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Chapter 358: The Pill Battles Begin

“Go Brother Chen! Hahaha, you’ll be rich if you bring home the championship!” Mu Gaoqi was now Jiang Chen’s biggest and most ardent fan. He was completely certain that Jiang Chen would be the ultimate victor.

Ling Bi’er didn’t say anything, but the encouraging look in her eyes was also in obvious support of Jiang Chen seizing the championship.

Elder Yun Nie laughed heartily. “Good, good! Some motivation resulting from the clash and conflict of geniuses isn’t a bad thing either. I’m rather curious, who will eventually grab the seat of champion in this group?”

He was an elder of the Regal Pill Palace after all, so he wasn’t quite at liberty to step out and support Jiang Chen in front of Shen Qinghong.

The young geniuses were clashing fiercely, but the elders were quite calm and stately. It was apparent that most of the elders thought there to be very little doubt over the champion this year. In the end, the battle would come down to a scarce few.

The bet of four hundred fifty thousand spirit stones caused all the geniuses who weren’t participating to be quite envious. Those from the fifth rank sects were even more jealous. Born in a fifth rank sect, there was still a difference in pill dao between them and the top geniuses of the fourth rank sects. They could only stand off to the side as bystanders in such a grand gathering as this.

Taking a step back, even if their pill dao cultivation was at the level where they could realistically fight for the championship, the sad reality was that they would then be low on funds. They wouldn’t be able to suddenly take out fifty thousand upper rank spirit stones for a bet. Even the elders of a fifth rank sect would be hard pressed to do such a thing. Only the rich scions of the fourth rank sects would be able to be so free with their money.

The atmosphere had become quite charged after this grand bet was set up. The visual and psychological impact of four hundred and fifty thousand spirit stones stacked up in a corner was quite stimulating. All of the participating geniuses stayed silent in the remaining preparation time, each using the time to ready themselves and await the beginning of the competition.

“The time has arrived, will all participants enter the lobby for the contest of fire control. Elders to the left, geniuses to the right.”

The lobby for the contest of fire control had once been a monumental undertaking by the Myriad Empire. There were a full three hundred and sixty fire control formations in this lobby. Each of them were independent of each other and served as the formations used in a competition of fire control.

There were thirty six sources of fire in each formation, each one a particular kind of flame found beneath the heavens. The battle of fire control would be determined by the number of flames a candidate could awaken within a set amount of time as well as the amount of resonance they could form with the fires.

The more they could awaken and resonate with, the more successful they were.

Each source of flame was ten points, making for a total for three hundred and sixty points. But if a candidate could awaken all thirty six flames within a set time, they would be awarded another forty points. That was to say, the highest number of points one could gain in this section was four hundred points.

“Everyone, enter your respective formations.”

There were observation platforms overlooking the lobby that allowed spectators to grasp the entire situation, forming a complete picture of what was going on. This was naturally where the judges were located, where the six great sect heads would be holding down the fort.

All of the contestants entered the formations according to their assigned number at that command.

Jiang Chen entered third; his number coming from the fact that the Regal Pill Palace had been champion of the last Pill Battles. As such, the numbering started from them. As the most senior disciple, Shen Qinghong was number one. Ling Bi’er was number two, Jiang Chen three and Mu Gaoqi four.

It wasn’t Jiang Chen’s first time participating in a fire control competition. He’d already done so once before when he’d first arrived at the Regal Pill Palace and competed with Yan Hongtu. He had a number of things he wanted to test out in fire control, so he wasn’t in a hurry to start when he entered the formation, instead spending time observing the formation.

Jiang Chen’s accomplishments in the area of pill formations were nothing short of first-class. A glance here and a short look there was enough for him to understand the rough theory behind the formation and plumb the intricacies of its operations.

“This fire control formation isn’t that complex. It merely uses a simple formation to induce all sorts of fires to make it convenient for pill refinement. This kind of formation is only an entry level formation in the greater picture of things, and likely isn’t as profound as the entry formations of a divine level.”

This formation naturally posed no difficulty to Jiang Chen, and he quickly gathered his thoughts. He formed a quick hand seal and ignited a flame in the palm of his hand.

There were three critical factors to activating the flames within the formation. Firstly, the cultivator needed to be equipped with the ability to summon flames, as in, they had to be able to be able to call flames themselves. Secondly, they needed to recognize the distinctive characteristics of each flame. Finally, they had to use various hand seals and their own fire element within them to trigger the flames within the formation and form a resonance with them.

Jiang Chen enjoyed an exceptional advantage in the form of clear insight into formations and a strong grasp of many types of fires. Not all fires could be triggered only after understanding them, but comprehending the particular characteristics of the flame itself would make it easier to activate it using one’s unique techniques.

The most adept pill masters would use the simplest and most effective ways of activating the flames. However, the most efficient path was something built upon rich knowledge and exemplary techniques. To his credit, Jiang Chen not only had deep knowledge, but had superb techniques to back him up. These were all advantages that none of the youngsters of this level of existence could measure up to. Therefore, although Jiang Chen’s internal power of fire wasn’t the most extraordinary, his uncommon wisdom and ways were enough to bridge this gap and send him bounding far ahead of the others.

“Although I have the Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice, I’ve yet to absorb any high level fires of the heavens or earth. As such, my internal fires aren’t particularly heaven defying. If I’m to refine high level pills, I’ll have to do so through the aid of pill formations. However, there are some pills with harsh requirements that go beyond pill formations. It looks like I still need to find a strong fire of the world to bolster my foundations.” Jiang Chen had already gone through several hand seals as his thoughts ran rapidly through his mind.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh…

Jiang Chen lit multiple flames in the formation like he was turning a magic trick. His extraordinary techniques dazzled the eyes of the beholder. His techniques were as extravagant as flowers raining from the sky. Each fire in the formation flared like a firework, brilliantly radiant.

However, he controlled the fires such that he kept a low profile in his small formation. The sect heavyweights observing the competition hadn’t even had a chance to look over in his direction yet. Only Dan Chi’s gaze never left Jiang Chen’s formation.  Although he also kept an eye on Shen Qinghong, Ling Bi’er, and Mu Gaoqi, his primary focus always remained with Jiang Chen.

Jiang Chen’s position now in the younger generation was now beyond anyone’s, including Shen Qinghong’s. Although Shen Qinghong had extraordinary martial dao potential, that was only the level of the Myriad Domain. To put it bluntly, it was pleasing to have a genius like this, but they wouldn’t have much of an effect on the fortunes of the sect.

Jiang Chen however, was different. He had a particular bearing and potential to him that could affect the fortunes of the entire Regal Pill Palace, and possibly even the sect’s destiny as well. This wasn’t something that Dan Chi was making up, but a conclusion he’d reached after careful observation and repeated validation. With Jiang Chen and Elder Shun’s relationship, how would Dan Chi not understand Jiang Chen’s value to the Regal Pill Palace?

He even suspected now that the stunning natural phenomena he’d seen when allying with the Precious Tree Sect had been a result of Jiang Chen breaking through to the origin realm. He had no proof of it for now, but if his guess was valid, then Jiang Chen’s potential would be truly monstrous. To elicit such phenomena when breaking through to the origin realm, this was absolutely someone with at least the potential of a Great Emperor!

Dan Chi’s gaze remained glued to Jiang Chen. When he saw Jiang Chen’s wondrous performance, he wondered, how is this a young genius controlling fire? This is absolutely the strongest pill dao legend of the Divine Abyss Continent controlling fire!

His superb control and amazing techniques left even an expert like Dan Chi guessing at their underlying theory. He only knew that while Jiang Chen’s ways looked simple, they encompassed deep and complex meanings.

While Dan Chi watched Jiang Chen, the latter’s movements didn’t slow as they fluidly moved from seal to seal. Inexorable as the tides, those who didn’t understand the theory behind this were watching a good show, but only experts could fully understand what was going on.

Finally, Dan Chi had identified the key to the matter. Although the other pill dao geniuses also activated each flame quickly, their movements were disjointed, with no continuity between lighting one fire and the next. It was as if they were hitting a wooden dummy, pausing, then moving onto the next one after they’d defeated the current one.

On the other hand, Jiang Chen was different. His movements seemed like one continuous motion. There was a connected theme behind the awakening of each flame, just like one playing the zither and brushing one’s hands over the strings. The vibration of each string produced a flowing melody that gave listeners a strong, rhythmic feeling. Apart from Jiang Chen, no other genius possessed this coherence.

How would he be able to do this without possessing a full understanding of the formation and the flames? How else would he be able to do all this so easily and effortlessly, in a way that allowed all his movements to flow so smoothly together?

“Jiang Chen…” Dan Chi was completely delighted. “Just how many more surprises will you bring me?”

Having watched him for half the competition at this point, Dan Chi was certain that Jiang Chen would absolutely come out ahead in this topic. He took a look at the other three and saw that their progress was similar. Ling Bi’er was actually slightly ahead, and Mu Gaoqi was neck to neck with Shen Qinghong. Both of them were making steady headway.

Although Mu Gaoqi had an innate wood constitution of high order, his foundation was fundamentally weaker after all, and he’d lacked the sufficient time to grow. Bringing him to the Pill Battles this time was just to expose him to more of the world. Dan Chi hadn’t actually expected Mu Gaoqi to try for the championship. After all, even the best potential needed time to grow. Mu Gaoqi was a long term reservoir of battle strength, and he represented the future of the Regal Pill Palace.

“Haha, Dan Chi, my Walkabout Sect will absolutely prevent your Regal Pill Palace from taking the championship again this time! My sect’s Wei Xin’er is an innate fire constitution, and the thirty six flames…”

Walkabout Sect head Wei Wuying was about to boast to Dan Chi when he suddenly screeched to a halt halfway through, as if his throat was constricted. His pupils contracted violently as his attention was caught by something in Jiang Chen’s direction. It was his first time noticing this nameless young man from the Regal Pill Palace, but he was absolutely unable to move his eyes away!

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