A barrier isolated all the seats. Their communication was cut off from the outside world to prevent cheating. The anxious ones immediately opened their scrolls, and cold sweat started pouring down foreheads when they canned the questions. The questions ranged from level one to ten, each level significantly harder than the one before. It seemed to be an easy flight of stairs at the beginning, but the difficulty ramped up by several multitudes with each taken step. The ninth and tenth level was so difficult that it was like ascending the heavens.
It was an unknown whether they'd finish just these questions on time, much less than try for another zone. And where would they even find the energy and strength to do such a thing?
The contestants were secretly groaning with agony, except for Jiang Chen. He'd never faced any obstacles in pill dao, whether in the Regal Pill Palace, Veluriyam Capital, or Pillfire City. The contents of the selection were of little problem to him. He didn't even bother with the lower level questions and immediately set his sights upon the tenth level questions. These questions were meant for ninth level pill kings or a half-step pill emperors. There were two questions that even went beyond that difficulty. Even a legendary pill emperor would have a hard time answering these questions. However, they were no trouble for Jiang Chen at all.
Jiang Chen answered them at a leisurely pace as he was given three full days to finish the test, more than enough time. All questions answered within this period of time were acknowledged, but the final ranking still depended on the score. He read through the question slowly. Each question was separated into ten levels, with three questions for each level. The questions ranged from easy to difficult, to convoluted, and baffling. There was a clear discrepancy between each level.
Jiang Chen went through the questions like a hot knife through butter. His brush moved as quickly as the wind. It only took him four hours to finish the first six levels. These questions were of no difficulty for high level pill kings. Everyone answered the questions at roughly the same pace as these questions were no obstacle when one reached seventh level pill king. The difficulty increased exponentially starting from here on out.
Nevertheless, these were only elementary questions in Jiang Chen's previous life. They were so basic that it was one of the first things children learned. He finished those in the blink of an eye. The bar was raised again for the eighth level questions, but to Jiang Chen, it only seemed that they'd gone to a five-year-old level. He finished them at one go and made quick work of the ninth level questions as well.
It was at this point that he realized that his speed was too quick. Most of the others were still stuck with seventh level questions. There were only two that had just begun answering the eighth level questions. A day hadn't even passed at this point. He couldn't glance around to see the precise questions the others were on.
Since I'm trying to raise a big commotion, there is no need for me to hide my true abilities right now. I might as well pull out all stops and go for flashy showiness since I'm taking part in the selection. This is no time to be overly cautious. Jiang Chen realized that he was on the path of no return. Why bother hiding his true abilities when he was going to have to reveal them sooner or later in the Bounty Arena? If anything, now was the best time to show off!
No longer hesitant, he immediately tackled the remaining tenth level questions. They were a lot more convoluted than the questions before. They still weren't difficult, but it took some time to get the answers down in writing. He was done answering the next morning and double checked twice to ensure everything was correct. He wrote down his participant number and imprinted his medallion onto the seal. Nobody could secretly substitute his scroll with another now that his personal marks were on it.
The judges expressed their surprise when Jiang Chen handed in his scroll. Those from the Temple of Cleansing Fire and Pill King Blue Phoenix looked at him strangely. It almost as though they were looking at an unforeseen monster.
"You're… handing in your scroll?" Pill King Blue Phoenix asked after staring blankly at Jiang Chen for a second.
Jiang Chen nodded innocently. "Mm."
"You're handing it in early?" The pill king was still in slight disbelief.
"Yes. I wish to try out for the general category as well. Hopefully there is still enough time." Jiang Chen couldn't be bothered to have an idle chat with the pill king.
Rendered speechless, Pill King Blue Phoenix exchanged glances with the Temple of Cleansing Fire judges and noticed the same exact expressions on their face. They were all thinking the same thing. Young folks nowadays are too reckless. Is it really worth it to flaunt your wealth in such a manner? Since you're already participating in the selection, the least you can do is fully utilize the three given days to finish up the questions on the scroll. It would benefit you greatly if you ponder upon the questions seriously. What's with handing it in early?
They obviously thought that he was a frivolous dandy that was merely fooling around. Even then, he was still being much too insincere. Jiang Chen couldn't care less about their thoughts. Everything was fine as long as nobody stole his scroll.
"Honored judges, may I take my leave now?" Jiang Chen wanted to confirm.
Pill King Blue Phoenix was utterly speechless. He waved his hands as though waving off a fly. "You may leave," he answered coldly.
He was a very strict and austere person. He viewed Jiang Chen's actions as an insult to pill dao. How could he possibly show the young man a friendly face after such a bad first impression?
The judges of the Temple of Cleansing Fire acted a little more appropriately and nodded in response. "You may leave. It's not an issue if you hand in the scroll early. If two are found to have equal score, the final ranking will be based on who finished first"
They were obviously just following protocol. The words they used were quite sincere, but Jiang Chen could tell that they didn't think much of him. It didn't matter. He would've reacted the same if he was in their shoes. He smiled at them and nodded before striding towards the exit.
Pill King Blue Phoenix flew into rage when Jiang Chen finally left. "Young people nowadays are ridiculous! I wonder what family he's from! How can he treat such a prestigious event as a game?"
The Temple of Cleansing Fire judges understood that the pill king was a very proper person. He had a very traditional mindset and was very devout to pill dao. It was only natural that he would have high expectations for the younger generation. He was angry because he believed that the person who handed in the scroll early wasn't taking the test seriously.
"Please calm down, Pill King Blue Phoenix. There's always one or two frivolous ones among the younger generation."
"That's true. However, the young lad seemed very polite and respectful. I don't think he's one of those rascals. Maybe he really did finish the questions?" Someone suggested quietly. Truth be told, nine out of ten youths in Pillfire City were incredibly arrogant and full of themselves. Someone as respectful as Jiang Chen was a rare sight in this city. He didn't fit the frivolous dandy stereotype at all. Another shot down the thought as quickly as it'd arisen.
"That's impossible. Even if he started before everyone else, there's no way he could finish it in such a short time. Finishing the questions in three days is already a respectable feat. Finishing it in one day? Impossible!"
Pill King Blue Phoenix smiled coldly without saying a word. He'd rather save his breath than answer that question. He was certain that the questions couldn't be finished in one day, unless the young lad had cheated and knew the answers beforehand. But without the Temple's help, there was no way he could know the answers beforehand. It was why he remained certain that the boy was desecrating pill dao.
Jiang Chen couldn't be bothered with what Pill King Blue Phoenix thought of him. He left the pill dao area and immediately sped towards the general zone selection.
The three zones had started at exactly the same time. This meant that a little over one day had already gone by for the general zone. There was only one and a half day remaining for the selection. He had one less day than the other contestants.
"What? You want to cross zones and join the general zone selection as well?" The judges were flabbergasted when they heard Jiang Chen's request.
The formation master, Wang Xuetong could resist asking. "Young man, which zone did you participate in before this? Did you give up and handed in the scroll early?"
Jiang Chen didn't know whether to cry or laugh. Why did everyone immediately assume that he'd given up? Was everyone blind to true talent? He couldn't be bothered to explain. The judges couldn't stop him as it was allowed in the rules.
"Master Wang, this is my participant medallion, please take a look." He didn't want to waste his breath. Every minute and every second was worth fighting for as he was already behind by one day.