Bai Xiaochun was panting. By this point, he was focused to the point of tuning everything else out. He wasn't even worried about whether or not he would succeed. His eyes were bloodshot, and his mind was occupied with only one thing: how to be completely and utterly confident!
Unless he was totally confident, he wouldn't start the next batch!
When it came to concocting medicine, his cautious and prudent personality was fully on display.
However, even after all the thought he had put into it, he still couldn't figure out how to solve the problem without first standardizing the ink elements within the Inkfruit. Although that wouldn't count as changing the medicine formula, it would be a slight adjustment to it. After a moment of thought, Bai Xiaochun's eyes flickered with determination.
"The only way is to adjust the formula on a case-by-case basis!" He quickly crushed the Inkfruit.
A squishing sound could be heard as juice flowed out, although Bai Xiaochun didn't send it into the pill furnace. Instead, he congealed it in the air in front of him, then began to make adjustments here and there.
Most people in the audience were surprised, but didn't really understand what he was doing. Even Bai Xiaochun himself didn't really think that his actions were anything special; he just felt that this was the best course of action considering the circumstances.
However, Elder Xu had opened his eyes, and a gleam of shock flickered deep therein. Although he had been a bit surprised that Bai Xiaochun had succeeded seven times in a row, what he was doing now was far more shocking.
"This Bai Xiaochun is actually trying to adjust the medicine formula! Incredible! No wonder the Peak Lord told me to keep an eye on him while he was away from the mountain!" Elder Xu continued to observe Bai Xiaochun silently.
A moment later, Bai Xiaochun waved his hand, flushing away the extra ink elements, leaving behind a drop about the size of a fingernail. After sending it into the pill furnace, he produced the rest of the medicinal plant ingredients and then began his eighth batch!
The pill furnace instantly turned bright red. This time, it didn't take two hours. After enough time passed for two incense sticks to burn, the pill furnace trembled, and a medicinal aroma spread out. The eighth batch had succeeded!
Elder Xu looked at the pill furnace, and what he saw was a seven-inch-long stick of Inkspirit Incense that was black with violet specks!
"That's almost mid-grade!" Elder Xu thought, his eyes shining brightly.
Bai Xiaochun could also tell that this stick of Inkspirit Incense was different than the others. Although he was initially confused, he suddenly realized why all of the other spirit medicines he had produced before were low-grade.
"The medicine formula isn't standardized.... If you adjust things based on your current needs, you can concoct... mid-grade spirit medicines or higher!" Bai Xiaochun suddenly felt as if the world had been opened up to him. Feeling very excited, and before even waiting for the crowd to break out into an uproar, he started his ninth batch!
Everyone was panting, and nobody was talking. They were all completely and utterly shaken. They might have been excited before, but now that they had personally witnessed Bai Xiaochun succeed eight times in a row, they were in a state of complete and utter incredulity.
Not only had he surpassed Zhou Xinqi, he was now on almost the exact same level as the Successor disciple Wang Qingshan!
Before everyone could recover from their shock, Bai Xiaochun rapidly went about concocting the next batch. He only used the time it takes an incense stick to burn before rumbling sounds could be heard from the pill furnace, and a powerful blast of medicinal aroma spread out. The ninth batch... was a success!
"This is unheard-of!!"
"Nobody has ever succeeded nine times, and especially not with Inkspirit Incense! Bai Xiaochun spent an infuriatingly long time thinking, but... but his success rate is completely astonishing!!"
Xu Baocai's mind was spinning, and his jaw hung wide open. Du Lingfei felt her heart being battered by waves of astonishment, and couldn't help but think back to the competition, and how Bai Xiaochun had analyzed that grafted plant.
Han Jianye simply sighed bitterly. Although he was disappointed, he was no longer enraged. If Bai Xiaochun had surpassed him by a small amount, he might have continued to pursue a grudge, but now, he had to admit that he had lost....
"With only one more success, Elder Brother Bai will do something nobody has ever done, not even in ancient times! He... is going to pull off a miracle!"
"Boy was it worth it to come watch the test this time. We got stuck here for a few days, but it was definitely worth it!"
As of this moment, Bai Xiaochun was the center of all attention. Everyone was panting, and their eyes gleamed with intense anticipation. Even Elder Xu felt completely shocked, and was staring with wide eyes.
Finally, Bai Xiaochun moved. His eyes shone with focus as he produced the final set of ingredients. After organizing them into the order that he would use them, he began to feed them into the pill furnace, then performed a double-handed incantation gesture to stoke the Earthflame.
Time passed in complete silence. The only thing the audience could hear was the beat of their own hearts as they waited for the time it takes an incense stick to burn....
An intense rumbling sound could be heard from within the pill furnace. No smoke of failure poured out, and yet, neither did a medicinal aroma. Everyone was shocked.
"Did he fail?" Xu Baocai thought, so nervous that his tongue was sticking to the roof of his mouth.
Bai Xiaochun stared in shock, but then he suddenly realized what was most likely happening, and his eyes began to shine.
It was at this point that everyone watching could see a scintillating light shining out from the joints and cracks in the pill furnace. Elder Xu suddenly leapt forward to peer into the pill furnace, within which was a one-inch-long stick of Inkspirit Incense that was completely violet. His eyes danced with elation.
"Mid-grade!" he said, laughing loudly. Flicking his sleeve, he collected up all of the pill furnaces and sticks of Inkspirit Incense which had been concocted.
"The final round of the test is over. Bai Xiaochun, Han Jianye, Du Lingfei, Chen Zi'ang, Zhao Yiduo, you five have all been promoted to journeyman apothecary! Bai Xiaochun, you take the top spot and... are awarded 5,000 merit points!"
The crowd dissolved into wild commotion, the sound of which echoed out in all directions.
"Ten successes! He got ten successes!!"
"Plus, the final batch produced... a mid-grade product! He's only a journeyman apothecary, but can already concoct mid-grade spirit medicine!!"
Xu Baocai, Du Lingfei, Han Jianye, and everyone else present were completely stunned.
It was somewhat grudgingly that Bai Xiaochun watched the only mid-grade spirit medicine he had ever concocted be whisked away by Elder Xu. He was of a mind to give voice to his discontent, but Elder Xu seemed too imposing, and was clearly not going to return the incense.
Bai Xiaochun sighed and exhaustedly left the square. As he walked through the crowd, people looked at him with excitement and admiration. Obviously, the fact that he had succeeded ten times in a row was no fluke, and was something that an ordinary disciple could never do.
"Congratulations on pulling off a miracle, Elder Brother Bai! This is completely unprecedented!"
"Congratulations, Elder Brother Bai, I truly admire you!"
"Elder Brother Bai, I have some questions about plants and vegetation, do you think you could help a Junior Sister out....?"
Bai Xiaochun blinked. He had been so engrossed in medicine concocting that he had completely tuned everything else out. After seeing what a commotion he had caused, he quickly clasped hands and bowed to the audience.
At the moment, he felt nothing short of elated. Back when no one knew who the little turtle was, he had never been able to find the right opportunity to make a big debut. Now that he had, he was experiencing exactly the feeling he had hoped for.
As for the female disciples who were asking for his help, Bai Xiaochun instantly nodded in agreement. Furthermore, as for all of the disciples who were calling him Elder Brother Bai, he asked them to call him Bai Xiaochun, lest people be unaware of his full name.
Just as he was feeling exceptionally proud of himself, he suddenly caught sight of a young man in the crowd, glaring at him. Bai Xiaochun instantly recognized him as one of Zhou Xinqi's devoted fans. Bai Xiaochun's face flickered, and he quickly extricated himself from the crowd and sped off.
After hurrying all the way back to his log cabin, he realized that he was feeling a bit dizzy. Having spent days concocting medicine, he was completely drained, and instantly fell asleep on his bed.
He slept for two days straight.
In the afternoon of the third day, he opened his eyes, feeling completely refreshed. Then, he thought back to how he had personally concocted a mid-grade spirit medicine, and how Elder Xu had then taken it away. Sighing, he took a look at his identity medallion to confirm that 5,000 merit points had been added, and then felt a little bit better.
With those merit points, he could continue to work at concocting medicine, which would also help him cultivate the Undying Live Forever Technique. Next, he made a quick trip out of his residence to retrieve seven or eight medicine formulas from the sect. After picking one for vital energy replenishment, he spent some merit points to get a large quantity of medicinal plants.
The entire process went quickly, but he was jumpy with fear the entire time. Wherever he went, it seemed people recognized him, and he even noticed some of Zhou Xinqi's fans, who glared at him with cold smiles, then produced jade slips to transmit messages to their cohorts.
Bai Xiaochun nervously got all the medicinal plants he needed, then headed, not to his courtyard residence, but to the Medicine Concocting Pavilion. Using the remainder of his merit points, he bought an entire year's worth of time, and then holed up.
"I was a bit careless this time.... Hmph. Just wait 'til I come out. I'm going to make a big breakthrough in my Undying Iron Skin, and if you people mess with me.... Well, if you come at me one at a time, I'll take you out. If you gang up... then I'll just call for the Peak Lord!" Snorting coldly, he began to concoct medicine there in the workshop.
He could well imagine how, during those two days in which he had slept, word of him being promoted to journeyman apothecary had spread. In fact, it wouldn't take long before the entire Fragrant Cloud Peak was talking about it.
And of course, that was exactly what happened. Furthermore, many people were already speculating that Bai Xiaochun... was the little turtle!
There were too many coincidences for there to be any other explanation. Not only had he shown amazing talent with both plants and vegetation and spirit creatures, but Bai Xiaochun had concocted a mid-grade spirit medicine. He had even passed the journeyman apothecary test with ten successes in a row.
Zhou Xinqi's fans immediately sprang into action, as did Du Lingfei's fans. However, none of them realized how cautious Bai Xiaochun was, so much so that he would never return to his residence, but would instead stay at the Medicine Concocting Pavilion. Then they found out that he had purchased an entire year's worth of time in one of the workshops, and they were instantly enraged.
However, the Medicine Concocting Pavilion wasn't a place that they could just barge into. Furthermore, Bai Xiaochun's new status struck fear into their hearts. Although they couldn't really do anything to him, if they roughed him up to teach him a lesson, the sect wouldn't care. After all, people who provoked those above their skill level would get what they deserved.
However, there was nothing to be done now, so the group which had gathered to catch Bai Xiaochun dispersed begrudgingly. However, there was one of their number, a pock-faced young man, who looked at the Medicine Concocting Pavilion with a cold smile.
"You think that hiding in there will keep you safe from me? I couldn't care less that you beat up my cousin Chen Fei. However, you bullied my beloved Junior Sister Zhou, and also my most cherished Junior Sister Du. Plus, my favorite of all, Junior Sister Hou, won't stop talking about you. Bai Xiaochun, you might have talent in plants and vegetation, but killing you won't be any trouble at all for me!" The young man laughed coldly. He was none other than the Inner Sect disciple surnamed Qian, Qian Dajin!
Bai Xiaochun spent one carefree day after another in the Medicine Concocting Pavilion, either concocting medicines or cultivating his Undying Live Forever Technique. As the days went by, he truly did advance by leaps and bounds in the Undying Live Forever Technique.
His skin became tougher and more durable, and he could move even faster than before.
"Another two days, and my Undying Iron Skin will be complete!" Bai Xiaochun took a deep breath, and his eyes gleamed with elation.
However, it was on that very night at dusk that, all of a sudden, a green beam of light shot from the Missions Offices toward the Medicine Pavilion. It completely bypassed the protective shields surrounding the pavilion, and appeared right there inside of Bai Xiaochun's workshop.
Bai Xiaochun gaped in shock at the command medallion which was now hovering in front of him!