A quarter-hour later, the pill servant had spilled everything Jiang Chen wanted to know.
Thump. The young lord knocked him unconscious and tossed him aside.
"Ole Gold, he's all yours."
With a mischievous chuckle, the Goldbiter Rat King pounced on the man.
"Wait, give me a second," Jiang Chen urged. "Let me borrow his identity and face first. Pill Seven. This poor sod has only this code name to call his own, how sad..."
He quickly completed his task. When he put on the servant's clothes, there was nothing to distinguish him from the man. After ensuring he'd attracted no suspicion, he calmly returned above ground, brushed off the mud from his clothes, and slowly made his way back inside.
He was greeted with mockery from an old man with a grizzled beard. "Pill Seven, what took you so long? You only had to dispose of some dregs."
Jiang Chen imitated Pill Seven's voice and tone. "This humble one mulled over the results of the Pinecrane Pill's decomposition. I became lost in my thoughts and forgot to come back in."
He left no hole in his explanation.
The old man waved impatiently. "This pill is a mystery for even pill emperors, so what's a pill servant like you going to achieve, even if you wrack your brain until it explodes? Stop wasting time and get back to work."
"Yes, of course," Jiang Chen said obsequiously.
A pill servant was restricted to lowly assistant work. Thanks to his expertise, he immersed himself seamlessly in the dull task. To think the great young lord of Veluriyam would be at the beck and call of a bunch of bastards!
A depressing thought to be sure, but he forgot all about it once he saw Tian Lin's focused state, the latter's eyebrows wrinkled in a frown. Here's my target. I just need to put up with it for a short while.
Stay calm, stay calm, he repeated and meticulously followed the three old pill emperors' orders. The simple chores were a piece of cake for him.
"Look at that. Pill Seven, what's happened to you?" one of the pill emperors quirked his eyebrows. The skill and deftness was a far cry from what the pill servant usually exhibited.
Jiang Chen chuckled. "We must make the Pinecrane Pill ours. I can't sleep when I think of its secrets still eluding our Pillfire City!"
His little speech actually exceeded the prerogatives of a servant, but everyone was in a good mood and no one minded him.
Preoccupied as Tian Lin had been by the Pinecrane Pills, he wouldn't have paid attention to pill servants, but the words he'd just overheard surprised him as well.
During all the time he'd spent here, the six pill servants had always stayed within the strict confines of their helper role. It was his first time seeing one of them so proactive, so he smiled favorably at Pill Seven's corny declaration.
"Pill Seven was it? Very good! If all the pill servants in the Temple of Cleansing Fire were as proactive as you, how can the Temple not prosper? How could Pillfire ever falter?"
A little "embarrassed," Jiang Chen scratched his head and stammered, "Many thanks for the undeserved praise, young lord. I hope to contribute even more to Pillfire in the future."
The real Pill Seven wasn't as brazen, so he feigned a stutter.
Of course, Tian Lin wouldn't waste too much time on a servant. He simply asked, "You said earlier you didn't come in because you were lost in thought, correct?"
Jiang Chen smiled and rubbed his neck. "Something like that."
"Did anything come out of it? Was it related to the Pinecrane Pill?"
"It was. When handling the dregs, this humble one analyzed the residue's various smells and colors. I'm certain the Myriad Tempering Grass is one of the supplemental ingredients. There's also the Green Misty Jade, and the…"
He named four ingredients in one go, three of them true and one false. A lie almost true was the hardest to detect. Three out of four ingredients were genuine, lending an authenticity to his opinion.
The pill emperors grew grave. Jiang Chen had provided them with strong inspiration and clarified their thoughts. Perhaps they hadn't recognize the ingredients before, but now, they gasped in astonishment once they thought it over. How did Pill Seven suddenly come up with such understanding?
Jiang Chen instantly became the center of attention.
The old man with the grizzled beard asked solemnly, "Anything else, Pill Seven? Speak your freely, don't worry about being wrong." He clearly was the most passionate one about the Pinecrane Pill.
Jiang Chen knew the pill like the back of his hand. It was no trouble adding new details. Of course, he wasn't trying to show off, so he left a stutter in his voice to erase potential misgivings. He revealed only insignificant elements and also misled them with some mistakes here and there.
Tian Lin was amazed by "Pill Seven's" eloquence. The more the man spoke, the more credible he sounded.
"Pill Seven, you named so many supplemental ingredients. Can you guess the primary ones? The refinement method completely covers and makes it impossible to detect the ingredients' characteristics."
Jiang Chen smiled. "The Goldencrown Cloudcrane should be one of them. Jiang Chen's been buying them for a while, and at a high price at that. It must be for the sake of the Pinecrane Pill. Sir Tian Lin, what do you think?"
Tian Lin fell into deep contemplation.
A gleam appeared in the three pill emperors' eyes. The one with the grizzled beard in particular, leapt to his feet. "That's right, why didn't I think of that? Pinecrane Pill, Goldencrown Cloudcrane, both contain the word crane! They must be related."
"Pill Seven, your guess is bold but also logical. Let's take a look at the pill again and see if we can find traces of the Goldencrown Cloudcrane."
Everyone offered their own views. Jiang Chen's suggestion had undoubtedly opened a new door, lighting a way in the darkness and a new way of thinking. Thanks to his clues, they made great strides in their research.
Tian Lin's admiration for "Pill Seven" grew even stronger. "Pill Seven, staying here seems like a waste of your talent. With your attainment in pill dao, you're a match for many top rank pill kings. Are you interested in following me?"
He surprisingly wanted to poach the pill servant.
The bearded old man interjected hurriedly, "Sir Tian Lin, please don't steal him away. Now's a crucial time for our experiments. We've built a rapport with these pill servants. If you take him away, where would we find someone else suitable?"
"That's right. And Pill Seven, don't be too full of yourself. A cultivator of Pillfire should stay composed, whether faced with favor or misfortune."
Sir Tian Lin's enthusiasm grew as time went on, but there was a limit to how long he could stay. Two hours later, he readied himself to leave.
"Gentlemen, I leave the research to you. I'll come back tomorrow," he encouraged before departing. He was deeply gladdened by today's progress.
"Pill Seven, come with me. I want to test you further." He issued an invite to Jiang Chen in an expression of goodwill.
Jiang Chen beamed. He'd been fretting on how to create an opening. How very accommodating of the fellow! "Of course. I'll send you off."
Tian Lin smiled when they exited the pill room and arrived in the courtyard. "Pill Seven, if we can decipher the pill's recipe, your contribution will be the greatest."
Jiang Chen nodded curtly. What did he care?
Capturing Tian Lin without alerting the enemy was of critical importance. Once his target left the courtyard and reached the four guards waiting outside, the window of opportunity would be gone.
Now is the time! He suddenly triggered the Major Artifice Formation through the formation disk and sealed off the surrounding space.
The Bewitching Lotuses of Fire and Ice he'd prepared beforehand drilled up from the ground. Swish, swish, swish! They bound Tian Lin and dragged him underground.
Everything had happened in the blink of an eye, leaving no time for Tian Lin to react. Even when the poor man found himself trapped, he still didn't understand what had transpired.