Emperor Shura had invested countless years in studying talismans, so rune etching was just the basics to him. He was angry that his side had suffered three consecutive losses at the hands of Sacred Peafowl Mountain and wanted to turn things around here.
The great emperor was very intimidating when he was bent on revenge. He injected one hundred percent of his concentration into the task at hand. So far, everything was progressing smoothly. He could practically see the flag of victory waving at him as he completed the final strokes of his talisman.
Emperor Shura inspected his talisman carefully to make sure that he hadn't committed any mistakes. After a long sigh of relief, pride surged. He was certain that he was going to claim victory this round. He shot a mocking glance in Jiang Chen's direction.
However, the sight nearly caused him to jump from fright. The repulsive Pill King Zhen was actually rising to his feet! What does this mean? Has he finished as well? As the terrifying thought flashed through his mind, Emperor Shura subconsciously rose to his feet as well and declared at nearly the same time as Pill King Zhen, "I'm done."
The scene stunned everyone who was present. They'd completed their task at the same time? Wasn't that a bit too much of a coincidence? Also, was it just them, or had young lord Zhen risen first despite speaking at nearly the same time?
If both sides had completed their tasks, then their completion time was identical. Was it to be another draw? Was it even possible to tie in a talisman match? The vassals watching beneath the arena were stupefied by this turn of events. Talisman etching was a complicated process, and someone was always slower than the other. It was an unbelievable coincidence for this round to end in a draw.
Meanwhile, Emperor Shura was feeling a little faint. How did young lord Zhen finish so quickly? Impossible. He couldn't have! I've also never heard that he was exceptionally talented in talismans. He must have made his declaration in haste!
He had every intention to win this round and was extremely annoyed by the turn of events. He reminded, "Daoist Petalpluck, please inspect the talismans thoroughly. An inferior talisman can't be allowed to pass the round."
Emperor Shura thought that young lord Zhen must have sacrificed quality for speed.
Unfortunately, Emperor Petalpluck gave a disappointing answer when he finished the inspection. "I've inspected the talismans and judge that both entries are completely eligible. I didn't find any flaws in either one of the talismans."
"What?" Emperor Shura's expression changed so drastically, it was as if a heavy hammer had struck him. He was filled with regret and self-blame. "Why, why did I waste time on inspecting my work? I could've won if I hadn't done that!"
Emperor Shura had purposely double-checked his etchings. Although the confirmation didn't take too much time, time was still inevitably lost during the process. Who could've known that a tiny delay like this was all it took to turn a victory into a draw?
He was green with regret. If he'd lost because of less skill, then that was that. A bit depressing, but a fair loss was a fair loss. This time however, victory had slipped right through his fingers! He'd allowed the opponent to turn his victory into a draw! But the result was already set in stone. He couldn't change this no matter how regretful he felt.
Emperor Petalpluck declared. "The ninth round is a draw!"
The word "draw" hurt Emperor Shura deeply. He didn't understand what'd possessed him to inspect his work earlier. Talisman etching wasn't a difficult task, and he hadn't found any flaws after double checking. So why had he lost confidence in that crucial instant? Had the three consecutive losses really cause a crack to appear in his dao heart? He had to admit that that was exactly the case, no matter how much he loathed to admit it.
"Don't be discouraged, master. We are at four wins, two draws and three losses right now. Victory will still be hours as long as we win two rounds in martial dao." Li Jiancheng was actually comforting Emperor Shura instead.
The great emperor knew that the situation was still under control. He was just annoyed that he'd thrown away a victory just like that. His annoyance at his own cowardice far exceeded his disappointment.
Meanwhile, at the side of Sacred Peafowl Mountain, everyone except Jiang Chen and Huang'er had low morale. The score was three wins, two draws and four losses for Sacred Peafowl Mountain. They were now teetering in a precarious position. The remaining four rounds had to do with martial dao, and no one felt like Sacred Peafowl Mountain had much of a shot at victory.
Jiang Chen and Huang'er immediately noticed the heavy atmosphere enveloping their camp the moment they returned.
"What's wrong? Why're you all looking so dejected?" Jiang Chen asked with a light tone. He didn't want to see his people in low spirits.
"Young lord, we're at a severe disadvantage right now." Cloudsoar Monarch was a participant himself, and sounded very guilty right now. "It's all my fault. My poor skill dragged everyone down."
Beside him, Emperor Peerless piped in, "You absolutely mustn't say that, Cloudsoar. None of us except young lord Zhen and Miss Huang'er were able to produce good results either. You aren't the only one who's at fault. We all are."
Jiang Chen hurriedly consoled them. "The competition isn't over yet, is it? Don't you think we'll be able to turn things around in the last four rounds?"
Of course everyone wanted to turn things around, but their chances were low to say the least. In fact, it would be more appropriate to call it a near impossible task.
"Chin up, everyone. We're at a disadvantage only because we're unprepared, and they are. They even recruited outside help for this. Is there anyone who seriously believes that Pill King Ce and Pill King Hui are Emperor Shura's subordinates?"
Personally, Jiang Chen didn't believe this at all. If Shura Retreat had challenged Sacred Peafowl Mountain fair and square, talismans would've been the one and only area they had an advantage in. Pill King Ce and Pill King Hui were the main reasons Sacred Peafowl Mountain was pushed to the edge of defeat right now. Emperor Shura himself was doing poorly.
Plumscore Monarch muttered hatefully, "Emperor Shura lost three out of four rounds and tied one round against our young lord. Where does he find the courage and face to keep up this farce? Suppose we lose the competition, does he really have the face to rule Veluriyam Capital? Does he really think himself qualified after this is all over?"
Emperor Shura had lost three rounds in a row at the hands of a young genius. They were undoubtedly major blemishes in the great emperor's life history. Even if he managed to take control of Veluriyam Capital in the future, it would be very difficult for him to convince the masses to obey him.
But Jiang Chen smiled and pressed downward with his hands. He looked at Emperor Peerless with determination. "Old Brother Mo, you absolutely must win a round in the martial dao match, alright?"
"I guarantee it." Emperor Peerless was very firm.
"Cloudsoar Monarch, you'll be facing Pill King Ce or Pill King Hui. Neither of them are great emperors yet. It'll be nice if you can beat them, but if you can't, do you think you can get a tie for us?"
Cloudsoar Monarch slapped his chest and declared, "I won't have the face to stay in Sacred Peafowl Mountain if I fail to claim even a tie, young lord!"
"Good. This means that we still have a chance."
Jiang Chen shot a glance at Huang'er. He was absolutely certain that his partner was going to claim victory. Li Jiancheng's head might be in the clouds, but he was absolutely inferior to Huang'er when it came to martial dao.
He didn't have anymore time to explain things because Emperor Petapluck was already declaring, "The next rounds are the climax everyone's looking forward to. Both sides, please send out your participants of the martial dao match. Remember, the leader will fight the leader, the follower will fight the follower, and the true disciple will fight the true disciple. You are not allowed to switch up the order."
The rule was set to prevent either faction from playing petty tricks and scoring a cheap victory.
The first person to emerge from Emperor Shura's faction was Pill King Hui. Pill King Hui was slightly stronger than Pill King Ce.
Shura Retreat was obviously making a small gamble here. They were hoping that Sacred Peafowl Mountain would send out Cloudsoar Monarch first. However, Jiang Chen declared with a smile on his face. "Go take this first round for us, Old Brother Mo."
Sacred Peafowl Mountain needed a morale boost because of their disadvantage. Jiang Chen hoped that the great emperor would be able to take the first round by storm and get Sacred Peafowl Mountain off to a good start.
Emperor Peerless was also the participant with the highest chance of victory out of all of them. Although he hadn't refined the Kunpeng bloodline yet, the great emperor should have no problems defeating a peak emperor expert.
"For the tenth round, Emperor Peerless from Sacred Peafowl Mountain versus Pill King Hui from Shura Retreat!" Emperor Petalpluck declared loudly. "In the arena, the heavens decide your fate, so I'll serve you all a reminder. Surrender if you find your strength lacking, or you may not have a chance in the heat of the battle."
Emperor Petalpluck hoped that the participants would be able to keep their cool. He didn't wish to see any casualties after the match was done.
Pill King Hui was very annoyed when he saw that Emperor Peerless was Sacred Peafowl Mountain's first choice. He was hoping to take a round off Cloudsoar Monarch, but Emperor Peerless? He would be very lucky to survive this fight with his pride.
Emperor Peerless had felt humiliated ever since losing the formation match. He was going to do everything in his power to claim a victory here.
"Come at me." Emperor Peerless declared with a deep look. He mercilessly pressured his opponent with his great emperor aura.
Pill King Hui was a peak emperor expert, so he barely managed to retain his composure as he clasped his hands together. "Please be merciful."
His opponent was already showing weakness before they even started fighting, but Emperor Peerless didn't allow himself to be moved by Pill King Hui. As the saying went, all was fair in the martial dao world. Pill King Hui could just be trying to distract him.