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 wearing a blindfold around their eyes, their backs to the testing platforms. Medicine City’s Grand Medicine Testing Convention was widely celebrated for its impartiality. Every portion of the competition was planned with as few loopholes as possible to avoid being exploited by the competitors.
The competition required all competitors to use ingredients provided by the Council of Elders and make them into a pill in real time. Even the ingredients that had been selected by the Council were chosen at the time of each 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, good luck. Before each 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 unless they were a genius.
By now, all the countertops had been freshly scrubbed clean. 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 the ingredients for their opponent,” the master of ceremonies announced.
Supplying ingredients meant choosing 30 different ingredients from the collection that had been provided by the Council of Elders. Each representative was to choose the ingredients for the opposing party. That 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. Yet, both clan heads were lightning fast with their movements. In a flash, 30 various ingredients had been selected by each man from the basket and handed over to the master of ceremonies, who then 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 had been 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 lists 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 present would have found it difficult to combine the selected ingredients in a plausible combination.
Of the 30 ingredients that were chosen by Wang Gong, at least 20 of them were incompatible with each other due to 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 ten 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 of them had to all 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 that were used in a prescription, the easier it’d be for the opponent to test it out. Han Yunxi carefully looked at the list with her sable brows furrowed in deep thought and she seemed to discover something. Meanwhile, Long Feiye and Ouyang Ningnuo were both left 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 respective collection of ingredients.
Wang Shuchen swept his gaze across the table before growing determined to draft out a prescription on paper. Meanwhile, Xie Peng only stood, staring at the pile laid out before him. 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 in order 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 their skill. Similar to a martial arts competition, neither contestant had moved, but the contest between them had already begun. The entire thing would be decided in one or two moves.
Soon enough, the incense had burnt to its halfway mark, yet Wang Shuchen was still scribbling on his paper while Xie Peng was still just staring at the ingredients. Judging by the current circumstances, Xie Peng looked to be a cut above the rest, inciting discussions amongst the Council of Elders as they watched.
“Who will win?” Long Feiye couldn’t resist asking Han Yunxi in a low voice. Last night, he and Wang Gong had originally plotted to have Wang Shuchen feign losing on purpose so that the Mu and Xie Clans could fight to the death. He hadn’t expected the Mu Clan to lose their right to compete so utterly and completely. Under these circumstances, Wang Shuchen just had to win! Otherwise, they would really make wedding clothes to give to the Xie Clan.
“It’s a bit complicated…just keep watching for now,” Han Yunxi replied just as Wang Shuchen had stopped writing. Everyone grew tense and even the Council of Elders stopped their whispering to stare at the stage.
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 the needed 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 that, the ten-year-old child simply ignored the noise to stare at the pile of ingredients before him.
It had to be said that his self-possession had 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 over to the master of ceremonies.
Xie Peng still remained unmoving even as the incense started burning down to its dregs! Could it be that Wang Gong’s selection of ingredients put him in a tight spot?
Gradually, comments and remarks rose from the previously 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 surely have some skills to be saved for last. He could definitely make prescriptions, so he would probably shock them all when he finally moved.
Xie Peng still remained unmoving in thought even as the incense trickled to its very last dregs. It was about to go out, yet he still hadn’t budged. 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 murmuring grew in volume, the disbelieving crowd and Council of Elders turned noisier and noisier. All of the Elders held their own thoughts about the ingredients provided by Wang Gong. He had been rather cunning in picking those 30 particular ingredients, but it wasn’t impossible to make something from them! What in the world was Xie Peng doing!?
“Is there some sort of 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 finally go out.
Unexpectedly, the silent Xie Peng suddenly raised his hands, greatly 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 is 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 a massive amount of practice. Head Elder Xie exchanged glances with the Xie Clan Head and revealed a satisfied smile. The Xie Clan’s 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 his 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 rudely ignoring him outright.
“What a rude little rascal!”
“All he knows is some fancy tricks, how could he dare to be so arrogant?”
“Young Fourth, don’t put yourself down on the same level as that suckling babe…”
Below the stage, the Wang Clan members were all feeling ruffled by Xie Peng’s attitude, but Wang Shuchen did not speak up. He returned to his spot with a peaceful expression. Despite that, Xie Peng laughed coldly and said, “I’ve never paid respects to losers. He’s simply 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 replied coldly, “The winner has yet to be determined. Do not talk big!”
“Dare to make a bet with me?” Xie Peng asked loudly. Wang Shuchen hadn’t replied before he added, “If you lose, you will call me your grandpa!”
The audience burst into raucous 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, absolutely furious. “Head Elder Xie, are we continuing this competition or not?”
In the distance, Ouyang Ningnuo laughed out loud. “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, is not that right?”
Long Feiye simply ignored him. When he saw Wang Gong looking uneasy, he knew that the situation had turned bad.
“Of course we have to continue. Otherwise, how would we determine the victor?” Though Xie Peng’s proposed bet never came to pass, Head Elder Xie’s words were certainly 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 crept upon the crowd again. As the various Elders examined the prescriptions, their expressions turned equal parts 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 so.
Both competitors were given the same length of incense to test their respective pills. This time, Xie Peng was the one quickly handing over the prescription of Wang Shuchen’s pill, while the latter was still laboring to figure out the various ingredients of Xie Peng’s. He had started out strong but ended up crossing out and re-writing many of his later entries, completely uncertain.
Time waited for no man, 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 have 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!