"Let the Second Phase Begin."
Ye Xiu was wondering what was supposed to happen because no other was given to the participants. He started to look for any clues to what they were supposed to do for the Pill Formation. He noticed that several of them were looking in the direction of where the Proctor of the exam had stood.
He saw nothing but immediately activated the observation technique, "One Thousand Eyes", he noticed a faint Qi outline on the desk. Thinking that he hadn't put enough Qi into his eyes he placed more until he noticed that tiny words had appeared. He quickly scanned the words for instructions and saw the name of a Grade 1 pill that he had gone over with Lao Lan for a fortnight. It was one of the first pills that Lao Lan and Lao Xiu had him trying to form.
'Mild Accumulation Pill', a pill that recovers a fixed amount of Qi when consumed, quality of the pill only lowers the amount of pill toxicity upon consumption.
Ye Xiu put his Qi into one of the formations that could be seen on the table. Lao Xiu had explained that every single Alchemist desk has formations placed upon them. Some of the formations include a fire-maker, defence from explosions and temperature control. The fire-maker formation is usually for those that have not formed their inner flame. Inner flames can be formed once they break through from the Body Refining Realm to the Qi Cleansing Realm.
He carefully adjusted the flame's temperature to the appropriate levels to warm up the cauldron. As it warmed up he started to place the ingredients into the cauldron. 'Evaporating Bellflower on the north, Cleansing Roots on the East. Add the water just as the bellflower starts its evaporation.'
'This should allow me to start the formation process.' He started refining the roots quickly and efficiently. He had managed to reach the same level as his mentors in the usage of the 'Graceful Fingers' technique. Removing the impurities of the root, he started to place more ingredients into the different areas of the cauldron. He started refining all of them at the same time whilst beginning to form the basic shape of the pill.
After refining the ingredients he started to bring up the heat of the flame to have them cause reactions with each other. While the reactions caused a smokey wisp to appear, he immediately guided it towards the rough outline of the pill he already had. He started to create a basic shell for the pill using the used matter of the ingredients that had fallen to the bottom of the cauldron.
The smoke started to gather in the middle of the pill shell and condensed into a liquid. The liquid floated in the middle of the pill shell and Ye Xiu's concentration was focused on the liquid. He was still refining the ingredients and guiding the smoke but he placed most of his attention to the liquid. He was paying attention because this was the liquid which held all the important properties of the pill he was making.
He was trying to mix the liquid evenly so the concentration of the properties had spread out. This was because he had to separate the liquid into ten portions before congealing it into a core. Pills were made in batches of ten because a single ingredient usually had enough to make ten pills and with a tiny leftover to spare. It also made the numbers nice and round for easy selling.
It also helped them to identify the quality ratio and failure ratio for a person in Alchemy, this standard was started and never changed. Ye Xiu felt the liquid was mixed enough and started to separate it into ten equal portions. Ye Xiu knew that he to do this whilst taking the big pill shell and form it into ten smaller ones.
The Pill shell was easy to form into several because he just had to change the shape through the use of Qi. He placed the ten portions of liquid into each pill and allowed the liquid to congeal by turning off the formation on the desk. The pill core started to solidify before no other reactions could be seen from the cauldron or the pill. Knowing that the pill was ready, Ye Xiu took out Pill bottles to place them in.
After finishing with those he looked to see if there were any more instructions on the desk. Whilst Ye Xiu was busy looking for more instructions, there were several people in an observation room watching over the examinations. Xiao Tu was keeping his eye on Ye Xiu's every movement because it looked extremely graceful.
He watched Ye Xiu as he used his refining technique and his fingers were doing mysterious dances around the cauldron. He had also watched him make conversation with the girl. Ye Xiu seemed to relax around her and Xiao Tu didn't know why he felt like his heart was tightening.
Every time he saw Ye Xiu laughing when he talked to the girl, he could feel himself wanting to go down to the examination rooms and strangle the girl. Xiao Tu kept a very close on both the girl and Ye Xiu as the second phase was about to finish. All the observers had now focused their attention on the stage and the elderly proctor had appeared once again on the stage.
Xiao Tu didn't
Xiao Tu watched as the many participants start to put the last pills they had formed into the bottles, he spotted one of the participants walk closer to both Ye Xiu and the girl trying to discreetly nudge them over as they moved closer to the stage. He had managed to pickpocket the girl without her realising it but Xiao didn't bother trying to inform anybody about it.
He thought that it was what the girl deserved for not being able to notice something so obvious. A person just walking up to you to nudge you to pickpocket you was fairly obvious to what the person's intentions were. As everyone brought their pill bottles to the Proctor who placed them all on a table that he had on the stage.
Each person handed over 3 bottles of pills over to the man before leaving the stage and stood around the room waiting for the next thing to happen. The proctor walked off the side of to the side of the stage, where another man walked past him to reach the table.
"Thank you for participating in the exam and for your hard work. These pill bottles will now be taken to be sold in our Alchemist shop if it has reached sufficient quality. The next person to come up on the stage will be the one to inform you of who has passed the second phase to move on to the third."
"Any money earned from the pills being sold will be added to your Alchemist Association's contribution points when you officially past the examination. Good luck to those that move on to the third phase, I hope to see more promising Alchemists in the future."
The man swept his hand over the bottles and they entered his dimensional storage before briskly leaving the stage.
The observers were keenly watching the room to see who would be the ones to get to the third phase of the examination.
A man with a stern posture walked onto the stage. He spoke with a commanding voice, "Those whose names that have been called out will stay behind for the third phase. Those who haven't, please make your way out immediately. You can try your luck again next time."
"Shang An Mo, Shen Xiu, Chen Cheng, Shang Yang, Tian Ye Xiu, Ma Zhihao and Xue Ren. Please follow me, I'll be bringing you for the third phase of the examination."
After the candidates left, everyone in the observation room started to leave. Confused, Xiao Tu followed them because he had no idea of what to do since everybody had left. He followed after them and they were all walking towards a room with an even bigger stage and seats crowded around the front of it.
He chose a seat and sat down, waiting for Ye Xiu or his father to finish whatever they were doing.
Out of nearly a hundred promising Alchemists, only 7 had managed to pass the second phase. The Alchemist Association was extremely strict in the selection processes because it had a reputation to keep. The seven candidates were led through the building until they reached a greenhouse.
The man who had led the exam began explaining the procedure they were going to follow. "The third phase for this examination is for knowledge similar to the first phase. You will each be given different herbs to harvest and you'll have to use your knowledge to procure the herbs safely and in a pristine condition. Those that damage the herbs will be disqualified from the examination immediately. If you can't manage to harvest a herb in a controlled environment, what hope do you have in the wild?"
"Go to the desk at the front of the greenhouse and look for the instructions with your name on it. The third phase will last for ninety minutes. The time starts now."
Ye Xiu approached the table at the front of the greenhouse but he was also in deep thought, 'The examination was actually much easier than I had envisioned earlier. I guess that Lao and Lao Xiu knew what they were saying when they said I would pass the examination easily.'
He looked at the paper at hand before strolling through the greenhouse looking for the herbs he was required to harvest. He needed to harvest five herbs of relative difficulty. They were well known to be harmful to whoever was not handling it properly.
He searched the room for any protective gloves because he didn't want to affect the harvesting process by using his Qi. It was possible that his Qi could affect the harvesting process negatively because he hadn't been taught the correct way to cover his hands in qi to protect them without influencing other things.
Shang Yang was close to him as he was harvesting his first herb, he started to look at how she was doing and it looked like she was doing well. She was harvesting a herb of moderate difficulty for them but she was doing it with Qi protection. It was probably because her father had taught her the method so that it wouldn't affect her passing the examination in any way.
He looked back to his task at hand and began his harvesting process. The first plant was a venomous one; it released poisonous fumes when it was exposed to direct contact to the skin of any living creature. Knowing that he couldn't touch it directly with his hand or the gloves, he decided to use Qi threads to creatively uproot the plant from the soil it was placed in. With this method, he wasn't affected by any poisonous fumes because it wasn't releasing anything in the first place.
Ye Xiu moved to the second herb. It was a herb that was extremely delicate. Accidentally breaking the petals would release all it's medicinal properties into the air thus making it redundant to continue extracting the herb. He used his refining technique to create a globe of Qi around it, separating the soil and the plant.
He continued his harvesting until he had finished with his task. He placed them all into one of the supplied jars that the man had provided to them. He looked at what the rest were doing and saw that everybody else was still busy harvesting the herbs. Two of the participants, a man and a woman, looked to be struggling with the task. The man looked to be exhausted from the entire process and eyebags were forming underneath his eye.
The woman was injured by the herb that she was harvesting. She continued harvesting it nonetheless.
Time ran out for everybody in the process of harvesting the herbs and only three people had managed to pass the phase with acceptable harvests.