"He expected someone to pass the challenge with this method? Honestly... He is full of surprises." Wordly Skies said to herself as she stared at the cauldron before her. It was the same D-ranked Bronze Cauldron that was used during the test to become an Apothecary. With this cauldron, one should have no trouble creating grade one or grade two pills—at least, this should have been the case.
"Those ingredients—is she trying to craft the Pseudo-Body Strengthening Pill?" One of the participants commented when he saw the ingredients Worldly Skies picked up. He was a grade one Apothecary who went by the name Medicine Maniac and was among the 57 players who failed the second challenge.
The Pseudo-Body Strengthening Pill was one of the ten free grade one pill recipes provided to players who took the Apothecary test. However, its usefulness was mediocre at best as it only increased one's attack by a measly five points. But, in the end, it was still a challenging pill to craft.
Just Havoc frowned and said, "Impossible. I saw her grab Isolated Water Droplets and some Oak Treant Powder. Since when does the Pseudo-Body Strengthening Pill call for either of those ingredients?"
Just Havoc was a grade two Apothecary; therefore, his knowledge when it came to pills was much greater than someone still stuck as a grade one Apothecary. With a glance, he could tell what pill Worldly Skies wanted to create. While all the other ingredients definitely belonged to the Pseudo-Body Strengthening Pill, the Isolated Water Droplet did not and for a good reason.
"Ah- You're right. Then, what is she making? Is she trying to improve the original pill recipe?" Medicine Maniac questioned.
"Improve? With the Isolated Water Droplet?" Just Havoc scoffed as he shook his head at Medicine Maniac's ignorance.
He then continued, "Let me tell you, no matter how many Isolated Water Droplets she uses, it will not affect the pill recipe. The Pseudo-Body Strengthening Pill already contains two ingredients that act as purifying agents—Charity Leaf and Zerule Flower. Adding Isolated Water Droplets into the mix is like using soap to clean soap. It makes no difference. As for the Oak Treant Powder—this is even more foolish. The Pseudo-Body Strengthening Pill already has Yellow Roots as a listed ingredient. Adding in Oak Treant Powder would only destabilize the entire recipe, or worse, cause the cauldron to explode!"
There was another error in Worldly Skies' technique that Just Havoc did not bring up, and that was her reckless temperature control. When pill crafting, one should never use such extreme temperatures as it would easily burn and destroy most ingredients before they had time to integrate properly. It was yet another amateur move! Just watching Worldly Skies make such avoidable mistakes almost made him even more upset that he failed the second challenge.
Medicine Maniac frowned and replied, "Then, what does she hope to accomplish by using-"
However, before Medicine Maniac could finish his words, he nearly fell over from shock when he witnessed Worldy Skies' actions. But, he was not alone. The other Apothecaries present, including Just Havoc, almost coughed up blood from shock!
Worldly Skies increased the temperature of the flame within the Bronze Cauldron to its peak before adding in the Isolated Water Droplets. What a rookie mistake! Even the newest Apothecaries knew that adding in Isolated Water Droplets first had no effect on the overall pill. Since its primary purpose was to purify, if there were no ingredients in the cauldron, then what was one purifying?!
Just Havoc sighed as the disappointment on his face could not be hidden as he glanced over at Izroth, who stood there with a carefree expression.
"I thought she was going to do something impressive, but it seems the owner of the Mystical Realm Palace won't be able to explain anything once she fails. Hmph, let's see what he has to say for himself when-" Just Havoc was speaking when, all of a sudden, he overheard something that made him believe that he was just hearing things.
"Done." Worldly Skies said as the cauldron settled down.
Done? ...Done?! Impossible! Not even half a breath had passed since she started, and she had already finished?!
Just Havoc returned his gaze to Worldly Skies, who stood there with four freshly crafted light green pills in her hands. These pills gave off a strong medicinal, which was a sign that they had just recently been removed from a cauldron.
"Fast!" Medicine Maniac exclaimed. Even if it was only a grade one pill, it should have taken at least 30 seconds to craft—and that was if one was rushing at full speed. Perhaps a grade two Apothecary could do it slightly faster; however, to do it in less than 5 seconds was unheard of!
"What did she do?!" Just Havoc turned to Medicine Maniac and asked frantically. He had glanced at Izroth, and by the time he looked back, Worldly Skies had completed the pills.
"I-I don't know... She just tossed them in..." Medicine Maniac responded in a tone filled with disbelief.
"Just tossed them in? What nonsense are you spewing?!" Just Havoc scowled.
"He's telling the truth. She really did just toss the ingredients in all at once. I've never seen any pill created like that!" One of the spectating participants sighed in awe.
"Impossible! I personally used that cauldron, yet it kept expelling my ingredients! How can she craft pills without a problem?!" Just Havoc had an ugly expression on his face. With over 60 players watching her every move, he did not believe that Worldly Skies was bold enough to cheat. But, then how did she succeed when he failed?
Izroth inwardly shook his head as Worldly Skies walked back over to his side with leisure steps. To be honest, he felt somewhat let down that no one had been able to pass the second challenge using the hard route.
'Perhaps it's too early to have such expectations. Did I overestimate the current player's level of comprehension?'
Izroth did not spend the last three days idle in RML. He used the time to visit every profession's building in Amaharpe and read their books. Although one could only hold a single profession in RML, knowledge was never a bad thing. Added to his previous world experience, as well as that of what he gained from the Amaharpe palace library, with Metronome's assistance making the preparations, Izroth set up a hidden test of sorts. This was something to separate the truly talented from the rest, and the results spoke for itself. After all, all 57 players who took the hard road failed!
So, what was the hard road that Izroth setup for the second challenge? It was simple. Izroth did not lie when he stated that there was nothing wrong with the equipment. But, what he did not disclose was the fact that every piece of equipment had an additional "piece" so to speak.
For example, every cauldron was laced with a powdery substance known as Breath of Eso. Usually, it was a harmless substance. But, when introduced to warm temperatures, it was very unstable and chaotic. This was why players like Just Havoc failed to create something as basic as grade one pills despite following the exact steps they had always done.
Unfortunately, Izroth was not searching for individuals who were only good at repeating the steps of others. There was more than one form of comprehension, and knowing how to adapt to an unforeseen situation was one of them.
The Breath of Eso was difficult to notice, but not impossible. If they had simply taken a step back and carefully studied their cauldron, then it would have been possible to discover it. But, the true test lied in safely eliminating the Breath of Eso after its discovery. To do this, one needed to do something similar to Worldly Skies.
Worldly Skies used the technique she learned from Izroth to purify the flames with the Isolated Water Droplets before crafting. But, just purifying the flames was not enough. One had to increase it to peak temperature before doing so and immediately cool it once the Breath of Eso had been successfully eliminated before restabilizing the flames. Otherwise, with the Breath of Eso's natural instability in high temperatures, the cauldron would explode if kept at its peak temperature, not too long destroying the Breath of Eso.
A similar scenario was set up with the equipment that belonged to the other professions as well. Unfortunately, no one even managed to get to the second step as they were too focused on the equipment or the ingredients being at fault.
After Worldly Skies gave a brief explanation involving the Breath of Eso, the 57 players who failed could only hang their heads in shame. If only they took more time to scrutinize the equipment, then maybe they could have somehow passed. However, everyone was too blinded by trying to be the first to finish and acquire the bonus. Now they knew for a fact—they only had themselves to blame for their failure!
A few moments later, once things settled down, Izroth finished announcing the winners of the competition. Including Maeva and Top Tiger, 14 other players officially joined the Mystical Realm Palace. 6 Apothecaries, 4 Alchemists, one of which was a talisman maker, 1 Cartographer, 1 Tailor, 3 Blacksmiths, and 1 Inscriptionist.
'Not bad. It appears I will have to expand the Mystical Realm Palace again. However, the floors are becoming more and more expensive. The 5th floor cost 10,000,000 RMB, but to add a 6th floor will cost four times that amount. As for a 7th floor—I'm afraid I need to secure more funds.'
The competition that started with almost 1,000 players ended with less than 2% of the total participants passing. That was a 98% failure rate!
But, Izroth had no intention of sacrificing quality for quantity. Even if only one or two players passed, it would have been well worth it in the long run. After all, gold coins and RMB were easily made, but the same could not be said when it came to finding competent people.
Izroth ejected the 57 players who failed out of his Mystical Realm Palace before having Opal give the new members a proper tour of the shop. As for Worldly Skies, she immediately left for the 4th floor when the competition came to an end.
'For the moment, that settles the immediate shortage of manpower in the Mystical Realm Palace. Now... It's already been over a week—should I pay them a visit? You said it would be worth my while, so I hope you do not disappoint, guild leader Ewan.'
Izroth took his leave from the Mystical Realm Palace. His destination? The temporary headquarters of the top guild Cross Haven!
Two days later...
Jin removed his virtual reality headset as he sat up in his bed.
'Everything is in place for the world event that's starting tomorrow.'
Jin stood up from his bed and grabbed the cellphone resting on the nearby as he checked the time.
'Good, I'm not too early. They should be arriving soon.'