Chapter 550: Verbal Sparring
The fourth round had a time limit of fifteen days. Of those fifteen days, Jiang Chen had used one to complete the first two sections, and twelve refining the Longevity Pill. In total, he had spent thirteen days completing this round. He’d lost his advantage in speed for this round, as there were at least twenty participants who’d finished before him. However, apart from a few who stood around with noncommittal expressions on their faces, most of them looked a bit dejected.
It was apparent that the difficulty of this section had forced everyone not to perform up to their usual standards. After all, the pursuit of refining pill had never focused on speed, but rather the type of pill and their effects. As such, the first to complete may not necessarily be the best level pill presented. It was up to the judges to decide on the grades of A, B, C and D.
In addition, whether it was the first two sections of completing the pill recipe or deconstructing the pill had been difficult for them as well. No one dared say that they were fully confident in taking home all the points.
Jiang Chen didn’t want to waste the last two days, so he decided to meditate in the competition area. Time was too precious to waste two days in pointlessly waiting for the competition to end.
True to the rules, the contest ended two days later. With the restrictions lifted, everyone left their areas. All of the answer sheets were taken away, and only one pill needed to be left behind to qualify as a result of the third section, no matter how many pills the cultivator refined. Jiang Chen stored three of his pills and left one lower rank as his result.
“All contestants are to return to the main lobby in the Rippling Mirage Hall to await the scores. Please be warned that the wait time will be longer this time, as we need to tally up the overall scores of this time’s Pill Battles in addition to the scores of the fourth round.”
All of the candidates filed into the main hall after this announcement boomed through the competition area.
“Brother Chen!” Mu Gaoqi trotted up to Jiang Chen from behind, an excited look on his face, “Brother Chen, was the pill from the second section from the divergent pill faction?”
When Jiang Chen saw Mu Gaoqi’s brows dancing on his face, he knew that the latter had done well. He smiled, “Does that mean you were able to decipher its ingredients?”
Mu Gaoqi chuckled. “Not entirely, but I judged that it was from the divergent pill faction and so could identify roughly eight ingredients. I think I got those right.”
If he had been able to deduce that it was from the divergent pill faction, then that knowledge alone would be able to give Mu Gaoqi quite an advantage.
“It was indeed a product from the divergent pill faction, the Skyheart Rebirth Pill.” Jiang Chen nodded and clapped Mu Gaoqi on the shoulder. “Let’s go.” He was quite satisfied that Mu Gaoqi had been able to reach that conclusion.
“Hmph! Jiang Chen, stop acting as if you’re all that! That pill was taken from a sealed off, taboo area. It’s not something that can be found anywhere in the Myriad Domain. As if you would be capable of analyzing it for what it is!” A jeering voice rudely interrupted their conversation from behind. Jiang Chen didn’t even need to turn around to know it was Wei Qing. Jiang Chen only smiled in response. The truth would be far more convincing than any debate now, so he couldn’t be bothered to argue.
Ling Bi'er also caught up to them. “Junior brother, what ingredients would you say that the Skyheart Rebirth Pill possesses?”
She too had deduced that it was a product of the divergent pill faction, but the Skyheart Rebirth Pill was something outside her knowledge. It was impossible for her to know of it. But even though she didn’t know what pill it was, she could still analyze what ingredients the pill was made of. Even if she couldn’t fully deconstruct it, each additional ingredient she could identify was another twenty points.
“How many ingredients did you identify, senior sister?”
“I’m only confident about seven of them. I wasn’t sure about the remaining three, so I didn’t dare write them down.” Ling Bi'er responded honestly. They would be docked points if she wrote down the wrong answers, so Ling Bi'er had taken the same path as everyone else and refrained from haphazard answers.
“Let’s go out and chat.” Jiang Chen only reeled off the ten ingredients after they’d left behind those behind them.
Mu Gaoqi was delighted. “Haha, Brother Chen, then all eight of the ones I identified should be right! What a pity that there were two more, but they’re too obscure that I didn’t figure them out at all. My dao cultivation is still too shallow.”
Ling Bi'er was also quite admiring, but also felt gratified. “The seven I identified were all correct as well, but I still fell behind junior brother Mu.”
But she didn’t envy him. The three of them chatted and laughed as they arrived in the main lobby. When Shen Qinghong saw them moving as a group, he felt greatly put out. He was foremost amongst the younger generation of the Regal Pill Palace, but he was actually feeling quite ostracized at the moment. However, he wouldn’t express his jealousy in front of his peers. “You must have performed quite well, given how lighthearted you all are.”
Jiang Chen smiled casually as Ling Bi'er also smiled faintly. It was Mu Gaoqi who nodded with a smile, “Senior brother Shen, we’re discussing the contents of the fourth round.”
Unfortunately, Shen Qinghong wasn’t in the mood to discuss it. He hadn’t performed poorly, but neither had he done well. He had no hope for duking it out for the championship and had come to terms with it. He would be satisfied if he remained in the top ten. In his eyes, pill dao was merely an auxiliary skill in the end. In the world of martial dao, it was martial dao geniuses who would greet the world with a proud smile. They alone would be able to call themselves the masters of the world. Therefore, he never put down the feeling of superiority in his heart.
When he saw that Ling Bi'er was willing to give up on herself and lower herself to mix in with Jiang Chen and Mu Gaoqi’s crowd, he was a bit envious. Although, he’d never admit anything of the sort to himself. He only felt that she was wallowing in the behavior of a degenerate.
Those from the Walkabout Sect also arrived at the same as the Regal Pill Palace disciples. The Walkabout Sect was last time’s runner up, so they took the seat beside the Regal Pill Palace. Wei Qing’s gaze was cold as he cast a look of death at Jiang Chen, revealing a hint of a cruel smile. Jiang Chen knew that Wei Qing truly hated him by now, but what did he care? He best not want to cause trouble, or I don’t mind sending him off on his final journey inside Mt. Rippling Mirage. He’d already slain a Walkabout Sect elder, so he didn’t mind adding a mere Wei Qing to his list.
The disciples from the Tristar Sect also walked in. Zhu Feiyang flicked a glance over at Shen Qinghong. “Ole brother Qinghong, you’re ranked as the top genius in the Regal Pill Palace at the end of the day, yet why do I see that you’re ranked last amongst your fellows in the first three rounds?”
This was an open provocation, almost an outright attack on Shen Qinghong. In response, Shen Qinghong laughed disinterestedly, “Zhu Feiyang, you don’t seem to have the best score amongst your sect either.”
Zhu Feiyang laughed heartily, “Junior brother Ding Tong’s potential is extraordinary. It’s not a big deal that I’ve come up short next to him, but it’s a different case that you’re last amongst the four from the Regal Pill Palace.”
Wei Qing also snorted coldly off on the side. “Perhaps the great Sir Shen is displaying his might and glory as the great senior brother and letting his junior brothers take their turn in the limelight. That’s also possible.”
“Hahaha, old brother Qinghong, is that so?” Zhu Feiyang was smiling in an extremely exaggerated fashion, his expression and tone full of mockery.
Wang Han of the Sacred Sword Palace also walked over with a smile. “Your reputation is so great as the first genius of the Regal Pill Palace, but your pill dao scores are pretty much the same as mine. Ole brother Qinghong, it’s not that I want to shake your confidence, but there really isn’t a place for you on the list of geniuses of the Myriad Domain.”
Zhu Feiyang and Wang Han had already broken through to the sage realm and were truly in first level sage realm, but Shen Qinghong was still separated by that final step. It was that separation of a line that made the other two feel so full of superiority. As for Wei Qing, his cultivation level was lower than Shen Qinghong’s, but everyone knew that his skill with poison let him rank amongst the top geniuses. Even Zhu Feiyang and Wang Han would rather offend Shen Qinghong twice over before even thinking of offending Wei Qing.
The three of them had actually reached an unspoken accord that they would target Shen Qinghong and incite internal conflict in the Regal Pill Palace. Shen Qinghong was proud and arrogant, and his face grew ashen when so many banded together to bully him, but he was left without a riposte.
Jiang Chen suddenly snorted coldly. “If I recall correctly, this is the Pill Battles of Mt. Rippling Mirage, not the Myriad Grand Ceremony. Isn’t it too early for you all to flaunt your martial might?!”
Wang Han was the direct grandson of Wang Jianyu and held great enmity for the Regal Pill Palace. When he saw Jiang Chen butting in, his gaze grew cold and he shouted, “And who the hell are you? Do you even have the right to talk when the top geniuses are talking?”
Zhu Feiyang sighed. “Kids these days have no respect for the rules and seniority. Ole brother Qinghong, as their senior brother, have you not been teaching them properly?”
Wei Qing added fuel to the flames off on the side as he chuckled. “Perhaps the great Sir Shen harbors hate in his heart because he feels that his beauty has been seized from him!”
These fellows were becoming more and more outrageous as they spoke. Mu Gaoqi’s face had gone beet red with indignation. If it wasn’t for his low status, he would’ve broken out in loud curses a long while ago. Ling Bi'er frowned slightly and was about to speak up when Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “And here I thought you self-styled top geniuses were actually something. Don’t tell me you’re acting this way because you can’t afford to lose at the Pill Battles!”
He relaxed into a chair after speaking. “Flustered with rage, the faces of some petty villains are certainly an ugly thing to see. Tsk tsk, so the so-called top geniuses of the Myriad Domain have only this little bit of self-restraint!”
Jiang Chen didn’t glare maliciously or speak gruffly, but those offhand words made them snap their mouths shut instantly.
“Brat, what are you prancing around for? The scores aren’t even out yet. Do you think that you’re destined to have the highest scores in the end just because your ranking was high in the first couple of rounds?” Wei Qing would never accept Jiang Chen no matter what.
Jiang Chen laughed leisurely. “Regardless of whether or not I have the highest score, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d only be ranked higher than you all.”
Wang Han sniffed derisively. “In the world of martial dao, pill dao is ultimately just embellishment, a superfluous auxiliary skill. The ones who will truly command the world are martial dao geniuses. Kid, it’s not that I want to affect your confidence, but pill dao geniuses have been destined to cower at the feet of martial geniuses since ancient times to eke out a living. You won’t be an exception either.”
Zhu Feiyang also nodded slightly. “These words make great sense. Kid, only when your names graces the Myriad Dragon Rankings will you barely obtain the right to talk to us. Right now, you are far, far away from such an achievement.”
Jiang Chen remained composed, but couldn’t help but let out a bark of laughter. “You talk as if you really think you’re martial dao geniuses.”
Everyone frowned at those words. This kid really had an exaggerated opinion of his abilities! Is he overconfident because his Pill Battles results are excellent, and he actually thinks he’s something? Or has he forgotten that anyone here can torture him to death after he enters Mt. Rippling Mirage?
It was at this moment that Elder Yun Nie brought the other elders in their direction. The other young men were more or less wary when they saw Elder Yun Nie, retreating to the side after a cold snort.
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