Each and every Black Sieve Sect Cultivator in the enormous square watched on with excitement. It was as if massive thunderbolts had struck their hearts and minds, and continued to echo out.
“The forge of Heavens is what gives birth to the transformations of the sun and moon!”
The words echoed out, causing everyone to pant. The beautiful woman stared at Meng Hao with wide eyes. Next to her, Patriarch Violet Sieve was so moved that he closed his eyes.
Everything grew silent.
“You…” Chen Jiaxi’s expression immediately changed. How could he possibly have imagined that Fang Mu would be able to speak so viciously? He felt as if a sharp blade had pierced into his very heart.
Zhou Dekun took in a deep breath and stood there, trembling. He wasn’t excited, though. Actually, moments ago, he had actually thought Chen Jiaxi to be correct. But hearing Fang Mu speak, he knew what he said to be the truth.
Chen Jiaxi took a deep breath and composed himself. “Grandmaster Fang, you startled me,” he said, staring dead at Meng Hao. “However, it doesn’t matter whether you are talking about the sun and moon, the sky, or the forge of Heaven and Earth. All exist on the path of alchemy. All types of plants and vegetation can be concocted into medicinal pills. All spirits and souls can concoct the spirit of the pill! What I disagreed with just now was Grandmaster Zhou’s assertion that the self is unchanging, but that pill formulas contain countless variations. I said nothing about the transformations of the sun and moon of which you speak.
“In my opinion, alchemists must embrace transformation of the self. Only by embracing transformation can countless variations be produced. Only in this way can you speak of endless pill formulas, or concoct the endless varieties of medicinal pills that have existed since ancient times.”
“Your excellency did mention a person being able to produce countless variations,” said Meng Hao coolly. Once again he spoke slowly and calmly. As he stood on the dais, the breeze lifted his long hair, blowing it across his face, partially obscuring the stellar glow in his eyes. “Countless variations? The wind and clouds, the thunder and lightning, these are all Heavenly changes. The quaking of the earth, the rise of mountains, the flow of great rivers, these are Earthly changes. Are you responsible for these great changes of Heaven and Earth? Is the rain which falls from the sky birthed by the will of Grandmaster Chen? Grandmaster Chen, is it your will which causes the rise and fall of mountains?
“That was to be my second question. However, there’s no need for you to attempt to respond to it, because you can’t! In truth, you are no Grandmaster. Even if you become one in the future, you will never be worthy to lay claim to such transformations. Can the transformations of Heaven and Earth truly be contained in your heart? How laughable! As conceited and arrogant as the King of Yelang! You truly overestimate yourself!”
Meng Hao was now ridiculing Chen Jiaxi in the same voice that Chen Jiaxi had used to ridicule Zhou Dekun. The words cracked like lightning, causing Chen Jiaxi’s face to flicker.
“You… you really do have a sharp tongue! That’s obviously not what I meant. You’re completely exaggerating what I said. I was speaking only of pill concocting philosophy!”
“Philosophy? I would love to hear some more details.”
“I speak of nothing other than the philosophy of transformation,” he replied immediately. “Take the best of many schools of thought and fuse it into your own. Absorb the finest aspects of your acquaintances. Eliminate the dregs which exist in the self. Refining pills is like refining the self! By reaching perfection, the path to the pinnacle can be trodden, and the full power of transformation can be employed!” The surrounding Black Sieve Sect disciples seemed to approve of his words.
He continued in a voice that could sever nails and chop iron: “It’s like when a painter paints a mountain. He first observes millions of mountains, and then is capable of painting his own. That mountain he paints will contain the essence of all the other mountains he observed; thus, a masterpiece is created! Similarly, millions of tiny streams will fuse together to create a great and boundless river! This is the philosophy of which I speak. Assemble the thoughts from many schools, and coalesce them in the self! This is my path, and how I achieve the Dao of alchemy!” He flicked his sleeve, and his eyes glittered as he stared at Meng Hao. “I’m curious to hear Grandmaster Fang’s philosophy of alchemy!”
His words echoed out into the hearts of the tens of thousands of Black Sieve Sect disciples. Han Bei looked on thoughtfully. Behind Meng Hao, Zhou Dekun stared, an introspective look in his eyes.
Meng Hao looked back at Chen Jiaxi, his expression the same as ever. His tone light, he began, “When a painter observes millions of mountains, then paints one, perhaps his painting contains the essence of the mountains he observed. However, the mountain he paints… is not real. It emerges from his imagination, and is what he believes a mountain to be. In truth, he has already forgotten the first mountain he ever saw, because he has seen too many. He has also forgotten the feeling he experienced when he gazed at that first mountain’s peak.
“Millions of streams fuse together to become a great and boundless river. But that river… is no longer the stream it once was. It is the amalgamation of many waters, fused together and indistinguishable. That first tiny stream which dreamed of being a river is now dead, killed by the very process it desired.
“The process of his pursuit causes the painter to forget that first mountain, and because of that, the very reason he wished to paint a mountain in the first place. The process of becoming a river causes the stream to lose itself. Its will is diluted as it becomes a river, and then it is gone.” As he spoke, Meng Hao’s voice grew louder.
“This is my third question. By fusing many schools of thought, you lose yourself. You think you have benefited, but in reality, you have no path of your own. If you have no ideal of your own to adhere to, then you have observed millions of mountains, but forgotten why you wanted to paint a mountain to begin with!
“Without principles of your own to stick to, then you are a stream that has become a river. However, such a river has no soul! That, is true death!” Meng Hao flicked his wide sleeve. His words poured into Chen Jiaxi’s ears and sent his mind spinning.
“As Cultivators, we must adhere to our own set of principles. As alchemists, we must adhere to our own Dao of alchemy. Acquaintances and other schools of thought can bolster or support our confidence. But we must never allow the process of the search to result in losing our own ideal.
“If the heart is unyielding, nothing can ever supersede it. This type of heart may seem as if it contains transformations, but in reality, is stable, a foundation. From beginning to end, it will never disappear. It will always exist. An unchangeable heart!” Meng Hao’s powerful words shook the square. Chen Jiaxi’s face twisted, and without even thinking about it, he retreated a few paces. His eyes shone with confusion.
“If your heart yields, how can you create anything lasting?!” Meng Hao continued. “Grandmaster Chen, you do not possess a resolute heart. Do you truly have the confidence to mention other schools of thought? Do you have the courage to boast shamelessly of blending together your own path? Do you truly dare to speak to me of the Dao of alchemy?”
Silence filled the square for a moment, and then conversations filled the air. Chen Jiaxi was panting, and his heart was filled with confusion.
Behind Meng Hao, Zhou Dekun trembled, his mind reeling. All of a sudden he realized why after all this time he had never been able to become a Violet Furnace Lord. “Over the years, I’ve paid too much attention to the Dao of alchemy of those around me,” he thought. “I’ve picked and chosen randomly…. I’ve forgotten about the path I originally wished to tread…. If your heart yields, how can you create anything lasting?”
Patriarch Violet Sieve and the beautiful woman exchanged a meaningful glance. Only the ruddy-faced old man next to them sat there with his eyes closed, not having moved a muscle.
A buzz of conversation rose up from the Black Sieve Sect disciples. Meng Hao’s words had caused great waves of emotion to rise up in their hearts.
“You….” Chen Jiaxi’s face was pale. Next to him, Li Yiming was breathing heavily.
Meng Hao flicked his sleeve. His voice thundered up to the heavens. “Because the self never changes, the heart can tolerate the ever-changing transformations of the sun and moon, the maelstroms of Heaven and Earth, and those arduous journeys through thousands of crags and tens of thousands of torrents.
“The Dao of alchemy is eternal. The countless transformations contained within the heart are the pill formula. The unchangeable self is the pill furnace.
“I am the pill furnace, and my heart is the pill formula. Refine the interior to achieve Immortality. Refine the exterior to achieve the boundless Dao of alchemy. Fuse them together, and this is the Truth of alchemy. Alchemy is the Heavens! Alchemy is the Earth! Alchemy is the world!
“This is my Dao of alchemy!” Finally, the ruddy-faced man next to Patriarch Violet Sieve opened his eyes and looked at Meng Hao.
Each and every one of the Black Sieve Sect Cultivators, regardless of who they were, were now looking at Meng Hao. A silence as thick as death hung over them as they stared with brightly shining eyes.
Zhou Dekun stared excitedly at Meng Hao. As of now, not a shred of doubt existed in his heart. All of it had been replaced by passion, and pride. It was all because of Fang Mu, alchemist of the East Pill Division!
He had already made up his mind. When he returned to the Sect, he would help Fang Mu to gain the acceptance of the other Furnace Lords.
Actually, after this debate, it wouldn’t take long for the entire Southern Domain to be talking about Fang Mu.
Chen Jiaxi’s face was pale, as if his spirit were completely gone. Next to him, Li Yiming was covered in cold sweat and was mumbling to himself. What no one could tell was that he was actually reciting Meng Hao’s words, and branding them onto his heart.
An indescribable silence filled the square. Everyone was shaken to the core by Meng Hao’s words.
Patriarch Violet Sieve and the other Nascent Soul Cultivators were all thinking exactly the same thing: “This kid… has a limitless future!”
“Nonsense!!” cried Chen Jiaxi, his shrill cry breaking the silence. He leaped up onto the dais to stand directly in front of Meng Hao. His eyes were bloodshot, and glared angrily at Meng Hao, shamed into rage. “You’re nothing but sharp-tongued and shameless! If words could concoct pills, then even mortals could practice alchemy! I have been cultivating the Dao of alchemy for years. I have memorized one hundred thousand varieties of plants and vegetations. I know of eight hundred thousand grafting variations! You finagled your way to being a Furnace Lord, but really, you’re nothing more than a master alchemist! In this regard, do you dare to compete with me?!” Chen Jiaxi really had no other option left. His previous aggressiveness had been thoroughly trampled down by Meng Hao’s fierce diatribe.
It felt like being slapped across the face, like having a dagger plunged into his chest. As an alchemist, all of it was a direct attack on him.
“How do you want to compete?” replied Meng Hao, his voice cold, and his eyes filled with an icy air. He had long since decided to thoroughly crush Chen Jiaxi.