In the quiet hall, Qie Mi Er, who was seated on the high platform, had his eyes closed as he rested. On the table in front of him stood an hourglass with sand falling in it…
After the quiet atmosphere persisted for an unknown amount of time, Qie Mi Er was the first to open his eyes. He glanced at the hourglass where half of its contents had fallen. He moved slightly as he coughed gently.
As Qie Mi Er’s soft cough sounded, Ao Tuo and the others also opened their eyes. They lifted their eyes and inspected the room before saying with a laugh, “Looks like the test this time around is fairly difficult. Until now, no one has actually come out.”
“People with ability want to raise the degree of purity as much as possible while people with poor ability are distressed with how to refine the ingredients during the time allocated, Therefore, it is natural that no one has come out within this short period of time.” Qie Mi Er smiled and faintly replied.
“Who do you think will be able to obtain the best result?” Ao Tuo nodded his head, lifted the teacup in front of him and sipped before asking with a smile.
“It’s difficult to say…”
Qie Mi Er’s shrivelled hand gently tapped on the armrest of the chair. He mused a little before saying, “From how I see it, Liu Ling’s chances should be the highest. He has quite good talent. During these many years, he has also learned nearly thirty to forty percent of Gu He’s knowledge. It is sufficient for him to be among the best of his generation.”
“Haha. Little Princess isn’t bad either. The foundation of the imperial family is extremely solid. If someone were to say that they did not prepare some hidden cards for her this time around, none of us would believe that person.” Ao Tuo said with a grin.
“Although that girl’s talent is quite good, she is much weaker in terms of experience when compared to Liu Ling. If she does not use those hidden cards, she should be a little inferior to Liu Ling. This is only the first test, therefore, it is unlikely for her to use her hidden card. Therefore, Liu Ling has the highest chances of obtaining the best result…” When talking about his beloved disciple, Qie Mi Er had another smile on his face as he spoke.
Ao Tuo smiled. The corner of his eyes glanced at the small room covered by a black curtain where Xiao Yan was at. He sighed and said in his heart: “I wonder what kind of result Xiao Yan will be able to obtain. I hope it won’t be too low. His talent is definitely not inferior to Liu Ling or the Little Princess.
“Why? Old Ao, are you still clinging on to hope?” Although Ao Tuo’s action was subtle, it still did not fail to escape Qie Mi Er’s notice. Immediately, the latter shook his head somewhat helplessly. Regardless of how great Yan Xiao’s talent was, a tier two alchemist would have difficulty fighting for victory against these tier three alchemists.
“Ke ke.” Ao Tuo laughed, but did not argue with Qie Mi Er. He slotted both his hands together and placed them on his knee before shaking the tilted chair as he quietly waited for the results of the test.
Seeing Ao Tuo’s silence, Qie Mi Er also did not say anything else. He sighed softly before turning his gaze once again to the empty hall. His heart slowly counted the drops of sand marking the time.
When the sand in the hourglass fell until only a quarter remained, a black curtain moved abruptly. Immediately, the few gazes on the high platform were instantly shot over and stared intently at that black curtain.
A hand was extended out of the black curtain and pulled it aside. With a feminine smile, a handsome young man slowly walked out…
“It is indeed him…” Eyeing the young man with a tall and straight figure, Ao Tuo and the others were momentarily blank. They exchanged glances with Qie Mi Er before sighing and shaking their heads immediately. The disciple taught by Gu He did indeed have some skills.
Liu Ling strode out from behind the black curtain. After which, he stopped at the middle of the hall and smiled at Qie Mi Er and the others on the high platform. He then bowed elegantly in an extremely gentlemanly fashion.
Not long after Liu Ling came out, an ethereal figure swiftly leaped out from behind a black curtain. When she saw Liu Ling who was already standing in the middle of the hall, a disappointment immediately appeared on her exquisite face. She slowly walked to the middle of the hall and tooted as she said, “Big Brother Liu, I didn’t expect that you would be so fast.”
“Hehe, Little Princess, you aren’t slow either.” Liu Ling smiled and said.
“Hmm. Although you are faster than me, your medicinal ingredients may not be as pure as mine!” Little Princess softly snorted and said as she waved her snow-white fist.
Liu Ling nodded his head and smiled without speaking.
A short two to three minutes after Little Princess came out, the quiet black curtain were immediately opened one after another, as though a chain reaction had occurred. Numerous human figures came out from within them and finally stood in the hall.
The first thirteen people who had came out from the black curtain all had a tier three alchemist badge on their chest. Clearly, in terms of refining, they far surpassed those tier two alchemists.
After these thirteen people appeared, the black curtain ceased moving. Only ten minutes later were there people who came out one after another from behind the black curtain. All of these people, without exception, were tier two alchemists.
When these tier two alchemist who came out saw those thirteen tier three alchemists who stood with their chests puffed out and their heads held high in the middle of the hall, they smiled bitterly and shook their heads. Immediately, they appeared somewhat dejected as they stood at the rear. Clearly, after this initial test, they roughly knew their distance from these seeded competitors.
As the black curtains repeatedly moved, the sand in the hourglass was pouring to the point where it was about to become empty. However, Ao Tuo’s eyebrows were tightly pressed together. This was because until now, Xiao Yan had yet to appear…
“What is this little fellow doing? Don’t tell me that he has not completed the refinement? Impossible. With his ability, even if he cannot catch up with the top competitors like Liu Ling, he shouldn’t be left behind to such an extent.” Ao Tuo’s hand held the armrest as he muttered somewhat anxiously in his heart.
“Ah…” By one side, Qie Mi Er saw his anxious old friend and could not help but sigh. He patted his friend’s back in consolation.
Standing at the first spot in the crowd, Liu Ling’s face carried a faint smile as he looked around the hall. When he did not spot Xiao Yan’s figure, a cold laughter and ridicule immediately surged from the deep regions of his eyes.
As time flowed by, the empty large hall once again became filled. However, everyone remained quiet. Numerous gazes spontaneously paused at the black curtain where Xiao Yan had entered. At this moment, of all the competitors, only Xiao Yan had yet to come out…
The sand in the hourglass came splashing downward. Ao Tuo’s eyebrows were pressed together until it almost formed a line…
“Hei, Big Brother Liu, is that your friend? His appearance is quite poor.” Eyeing the strange expression Ao Tuo on the high platform, Little Princess turned her head and laughed softly to Liu Ling.
“Haha, Little Princess is joking. He and I have only met a few times. We are far from what is considered as friends.” Liu Ling laughed gently.
“That’s true. With your ability and pride, it appears that you have never befriended those who don’t have any potential.” Little Princess smiled. Her words were extremely sharp. Having come from the imperial family where people schemed and fought each other, she thought that only those who had ability that she could treat seriously were qualified to be viewed as a friend. An ordinary tier two alchemist did not have the ability for her to lower herself.
Liu Ling smiled and nodded his head. His gaze once again glanced at the black curtain which still did not have any moment. With a mocking laughter, he finally ceased continuing to pay attention and turned his gaze away.
On the high platform, the sand within the hourglass had already completely fallen. Therefore, Qie Mi Er helplessly shook his head. He did not expect that the competitor recommended by Ao Tuo was so incompetent that he would actually fail to pass the initial test. He sighed, stood up, wanting to announce that the refinement was over.
Ao Tuo by the side had also sensed Qie Mi Er’s action. His expression became slightly bitter but he did not have any method to stop him. Shaking his head dispiritedly, he leaned back on the chair and let out a long breath.
“Alright everyone. I’ll announce that the time…”
“I’m sorry that I’m late…”
Just as Qie Mi Er was about to announce the end of the refinement, a calm voice was suddenly emitted from behind that black curtain. Immediately, a black figure pulled aside the black curtain and slowly walked out with a calm face. He looked at the stunned face Qie Mi Er wore and bowed slightly.
“Hu…” Hearing this calm voice, Ao Tuo abruptly lowered his head. He stared intently at Xiao Yan who seemed somewhat hurried as he walked out from behind the black curtain. However, the large stone hanging in his heart finally fell.
“Tsk tsk, I did not expect that he could rush it out during this last bit of time. How lucky. But a medicinal ingredient that was hastily rushed would likely not be very good.” Little Princess watched Xiao Yan who had just came out with interest and softly said.
“He will be eliminated if he isn’t good. That’s something very common. The Grand Meeting is short of almost everything but it is not short of competitors…” Liu Ling narrowed his eyes as he glanced at Xiao Yan and laughed faintly.
Standing on the high platform, Qie Mi Er eyed Xiao Yan who had finally appeared. He then tilted his head and watched Ao Tuo who had sighed in relief. In his heart, he quietly said, “Ah, although he managed to rush it out, but seeing that he barely made it, it is likely the result will not be too ideal. What a pity… Poor Old Ao…”
Turning his head around, Qie Mi Er clapped his heads and pulled back all the strange gazes that were staring at Xiao Yan. He softly coughed before saying in a deep voice, “Since everyone has punctually come out, then we shall begin preparing for the next section of the test.”
As he said, Qie Mi Er took a few steps forward and lifted a black cloth that was located on the platform. Instantly, he revealed a precision machinery that had a flickering glow.
“This is a purity measuring instrument which was built by some famous blacksmith who our alchemist association had hired. It is able to accurately test the purity of the ingredients that you have refined.” Qie Mi Er rubbed the dark black machine, pointed at a groove and said, “This is the place for you to put the ingredients to be measured.” After saying this, he pointed to a screen. Some character were repeatedly flashing on it. “This spot will reveal the degree of purity. It is out of 10 points. Ten points is the highest, while one point is the lowest. You need four points to pass.”
“Alright. Now, all of you will put the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ that you have refined into it. Remember, before you put it in, it would be best if you tell us how many times you refined it…”
Each time that a medicinal ingredient was refined, the difficulty of doing it would be a few times harder than the last time. For example, even with Qie Mi Er’s strength, he would at most be able to refine this ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ repeatedly for ten times. If he did any more than that he would be wasting his effort without gaining any benefits.
Qie Mi Er clapped his hand softly. The group of tier four alchemists stood up from their chairs and came to the front of the examination instrument. They appeared somewhat curious as they waited for the unveiling of the results.
As Qie Mi Er’s words fell, everyone in the hall glanced at each other. Finally, a tier three alchemist who was near the front of the queue walked forward and took out a jade bottle that stored the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ from his storage ring. After which, he placed it into the groove. He faced Qie Mi Er and the others on top and said respectfully, “Deputy chairman sir, with my ability, I can only refine the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ three times.”
Qie Mi Er nodded slightly. Being able to perform three effective refinements on the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ could be considered a result that was not bad. According to his estimation, the purity that this young man’s refinement had reached should be around five points or so.
As Qie Mi Er had expected, after the machine flickered a couple of times, the monitor immediately revealed a large ‘Five’.
“Five points. You pass the test. Congratulations.” Seeing the blood red word, Qie Mi Er nodded and laughed.
“Four points… pass.”
A tier two alchemist was pushed forward and swiftly prepared everything. A moment later, the word ‘four’ that was flashed on the monitor caused him to rejoice as he exhaled. After which, he patted his chest and moved to one side.
“Five points, pass.”
“Three points, fail.”
After a few people who had passed, there was finally an unlucky tier two alchemist who stepped back with a defeated expression.
As the time for the examination flowed by, Liu Ling finally moved leisurely to the side of the examination machine under the focus of everyone. After which, he took out a jade bottle from his storage ring and carefully placed it into the groove. He lifted his head and said and smiled to Qie Mi Er. “I have limited ability. I can only refine it six times.”
Once Liu Ling’s words left his mouth, everyone in the room was immediately stunned. At that moment they were in an uproar. Not only the people below, but also Qie Mi Er and the others could not help but exchange astonished gazes. Being able to refine the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ five times would at least require the ability of a peak level tier three alchemist.
TL: peak level tier three alchemist – the highest level within tier three. If one advanced further, one would reach tier four.
Qie Mi Er softly sighed. His gaze shifted to the monitor. There, the glow flickered for some time before a large ‘Seven’ slowly appeared…
“Seven points. Congratulations… you have passed.” Qie Mi Er exhaled gently as he smiled and said.
Liu Ling smiled and moved his lofty body to one side. Off and on, his gaze would drift toward the furthest person in back where Xiao Yan rested with his eyes closed.
With the climax created by Liu Ling, the rest that followed behind undoubtedly appeared extremely ordinary. The people who were only able to refine it two or three times came one after another. They were unable to hook onto the heart of Qie Mi Er and the others.
The dullness carried on until it was Little Princess’s turn where it was finally broken. This young lady who was quite young was actually able to refine the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ five times. However, due to some issues as a result of her inexperience, the grade she obtained was worse than Liu Ling by 0.5 points.
After Little Princess, there were a few seeded competitors with abilities that were quite good and managed to achieve six points each. However, when these people were compared to Liu Ling, they undoubtedly fared a little poorer. Looking at this situation, the person with the best result would definitely be Liu Ling.
As the candidates went over one after another, the middle of the large hall once again began to gradually become empty. A moment later, only Xiao Yan was left standing alone in the middle.
“Yan Xiao, it’s your turn…” Seeing Xiao Yan, who had his eyes closed as though he was sleeping, Qie Mi Er helplessly opened his mouth and hastened him.
Hearing the urging voice, Xiao Yan slowly opened his eyes. He lazily scanned around him before finally stopping on Liu Ling who was smiling as he looked at him. Xiao Yan smiled faintly. After which, he threw a comforting gaze toward the anxious faced Ao Tuo.
Xiao Yan climbed up a few stairs with wide steps before stopping at the side of the examination machine. He took out the jade bottle that contained the powder refined from the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’. After which, he randomly threw it into the groove under Qie Mi Er and the others speechless gaze.
“Little Fellow. How many times did you refine this ingredient?” Seeing that Xiao Yan, who had his head lowered, did not have any intention of opening his mouth to speak, Qie Mi Er could only take the initiative to inquire.
“How many times?” Xiao Yan frowned slightly and hesitated for a moment. He then said uncertainly, “It seems like… eight times.”
The large hall became as silent as death at this moment.
“Hmph. Foolish fellow. Does he think that such words can be randomly reported?” Being similarly violently choked by these words of Xiao Yan, Little Princess finally could not help but coldly mock. She did not believe that a tier two alchemist would actually have the ability to refine the ‘Black Iron Spiritual Leaf’ eight times.
However, before the cold smile on Little Princess’s pretty face could completely disappear, it abruptly stiffened at the next moment. This was because, a bright red large ‘Nine’ had slowly surfaced on the monitor of the examination machine.
As they saw the bright red large number, Qie Mi Er suddenly felt that his heart had instantly shrunk tightly…