Chapter 516: Jiang Chen’s Amazing Arts
Shen Anyang grit his teeth and took out three thousand upper rank origin spirit stones, placing it on the table.
Jiang Chen’s expression at the sight of the three thousand stones could only be compared to the merrily beaming face of a landlord or an old moneybags with eyes filled with treasure. “Very good! Shen Trifire, anyone willing to be a bearer of gifts is an honored guest of my residence. Tell me, shall we drink first or cut straight to the chase?”
The more relaxed Jiang Chen’s tone was, the greater Shen Anyang’s ire grew. This Jiang Chen looks too much like a poser. He’s just a foreign kid, and he’s only made it to the Sovereign Area through sheer luck. How dare he put himself on such a high pedestal in front of a member of the Sovereign Area’s old guard? This irked Shen Anyang to no end.
He felt that Jiang Chen was purposefully playing at being relaxed and putting on airs. This would only make sense if their roles were reversed! It’d always been the senior playing up his glory in front of the junior disciples; when had it ever been a junior strutting in front of a senior brother?
“Jiang Chen, I have no interest in drinking with you. Stop dilly-dallying around. I’m here today to do one thing, rip off that fake facade of yours and unmask this great con of the ages. Who would want to drink with you? Not to mention, who the hell are you?! Are you even worthy of me drinking with you?”
Jiang Chen laughed leisurely. “Well aren’t you spurning my good intentions, taking them for ill will? Well, I won’t hold it against you this time since you come so urgently to offer a lovely gift of money. So, how do you want to bet? Set down the terms.”
Shen Anyang had come prepared. He snorted coldly, “I wish to have contests of fire control, pill recipe, and pill refinement with you.”
“Use these three topics to determine the victor?”
“Yes, these three!” Shen Trifire’s tone was quite resolute, but he was sneering inside. These three topics were his strongest points in pill dao. He’d been prepared for Jiang Chen to try and negotiate, but Jiang Chen had unexpectedly accepted his suggestions without hesitation. Shen Trifire was absolutely delighted beyond measure.
Jiang Chen smiled. “This isn’t a ring for fire, so how do you propose we compete in fire control?” There were usually special rings used for competitions in controlling fire, and Jiang Chen hadn’t prepared this particular one for fire control.
Shen Trifire waved his hand and laughed. “That’s laughably easy. You and I are both pill masters, and there are many ways to compete in controlling fire. How about this, I’ll produce a cauldron and you and I can both deploy our arts. Whoever heats up the cauldron the fastest will be the winner.”
Preheating a cauldron was one of the steps of pill refining. It would prep a cauldron appropriately for all later steps. When the cauldron reached its optimal temperature, it would emit a resonance. When this sound appeared, it meant that the refiner had succeeded in successfully preheating the cauldron.
“Shen Trifire, you’re a Sovereign Area genius after all, do you have any self respect at all? Reaching out for a yard after being granted an inch just because my Brother Chen isn’t quibbling with you?! You’ve determined how the bet works, you’ve brought the cauldron, and you’ve set all the rules. Do you dare say that you’re not hiding any schemes in your heart?”
Shen Anyang was indeed plotting something. The cauldron he was going to bring out was one that he always used when he was pill refining. As such, he was intimately familiar with it, so preheating it was essentially child’s play. But it seemed he had quite a thick face, since he only snorted derisively when Mu Gaoqi revealed his schemes. “Mu Gaoqi, is this your ring? What nonsense are you blathering about? I’ll come challenge you whenever you have the balls to set up your ring!”
Mu Gaoqi opened his mouth to retort, but Jiang Chen interrupted first, “Gaoqi, take a break for now.”
Mu Gaoqi looked to Jiang Chen the most, and since Jiang Chen had told him to back down, he could only quietly walk to Jiang Chen’s rear. However, he still wore a look of contempt as he turned to Shen Anyang and clenched his right hand into a fist with his thumb pointing down.
In this world, this gesture was a complete dismissal of the other; an indication of the other’s utter helplessness. Shen Anyang was already feeling guilty, so although he was incensed by this gesture, he was unable to erupt in response.
“Shen Trifire, we can go with these rules out of consideration for your three thousand stones. Take out your cauldron.” Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
When it came to pill dao, whether it was Shen Trifire, Shen Qinghong or even an elder of the Herbal Hall, Jiang Chen still viewed all of them as nothing more than dirt. When Shen Anyang observed Jiang Chen’s arrogant attitude, he felt both humiliated and secretly joyful for his plan’s imminent success.
He didn’t put on airs as he took out a cauldron, placing it on a stone plinth and pretending to speak very generously. “Jiang Chen, don’t accuse me of cheating later. You can inspect this cauldron first.”
The inner workings of the cauldron was clearly visible to Jiang Chen with a single sweep of God’s Eye. He clearly understood that it was a cauldron that Shen Trifire used often. A cauldron that a pill master was well acquainted with was as familiar as his own arms. When it came down to it, he could indeed be suspected of using trickery when his own cauldron was the competition’s focal point. But since Jiang Chen had dared to agree to the terms, he naturally thought nothing of Shen Trifire’s tiny advantage.
“You first or me?” Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
Shen Trifire thought of a moment and said generously, “The person who goes first is at a disadvantage. I won’t take advantage of you, so I’ll go first.”
Jiang Chen knew precisely what his opponent was thinking when he saw Shen Trifire so on his guard. He was worried that Jiang Chen would somehow sabotage his cauldron so he wanted to go first. However, he phrased it so self-righteously that he seemed to be taking a loss by going first.
“Since the first to try is worse off, I don’t mind taking the hit.” Jiang Chen smiled.
Shen Trifire’s expression changed as he hastily responded, “Allow me.”
Jiang Chen had wanted to poke fun of the other to begin with, so he was perfectly willing to let the other go first. He waved his hand, “You go.”
“Someone come, mark the time.”
In this world, one could mark time through burning incense, turning over hourglasses, or a variety of other methods. When time started, Shen Trifire immediately assumed the proper stance and and circulated the three fires within his body. The immense fire elemental energy swirled in his palm, dancing like a lively sprite beneath the cauldron.
Jiang Chen nodded inwardly to himself as he watched this spectacle. Shen Trifire’s fire energy was indeed something. Although he didn’t possess an innate fire constitution, he was close enough. However, Jiang Chen couldn’t help but turn his nose up when he observed Shen Trifire’s fire manipulation abilities. One had to say, when compared to the methods of the divine experts, the Regal Pill Palace’s heritage of fire control was unquestionably childish!
Apart from having some merits due to his fire energy, and even if Shen Trifire’s methods in fire control were far in excess of his peers, he was still somewhat unpracticed in the end. However, such showy fire manipulation skills were enough to take Mu Gaoqi aback, as tendrils of respect grew in his heart.
The stick of incense which they were using to keep time had a rough length of fifteen minutes. The cauldron emitted a happy resonance when the burned part of the incense was creeping towards the halfway mark.
The preheating was complete.
The incense was then extinguished to preserve Shen Trifire’s time record.
“Jiang Chen, I didn’t even use half of the allotted time. Your turn.” Shen Trifire was full of pride. He was absolutely confident that Jiang Chen wouldn’t be able to beat him. He had many years of history using this cauldron; it was akin to his right arm. If it hadn’t been for this, Shen Trifire would’ve taken a lot longer to preheat a cauldron.
As talented as Jiang Chen is, he’ll never surpass me!
Shen Anyang was supremely confident in his results.
When the cauldron cooled down, Jiang Chen waved his hand. “Start the time.” Another stick of the same incense was lit.
Jiang Chen spread his hands upwards, and various sources of fire rose in the heart of his palms. It was as if he was performing a magic trick as he kept forming seals, causing the shape of the flame to change with each hand seal.
The fire eventually resembled a stacked tower as it grew in height. Forty nine levels of flames danced around him in an orderly fashion, as magnificent as a towering, resplendent building.
This method made Mu Gaoqi whoop and holler. What was a flashy technique?! This was a flashy technique! Shen Trifire’s fire manipulation skills weren’t fit to be seen in comparison.
When Shen Trifire saw just how wondrous Jiang Chen’s fire control was, he too was struck with disbelief. One can actually layer fire upon itself? I’ve never heard of such a method!
Jiang Chen’s face was calm as his seals changed again, adding on more flames. Soon enough, the forty nine levels formed a nine by nine grid of eighty one flames, nine levels high. In the heavenly levels, this method of fire control was called the “True Fires of Ninety Nine”. Using this method to preheat a cauldron would cut down the amount of time needed to preheat a cauldron to one ninth of the original time.
The incense hadn’t even burned down to a fifth of its length when the pill cauldron emitted sounds of happy resonance.
“What?!” Shen Trifire’s mind was thrown into disarray. He stared incredulously at the cauldron, categorically unable to fathom why his cauldron had been preheated so easily.
Jiang Chen gave a peal of laughter. The incense had barely just managed to burn to a fifth of its length. They didn’t even need to compare the incense for Shen Trifire to know that he had utterly lost. The amount of time Jiang Chen had used was less than half of his. Even a halfwit would be able to tell who had won and lost.
Mu Gaoqi guffawed loudly. “Brother Chen, you’re absolutely amazing! What kind of fire manipulation was that? That looked so cool!”
Shen Trifire’s face was ashen. It was impossible not to admit defeat, but in his heart of hearts, he still didn’t accept it. “You were lucky in the first round, but we’re competing based on best out of three. You’ve only won the first round, so don’t get uppity!”
Jiang Chen nodded with a slight smile. “That’s right, a victor is declared only after two wins. If I recall correctly, the basis of the second bet are pill recipes. How would you like to compete?” He was being quite generous, completely willing to play along no matter what Shen Trifire wanted to do.
Shen Trifire responded, “You and I will both produce a pill recipe and conceal three of the supplemental ingredients within. We will analyze each other’s recipe for an hour and fill in the missing ingredients. Whoever fills in more of them wins. If we tie, then whoever finishes first is the winner. How about that?”
“Must it be the ingredients originally listed in the recipe? Or are substitutes allowed?” Jiang Chen asked.
There were numerous ingredients in pill dao that could act as substitutes for each other.
“Substitutes are fine, but they must be reasonable. If the other has doubts, we can ask the Herbal Hall to mediate.” Shen Trifire responded.
Jiang Chen nodded. “Since this is the case, you and I will prepare two copies of the same recipe. One of them will retain all of the ingredients, and the other will conceal three of the supplemental ingredients. This will make it easier for us to compare and decrease controversy when the competition comes to a close.”
Shen Trifire thought for a moment. “That’s doable, but we must swear to the heavens that the pill recipe is correct. The contest is meaningless if we randomly change the contents of the recipe.”
Jiang Chen smiled. “Naturally.”
The two went off to a side to prepare their respective recipes.
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