Chapter 112: Cheng Jiang
Translator: StarveCleric Editor: Frappe

"Could it be that… I am really going to die?"
Apothecary Chen Xiao's mouth quivered and his entire body shivered slightly.
The first time Zhang Xuan said these words, he thought that the other party was cursing him, so he didn't pay it any heed. However, upon seeing the Pill Sample Beast die upon consuming the pills he forged, he was rattled. Even more so, he felt fear.
Seeing him in such a state, everyone felt bad for him. They wanted to console him, but they couldn't find the right words to say.
If he weren't on the verge of death, how could a Pill Sample Beast die just like that from eating the pill he forged? It was clear that what the other party said was true!
"I have explained what I should. Who wants to challenge me next!"
Zhang Xuan scanned the surroundings.
"No… Brother Zhang Xuan, don't be in such a hurry!" Apothecary Chen Xiao couldn't hold it in any longer and looked to him in panic.
Instead of addressing him as a "lad," he addressed him as "brother" now.
"Why? Is Apothecary Chen Xiao unable to accept the results and would like to experiment once more?" Zhang Xuan looked over.
"No, I… want to learn: how will I die? If you can tell me the truth, I am willing to have my body smashed to smithereens to repay this favor to you!" Apothecary Chen Xiao pleaded.
There weren't any problems with his body. Even if his appetite dwindled and his quality of sleep decreased, it shouldn't cause his death!
As the person in question, how could he know nothing when he was already on the verge of death?
"I will tell you honestly then. Even though there were no mistakes in your skill and movements when you were forging the pill, your body is slightly stiff. It is clear that your vitality and strength aren't what they used to be. Most important of all, parts of your skin have started to turn gray, similar to the livor mortis that appears on corpses! If I'm not wrong, you have applied a special kind of medicine on your skin to conceal it from sight. In actuality, your entire body is already speckled with gray spots!"
Zhang Xuan looked over with piercing eyes.
Looking as though he had been struck by lightning, Apothecary Chen Xiao's eyes narrowed as he retreated backward in fear.
Just like what the other party said, there were spots on his body. He thought that it was a kind of rare disease and he intended to find time to seek out Master Yuanyu and have him take a look. After all, it didn't hurt or itch, so he didn't pay much attention to it. To think that it would be livor mortis!
"Sir, please save me!"
Suppressing his gasps of shock and fear, Apothecary Chen Xiao no longer held any doubt for the other party's words. He clasped his hands together and pleaded.
His address also changed from "brother" to "sir."
Regardless of who it was and how long he has lived, no one wished to die, especially when death appeared before them.
Everyone would seek any means to live on!
"Have you obtained some treasure recently? If I'm not wrong, you probably took it from a corpse. I shall not explain any further. If you wish to live longer, it is best that you not touch it anymore!" Zhang Xuan waved his hand. "I will end my advice here. Good luck!"
Hearing his words, Apothecary Chen Xiao froze once more.
What the other party said was true. He had obtained a cauldron recently and it was much better than the one he had been using. He had been treating it as a precious treasure, stroking it daily. If he could, he would even sleep beside it every day.
This cauldron was taken from the hands of a corpse, one that had departed not too long ago.
This person gave him the cauldron in hopes that he would take revenge for him. However, his enemy was way too powerful, so he only agreed to do so casually back then. He did not intend to exact vengeance in his stead.
After which, the person died and he no longer bothered about the matter. Could he mean… this cauldron?
He obtained his cauldron clandestinely, not even his family members knew of it. He... How did he know of it?
Apothecary Chen Xiao took a good look at the young man before him once more. This time, agitation could be seen on his face, as though staring at a specter.
"Alright, who's the next one?"
Ignoring the elder, Zhang Xuan turned to look at the other eight remaining examiners.
Actually, Chen Xiao was inflicted with not an illness but a curse.
He agreed to seek vengeance in another's stead, and in exchange, the other party gave him his most precious treasure. However, he went against his words and the other party predicted that he would do so. As such, he imprinted the curse on the cauldron. If he got close to it, his life would be gnawed away. Even though it wouldn't cause any illness or side effects, his lifespan would reduce tremendously.
Unless he made up his mind to exact vengeance for the other party!
Of course, Zhang Xuan wouldn't say these words out loud.
Putting aside the fact that he had barely met Apothecary Chen Xiao and wasn't indebted to him, more importantly, the other party was an ungrateful person. He made promises but didn't fulfill them. Zhang Xuan despised these kinds of people.
After consecutively getting two apothecaries to admit defeat, none of the other examiners volunteered to take him on. No matter how foolish the other eight were, it was clear at this point that Zhang Xuan was someone with true ability. For a long time, the entire hall was silent and no one dared to step forward.
"If none of you wish to continue the Pill Debate, please admit defeat and declare me the victor!"
Zhang Xuan smiled.
"Tranquil Heart Pill requires your heart to be calm to forge. Under usual circumstances, you need to adjust your state of mind for three days through consuming vegetarian meals and cleansing yourself with water. Given how they had to forge the pill out of a sudden without making the necessary adjustments in their state of mind, it is natural that the pills they forged would be affected by their emotions. As long as we avoid forging such pills, he should be unable to point out any flaws!"
"Indeed! Only the forging of Tranquil Heart Pill is affected by your emotions and state of mind. The effects of such for other pills are minimal so it will do as long as we do not forge Tranquil Heart Pills!"
Muttering broke out among the crowd and soon a voice rang out.
"I will face him!"
An apothecary stood up.
It was a middle-aged man about the same age as Du Man. He had a square-shaped face and his eyes shone with determination and calm.
"It's Apothecary Cheng Jiang!"
"He is the apothecary who possesses the greatest potential among us all. Just within three years of becoming an apothecary, he was already able to forge more than a dozen kinds of pills. With sufficient time, there is a high possibility of him surpassing Guild Leader Ouyang!"
"Nothing will go wrong since he's the one making the move!"

The eyes of the crowd lit up.
Initially, everyone was resolute to pulling this Zhang Xuan lad off his high horse. Yet two apothecaries, Meng Yan and Chen Xiao, who challenged him had fallen to him. This struck a blow at their confidence and they urgently needed someone to boost their morale.
"Zhang Xuan, you were able to notice the slightest details in the previous two clashes, to the point of even discerning an apothecary's vitality, emotional state, and mental state. I am impressed!"
Walking out, Apothecary Cheng Jiang nodded his head in approval with a smile.
"I am unworthy of your praise!" Zhang Xuan replied.
"You were even able to discern the killing intent from Apothecary Meng Yan. If I were to forge a Tranquil Heart Pill, my flaws would surely be unable to escape from your notice. Thus, if I may propose presumptuously, I would like to increase the difficulty of the challenge. I wonder if you're brave enough to accept!" Apothecary Cheng Jiang said.
"I am willing to listen to the details!"
Upon hearing that the other party wanted to increase the difficulty of the challenge, Zhang Xuan looked interested.
"I have just created a new pill forging technique and come up with a name for it a few days ago. I have not displayed it to anyone before. If I gave this problem to you, even if you are learned in all methods that have existed since immemorial times, you will surely find it hard to answer!" Apothecary Cheng Jiang said. "Thus, I contemplated and decided against having you give the name of my technique. As long as you can name three pill forging techniques I referenced from, I am willing to admit defeat!"
"Creating a new pill forging technique? Incredible!"
Pill forging techniques were similar to the battle techniques of a fighter. Those who could create one of their own were definitely talented individuals, people who left their mark on history.
As long as they did not burn out before their time was up, it was just a matter of time before they made a name for themselves.
Upon hearing his words, the other apothecaries looked at him, full of admiration.
"Apothecary Cheng sure is remarkable. This question is truly difficult!"
"Indeed. Since it is a brand new pill forging technique, it is bound to be different from the originals. Compared to pointing out the flaws in pill forging techniques, to identify the references in a newly-created pill forging technique, three at that, the difficulty is much greater!"
"This time, Zhang Xuan will most probably be defeated!"
"Of course, this is such a difficult question. Even a 3-star apothecary would be stumped by it, much less an apprentice apothecary!"
The crowd couldn't help but lament Zhang Xuan's predicament.

In some Chinese religions and culture, eating meat can be considered to be a sin due to the bloodshed resulted in its production. Sometimes it's associated with state of mind—those who consume meat tend to be more short-tempered whereas those who consume vegetarian meals tend to be calmer.



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