Chapter 1889: Old Pill Rune

Hearty laughter rang through the air, but Jiang Chen couldn’t detect any physical body concealed in the vicinity, no matter how hard he tried with his consciousness.

He couldn’t be more surprised. The protector of the fifth palace was powerful indeed. Very few could get close to Jiang Chen without him detecting them.

“Alright, kid, stop looking around. I’m not going to challenge you in person. In fact, you’ve already passed half of my trials. So far, you haven’t made any missteps. Now I’m going to test if you’re my kind of person. Why don’t you tell me how you made your way to the fifth palace?”

Without missing a beat, Jiang Chen explained with a smile, “I’ve overcome challenges and dangers to reach this point...”

He briefly described his experience going from the first palace to the fourth. It got him thinking. Did the protectors of the palaces, who’d been put here by the master who built and ruled over the pagoda, know nothing about the other protectors? Had they not been sharing information?

That seemed like a distinct possibility.

However, Jiang Chen remembered that back in the first palace, Honored Master P’eng had told him in advance that one of the protectors was a senior from the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect.

Thus, he was already mentally prepared.

The fifth protector smiled in response to Jiang Chen’s words. “Good. You’re easy to like. No wonder you’ve been doing so well.

“Since the last four protectors all showed you some level of appreciation, you must be worthy to some degree. Nonetheless, this seat has my own set of criteria. I’m not going to let you pass unconditionally or take a liking to you just because they do. You have to win me over with your talent in order to pass and receive the reward. I’m going to see for myself if you deserve the heritage of the six palaces and the Veluriyam Pagoda. If you don’t meet my standards, I won’t hesitate to kick you out.” He was a resolute one.

Jiang Chen nodded with a smile. “Understood. How does the senior plan to test me?”

“Tell me, what are your talents?”

Jiang Chen erred on the side of caution this time and thought before responding, “I’m somewhat of a jack of all trades. I’ve dabbled in various fields.”

“Are you saying you’re an all-around genius?”

Jiang Chen smiled. “You’ve used glyphs and pills, senior. I happen to know a thing or two of pill dao. That’s one of my stronger suits.”

He kept his tone exceedingly humble since he speculated that the fifth protector  wasn’t a fan of braggarts.

“You’re adept in pill dao?” The owner of the voice was pleasantly surprised.

“I am. If the senior is going to test me in pill dao, I’ll have a chance to prove myself and honor what I’ve learned so far.” Jiang Chen spoke matter-of-factly.

“Then pill dao it is?” the voice asked with a smile and muttered, “I’m Old Pill Rune, young man. Since you’ve picked pill dao as your challenge, you better do your best. If you disappoint me, it’ll be harder for you to pass.”

Old Pill Rune? That was what the fifth protector called himself?

Since he’d dared give himself the title, he must be a great master in the two fields. 

After a bemused pause, Jiang Chen put on a confident smile. “Then let’s get started, senior. I have faith in my level of pill dao.”

“Good, very good,” said Old Pill Rune. “There are many fundamental skills in pill dao. First, a keen observation, without which you’ll achieve nothing.”

Jiang Chen nodded in agreement, like they were holding a face to face conversation. “A keen observation is the foundation to a pill expert’s success. Pill dao isn’t the right path for people without a basic level of sensitivity.”

“Good, at least your beliefs are the right ones, kid,” the old man praised. “What else do you think is crucial to pill dao?”

The question was broad. It was more about a general understanding in pill dao than about the specifics.

However, Jiang Chen went against the old man’s expectations and responded with a smile, “The devil’s in the details for pill dao. A keen observation being one of them, but there are many other crucial factors. For example, a fine control over fire and heat, a good memory, and more importantly, a strong will. When all is said and done, the heart determines a pill expert’s success. An iron will makes the cultivator unbeatable.”

Old Pill Rune made a sound of surprise. He hadn’t expected Jiang Chen’s answer.

“So you do know pill dao. The different paths share some commonalities since they’re from the same source. A strong will is crucial to cultivators of all kinds.” He sighed. “You’re on the right track. Now I’d like to test your understanding of the specifics.”

“Please do,” Jiang Chen said respectfully.

“Alright, here’s a pill recipe for you to judge.”

A translucent screen emerged in the air and spots of light transformed into text. It was a visually beautiful sight.

Jiang Chen marveled at the spectacle, but didn’t get distracted from the writing on the screen.

It was a pill recipe analysis.

“What do you think, young man?” asked the old man. “I’ll give you fifteen minutes to formulate your thoughts. Does that work?”

Jiang Chen made an assenting sound and read the recipe carefully in lieu of a verbal response. He smiled once he’d browsed through the text. He recognized the recipe. It was an empyrean level one - the Goldenhorn Moonmender Pill, used for mending injury.

Jiang Chen went through the recipe from beginning to end four times. “The pill is a fine one, but the recipe falls short. One won’t be successful following this recipe. Even if pills are successfully refined, the end products will be too flawed to be useful.”

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etvolare's Thoughts

Well then, this fifth palace will be a pushover it seems!

Re. Shorter chapter lengths. Just a reminder that the author mentioned a while back that he was on a business trip. Since these authors easily put out five chapters a day, that means we have a bit of the shorter chapters to wade through. Honestly though, I've been finding the plot flowing better and less repetition than before, you guys?