Chapter 495: The Tussle Begins
Jiang Chen’s presence acted as a lubricant, creating a smooth bridge of communication between Palace Head Dan Chi and Elder Yun Nie.
“Jiang Chen, our chat today has cleared up many things for me and put me in a wonderful mood. I have to say that despite the difference in our ages, you are truly one of my good friends. Alright, go make your preparations for the pill battles, I look forward to your exciting performance!” Dan Chi spoke another few words of encouragement and made a grasping motion in the air, pulling out a pill cauldron. “Jiang Chen, this cauldron is the Skyweave Cauldron, something my teacher gifted to me when I was young. It’s a pity that it never could display its full splendor in my hands. Now that my teacher has passed on, I have utterly disappointed his sentiments in giving this to me.” Dan Chi sighed lightly, traces of regret, shame, and nostalgia in his tone. “And now, I pass this cauldron onto you. Perhaps the hopes that my teacher had for me back then will be fulfilled by your hands.”
This Skyweave Cauldron was one of the top five cauldrons in Regal Pill Palace history. It had boasted an illustrious name in the past thousand years, and Jiang Chen was able to identify its exceptional qualities with one glance. Although it wasn’t on par with divine level cauldrons, this was without a doubt a preeminent cauldron in the mundane world. The Regal Pill Palace truly did have a stunning foundation in pills.
Jiang Chen didn’t actually find it that easy to accept such a precious cauldron all of a sudden.
“Haha, what of this? You’re embarrassed to accept it? I once promised you when you entered the sect that I would give you a welcoming present. You said you hadn’t thought of one then, and I’ve made the decision for you today. As a martial cultivator, the Skyweave Cauldron is a bright pearl covered in dust in my hands. Perhaps it can shine with its true glory in your hands. At long last, I might be able to slightly make things up to my teacher.” Dan Chi had set his goals in martial dao and made it his ambition to rebuild the Myriad Empire. He would never be content being just a pill master. Everyone had their own plans, and the cauldron truly wouldn’t be able to give full display to its brilliance in such a person’s hands.
When Jiang Chen saw the look of true sincerity on Palace Head Dan Chi’s face, he knew that this was the Palace Head’s desire to pass on his heritage and thus no longer protested. He nodded, “This kid will accept the Palace Head’s great favor with a thick face. If I am able to refine a Hexarune Dragon Pill in the future, I will surely place the first batch in your hands.”
“What? The Hexarune Dragon Pill?” Sage Dan Chi was startled. “You only viewed the recipe once and was able to memorize the steps to refining it?”
Jiang Chen smiled without saying a word. Compared to the advanced version, the Ennearune Heaven Grievance Pill, the Hexarune Dragon Pill was so much simpler in both theory and process. Jiang Chen didn’t even need to peruse it fully before coming up with the proper refining process.
“Good, good, good! A young man should have this kind of confidence. Since this is the case, I shall impatiently await your Hexarune Dragon Pill, hahaha!” Sage Dan Chi was in a wondrous mood. No matter the angle, Jiang Chen looked pleasing to the eye. If it wasn’t for Elder Shun’s existence, he almost wanted to accept Jiang Chen as his personal disciple. However, reason told Dan Chi that Jiang Chen was someone Elder Shun valued. He absolutely had no right to take Jiang Chen for his own.
When he sent Jiang Chen on his way, Dan Chi suddenly recalled the phenomenon in the skies the day he’d allied with the Precious Tree Sect. He’d always felt that the earth shattering phenomenon had something to do with Jiang Chen. “Ai, if that phenomenon really had something to do with Jiang Chen, then that youth’s future is truly limitless. Even the reclusive Titled Great Emperors hadn’t been this beloved by the heavens when they’d broken through to the origin realm.” But of course these were all Dan Chi’s speculations.
With regard to the residences of the Sovereign Area, this was a matter of grave importance that almost the entire sect mobilized for. Palace Head Dan Chi was acting as head judge and overseeing the competitions. Hallmaster Lian Cheng of the Hall of Might was in charge of the contests of martial dao, and Elder Yun Nie of the Herbal Hall was in charge of those for pills. Elder Chang Feng and Elder Jin Gu, two elders of noble character and high prestige, were in charge of supervising the proceedings for cheating.
The sacred ground for these competitions, Shen Li Palace was situated within the Rosy Valley. It was divided into the martial and pill areas inside, with almost all the senior executives gathered at the great hall to the doors of the Palace at the moment.
Palace Head Dan Chi looked around with solemn gravity, opening his mouth to proclaim loudly, “The residences in the Sovereign Area should be reserved for the utmost of geniuses. We have created four more this time in order to uncover even more geniuses. As a fourth rank sect, our advances in martial dao and pills should be proceeding at the same pace. Therefore, two residences have been reserved for pill dao geniuses this time.”
Although the words didn’t blatantly criticize himself for his past failings, the intention for self correction was obvious. Standing next to the Palace Head, Elder Yun Nie was slightly surprised by this. He looked at Sage Dan Chi, then at Jiang Chen, sinking into thought.
“In the contest for the residences, I only emphasize one point. The proceedings must be fair without malpractice for selfish ends. No matter how great your status or your background, you must rely on your own strength in the contests. Once cheating is discovered, you will be eternally barred from participation. If anyone decides to help in the background, know that the investigation that follows will leave no stone unturned, no matter one’s position. The sect’s rules will be applied to all!”
Order came from rules, and ruling over a sect required charisma. Palace Head Dan Chi had never been one to relax the rules, and he enforced them with an iron fist. His words brought the geniuses participating to solemn attention. Even those harboring secret schemes in their hearts all quietly shelved their ideas. Everyone knew that Palace Head Dan Chi was a man of his word. Whoever challenged the rules in the Regal Pill Palace would surely be subjected to the most severe of punishments.
After Dan Chi finished his speech, Elder Lian Cheng and Elder Yun Nie all spoke a few words on behalf of their areas. Following that, everyone filed into their respective areas. Mu Gaoqi and Jiang Chen headed for the pill area together.
“Brother Chen, I believe that you’ll be number one, and I’ll be number two, heh heh!” Mu Gaoqi’s confidence had noticeably risen after being baptized in the wood spirit spring. Jiang Chen had told him last time to be not overly humble in some matters, to stride forth with bold confidence.
Jiang Chen was nodding when a sharp voice pierced their ears. “Mu Gaoqi, when did you stoop to such depths? There are so many geniuses in the Rosy Valley for you to kiss up to, but you choose to suck up to an outsider? And what is this talk about being number one? Is number one that easy to obtain?” The person speaking was a young genius with red lips and white teeth. He had gentle and refined features, but his nose was tilted to the sky and an arrogant look was playing around in his eyes. It was obvious at a glance that he was the sort of person who felt that apart from himself, everyone else beneath the heavens was extraneous.
“Hmph, Linghu Feng. I’ll say what I want and you talk what you want. Don’t you have somewhere else to stick your nose?” Although Mu Gaoqi didn’t jeer back, his tone had noticeably cooled.
Linghu Feng started, obviously not having expected that the normally docile Mu Gaoqi would actually talk back to him. “Yo! Mu Gaoqi! I’ve underestimated you huh? You’ve learned to talk back now, eh? Do you think you’ve grown up into a real man now or what, huh?”
Mu Gaoqi responded unhappily, “Linghu Feng, don’t throw away what face we’re giving you. Show off everything you’ve got in the pill contests. I’ll accept your superiority if you can win a residence, or do you think you’ll obtain one just by talking big here?”
Linghu Feng laughed heartily. “Mu Gaoqi, do you think a little wretched tramp like you is worthy of talking about ability with me? Have you let that little bit of talent in refining pills get to your head, huh? Remember, there’s only two slots in the pill battles. It won’t be your turn no matter what!” There was a vicious undercurrent to his cocky tone.
Mu Gaoqi obviously didn’t wish to argue with him. He pulled at Jiang Chen, “Let’s go Brother Chen.”
Jiang Chen nodded. There was truly no need to be angry at a prancing clown like this.
“Jiang Chen, is it? I’ve heard of you. An outsider with an unstable foundation, and you think yourself capable of competing for these residences? Why don’t you take a piss first and take a good look at yourself?”
Jiang Chen’s body suddenly froze as God’s Eye gleamed and swept up and down Linghu Feng’s body. “Idiot.” With that one word response, he walked inside with a dismissive smile.
Linghu Feng had purposefully provoked Jiang Chen, but was slightly surprised to see Jiang Chen hold himself back. He was about to speak again when a light cough sounded by his side. He turned back to see his own grandfather, Linghu Xian by his side with a few Herbal Hall elders. Bringing up the rear was none other than Elder Yun Nie. The elder’s expression was emotionless as he walked inside, flicking a noncommittal glance at Linghu Feng in passing. The glance alone made Linghu Feng break out in a cold sweat.
“Control yourself!” Linghu Xian’s silent message sounded just as Linghu Feng started panicking. “If you anger yourself first in wanting to provoke Jiang Chen, what kind of great deeds will you be able to accomplish in the future? With such a great opportunity in front of us this time, see how I’ll take care of you if you don’t win a residence!” Linghu Xian snorted lightly as well, walking in after sending his grandson the message.
There were three hundred disciples participating in the pill contests, making it exceedingly difficult to narrow down the selection to just two. Therefore, this pill contest topics had been divided into preliminaries and final contests. The preliminaries would run until only thirty were left.
Mu Gaoqi stood below with Jiang Chen, introducing those they’d just seen. “Linghu Feng is the lineal grandson of Elder Linghu Xian of the Herbal Hall. His potential in spirit medicine is not bad, and he’s ranked in the top three for the competition this time. His arrogance is backed by ability, as he comes from a family devoted to learning for generations.”
“The one that’s most favored to take the top this time is Ouyang Chao, another lineal grandson of an Herbal Hall elder. His grandfather Ouyang De has a slightly higher position compared to Linghu Xian. That little girl Ling Hui’er is also favored to win as well.” Mu Gaoqi patiently described all their major competition.
Elder Yun Nie began announcing the rules at this time. “There are five topics in the contests. The first thirty to complete the topics will make it into the final contests.”
“The five topics are cauldron inspection, fire control, seed identification, medicine assembly, and recipe analysis.”
“I take it that no further explanation is needed for cauldron inspection and fire control. This is basic homework for the Regal Pill Palace. Seed identification is the act of finding the designated spirit herb seed within a thousand seeds, and medicine assembly is to complete a predetermined number of matches within a collection of spirit herbs. As for recipe analysis, we will give you five recipes for you to analyze. Your task will be to locate the only one with no mistakes.”
The five topics weren’t actually that complicated.