In the world of martial dao, seniority and status were common notions. Though he was the young lord of Sacred Peafowl Mountain, prominent in the entire Upper Eight Regions, he could not let that slip here. Pillfire City was extremely hostile to Veluriyam Capital at present. It was better to leave his identity unrevealed rather than risk spoiling the proceedings. That was why he'd said that he was from Myriad Abyss Island instead.
Myriad Abyss Island was mysterious and unfathomable. Anyone who tried to figure out who he was shrank a few degrees from hearing those three words. Though he was falsely flaunting someone else's reputation as his own, he couldn't avoid some petty deceit if he wanted to carry out business here. It was a common saying that it was difficult for heroes to triumph over local villains.
Though Jiang Chen was sufficiently heroic, he had to yield before the critical mass of local villains here in Pillfire City. He knew when to lay low and when to rise up. There was wisdom in measuring one's responses. When he'd first come to Veluriyam Capital, there was no way he could have made such great waves without House Wei as a bridge. Proceeding without information or support could only end in failure. In the worst of circumstances, his life could be forfeit.
During the events at Veluriyam Capital, his Taiyuan Tower wouldn't have been able to open without the Coiling Dragon Clan's help. The Majestic Clan certainly had more than enough strength to crush it in the crib. Jiang Chen knew these truths well. He'd exhaustively considered the details and possible problems.
Though Lin Yanyu's suggestion was admittedly risky, it was also the best for his current situation. If he didn't participate in the Bounty Arena, he might not even get a chance later to participate in the auction. The Star Harvesters' murky grace aside, he had no authority of speech without a prominent title or position. Thus, the Bounty Arena was a golden opportunity.
"When does the Bounty Arena begin, Yanyu?" Jiang Chen asked.
Lin Yanyu actually really wanted his master to participate. He wanted Jiang Chen to spread his name far and wide across Pillfire City as a show of dominance. So, the fact that Jiang Chen was asking after it made him quite happy. "Master, the selection process for the Bounty Arena's arena lords has already begun," he answered hastily. "The actual event begins a week from now, so there's still time to sign up. I can take care if it, if you'd like."
"We're in no rush. Tell me about it first." Jiang Chen had no information whatsoever on his prospective goal. He needed to educate himself first. "The sign-ups right now, are they for arena lords proper or their assistants?"
"There's no need to choose assistant arena lords, master," Lin Yanyu chuckled. "They're only trialing for arena lords proper."
"Oh? How are the assistants chosen, then?" Jiang Chen blinked.
"The assistants are entirely chosen by the master of the main arena. In fact, sometimes they are not chosen at all. An arena lord does not necessarily require assistants," Lin Yanyu smiled. "Historically, there have been many who were selfish enough not to. Still, most masters do pick a number of assistants. Typically, those who attain the post of arena lord are otherwise prominent in Pillfire City anyway. They don't lack power-hungry peers or associates."
That was enough to convey the essence of things to Jiang Chen. To put it more plainly, the assistants shouldered the arena lord's burden and were helpful aides.
"Wandering cultivators have a hard time becoming even these assistant arena lords, then," Jiang Chen sighed.
"Heh, not necessarily." Lin Yanyu's smile did not abate. "The Bounty Arena attracts the attention of many powerful wandering cultivators as well. There's no shortage of past arena lords not tied to a specific faction. They've chosen assistants for the most part, though their main criterion in this case is individual ability. Moreover, any bounties that an assistant collects are split fifty-fifty with the actual arena lord."
Was this way of doing things really feasible? Jiang Chen didn't know what to say. Such behavior was almost equivalent to putting up jobs for sale. There was even a fair-ish split of profits! I suppose it's a much more blunt and straightforward method.
"Master, do you think fifty percent to be too much to give away?" Lin Yanyu smirked. "It's a considerable share, but a lot of people compete to become assistant arena lords anyway. There's no cost to doing so, right? The more bounties collected, the greater the raw profit for the lucky ones who do. At the end of the day, it's all spirit stones in the pocket."
Jiang Chen nodded. On second thought, that made more than enough sense. He himself would be equally happy to take up the offer, were he in the same shoes. The amount given to the arena lord notwithstanding, he still stood to benefit from the remainder. That was much better than those entirely ineligible. One only needed to invest time and skill to be rewarded with a respectable return. The arena lord proper had effectively paid their sign-up fee, after all. It was reasonable enough that he would want a return on his investment.
Naturally, Jiang Chen had no intention of fighting for a mere assistant's post. The only job that was worthy of his time was a true arena lord's. "Then it's settled, Yanyu. No need for you to sign up for me. It's better to keep your identity hidden for now. Just tell me the specifics. I'll do it myself."
Lin Yanyu could not give away anything related to his identity. Otherwise, he would potentially be exposed to much more danger than Jiang Chen was currently exposed to. If Pillfire City's factions knew that a remnant of House Lin lingered within the city still, they would stamp it out at any cost.
Lin Yanyu was touched by the gesture. His master was as good of a man as he could hope for. Ordinarily, masters treated their disciples as slave labor. There was no reason for them to care overmuch about what happened to their lessers. But Jiang Chen showed an honest kindness and care. Though he was nominally Lin Yanyu's master, he acted more like an older brother.
Lin Yanyu knew that he was physically older than the other youth, but there was a psychological reliance nevertheless. He admired Jiang Chen almost blindly. He understood better than anyone else that if he wanted to make something of himself and one day avenge his house, he could only hope for his master's aid.
Jiang Chen gathered some preliminary information from Lin Yanyu. The Bounty Arena was run by Pillfire City, but any genius or expert from the Upper Eight Regions was eligible to attend. However, the most elite experts didn't show themselves at such occasions. There was no reason for them to unless it was a once-in-millennium opportunity. The big-names in the world of martial dao cherished their reputations and cared for modesty to a certain degree, just like everyone else. They never participated in the seasonal Bounty Arenas to avoid damaging their prestige. It was unlikely for them to show up to this one as well, despite its decennial nature.
There was certainly no reason for Pillfire City's own great emperors to show. Whether their subordinates and attendants would was slightly more uncertain. Emperors' factions did not concern themselves with events that occurred more frequently than once every century, in general. There were exceptions to every rule, though, and this particular one had been broken reasonably frequently in the past.
Jiang Chen came to Pillfire City's most famous attraction, Skyfire Avenue. The city viewed it as a symbol of great pride and unrivaled glory. The avenue headed straight towards the Pill Emperor Mountain.
The venue for the Bounty Arena was Skyfire Avenue's very own Temple of Cleansing Fire. It was home to an official faction of the same name. It was quite well known throughout the Upper Eight Regions. The head of the Temple was also the host of the Bounty Arena. Though the Temple of Cleansing Fire itself did not house any great emperors, it was uniformly recognized by all of the others within Pillfire City. In fact, it was a kind of compromise that they had reached within the city. The Temple had access to a collective smattering of channels, made available by the emperors' factions. It had perhaps the widest variety of tricks available to it on its home turf.
Even in the wider Upper Eight Regions, it had a formidable reputation.
It was because of the Temple of Cleansing Fire that the Bounty Arena was so alluring to its participants. Indeed, half of the event's impressiveness came from its sponsor. This decennial occurence of the Bounty Arena stirred Pillfire City abuzz. As Jiang Chen walked on Skyfire Avenue, the emotional atmosphere hit him with a wave of nostalgia. It was almost as if he'd been taken back in time to the Veluriyam Pagoda gathering. Though there was a measurable difference in the amount of airborne passion, it was a similar sensation.
Suddenly, Jiang Chen looked forward to the Bounty Arena a great deal more. Judging by the enthusiasm alone, this was quite the festive setting. If he could distinguish himself at such an event, it would be very advantageous to his future plans. Attending the Star Harvesters' auction, for example. Jiang Chen wanted decisively to show himself off just this once. He needed the enormous amount of capital that the Bounty Arena could provide him, financial and otherwise.
The site was absolutely packed where the sign-ups were taking place. The insurmountably high fee served as a helpful deterrent. Without it, ten times over the amount of people would have showed up. But even so, he felt the electricity in the air.
"You want to sign up?" After a lengthy line-up, it was finally Jiang Chen's turn. The person in charge from the Temple of Cleansing Fire was quite surprised at seeing such a young and unfamiliar face.
"Yes, that's right," Jiang Chen blinked innocently.
"There's a security deposit of a hundred million saint spirit stones. According to the rules, if you fail to complete any of the bounties during the Bounty Arena, the entire deposit will be withheld from you. Each successful bounty completed entitles you to a tenth of your principal. If you finish ten bounties, you're eligible to the entire sum. Ah, yes, and the Temple of Cleansing Fire also collects ten percent of your finished bounties. Do you understand all of this?"
"Yep," Jiang Chen smiled. "I understand perfectly."
"Well, you can give me your security first, then. Oh, yes, there's something else also. If you fail at becoming a master of the main arena, you will be deducted ten percent of your security as well."
This was the most important point. This particular rule shut out people giving the arena a random shot, hoping to get luck. The organizers used it to ensure that only those who had the ability, qualifications, and financial clout could sign up.