When the Geng brothers verified that Mo Wushuang's dao partner's condition would improved, they were overjoyed. Words of congratulations were offered to the emperor immediately.
"Big Brother Mo, congratulations! You've remained by sister-in-law for so long. After all these years, the heavens have heard your plea at last. Your love for her came through in the end!"
"That's right, Big Brother Mo. Thank heavens that your partner will recover."
The brothers had had an unshakeable friendship with Mo Wushuang. They both bowed respectfully to Jiang Chen. "Young lord Zhen, we two brothers haven't acknowledged anyone our entire lives except our Brother Mo. You've taken a great burden off his heart, and that is a favor we cannot repay. We will remember it well."
Their bold statement was enough for Jiang Chen to see the steel in the trio's relationship. "What, you're allowed to talk about loyalty and brotherhood amongst yourselves, but I'm not included?" He laughed.
The Geng brothers were both honorable men, and were straightforward and candid. They wouldn't be as content as they were otherwise in their freedom as wandering cultivators. Their combined strength was more than sufficient to found a dominant faction. They had simply chosen not to due to their rough and tumble natures. They lacked a certain shrewd resourcefulness necessary for loftier ambitions.
Seeing the Gengs' reaction made Emperor Peerless laugh as well. "My brothers, this young lord Zhen is my brother as well. He calls me old brother, and I call him young brother. So, I hardly think there's a need for further thanks. We're all brothers here: why the politeness?"
The Geng brothers exchanged a look of realization, and the older echoed the laughter. "Good, good! We are all brothers here, quite so. I didn't imagine that I would call Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord my brother one day, how marvelous. Young brother Zhen, you sit perfectly well with us."
"My brothers, we are the best of friends. I would come to your aid at any cost. Therefore, I won't hide anything from you. Brother Zhen here has another identity." Empress Peerless said solemnly.
"What?" The Geng brothers collectively blinked.
"Do you remember the business with Eternal Celestial Capital and the Great Scarlet Mid Region?"
"Sure, we remember. Eternal Celestial Capital is really going downhill these days, huh. Attacking a lower region isn't something we approve of at all." The duo shook their heads vehemently, their words tinted with scorn. "Brother Mo, I thought you disliked them as well?"
"Never mind that. This is what I wanted to tell you. Brother Zhen here is actually Jiang Chen from the Regal Pill Palace in Myriad Domain. He has a bounty over his head from the Eternal Celestial Capital. We're brothers, so I didn't want to keep it from you, but… let's keep this a very good secret, eh?"
The revelation shocked the Geng brothers. They were both thoroughly astonished.
"Brother Zhen, you're the guy that's made Eternal Celestial Capital the continued joke of the world? Haha, that's amazing. I heard rumors you were heading to Veluriyam Capital, and you really did. What's more, you're positively thriving there. Truly legendary!" The elder brother cackled.
"Remarkable. As expected from someone whom Old Brother Mo calls a brother," the younger brother offered his own praise. "Whether you're Jiang Chen or young lord Zhen, we'll always be the best of friends."
The Geng brothers respected Mo Wushuang immensely. They'd always perceived the old man as their own kin. Because of that relationship, they inherently held goodwill towards Jiang Chen.
"I feel blessed. Please accept this salute in your honors, my new brothers." Jiang Chen shrugged off all pretense. It was rare to meet men of such upright character, and he was more than willing to make their acquaintances. The four of them conversed, laughed, and deepened their intimacy.
"I called you here, my brothers, to task you with something important." Emperor Peerless cut to the chase.
"Simply say the word, Big Brother Mo, and we will do all that we can." The elder Geng patted his chest.
"That's right," his brother nodded in agreement.
"It's like this…" The emperor explained the matter to them in detail.
"What, that's it? You want us to chaperone two friends back to Veluriyam Capital? Consider it done! You can leave everything to us."
"Brother Zhen, you're going to such great lengths for Big Brother Mo. How could we refuse a simple task in comparison?"
"My dear brothers Geng, the task this time is very important." Emperor Peerless coughed. "I owe you one."
"Oh, don't say that, Old Brother Mo," Jiang Chen hurried to correct. "My two brothers there are doing me the favor, so clearly I'm the one who owes a favor. Here are two Pinecrane Pills as a small token of our meeting and appreciation. I don't have many special belongings with me, and I hope those are sufficient."
The two Gengs gasped. "Oh, no, we couldn't."
Jiang Chen shook his head, his tone firm. "No, you absolutely can. Consider it a gift of gratitude. I don't have many of these pills, but I am perfectly happy to give them to you."
The Geng brothers were lost for words. They didn't know how to react. Mo Wushuang had spoken to them about the Pinecrane Pill only moments prior. They knew its rarity in the human domain. In fact, it was probably extinct here. No one had even heard of such a pill. The duo were both emperor realm cultivators, but the probability of them breaking through to great emperor realm was uncertain. Having two Pinecrane Pills meant they had at least an extra thousand years to live. It was very attractive. But they hadn't even begun in their task yet. Was it really okay to accept a present from a brother now? Their candidness made them a little embarrassed.
"Take them." Surprisingly, Mo Wushuang was the one to speak. "All of us here are brothers. Think of it as a heartfelt present from Brother Zhen. Maybe you'll even need those pills one day, hmm? Better to take them now and keep them with you. You'll have plenty of chances to repay him anyway. If Brother Zhen is wronged by someone at Veluriyam Capital, will you stand idly by? What about the Regal Pill Palace's reconstruction?"
Hearing this, both of the brothers grew enthusiastic. "We'll listen to Old Brother Mo. Brother Zhen, we're happy to take your Pinecrane Pills. Maybe they really will be useful to us one day. Since we are brothers, there's no need for all the pleasantries. If you ever need us, just say the word. Neither we nor Big Brother Mo will turn down your call."
Mo Wushuang roared in laughter. "That's the Geng brothers I know. We are wandering cultivators! There's nowhere in the world that we cannot go. Big factions look down on us. They think we won't amount to anything in the long run. Well, let's prove them wrong!"
Jiang Chen's blood began to boil as well. He hadn't thought a few Pinecrane Pills would be enough to bring out these experts' true natures. They were all principled and straightforward men, worthy of undying friendship.
"You've done us an incredible kindness, little fellow. If you need us to rebuild Regal Pill Palace, give us a holler anytime. Same goes for anything that makes you upset in Veluriyam Capital. I might not be a man of many talents, but calling up a band of my wandering friends is certainly one of them." Emperor Peerless gave Jiang Chen's shoulder a hefty pat.
Though it wasn't Mu Gaoqi and Elder Yun Nie's place to speak, they nevertheless appreciated hearing the sentiment from the sidelines. The words 'rebuilding the Regal Pill Palace' evoked a similar passion in them. They couldn't resist smiling at these strong cultivators' promise of assistance. Any further help aside, the three experts before them alone could fend off Great Scarlet Mid Region during the reconstruction process. Even the Eternal Celestial Capital had to reconsider any plans.
Not every faction was willing to anger a wandering cultivator who was also a great emperor. The Eternal Celestial Capital was strong, and had several great emperors to boot. But they had little to gain and much to lose by openly opposing someone like Emperor Peerless. The serious part of the conversation concluded, the gathered friends began to drink and make merry. The night passed; the next day, Jiang Chen worked on a new disguise for Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi before he called for Lin Yanyu.
The sight of his master gathering so many helpers so quickly amazed and pleased the youth.
"Yanyu, go with them to Veluriyam Capital. Once there, take them to Taiyuan Tower to meet Shen Trifire, then bring them to my residence."
"Yes, master." Lin Yanyu answered instantly.
"Listen to the Geng brothers on the journey," Jiang Chen encouraged him. "They are your seniors, and you can learn much from their experience. The same goes for you, Gaoqi."
The two young men nodded in unison.
The day after that, Mu Gaoqi and company embarked on the road back to Veluriyam Capital. The Geng brothers were true to their word and responsibility, accompanying them with utmost care the entire way. Emperor Peerless saw them off out of Pillfire City personally. He stopped only after they had gone several thousand miles, after making sure they hadn't been tailed.
On the way back, he counseled a reluctant Jiang Chen. "Don't worry, my young friend. The Geng brothers are well-traveled and their wandering cultivator friends are everywhere. There's no need to be concerned for their well-being, wherever they go."
The protection of two high-level emperor realm cultivators did set Jiang Chen's mind at ease. Great emperor cultivators aside, nothing could threaten them.
"So, shall we go to Tilted Moon Region now, or?"
"Let's go back to Pillfire City first. I left a spirit beast in an inn there." Jiang Chen grinned.
"Oh? Is it the one that belonged Nangong Ping?" the emperor asked, curious.
"That's the one," Jiang Chen nodded.
"I thought it was just a Cloud Devouring Tiger? Not a remarkable beast. At their peak, they're only equal to a low-level emperor realm cultivator."
In a small country, a spirit beast of that strength was considered exceptionally ferocious. But for Mo Wushuang, that kind of strength was close to useless.
"You don't know, old brother? That's not a Cloud Devouring Tiger at all. There's more to it than that," Jiang Chen chuckled.
"More to it…?"
"Indeed. A Cloud Devouring Tiger isn't worth a return trip, and that's what most people would take it as. In fact, it is ninety-nine percent similar, and there's no shame for mistaking it for its more common brethren if you're not in the know. Even the best spirit beast tamers are prone to making this mistake." The way Jiang Chen was putting it shrouded the beast in renewed mystery. Emperor Peerless itched to hear what was next.