Pang Wei’s reaction irked Ziju Min. As the authority from the Eternal Sacred Land, he was the one who made the rules for the contest and was entitled to make judgement calls as he saw fit. As a young genius, Pang Wei should’ve listened instead of questioning him.
“Pill dao never stops advancing,” he remarked noncommittally. “Truth is not a constant. If you can prove through practice that the Illusory Spirit Grass is the best choice, your victory will be unquestionable. That will also be in line with the purpose of the contest. You’re the host and the star of the day, Ying’er. What do you say?”
Though Xiahou Ying didn’t like either of the two factions, she was immensely put out with Pang Wei for his arrogance. That he’d dared to question Ziju Min’s decision was especially upsetting.
Ziju Min was her master, the organizer of the pill dao contest and the rulemaker. How dare Pang Wei not understand the situation?
“You make the rules, teacher. You have the final say.” She’d never intended to speak up for House Yan, and she wasn’t. She just wanted to knock some sense into Pang Wei.
Pang Wei looked at her, then at Ziju Min’s serious expression. The pill dao master didn’t seem inclined to change his mind.
With a soft sigh, Pang Wei cupped his hands at Ziju Min. “My apologies for my loss of composure, Master Ziju. You’re right. We’ll get to the truth through practical application. I’ll expose this man for the prancing clown he is!”
He didn’t dare direct his frustration at Ziju Min. Instead, he shifted the focus of his ire to Jiang Chen. There wasn’t much else he could do before the crowd’s eyes. Killing intent exploded in his eyes. “You better behave yourself, brat. If I know that you’ve wasted our time on purpose, you’ll get what you deserve.”
Jiang Chen snorted silently. He’d gotten tired of rote threats like that.
Surprisingly, it was Yan Zhenhuai who scoffed back. “Who’re you trying to intimidate, Pang Wei?”
As the top genius of House Yan, Yan Zhenhuai was obligated to protect the family’s interest. Jiang Chen was fighting for the house’s sake. It would be remiss of him if he didn’t take a stand in support. Besides, he wasn’t scared of Pang Wei.
The crowd grew excited to see the two geniuses go head to head. They watched with rapt attention, hoping the two of them would fight it out.
It was unrealistic to expect a fight to break out here. Once the two of them left the premises however, there was no telling what would happen.
Pang Wei sneered and threw Yan Zhenhuai a contemptuous glance. “Watch yourself, Yan Zhenhuai. You people from House Yan are welcome to come at me together. I’ll take all of you on myself.”
Jiang Chen intervened before Yan Zhenhuai could respond. “Arguing with petty men like him only brings us down to his level, Brother Zhenhuai. Let me teach him a lesson through pill dao.”
It wasn’t a harsh comeback, but it was enough to render Pang Wei speechless. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
Yan Qingsang broke into hearty peals of laughter. It was cathartic just to see Pang Wei’s face turn beet red with anger.
Pang Wei leveled a frosty stare at Jiang Chen. He was already imagining how his opponent as a dead man.
That didn’t faze his target at all. Jiang Chen shrugged. “Pang, are you too scared to take on the challenge?”
“Alright, enough with the quarrel,” Ziju Min cut in. “All the ingredients have been prepared. You’ve been given the same materials except for the Illusory Spirit Grass and Silverstripe Grass. The cauldrons you’re going to use are the same as well. You may check them yourselves.”
Jiang Chen quickly checked his materials to make sure nothing had been compromised. The cauldron was especially important to examine. If the cauldron was faulty, it’d be impossible for him to win.
He sent out some tongues of fire to heat up the cauldron. Once he was sure it functioned normally, he put it down, waiting for Ziju Min to signal for the start.
The senior nodded. “Alright, you may start. Remember, you only have two hours, which is about the time it’ll take for you to refine a cauldron of Mirage Introspection Pills.”
Jiang Chen started without hesitation.
Heat the cauldron. Build the fire. Add in ingredients. For him, refining pill was as easy as eating and sleeping. Besides, this particular pill wasn’t particularly difficult to make. He didn’t use any special tricks. Instead, he did everything by the book.
Even with the same method, different people would produce different results.
Jiang Chen’s way wasn’t anything special, but he did everything with practiced ease. Even though he’d purposefully hidden his true ability, his performance caught Ziju Min’s attention.
This young man has a solid foundation in pill dao. Not everyone at his age can possess such practiced skill.
He must’ve put in a great deal of effort to reach this level of sophistication.
Jiang Chen focused on nothing but the task at hand when he was refining pills. He ignored everyone’s glances and worked step-by-step at his own pace.
Ziju Min shifted his focus between Jiang Chen and Pang Wei. Most of the time though, he was looking at Jiang Chen.
There were no surprises forthcoming from Pang Wei. Everyone on Myriad Abyss Island refined the same Mirage Introspection Pill with the same Illusory Spirit Grass and the same method.
The Silverstripe Grass was the only new factor of interest. What were the necessary steps? When should it be added? How should the temperature be controlled?
Every detail was crucial. It was often what determined if a pill would be refined successfully.
Jiang Chen didn’t notice that Ziju Min was learning his techniques by observing him. This method was nothing special, thus he didn’t care at all if someone stole the technique from him.
After about thirty minutes, Jiang Chen completed the preliminary combination of all the ingredients. Now it was time to refine the pills, the most important stage.
The quality of execution during this stage would determine the success rate. If everything was executed perfectly, the likelihood of producing supreme rank pills would be significantly higher as well.
He focused wholly on controlling the cauldron and the Mirage Introspection Pills within.
One… two… three… The pills were translucent and had an attractive glow to them like longan fruits. They lay inside the cauldron like embryos within a mother’s body.
He cast his eye to the inside of the cauldron, feeling the pills settle into their shapes. His heart remained as calm as still water.
After three quarters of an hour, his cauldron started humming, a sure sign of success. He smiled in delight and gradually lowered the intensity of the fire, allowing the cauldron to cool down.
A dull rumble came from within. The fire extinguished in the next moment. The refining process had come to an end.
With the cauldron now quiet. He slapped the table lightly, making the lid of the cauldron leap into the air.
Pills that resembled pieces of white jade flew out of the cauldron one by one. The refinement was a success!. Each translucent pill was shaped like a heart. They were endearing and appealing. The pills fell onto a jade plate like marbles, making a staccato of pleasant clinks.
Everyone turned towards the sound and counted the pills. Ziju Min widened his eyes slightly to see that thirteen pills had come from Jiang Chen’s cauldron.
Every single pill was perfectly shaped and had a beautiful lustre. It was obvious that the pills were of supreme rank. Even the pickiest critics wouldn’t be able to find any flaws. Everything about the pills was perfect.
Ziju Min was swayed. He glanced at Jiang Chen pointedly, his heart filled with shock. He was now ninety percent sure that Silverstripe Grass worked better than Illusory Spirit Grass. Even if he’d refined the pill himself, he could produce at most ten to twelve pills to a cauldron.
Jiang Chen produced thirteen at once! If he’d only exceeded expectation in quantity of the pills, there would be nothing to boast about. But the thirteen pills were all of supreme rank. That was a remarkable demonstration of his ability.
Pang Wei had proceeded to the end of the refining process as well. His cauldron was humming lowly. However, the sound coming from his cauldron was a clear enough indication that the result wasn’t as good.
His pills were soon finished. There were nine of them, which wasn’t bad. However, the pills he produced were clearly lesser than Jiang Chen’s in all aspects including size and color.
Comparisons were odious. No one could say that Pang Wei hadn’t done well, but he couldn’t rival Jiang Chen in pill dao in any way.
The crowd watched in awe. The winner was obvious. The contrast between the pills was striking. Even the best of Pang Wei’s nine pills couldn’t rival the most flawed of Jiang Chen’s.
Ziju Min didn’t even have to announce the results. Everyone could see with their own eyes who was the winner.