Chapter 198 “Duel, Battle of the Court Alchemists (Part One)”
After a series of discussion, the dowager and the king came to a conclusion of having the competition using a two out of three-win format. They themselves will be acting as the judges.
“This first round will be judged by me. Both of you, come with me now.” Leading both girls away, the dowager eventually led the group over to the medicinal storehouse of the palace.
Separated into two departments, there are the raw ingredients room and the Dan pill room. The one they entered was the latter where it mainly contained the commonly used third to fourth grade pills of average quality.
According to the rules of the palace, the members of the royal family are permitted to take a certain number of Dan pills from this place each month based on their rank; however, this only applied to anything below the fifth grade. If they wished to take out anything better, the person in question must get the permission of the dowager, otherwise it’s out of the question. Then there’s the sixth grade and up Dan pills. Unless the king himself hands down a decree, those extremely valuable medicines are off limits to even the princes and princesses.
Looking at the dazzling number of medicinal bottles on the cabinets, Ling Yue and Lady Yao were both stern in their faces, unsure what the dowager intends to test them on.
At a wave of her hand, two eunuchs stepped over to blindfold the girls. “As a court alchemist, the first task one must do is to discern the different ingredients and its quality. There are ten Dan pills here without label. Within one incense worth of time, I want the two of you to write down their names and grade using only your nose.” At that, ten bottles were placed before Ling Yue and Lady Yao.
An alchemist usually relies on the color, taste, and smell to discern a Dan pills quality. Therefore, being blindfolded undoubtedly brings a great limitation to their accuracy.
As the king and the old dwarf watched on from the side in anticipation, the two contestants on the other hand were much calmer than the audience. In merely half the time allotted to them, the names of the ten bottles were all written down without exception.
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After having the eunuchs collect the papers, the dowager only needed a glance to decide the winner. “The result has come out. The first round of the contest goes to Princess Yue.”
As soon those words came out, Lady Yao’s complexion instantly changed for she had absolute confidence in her answers. For the her whose been trained under a great mentor at an early age, such things like a simple blind fold can’t possibly hinder her.
Let’s assume that little twerp did guess all the answers correctly, the most it would be was a tie. So why, why would I lose?
The only answer Lady Yao can come up with in her head was the dowager being partial in her judgement.
As much as she wants to question the results, she’s in no position to challenge that decision. However, there was one person present who can, and that’s the king. Sending His Majesty The King a mopey face of great injustice, Lady Yao’s art of seduction was hard at work again.
“Mother, this is clearly unfair. Yao Yao’s paper and Princess Yue’s paper are identical. Even if we must give a result, it should be a tie.” The king had stolen a look earlier and saw for himself there’s no difference in the names.
“Oh? So the king is questioning his own mother’s decision now? Lady Yao, Princess Yue, both of you come forward and see for yourself.” The dowager shoots an angry glare at her son in the process to show her discontent.
Taking this all in, Master Longyu began shaking his head at the foolish king. For a son to not know his own mother’s character, such a shame.
It’s undeniable that the dowager didn’t take well to Lady Yao, but it doesn’t mean she will become bias in her judgement. If the king had any insight to his mother’s personality, he will know she’s a person of standard and wouldn’t stoop into the grey zone during moments like these. The more he defends this new concubine, the more he will invoke the ire of the dowager.
At the old queen’s order, Ling Yue and Lady Yao did as instructed and came forward to verify the answers. It’s like the king said, the names were exactly the same with only one exception to the last name on the list…
“Lady Yao, do you have anything to say?”
For the last bottle, Lady Yao had written “Bruise Healing Dan Pill” while Ling Yue wrote “Blue Patterned Bruise Healing Dan Pill”.
Lady Yao’s personal skill was without a doubt excellent and could accurately discern all ten bottles without fail. What she didn’t do was state the grade of the item, which Ling Yue did instead. After all, merely relying on the smell and touch of the finger doesn’t allow one to discern the color on the surface. There’s no difference in texture so how can she tell?
As for why Ling Yue would be able to do what Lady Yao couldn’t, she had much to thank for her spirit smoke. One touch, that’s all she needed for the smoke to run through the item to give her a perfectly clear image.
“So is there any other objections in me pronouncing Princess Yue as the winner?” The old queen mockingly reiterates the question with her foul mood.
Lowering his head meekly, the king didn’t dare utter another word as he made a defeated smile in front of the dowager. As for Master Longyu, this old dwarf nods with a gratified face at his apprentice while Lady Yao kept her silence on the side with her head hung low.
Away from everyone’s sight, a glimpse of dangerous light flashes by Lady Yao’s eye real quick that none in the room managed to catch. If earlier she was still underestimating the girl, then now only vigilance remains.
Coming up was the second round handled by the king himself. This time, he had no intentions of letting the little girl come out on top of his favored woman. “Since my beloved consort and Princess Yue had already tested their ability to discern a Dan pill, the next contest should be about one’s skill to concoct one. After all, the most important aspect of a alchemist remains to be just that.” Based on the king’s tone, one can tell he’s a bit anxious.
After a short musing, an idea hit him.
“I will also prepare a list of Dan pills for the both of you to choose from. The time limit this time is one hour. Whoever can refine the best final product shall be the winner.” With a wave, the eunuchs in wait motioned over with the ink and paper for the king to showcase his calligraphy. Of course, neither girls are permitted to look at the words while he performed.
Though that was supposed to be the case, but in reality, that’s not true.
As the king’s favorite consort, there had been plenty of opportunities for Lady Yao to help the king prepare the ink and brushes, meaning she can tell what the guy’s writing based on the movement of the strokes.
Not anxious nor slow, Lady Yao was the first to pick. From among the dozens of papers with their backs facing up, she picked out a fourth grade Dan pill from the batch. Then next came Ling Yue’s turn. Under the witness of Lady Yao, she too flipped over a paper of her choice. On it were the words “Seven heart Dan pill”.
When seeing the name on the paper, the dowager’s eye immediately shrank inward for she knew what it meant. Unlike Lady Yao’s fourth grade pill, this one was a fifth grade item, way harder to refine.
Though a fifth grade Dan pill may not seem like much, but among the court alchemists in the palace, only a six-cauldron alchemist would have the skills and experience needed to complete the task!
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