Chapter 532: Admitting defeat at the Grand Medicine Testing Convention Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Wang Shuchen and Xie Peng’s competition was about to start. Currently, the two competitors were standing on opposite sides of the stage with a blindfold around their eyes, their backs to the testing platforms. Medicine City’s Grand Medicine Testing Convention was celebrated for its impartiality. Every portion of the competition was planned with as little loopholes as possible to avoid being exploited by the competitors.
The competition required both competitors to use ingredients provided by the Council of Elders and make them into a pill in real time. Even the ingredients selected by the Council were chosen at the time of the competition, so neither the competitors nor the Elders could plan ahead for a match. Of course, no rules in a fair competition could eliminate the last element of good luck. Before the competition, various disciples from different clans would be instructed in high-level, obscure prescriptions by their families’ top-tier pharmacists. If the chance came that their obscure prescription of choice fit the selection of ingredients from the Council of Elders, then they would’ve struck it rich.
A top-tier prescription needed the combined efforts of various pharmacists over the course of one to two years to come to fruition. It would be impossible for such young, inexperienced competitors to come up with such things on short notice by themselves.
By now, the countertops had been freshly cleaned. A young medical apprentice arrived with a large basket of ingredients in tow.
“Please have the Wang and Xie Clans each send out a representative to supply ingredients for their opponent,” the master of ceremonies announced.
Supplying ingredients meant choosing 30 different ingredients from the collection provided by the Council of Elders. Each representative was to choose ingredients for the opposing party. This was a crucial step in the competition, because it would determine the type of prescription a competitor could and couldn’t make! Once the emcee stopped talking, the Wang and Xie Clan heads both stood up at the same time. As the air grew tense, everyone stuck their head forward to look. But both clan heads were lightning fast with their movements. In a flash, 30 ingredients were selected by each man from the basket and handed over to the master of ceremonies, who noted them down individually. Then the emcee placed Wang Gong’s selection on Xie Peng’s table and the Xie Clan Head’s selection on Wang Shuchen’s table.
The list of ingredients was written on a large white board over the stage so that everyone but Wang Shuchen and Xie Peng could read them. The revelation of the list silenced much of the crowd. All the guests invited to this convention were experts in the field and knew a thing or two about medicine, but everyone found it difficult to combine the selected ingredients in a plausible combination.
Of the 30 ingredients chosen by Wang Gong, at least 20 of them were incompatible with each other because of their opposing effects. They would affect the quantity that could be used in the final prescription. Xie Peng could either try to combine the remaining 10 ingredients, or figure out a way to use one ingredient to counteract the effects of another.
Of the 30 ingredients chosen by the Xie Clan Head, 20 had to be used in tandem to work. If the competitor used one of them, he would also have to include the other 19. Wang Shuchen would only be able to work freely with the remaining ten ingredients instead.
Without a doubt, the fewer ingredients used in a prescription, the easier it’d be for the opponent to test it out. Han Yunxi carefully looked at the list with furrowed brows and seemed to discover something. Meanwhile, Long Feiye and Ouyang Ningnuo were both clueless about it all. Once the emcee announced the start of the competition, both Wang Shuchen and Xie Peng turned around at the same time to look at their collection of ingredients.
Wang Shuchen swept his gaze across the table before determining to draft out a prescription on paper. Meanwhile, Xie Peng only stood there staring at the pile. The audience was completely silent as time trickled by. The competitors only had the length of time it took a stick of incense to burn to create a prescription. Otherwise, they would automatically lose the competition. Although this was a pharmacy competition, it tested the competitors on their prescription skills first, a true test of skills. Similar to a martial arts competition, neither contestant had moved, but the contest had already begun. The entire thing would be decided in one or two moves.
Soon enough, the incense burnt to its halfway mark, but Wang Shuchen was still scribbling on his paper while Xie Peng was still staring at the ingredients. Judging by the current circumstances, Xie Peng looked to be a cut above, inciting discussions amongst the Council of Elders as they watched.
“Who will win?” Long Feiye couldn’t resist asking in a low voice. Last night, he and Wang Gong had plotted to have Wang Shuchen feign losing on purpose so the Mu and Xie Clans could fight to the death. He hadn’t expected the Mu Clan to lose their right to compete completely. Under these circumstances, Wang Shuchen had to win! Otherwise, they would really give all the advantages to the Xie Clan.
“It’s a bit complicated…keep watching for now,” Han Yunxi replied just as Wang Shuchen stopped writing. Everyone grew tense and even the Council of Elders stopped their whispering to stare.
Without a doubt, Wang Shuchen had come up with a prescription! Dressed in robes of snowy white, his hands gave off a distinctively scholarly air. He calmly handed the prescription over to the emcee before beginning to grab his ingredients. Although there was a folding screen hiding the contestants from each other, making it impossible for Xie Peng to see him, he could still hear the sounds of his competitor moving. Despite this, the ten-year-old child simply ignored the noise to stare at the ingredients before him.
It had to be said that his self-possession earned the esteem of everyone watching. Unlike the enigmatic moves of Mu Linger or Gu Qi Sha, Wang Shuchen’s process of making medicine was as clear as day. Still, one could only see a rough outline of his movements before he produced a thumb-sized pill and handed it to the master of ceremonies.
Xie Peng remained unmoving even as the incense started burning down to its dregs! Could it be that Wang Gong’s selection of ingredients had put him in a tight spot?
Gradually, comments and remarks rose from the quiet crowd. The Council of Elders started whispering amongst themselves again, while Wang Gong stroked his beard to wait and the Xie Clan Head smiled calmly. Although there were multiple comments, everyone felt that Xie Peng had to have some skills to be saved for last. He could definitely make prescriptions, so he would probably shocked them all when he moved.
Xie Peng only remained unmoving in thought even as the incense trickled to its very last dregs. It was about to go out, yet he still didn’t budge. It would already be too late for him to make any pill now. There wasn’t enough time left!
How can this be? This is the last ace from the Xie Clan? Is the Wang Clan going to win the championship just like that? As the murmurs grew in volume, the disbelieving crowd and Council of Elders turned noisier and noisier. All of the Elders had their own thoughts about the ingredients provided by Wang Gong. He’d been cunning in picking those 30 particular ingredients, but it wasn’t impossible to make something from them! What was Xie Peng doing?
“Is there a trick afoot?” Long Feiye murmured.
“Strange…” Han Yunxi muttered to herself. Both of them, like everyone else, was staring fixedly at the incense onstage, waiting for the fire to go out.
Unexpectedly, the silent Xie Peng suddenly raised his hands, alarming the crowd. As everyone turned towards him, Xie Peng’s fingers flashed at incredible speeds over the ingredients. When he was finished, a completed pill sat in his hand.
This speed…it’s even faster than Mu Linger, and almost on par with His Excellency Pill Fiend!
The noisy crowd fell silent once again. Everyone exchanged glances of disbelief. Such levels of handiwork required massive practice. Head Elder Xie exchanged glances with the Xie Clan Head and revealed a satisfied smile. The Xie Clan ace had set the world on fire with a single brilliant feat!
Meanwhile, Wang Gong glanced at the remaining ingredients on Xie Peng’s table and sucked in a cold breath as he came to a sudden realization. Xie Peng busied himself with writing down the prescription before handing it over with the pill at the same time. The emcee glanced over the paper and nearly dropped the pill in shock.
Just what kind of medicine had Xie Peng made?
The folding screen between Wang Shuchen and Xie Peng was taken away, revealing the opponents facing each other. Wang Shuchen stepped forward with a slight bow, his hands clasped before his chest. He had a smart and elegant carriage, but Xie Peng only glanced at him before ignoring him outright.
“Rude little rascal!”
“All he knows is some fancy tricks, how could he be so arrogant?”
“Young Fourth, don’t put yourself on the same level as that suckling babe…”
Beneath the stage, the Wang Clan members were all feeling ruffled by Xie Peng’s attitude, but Wang Shuchen didn’t speak. He returned to his spot with a peaceful expression. Despite this, Xie Peng laughed coldly and said, “I’ve never paid respects to losers. He’s not worthy!”
Despite his youth, he had quite the haughty air. Wang Gong only furrowed his eyebrows unhappily at the sight. Wang Shuchen couldn’t hold his expression after a slight like that, and said coldly, “The winner’s yet to be determined. Don’t talk big!”
“Dare to make a bet with me?” Xie Peng asked loudly. Wang Shuchen hadn’t replied before he added, “If you lose, call me your grandpa!”
The audience burst into laughter at those words. Someone else shouted, “Peng, you brat, wouldn’t that mean the clan head has to call you ‘father?’”
Bang! Wang Shuchen slammed his fist on the table, furious. “Head Elder Xie, are we continuing this competition or not?”
In the distance, Ouyang Ningnuo laughed out loud as well. “Your Excellency Pill Fiend, even you weren’t as aggressive as this boy when you were young, right? They haven’t even picked a winner yet. If he really claims the championship, he might not even put you in his eyes, right?”
Long Feiye simply ignored him. When he saw Wang Gong look uneasy, he knew that the situation had turned bad.
“Of course we have to continue. Otherwise, how will we determine the victor?” Though Xie Peng’s proposed bet never came to pass, Head Elder Xie’s words were filled with mocking!
The master of ceremonies handed Wang Shuchen’s pill to Xie Peng and Xie Peng’s pill to Wang Shuchen, then passed on the two prescriptions to the Council of Elders. Anxiety stole upon the crowd again. As the various Elders examined the prescriptions, their expressions turned both serious and strange. Onstage, the true competition had begun. Wang Shuchen was carefully testing the pill by weighing it in his hand and examining its color, smell, and taste. He sliced it into bits, ground parts of it into powder, and mixed it with water, among other things, to test it repeatedly while taking notes. There were countless details to take note of, such as the ingredients included in the pill and their respective quantities, the order of mixing in the ingredients, the amount of water used, and its market value and drug potency.
While doing all this, Wang Shuchen tuned out the rest of the world, but they had tuned him out as well to focus wholly on Xie Peng. All he did was pop the pill in his mouth and chew on it a bit while taking notes on a piece of paper. He even looked careless and absent-minded while doing it.
Both competitors were given the same length of incense to test their respective pills. This time, Xie Peng quickly handed over the prescription of Wang Shuchen’s pill, while the latter was still laboring to figure out the various ingredients. He had started out strong but ended up crossing out and re-writing many of his later entries, completely uncertain.
Time waited for no one, so gradually he began to panic. Many times, he lifted his head to look at the incense stick as he grew increasingly nervous. At the same time, the Council of Elders had already reviewed Xie Peng’s written prescription and saw that it matched Wang Shuchen’s original list exactly.
“Xie Peng’s prescription is completely correct!” the emcee declared loudly.
Wang Shuchen grew even more desperate. He wrote a few more strokes before giving up altogether. “I lost!”
The crowd broke into an uproar. Even though there was still some time left, Wang Shuchen had given up so easily! Admitting defeat and being declared the loser were two completely different things!