114 The Hall of Immortals
A banner hanging outside a shop was floating in the wind.
A bunch of youngsters passed by, and one of them stopped to read out the words on the banner, “The best pharmacologist in the universe! Come compete if you doubt it!”
“Oh no, I’m so scared!” He snickered.
The others burst into laughter and started jeering.
“How dare someone say they’re the best when Senior Brother Qi is around!?”
“I know, right? Senior Brother Qi, go show this guy what you’ve got!”
“Yes, yes, yes! Go teach this arrogant kid a lesson!”
A passerby witnessed this chaotic scene and stopped by to have a look, “The gentlemen here are surely not Zhongzhou citizens, am I right? I have nothing to say about the pharmacologist who wrote that, but the Hall of Immortals is the biggest pharmacy in our Tianyun City. That banner has been up for six months and tons of people are unconvinced, but no one can defeat him.”
“Such a hard opponent?”
“Well, that’s all the more reason we need to ‘increase our knowledge’ with him!”
“That’s right! Who dares say they’re better than us, the Heavenly Sea Pavilion, in this area? Let’s go check it out!”
The bunch of youngsters couldn’t take the provocation, so they walked toward the entrance noisily.
“Youngsters… I guess that’s just how they are,” the passerby shook his head.
Someone from the back responded, “Didn’t you hear what they said? They’re from the Heavenly Sea Pavilion. That shows why they’re unconvinced. The Heavenly Sea Pavilion is famous for their pharmacology.”
“No matter what, they’re still young. How can they be compared to the pharmacology from the Hall of Immortals?”
As soon as the bunch of youngsters entered the door, they were led to the arena.
The arena was a big courtyard that could hold more than hundred people. The elevated stage was placed in the middle of the courtyard. It was similar to the one for martial arts; the only difference was that there were tables placed on the ends of the stage with paper and pens lying on them. Behind the tables, there were stoves that were already well prepared. Green colored smoke rose up in spirals from the stoves.
Martial arts depended on one’s fist – whoever’s fist could make the loudest noise would win. However, for pharmacology, it was obviously based on one’s knowledge of medicines. Compared to the martial arts arena, the pharmacology arena was less intense, thus there weren’t many spectators, but because of the banner hanging outside the Hall of Immortals, the number of spectators had increased over these past few months.
“Starting soon, starting soon,” the clerk held a big Tongluo and shouted as he struck the Tongluo hard.
Customers who had already gotten their number plates filled the seats of the elevated stage. In no time, the seats were almost completely filled.
A man went up on stage and greeted all the spectators, “Ladies and gentlemen, we, the Hall of Immortals, set up an arena as a platform to meet pharmacologists from all walks of life and anyone with the same interest. Those who defeat the pharmacology of our Hall of Immortals and ward off any other challengers for three days will win ten mystic crystals and a VIP customer status, which gives you an eighty percent discount whenever you come to us, and this VIP status will last forever! Now, let’s welcome the Hall of Immortals pharmacologist up to the stage!”
The man reached out his hand. Under the gaze of all the spectators, he led the pharmacologist up to the stage.
The pharmacologist from the Hall of Immortals stepped up on stage. To everyone’s surprise, it was a skinny and shriveled old man whose steps were shaky. The green jacket on his body looked like a green jacket on a piece of bamboo.
The pharmacologist bowed to the spectators with a serious face.
A round of applause was given to him.
This old man was Qin Zhiqiu, the pharmacologist of the Hall of Immortals. He hadn’t lost a round of battle since he started hosting the arena six months ago.
“Ladies and gentlemen, who’s here to challenge?”
As soon as the man ended his sentence, somebody stood up and strolled up on stage, “Let me meet Pharmacologist Qin!”
“May I know who this gentleman is…?” The man gestured to the person.
The person fanned himself as he replied, “My surname is Deng, from Linjiang’s Deng lineage.”
The spectators cheered for him.
Linjiang’s Deng lineage, the aristocratic family well known for pharmacology! The banner outside the Hall of Immortals was attracting more and more famous pharmacologists over the past six months, and now even Linjiang’s Deng lineage had come out to challenge!
Today’s challenge would be more than interesting.
“So, it’s Gentleman Deng,” the man spoke with respect upon knowing who he was. “I’ve long looked forward to meeting you.”
“No, I’m incomparable to you, the Hall of Immortals. I do not dare to say that we, the Deng lineage of Linjiang, are the best in this universe!” He replied with sarcasm.
But the man seemed to be unmoved by the sarcasm as he kept a smile on his face.
“Okay, so what are we competing on?” Gentleman Deng directed the question to Pharmacologist Qin.
The old man opened his mouth slowly, replying in a hoarse voice, “Identification, production, or investigation – choose whichever one you want.”
Gentleman Deng raised his eyebrow upon hearing the old man, “Oh, for me to choose? Good, brave indeed! No wonder you’re the best in the universe. I will challenge all three then!”
Three servant girls walked up on stage, each with a fine wooden box in their hands. The man put on his gloves and opened the boxes to reveal what was inside. In the first box, there was a complete medicinal herb. The second one contained a half-finished product that had been cut and dried. The third one stored a porcelain jar with a finished product.
“Gentleman Deng, there are three segments to identification: raw material, medicinal herb, and end product. You may provide three of your own for our Pharmacologist Qin as well.”
How hard could it be for someone born in an aristocratic pharmacologist family to provide three such items?
Six items were arranged on the tables neatly for both parties to check. After checking, the man announced, “Let me humbly explain the rules first. Both parties will identify the Chinese herbs first, then write your answers on the given paper. The answers should include the herb’s name, source, age…. The winner will be based on who has the most correct answers, but if the number of correct answers is the same, it’ll be based on who finished first. During the competition, the Imperial Pharmacy will be there as a witness. Any questions?”
Obviously, Pharmacologist Qin didn’t have any questions. Gentleman Deng didn’t have any either. The Imperial Pharmacy was the pharmacy that the king of Zhongzhou used, and it was the most prestigious pharmacy in all of Zhongzhou. With the Imperial Pharmacy as a witness, it would definitely be a fair fight.
“Then let's… begin!”
Pharmacologist Qin and Gentleman Deng went to the boxes and started immediately.
The bunch of youngsters from the Heavenly Sea Pavilion started to discuss.
“This arena is interesting!”
“Yes, it’s beyond my expectations. I didn’t know that pharmacologists could have arenas too. Why don’t we start one when we get back to Zhangzhou?”
“Can you guys just shut up? Stop interrupting the competition!”
“Exactly, keep quiet!”
Some of them even stretched their necks to focus on the elevated stage. As martial artists, they could see what was happening on the stage clearly.
After a while, the chattering started again.
“Hey, can any of you do it too?”
“The first two items are easy enough, but not the last. I can’t smell or taste anything, so I can’t do it.”
Both contestants were like lightning. They just scanned the first item and immediately started scribbling on the paper. It was the same with the second item as well. The third one slowed them down. They smelled and tasted the medicine over and over. After some considerations, they shouted at the same time, “Done!”
Smiling widely, the man announced, “Both contestants have finished simultaneously! I guess time won’t be a factor that affects the result. Let’s have a look at the answers!”
Six servant girls held the papers up for the spectators to see.
“Could we have both contestants check out each other’s answers first?”
“Sounds interesting,” Gentleman Deng kept his fan. “Why not?”
He read Pharmacologist Qin’s answers one by one. Reading the first two, a smile was still plastered on his face, but it dimmed once he read the last answer.
“Are both contestants done? Any comments?”
“Talented Gentleman Deng, all correct,” Pharmacologist Qin answered.
“Nothing wrong….” Gentleman Deng didn’t look good.
“Since both parties have checked, this round will end in a draw….”
One of the youngsters noticed the change in Gentleman Deng’s face.
“Senior Brother Qi, why is that Deng guy so upset when it’s a draw? Is there something wrong with him?”
Senior Brother Qi rolled his eyes, “Why are you such an idiot? That Gentleman Deng must have taken out his family’s secret medicine. Since the other party could figure out what it was, isn’t that the same thing as leaking his family’s secret recipe?”
“The Hall of Immortals is really something, huh!”