Chapter 840: Jiang Chen's Ploy
Jiang Chen had plotted out everything before arriving. The Longevity Pill was a most wondrous pill, and the pill recipe Jiang Chen had produced back then was the most common one. In reality, there were a total of eight ways to make the Longevity Pill. The recipe he used during the Mt. Rippling Mirage Pill Battles was just one of the many pill recipes that existed, and he'd used it only because the ingredients he had been provided coincided with the ones in that particular recipe.
It definitely wasn't the only pill recipe that could create the Longevity Pill. Moreover, many of its ingredients could be replaced. He hadn't told even his Regal Pill Palace sect mates about this. After all, this particular version of the Longevity Pill was difficult enough to digest already. He doubted that a sect at the Regal Pill Palace's level could digest the rest of the pill recipes even if he were to reveal them.
And it was the truth. During the two years Jiang Chen had spent trapped in the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect's forbidden area, the Regal Pill Palace had failed to refine even one Longevity Pill. Their strongest pill dao expert, Elder Yun Nie, hadn't been able to succeed in refining it. Jiang Chen aside, the only person in the entire Regal Pill Palace who had the potential to refine the Longevity Pill was Mu Gaoqi. Unfortunately, the Regal Pill Palace had been destroyed before Mu Gaoqi had a chance to fully develop.
Pill King Ji Lang seemed to notice something, and his deep eyes landed on Jiang Chen with a examining gaze. It was obvious that he was trying to figure out what kind of hidden meaning existed behind Jiang Chen's suggestion. Jiang Chen's smile was calm but unfathomable. Pill King Ji Lang couldn't glean anything from Jiang Chen no matter how he tried. After a pregnant pause, Jiang Chen suddenly smiled, "I see that you've been silent for a long time. Have you lost your will already?"
If you won't speak, then I'll force you to speak. If you won't answer me, then it only means that you're lacking confidence. It was an unremarkable psychological attack, but it was also very effective. Pill King Ji Lang was quick to respond, although his voice sounded as indifferent as ever, "There is nothing more convincing than the quality of the pill in pill dao. Whoever refines the highest quality Longevity Pill will be acknowledged as the true creator of the Longevity Pill. Don't you think that everything else is but senseless effort that strays from the right path?"
The moment he said this, the people of Pillfire City immediately echoed him in agreement.
Jiang Chen slapped his forehead softly before smiling a little exaggeratedly, "I heard that you were the pill master with the greatest pill dao talent. Even second only to Emperor Pillzenith in Pillfire City? I can't help but feel the rumors to be exaggerated now that I've heard you speak."
He was purposely trying to infuriate Ji Lang, and his attempt didn't escape Ji Lang's notice. The latter smiled faintly, "Don't you feel embarrassed using such substandard psychological attacks?"
Jiang Chen smiled coldly in disdain, "Psychological attack? You're trying to read too deep into things. You aren't worthy of my psychological attacks with just your level of pill dao. You may think that I'm boasting, so let me show you right now just how foolish your earlier words are."
Jiang Chen turned to face the people around him, cupping his fist in greeting, "As everyone already knows, the quality of a pill is but one part of a whole equation. Whether or not a pill can be passed down in time depends not on its quality alone. First, we must consider if it is cost effective. Next, we must check if its ingredients are easy to gather. We also have to consider its compatibility with other pills and even more importantly, its effectiveness… Therefore, the quality of a pill is but one part of pill dao.
"Take the Longevity Pill for example. If you and I were to compete in pill refining right here, there are many objective factors that may affect the quality of a Longevity Pill in this contest. For example, the level of a pill cauldron and level of pill fire. This gentleman has requested a duel in pill refining. I do not disagree with that desire. However, I have a suggestion that I would like all present judges to listen to."
"Tell us." These judges were all secretly surprised when they heard Jiang Chen's speech. It really seemed like this young pill king wasn't here for show. Judging from his aggressiveness, it was obvious that he had come prepared.
On the other hand, that Pill King Ji Lang had chosen to respond with silence when Veluriyam Capital's side brought up the suggestion. This didn't necessarily mean that Pill King Ji Lang was afraid, but it did feel like Pillfire City had lost a minor mental skirmish even though he'd retained his grace.
After Jiang Chen had the judges' permission, he smiled confidently, "Since this is a duel to refine the Longevity Pill, I have a personal suggestion to make on the basis of fairness. I suggest that both pill masters use the most common pill cauldron and pill fire. Only by reducing all objective factors to a minimum will we be able to test a pill master's true skill. Otherwise, victory through the use of an overpowered pill cauldron or overpowered pill fire can only be considered as a contest of equipment quality, and not true skill. If one side wins, it would be an unfair victory. if one side loses, they can hardly be appeased. You are all leaders of the pill dao industry. I am sure that you all can understand the logic behind my shallow suggestion."
All of the judges looked to be in agreement as they discussed amongst each other. No matter how badly they thought of the Veluriyam Capital pill king's chances, it didn't change the fact that his suggestion made a lot of sense. A battle to decide the right to a pill recipe was a battle of skill. It was natural that whoever had the higher refinement skill when it came to refining the Longevity Pill had a higher chance of being the Longevity Pill's true master. Ultimately, a fake could never compare to the original in terms of skill.
Moreover, these leaders of pill dao all possessed great understanding of pill dao. Jiang Chen's words seemed to be in line with returning everything to one's roots, which resonated with all of them. At their level, pill dao was less of a study, and more of a discourse. Sometimes, all they needed was pure skill and nothing else to refine a pill. No one could deny that outstanding equipment made life better for every pill king, but the pill refining process and the enjoyment one derived at a technical level were absolutely necessary.
"Pill King Pillzenith, Pill King Zhen's suggestion sounds extremely logical. You are a central pillar of pill dao as well, so may I request your faction's opinion on this?"
"Yes, if the right to the Longevity Pill is in question, then we should tackle this from a technical perspective. A victory that is won through equipment does feel a little fishy."
"It's bad to grow reliant on equipment in the first place. I support the suggestion to use a common pill cauldron and a common pill fire. True essence shines from normality." A large majority of the judges supported Jiang Chen's suggestion.
There was no doubt that Jiang Chen's surprise move had thrown Emperor Pillzenith's plans quite into disarray. Pill King Ji Lang had been researching the Longevity Pill's pill recipe ever since they'd acquired it from the Eternal Celestial Capital. As a result, his skill in refining the Longevity Pill had improved massively. That was why he had suggested a duel to refine the Longevity Pill straight away. He was confident that he had a 99% chance of victory if the duel was simply based on who could refine the better Longevity Pill. After all, his skills had improved leaps and bounds after a long period of training. If he could refine the Longevity Pill using top quality equipment, then it was absolutely not a problem to refine a few pills of upper rank quality.
But how could Jiang Chen not notice their little schemes? As the plagiarizers, their confidence was ultimately inferior to Jiang Chen, who was the original. Words couldn't describe how familiar he was with the Longevity Pill in either lifetime. He'd destroyed his opponent's plans in one careless move.
At this point, a refusal from Pill King Ji Lang would only make him look guilty. But if he were to respond to the call and enter the duel with only a normal pill cauldron and pill fire, he had no doubt that this duel would become a challenge. After all, he had never refined the Longevity Pill under such circumstances. It was a conundrum with only one correct answer. Ji Lang knew that Pillfire City would lose its face completely if he refused to meet Jiang Chen's suggestion. Therefore, after making brief eye contact with Emperor Pillzenith, Pill King Ji Lang smiled, "In that case, we agree to his suggestion."
Jiang Chen smiled inwardly when he heard Ji Lang's reply. He knew that he had thrown Ji Lang off balance already.
"This is just the first round. Do you dare to meet us in a round of three?" Jiang Chen had no intention of letting things go down without a bang. He already planned to drag his opponent underwater and defeat them soundly, so he might as well make sure that they lose every bit of face they could muster. Fancy my Longevity Pill, you say? Then you must be prepared to face the consequences of your greed.
Ji Lang frowned, "Three rounds? What other suggestions do you have?"
Jiang Chen smiled faintly, "I already told you that the Longevity Pill is Sacred Peafowl Mountain's original creation. We spent hundreds of years in research and learned many things in the process. What I'm really afraid of is that you're too cowardly to accept my challenge, assuming that you even knew that such challenges existed in the first place."
A bad premonition suddenly flashed past Ji Lang's mind, but he immediately chased out stray thoughts with his consciousness. Judging from Sacred Peafowl Mountain's aggressiveness, they probably had mastered the Longevity Pill's recipe. Moreover, there was a high likelihood that Sacred Pill Mountain's recipe had come from a Regal Pill Palace captive. This also meant that the source of both their pill recipes was ultimately the same. They both came from the Regal Pill Palace.
As for their opponent's claim that Sacred Peafowl Mountain had studied the Longevity Pill for several hundred years, Ji Lang didn't believe it in the slightest. Emperor Pillzenith and the entire Pillfire City faction shared the same sentiment. It was impossible for Sacred Peafowl Mountain to keep that sort of information under wraps for several hundred years. If both sides obtained the Longevity Pill from the same source, then what is there to be worried about?
They both had the same pill recipe, but could Veluriyam Capital really master the Longevity Pill better than Pillfire City? Ji Lang didn't think that Sacred Peafowl Mountain's pill king had any right to be placed on par with him. This kid had run his mouth in grand fashion, muddied the waters and fired off one psychological attack after another, causing Ji Lang to feel a little stumped for words. But now that he had calmed himself down, Ji Lang couldn't help but wonder if this kid was simply bluffing him. Is he trying to cheat me out of a win when he's actually all bark and no bite?
The more Ji Lang thought, the likelier he thought that to be Jiang Chen's plan. They both had their recipe from the same source, so what could Veluriyam Capital possibly do that Pillfire City hadn't already figured out? Veluriyam Capital must know that their chances of victory aren't high, which is why they're throwing so many red herrings in an attempt to mislead and bait me into a trap. They must be trying to instill fear and doubt in my mind to create an opening.
Ji Lang didn't feel that his opponent could throw anything at him that he hadn't already seen. In the end, everything he'd said, including the suggestion of three rounds, was to fool everyone into thinking that he, Ji Lang, was afraid to meet Jiang Chen in a pill battle. To put it bluntly, this kid was double bluffing.
I can't be fooled by this kid and weaken Pillfire City's momentum. Let us what he has to say first and decide later. If he wants to fight three rounds, then three rounds it shall be. If the subject doesn't stray from the Longevity Pill, then what do I have to fear even if we go a hundred rounds? When he thought up to this point, Ji Land regained his usual cool and smiled coolly, "Three rounds it is then. Pillfire City is the original creator of the Longevity Pill. The outcome of your shameful defeat won't change even if we were to duel three hundred rounds."
Jiang Chen's every move was to lead Ji Lang into thinking that he was bluffing. So when Ji Lang fell for his trap just as he imagined he would, cheer bloomed in his heart as he smiled leisurely. "Original creator, he says. Shameful defeat, he says. I seriously wonder where Pillfire City finds its courage to be able to say such words. Don't you feel embarrassed at all?" Jiang Chen extended his second finger, "In that case, let us compete and see who can refine the Longevity Pill using different ingredients. What do you say?"
The crowd broke into an uproar the second those words hit their ears. Ji Lang especially felt a shiver crawl down his back as his pupils violently contracted. His eyes narrowed as he glared straight at Jiang Chen.