Jiang Chen wasn't at all scared of Emperor Shura. When it came to formations, he held countless within his grasp. His understanding and insight far surpassed any that his opponent claim. Even without his inheritance from the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect, Jiang Chen had learned a great deal in his past life. Though he lacked any systematic knowledge of formation, the sheer quality of his information overcame that problem.
In this lifetime, he had received an ancient sect's heritage and received its rival's treasure, the Earth Bodhisattva Orb. This meant that he had absolutely astounding proficiency with formations in general. On the other hand, Jiang Chen had no plans to help Emperor Peerless cheat. Indeed, he had no time to do so. It was difficult to learn the intricacies of formations in a day. To cram now would mean very little.
"Old Brother Mo, just try your best. We'll have a very good chance of winning the competition as long as you win one of the martial dao rounds." The young man tried to alleviate some of his sworn brother's pressure.
Emperor Peerless chuckled in response. "Don't worry, I'll give it my all."
That much was never in question. Jiang Chen had simply wanted to console the emperor ahead of time. That would lessen any embarrassment from a loss. It wasn't that he thought little of his sworn brother. Rather, he considered it quite strange that the two followers Emperor Shura sent out were relatively unknown, yet had performed extremely well in two different areas.
At the end of the day, Emperor Peerless was a wandering cultivator. Besides his astounding martial dao talent, he wasn't an expert at much else. This was the prime weakness of wandering great emperors. They lacked support and resources from their sect. Even if they wanted to learn several subjects at a time, they had no access to the necessary tutelage.
"For the sixth round, Emperor Peerless from Sacred Peafowl Mountain… versus Pill King Ce, from Shura Retreat!"
There were many ways to compete with formations, but the randomly decided method for Emperor Peerless's match was quite insane. Both sides were to set up formations for the other until one went unrecognized. The time limit was still four hours.
This required a significant amount of expertise out of the competing parties. If one had insufficient foundational knowledge, the chance of losing at this kind of competition drastically went up.
Emperor Peerless hadn't expected to draw the method he was most unwilling to compete with. For him, to do so was its own kind of suffering. The emperor hadn't systematically learned about formations. Though he had some experience with them, he didn't have the requisite knowledge to win the match before him.
He'd intended to use his immense martial prowess to break through his opponent's formation, not go head to head in a contest of knowledge. But he was already embroiled here, and could only half-heartedly fumble forward.
Jiang Chen knew that there would be trouble as soon as the method of competition was decided. As expected, Pill King Ce was remarkably skilled with formations as well; certainly more so than Emperor Peerless. The emperor tried his best, but eventually lost.
"Ay, young lord Zhen. I've embarrassed Sacred Peafowl Mountain." Emperor Peerless looked chagrined. After all, he had offered to come forward of his own volition.
"What is there to be sad about, Old Brother Mo? You're no formation expert," smiled Jiang Chen.
The emperor sighed softly upon hearing his young brother's reply. "Still, young lord Zhen, you should be cautious," he advised. "I didn't think all of us would lose so handily. We're relying on you to win all the rounds right now."
Until now, Jiang Chen had been the only one to win at pill dao as well as beast taming. So it was true with formations as well, the young lord needed to win a round here to even things out. Both Emperor Peerless and Cloudsoar Monarch were mildly flustered at the thought of it.
"Don't blame yourselves," Jiang Chen grinned. "Shura Retreat has prepared for this in advance. They probably calculated these results ahead of time. We were caught somewhat unprepared, so it's no wonder that we're at a disadvantage."
Six rounds had elapsed. Sacred Peafowl Mountain had won two, drawn one, and lost three. The situation was a bit precipitous.
"Don't worry, I'll take this one home for sure too." Leaving a confident smile behind him, Jiang Chen flew out from his faction.
His multiple losses sustained at Jiang Chen's hand taught Emperor Shura to brag no longer. He'd heard just as well as anyone else about the rumors of young lord Zhen's prowess with formations. He didn't have high hopes for this round, either.
Though Emperor Shura wasn't completely clueless about formations, he wasn't going to take home any prizes against a real expert. Instead, he was staking everything on the talisman and martial dao rounds. He only needed a tie this round. A tie would be more than enough. Winning would sweeten the deal. It was very hard, but he could dream.
He was a little depressed by the prospect of losing again. He'd already lost twice at pill dao and beast taming. If he went for three losses in a row, where would his dignity be?
"Those who accomplish great things should not mind small details," the emperor encouraged himself. "As long as I win this gauntlet, I won't care about temporary appearances. In this world, martial dao alone reigns supreme."
"The seventh round. Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord Zhen versus the Shura Retreat's Emperor Shura!" Yet another proclamation from Emperor Petalpluck kicked off the ensuing round.
The round's format was somewhat uncommon as well. It tested the parties' formation-setting methods. Each person was given the same three formations and a ready supply of resources. Both sides began at the same time, and the first to finish was declared the winner. None of the three formations were particularly high rank, but the challenge was still tough. It pushed the formation-setter to his limits.
Emperor Shura wasn't satisfied with the format of the battle. Just like Emperor Peerless before him, he'd hoped to roll something that involved breaking through formations rather than setting them up. He too wanted to exploit the situation via his cultivation strength. Unfortunately, the round wasn't going to pan out as he had hoped.
To Jiang Chen, there was nothing wrong with the format. He had spent a modest amount of time over the recent years on formations, acquiring many insights about them in the process. Even large-scale formations were no problem for him, given his wealth of past experience with them. These low rank formations had no technical issues associated with them whatsoever.
He gleaned the three formations' mysteries in only a few passing moments. After he understood the diagram, the next things to do were etching the formation, setting the base, and using the most efficient methodologies to carry everything out. Jiang Chen was very skilled at all of these things.
As a man focused on martial dao, Emperor Shura had a partial investment in formations as well. But he didn't have the comprehensive education that Jiang Chen did on the subject. The round was therefore decided before it even began.
Jiang Chen completed all three when two-thirds of the alloted time had passed. Beside him, Emperor Shura had done only one and a half. The winner was crystal clear.
"The seventh round goes to young lord Zhen, of Sacred Peafowl Mountain!" Emperor Petalpluck marveled at the formations that Jiang Chen had set up. That youth's genius was absolutely monstrous. He was proficient in pill dao, indeed; but he showed off remarkable blessing with beast taming as well. And now the formation skills he was displaying rivaled a true master's. There wasn't a great deal of advanced technique involved with those three formations, but anyone who got them done so quickly was definitely an expert. That much was obvious to anyone watching. Emperor Shura was only half done!
The kindly emperor tossed Jiang Chen a few extra glances. Thunderous cheering erupted from the audience. Jiang Chen had won over the vassals with his incredible performance yet again.
It was essentially a one-man show at this point. Almost no one cared what Emperor Shura was doing. The only thing that emperor seemed to know how to do was lose. It was the same round after round.
Emperor Shura was purple in the face. He was flustered, angry, and spiteful. The poison of jealousy wormed about in his heart like a viper.
"You're amazing, young lord Zhen!"
"You're unbeatable, young lord Zhen!" Several slogans popped out from below. Only a few said them at first, but their voices were quickly swept up in a harmonious river. Hundreds of people, even thousands were shouting their hearts out in a frenzy.
The sound reverberated for at least a mile; the city's temperature visibly increased. Words of praise for Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord echoed through streets big and small. Like a pot of water, Veluriyam Capital was bursting with steam. The results just now had pushed it over its boiling point.
Young lord Zhen had more than his fair share of supporters in Veluriyam Capital before this. However, the news of the battle's results spread rapidly through the streets like wildfire. How could the city not be driven into a fever, given the results? His worship was enhanced by his triple victory over Emperor Shura. His opponent was completely humiliated.
The delirium in the city washed in wave after wave. Emperor Petalpluck and Mountaincrush traded glances, their expressions thoughtful. The sheer extent of young lord Zhen's popularity was stunning. Could Emperor Shura really bully someone like that into submission? Their opinions of the man began to fall.