Chapter 467: Winning in the Dao of Pills, Facing Off with Martial Dao
It took a while for the referee to come back to his senses. When he did, he immediately began to applaud without reservation. He was beside himself with admiration. “Jiang Chen, it had never occurred to me that you might be a genius at controlling fire. You’ve awakened the flames in every cauldron! That is an exceedingly rare feat even amongst the younger generation. Haha, Sage Dan Chi’s eye for talent is really to be admired.”
The referee was human too; he had his own standards for beauty and admiration. Jiang Chen’s hand just now had elicited honest appreciation from the referee, and so he didn’t stint the young man his due praise.
Of course, this didn’t impact the impartiality of his judging.
“Yan Hongtu, you’ve lost the first of the three matches concerning pills. You still have two more chances, but if you lose in the next topic, cauldron inspection, then you’ll have lost in the arena of pills.”
If Jiang Chen won two out of the three matches, then there was naturally no need for a third match.
Yan Hongtu had yet to come to his senses from his defeat in the battle of controlling fire. He’d displayed his skills to the pinnacle of his ability, awakening seven flames. He’d even thought he was performing beyond his abilities, and was quite something. But just when he’d believed victory was within his grasp, Jiang Chen had awakened all twelve flames. This had upended everything! There was no way he could accept this! However, the referee’s voice reminded him that he had already lost the match of of controlling flames. If he lost the cauldron inspection match, then he would lose this part of the bet.
This meant that no mistakes could be tolerated in the next topic. “Hmph, Jiang Chen! You must’ve eked out a fluke of a win using some trick. But cauldron inspection relies on the keenness of one’s vision and breadth of their experience. Don’t you think you can slip by with trickery again!” Yan Hongtu still felt that Jiang Chen had cheated his way into awakening all twelve flames. Otherwise, how could it possible that a backwater place like the sixteen kingdoms could produce a cultivator with such impeccable skill at controlling fire? That level of skill only made sense if displayed by a genius disciple of a large sect like the Regal Pill Palace!”
Jiang Chen couldn't be bothered to argue as he serenely waited for the referee to begin explaining the next topic.
“The second topic relates to cauldron inspection. There is one cauldron in front of each of you, both exactly the same. Each of these cauldrons have certain defects. Your task will be to find those flaws, no matter how minute they may be. Whoever finds more will be declared as the victor. One point will be detracted for every false identification made. Once again, the allotted time is fifteen minutes.”
The rules weren’t complex. A point was added for proper identification and a point subtracted for false positives. Jiang Chen almost wanted to laugh when he heard this. This competition was almost tailor-made for him! When his God’s Eye was combined with the Evil Golden Eye, it would be too easy to search for the flaws in these cauldrons. When his God's Eye was activated, even the tiniest of flaws would be magnified more than ten times over.
“The cauldron inspection match begins!” The referee’s bellow started the clock for the second subject.
Yan Hongtu knew that things had come down to the wire. Therefore, he immediately flung himself over to the cauldron as soon as the referee shouted and began to carefully inspect it.
Jiang Chen remained as laid back as ever. He gestured once, forming a chain of fire that hoisted the cauldron into the air in front of him.
He thrust out nine successive gouts of flame, setting the surroundings of the cauldron afire. This was his unique method of inspecting cauldrons, a method that had been invented by a divine level expert!
When a cauldron was heated and primed by fire, its flaws and obscure insufficiencies would be enhanced, becoming even more apparent. This kind of method was actually but a small trick, with not much use for it. Many pill masters used it to evaluate cauldrons before pill refinement, to ensure that the cauldron wouldn’t explode halfway through the process.
However, this small trick would be the trump card in Jiang Chen’s hand that took home the victory.
All of the cauldron’s flaws revealed themselves beneath Jiang Chen’s God’s Eye after it’d been heated. There was simply no place for them to hide.
Psh psh psh psh!
Jiang Chen continuously slapped his mental mark onto each flaw, and in less than fifteen minutes, had found all fifteen flaws in the cauldron.
When he looked at the time again, he noted that less than two thirds of the allotted time had gone by. He didn’t posture proudly, but unhurriedly retracted his hand seal and retrieved his fire, placing the cauldron on the stage again.
Although the answer had yet to be revealed, Jiang Chen’s bearing and casual grace still drew private admiration from the referee. At the very least, methods like Jiang Chen’s way of inspecting cauldrons were something the referee himself had never seen, to say nothing of anything else.
When those present saw how Jiang Chen stood there with quiet confidence and a dignified bearing, moving with such calm gestures and a carefree attitude rarely seen in one so young, it was already enough to make Yan Hongtu come up short in their eyes.
The bell rang as soon as the fifteen minutes were up.
Yan Hongtu cried out agitatedly, “I’ve found eleven flaws, there are definitely no more! I’ve totally achieved full marks in this topic! There’s no way that I’m not the winner this time!”
The referee laughed wryly when he saw Yan Hongtu so incapable of keeping his composure. “Yan Hongtu, who told you you achieved full marks? Who also told you there were only eleven flaws? This cauldron has a total of fifteen flaws.”
“What? Fifteen?? How is that possible?! How come I only found eleven??” Yan Hongtu was stunned, but then immediately laughed. “Eleven is still plenty. Jiang Chen, how many did you manage to find, huh?”
Jiang Chen smiled indifferently, “Not many, just fifteen.”
“What?!” Yan Hongtu started to guffaw. “You’re dreaming, aren’t you? You can’t cheat in this topic, a flaw won’t appear somewhere just because you say there’s one!”
Jiang Chen really couldn’t be bothered to bandy words with someone like him and spoke to the referee, “There are fifteen flaws in total on the cauldron, and I’ve tagged each one with my mental mark. The marks won’t fade anytime soon, please feel free to inspect the cauldron.”
Although the referee had yet to go over the results, Jiang Chen’s bearing made him feel that there was no way this candidate was mistaken.
Indeed, the referee nodded after inspecting Jiang Chen’s cauldron. “Jiang Chen has located all fifteen flaws. Yan Hongtu, you located eleven. As such, Jiang Chen wins again. Jiang Chen has won two topics in a row in the arena of pills, and this competition is now over!”
“Impossible!!” Yan Hongtu couldn't accept this result at all. Jiang Chen won? The country bumpkin Jiang Chen won? On what basis?!
“Honored referee, are you mistaken somewhere? This Jiang Chen comes from the sixteen kingdoms; he’s probably never even touched pills before! How can he possibly win twice?! And so perfectly each time?! Who would believe that?!”
The referee’s expression grew cold, “Yan Hongtu, are you doubting my impartiality?” Yan Hongtu felt his hairs stand on end, chills running down his back when the referee leveled a glare at him.
Judging a competition was a duty that was on par with those of the Hall of Punishment in terms of impartiality. Whoever dared question his objectivity was questioning the entire Regal Pill Palace.
“I don’t dare question the honored referee, but I suspect Jiang Chen of cheating!” Yan Hongtu refused to accept the outcome as he felt his loss was entirely the wrong result.
“Cheating?” The referee laughed coldly. “If he is able to cheat right in front of me, a sect elder, then that’s his ability. Just how might he have cheated without knowledge of the topics beforehand? You tell me how he cheated!”
Yan Hongtu had nothing to say in response.
Even if Jiang Chen had some sort of special treasure, that still wouldn’t count as cheating. That was part of his abilities and his fortune. A competition of pills was conducted by pitting the holistic strengths of both parties against each other.
“Yan Hongtu, don’t duel if you can’t afford to lose. You should be able to accept a loss if you want to duel. Questioning the referee is courting death!” Yan Hongtu trembled like a cicada in cold weather at the sight of Jiang Chen’s eyes, afraid to say anything else.
He glared ferociously at Jiang Chen, “Jiang Chen, you may be able to use trickery to obtain victory in the dao of pills, but let’s see how you do that in the ring!” He turned his head without looking back after that and rushed straight for the martial dao stage.
“Jiang Chen, meet me in the ring if you’re a man!” Yan Hongtu even purposefully left this parting shot, as if afraid Jiang Chen wouldn’t show up.
Jiang Chen laughed leisurely, “Yan Hongtu, you can’t conceal the weakness in your heart no matter how loudly you jeer. Remember, three years worth of stipends, even a day less won’t do!” A character like Yan Hongtu wasn’t worth his interest, but three years of his stipend was definitely worth his interest. He was damn poor now, after all!
Standing in the ring, Yan Hongtu stared at Jiang Chen with all-consuming hatred. It was obvious that his loss in the area of pills had thoroughly enraged his pride. He felt that Jiang Chen had utterly offended him.
“Life and death is up to the heavens in the ring. However, you are but peers in the same sect sparring against each other. I hope you are not blinded by hatred and pull your blows when you land them. Otherwise, if you kill someone in the ring today, someone else may kill you in the ring tomorrow.” Another organizer was in charge of referee duties for the arena of martial dao.
These words held much warning in them. When sect disciples sparred, it was far from a matter of life and death, so there was no need for killing blows.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. A duel between those of the same sect rarely ended in a death. After all, everyone had a patron or someone backing them. If you killed someone today, it was hard to guarantee that someone stronger than you wouldn’t come for you tomorrow.
Therefore, participants never broke the unspoken rule of not fighting to the death in one of these duels. However, Yan Hongtu was currently blinded by hate and had thrown all those unspoken rules to the back of his mind.
Right now, he only wanted Jiang Chen to die! He would be able to salvage his dignity, lost from his defeat in the dao of pills, if he trounced and tortured Jiang Chen to death.
Jiang Chen could naturally detect this unbridled killing intent from Yan Hongtu, and had long since seen through his personality. Not only was this person narrow minded, vicious and sinister, but it was apparent just how domineering and cruel this person was from seeing so much killing intent triggered from simple internal conflict.
However, what fear did the current Jiang Chen possess in the face of a fifth level origin realm now?
He’d felt his martial dao advance in leaps and bounds everyday since entering the origin realm. The development of his various arts had bolstered Jiang Chen’s confidence to the point where he had full faith even facing the peak of the earth origin realm. He even had the courage to battle a sky origin realm cultivator.
Since Yan Hongtu was offering to make an example out of himself, Jiang Chen didn't mind using him as a stepping stone to make a name for himself in the Rosy Valley.
The rise of one’s martial dao path wouldn’t come with no rhyme or reason, just as status and benefits was continually built up and accumulated through conflicts with geniuses. Yan Hongtu’s provocation of Jiang Chen was actually a nice opportunity for the latter to let his name resound!
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