Chapter 540: Renewed Frenzy
In contrast to Jiang Chen’s subtle wariness, in addition to being depressed, Ding Tong was even more shocked after learning of Jiang Chen’s scores. He received full marks! This was completely unacceptable to him! As far as he knew, he’d made only the smallest of errors in the first round that had ultimately prevented him from receiving full marks. The difficulty of the fire control competition had been designed to reach the extreme. The smallest of errors would prevent one from successfully igniting all the flames and receiving full marks.
With the level of skill present in the Myriad Domain, no one would ever hope to receive full marks. Even the other top geniuses of the Myriad Domain had only ignited thirty four flames! There’s something very off about this Jiang Chen! The amount of killing intent in Ding Tong’s heart doubled even as his shock grew.
“No wonder that Palace Head Dan Chi would protect him and the Precious Tree Sect at all costs. His pill dao potential is this perverse! He would be a peak existence even in the Upper Eight Realms! I must kill this person before he has the chance to grow!” Ding Tong had a premonition that Jiang Chen would become the biggest obstacle to the Tristar Sect claiming the championship this year.
A variety of emotions assailed each of the various sect heavyweights. They were both envious and admiring. It seemed that Dan Chi had once again demonstrated his charisma and vision. When he’d allied with the Precious Tree Sect, all of the various great sects in the Myriad Domain had thought him mad, forming a grudge with the Ninesuns Sky Sect for a mere Precious Tree Sect. But now, it appeared that anything Dan Chi did was after careful calculation and consideration.
His potential in fire control alone was enough to astound the entire Myriad Domain. If this kind of person reached full maturity, he would become a heavyweight that would impact the fortunes of the Regal Pill Palace for hundreds of years.
“This Dan Chi really has some charisma to unearth a treasure like this!” They hid their envy, but they also couldn’t help but feel admiration for Dan Chi’s vision.
After everyone made brief adjustments to their mental state, they went into the second round of the competition.
This time, the topic was preheating the cauldron.
Jiang Chen had experienced this competition many times. When he’d been in the Regal Pill Palace and fought Shen Trifire, he’d used the almost magical method of the “True Fires of Ninety Nine” to render Shen Trifire speechless in his defeat and leave in utter humiliation. When this wondrous way was used, only one ninth of the usual time was needed to preheat the cauldron.
Everyone entered the preheating area in the relevant hall according to their numbers. There was a cauldron in front of everyone, and although it looked simple and primitive in its design, it was obviously no ordinary item. What was even rarer to see was that it looked like the same cauldron was set in front of everyone. No one could find a difference in level or exterior appearance.
“All of you have the exact same pill cauldron in front of you. This is the most common cauldron seen in pill dao, but these particular ones were forged from Frostheart Iron, so it will be more difficult to preheat. However, once it’s primed for refining, no other cauldron can match the purity of the pills it refines.
“The rules of this round are that each of you have a basic count of forty breaths. If you complete the preheating in forty breaths, then you’ll receive the full marks of four hundred points. Each additional breath of time you take after forty will result in subtracting ten points. If you spend more than seventy breaths, you will have no score for this round.”
Completing the challenge within forty breaths would net the candidate full points. Each additional breath after that would result in a ten point deduction, meaning that all four hundred points would be run down after forty additional breaths. Of course, a full point deduction would never happen to these geniuses. No matter how bad they were, they would never use more than 55 breaths to complete the task.
“Alright, now that the rules have been explained, your time starts... now!”
All the cultivators snapped to attention, springing instantly into action. This was a race in which time was points, and each breath was precious. They had to bring every lesson they’d learned in their lives to bear in order to complete this task.
The “True Fires of Ninety Nine” that Jiang Chen had utilized last time naturally made its appearance again. He summoned a flicker of the flames within his body into his palm, and started piling up the flames on top of each other as his fingers flew through hand seal after hand seal. In short order, a raging bonfire was formed around the cauldron. Nine gouts of flame marked each corner, with a total of eighty one flames accumulating in short order.
The sight of the flames stacked atop each other was incredibly magnificent, bedazzling the eyes of anyone watching. Although these eighty one flames looked like they were simply stacked on top of each other, it required a sophisticated technique, deft use of spatial arts, as well as superior observation skills. These skills were all required in abundance, and none of them could be trained overnight.
After Jiang Chen had concluded his competition with Shen Trifire, Mu Gaoqi had badgered Jiang Chen to teach the same technique to him. Jiang Chen hadn’t kept it a secret and had generously taught Mu Gaoqi this method. Even though Mu Gaoqi had yet to advance to the level of grasping all eighty one flames, he could still build up thirty six gouts of flames. If he stacked any more, he would lose control of them and fail to execute the technique.
Jiang Chen needed quite a bit of time to build his True Fires of Ninety Nine, with thirty breaths elapsing in the blink of an eye. But once his setup was complete, he’d be able to shorten the amount of time he would’ve needed to finish preheating to a ninth of that timeframe.
The many heavyweights keeping an eye on Jiang Chen were a bit baffled by his actions. When Wei Wuying saw that Jiang Chen had used up thirty breaths of time already and was still playing with a flashy fire control technique, he couldn’t resist the temptation to mock him. “Ole brother Dan Chi, your Jiang Chen seems to favor showy techniques over substance, hmm? It’s already been thirty breaths, but he’s still accumulating flames. It’s pretty alright, but is a bit of fire here and there actually useful in preheating a cauldron?”
Wei Wuying couldn’t help but jeer openly when he saw Jiang Chen thus. It was obvious that he still hadn’t accepted Jiang Chen receiving first in fire control.
Tristar Sect Head Zhu also laughed. “There are forty breaths given as the basic amount of time and his moves are eye dazzling alright, but…”
His voice suddenly choked off as he stared straight at Jiang Chen, jaw agape. Dan Chi on the other hand, was still quite at ease. Although he didn’t understand why Jiang Chen was doing what he was doing either, with his understanding of his disciple, the latter wasn’t the sort to be flashy without substance. He would never do something that was just emptily pretty.
Indeed, just as Wei Wuying and Sect Head Zhu were halfway through their mocking words, Jiang Chen’s fire ensconced cauldron suddenly resonated with the ringing sound of a dragon’s croon or tiger’s howl. It’d taken him only seven breaths from the time he’d finished stacking his flames to a successful preheating! Add that to how long he’d taken to build up his flames, he’d only spent thirty seven breaths in total.
The heavyweights looked at each other, feeling as if they’d suddenly experienced a break from reality. They didn't believe their eyes at all. Just what techniques had this Jiang Chen used to finish preheating a cauldron in eight breaths? This was completely outside the scope of their understanding!
No one else finished their preheating during the rest of the forty breaths.
What was astonishing was that the next person to complete his preheating after Jiang Chen was Mu Gaoqi! One breath after the allotted time, his cauldron rang out as well, deducting only ten points from his score and receiving a total of three hundred and ninety from this round.
When time had ticked to forty two breaths, Wei Xing’er and Ding Tong completed their preheating as well. But since they had gone two breaths past the allotted time, they had twenty points docked and took home only three hundred and eighty points each.
After those two, Wei Qing finished at forty three breaths, and Ling Bi'er at forty four breaths. All of the other top geniuses finished at around forty five breaths, and many more completed their preheating as time went on. The final person finished when sixty breaths had elapsed.
The second round was now over, and Jiang Chen had once again defended his title of champion with full marks. The most stunning thing was that after two rounds of full marks, he now had a score of 800. Although first runner up Ding Tong had also displayed a heaven defying performance, he only had 730 points, a full seventy points below Jiang Chen. Wei Xing’er was in third place with 720 points, leaving her eighty points lower than Jiang Chen.
As for fourth place, no one had anticipated Mu Gaoqi would spring so far from behind. Although he had yet to grasp Jiang Chen’s “True Fires of Ninety Nine”, his “Minor Fires of Sixty Six” had allowed him to go only a single breath over the time limit, catapulting his score up into fourth place with 710 points.
The overweening Wei Qing was stuck at fifth place with 700 points, and Ling Bi'er at sixth with 690 points. There was a large group with 680 points ranked just behind Ling Bi’er. When the results of this round came out, Jiang Chen once again became the center of attention. This who hadn’t looked at him before all began to glance sideways at him.
They hadn’t thought at all that this competition would turn out this way. Just what heaven defying techniques does Jiang Chen possess for him to gain full marks in two rounds in a row? Everyone present knew how difficult these competitions were, since this wasn’t their first time participating. Even a mysterious genius like Ding Tong hadn’t been able to obtain full marks when he’d brought his full efforts to bear, and Wei Xing’er with the innate fire constitution had failed to do so as well since she had yet to reach the level of a great master. But Jiang Chen had done it! And he’d come from a small place like the sixteen kingdom alliance. Although he’d benefited from dwelling in the Regal Pill Palace, he’d only been present for a year or so. Was a year enough to let a minor character from the sixteen kingdoms develop to the point of trampling over them? Who would believe that?
Although Dan Chi was inwardly surprised, he then recalled Jiang Chen’s relationship with Elder Shun. He must’ve received Elder Shun’s legacy, and so these scores make sense!
However, those from the Tristar and Walkabout Sect rejected these results with every fiber of their being. They’d hardened their hearts to take the championship from the Regal Pill Palace this time. A mere Jiang Chen was seemingly enough to send all their plans into disarray; how could they possibly accept this?
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