Chapter 496: A Dominating First
Jiang Chen was familiar with cauldron inspection and fire control after his bet with Yan Hongtu. Although the contents were different, the format was the exact same, so he felt absolutely no pressure. To Jiang Chen, this kind of testing was as effortless as eating and drinking. He would be able to utterly dominate in cauldron inspection and fire control. Therefore, he sped into the third test at the fastest speed possible—seed identification.
This segment had a slightly higher difficulty, but it still posed no challenge to Jiang Chen. Out of a thousand seeds, one had to choose the only five seeds that had the same attributes. There were only five of them, so the slightest mistake would disqualify a contestant. In addition, one of the seeds was a dead seed, and they had to pick it out too.
Jiang Chen utilized his God’s Eye to scan for the most minute of details, employing it like a magnifying glass and enlarging all the attributes of the seeds in his eyes. His fingers flew as he quickly picked out the five seeds. Dead seeds might have been a difficult twist for an ordinary alchemist, but it was still nothing to him.
Dead seeds were simply seeds with no signs of life. He merely sensed for a bit and picked it out from the five. He maintained his overwhelming momentum in the third test.
When the others saw how fast Jiang Chen was, they were completely baffled and shocked. Even the most favored contenders had only just entered the third test, whereas Jiang Chen had already made it into the fourth.
The fourth had to do with assembling medicines, and the difficulty was again slightly higher than the previous. There were 99 spirit herbs present, contestants were required to find eighteen combinations from them. The so-called medicine assembly was just matching up spirit herbs. In the world of refining pills, ingredients could be divided into main ingredients and supplemental ingredients. Identifying and using herbs as main ingredients, supplemental ingredients or both was an art. The matter of how to match them together was another question entirely. In the end, whoever grasped the most knowledge would have the highest level of pill dao.
This kind of game was child’s play to Jiang Chen. He only needed to look at these spirit herbs, touching and smelling them once to fully know them inside and out. He quickly made 36 combinations, and there was no error with any of his pairings.
The judge’s jaw dropped at the sight of Jiang Chen breezing through the segments. How was this a contest? It was a tutorial! These methods, this speed, this attitude—it was even more relaxed than a tutorial.
At this moment, the most stunned one present was undoubtedly Elder Yun Nie. He was naturally aware of Jiang Chen’s high potential in pills. Otherwise, he would’ve never been able to so easily destroy Yan Hongtu, much less help Elder Yun Nie complete the refinement of the Hexarune Dragon Pill. However, Jiang Chen was still young, and the elder had always thought this might’ve been a fluke.
Perhaps Jiang Chen had happened to come into contact with this pill at sometime. However… judging from his domineering performance, Elder Yun Nie now understood that Jiang Chen was an absolute genius in matters of spirit medicine. Such a genius had likely never appeared in the history of the Regal Pill Palace. He was simultaneously beset by astonishment and rising excitement.
In the past couple of decades, the elder had been concerned that Sage Dan Chi was overly emphasizing martial dao and thus was greatly affecting the Regal Pill Palace’s pill dao. More and more young folk were overlooking the practice of pills in favor of martial arts. It could even be said that the level of pill dao level in the sect had been gradually decreasing in the past sixty years. This decline had not materialized in the elder generation, but in the form of no successors appearing in the younger generation.
This was also the truth. If it wasn’t for a shortage in talent, a pill master such as Mu Gaoqi who’d just entered the origin realm would’ve never been able to strut around with such pride.
Elder Yun Nie was even more worried about the Pill Battles of Mt. Rippling Mirage. He’d obtained intelligence over the past decade or so that indicated the six premier sects of the Myriad Domain were all furiously cultivating pill geniuses. The Tristar Sect and Walkabout Sect in particular had raised many young geniuses under their wing.
In comparison, the young geniuses of the Regal Pill Palace had thrown away the traditions of their ancestors and devoted themselves in pursuing martial dao. Martial dao was a nice thing, Elder Yun Nie was well aware of this. But their focus had been too narrow, resulting in a loss in their traditional advantage in pill dao along the way. Therefore, Elder Yun Nie was quite worried. He was uncertain if the younger pill masters would be able to triumph against their counterparts from the Tristar Sect and Walkabout Sect in the battles of Rippling Mirage.
He was finally able to heave a sigh of relief as these worries vanished—because he’d discovered Jiang Chen!
While Elder Yun Nie was lost in thought, Jiang Chen had increased his pace and arrived at the fifth topic of analyzing pill recipes. This was the hardest of the five, because only one of the supplied recipes were correct, with other four being erroneous. The contest requested that all five had to be analyzed regardless of their errors, and the contestants had to provide a justification for choosing the correct and erroneous recipes.
This was the greatest barrier amongst the five topics, and the clearest indicator of pill master’s level. But even with the enhanced difficulty, it was still nothing to Jiang Chen.
He’d actually been paying attention to the other contestants as well. When he saw that Mu Gaoqi and the others had only just completed the third round, he felt that he would be too shocking if his speed was this fast. Therefore, he purposefully slowed down a bit and used his consciousness to observe the others.
The most favored Ouyang Chao whom Mu Gaoqi had introduced before, the lineal grandson of some Herbal Hall elder; the previously provocative Linghu Feng, lineal grandson of old man Linghu Xian, and the tiny female pill master Ling Hui’er were all Mu Gaoqi’s strongest rivals. Jiang Chen took a look at them and saw that Mu Gaoqi was holding his own against them. However, he could also tell that whether it was Mu Gaoqi or the other three, all of them were holding some strength back, seemingly hesitant at bursting forward with all their strength. They were slightly surprised at Jiang Chen’s momentum, but kept their heads and didn’t lose themselves in shock, preventing their mindsets from being affected.
They felt that if they had called on their full capabilities early on, it would affect their performance in the final rounds. Therefore, they were highly dismissive of Jiang Chen’s actions, thinking that this outsider was purposefully showing off for the limelight. Mu Gaoqi however, naturally knew differently. He knew that this was Jiang Chen’s true strength.
Jiang Chen purposefully held himself back in the fifth topic, but he was still the first to complete. The examiner who looked over his results was also quite astonished, because not only had Jiang Chen passed every topic, he’d done so with perfect results. The examiner surreptitiously walked over to Elder Yun Nie and murmured a few words in the elder’s ears. The elder smiled slightly and nodded lightly. It was apparent that he was quite impressed at Jiang Chen’s results.
Standing off by Elder Yun Nie’s side, Linghu Xian perked up his ears as he heard the examiner’s soft words. Shock jolted his heart as he narrowed his eyes, casting a glance full of wariness at Jiang Chen as enmity flashed through his heart. Emotions rocked his heart like great waves. “That lad Jiang Chen rejected my invitation last time and now is gaining great recognition in the competition for the residences. Is this animal trying to ruin my plans?”
Linghu Xian greatly spoiled, doted on, and was biased towards his grandson Linghu Feng. He was absolutely sure of his grandson’s victory in the fight for the residences this time, but felt a sliver of danger now that he’d witnessed Jiang Chen’s unbroken momentum. Linghu Feng already had to face competition from Ouyang Chao, Ling Hui’er and Mu Gaoqi. He was completely dismissive of Ling Hui’er and Mu Gaoqi. They were just a bunch of unorthodox disciples. No matter how high their potential was, it was limited without the support of a Herbal Hall heavyweight.
Ouyang Chao was different. He was also the lineal grandson of a Herbal Hall elder, and his achievements in pill dao was a hair stronger than Linghu Feng. This meant to say that one of the two residences reserved for pill masters was already predestined for Ouyang Chao, and Linghu Feng had to fight for the remaining one. In Linghu Xian’s eyes, his grandson should’ve led the pack in the fight for the remaining residence. But when he saw Jiang Chen’s dominating performance in the preliminaries, his confidence developed a hairline crack. As Linghu Xian then looked at Ling Hui’er and Mu Gaoqi, it was obvious that they were both still holding back, they clearly wouldn’t be pushovers.
Jiang Chen took first place and entered the finals as the champion. Ouyang Chao was the runner up, Linghu Feng third, Ling Hui’er fourth, Mu Gaoqi fifth and so on…
The rankings surprised no one, apart from Jiang Chen in the lead. They still had to wait for the others to finish the contests and form the list of top thirty for the finals before proceeding. The other geniuses all completed the five topics after roughly two hours, and the final rankings for the preliminaries could finally be finalized.
The first ones to be disqualified weren’t the ones last to finish, but the ones who’d made errors in the previous contests. Any mistake was grounds for disqualification. Therefore, those who’d finished later still had the chance to make it into the top thirty.
The final list was produced after four hours of checks and census. Jiang Chen remained first, his rank unshakeable.
“It’s been a long and tiring day, but the list for the final round is now out. The finals will commence early tomorrow morning. 1. Go back and recover your strength, the tests for the final will be much tougher than the preliminaries.” With Elder Yun Nie’s parting words, the preliminaries drew to a close.