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Emperor Shura had wanted to call the kettle black when he first saw Emperor Peerless, but the latter was now genuinely a member of the Sacred Peafowl Mountain?? His opponent had then turned the tables on him by questioning the backgrounds of his two followers and naming the Eternal Celestial Capital and Pillfire City.

These two factions had tried to wrestle the Longevity Pill from Veluriyam Capital. Pillfire City especially was Veluriyam Capital’s long established rival. The citizens hated these with a passion and would abandon Emperor Shura in a heartbeat if he was found to be affiliated with them. Thankfully, he was already prepared for this development that Sacred Peafowl Mountain would give him trouble over their origins.

“They are deathsworn that my faction has secretly raised. They have never shown themselves outside.” He answered coldly without any hesitation.

“Oh? And we’re expected to take your word for it?” Jiang Chen was relentless.

Emperor Shura surely had a private army of deathsworn, but Jiang Chen didn’t believe that his faction would be able to raise ones with abilities that exceed the Sun, Moon, and Star Monarchs. They were mostly likely hired help from Pillfire City.

Jiang Chen raised a cupped fist salute at Emperor Petalpluck. “Emperor Petalpluck, I don’t want to make a huge fuss, but this is a competition between Sacred Peafowl Mountain and Shura Retreat. If the participants are of foreign background, it will render all of this meaningless.” He turned to face the vassals. “Surely no one wishes to watch such a meaningless competition?”

Emperor Shura was thoroughly enraged. “Young lord Zhen! You haven’t even cleared all of your own suspicion yet! What are you trying to accomplish in turning things around on me?”

Jiang Chen smiled blandly. “Our faction has always been honorable and forthright in our actions. What suspicions are there on us?”

“Hmph! I shall forget about the previous matter with Emperor Peerless, but who is this personal disciple of yours? I didn’t know that you’ve accepted such a disciple!” Emperor Shura shifted tactics to attack Huang’er.

He’d thought that Jiang Chen would send Lin Yanyu out to battle as the latter was a publicly recognized disciple. But the young lord had brought an unfamiliar girl with an exceptional aura instead. But Emperor Shura couldn’t be blamed for not knowing who she was. Huang’er very seldomly appeared in public, and even if she did, she’d wear a mask or put on a disguise of some sort.

Huang’er had shown herself with her real appearance today. The crowd was stunned by her looks, but were equally curious about her background.

Jiang Chen burst into laughter. “I knew you would say that! Huang’er is my dao partner. This is a widely known fact at the Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Any more questions?”

“Dao partner?” Emperor Shura snorted coldly. “If she’s your dao partner, surely she has no right to join the battle as your personal disciple?”

Huang’er flashed a gentle smile. “I’ve been thoroughly impressed by young lord Zhen’s talent in pill dao ever since we met. Since I'm still his pill dao disciple, how do I have no right to join the fight?” 

She could shape the story however she wanted. Nobody could disprove it as it was a Sacred Peafowl Mountain internal matters. What mattered was that she was genuinely from the Sacred Peafowl Mountain.

“Emperor Shura, perhaps it’s time for you to prove the identities of your followers?” Jiang Chen wasn’t planning on letting up at all.

The one dressed in silver behind Emperor Shura walked up. “We are both Emperor Shura’s deathsworn, loyal to him and him alone. If someone like Emperor Peerless is allowed to join Sacred Peafowl Mountain, there should be no questions about our loyalty to Emperor Shura.”

Emperor Peerless looked at two men with a dark expression. “I swore a solemn vow to prove my undying loyalty. Can you two do the same?”  

He could naturally tell that there was more to their backgrounds than it seemed.

The two nodded after exchanging glances, swearing decisively without the slightest hesitation. “We swear that we will be loyal to Shura Retreat for as long as it exists. May the heavens smite us with thunder if we renege on our words!” 

Emperor Shura was a little surprised by their actions, but glowered at Jiang Chen after the vow. “Young lord Zhen, do you have anything else to add?”

Jiang Chen burst into laughter. “They should’ve made things easier and just sworn earlier!” He paused and glanced at Emperor Shura with a supercilious smile. “Don’t say that I didn’t warn you, there’s some technicalities in their sworn vows. They said that they’ll be loyal to Shura Retreat for as long it exists. So that means the day they decide to leave might be when it’s time for your faction to end.”

Jiang Chen didn’t actually know for certain if there was such a technicality, but his instincts told him that something was off with the vow. He didn’t mind sharing his findings with Emperor Shura. He could make the great emperor uneasy and cause some strife between the emperor and PIllfire City in one go. He was certain that these two had nothing to do with Emperor Shura, but since they’d already sworn their vows, being too unrelenting would make him seem uncouth.

Jiang Chen had nothing to fear even if they were from Pillfire City. He’d made some careful calculations for the thirteen rounds. Emperor Shura was extremely confident about his chances, but so was Jiang Chen. Each had their own trump cards and plans. It was a matter of who got the last laugh.

Since there was no longer any dispute over the legitimacy of the candidates, Emperor Petalpluck took the opportunity to begin. “Alright, since there’s no longer any disputes, we shall revisit the rules! The candidates are chosen and no further revisions are allowed. In addition, since this is a martial dao competition, death and injuries are difficult to avoid. Both sides must also agree on whether the fight should end before blood is shed, or leave the outcome to fate?”

It was an important decision.

If the fight were to end before blood was shed, they had to be extremely cautious and in no circumstance were they allowed to kill. If the outcome was left to fate, death was much more likely to occur.

“Young lord Zhen, if you fear death, I might consider going easy on you. But as a cultivator, why even participate in a battle if you’re afraid?” Emperor Shura might sound like he was giving Jiang Chen a choice, but he was actually coercing Jiang Chen into choosing the second. 

Jiang Chen smiled. “Shura, you sound like you’ve already won! In that case, why don’t I leave it to you to decide? Shura Retreat is the challenger after all. As the defending host, we’re gracious enough to give you as much!”

What?! Emperor Shura glowered. Even in the face of death, young lord Zhen’s mouth is as heinous as ever. Leave it to me to decide?  

He sniffed coldly. “Very well, in order to make the competition more entertaining, we shall leave the outcome of our martial dao battle to fate!” 

“Very well, as you wish.” Jiang Chen couldn’t care less.

“Additionally, if no outcome can be determined within four hours, the martial dao battle will be a draw! Do both parties agree on this rule?” Emperor Petalpluck brought up the matter again.

Emperor Shura naturally wouldn’t object since he was the one who’d proposed it. “How can a battle between two experts take longer than four hours? If it goes on for longer than four hours, then it’s definitely a draw.”

Both of his followers were half-step great emperors. They were fighting in the stead of the Sun, Moon, and Star Monarchs because they were more well-balanced in other disciplines, especially pill dao. In other words, Emperor Shura had brought them to the competition just so that they could win in two pill dao segments.

But now that Emperor Peerless had appeared out of nowhere, all of his plans were thrown into disarray. However, he knew that it was too late to change anything. All he could do was hope that Emperor Pillzenith’s men would be able to exceed their very best.

Seeing that there was no objections, Emperor Petalpluck continued. “Since the other competitions might be affected by death or injuries inflicted during the martial dao battle, this subject shall be moved to the very back. Instead, we shall start the competition with three pill dao battles. Are there any disagreements?” 

Start with pill dao? Jiang Chen was a little taken aback, but he was absolutely fearless when it came to pill dao. Emperor Peerless had some attainments in pill dao, but he wasn't exactly the cream of the crop. In fact, his knowledge of pill dao might not even exceed Huang’er’s. 

Nobody had really seen the true depths of Huang’er’s foundation in pill dao. Not even Jiang Chen. The young lord wasn’t completely sure that it was a good thing to start with a pill dao battle, but since the arrow was already notched to the string, it was too late to consider anything else.

“Old Brother Mo, Huang’er, do your best, don’t feel burdened.” Jiang Chen encouraged them through his consciousness. “We can still win the competition even if we only manage to win one round in pill dao.”

Emperor Peerless and Huang’er nodded. They were already Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s best candidates. Even if they were replaced by someone else, the situation would most likely be the same.

If Emperor Shura’s followers were truly from Pillfire City, Jiang Chen was the only one who could possibly face them head on. Even if Pill King Lu Feng and Pill King Bu were here, it was unlikely that the situation would be any better. As for Lin Yanyu and Mu Gaoqi, they were still too young to shoulder such weight on their shoulders.

“Daoist Shura and young lord Zhen, since you’re both leaders of your own respective factions, you’re required to battle against each other in every subject. As for your candidates, they should also face their equals in all subject except the martial dao battles. Do you have any more rules that you might want to add?”  Emperor Petalpluck asked both of them.

It was a necessity to have the leaders battle against each other. If Emperor Shura and young lord Zhen was allowed to fight the others, the entire competition would lose its meaning and entertainment value. 

Jiang Chen smiled blandly. “Absolutely none.”

Emperor Shura knew that Jiang Chen was extremely exceptional in pill dao, but he couldn’t back down now. He was prepared for a loss in pill dao. But weren’t there to be three pill dao battles? Emperor Shura glanced at Emperor Peerless and Huang’er, a bizarre smile forming on his lips. 

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