Chapter 772: Comparisons Beget Frustration
Pill King Yu was rather eager to announce the results—he simply couldn’t see through House Wei’s guest pill king. Was he a frivolous person pretending to be earnest, or did he truly have other tricks up his sleeves? The judge put Pill King Rong’s scroll to one side and opened Jiang Chen’s first. Nobody felt it odd that the earlier submission was being reviewed first. It was in the following moment that a truly baffling scene played out. Pill King Yu`s eyes were glued to the scroll after a first sweep through its contents. It was as if some invisible force was drawing him in. He jumped up from his seat in excitement—appearing both shocked and delighted as his face eventually lit up—it was almost as if he was intoxicated. Every change in expression were vividly displayed on his face.
The audience was stunned by the scene playing out before them. What within the scroll was so attractive that it could cause a dignified, solemn pill king to act in such an odd manner?
The other pill kings couldn’t help but come together to discuss this matter. The other judges were also racking their brains while glancing at the scroll. Their expressions were similar to kids fighting over candy; no one was willing to give way.
“Hahaha…” Pill King Yu suddenly broke into laughter. His eyes were tinged red as tears fell uncontrollably. He stayed hunched over the desk and sobbed. This odd scene petrified everyone present.
And what was the matter now? Why had Pill King Yu broken into tears without rhyme or reason? Was there a reason to be so emotional? Could it be that the pill king from Taiyuan Tower had submitted some melodramatic tale instead of pill recipes? How on earth could he have forced a pill king, who had lived for no less than a thousand years, to lose his composure and even break down into tears?
“I’d never have thought… thought that I would live to see a completed Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma. Who would’ve thought? This… is this divine providence?”
Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma? Many pill kings were shocked after hearing these six words. They had heard of the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma before, but most of them were only familiar with the name and not its contents. They didn’t fully know the 36 spirit herbs, to say nothing of 36 pill recipes. However, many had still heard of the famed Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma.
Being a senior in pill dao, Pill King Yu was vastly experienced and informed. He was conversant with the 36 spirit herbs, but had never seen the completed 36 pill recipes of Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma. That was why he had lost his composure so dramatically, and couldn’t help but break into loud sobs after seeing Jiang Chen’s answer scroll. He was particularly excited. Despite his advanced level in pill dao and the hundreds of years he`d poured into studying the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma, he’d only been able to unravel some twenty odd pill recipes. He’d always suspected, deep in his heart, that this Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma was bogus, a pretentious trick of their forebears. He’d thought that creating 36 pill recipes might not actually be possible. But today, he’d discovered that he was still truly a frog at the bottom of the well despite being a ninth rank pill king. The Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma was an ancient and renowned pill riddle. How could it be fake?
The other judges studying the scroll were intoxicated by the contents as they lost themselves within. It took a good while before they finally came back to themselves. They then turned to Pill King Rong’s scroll and found nine pill recipes described within. Under normal circumstances, completing this much within an hour was quite good. But it was no better than trash when compared to Jiang Chen’s scroll. After regaining control of his emotions with visible effort, Pill King Yu announced loudly. “For the first round, the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma, the victory goes to Taiyuan Tower by an overwhelming margin!”
A fair amount of subjectivity was obvious within Pill King Yu’s tone. Normally, words like “overwhelming margin” shouldn’t be used by a judge. Pill King Yu, however, still felt that to be insufficient to express the ecstatic delight in his heart. “Countless top ranked pill kings in the Divine Abyss Continent have been unable to crack this Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma. Who would’ve thought that today, it’d be revealed in its entirety? Having lived for so long, I finally understand why a man enlightened in the morning would accept if he were to die in the evening!”
Although the less educated were unable to fully comprehend these erudite words, they were able to grasp the general idea. Pill King Yu was greatly moved and felt that being able to see the completed Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma was a great revelation. He would have no regrets even if he died then and there. Many turned pale with astonishment as word spread through the surrounding pill kings.
The completed Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma? There was actually someone in the Divine Abyss Continent who could complete the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma? This was a legend of the Divine Abyss Continent—a pill riddle for which there was no solution! A mere pill king of House Wei was actually able to decipher the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma and write down all 36 pill recipes?
This news once again petrified everyone present. Even Wang Teng couldn’t help but speak out. “Pill King Yu, I hope I don’t come across as skeptical, but I’ve also heard of this Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma. I`ve heard it to be an unsolvable riddle. Could this brat have deliberately misled everyone?”
Pill King Yu’s expression turned solem. “Young master Wang, are you suspecting our professional integrity or questioning our working standards?” Pill King Yu was obviously upset. The Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma was a divine puzzle to him. How could he tolerate Wang Teng’s blasphemy? He spoke loudly, “This old man has been trying to unravel the mysteries behind this riddle for hundreds of years and am most qualified to judge this matter. I’ve only been able to come up with twenty three pill recipes in total. The ones I’ve discovered are all in this answer scroll along with the thirteen that I haven’t! Whoever questions the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma is committing blasphemy!”
Pill King Yu’s attitude made everything clear. The other judges all nodded in agreement. They had all studied this Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma at some point in their lives and knew that the answer scroll wasn’t fake.
An unreconciled Wang Teng continued to press his case, “Pill King Yu is one of the most prominent experts of the pill trade in the Veluriyam Capital. Even you, your excellency, can only deduce twenty three recipes, and yet a mere guest pill king was able to decipher the whole pill chart in just a quarter of an hour. Does no one else find this odd?”
Wang Teng immediately shifted the spearhead towards Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen smiled nonchalantly and glanced at Wang Teng as though the latter was an idiot. “Could it be that I’m required to report how I mastered the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma to Sir Wang?”
He was giving them a taste of their own medicine. When they had previously discussed the origins of the Longevity Pill, Wang Teng had stated that they had no need to prove nor report anything regarding the source of the pills to him. Jiang Chen was simply returning the favor in kind.
Wang Teng’s ears turned scarlet, momentarily lost for a retort. On the other hand, Pill King Yu was feeling a complex blend of remorse and curiosity. He was regretting looking down on House Wei’s guest pill king earlier, thinking the latter was giving up on the competition. But he was also curious as to how this guest pill king from House Wei was so knowledgeable about the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma.
“Pill King Zhen, this old man means no offense, but I hope you can indulge my curiosity. The Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma is an unsolvable conundrum of the Divine Abyss Continent. Where… where did you see this completed version?” Pill King Yu wasn’t deliberately making things difficult for Jiang Chen. He was truly just curious, and his tone was that of requesting a consultation.
Jiang Chen laughed, “Actually there’s no such thing as an unsolvable conundrum. I had the fortune of meeting a sage during my youth, from whom I learned the dao of pills for over ten years. My mentor was a rather eccentric senior. He told me many interesting stories about the field of pills and medicine. I heard of this Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma`s solution when I was ten, and committed it to memory ever since.”
Pill King Yu was absolutely dumbstruck when he heard Jiang Chen’s words. He had studied this riddle religiously for hundreds of years, but this person in front of him had mastered it at the age of ten. This… this is what was meant by comparisons begetting frustration! However, Pill King Yu was already an elder and naturally wouldn’t succumb to jealousy. He was surprised, but now even more curious after hearing Pill King Zhen’s description of his mentor. Just how powerful a pill dao expert would his master be? Pill King Yu’s mind was besieged with a great many questions. He wanted nothing more than to sit down and chat with Jiang Chen deep into the night, nay, for three days and three nights straight! But he didn’t forget that he was currently judging a wager between two houses. It wasn’t proper for him to express too much of his emotions at this point. It might lead to unnecessary finger-pointing.
He suppressed his curiosity for the moment and nodded slowly before glancing communicatively at the other eight judges. They all came to a unanimous final decision that there was no doubt about Taiyuan Tower’s victory in the first round. Wang Teng was utterly dissatisfied and full of suspicions. But the other party had no obligation to report anything to him, much like the matter regarding the Longevity Pill. He gnashed his teeth in frustration, but could only pinch his nose and eat the loss. Fortunately, this was just an unexpected development. “Damn, what a lucky bastard! This brat mastered the Ingenious Decan Pill Enigma a long time ago. He just won by pure luck this round!” Wang Teng consoled himself.
Pill King Yu slowly regained control over his emotions. “The second round of the pill king contest takes a different approach from the first, but still moves in the same direction. This time, we’ll be testing not only the pill kings’ theoretical knowledge, but also their practical skills.” As he explained, he waved his hands to summon two assistants to his side.
Each assistants carried a large tray, on which was an identical set of forty eight spirit herbs. The grade of these ingredients weren’t very high. Most of them were only spirit herbs suitable for use by origin realm cultivators.
“You will both be given a set of forty eight spirit herbs with some of the strongest fusion properties. A large number of possible combinations are possible between them. Your objective is to compose a pill recipe with these and then refine your pill. The competitor whose product is of a higher rank will be declared victor. We’ll judge based on the purity and quality of the pills if the final products are of identical rank. Supreme rank pills are the most optimal, followed by upper rank, and then mid and lower rank.” Pill King Yu read the rules out loud. Jiang Chen was already quite familiar with them. These contests were quite popular in the Divine Abyss Continent. He had already experienced a similar competition back at Mt. Rippling Mirage.
After receiving their respective trays, the two contestants were immediately isolated from the outside world by restrictive formations. “Remember, the time limit for this stage of the competition is two hours. If every aspect of your products are identical, the person who first completes the refinement is the winner,” Pill King Yu reminded.