The mysterious azure flame was what Zhuo Fan had got from the expert in Allbeast Mountain Range. His low cultivation didn’t allow control over even a thousandth of its power.
But one thing was certain. This azure flame was a legendary flame even in the Sacred Domain. So a thousandth was enough to refine a high-grade pill.
Taking a deep breath, Zhuo Fan watched the top ten alchemists hard at work. Vicious Pill King, his disciple, and Tao Danniang were the only ones relaxed.
They had to have a card up their sleeve to use at the right moment in the finals.
Meanwhile, the azure flame was Zhuo Fan’s hidden trump card. Taking it out so soon would get Vicious Pill King to target him. [Best leave it for last.]
That left him with only one choice, though somewhat volatile.
Zhuo Fan sighed and made his move under the riveted eyes of the audience.
They wanted to see what shocking achievement this amazing genius with a secret refining skill would give them next.
Yet Zhuo Fan simply ignited a red Yuan Qi flame in his palm and threw 5th grade ingredients in using hand signs.
Without the godly secret refining skill, and without using the same refining ability he started with in the second round, the ingredients’ refinement seemed to go nowhere fast.
Zhuo Fan’s display was so plain because the flame he was using was even weaker than all other alchemists.
Those 5th grade ingredients in that weak flame got refined at a snail’s pace. Needing a long time for even a drop to be extracted.
Compared to earlier show of force, Zhuo Fan’s refining time was not only average, but even lackluster! As if all other alchemists’ refining ability here looked far better than his.
Such disparity disappointed everyone. They saw the greatest talent in alchemy climb to the top only to fall back into the mud.
The top ten alchemists watched on with regret and helplessness, but mostly with content.
[This punk’s weakness is finally revealed in the third round.]
Among the snickers, Zhuo Fan’s figure standing in the first spot looked quite bleak.
As if to correlate his inability this round, his smugness was nowhere to be seen.
Xiao Ya was a bit curious, speaking somewhat without meaning to, “What is wrong with Grandmaster Song in this round? He isn’t himself anymore.”
“He-he-he, that’s normal!”
Vicious Pill King took pleasure at his plight, “His refining ability had reached his peak and can go no further.”
Xiaoya asked skeptically, “Elder Yan, what do you mean?”
The other alchemists started letting out a carefree laughter.
“What I mean is that he can only refine low-grade pills.”
Still not understanding, Vicious Pill King was quite patient and enjoyed explaining this to her, “In alchemy, flames are divided into gentle and fierce flames. Common ingredients for low-grade pills use the gentle flame, otherwise the fierce flame will burn them. And when refining high-grade ingredients, the gentle flame falls short.
“But this punk’s cultivation is too low to control the fierce flame. He has no way to refine 5th-grade ingredients.” Vicious Pill King snickered then mocked Zhuo Fan, “This is your weakness. Am I right, brat?”
Ignoring him, Zhuo Fan was still as patient as he was calm, focused on his refining.
“But how did Grandmaster Song refine the 5th-grade Yang Dragon Pill?”
Shaking his head, Vicious Pill King derided, “It was made with 2nd-grade ingredients, forcefully refined then turned into a 5th-grade pill. It is not a true 5th-grade pill. But even I must admit, that refining skill is indeed legendary. If he were to refine 5th-grade ingredients, he could make a 7th-grade pill. What a shame, he-he-he…”
The people looked on with lament at his words.
Their hearts were filled with the odd sense of grief when they gazed upon the lonely yet persevering figure.
No one knew when, but for the thousands of alchemists around watching, Zhuo Fan caught all their attention. The shock Zhuo Fan’s secret refining skill instilled was far too great.
With how lonely he looked now, he made others feel sad.
Vicious Pill King, however, couldn’t be more chipper, casting stones at the helpless, kicking him when he was down. This earned the public’s distaste.
“Grandmaster Song, you can do it! We’re cheering for you!”
At some point, someone cried out in encouragement. After one, many soon followed, and cheers broke out everywhere.
“Grandmaster Song, you’re the greatest!”
“Grandmaster Song, we love you!”
“Grandmaster Song, I-I want your babies…”
The entire Drifting Flowers Arena was aboil. Xie Tianyang and his group were dumbstruck by the waves after waves of cheering.
[This punk made one pill and now has everyone’s siding with him? There was even one saying she wants his babies. What does he have that I, the grand Sword Marquise Abode’s young master, don’t?]
Turning around, Zhuo Fan gave a small wave and the crowd settled. Not even seven houses’ elders had such a sway over the masses.
“Thank you all for your support.”
Zhuo Fan’s face was solemn, his words sincere, “I hail from a third rate clan and have already shown everything that I’ve learned so that I may die without regrets. On the path of alchemy, what we refine is our hearts. And my heart wants, is to be the best. I only ask that you watch my final refining and honor my parting!”
With his final word, Zhuo Fan returned to work hard on his refining, the difficult 5th-grade ingredients. But the Heaven-toppling Pill written on his cloak had everyone in tears.
He was no mere genius of alchemy, but a man who pledged himself to alchemy. A hero with a noble pursuit.
He was not like Vicious Pill King and the others, making use of vile acts while refining. No, his heart was being refined to be the best in the world. It was a pure and grand heart of gold.
“You are so modest, Grandmaster Song. Please receive this salute from us!”
The eliminated alchemists watched the persevering Zhuo Fan despite knowing he’d fail. Their heart was filled with admiration, especially those who forfeited.
On the eastern stand, Huangpu Qingyun laughed, unrestrained. No matter how much sympathy he’d garner, his life was through, as far as the seven houses were concerned.
Would these third rate clans dare rebel against Regent Estate, the strongest of the seven houses?
On the terrace, Chu Qingcheng and the overseers knew he was a fake, but their eyes reddened still. Zhuo Fan’s grieved figure, like a tragic hero, touched a soft spot in their womanly hearts.
Xiao Dandan was bawling her lungs out, taking Zhuo Fan’s words as a eulogy to himself.
Xie Tianyang curled his lip in helplessness, “He’s good, faking again. However, he should avoid faking it like before, allowing someone else to trip him up while he does it.”
“He-he-he, this brat is shrewd. How can he fall for the same trick twice?” Long Jiu shook his head, “The way I see it, he has something big planned. If not, he would not change tunes so quickly.”
Rubbing her red eyes, Long Kui sniffed, “This brat is so evil. If he’s not making people angry he’s making them cry.”
Long Jiu was out of sorts, “Little Kui, don’t you also understand that he is acting? Why are you also crying?”
Long Kui complained, “I was too engrossed!”
Staggering Long Jiu and Xie Tianyang laughed bitterly and wiped the cold sweat off their brows.
In the arena, Vicious Pill King had finished refining the ingredients and was beginning to combine them. The other alchemists were also halfway done with refining.
But Zhuo Fan’s refining hadn’t even passed 20%.
Vicious Pill King saw it and mocked, “Punk, it’s pointless to grasp the heart of the public. Even if you stir those trash into saving you, they have no power. Just wait patiently for me to climb onto the first spot and take your head.”
“Eh? I wouldn’t speak so soon if I were you!”
Zhuo Fan raised an eyebrow then gestured at the slowly refined ingredients, “Universe Palm!”
With a muffled sound, light smoke started drifting from his hand.
Vicious Pill King laughed, “Ha-ha-ha, killing the fire before the ingredients finished refining will destroy them! You should work hard even if you lose. Or is this your last act before dying?”
Zhuo Fan ignored his yapping. He was nervous inside, his attention riveted to his slowly opening fist.
A pity that what greeted him was ashes and not a complete pill!
Zhuo Fan’s heart sank and looked at Vicious Pill King.
His concoction has melded, the only thing that is left is to shape it into a pill. If this went on, the third round’s first place would be his.
Taking a deep breath, Zhuo Fan’s eyes flashed coldly and his mouth perked into an evil grin.
[Old fart, you dared play tricks on yours truly before. This time I will return it tenfold…]