The next morning, an emergency bell rang throughout Pill Valley.

“Long San, not good! Your master passed away!” Zhao Xiang pushed open the door to Long Chen’s room with a panicked expression.

“He died?”

Long Chen was startled. Hadn’t he been perfectly fine yesterday? He had even said that he wanted Long Chen to kowtow to him in the future. How did he die?

“What happened?” Long Chen put on a mournful expression, but he didn’t particularly care.

“I’m not sure about the details. I heard that a problem occurred in his cultivation last night. I don’t have the qualifications to learn about such matters, so hurry and come with me. Protector Zhuo wants to see you.”

Zhao Xiang brought Long Chen directly to a secluded area in the back of Pill Valley. This place was called Crane Cry Mountain. Its meaning was that the dead could fly to heaven on the back of a crane while leaving their cry in the human world. Only experts with the highest authority in Pill Valley could have their ashes buried here.

An alchemist’s body was not buried within the earth directly. Instead, it was turned to ashes by fire. In their life, they refined heaven and earth. In their death, they refined themselves. This was the best ending for an alchemist.

In fact, when alchemists felt themselves reaching the end of their longevity, they would refine themselves with their own Pill Flame, allowing their soul to merge with heaven and earth.

As for alchemists who died suddenly, they needed their close family and friends to send them off with their Pill Flame.

“Crane Cry Mountain is a protected region.”

Zhao Xiang had only just brought Long Chen over when two Life Star experts blocked their way.

“This is Long San, senior Bishi’s final apprentice. He must be allowed to send his master off,” explained Zhao Xiang.

Even Zhao Xiang, a Life Star expert, didn’t have a high position in Pill Valley. That was because their statuses were not decided by cultivation base, but by whose alchemy skill was greater. So he didn’t dare to be the slightest bit rude to these two.

Hearing his explanation, one of them walked inside. When he returned, he was shaking his head.

“You’re too late. Senior Bishi’s ashes have already been buried. They’re still in the midst of the ceremony, so you should leave.”

Hearing that he had already been turned to ashes, Long Chen was delighted inside. That was a good thing for him. Now he didn’t need to kowtow to that dead ghost.

Long Chen and Zhao Xiang had no choice but to leave. A few hours later, Zhuo Tianxiang personally came to see Long Chen.

“Long San, don’t grieve. Although senior Bishi passed away, you are still his apprentice, and you still have his support. I came here to tell you a few things. First of all, your timid character must be changed for me,” said Zhuo Tianxiang sternly.

“But…” Long Chen had a conflicted expression. He wanted to say he was a naturally well-behaved person.

“There’s no buts. Senior Bishi passed away, causing us to lose one of our members amongst the twelve Grand Elders. Someone will be promoted to replace him very quickly, and based on the current situation, there are only two people qualified to take his spot, and they are both on the side of the conservative faction. This situation isn’t favorable to us. Pill Valley’s higher-ups don’t care about the competition between disciples. They only care about results. If you continue being a coward, let me tell you, you won’t even be able to calmly cultivate. All kinds of people will cause all kinds of problems for you, and once you fall into the bottom three rankings, Pill Valley’s iron rules will still kick you out, and no one will be able to save you,” said Zhuo Tianxiang coldly.

“You mean if anyone wants to bully me, I have to counterattack?” said Long Chen nervously.

“No, you’re not counterattacking. You must be unbridled and arrogant. Do you understand how to do that? With your current power and with your status as senior Bishi’s final apprentice, you have enough capital to be arrogant,” said Zhuo Tianxiang.

“But master said I’m just an apprentice in name,” said Long Chen, lacking confidence.

“You are no longer a titular apprentice. You are his final apprentice before his death. In fact, you are the apprentice senior Bishi cared about the most before dying, understand?” said Zhuo Tianxiang profoundly.

How could Long Chen not understand? Now that Dan Bishi was dead, they could say whatever they wanted. This was his best shield.

“Long San, remember. Only useful people can get more resources. And right now, we are lacking manpower. This is a great opportunity for you. If you can grab hold of it, you will soar immediately. If you can’t, you’ll only be able to live a sad life. Think about it yourself. I still have things to do, so if you need anything, you can go ask Zhao Xiang.”

After saying that, Zhuo Tianxiang fled hastily as if he really was busy. It seemed Dan Bishi’s death had been quite a blow to their side.

“Long San, this really is a rare opportunity. It’s time for you to show your skills. However, let me warn you that Pill Valley is far more complicated than you imagine. The power of the conservative faction far surpasses ours. Within Pill Valley, if you want to have the right to speak, you need to bring out your power. Even the three thousand disciples of the Divine Pill Hall have the right to vote on Pill Valley’s decisions. Although this vote is not absolute and can be overturned, it has power.

“The Divine Pill Hall’s disciples are split into three factions. To put it simply, they are the conservative faction, the radical faction, as well as some opportunists who just watch. But even if they’re just opportunists, their votes are important. There are many conservative faction disciples in the Divine Pill Hall, and they are powerful. Due to these factions, once you enter the Divine Pill Hall, you will definitely be bullied by others and unable to focus on alchemy or cultivation. Your accomplishments might just end right there, and once you’re squeezed out, you won’t have another chance.

“That’s why Protector Zhuo’s words are absolutely correct. You not only need to counterattack, but you must also be unbridled. If you only knock them down as they come, do you know how much energy you’ll waste in the end being entangled by them?

“You must be arrogant, you must be aggressive, you must kill one to warn a hundred. You have to make it so no one dares to provoke you. That’s the only way to establish your power. Otherwise, no matter how great your talent is, having to spend all your time dealing with those people will end with you being squeezed out sooner or later.

“Furthermore, Protector Zhuo has even asked you to be arrogant and show your power. Other than to establish your power within the Divine Pill Hall, it’s to put on a show for those opportunists and to see if you can pull in some of their votes. Although they won’t easily join our faction, your influence will sway them over when voting. That’s very important. Do you understand, Long San?”

Zhao Xiang explained it very clearly. If Long Chen still didn’t understand, he would be an idiot. But he nervously said, “But I’m really not good at this. After all, I’m a well-behaved person.”

“So what? All you have to do is know how to release yourself. Let all the resentment you’ve accumulated in your heart explode. For example, when others mock you, you can go up and directly slap them. You can do anything as long as you don’t kill them. Ah, how are your battle skills?” asked Zhao Xiang.

“Battle skills? I’m not good at fighting either,” said Long Chen crestfallenly.

“Is that so? That’s fine. Alchemists aren’t supposed to fight, so it’s normal. I’ll get some brawl fighting skills for you to learn. Remember, within Pill Valley, you cannot fight using your Pill Flame magical arts. That’s a blasphemy to Pill Valley, and is harshly punished,” warned Zhao Xiang.

“Why is that?”

“Because Pill Flames are meant to refine pills. Using Pill Flames to fight in Pill Valley is an insult. Don’t you see that while I’m at the Life Star realm, I have to be polite in front of Soul Transformation disciples? That’s because my alchemy path has reached its end, and I had no choice but to switch to become a fighting flame cultivator. The difference in status between a flame cultivator and an alchemist is like the difference between heaven and earth,” sighed Zhao Xiang.

Within Pill Valley, if your alchemy skills could no longer improve, Pill Valley would order you to become a powerful fighting flame cultivator. You would no longer cultivate alchemy arts, but the strongest flame Battle Skills.

These flame cultivators were not very important to Pill Valley. They were viewed as nothing more than thugs hired to protect the house.

Normally, dual martial-pill cultivation was a dead end. True alchemists would not cultivate fighting techniques and instead focus completely on alchemy. If they split their time and energy between these two paths, they would be lost. They might find having powerful strength to be delightful, and because of their flame nature, they would become warlike and explosive, unable to calmly focus on refining. They would have severed their alchemy path.

That was why Zhao Xiang’s alchemy skills had sharply dropped after becoming a flame cultivator. He was unable to even refine the pills he himself needed.

“So that’s what it was.”

Long Chen came to a sudden comprehension. No wonder these Pill Valley disciples looked so weak to him. So they only knew how to refine pills and had no idea how to fight.

But then, that made sense when he thought about it. There was no fighting or danger within Pill Valley. All they needed was powerful alchemy skills to be a supreme existence.

That was a good thing. Wouldn’t he end up becoming a lion amongst rabbits here? Anyone who started getting arrogant with him could be directly slapped.

“Alright, I’ll try it. I won’t let down Protector Zhuo’s earnest hopes for me.” Long Chen clenched his teeth as if making his resolve.

“Just remember not to use your Pill Flame to attack. Otherwise, you’ll be severely punished. I have some fundamental fighting techniques here. They’re very simple, so take a look and try them out. I’m sorry, but I went from an alchemist to a flame cultivator, so I don’t know any barehanded fighting moves. I can’t teach you any of that, and you’ll have to figure it out on your own. But with your comprehension skills, it shouldn’t be a problem. In any case, just remember, you must be brazen, and you must be vicious. Pill Valley has countless miraculous medicines and pills, so even the harshest injuries can be healed in no time,” said Zhao Xiang.

“Alright, I won’t disappoint everyone. Whoever bullies me will end up with all their teeth on the ground!” Long Chen clenched his fists with a fierce expression.

This turn of events was truly amazing. It just so happened that he specialized in this.

The next day, after arranging everything, Long Chen was brought toward the back of Pill Valley by a disciple.

What surprised Long Chen was that Pill Valley was actually an island surrounded by water, and there was a long river splitting it in two. He had to cross a bridge, and eventually, a mountain gate appeared before him.

Atop this mountain gate were words written in violet-gold - Divine Pill Hall. As soon as they passed through the gates, a burst of fragrance blew into him, and the sounds of birds chirping rang out. He saw pavilions dotted across the land, streams of water, ancient trees, thick vines, as if this was a beautiful garden.

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