Translator: StarveCleric Editor: StarveCleric
"How should we conduct the match? You can determine the rules!" Hearing the other party agree to it, Zhang Xuan said.
Considering the other party's temperament, it was very likely that the other party wouldn't spill the location of the Poison Hall under threat, even if he were to have him killed. Besides, there was no way he could guarantee that the other party wouldn't give him a fake location to do him in.
Furthermore, it was likely that he would require the Poison Hall's help for Wei Ruyan's condition. It was best for him not to get on bad terms with them.
As such, the best way to go around doing so was to convince the other party that he was a poison master and have the other party bring him there personally.
"Very well. In my current conditions, I am unable to concoct poison, but I do have a few poisons in my possession. I will allow you to pick from any of them, and if you are able to neutralize the poison contained in it, I will acknowledge that you are a poison master!" Elder Xu contemplated for a moment before flicking his wrist, and eight different ceramic jars appeared before him."
There were no labels on any of the jars, and each of them was thoroughly sealed. It was impossible to tell what was stored within from the outside.
Nevertheless, through his Eye of Insight, Zhang Xuan was able to clearly sense the tremendous toxicity contained within each of the ceramic jars. It felt as if opening the seal on any of them could bring great bloodshed upon an area.
Just like medicinal herbs, it was possible for potent poison to gain spirit. Once it was released, it could result in a devastating calamity if there was no antidote to curb it.
This was precisely the reason why poison masters were feared by all other occupations.
"These are... grade-6 pinnacle poisons!" Zhang Xuan remarked.
The poisons contained within the ceramic jars were very potent, only paling slightly in comparison to the beetle from before.
"Indeed, these are all grade-6 pinnacle poisons. You can freely choose from any of them. As long as you are able to concoct an antidote to one within two hours, I will acknowledge that you are a poison master!" Elder Xu said.
"Alright!" Zhang Xuan nodded.
Without any hesitation, he picked up the first ceramic jar, opened it, and lowered his head to examine what was within.
On the other hand, upon seeing Zhang Xuan's movements, Elder Xu's face darkened.
Poison masters had a unique series of steps in order to assess a poison so as to avoid being poisoned themselves, especially when they were unsure about the nature of the poison. Yet, the fellow before him was clearly ignorant of it. To be smelling the content of the jars as if he was savoring good wine...
Was he really that courageous, or did he have no knowledge of poison at all?
Even a 3-star poison master would know better than to do something so reckless!
Just as Elder Xu thought that the other party would be incapacitated by the poison gas emanating from the ceramic jars, he saw the other party pour out a pile of poison from one of the jars onto his hand and dabbed it with his finger.
"..." Huge veins bulged out on Elder Xu's temples.
The other party was seeking death! Most grade-6 pinnacle poisons were capable of seeping through one's skin. If the poison were to seep into one's meridians and reach the organs, even a Saint 2-dan expert could potentially face fatality, let alone a Nascent Saint cultivator!
Where in the world would one find another poison master assessing poisons in such a manner?
If this was really how poison masters assessed poison, just how many of them would die each time the Poison Hall wanted to examine a new concoction or medicinal herb? Come a few rounds of that, and poison masters would have gone extinct themselves even without the master teachers making a move.
Shaking his head, Elder Xu was wondering whether he should intervene and save the young man before him when the other party suddenly took out a white cloth and placed it neatly before his chest. After which, the other party adjusted his posture upright, reminiscent of a dignified gentleman preparing himself for his meal. Following that, he took out a spoon and scooped the poison powder on his palm before gracefully lifting it up to his mouth.
Upon seeing this sight, Elder Xu nearly keeled over.
He thought that it was already foolish for one to come into contact with poison bare-handed, but… consuming it directly?
Are you tired of living?
More importantly... that white cloth before your chest, the upright posture, and that spoon... What the heck are you doing?
You are here to create an antidote to my poison, not to dine on it...
Elder Xu couldn't help but feel his hair stand on end. He immediately flicked his wrist to take out the antidote so as to treat the other party, but before he could make a move, he saw the other party smack his lips before looking at him in discontentment, "Elder Xu, the poison you concoct is appalling. Its texture is disgusting, and the taste is truly horrendous. There is no one in the world who will be willing to try it a second time! Fail!"
Hearing those words, Elder Xu nearly collapsed to the ground.
Brother, that's a poison over there, not food. You are supposed to die right after eating it... who in the world will be able to give it a second try?
Fail... Fail your head!
Those who have eaten the poison will be too caught up in the fear of imminent death, who would still have the energy to bother about the taste?
Just as he was thinking whether the world had gone mad, the other party moved on to open the second ceramic jar, scooped out a spoonful of the poison within, and placed it in his mouth. "The taste is still acceptable, but if you can stir-fry it for a little longer, the texture will be even better."
After which, the other party moved on to the third jar. "This is a little too sweet. Did you add honey in there? Hai, I happen to really dislike honey. You should consider adding Chinese liquorice in place of honey the next time you concoct it!"
"This one will be better if you dissolve it in water. However, it will still be a little viscous and gooey, so you will have to pay more attention to its presentation to make it more appetizing. As for the taste, if you were to pair it with some barbecued meat and fine wine, I still might try eating one bowl. Anything more, and it might be a little too heavy. Personally, I don't really like to eat such gooey food…"
After tasting each poison, Zhang Xuan would appraise it earnestly.
"..." Elder Xu tugged at his hair in a frenzy.
The grade-6 pinnacle poisons which he concocted were capable of killing even Saint 1-dan pinnacle experts easily, so how could the other party be eating them so leisurely, as if they were delicacies?
Could his poisons have lost their effectiveness due to being stored for too long?
"But that shouldn't be possible!"
Perplexed, Elder Xu picked up a jar which the other party had eaten from previously, dabbed his finger in it, and placed it into his mouth.
As soon as the poison seeped into his throat, he immediately spurted a mouthful of blood, and his body began trembling uncontrollably. A sharp pain tore through his entire body, and he felt as if all of his meridians had burst simultaneously.
Astonished, he swiftly took out the antidote and swallowed it. It took a moment before the unbearable pain finally receded. With a twitching face, he turned his gaze towards the young man, who was still in the midst of tasting his poisons not too far away, with a look of daze.
Very soon, the other party was done testing all eight jars of poisons. However, he still had a look of reverie on his face, as if he hadn't gotten enough of it yet.
"How is it?" Unable to bear it any longer, Elder Xu asked.
The other party nodded earnestly and replied, "As expected of grade-6 pinnacle poisons, their flavors are indeed not bad. Right, for the last two poison, if you could make them a little crispier, the overall culinary experience for the diner could be elevated."
"..." Elder Xu's body stiffened.
He had spent a lifetime of effort and devotion to concocting these poisons, and he thought that he had become an unrivaled force in Tier-1 Empires with them. Yet, who could have thought that they would end up being savored by a Nascent Saint cultivator as if they were desserts... not to mention, he was even criticized for the lacking taste...
The heck, these are really all lethal poisons that can kill any men easily!
I really am a poison master, a very formidable poison master! I am not a confectioner...
Ignoring the other party's sudden insanity streak, Zhang Xuan shook his head.
In truth, he wasn't doing all of those actions intentionally. Due to his Heaven's Path zhenqi, those poisons were completely ineffective against him. It took a taste for him to realize that there were many flaws with them that should be corrected.
For one, since the poison was meant to be consumed, its flavor should at least be good so as to lessen the pain of the victim before his death.
"Cough cough. A-are you really fine? You ate so many poisons…" A while later, seeing how the fellow before him was still relishing in the taste of his poisons, not showing the slightest sign of being poisoned, Elder Xu asked with twitching lips.
"I am fine!" Zhang Xuan finally recovered from his trance. "How is it? Is this sufficient to confirm that I am a poison master?"
"Of course! If this isn't sufficient to confirm that you are a poison master, nothing else can!" Elder Xu shook his head with a bitter smile on his lips.
When he first heard that the other party had learned poison by himself, he thought that the other party was spouting nonsense. However, after seeing the other party devouring his poisons as if they were mere snacks, he immediately realized that he was mistaken.
Possessing a physique that was immune to poison, the other party could test any poison out on himself without any fear. Given so, it was indeed possible for him to have learned poison on his own.
"I'm relieved. Alright, you should hurry up and heal your wounds first. I'm afraid that we won't be able to hide from those fellows for too long here…" Seeing that the other party had finally acknowledged him, Zhang Xuan nodded and said.
While this chamber was capable of isolating aura, it wouldn't keep the Violetleaf King away from them forever. It was just a matter of time before he came knocking.
They had to swiftly flee from Jingyuan City and head to the Poison Hall.
"Un." Understanding that logic, Elder Xu nodded before taking out a couple of medicinal herbs from his storage ring and concocting it into a medicinal fluid. After he was done, he swallowed it.
His means of dealing with his wounds differed significantly from those of physicians and apothecaries. The latter aimed to nourish the deficiencies in one's bodies whereas the former utilized poison to stimulate one's body, forcing one's zhenqi to circulate faster and hasten the recovery.
Two different methods with the same aims.
It was impossible to say which was more effective than the other, but medicine strengthened one's core, allowing one to reach a greater height in the future. On the other hand, while poison might stimulate one's body potential in the short-term, but it could very well hurt one's foundations, limiting one's future achievements.
Seeing that Elder Xu needed some time to recuperate, Zhang Xuan silently left the chamber before reverting back to his form as 'Sun Qiang' to look for Hu Yunsheng.
"Elder, just a moment ago, the city lord has let out news that anyone who dares to compete for the Sepulture Flower will be considered as an enemy of the City Lord Manor. As a result, no one dared to bid for it during the auction. Shall I conduct another round of publicity and hold the auction a few days later?" Upon seeing Zhang Xuan, Hu Yunsheng immediately reported with an awkward look.
Due to the news released by the city lord, most of the interested buyers dared not make a move for fear of making an enemy out of the City Lord Manor. As a result, despite all of the other goods being successfully auctioned off, the Sepulture Flower remained untouched by any...
"There's no need for that." Zhang Xuan waved his hand.
Since he had already found a poison master, there was no need for him to auction the Sepulture Flower anymore.
"Yes!" Hu Yunsheng nodded before passing the jade box containing the Sepulture Flower over to Zhang Xuan.
Zhang Xuan took the jade box, and just as he was about to speak, a huge group of people suddenly walked over to them. The person leading the group was the person whom Zhang Xuan had just fled from at the City Lord Manor, the Violetleaf King.
At this moment, the Violetleaf King had already reverted back to his human form. Without using the Eye of Insight, it was nigh impossible to see through his disguise.
"Boss Hu, this is an esteemed guest of the City Lord Manor, Elder Violetleaf. Something very important to him has been stolen just a moment ago, and we suspect that the thief is hiding in Inkcloud Quarter. Thus, we hope to conduct a search here. I hope that you can cooperate with our investigation!" A guard walked over and clasped his fist.
"You wish to conduct a search in my Inkcloud Quarter?" Hu Yunsheng's face darkened as a deep frown appeared on his forehead.
In his view, the other party was simply making up a story to forcefully snatch the Sepulture Flower from them after failing to obtain it in the auction.
"Indeed. I hope that you won't hinder our investigation efforts, or else we will have no choice but suspect that Inkcloud Quarter is colluding with the thief!" the guard spoke with a threatening edge in his voice.
Hearing those words, Hu Yunsheng felt so angry that his entire face turned crimson with rage. The guard was blatantly threatening him to his face!
Yet, there was nothing he could do about the situation, so Hu Yunsheng fell silent, not knowing how he should respond. At that moment, a voice suddenly sounded.
"Something very important has been stolen? Indeed, it is understandable why one would be anxious after losing something important to him. May we know what the item is? Perhaps, we might be able to offer some help to you!"
Turning around, Hu Yunsheng saw Elder Sun Qiang speaking with an earnest smile on his lips.