"T–Teacher Murphy!" Leo was overwhelmed by a wave of happiness. He was so excited that he could feel tears forming.
"Who's the person?" Murphy cut straight to the point and asked.
"It's him!" Leo pointed at Wang Zhong hurriedly. He didn't know why Murphy cared about this young dude, but whatever; he had found him, and his mission was accomplished. In addition, judging by how Teacher rushed here immediately, Leo had done a great job. "He's called Wang Zhong!"
Murphy turned and sized up Wang Zhong, who was baffled. He hadn't met Murphy before.
Everyone else was dumbfounded too. Wasn't Great Master Murphy here for Leo?
"You've made Glazed Crystal Glass at my workshop some time ago, right?" Great Master Murphy spoke in a gentle voice, which was very rare since he was normally cold towards everyone. The whole examination hall was silent.
Wang Zhong broke into a cold sweat. Did that idiot Leo disclose their secret deal? However, the Great Master didn't seem to be so free as to care about such a small matter.
"Wang Zhong, Great Master Murphy is asking you a question. Answer truthfully!" Leo said hurriedly. He literally depended on sucking up to people for a living, so he knew what someone was thinking from their expressions and words. Obviously, Great Master Murphy had a favorable impression of Wang Zhong.
"Move aside." Murphy waved his hand dismissively and smiled at Wang Zhong. "Little brother, it's just a casual question. No need to be nervous."
The next second, a gust of cold wind blew past. Leo wanted to cry. He had been serving Great Master Murphy for so many years, yet he had never spoken to him in such a gentle tone before. Noraba felt a rush of hot air rising up his chest. As expected, Wang Zhong was able to make such unexpected things happen. He was back at it again!
"Yes, I did, but Great Master Murphy, please don't blame Senior Brother Leo. At that time, no alchemy workshops were willing to let newcomers use their labs, but Senior Brother Leo saw that I was very sincere and made an exception, giving me an opportunity to use a lab. I'm willing to take full responsibility for any trouble that I caused." Wang Zhong told the truth since Great Master Murphy would probably see through him if he tried to lie. Truthfully speaking, Leo did help him anyway.
At this moment, Leo was extremely touched. What a true brother! If I rose up to power again, I definitely wouldn't mistreat you.
Murphy smiled. "Although Leo doesn't seem to be very talented, I know he is an honest person. You can come to my workshop and use the facilities anytime you want. Leo, go and register Wang Zhong as a highest-level VIP at the workshop."
This sentence restored Leo to his former position. Leo nodded his head hurriedly, overjoyed in his heart.
Wang Zhong was confused. He had done nothing to receive this reward; this was such a big privilege that it scared him.
"Great Master Murphy, this is a little scary. I haven't done anything wrong, right?" Wang Zhong was not an idiot; he knew he did nothing to deserve that privilege.
"Haha, little brother, there's nothing for you to worry about. I just want to ask what method did you use to create the Glazed Crystal Glass? Who did you learn it from?"
"Oh, that. I came up with it myself. It's called the double helix infusion method. I didn't give much thought to the name. It doesn't seem to be very effective though. I can't even produce a single Glazed Crystal Glass with it."
Murphy was stunned for a moment, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. "You… I don't know what to say. It's not that your method is ineffectual. On the contrary, it's too good, but the quality of the Glazed Crystal Glass was too bad to withstand it. That's why your creation failed."
Everyone started whispering among themselves instantly, staring at Wang Zhong. Although they didn't know what was going on exactly, it was obvious that Wang Zhong seemed to have a strong alchemy talent.
"Leo, register Wang Zhong into the Alchemy Union. We need to nurture such a talent properly," Murphy said. "Actually, with your talent, you're already qualified to be an alchemist, but the rules must be followed, so we have to take it slowly."
The examination hall suddenly became silent as everyone stopped whispering. What was happening?
A direct pass?! He didn't even need to wait for the results day that was 10 days later to know the outcome of his test? Was this guy going to be the fifth Holy Disciple after Scarlet, Carolyn, Solomon and Hyde Alexander?
Wang Zhong and Simba understood what was happening immediately. This was because of the useless Glazed Crystal Glass that he had made at Murphy's Alchemy Workshop previously?
"Wow, this dude has good taste," Simba marveled. "Although it's something that I've thrown away, it's good that he understood how excellent it was! Mmm, this little dude has a bright future!"
Although Murphy didn't look old, he was a mature guy who was over forty years old. Wang Zhong was speechless that Simba called him a little dude, but he still changed his opinion of Simba for the better. Previously, that double helix infusion method was clearly a failure, but the products of the failed process were enough to earn the compliments of Murphy, a Great Master. Honestly, Simba did have some expertise in this area.
"I won't stand on ceremony then. Thank you, Great Master Murphy." This Holy Disciple identity came by without effort, so Wang Zhong gladly accepted it since this would save him a lot of trouble.
Murphy nodded. "When you're not busy, remember to go and find Leo. I have something I want to discuss with you."
"As for you"—he turned to look at Elnic, his cold gaze casting a chill over everyone—"reflect on yourself for a month. You're older, yet you're still so childish."
The examination hall was filled with silence. Okuyama Domoto's legs were trembling uncontrollably, and Elnic's heart sunk. Murphy was the vice-president, and his words were to be treated as orders. Elnic didn't dare to rebut and went back to reflect on himself immediately, which meant that he couldn't go out of his house for a month.
Noraba's mouth opened so wide that a large egg could fit in it. Wang Zhong was rising up again!
He hadn't even done anything, yet he was awarded two titles, apprentice alchemist and Holy Disciple. This piece of news spread like wildfire in the newcomer circle.
Frankly speaking, this made everyone's jaw drop.
Before the Holy Disciple rank-advancement competition, those newcomers who eyed Wang Zhong's second-class apprentice status were very conflicted. They disliked Wang Zhong and wanted to see what one of the 10 Greatest Disappointments would do this time around to make a joke of himself. On the other hand, they were looking forward to Wang Zhong becoming a Holy Disciple although they didn't know how he would be able to do it. After all, the challenging round of the competition required the participant to be a Holy Disciple. If Wang Zhong didn't manage to become one, there wouldn't be a chance for them to challenge him and take over his position.
The problem was that, with Wang Zhong's embarrassing level of power, there didn't seem any way for him to be promoted to Holy Disciple in this fierce competition.
Well, no one expected him to be promoted to Holy Disciple through this way.
In the beginning, many newcomers were all smiles. This guy made a joke of himself and also provided everyone with the chance to challenge him. However, they weren't able to stay happy for long since they realized another problem.
Murphy secured a Holy Disciple position for Wang Zhong. This made everyone recall how Great Teacher Kenso helped to secure a second-class apprentice position for Wang Zhong. This also led everyone to remember how Wang Zhong destroyed three buildings with his experiment two months ago, yet he didn't receive any major punishment.
All sorts of exaggerated rumors were spread rapidly, casting a mysterious veil over Wang Zhong.
Wang Zhong didn't care about these rumors. It was a good thing that he was able to be promoted to Holy Disciple so soon, as he could use the extra time to cultivate. His Soul Power Circuit concept and Cellular Cosmology were still works in progress, advancing steadily, but he still needed time to consolidate his learning. While others were preparing for the tests these days, Wang Zhong stayed home to think about his Soul Power Circuit peacefully.
On the other hand, there were even more news regarding the Holy Disciple rank-advancement competition that made the newcomers dumbfounded. The bumpkins from the Empire, and not the Federation, were the first to take the limelight. It had been a short time since they entered the Holy Land, and this group of bumpkins couldn't mask the fact that they were uncultured even if they pretended to be calm. However, their country-bumpkin behavior didn't matter much in the Holy Land as out of the 104 people who managed to be promoted now to Holy Disciple, more than 40 of them were newcomers from the Empire. That was an abnormally high success rate!
Other than people from the Empire, the old Holy Apprentices who had stayed in the Holy City for a long time took up most of the remaining vacancies, and dimensional humans took up several others. There were only around ten Federation newcomers who managed to be successfully promoted. This newcomer batch was considered to be the strongest from the Federation in recent years, and the 10 people included Carolyn, Scarlet, and the others.
Although the rank-advancement competition hadn't ended, this caused some things to change discreetly in the Holy City.
In particular, the 10 Great Families that represented the Federation had a strong sense of crisis. They didn't mind the vacancies being taken away, but through this incident, the higher-ups would obviously re-evaluate the potential of the Federation versus the Empire. Once they decided to support the Empire, the Federation would not be having such a good life anymore.
Frankly speaking, this wasn't very fair. The Federation sent their talents to the Holy Land every year, while the Empire gathered the cream of the crop slowly and sent them to the Holy Land in one shot. That's why their success rate was so high. On the other hand, if you looked past the fact that the Federation sent their talents every year, there would only be around thirty people in the newcomer batch this year, and it wasn't considered a low success rate to have 10 of them being successfully promoted to Holy Disciple… However, the higher-ups wouldn't care so much. They only cared about the results of the statistics of new blood joining them, and they absolutely didn't care whether it was fair.
The 10 Great Families clearly didn't want to sit still and wait for death. A straw shows which way the wind blows. It wouldn't be good to let things carry on in the current state. Since they lost in terms of numbers, they could only ensure their quality.
They invested a huge sum of money in the black market, using various methods to increase the popularity of the top Federation newcomers. They grabbed all sorts of opportunities to push them into the limelight, such as with the first batch of Federation newcomers that completed the Thousand Gorge Fish Forest mission; they also promoted Divian, Tianqiong Musk, and others who were hidden in the sea of newcomers previously. As long as there was something interesting, the 10 Great Families used all of their resources to hype up the newcomer's reputation.
Gui Hao was the most prominent representative of their efforts. He reached the Peak Heroic Soul Stage within half a year and reached 12,000 Grassos of Soul Power, an unprecedented record that no one might ever break. His Firmament Soul Sea talent gave him infinite possibilities. Honestly, even within the Gui Family, there were quite a lot of controversies surrounding the decision to boost Gui Hao's power, mainly because he liked to show off and wasn't suitable to be a true leader. However, they were left with little choice as the 10 Great Families were in urgent need to prove their worth to the higher-ups, and they couldn't depend solely on Carolyn. She couldn't match up to Solomon, so there needed to be at least one more Federation newcomer to match their reputation. Even if that limelight only lasted for a while, they didn't mind paying any price for it.
At the start, the Federation tacitly approved the rumors about Solomon and Carolyn's relationship as it didn't pose a threat to the Federation. However, in this short time, Solomon did or said something to the higher-ups which changed something. The Holy Land's attitude could be said to be the cornerstone for the forces on Earth. Once the higher-ups changed their mind, there would then be changes to the power situation of the Federation and the Empire, and the balance might be disrupted. That was why they needed more newcomers to prevent Solomon from getting more influence.
Gui Hao's Peak Heroic Soul Stage power was forcefully boosted, and it wasn't the ordinary Peak Heroic Soul Stage power. Twelve thousand Grassos was the record for the Soul Power of a Heroic Soul Stage in the Holy City. It was definitely a glorious feat, and this caused an uproar among the Holy Disciples. Suddenly, everyone knew Gui Hao's name. It was said that those who had offended him took the initiative to go and apologize to him; otherwise, they wouldn't have the chance to when Gui Hao gained more power. Of course, his family paid a huge price for this to be possible; this included Gui Hao himself.
The Gui Family didn't have top-level dietary experts like Teacher Lan Daier, but they did have many pharmacists. Although using medicine to forcefully enhance his Soul Sea capacity didn't result in any major side-effects or repercussions to his cultivation journey, it consumed Gui Hao's life force.
"Young Master." A dark figure handed a medicine bottle to Gui Hao respectfully. The bottle was gleaming, reflecting the different colors of the contents inside. This was the spring water from the Fountain of Life.
By forcefully increasing his power, this had cost 20 years of Gui Hao's life. The spring water from the Fountain of Life couldn't make up for those years, and it was like drinking poison in the hope of quenching one's thirst. By drinking this, Gui Hao could ensure that no more than 20 years was taken away, and it also helped him maintain his Peak Heroic Soul Stage status.
Gui Hao took the bottle and drank all its contents in one shot. He had nothing to lose, so there was nothing to care about except power!
Staying home most of the time during the past six months caused him to lose some of his arrogance, but the gloomy and vicious look that was etched in between his eyebrows became more obvious.
Gui Hao was very clear that doing this meant that he had 20 fewer years to cultivate than other people. He no longer cared about consequences such as the Heavenly Calamity since this was not only his family's expectations and arrangements but also his own desire. Ever since he was eliminated by Wang Zhong in the CHF, Wang Zhong had become his personal demon. Gui Hao had to kill him personally, or even if he had those 20 years back, that inner demon would still hinder him, and he wouldn't be able to make progress on his cultivation journey!
Rather than rot slowly, he preferred to own a glorious power, even if it was temporary.
Gui Hao didn't believe that Wang Zhong was weak like the rumors said. Although he appeared to be boorish and ignorant, he had a sensitive mind. Even when he openly belittled Wang Zhong in public, it was mostly just to vent and for his own satisfaction. That didn't mean that Gui Hao really thought that Wang Zhong was weak. Having fought him personally, few people knew Wang Zhong's power as well as he did. Wang Zhong was definitely not someone who was willing to stay weak. Gui Hao had seen Wang Zhong in the Holy City a few times, and he had seen the expression in Wang Zhong's eyes. The inexplicable self-confidence in his eyes made him wary. Gui Hao's failure previously was like a giant shadow he couldn't get rid of. If he didn't boost his power to the maximum limit, Gui Hao wouldn't be fully confident in beating Wang Zhong. Gui Hao still had trauma left behind by Wang Zhong.
However, it was different now. He was at the Peak Heroic Soul Stage…
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