Xiong Shi was in a great mood; not only was he walking calmly, but he was also humming a tune.
The wind blew past him, causing the tuft of hair on his head to flutter. The gentle flutter seemed to make evident Xiong Shi's calm and confident feelings.
In the central plaza of Heavenly Mist City, people bustled about, forming a dense crowd. Not only was the plaza packed with people, but the number of people streaming in and out also seemed endless.
Compared to the competition of the top 100, the competition of the top 50 had attracted the attention of even more people!
Nearly all the seats in the audience stand were filled, and the faces of every single audience member brimmed with excitement. They cried out in delight, cheering on their favorite alchemists.
Xiong Shi was really pleased as he walked up the stage. On his ascent, he occasionally turned to wave at the audience.
As a genius alchemist from Heavenly Shine City, he had many supporters who were cheering him on. Although he was not as popular as some other genius alchemists from Heavenly Pill City, there were still people who supported him.
Xiong Shi was always calm and collected when he faced his supporters.
For the competition of the top 50, only five stages were to be used. There were two magnificent bronze platforms atop every stage. As this was the competition of the top 50, the equipment had to be better than those used in the elimination rounds. The bronze platforms prepared by the officials for the upcoming matches were much more magnificent and exquisite.
Although the new bronze platforms didn't affect the competing alchemists much, the audience felt the increase in the grandeur of the competition. Even though all that just had to do with appearances, it was still something that had to be well taken care of.
Bu Fang, who was carrying his giant advertisement board, walked over.
The audience cheered fervently as he slowly made his way over. They were incomparably excited. The accomplishments of this dark horse in the past few rounds had completely captivated their hearts. He had turned into an idol in the hearts of many, and they supported him.
His fame in Heavenly Mist City was almost level with the fame of the genius alchemists. This was somewhat unbelievable. It could even be considered an outcome that no one would have expected.
As the public enemy of alchemists, shouldn't he have been thoroughly suppressed by them already?
The moment Xiong Shi looked at Bu Fang, the cheerful expression on his face evaporated, replaced by a cold stare.
This fellow... Why are there no bags under his eyes? How is he this energetic?
As soon as Xiong Shi noted Bu Fang's energetic appearance, his heart gradually grew restless.
"Everyone, take a look... The chef's opponent is Xiong Shi from Heavenly Shine City!"
"The Xiong Shi who is also called 'Crazy Xiong'? That little chef might lose this round!"
"Xiong Shi is extremely crafty and sly. He would have certainly made a move against Bu Fang already. This fellow does not only deal with his opponent within the arena!"
As they watched Xiong Shi and Bu Fang, the audience began to discuss amongst themselves.
Xiong Shi's popularity, in comparison with other alchemists', was not small; however, his popularity was mostly infamy. As such, not every member of the audience supported him in this match. Most decided to watch the match with an objective view.
Xiong Shi's abilities did not surpass An Sheng's by a large margin, hence it was possible for Bu Fang to achieve victory in this round.
When they realized that Xiong Shi was Bu Fang's opponent, they began to hope that Bu Fang continued his winning streak.
After pondering for a while, the anxiety in Xiong Shi's heart dissipated. He narrowed his eyes and stared at Bu Fang knowingly.
"Pretend! Keep pretending!"
This chef was really good at pretending... so much that even he, Xiong Shi, was almost fooled by it. The restaurant had already been destroyed, but the chef managed to act as though nothing happened. It was a pity that this chef did not choose to be an actor instead!
Xiong Shi rubbed the tuft of hair on his head and burst into laughter.
Bu Fang, who was holding his huge signboard, seemed to feel a gaze on him, so he looked over and spotted Xiong Shi laughing at him, with a silly expression on his face.
Bu Fang calmly nodded at him in reply. However, when he returned Xiong Shi's gaze, he showed and expression of someone who was looking at a mentally handicapped person.
This left Xiong Shi speechless for a moment, but in the next second, he flew into a rage. Why was his gaze so disturbing?
The top 50 competitors quickly gathered on the first stage, and they all had an imposing air about them; that was to be expected because they were already in the top 50. They only had to put in a little more effort, and they would be able to advance even further!
The competition of the top 50 was not an ordinary one. According to the rules, the competition of the top 50 would be used to separate the 10 strongest contestants. The other 40 would be ranked accordingly.
Therefore, they all had to perform to the best of their abilities just to compete in the competition of the top 50.
Even if contestants were unable to enter the top 10, they would not suffer any losses if they achieved a good ranking in the top 50.
Nangong Wuque was also present on this stage. This time, his expression was extremely solemn. This was because his next opponent was very special.
Not only did she possess a Heaven and Earth Obsidian Flame, but that Heaven and Earth Obsidian Flame she possessed was the same flame Nangong Wuque used to have in the past. This stirred up a complicated feeling in his heart.
Duan Yun was worried, too; his opponent was very strong. However, entering the top 50 was a feat that exceeded his expectations, so if he were to lose the next match, he would still be content.
A warship gradually appeared over the plaza, completely blocking out the sky. It brought with it loud roars and fierce winds. The audience members were unable to control themselves and narrowed their eyes at the imposing aura.
Five figures gradually emerged from the warship and remained hovering in the air.
Their long robes fluttered about, and the auras that emanated from them were extraordinary. These five were the judicators of the Magical Hand Conference; they were all four-cloud alchemists.
Grand Master Xuan Ming stood amongst them, with his hands behind his back and his gaze extremely sharp. As a judicator in the Magical Hand Conference, he had his own dignity.
The four grandmasters descended onto the high stage and sat on the seats allocated to them.
Grandmaster Xuan Ming, however, took a single step and arrived at the first arena's stage. It was as though he had traveled through space to appear there. His hands were behind his back as he looked at the competitors. His expression was calm.
"Today marks the start of the competition of the top 50. None of you are unfamiliar with the competition of the top 50, and today, we will be choosing the 10 strongest participants. We will also be ranking the top 50.
"You all might be wondering how we plan to rank the top 50. As usual, you will compete against each other on stage, but this time, there will be arrays on your bronze platforms, which will record everything you do. It will also record the time taken and the quality of your product. That will enable us to rank you accordingly," Grand Master Xuan Ming said.
"This is the time for you to fight for fame. It is the time when you show off all your skills and abilities. As such, we hope that you will do your best in the competition of the top 50,"
Grand Master Xuan Ming said, with a serious tone of voice as his gaze swept across the stage. The instant he finished his announcement, the audience erupted with cheers.
It was finally time for the most intense part of the conference!
"Alright; participants, please move to your respective stages and make your preparations. Remember, do your best," Grand Master Xuan Ming said. After saying so, he clasped his hands behind his back and walked toward his seat.
The five stages already had judges allocated to them. Their expressions were solemn because they knew that this round was very important. None of them dared to be careless for a moment.
With his huge signboard in hand, Bu Fang made his way up the third stage. For this round, he was to compete on that one.
The judge on the third stage was not the chief judge Bu Fang was familiar with; it was someone he had never seen before. This judge was reserved and had an indifferent attitude.
When Bu Fang reached the top of the stage, he calmly nodded at the judge before walking over to his bronze platform.
The gazes of many audience members were fixed on the third stage.
Xiong Shi versus the dark horse chef. This match was bound to be a very exciting one!
As Xiong Shi's was naturally burly, the supposedly loose alchemist robe he wore was tight-fitting on him.
"Stop pretending... If you are sad, just let it all out. It will prove beneficial for you later when the competition starts. However, if you hold it in, you might not be able to concentrate later, so just let it out! Don't suppress your feelings anymore." Xiong Shi laughed as he walked toward Bu Fang's bronze platform while rubbing the tuft of hair on his head. His laugh exposed a mouthful of white teeth.
Bu Fang had just placed his advertisement board onto his bronze platform with a resounding thud when he heard Xiong Shi's words. He was momentarily speechless and turned to look at his opponent, Xiong Shi, who he still considered mentally retarded.
However, he was too lazy to deal with his opponent. Green smoke curled around both his arms, and the Golden Dragon Bone Kitchen Knife and Black Turtle Constellation Wok appeared within his grasp. Then, he tossed them onto the bronze platform.
This caused Xiong Shi to narrow his eyes. This little chef... It was no wonder he was able to take care of Sorceress An Sheng. His acting skills were really awesome!
Nevertheless, Xiong Shi believed he would suppress his opponent ruthlessly. He would make Bu Fang weep!
The corners of his mouth curled upwards into a sneer, and he returned to his bronze platform.
He took out a huge alchemy furnace and brutally smashed into onto his bronze platform. The enormous furnace was also made of bronze, and it looked extremely heavy. Furthermore, it was gigantic.
There were three small legs at its bottom, and there were three small air openings on it. Xiong Shi had made this furnace especially for himself.
Xiong Shi began to take out spirit herbs one by one from his dimensional tool. He carefully placed them on the bronze platform; in that instant, Xiong Shi seemed to have become another person. He had become extremely meticulous, and the look in his eyes had become extremely sharp.
He brought out a piece of white cloth, then he stuck his head into the gigantic furnace and began to clean it thoroughly using the white cloth.
Other than his dubious way of life, another reason why Xiong Shi was called "Crazy Xiong" was that he was extremely meticulous when it came to alchemy. During refinement, he always paid attention to every single detail.
The way he was thoroughly cleaning out his furnace was an example of that. He would not allow any impurity to make a home in his furnace.
"You can really pretend... but, that doesn't really matter. In a while, you won't be able to keep up your act!" Xiong Shi laughed in a sinister manner. He took out a spirit herb which resembled an orchid and began to pluck its petals, piece by piece.
He bunched the petals together, and his lips twitched, then he took out a mask and covered his mouth and nose.
Before the match, he had gained a thorough understanding of Bu Fang. Since the start of the competition, the chef had used either an overwhelming fragrance or disgusting stench to achieve victory.
This made him very similar to Xiong Shi. They were both used to underhanded means!
This time, they would both be competing against each other with underhanded means. It was a competition to see whose methods were more awesome!
"When the Sorrowful Orchid is burnt, the smell it emits would case sadness to well up in one's heart. Aren't you extremely good at putting up an act? I want to see how you can still pretend to be unaffected after you have perceived the Sorrowful Orchid's fragrance. The amount of sadness you already have in your heart is so huge... I just want to magnify it for you!"
Xiong Shi laughed again in a sinister manner.
He raised a hand, and a ball of pink alchemic flames combusted within it. He pointed his finger, and the pink alchemic flames surged into his furnace. The interior of the furnace was lit up with a loud roar as the pink flames mesmerized a lot of spectators.
Afterward, Xiong Shi hurled the petals of the Sorrow Orchid into the furnace. As soon as he had done that, he began to take out other medicinal ingredients, and his refinement began momentarily.
A faint odor began to waft out from the vents of his alchemy furnace...
However, Xiong Shi soon paused his actions, in astonishment. His gaze, which had momentarily shifted to Bu Fang, had caught the wisp of something incredible.
Suddenly, his eyes widened until they were as large as saucers.
Bu Fang had taken out something really huge from his dimensional tool.
With a loud bang, he dropped it on the ground. The impact had caused a tremor akin to a mini earthquake.
What in the world was that thing? Was it Bu Fang's ingredient? How could it be so big?
When Xiong Shi got a clear look at what it was, he went into a state of shock.
The audience was quiet for the smallest of seconds, and after that, they all released collective cries of shock!