members of his audience.
“Your merit points have not been spent in vain,” he announced. “Right now, all of us are going to the Medicine Pavilion to participate in the first level examination. Trust me, at least twenty percent of you will definitely pass!” In response, the apprentice alchemists looked at him with shock and hesitation.
“Fang Qun, lead the way!” said Meng Hao, waving his hand. Fang Qun gritted his teeth, nodded, and walked forward. The four hundred unconfident apprentice alchemists then followed his lead to the Medicine Pavilion.
Meng Hao flew along with them.
Along the way, more than few people noticed what was going on, and when they heard that the group was going to the Medicine Pavilion to take the examination, they began to laugh out loud.
“How long have they been studying? And they think they can take on the first level of the Medicine Pavilion?”
“Without studying about plants and vegetation for dozens of years, how could you possibly succeed in the Medicine Pavilion? Do you people want to just throw away their merit points or something?”
“That’s funny. A lot of them have barely studied plants and vegetation for three years, right?”
More and more apprentice alchemists took note. All of them wondered what the reason was for all of this, and they began to laugh and ridicule them.
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