Refining the Taiyi Skymender Pill was a first for Jiang Chen in his current life. It was a higher level pill, approaching heavenly rank. If not for his millions of years of prior experience, he wouldn’t have been able to guarantee success.
Pills like these had an extremely complex refinement process. There was no room for error in any step. The smallest of mistakes would mean deleterious effects upon the final product, causing outright failure.
Jiang Chen wasn’t in a hurry to start right away, even though he had all the materials. Instead, he sat down cross-legged after he finished the preparations, meditating in front of his pill cauldron.
This was a good habit for refining pills. Because this was a pill he hadn’t refined before, he was being especially cautious.
He used his time in meditation to mentally work out the entire process of refinement. Paying attention to the details would help him improve his practical control later on.
Four iterations later, he was ready psychologically and practically to start refining the Taiyi Skymender Pill.
Ever since breaking through to empyrean realm, Jiang Chen had seen splendid improvement in every respect. Pill refinement had been no different.
Being at empyrean level had perfected his fine motor control over the minutiae. As a great emperor, Jiang Chen wouldn’t have much luck in refining the Taiyi Skymender Pill. Even if he wanted to push himself, the results wouldn’t have been the best.
Though he had a pretty good chance at success, one hundred percent was categorically out of the question. Even a successful refinement would not yield a large number of pills.
After reaching empyrean realm, both of the above were no longer problems.
Pill dao and martial dao were interconnected in a way. A pill dao master didn’t necessarily need supreme martial prowess, but he did need appropriate cultivation to support his skills. It was unrealistic for a great emperor or emperor cultivator to be able to unconditionally refine empyrean rank pills.
Jiang Chen’s control over his emotions had also improved since ascension.
He remained absolutely calm even when refining such an important pill. It didn’t matter that his future plans were entirely contingent upon his success here; in that moment, he was unaffected.
He kindled the flame, warmed the cauldron, and added in the materials, carrying out all the actions in fluid motions.
Within the secret room, Jiang Chen was absolutely calm. Outside, Ziju Min was the picture of anxiety. He was much more apprehensive because he knew intimately what it meant for both the young man and the sacred land.
The refinement had no room for failure. Failure meant that all the young man’s subsequent plans would be nipped in the bud. In fact, everything might very well spiral downward instead.
Ziju Min desperately hoped the young man would succeed.
The successful production of the pill would send an earthquake rippling through Myriad Abyss’s pill dao world.
“Shao Yuan, you’ve performed many miracles in the sacred land already. You just need to keep doing what you’ve been doing!” the senior prayed silently.
Twiddling his thumbs wasn’t the only thing he could do. He used his connections to collect the Crowning Empyrean Pill’s materials from all over Myriad Abyss.
Thankfully, Ziju Min knew enough of the right people around Myriad Abyss. Not as many as the late Elder Zimu, but not far off either. More importantly, he knew how to deal with people. This distinguished himself from the proud Elder Zimu.
It had built him a pretty good reputation and network within the pill dao field in Myriad Abyss, making the search for the pill’s materials possible in the first place.
The outside world knew nothing of what was transpiring within the Eternal Sacred Land.
Within a secret realm under House Xiahou’s jurisdiction, a young man rested inside a hot spring. Indistinct vapor and mist coiled up all around him, adding to the mystique of the scene. It was none other than the foremost genius of the house, Xiahou Zong.
He had cultivated for several years in the vicinity of these springs. In that moment, he suddenly opened his eyes, revealing profound eyes as bright as the stars in a night sky.
“How many years has it been?” Stretching out both arms, he basked in the pleasurable sensations of the world. The colors he saw anew appeared more vivid than ever before.
“I wanted to break through to mid empyrean realm when I first closed my doors. The heavens haven’t let me down. I’m fifth level empyrean now. It seems that I am truly blessed.” Unbridled joy was apparent upon Xiahou Zong’s face.
Everything in nature and creation had obviously been made for him. Whenever his emotions changed, the world should change alongside them.
He slowly rose from the waters of the spring, his skin as smooth and translucent as jade, creamier than a newborn baby’s.
The pool was disturbed by his motion, its surface rippling to reveal his perfect body. He stepped out of the mists onto dry land, laughing uncontrollably with his arms extended. “Just as heaven and earth are eternal, I too will become so one day!”
He narcissistically admired his own muscles, considering himself to be a marvel of creation.
“What a wonderful body,” Xiahou Zong chuckled slightly. “Wearing any garment would be defiling it, no matter the kind. Alas, humans are different from animals. We cannot go naked.”
If he could choose, he would rather have gone without clothes. He was the epitome of perfection.
The secret realm opened, introducing a well-dressed and vigorous Xiahou Zong back to the world. Since closing his doors several years ago, he had become a less popular subject of conversation in the capital.
“I’m back.” Xiahou Zong asserted his return as forcefully as possible to the rest of the world.
The news propagated to every other faction in Eternal Divine Nation in almost the next instant, spreading through the capital like wildfire.
Xiahou Zong, the foremost young genius in the nation, had resurfaced!
His reappearance meant that there was no longer any doubt as to who would win the young geniuses’ tournament. Countless geniuses would be trodden underfoot once more. It was the beginning of a different era.
Though Xiahou Zong was of the younger generation, he enjoyed greater status than the typical elder. His authority was inferior only to the most important members of the house, whom he enjoyed the meticulous affections from.
Clearly, all of House Xiahou knew what he meant for the rest. This was a genius who could potentially lead the house to much greater success.
“You’re finally out, brother!” Xiahou Ying was the happiest to see him emerge.
Xiahou Zong cared for his sister very much. He touched her face lightly. “We haven’t seen each other for a couple of years, Ying’er. You’ve gotten prettier.”
Xiahou Ying had been indulged by her brother since she was a child. She pouted, her eyes reddening tearfully. “While your doors were closed, brother, I was bullied by others. You didn’t care about me at all.”
“Oh?” Xiahou Zong’s eyes roved. “Who dares bully you? Don’t lie to me, Ying’er. I remember all the geniuses in the capital fussing over you even before I was gone.”
“Hmph, you don’t care about me anymore.” Xiahou Ying sulked.
Xiahou Zong had endless patience with a temper-tantrum throwing sister. “Enough with that, Ying’er,” he laughed. “I can deal with whatever trouble you had now that I’m out, alright?”
“Of course. Since when have I under-delivered on a promise?” Xiahou Zong spoiled his sister a lot. Anyone who dared cross or upset her would answer to him. He had beaten up innumerable other young geniuses to this end ever since his childhood.
“Tell me, what buffoon was blind enough to annoy you?” Xiahou Zong’s relaxed confidence turned his sister’s tears into a smile.
“Is that your promise, brother? I’m annoyed with a guy from House Yan.”
“House Yan?” Xiahou Zong paused, disdain plain upon his face. “Mayflies in June, without much time to live. Who is it? Yan Zhenhuai?”
In his opinion, the only young person worth considering within House Yan was Yan Zhenhuai. He didn’t even think about the others.
“No, an outsider with a different surname. He came to Eternal Divine Nation when your doors were still closed. He was just some unknown wandering cultivator before that. He’s joined the Eternal Sacred Land now though.”
“Joined the Eternal Sacred Land?” Xiahou Zong smiled coolly, his expression unchanged. “I’ve beaten up geniuses from there before.” He was used to lording it over everyone else. “Tell me. What’s his name, and how did he upset you?”
Xiahou Ying loved her brother’s dominance the most. She related how Jiang Chen had earned her ire with a great deal of embellishment and fabrication.