Jiang Chen knew that the excessive wealth he'd displayed earlier had attracted problems in the end. If a three-year-old child walked out in the open with a pile of gold, he would naturally draw unwanted attention. Sky rank spirit herbs were both priceless and rare. Even emperor realm cultivators felt their allure. A single such herb wasn't something able to be purchased with stones alone. Decades could go by without sky rank spirit herbs appearing on the market, unless one was blind enough to put one up for sale without knowing it.
Jiang Chen had made an enormous mistake in showing possession of two sky rank spirit herbs. What was more, a swindler like Third Master Jing had marked him. Realizing what he was in for, the young man's expression flared with contempt. "At the end of the day Jing Third, you're trying to bleed the rest of my money out of me. If you were trying to openly rob me, I'd retain some respect for your bluntness and honesty. Making up such an awful excuse, though… I guess your family name is quite appropriate for your actions."
The crowd was confused. What did Third Master Jing's surname have to do with anything? Was there something wrong with it?
The man he was speaking to furrowed his brow. "What're you getting at, kid?"
"What I'm getting at?" Jiang Chen smiled matter-of-factly. "Isn't it obvious? Your family name is Jing. A character formed with two perpendicular 'two's, reflecting the fact that you can't put two and two together. You're too scatterbrained to think straight, you see."
Third Master Jing's face darkened at those words. The first division's personnel all looked on with horror and awe. The young man before them was as good as dead. His courage was certainly astounding. Not everyone had the guts to make fun of the third master's surname. That was tantamount to suicide!
It was widely known that Third Master Jing took great pride in his surname and family. The Jing clan's prominence in the Moon God Sect was the key to why such a man was in charge of the first division. Making light of it by a stranger was absolutely intolerable for him. As expected, Third Master Jing's expression instantly accumulated a thin layer of frost.
"Do you know what a fool you are, kid?" The third master smiled out of excessive anger. "If you wanted to provoke me, well, congrats! However, I assure you that you'll need to pay a heavy price. I tell you now that not only are you making an enemy of me nor the first division alone. No, you have opened hostilities with my entire clan, and the whole of the Moon God Sect!" Third Master Jing was certainly adept at escalating conflicts. In his mind, he represented the authority of the Moon God Sect.
Jiang Chen would have none of it. "So what?" he replied calmly.
So what? Everyone paused at that. Was there a need for 'so what'? Angering the Moon God Sect in the Tilted Moon Region spelled certain doom. What came next after that?
"So… I'd recommend you look forward to better luck in your next life, heh." With a vicious laugh, Third Master Jing waved. "Take them in, dead or alive!"
"Yes, sir." The expert surnamed Cai and the seventh level emperor realm expert both bowed.
As they were about to move, an even-handed laugh could be heard from upstairs. A serene voice echoed downwards. "If I remember correctly, the strongest member of the Jing clan serves only as an elder in the Moon God Sect, no? Jing Third, please elucidate to this great emperor if you will, where your courage comes from?"
Third Master Jing hadn't expected someone else to be nearby. He blurted out, without thinking, "Who the hell are you, eh? The Moon God Sect's business…"
Suddenly, he realized that something was off. He paused mid-sentence to mull things over. What had he heard just now? What had the other person called himself? 'This great emperor'?
What in tarnation? Jing Third's eyebrows waggled, and his heart skipped a beat. He was terrified! The man who'd spoken to him he was… a great emperor?
Which great emperor was upstairs, exactly?
Third Master Jing had plenty of social experience, but all of it was useless before an expert as strong as that. However, he was also the leader of a division. Though he felt a sliver of panic, he didn't descend into total hysteria. Can it be that kid's ruse? There aren't many great emperors in the world. Even if it was possible that one was here, there's no way he would've made that kid go find a Smiling Bodhi alone, much less show off a bunch of sky rank spirit herbs. A great emperor cultivator has more wisdom than that!
His mind made up, Jing Ole Third smirked in half-disbelief. "Friend, why don't you come down and see where my courage comes from?"
He wanted to bait the other party out. Seeing them in person would reveal whether they were a great emperor or not. A slightly mocking smile hung on Jiang Chen's face. The young lord of Veluriyam Capital shook his head. He saw straight through the trick. Jing Third wasn't going to be convinced until he saw for himself how wrong he was!
"Then I shall," Emperor Peerless laughed forbiddingly. The emperor's figure landed in front of Jing Third the next instant before the sound of the latter's voice had yet disappeared.
A great emperor's pressure filled the space, smashing into countless bystanders. All the cultivators around Third Master Jing were pushed back by an invisible force, reeling in every direction. None of them could keep a stable footing.
The cultivator Cai and the other seventh level, silver-robed man exchanged a look, then rushed forward to attempt to stop Emperor Peerless' advance.
The corner of the emperor's mouth twitched. "Do you expect to stop me? With just the two of you?"
Each step he took forward was filled with insurmountable pressure. Both the high-level emperor realm cultivators felt the onslaught of a veritable mountain. Its weight pressed against their chests, and their breathing became more and more ragged.
"For those who stand in my way… the sentence is death!" Emperor Peerless declared, his tone merciless.
The sentence was like the straw that broke the camel's back. It caused the two emperor realm cultivators to shake, then collapse to the side while coughing up blood. Initially enjoying the duo's bodily protection, Third Master Jing did not feel much of the pressure at first. But after their collapse, the pressure on them was entirely transferred to him. Almost in the very next instant, his consciousness was thoroughly crushed. He began to shake uncontrollably, his eyes belying an indescribable fear.
He hadn't expected a thoughtless statement to draw out a great emperor! The aura that the old man exerted did not belong to just any great emperor, but rather the strongest among them. Thankfully for him, the emperor had immense self-control. In the next moment, all of the pressure withdrew right away. Feeling the burden on his body lighten up, Third Master Jing staggered and almost fell. His head and face were covered with cold sweat, and his look took on extraordinary honesty and meekness. In fact, his entire expression was now filled with fear and wariness.
"S-senior… I… I have been… very rude, yes, very rude indeed." The vermin was at least, a man who knew when to yield. The presence of a great emperor meant that he was in enormous trouble if he didn't lower his posture.
Emperor Peerless remained expressionless. "I didn't want to come at first, you know. I was just curious where your courage comes from. You asked me so nicely to come down to see! Tell me, where is it? I haven't seen a clue."
Third Master Jing stuttered. He was on the verge of crying. "I… I… that was just a joke. Senior, please, be kind with me. You're too great of a man, to, er, stoop to my level, right?"
"Too great to stoop to your level?" Emperor Peerless nodded. "I suppose I am. Oh, what did you say just now? Did you say that my little brother here gave you a fake sky rank spirit herb, hmm?"
"No…. not at all. Maybe my subordinates made a mistake. They're rather incompetent, you understand. I will investigate when I return!" The third master made a vehement denial.
"Don't investigate when you return! Investigate now. Take out the supposed spirit herb. I won't make that kind of mistake, I assure you." The emperor stretched out his right hand.
"No, really, senior. You really don't have to. I'll be on, on, on my way now? We'll leave you in peace, senior." Even if Third Master Jing had ten more galls, he wouldn't have had enough gall to misbehave any more. As he spoke, he looked urgently at his underlings. He wanted to depart as quickly as possible.
"Leave? Who told you to leave?" Emperor Peerless' face darkened.
The emperor's change of demeanor froze the third master in his steps. He offered a placatory smile, his expression immensely bitter. "Senior, I have made a mistake today. Really, please forgive your junior for this."
"You're going to arbitrate right and wrong with a single word? You're not playing with me, are you?" The emperor would have none of it. "Take out the spirit herb and let me see."
Third Master Jing's face was as sour as a lemon. "I didn't bring the spirit herb. Really, I didn't."
"You didn't bring it? Why are you even here, hmm? What gives you the right to openly accuse my brother without evidence? Where does your courage come from?" Emperor Peerless' voice became frosty.
The third master was on the verge of tears. He gave himself a resounding slap on the face. "I'm so sorry, senior, it's all my fault! My eyes were obscured by greed. I… I shouldn't have smeared your friend. For the sake of the Moon God Sect, senior, please don't be too harsh on me."
"Don't be too harsh on you?" Emperor Peerless snickered. "Do you mean that I should just happily let you go? After you traded a single Smiling Bodhi for two sky rank spirit herbs, two earth rank spirit herbs, and two hundred million saint spirit stones? Does that sound like a fair deal to you?"
Third Master Jing's heart sank. Countless complaints rose to the top of his heart. He felt a pang of regret. He'd bitten off more than he could chew this time. Had there really been a need to reap a second time after the first batch of insane profit? Now, he was going to have a hard time keeping his current winnings, much less make more!
Still, Third Master Jing was a flexible person. He immediately called to his subordinates, "What are you guys doing standing around here, huh? Go, get the things that our respected senior here wants right away!"
Emperor Peerless found it hard to make an issue out of the third master's behavior. The other man was being far too compliant. Truthfully, he'd put himself forward in order to make a bigger fuss of things. If Third Master Jing had acted with arrogance, he wouldn't have minded killing the man on the spot. The Moon God Sect wouldn't be in a position to dispute him for it. After all, the third master was in the wrong the entire time. The sect would have only been able to absorb the blow silently.
But the third master trimmed his sails to the wind, and did so with no hesitation whatsoever. Emperor Peerless was the one to be put in an odd position. The emperor glanced at Jiang Chen for his opinion. The young man considered for a moment, then decided to respect the grand scheme of things. Third Master Jing observed the interaction in secret. That the emperor sought the youth's perspective was not at all lost on him. His heart pounded with distress and bewilderment. He'd angered someone whom a great emperor realm cultivator deferred to! Who… was that young man, really?