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Xianxia Online

Chapter 16 Open Sky Alchemist’s Guild
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In the world of Xianxia Online, there were two main types of techniques: Martial and Soul. Martial techniques had to do with the physical body, while Soul techniques relied on Soul Strength. Similarly, the Defense stat governed resistance against Martial skills, while Soul Defense oversaw resistance against Soul skills.

In addition, Soul Strength also governed one's aptitude for alchemy, whereas normal Strength governed one's aptitude for forging. Defense governed array making, and Soul Defense governed beast taming. Together, the four core stats was each related to one major craft of the world.

In other words, with such high Soul stats, Xuan's aptitude for alchemy and beast taming were both going to be incredible. He recalled seeing something about an alchemy competition the night before in his Director, so turning away from his conversation with Nine Heavens, he switched tabs and looked under the <Public Events> section. Sure enough, there, listed right below the Hunting Party event, was a limited-time alchemy event:

<Event: Open Sky Alchemist Guild's Admission Test>

<Open Sky Alchemist Guild's annual test has begun, with the goal being to find potential new alchemy starlets. Each year, the challenge is something different. Clear the difficulties and claim the rewards.>

Time remaining before start: 30 min

Requirements: None

Guaranteed Rewards:

- 1,000 Credits

Possible Rewards:

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- Alchemist's Token (rank varies)

- Spirit Crystals

- Special Reward: ???

<Track>

'Hm… I was going to get a weapon first, but… the Heavenly Way's karmic attributes are already at work, it seems,' Xuan thought. 'Well, since this opportunity practically fell onto my head, I might as well accept it, no? There are sure to be some rewards there for me to reap.'

Since Xuan still had the unfathomable Soul strength and knowledge from his past life, performing alchemy was going to be a piece of cake. After all, alchemy didn't require any physical strength, and one of his wives was the only student of the best alchemist in the entire world. Xuan had learned a thing or two from spending so much time with her, and now was the time to put that experience to use.

Following some final moments of deliberation, Xuan clicked on the <Track> button at the bottom of the screen and exited his System.

After all, the karmic attributes of the Heavenly Way always delivered—he learned that the hard way.

*****

Soon, Xuan arrived at the testing site. There, a small crowd had gathered, all young men and women here to try their luck. There were older seniors among them as well, but for the most part, if someone still had not become a full-fledged alchemist at some association by the age of 30, it was best to give up on the idea.

After all, unlike cultivation, talent was a necessity to practicing alchemy—it wasn't something simply effort could make up for. Even if someone had incredible Soul strength, they still needed to possess a calm, patient temperament. Luckily for Xuan, after spending so long in secluded retreat, his personality fit that criteria quite well.

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Up ahead, on the elevated platform, stood an elderly man accompanied by several servants in green uniforms. He gazed out at the crowd, rubbing his long beard, as if looking for any potential stars among this batch. When his gaze fell on Xuan, however, he paused briefly, before immediately looking away as if nothing had happened.

'… Did that old dog discover something?' Xuan thought to himself, remaining cautious. It wasn't impossible—without any concealment techniques or artifacts, a powerful cultivator would be able to sense his tremendous Soul power without going into his knowledge sea, which hadn't even developed yet.

'… Hm. I need to get a concealment artifact of some sort soon, it seems.'

Xuan had originally thought he'd be able to get away with it since this was a beginner zone in the world where not many powerful masters resided, but as it would seem, that was going to be a bit difficult. Still, at the very least, if the old man did notice something, he certainly didn't show it. His expression showed no change even after glancing at Xuan, and instead merely continued waiting patiently for more people to arrive.

Did he really not notice anything? No.

His lack of change in expression was simply because he had lived for many years and developed this stone face throughout those thousands of days, so even the most shocking of events wasn't even enough to make him twitch an eyebrow. He did, however, feel something odd emitting from Xuan as his gaze swept past him, and made a mental note to himself to keep an eye on the young man during the test.

'Strange…' the old man pondered. 'He's only a Body Tempering Stage cultivator, so why do I feel like his Soul power is equal to if not stronger than my own?'

Soon, the originally small crowd had turned into a large gathering, and the old man overseeing the test glanced sideways at one of his subordinates before whispering something in his ear. The servant bowed in response and left the stage, before returning shortly after with a large jug in his hands resemblant of a wine jar.

"… It is time to begin," the old man announced, instantly capturing the attention of everyone in the audience. "The contents of this alchemy competition will be very simple. In a moment, you will come onto the stage one by one, and each of you will receive a pill to consume. If you are able to do so successfully, you will be accepted into Open Sky Alchemist Guild as a student. In addition, the person who can keep the pill in their mouth for the longest time will receive a special reward."

"What? That's it?" A person wondered aloud, confused. "What about actual alchemy? We're not going to perform that?"

"It is pointless to see you perform alchemy if you do not have the talent and aptitude to do so," the senior said coolly, folding his arms. "Now then, who will be the first contender?"

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Everyone in the crowd seemed uneasy to be the guinea pig in this scenario, but eventually, a brave—or perhaps stupid—individual stepped forward and raised his hand.

"I'll go."

"Very well. Come up to the stage."

The man who had volunteered stepped up onto the elevated platform, and the servant from before unscrewed the jar he was holding before taking out a pill from inside and handing it to the man.

As the crowd watched on in anticipation, the man steeled his resolve as he stared at the seemingly-harmless black pill in his hand, before taking a deep breath and slowly placing it into his mouth and wrapping his tongue around it.

Immediately, the effects kicked in.

"—Mmn?!"

The man's eyes widened in surprise at how utterly vile the pill was. An indescribably foul taste exploded throughout his mouth the second it touched his tongue—a taste that made the idea of eating his own feces seem like a meal fit for a king. This pill-shaped conglomeration of every godawful taste in existence—of things both edible and inedible—had been churned together to create a nightmarish experience that, in all senses of the word, paralyzed the man. Gagging offered the man no respite, and it didn't matter anyway because every muscle from the neck up had gone completely numb.

All of this happened in 0.1 seconds.

Somehow, the worst part of it all was the fact that the taste alternated between extremes—from something akin to chalk dust to a taste that was like acid but worse, the pill was clearly capable of hurting the man by sheer taste alone. Agony filled the man's veins as he began choking himself with his hands to get the pill out since his tongue was already too numb to move, but to no avail. Eventually, his eyes rolled back and he fell unconscious on the stage, white foam frothing out of his mouth, as the rest of the audience watched on in shock.

"Grandmaster Zong refined this pill himself," the senior overseer said calmly as two servants dragged the poor guy's body off the stage and cleaned up the platform. "These won't kill, but they are made to be as torturous as possible. They are meant to test your endurance and mental fortitude. After all, without those two qualities, you can give up on becoming an alchemist."

Xuan didn't know who this Grandmaster Zong person was, but he must've been a famous figure in this city, given how everyone in the crowd seemed to falter a bit.

"Now then…" The senior overseer scanned the crowd, an air of dominance around him. "Who's next?"