After hearing the entire story from Jiang Chen, Elder Yun Nie became very wistful. He was an old hand, wise in the ways of the world, and perceived many details that Jiang Chen had refrained from divulging. Listening to the youth's experiences didn't seem particularly exciting now, but the trip from Myriad Domain all the way here to Pillfire City must've been an arduous one. Countless trials had lined the path, and only a steadfast and stoic youth like Jiang Chen could have remained so dogged after enduring them all.
Anyone else from Regal Pill Palace would have given up by now, their top geniuses included. Shen Qinghong was a good example. All those years ago, Palace Head Dan Chi had made an amazingly correct choice. Elder Yun Nie was exceedingly grateful for this. If the palace head hadn't brought this young man to the Palace, absolutely no hope of rebuilding would have remained. It was Jiang Chen who had protected the sect's last embers.
The two youths that Elder Yun Nie'd had the highest hopes for were together again. One was Jiang Chen, the other Mu Gaoqi. With both of these promising stars, re-establishing Regal Pill Palace would be no problem whatsoever.
"Sage nephew, you have done a great thing for us this day. On behalf of Regal Pill Palace, I sincerely kneel in thanks to you." In a fit of passion, Elder Yun Nie motioned to kneel to the youth.
Jiang Chen hastily waved a hand, then extended it to help the elder up. "Don't say that, Elder Yun Nie. We are all family here. Don't you agree?"
Given his current level of cultivation, it was easy for him to keep the elder from touching the floor. Elder Yun Nie was only earth sage realm, but the Jiang Chen now was already a half-step emperor. If he hadn't consciously held back, he would have long broken through into emperor realm already.
An offhanded lifting motion was enough for Elder Yun Nie to feel a wall in front of him. No matter how much he struggled, it wouldn't budge.
"Sage nephew, you…" Elder Yun Nie was astounded. It had only been seven or eight years, so how come Jiang Chen's cultivation was already at such a high level? Even Elder Yun Nie had to look up to him.
Mu Gaoqi saw some clues in the exchange as well. "Brother Chen, your cultivation has improved a lot since last we saw each other!"
Coming out from Mt. Mirage, Jiang Chen had only been at initial sage realm. Just a green human sage realm cultivator back then, he'd borrowed Mu Gaoqi's reputation to participate in the Myriad Grand Ceremony. How had he reached such heights in less than a decade?
Jiang Chen had no reason to be insincere in front of his own. "I was gifted with a few bouts of serendipity." He smiled faintly, "so my martial cultivation has advanced at a pretty brisk pace."
"What realm are you at now, Brother Chen?" Mu Gaoqi's eyes lit up, his tone full of admiration.
"Only a step further to emperor realm." Jiang Chen hid nothing from his good friend.
"What? Half-step emperor realm?" Both Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi gasped at that. They exchanged looks of wonder.
Jiang Chen nodded. If he'd said that he was intentionally holding himself back, the amazement would surely have been much greater still. It was best to not inform them for now. Even so, this surface was more than enough cause for awe.
"Sage nephew, if I remember correctly… wasn't the strongest man in the Myriad Domain-the head of the Sacred Elephant family-only at peak sage realm?" The elder's marvel had not yet receded.
"It is as the idiom says, Elder Yun Nie. No matter how good one is, there's always someone better. In Veluriyam Capital, in Pillfire City, in the entire Upper Eight Regions… peak sage realm is actually quite average." Jiang Chen sighed softly. " Great Scarlet Mid Region, for example, has no shortage of emperor realm cultivators."
Elder Yun Nie did not dispute this fact. "If Myriad Domain hadn't been attacked by Great Scarlet Mid Region a couple centuries ago, we too would have emperors of our own. That disaster crushed our vigor. Myriad Domain lagged forever behind others after that, and our weakness became our crime."
Jiang Chen shook his head. He knew now better than anyone that Great Scarlet Mid Region's invasion wasn't related to a past grudge, nor did it have to do with any supposed rape. These were all poorly thought-up excuses.
The Eternal Celestial Capital was at the root of the problem. They wanted to control Myriad Domain because it was the place of Emperor Featherflight's tomb. The lure of an empyrean cultivator's heritage was irresistible. It was the sect's well-hidden ambition. But nothing would come of it if Jiang Chen told Elder Yun Nie about these things.
"Oh, that's right. Your rescue today wouldn't have been possible without a certain someone." Veluriyam's young lord remarked, rather suddenly.
"Who?" Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi both looked utterly lost.
"Come on, let's go meet him. He's a senior, but also a kind and carefree man." Jiang Chen smiled. He felt that it was better to tell Emperor Peerless everything now. The longer he kept the truth from the older man, the worse the misunderstanding down the line. The emperor's wise and righteous personality would understand the white lie that Jiang Chen had been forced to tell.
This was also the reason why Jiang Chen asked after Emperor Peerless's relationship with Pillfire City. If they were on good terms, then he might've reconsidered his decision. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. In fact, their relationship could be called anything from tenuous to downright awful.
Jiang Chen's worries were dispelled. His identity, once revealed, was liable to place him in incredible danger. He was confident enough in his own ability to escape, but he could not bring the elder and Mu Gaoqi along. With his two old acquaintances in tow, he knocked on Emperor Peerless' door.
"Back so soon, kid? Well done. There doesn't seem to be any problems with the removed seals on these two." The emperor glanced at Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi for a second each, not thinking much of it at first.
"Old Brother Mo, I have a confession to make." Jiang Chen laughed shamelessly.
"Hmm?" That gave the emperor some pause, but he beckoned anyway. "Come inside and tell me about it."
Though he was a little baffled, Emperor Peerless didn't show his emotions outright. He was most worried about the Pinecrane Pill. As long as everything about that was true, he could accept most anything else changing. It was clear as day that the young man before him had numerous secrets. However, the emperor was not someone who liked to dig up other people's pasts. The relationship between them was one of mutual cooperation, born out of simple appreciation for each other's natures. There was no need to investigate every detail.
After Jiang Chen and his buddies came inside, Emperor Peerless created a soundproof barrier. "Alright, tell me what's going on this time. As long as the Pinecrane Pill is real, shoot for the stars."
"Hah, if I'd lied about the Pinecrane Pill, then I'd be out of here by now. I wouldn't have the face to come and talk to you." Jiang Chen chuckled.
Hearing this, the emperor's brows opened up. He returned the laughter. "If the Pinecrane Pill is real, nothing else matters."
"Old Brother Mo, I actually wanted to talk to you about my identity," Jiang Chen said, rather seriously. "I made a few things up. I have some ties to Myriad Abyss Island for sure, but I personally come from Myriad Domain."
" Myriad Domain?" The announcement flabbergasted the emperor. "What, can a place like that produce a genius like you? You're not playing with me, are you, kiddo?"
Jiang Chen sighed. "I am a man of many identities. Maybe you've even heard about some of them. Back in my homeland, I was called Jiang Chen. In Veluriyam City, I live by another title…"
The emperor stood up before the sentence was finished, astonished gaze directed straight at Jiang Chen. "You… are you the new young lord that Emperor Peafowl has appointed? Young lord Zhen, was it?"
It was Jiang Chen's turn to be surprised. "Old Brother Mo, how'd you guess that so quickly?"
Emperor Peerless opened his eyes wide, his expression one of utter disbelief. "You're… not really the new young lord of Sacred Peafowl Mountain, are you?"
"Actually, you've hit the nail right on the head." Jiang Chen offered a wry smile. "You see yet another identity in front of you. Shao Yuan, made up to divert unwanted attention. You've been so sincere and forthright with me, Old Brother Mo. My conscience won't allow me to deceive you any longer. I'm sure you know that if I came here as young lord Zhen, I wouldn't possibly be able to rescue these two peers here."
"Peers? Of the same sect? From Myriad Domain, hmm?" Emperor Peerless tossed the peers in question another look.
"Indeed. My closest friends there." Jiang Chen nodded in the affirmative.
Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi were just as amazed as Emperor Peerless. They gleaned many surprising bits of information from the conversation just now. Emperor Peafowl? Young lord of Sacred Peafowl Mountain? It was enough to make anyone's jaw drop. Elder Yun Nie was no stranger to Emperor Peafowl or his reputation. That man was the true ruler of the Upper Eight Regions, a member of its most elite echelon. How did Jiang Chen manage to get to know someone like that? How had he even been made young lord? It had only been seven or eight years. How absurdly fast Jiang Chen had grown!
The atmosphere became quite odd for a time.
Emperor Peerless was the first to speak. He let out a long sigh. "So that's the case, hmm. The entire Upper Eight Regions is guessing at who Sacred Peafowl Mountain's new young lord really is. They've settled on a strange consensus: they think you're a game piece that Emperor Peafowl has kept secret for a long time. Young lord Fan was just a smokescreen. I've heard of your accomplishments… you defeated the seemingly invincible Pillfire City, distinguishing yourself among countless others to become Emperor Peafowl's new heir. I've investigated your exploits personally. Why did I guess so quickly, you ask? It is because you don't know how much I've been interested in you in turn. Anyone able to beat Pillfire City is worth my attention. Actually, I was going to come visit you if my journey here disappointed. You've an exceptional reputation."
"Visit me?" Jiang Chen blinked.
"Haha, visit young lord Zhen, yes. After all, Veluriyam Capital has sculpted you into a veritably omnipotent deity. How could I resist?" Emperor Peerless was willing to exhaust any and every avenue for his cultivation partner. If not for the fact that the jewel of the Upper Eight Regions was quite a long way from here, he would've gone a long time ago.