Ye Feimu smiled sadly as he looked at Meng Hao. The sense of loss within his heart had reached the ultimate level. In order to fulfill his desire to become a Violet Furnace Lord, he had neglected his cultivation, and had spent all of his time stubbornly pursuing the Dao of alchemy.
He had always believed that with enough persistence, his skill in the Dao of alchemy would assure his place as a Violet Furnace Lord. Ye Yuntian had given him this affirmation; even some of the other Violet Furnace Lords had approved.
“Why… why did he have to show up…? Why does the Violet Fate Sect’s East Pill Division have to have Ye Feimu AND Fang Mu…?” With a bitter laugh, he staggered backward and coughed up a mouthful of blood.
It wasn’t that he was unconvinced; the instant he learned that Fang Mu was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, he knew it all to be correct. He couldn’t blame others for supporting Fang Mu. He could only laugh, and bitterly at that.
He proudly told himself that if it wasn’t for his opponent’s strength, and the fact that he was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron, then Ye Feimu, who was at the peak of the East Pill Division Furnace Lords, would be second to none. He would definitely have succeeded, and taken first place in the Violet Furnace Lord promotion trial by fire.
Now, however, he was defeated. He could even imagine the scorn with which people would look at him later in the Sect. It would not be scorn regarding his Dao of alchemy, but scorn because of his tacit implication that he was Grandmaster Pill Cauldron.
Therefore, he could only laugh bitterly, utterly disheartened.
Blood seeped out of the corners of his mouth. “My Dao of alchemy, can’t be defeated…. One loss, I can accept, or even two, but repeated failure… will destroy my Dao of alchemy. No. What has been defeated is not my Dao of Alchemy, but myself!” He wiped the blood from his mouth, and his eyes once again shone with determination. “My Dao of alchemy will never be defeated. It is unprecedented, one of a kind, original in Heaven and Earth! This is my great Dao of alchemy!” His breathing was ragged as he looked over at Meng Hao.
Chu Yuyan said nothing. She gradually suppressed the trembling of her mind as she stared at Meng Hao. An unparalleled bitterness rose up in her heart. She had long since been defeated. She realized that from the moment she had stepped into the world of the Celestial Land… she had lost.
If Fang Mu had not been there, nor Ye Feimu, then she definitely would have become a Violet Furnace Lord. She still wanted to prove herself, but as of now, there was no chance.
In the Violet Furnace Lord trial by fire, only one alchemist could become a Violet Furnace Lord.
Miss this one opportunity, and no matter what stunning achievements you made later, you could only live with regret. There would never be a second chance at the trial by fire.
“Just like my Dao of alchemy, which seeks to find that missing spark of life. Today, that spark of life has completely vanished, and there is no way to find it again. Just like my Dao of alchemy….” Within her bitterness, blood seeped out of the corners of her mouth. The pain she felt inside was because of the Dao of alchemy.
Everyone was silent. Ye Yuntian looked agonized, incapable of saying anything further. He felt stabbing pains in his heart, and he could only think that Ye Feimu’s path was now over. His future was nothing more than a grave.
The surrounding Cultivators observed the scene with various thoughts in mind. They all had their own concept regarding the path of the Dao of alchemy; this was because everyone had a different concept of what stubbornness meant. Everyone had their own path.
It was not easy to compare such things. After all, what was defeated was not just an individual, but a Dao of alchemy. Because endurance became impossible, collapse was inevitable.
As silence filled the area, a light sigh could suddenly be heard, seemingly from very far away. Grandmaster Pill demon slowly rose to his feet. His gaze swept over the alchemists. Everyone whose gaze he met slowly lowered their heads, their faces filled with respect.
Eventually, his eyes came to rest on Ye Feimu.
“The Dao of alchemy is invincible,” he said. “Even more invincible, is the determination to cultivate the Dao of alchemy. If that determination exists, then even after ten thousand defeats, your Dao of alchemy will always be there. You have done well. Ever since you joined the Sect, you have consistently pursued your own path.
“Your path is winding, and full of thorns and thistles, making it slow to traverse. Only with never-ending determination can you have the courage to face defeat, and yet proceed onward to reach your goal. Walk such a path, and your path will be invincible. Fear not defeat. Fear giving up!”
Ye Feimu’s body trembled as he stared blankly at Pill Demon. Silently, he clasped hands and bowed deeply. “Many thanks for your enlightenment, Patriarch.”
“You may be a Violet Furnace Lord,” said Pill Demon coolly. “From this day forth, you are my novitiate.”
Ye Feimu trembled, and his face filled with excitement. This was his dream, finally becoming a reality. The path had been winding, but to become a Violet Furnace Lord had been the most important pursuit in his life for many years.
The minds of the surrounding alchemists of the East Pill Division were reeling as they watched. None of them knew what to say as Pill Demon’s gaze next fell upon Chu Yuyan.
“You have searched for a Dao of alchemy that embraces life, life like that which we live. You wish to find that spark of life which doesn’t exist. It is exceedingly hard to reach the peak of such a Dao of alchemy. It is not a winding path, but a very difficult one.
“In fact, sometimes, there is no spark of life. When that happens, what will you do? The path of your Dao of alchemy lies not in pill concoction, but in refinement of the heart. You have always been my apprentice. But unlike the others, you are my Personal Apprentice. You… also may become a Violet Furnace Lord.” As Pill Demon’s voice sounded out, tears began to stream down Chu Yuyan’s face. She immediately bowed low to Pill Demon.
Each and every one of the alchemists of the East Pill Division was speechless. Only the Violet Furnace Lords seemed to want to speak up, but held their tongues.
Lin Hailong hesitated a moment. He was the most senior of the Violet Furnace Lords. Bracing himself, he opened his mouth. “Master, according to the custom of the trial by fire for promotion to Violet Furnace Lord, only one person can be selected….”
“Ever since Eternal Mountain left, you have made no progress in your Dao of Alchemy. You haven’t moved at all since that year. Do you know why?” Pill Demon calmly looked over at Lin Hailong. “I haven’t told you all these years, because I wanted you to realize it for yourself. But you still don’t understand. Is custom… really that important?”
Feeling a bit awkward, Lin Hailong forced a smile onto his face and said, “But… the custom was begun by you, Master.”
“Since I began the custom, then naturally I can change it. Let it be so!” He flicked his sleeve, paying no further attention to Lin Hailong and turning to look at Meng Hao.
Lin Hailong heaved a sigh of relief in his heart and immediately stepped backward. Actually, he only spoke because there were outsiders present to observe the ceremonies. Being the most senior of the Violet Furnace Lords, he was required to say at least something, even if it was in a roundabout way.
Pill Demon looked at Meng Hao. “Using the body as the pill furnace, and the heart as the pill formula. Refining the sun and the moon, refining the ancientness of the stars. Such a Dao of alchemy….” He paused for a moment. “Master looks forward to finding out where your future path will lead.” A smile broke out on his face.
As he spoke, the onlookers could tell that there was something different about his words. This was because, Pill Demon was calling himself Master!
“Violet Furnace Lords become my novitiates, and thus only need to kowtow one time. Since you are Pill Cauldron you can become my Personal Apprentice with two kowtows.
“However… I already accepted a hefty apprentice’s fee from you, so from today on, I will have a second Legacy Apprentice. Now, kowtow before me three times!” As he smiled at Meng Hao, the kindness in his eyes overlapped with those of the Master from Meng Hao’s world of illusion.
Meng Hao had a strange expression on his face. The words “apprentice’s fee” suddenly made him recall his 200,000,000 Spirit Stones….
Before he could say anything, though, Pill Demon raised his right hand and flicked his sleeve. Immediately, ripples appeared in the air, surrounding Meng Hao and then disappearing into his body.
“Hailong,” said Pill Demon. “Please assist Master in receiving all the friends from the other Sects. Announce to all the Southern Domain that I have accepted Fang Mu as my Legacy Apprentice!”
As his words filled the air, everyone stood up and clasped hands toward the Heavens. Lin Hailong trembled inwardly when he heard the words, and his vision came to rest on Meng Hao. The other Violet Furnace Lords were the same. They all knew what a Legacy Apprentice was.
Envy shone in Han Bei’s eyes. She knew that from this day forward, Fang Mu would be different than anyone else in the Southern Domain.
Fatty sighed inwardly, reminding himself how the oldest brother was the most awesome. This time, he had worked his way into being Pill Demon’s Legacy Apprentice.
When it comes to apprentices, there are three levels, novitiate, Personal Apprentice and Legacy Apprentice.
Novitiates only receive simple advice, although they are permitted to ask questions. Personal Apprentices follow the Master by his side. They receive instruction verbally and by example. Personal skills are passed down, including some secret techniques.
Legacy Apprentices are the most important of all. They receive a lifetime of knowledge; they are the hope for the future, the hope to pass on everything. Nothing will be held back from such an apprentice. Such an apprentice is even more important than a son!
In the deepest corner of the Violet Fate Sect, within the East Pill Division, is a squat mountain. The mountains which surround it are much higher than it; however, this mountain seemed to be embodied with a profound air of dignity, as if it were the most senior of all the mountains.
This mountain was actually the pinnacle of all the mountains of the East Pill Division!
Located on this peak of mountains was a building, which Pill Demon led Meng Hao to. The instant Meng Hao saw it, he gaped. The building looked exactly like his Master’s house from the world of illusion.
Pill Demon pushed the doorway open and walked inside, back facing Meng Hao. As he walked, he explained, “You experienced the kowtow of Innocence. You walked the kowtow of Roaming. In the end, you chose to perform the kowtow of Sunset Gazing. With these three kowtows, you took me as your Master.”
Meng Hao followed, watching the old man’s back as he walked along. Suddenly, he realized that this man didn’t seem like a stranger at all. The life he had lived in the world of illusions was overlapping with reality. Meng Hao suddenly clasped hands and bowed deeply toward Pill Demon.
“Apprentice greets Master,” he said.
“In the Celestial Land, Master told you that you would only need to perform two kowtows. The first kowtow was broken up into three parts. Master has sown Karma, and because you did not break it, neither shall I! As for the second kowtow, I didn’t explain it back then.
“Now the time has come for you to understand. The second kowtow will come if the day ever arrives in which I return to the dust. Then you must kowtow to break our Karma, so that our fates are no longer intertwined. I will give you a lifetime of favor as your Master; all you must give me, is the ability to smile before I die. That smile will be because I know that my legacy from this life will be passed on.
“If in the course of being my apprentice you choose the same path as my first Legacy Apprentice, Liu Rufeng, and leave me, then there will be no need for the second kowtow.
“Your feet belong to you, and the path lays beneath your feet. The choice will be yours to make in the future.” Pill Demon suddenly turned to look at Meng Hao.
“However,” he continued slowly, “if I were to tell you that I am unable to dispel the poison of the Resurrection Lily, would you still be willing to take me as your Master?”
This chapter was sponsored by DP, Michael Wu, Hooi Leong Gan, and Eric Layne