Chapter 843: A Decisive Test
Both sides submitted their pills to the judges. Jiang Chen's expression was completely at ease. On the other hand, while Pill King Ji Lang was relatively satisfied with the product of his handiwork, there was still a trace of inexplicable worry in his heart. Today's events had been filled with a strange quality. He had a very bad feeling about something he couldn't quite place.
Both sides' pills were presented before the judges. Jiang Chen's cauldron had six pills, and Pill King Ji Lang's caudron only had five. From the quantity alone, Jiang Chen was already in the lead. Of course, for pill battles involving refining, the number of pills was never a topic of comparison. Rather, the pill with the highest quality was selected from the two sides, and the battle decided over that.
Jiang Chen's cauldron clearly represented the pinnacle of his craftsmanship. Out of the six pills, three were fully of the supreme rank. The remaining three were of upper rank as well. That is to say, Jiang Chen's six pills didn't even have one of mid rank, not to mention ones of lower rank.
Pill King Ji Lang's five pills, however, had one upper, one lower, and three mid-ranked pills. It had to be said that Pill King Ji Lang was extremely impressive in being able to do this much alone. After all, his recipe had been stolen, and his refining method had come from the Eternal Celestial Capital.
Eternal Celestial Capital's refinement method was already that of an amateur. Without Jiang Chen's personal direction, many details were incomplete. Although they'd pried the recipe out from Elder Yun Nie's lips, but it hadn't been difficult for the elder to conceal a few minute details. Therefore, even though Eternal Celestial Capital's refinement method could make the pills, the small alterations prevented them from refining upper rank Longevity Pills.
After it fell into Pillfire City's hands, the recipe and method were analyzed by countless experts from the city. It was adjusted and improved several times after innumerable trials and errors. Using his own equipment to refine the pill, Pill King Ji Lang was almost always able to obtain upper rank pills, with the occasional supreme rank as well. Of course, the chance for the latter happening was rare.
Regardless of the amount of their research, they lacked Jiang Chen's tutelage. There was an irreconcilable difference between theirs and the truly original Longevity Pill. This time, with only a plain cauldron and an unremarkable flame, the fact that he was able to refine a single upper rank Longevity Pill at all showed an above-average performance from Pill King Ji Lang.
The judges examined the pills with meticulous earnest. Both contestants' pills were circulated in front of each individual judge. The competing pair waited below for the judges' testing results. Jiang Chen was as calm and collected as ever, giving off a mien of unreadability. Though Pill King Ji Lang retained his grace, a flash of worry occasionally flashed across the corner of his eyes.
Both the factions of Pillfire City and Veluriyam Capital looked expectantly at the judges, awaiting their final verdict. Now that they'd come this far, neither side could fail to notice that Pill King Ji Lang felt threatened by Pill King Zhen, at least in terms of the Longevity Pill. No matter Pill King Zhen's talent, he had the qualifications to strike at Pill King Ji Lang on the matter of the Longevity Pill. This was observable from the intermittent changes in the expression of the Pillfire City representative.
The previously confident Pill King Ji Lang was now completely serious. His attitude of being above everyone else was gone, replaced by one of being faced with a formidable enemy. When compared, Pill King Zhen became the one that seemed sure of victory. His decorum was unruffled.
After careful examination, each judge came to their conclusion. They gathered their opinions together before a more experienced judge stood up, saluting both sides with a cupped fist salute. "Your Majesties, we have evaluated both Longevity Pills. The recipe is the same, and so is the style. However, Veluriyam Capital's Pill King Zhen seems to be a bit more mature in terms of skill, with fewer things to criticize. It's closer to perfection.
The Longevity Pill he provided is of supreme rank. Pill King Ji Lang's Longevity Pill, on the other hand, still has some minor problems in terms of methodology. They are quite hard to notice, and may be missed entirely without careful examination. Moreover, his methodology shows slight signs of stiffness, and the best pill he refined was only upper rank, with the majority being mid and lower. Because of a combination of these reasons, we feel that Veluriyam's Longevity Pill looks more like the original."
The judges were all pill dao heavyweights of the human domain. They didn't need to rely on Pillfire City for their livelihoods. Thus, they had the freedom to give results that weren't biased towards anyone. This was what the pill world was like. Being a judge was an ultimate honor, and anything that would tarnish that status was forbidden. If someone spoke falsehood from the position of a judge, their reputation would be greatly damaged and their standing plummet. This was something unique to pill dao.
Because the judges were unbiased and factual, their justness was unquestioned. Once the judgment was revealed, the entire Sacred Peafowl Mountain side erupted in thunderous applause. There was much cheering and jumping for joy, and they instantly lost themselves in celebration. Even people as lofty as the four monarchs laughed aloud, pleasant surprise plain in their eyes. The Coiling Dragon clan lord nodded incessantly as well, his visage radiating an unconcealed sense of gratification. Jiang Chen's performance solidified his faith that the youth's master would be able to refine the Pinecrane Pill that would save his life.
It didn't need to be said that the Wei father and son were animated to the point of bursting. When the results came in, they felt the blood in their bodies nearly boil, and their entire beings were aflutter, almost airborne. The gazes coming from all sides had some admiring, some appreciative, some grateful-but all of them were very friendly, and no one treated them as simply a minor aristocratic house. The feeling of being treated with importance almost made the Wei father and son want to bawl and sob. The wrongs they'd experienced for so many years such as being misunderstood, the house falling to the wayside, endless internal conflicts, various other issues… all of that no longer mattered anymore.
When the results came out, Emperor Peafowl's face revealed only a hint of a smile. It was as if this was all within his expectations. The other six great emperors all came over to congratulate Emperor Peafowl. Even Emperor Shura couldn't help but lower his stature to sincerely congratulate Sacred Peafowl Mountain. After all, the victory did not belong to Sacred Peafowl Mountain alone, but the entirety of Veluriyam Capital. Pillfire City's undefeatable myth had finally been shattered! After this battle, Pillfire City was still the foremost heavyweight in the pill world, but their invincible legend was no more.
In stark contrast to Veluriyam's side, Pillfire's side was livid at hearing the results. They'd prepared amply for the battle, and couldn't fathom that this was the conclusion. Emperor Pillzenith struggled to repress the anger in his heart, staring coldly at Emperor Peafowl. "Brother Peafowl, I still do not believe that you are the original creators of the Longevity Pill."
Emperor Peafowl smiled serenely. "There's no need for you to know whether we're the original creator or not. One thing is sure, though, you're definitely not the original either. The fact of the matter is, stolen craftsmanship cannot compare to that of its rightful creator's. True gold is not afraid of refinement by fire, and the fakes will be revealed by the flame."
"Hold on. If I remember correctly, the battle isn't over yet, no? We decided on three rounds beforehand. This is just the first." Pill King Ji Lang suddenly opened his mouth.
"Brother Pillzenith, Pill King Ji Lang seems a little dissatisfied still. What do you think?"
Emperor Pillzenith was detached. "Naturally, we should execute what was decided earlier."
Jiang Chen was a little surprised. Pill King Ji Lang is clearly no fool. He should know after losing the first round that he has no chance of winning the following rounds, either. Why continue the battle if there was no chance of winning? Was he dissatisfied with his current amount of shame? Or perhaps he thought that Pillfire City hadn't lost enough face today yet? If he was putting his face forward anyway, Jiang Chen didn't mind giving it another vicious slap.
"Pill King Ji Lang, we don't need to do the second round. If you can present a different recipe for the Longevity Pill, and successfully refine a single pill with that recipe, I'll admit defeat. Even a lower rank pill is enough. In fact, we'll count the entire battle yours, okay?" Jiang Chen feigned magnanimity.
Emperor Pillzenith smiled faintly. "In the same vein, can you do it? If you can, what's the problem in me admitting defeat?"
Startled, Jiang Chen immediately realized his adversary's intentions. Knowing that he couldn't win, Pill King Ji Lang was continuing with the mindset of certain loss. His actions were clearly an effort to muddy the waters. How could he not understand Pill King Ji Lang's motive? Jiang Chen grinned coolly. "I don't need to do anything to solidify my victory. If neither of us does anything during the second round, then it's a tie. The same is true for the third round. Two ties and one win is enough for a convincing victory for Veluriyam against Pillfire City, so why should I give you more opportunities to steal my knowledge?"
As shrewd as Pill King Ji Lang was, his expression nevertheless blanked. "Stealing your knowledge? What a joke. Pillfire City's pill dao knowledge is unmatched. Since when did we need to steal from anyone?"
"Then what's with your recipe for the Longevity Pill?" Jiang Chen shot back a retort.
"Veluriyam Capital can't prove that the Longevity Pill is its own creation either. According to my knowledge, the recipe for the pill appeared earliest in the Myriad Domain," Pill King Ji Lang smiled faintly.
"Myriad Domain's Longevity Pill was given and inherited from Veluriyam Capital." Jiang Chen showed no sign of relenting. Pill King Ji Lang gave Jiang Chen a profound look, grinning incredulously.
"We'll call it a tie for the second round if neither party wants to compete," a judge interjected. "Are you going to do anything for the third round or not?"
At this point, Pill King Ji Lang knew that they didn't have any more cards to play with for the Longevity Pill. There was no reason to continue the battle. He had wanted to continue in order to test his opponent's bottom line. Did they have another recipe for the Longevity Pill or not?
His opponent hadn't fallen for the ruse, though, so Pill King Ji Lang understandably preferred a ceasefire over battling further.
Emperor Pillzenith knew as well that extending the proceedings would only invite ridicule onto Pillfire City. The entire battle felt stifling, and Emperor Pillzenith was more than a little frustrated. He'd come here with the determination to win. The entirety of Pillfire City uniformly believed that Veluriyam Capital's Longevity Pill recipe must have come from Regal Pill Palace. Both Longevity Pill recipes were stolen, right? With Pillfire's long standing tradition and knowledge, how could they lose to Veluriyam in researching the Longevity Pill?
Thus, losing hadn't been an option or a notion that even registered for this battle. However, the conclusion wa just so devastating. They hadn't just lost, they'd lost beyond a shadow of a doubt!