Meng Hao was at a loss because, as far as he was concerned, 200,000,000 was an impossibly high number. However, throughout the Southern Domain, many others were feeling at a loss as well.
They were at a loss because of the appearance of a consummate pill in the Violet Fate Sect Pill Auction, a pill that had been concocted during alchemic enlightenment, a pill unique under the heavens.
The name of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron immediately began to spread far and wide, shaking the Southern Domain. Countless Sects and Cultivators all heard about it.
Although officially rising to the rank of Grandmaster required successful concoction of several pills of ninety percent medicinal strength or higher, the pills that appeared in the Pill Auction always led to a commotion in the Southern Domain. Add in alchemic enlightenment, and this caused Grandmaster Pill Cauldron’s name to instantly rise to unprecedented heights. It also furthered the mystery surrounding his identity.
Everyone was in a frenzy trying to determine who Grandmaster Pill Cauldron was. Speculations ran wild. Some claimed it was another form of address for Grandmaster Pill Demon. Others believed that it must be one of the Violet Furnace Lords.
No one believed that it could be one of the ordinary master alchemists. After all, other than Violet Furnace Lords, who else could possibly have such skill in the Dao of alchemy?
Wild rumors spread like storm winds across the Southern Domain. The only things that had happened in recent years that could match up to the stir caused by Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, were the repeated search attempts made by various Sects in the area around the Rebirth Cave, and the matter of Meng Hao and the Sublime Spirit Scripture.
As time passed, amongst the various rumors and opinions about Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, a new theory arose that was a complete contrast to the idea that he was a Violet Furnace Lord.
Many people believed that Grandmaster Pill Cauldron really was an ordinary master alchemist. However, he was gifted with an incredible nature talent of the Dao of the alchemy. Otherwise, why would his pill appear in the Pill Auction? Perhaps even the master alchemist himself hadn’t been able to predict the outcome.
If it were a Violet Furnace Lord, he would surely state his identity, and use the Pill Auction to gain fame, and perhaps set the stage for promotion to Grandmaster.
Soon, more and more people began to agree with this line of reasoning. And yet, more rumors arose to the contrary. The name of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron filled the entire Southern Domain, like thunderous storms.
Whoever he was, everyone had to admit that since this Grandmaster Pill Cauldron had concocted a consummate pill, even if he wasn’t truly a Grandmaster like the other three Grandmasters of the Southern Domain, he most likely would be in the future.
After all, his pill was a ninety-five percent, nearly one hundred percent consummate pill!
If Grandmaster Pill Cauldron concocted more consummate pills in the future, then the Southern Domain would no longer have three Grandmasters of the Dao of alchemy, but four!
In fact, because of the sudden rise of his name, there were many people who believed that Grandmaster Pill Cauldron already had the skill of a Grandmaster, and that there were already four Grandmasters!
The Black Sieve Sect, Golden Frost Sect, Blood Demon Sect, and even the Solitary Sword Sect, as well as the three great Clans all extended solemn public invitations offering to entertain Grandmaster Pill Cauldron.
This in itself caused quite a commotion, and caused Grandmaster Pill Cauldron’s name to shine as brightly as the sun itself.
The Violet Fate Sect was in just as much of a stir as the outside world. Regardless of whether it was the Violet Qi Division or East Pill Division, everyone was talking about Grandmaster Pill Cauldron and speculating as to his identity.
It wasn’t that nobody suggested Fang Mu might be Grandmaster Pill Cauldron. Rather, Grandmaster Pill Cauldron’s name was so inestimably high, that those who suggested it might be Fang Mu became objects of ridicule. Fang Mu was known in the East Pill Division and the Violet Qi Division alike for his skill in pill concocting, but when compared to the mysterious Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, no one believed they could be one and the same.
The general consensus in the East Pill Division was that he was a Violet Furnace Lord, who had concocted the consummate pill, but for some reason did not wish to reveal his identity.
There were even many master alchemists who began to venerate the mysterious Grandmaster Pill Cauldron. Anyone who said anything disrespectful about him, would earn the wrath of these alchemists.
While the rest of the Southern Domain discussed Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, the older generation of the Violet Fate Sect wanted to open an investigation. However, the East Pill Division was in a special position; without the approval of Pill Demon, no one would be able to uncover any information at all. The strangest thing of all was that Pill Demon seemed to be paying no heed whatsoever to the entire thing. He wouldn’t talk about it, nor would he permit the Violet Qi Division or the East Pill Division to investigate.
Even his own people in the East Pill Division couldn’t investigate the matter; it seemed as if Pill Demon had erased all traces of information.
As more and more rumors spread, as more and more people talked about Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, Meng Hao heaved more and more sighs.
Whenever he heard the name Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, he thought of his 200,000,000 Spirit Stones. And whenever he thought of that, he thought of how Pill Demon hadn’t paid him what he owed.
“You owe me 200,000,000 Spirit Stones….” Meng Hao felt twisted. Normally, considering the level of his Cultivation base, he wouldn’t worry about a few Spirit Stones. But this was 200,000,000 of them!!
Every time he thought of the matter, it felt like a sword was stabbing into his heart. Long ago when he had joined the Reliance Sect, he had thought that he would be able to get rich by working for Immortals. This entire time, he had drifted along, pushed along by the current, until he reached this point. However, he still retained that stubborn desire deep in his bones.
His methods were now much colder, and many others viewed him as crafty and ruthless. But deep in his heart, he was still the same scholar he had always been, and he still desired to be rich. He hadn’t forgotten that wish of his.
If you can imagine how much Meng Hao rejoiced at not having to pay back the silver he owed to Steward Zhou 1 when he joined the Reliance Sect, then you can imagine how he felt to have 200,000,000 Spirit Stones dangled in front of him, only to find that they weren’t his.
He took a deep breath, and then continued to concoct pills, a bitter smile on his face. Time passed by, but the name of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron did not fade from the Southern Domain or from the Violet Fate Sect. After the initial waves settled down, the name continued to be mentioned frequently.
Some of this had to do with the mystery surrounding the name, and all the rumors that accompanied it. In fact, more pills marked with a cauldron began to appear in auctions throughout the Southern Domain.
However, the fake pills would always end up being exposed. Furthermore, the counterfeit pills only served to bolster the reputation of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron.
Meng Hao heard about most of these things from Bai Yunlai. Whenever Bai Yunlai talked to him about matters regarding Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, a strange look would appear on his face, and his eyes would fill with glowing veneration. Obviously, he knew that the person who was the subject of such glowing praise throughout the Violet Fate Sect, and even the Southern Domain, was standing right in front of him.
Day and night, both when dreaming, and when walking about, the image would appear in his mind of how he had held the Bedevilment pill in his own hands as he secretly delivered it to the auction house.
When he thought about how he had held a consummate pill, and about the identity of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, he felt like he was in a fantasy.
Someone else in the Violet Fate Sect who was moved by the name of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, was Chu Yuyan. The only thing she heard people talking about was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron. Her own investigations into his identity led nowhere. Furthermore, some people were making vague statements implying that perhaps she was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron.
She could only laugh bitterly about that. She was incredibly curious about who he was, and as she tried to find out more information, her heart began to fill with reverence.
It didn’t matter who Grandmaster Pill Cauldron was; as an alchemist, Chu Yuyan knew the skill required in the Dao of alchemy to produce a consummate pill. It demanded the respect of all alchemists. As for Chu Yuyan, her reverence grew, and she couldn’t wait to meet this mysterious Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, and discuss alchemy and alchemic enlightenment with him!
To alchemists, alchemic enlightenment was a mysterious realm, where pill formulas didn’t exist, and one could only rely on one’s understanding of the Dao of alchemy. Using only the materials at one’s fingertips, one would create a new medicinal pill. This was the reason that Chu Yuyan so worshiped Grandmaster Pill Cauldron.
Her veneration only grew stronger and stronger as Grandmaster Pill Cauldron’s reputation grew. She even begged her master over and over to let her borrow the Bedevilment Pill to study it. When he finally consented, she poured herself into researching it.
She felt the insane, devilish will contained inside. She could sense the frenzied burning which exceeded a burning of the soul. She could sense a profound sharpness inside the pill, a proud will that exceeded Heaven and Earth.
Gradually, an image of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron began to form in her heart. His face was archaic, and his eyes shone with wisdom. He was tall and slender, with an imposing disposition. All of this was based on the feeling she got from within the pill.
And yet, no matter how she searched, no matter what methods she used, she couldn’t find anyone within the Sect who matched such an image. This didn’t cause her veneration to lessen , but rather the opposite; it continued to deepen.
Once, Meng Hao accidentally ran into Chu Yuyan while walking through the Sect. He was just about to dodge to the side to avoid her when he noticed that she hadn’t even noticed him. Instead, she was engaged in a deep conversation about Grandmaster Pill Cauldron with a fellow female disciple. She walked right past him.
Her expression was one of determination, and her eyes shone with a strange light. Every time she said the name of Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, her eyes would glitter brightly.
Meng Hao stared in shock, a strange look on his face. He suddenly wondered what Chu Yuyan’s face would look like if she ever discovered that Fang Mu was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron. He also wondered what her expression would be like if she found out that Fang Mu was actually Meng Hao….
Another half month passed. On this particular day, Meng Hao had just finished concocting a batch of medicinal pills. Suddenly, his expression flickered as he heard noise from outside his Immortal’s Cave, a hubbub of conversation.
The East Pill Division was usually a very peaceful place. A ruckus like this was very rare. Astonished, Meng Hao rose to his feet and walked to the door of the Immortal’s Cave. Down below, the apprentice alchemists were all running in the same direction.
“Grandmaster Eternal Mountain from the Golden Frost Sect is here! He’s one of the three Grandmasters of the Southern Domain, with a name as famous as Grandmaster Pill Demon’s!”
“Don’t tell me he’s here to issue a challenge!?!?”
“Grandmaster Eternal Mountain used to be just like us! He was an apprentice alchemist who slowly rose up through the ranks. But eventually, he forsook the Sect. Fortunately for him, Grandmaster Pill Demon approved of his long, hard work, and didn’t cripple his Dao of alchemy! If he had, a day such as this would never have come!”
“I wonder why Grandmaster Eternal Mountain has come to the Violet Fate Sect today….”
Meng Hao’s eyes glittered as he stood outside his Immortal’s Cave. A multitude of apprentice alchemists and even master alchemists were all coming out of their dwelling places. All of them began to rush off in the same direction.
This was mentioned long ago in Chapters 1 and 2, as well as a few subsequent chapters ↩