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"What are all of these people doing here? Did a star elder grace us with their presence?"

A person asked after arriving at the pill-making competition. This sect member was just interested in seeing the disciples compete.

For some reason, there were a lot more people here this year. The pill hall had a large building and the competition would be taking place inside.

There were two parts to this competition. One would be picking out the right materials while the second one would be pill creation. Both were important processes that a pill maker needed to know. They had to have the ability to distinguish the materials while also knowing how to put them together.

"You don't know brother?"

"No, what happened?"

"Well listen well, a new genius has appeared."

"A genius?"

The person nodded while explaining about the new rising star called Dai Rong.

"Won three competitions already? Even the blacksmithing one?"

"Yes, everyone is taking bets if he can win the fourth one!"

While the two were talking a chime sounded which caused everyone to quiet down.

"The pill-making competition will commence now, we from the pill hall wish for everyone to be silent."

The pill hall was one of the greater established places in this sect. No one would be willing to offend them as that meant being banned from getting any pills in the future.

Zhang Dong found himself being stared at. The place they were doing this competition was another large hall building.

It was quite spacious but also somewhat stuffy. There were about a hundred participants. There were many tables in this hall, on them large piles of dried herbs. He instantly knew what this was about. Even before being given the pill to make, they would be tested on their knowledge of materials.

"Welcome to this year's pill-making competition, this year we will be making the Crystal mountain establishment pill!"

The people around started whispering while the young alchemists looked down. This pill was quite hard to make as it allowed a person to push through a large realm. It was a mortal grade pill but a tricky one to make for these new pill masters.

"When the chime sounds, you will have an incense stick time to pick the herbs. If you don't know the recipe you will be asked to leave!"

Even before it started a few people let themselves out with heads lowered. This was quite shameful so they were greeted with laughs and smirks.

Zhang Dong was well aware of the crafting process and what herbs he needed to get. This was all thanks to raiding the two libraries.

'This pill requires a small lesser mortal grade beast core and then various herbs...'

He looked at the piled-up herbs and other materials. For a normal person, it would be hard to pick up the right item. Even an experienced master could make a blunder.

A normal person most of the time needed to take the herb into their hands and check it with their senses. The smell and texture could reveal if the given herb was the right age depending on the pill.

Not every herb increased in quality over time. Some matured early while other ones could take millennia to mature for a few minutes before withering away. A master would need to then be ready to fashion something out of this material before it was wasted.

Zhang Dong on the other hand could just scan the items with his system’s identification skill that he bought all these years before. He was sure to level it up to the maximum, with this he would be able to find any hidden gems in this pile of greenery.

‘After I get the materials I need a pill furnace…’

In this competition to keep it fair, the pill furnaces were provided by the sect. Due to the number of participants, the pill furnaces were rather lacking in quality. This meant that if the pill maker made too many blunders they risked the furnace exploding or ruining the pill.

An important part of these furnaces was the fire. It was a treasure in itself and depending on the rarity the heat varied. These flame tongues could be kept in special spatial rings that kept them suspended in time. Depending on the rarity they could even burn for centuries.

There were various pill forging techniques that worked like magic. The pill maker would push their spiritual energy into this pill furnace and mix the ingredients inside. The special flames would also need to be controlled by their Qi. Infusing more would cause these flames to burn faster but also use up its limited usage.

Just as the furnaces the flames would be provided by the sect. These flames were quite lacking in quality and would not last for long. With this, the pill makers needed to create a pill while the time ticked against them.

While waiting for the elder to finish making his speech Zhang Dong continued looking around. He could tell that there were some Martial Grandmaster realm elders around watching him. This was a bit disheartening as he hoped to get a Martial Saint interested.

With someone of that caliber, it would be guaranteed that he would make it into the inner sect as a disciple. Regretfully there weren’t any Martial Saints in the outer sect. All of those elders were experts that didn’t need to attend such events. From what he knew only at the battle competition one of them would be forced to attend.

That would be his best chance to gain the attention of the inner sect. There would be other inner sect seniors there but mostly at the Martial Grandmaster level. He could probably safely get in with one of them but he would be in a lesser position than if he was noticed by a Martial Saint that was close to a core formation expert in power.

“You are getting ahead of yourself.”

While waiting he heard someone’s voice next to him. It was a thin youth in a pure white robe and long dark hair. He looked quite handsome but a bit thin.

“Are you talking to me?”

“Yes you, I don’t know who you are but don’t think an amateur like you can win over this Jin Ming!?”

Zhang Dong didn’t answer, instead, he just turned around. He had trouble remembering the names of these young masters he had already met that they just blended with each other. This guy was probably some pill-making prodigy that somehow heard about Dai Rong’s rise. No proper young master would be able to tolerate competition, they always needed to stay in the limelight.

“You dare ignore me? Who do you think you are!”

The elder stopped talking and walked back towards his seat, soon the chime would be sounded. The young lord here continued to berate him while Zhang Dong could only try to ignore him.

The lanky man’s face went red while others looked from the side. Some chuckled while others were surprised that the trial disciple wasn’t showing any respect to his seniors.

The chime sounded and the competition began. It was quite chaotic and every young man and woman was pushing towards the tables with resources. With one exception of the trial disciple that moved to the side and leaned against one of the columns.

While the others were busy fighting with each other like old ladies for products with reduced prices, Zhang Dong just rested. Instead, he just looked at the pill furnace section along with the spatial rings that held the flames in them.

This didn’t go unnoticed as the people that had followed him from the other competitions pointed with their fingers. Even the pill-making judges were furrowing their brows, it looked like he had given up.

“What an imbecile, did you already give up before it started?”

The lanky youth passed him with a whole tray of ingredients while scoffing. Only when most of the contestants were finished with picking up their resources did he move to them.

Now with no one here to bother him he reached with both his hands towards the pile of the herbs. He held up a large pile of them before throwing them high into the air. While the herbs were at the apex of their ascension he started to quickly scan them with his eyes.

“This one… and that one… also this one…”

While making a strange scene he started plucking the falling herbs onto his own tray. The people looking from the side were shocked by his picking process. It seemed as if he was just taking out random items but if someone looked closely they would see that he was going for the highest quality parts each time.

Even though he started after everyone else, his tray was full of items within a minute's time. Some of the other contestants that weren’t so sure about their choices looked at him in shock as he headed towards a free pill furnace.

“Huh?”

The young master that previously egged him on found himself to his left. He was clearly surprised to spot his nemesis with a full tray of herbs.

“You think you can win with those randomly picked herbs? Are you taking the pill-making profession lightly?”

Some of the judges in the distance nodded their heads as they agreed. Zhang Dong could see that he came off as a haughty young master himself now. This was all fine as he was about to shatter these people's worldview.

“Watch and learn!”

He replied while trying to sound somewhat condescending. Without a reason to hide he could play up a young master’s persona.

With a smack to the side of the furnace, the lid flew up into the air. He then gathered spiritual energy into his hand and gave it a twirl. A mini-tornado was created that circled around all the ingredients. The material started sticking to each other while the mini cyclone rumbled with lightning energy.

“Is that the Tempest pill forging technique? How could a young disciple like that be so proficient in it!”

The judges started staring after hearing the sounds of thunder coming from a particular spot. Zhang Dong had many such techniques but this one was one of the more eye-catching and also studied at this sect.

The mini twister started combining the ingredients even before they entered the pill furnace. Within the massive gust of air, the almost finished pill entered the container which he then closed.

With this technique, he could save on time while also conserving the pill furnace’s durability as part of the pill creation was done outside of it.

Now with another tap of his finger, the fire to the pill furnace was released. It was normally red in coloring but after coming in contact with Zhang Dong’s Qi it turned blue and started radiating electrical energies.

The whole large hall with many pill makers and their students went silent. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about making pills knew that they were witnessing something special.

“What is this… I’ve never seen a forging technique like this...will that low-grade pill furnace be able to take all that spiritual energy?”

The lid started rumbling and more sounds of thunder escaped. The whole furnace started glowing brightly and soon the whole large hall was consumed by a flash of light.

As the furnace opened an illusory dragon shot up into the air and coiled itself around the furnace it came from. It gave out a menacing roar before its body started to fade away.

“T-the thunderous roar of a lightning pill dragon… a-a Master!”

‘Well… that got their attention alright…’

The finished product landed in the palm of his hand. The pill was radiating quite the strong energy, whoever ate this would surely reach the Martial Master level without any problems.

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