But, Ziju Min wasn’t going to be so careless. He took pills from both and examined them over and over again before letting out a long sigh.
Pang Wei’s failure wasn’t solely his own, but Myriad Abyss Island’s as a whole. The general understanding of the Mirage Introspection Pill had been flawed.
However, rather than disappointed, Ziju Min was very excited. That truth was found in experimentation was absolutely true.
“Haha, I didn’t expect today’s pill dao battle to yield such unexpected results. You’ve taught me a lesson, Shao Yuan. Who would’ve thought that the Mirage Introspection Pill would have such wondrous possibilities... so Illusory Spirit Grass wasn’t the best choice for it all along, eh? You’ve done a great favor for the pill dao world at large. This is a deed of great merit.”
“Not at all, Master Ziju,” Jiang Chen smiled. “I don’t deserve such high praise.”
There was nothing else that needed to be said right now. The Pang Wei who’d been nothing short of ferocious moments ago was now drooping. All of his arrogant disdain had disappeared.
He had been shocked into submission by the unexpected results. Nothing here was proceeding according to his understanding.
It was at this time that Yan Zhenhuai suddenly clapped lightly with a laugh. “Brother Shao Yuan, you were absolutely right. Actions speak louder than words in an argument. You’ve certainly taught someone a lesson in pill dao, and I’m sure he’ll be much more well-behaved from now on.”
It was just as Yan Zhenhuai had said. Pang Wei was petrified in stupefaction. Saying anything more at this juncture would only leave opportunities for others to attack him bywith He wanted to dive into a fissure in the ground.
“It seems that question eighteen must be rescored,” Ziju Min judged. “However, Pang Wei’s answer isn’t strictly wrong. It’s just that House Yan’s surpasses his. The ten points will go to House Yan instead, but the Jade Lake Sect won’t be deducted any points for the question.”
Jiang Chen had no issue with this decision. In fact, he would have been fine if Ziju Min had given both parties ten points for the question. There were two more questions in which he had every confidence that he would defeat his opponent by.
Pang Wei froze at Ziju Min’s declaration. His mouth moved a little, but nothing came out. He was too embarrassed to argue further. The Jade Lake Sect was collectively mildly upset and dissatisfied with this outcome. However, most of their enmity went towards House Yan.
Though House Yan wasn’t in most of the other factions’ good graces, it was difficult to comment about a question that it’d won with raw skill. Still, it was mildly strange that the house had gotten to this point in the first place. Since when had House Yan’s pill dao improved by so much?
This incredible reversal excited everyone on House Yan’s side. Yan Qingsang was especially animated: gesturing and waving wildly. Jiang Chen returned to his seat coolly, as if he’d done nothing at all of consequence. His composure slightly embarrassed Yan Qingsang.
With the last question, House Yan had surpassed the Jade Lake Sect in the rankings. It was at sixty points. The sect occupied second place, with fifty points. The other factions’ point totals remained as they were.
Only two questions remained. The contest was heating up into the most intense stage. Things were even clearer now: if the Jade Lake Sect couldn’t take the next question, but House Yan could, first place would be decided beforehand.
Thus, both parties solemnly prepared themselves for the problem to come. This would be the deciding point in the match.
The battle for third place was dampened by the tension for first. All eyes were gathered upon the two factions vying for the win. Ziju Min was a key focal point as well. He was the master of the questions, after all.
“Question nineteen is about spirit herb lore. This is an ancient question that I came across in my travels overseas. I’ve studied it for a long time and finally come upon some knowledge regarding it. Please listen well...”
Jiang Chen nodded to himself when he finished listening to the question. This question was indeed a remarkable one. It was rather esoteric and complex.
Ziju Min didn’t elaborate as to the question’s every detail. A small piece was sufficient for his purposes: the younger geniuses found it more than difficult enough.
This was a question about the cycle of five elements among spirit herbs. How should five spirit herbs be arranged to create a beneficial cycle so that all of them might grow faster with their peers’ influence?
It asked about an ancient puzzle that Jiang Chen had studied in his previous life; the level of his research was several times deeper than the scope of Ziju Min’s question. Thus, he had the answer already while the Jade Lake Sect was still confused about it. He smiled, motioning for Yan Qingsang to answer.
Yan Qingsang raised his hand with practiced ease.
The sect was uniformly demoralized by the gesture. Clearly they’d formed some kind of emotional reflex with Yan Qingsang raising his hand. Whenever he did so, bad news for them followed.
Jiang Chen stood up to answer the question once more without reservation.
The answer shocked Ziju Min once more. His question wasn’t particularly intricate, but the young man named Shao Yuan provided an answer that was beyond its breadth. In fact, its wisdom gave him a few flashes of inspiration.
He’d finally realized that this young man was perhaps the real mastermind behind House Yan’s preposterous performance.
When Ziju Min announced the results, the sect’s geniuses were paralyzed into capitulation. They hung their heads like defeated roosters.
After question nineteen, House Yan had seventy points. The Jade Lake Sect had only fifty and had been forced into second place. Third place was undecided as of yet.
However, since both House Yan and the Jade Lake Sect had no need to answer the twentieth question. Ziju Min lowered its difficulty accordingly so that the other factions might have a chance to compete.
House Feng finished third in the end, bringing a close to the lengthy pill dao competition.
As the biggest dark horse, House Yan won first place in an almost incomprehensible display of prowess. Though the Jade Lake Sect had been favored to win, it could only look on as the honor was snatched from its fingers and given to another.
Ziju Min sighed. “I’m both pleased and worried about the results of this competition. I can see that many of the factions are lax about pill dao as a discipline. However, there were some pleasant surprises as well. The Jade Lake Sect has always been steadfast about its pursuit of pill dao, and House Yan has been an incredible find today. I haven’t seen a show as amazing as this in a long time! Nor a young man as promising, truthfully.”
Jiang Chen shook his head internally. He could see that Ziju Min was a sentimental man without much guile to him. But these words of his were simply too much… or perhaps he really did just want to praise House Yan’s younger generation?
Given the current circumstances, the number of enemies House Yan made today was directly proportional to the gravity of Ziju Min’s praise.
“Ying’er, would you like to say a few words?”
It was nominally Xiahou Ying’s birthday party, so Ziju Min deferred to the star of the event.
“That’s fine, teacher.” Xiahou Ying was a bit upset. She hadn’t wanted either House Yan or the Jade Lake Sect to win.
Ziju Min had no idea of her biases though. He announced the results after a slight smile.
The weight of six hundred million spirit stones was heavy in House Yan’s hands. Yan Zhenhuai was more reserved about it, but Yan Qingsang made no attempt to hide his good cheer.
Yan Jinnan was green with envy. He found it hard to accept it even now. How come Yan Qingsang was suddenly hogging all the attention? The other youth who’d been slightly inferior to him in every respect had surpassed him in more ways than one. In fact, Yan Qingsang was several strides ahead now.
Psychologically speaking, Yan Jinnan couldn’t accept this.
Now that the pill dao contest was over, initiative at the banquet returned to House Xiahou’s hands.
As an observer, Jiang Chen watched as show after show was acted out in their honor. Every one of them had the same purpose: to heighten Xiahou Ying’s existence. She was given plenty of opportunities to show off.
At the conclusion of the banquet, she had become quite familiar with the geniuses in attendance, thus accomplishing her initial purpose perfectly. She had little interest in the rest of House Yan’s young people, but she was strangely courteous to Jiang Chen. She invited him several times to sit with her at the host’s table.
Jiang Chen didn’t fall for her tricks. He used his need to accompany his brother as an excuse to decline the numerous inquiries.
Xiahou Ying’s attempts at socializing rarely failed, but her inability to draw forth the winner of the pill dao contest was an exception. This made her somewhat disgruntled.
What’s the reason for his pride? I just wanted to test whether it was possible to steal him from House Yan. If he’s so stubborn about it, he can stay there to choke and die!
Malice and disgruntlement filled her heart.