Pill King Ce was a smart man. His prior investigation had informed him that Cloudsoar Monarch was the best of Sacred Peafowl Mountain's four. Though he himself wasn't weak, it was unrealistic to claim that the pill king could beat one of Peafowl's monarchs. At most, they were roughly comparable.
When that was the case, a duel between two cultivators depended heavily on their moods and mindset. Pill King Ce wanted to attack him psychologically to create an opening. If one appeared, no matter how small, he would be sure to latch onto it.
Pill King Ce wasn't necessarily the strongest cultivator, but as a pill dao genius, he had instinct and sensitivity superior to most others when it came to sensing battle openings. They were senses reserved for the elite.
However, Cloudsoar Monarch was wholly unaffected by his provocation. He'd already heard from Jiang Chen that Pill King Ce was a bit weaker than Pill King Hui. Though he wasn't sure where young lord Zhen had gotten that information from, he trusted Jiang Chen enough to take it at face value. Therefore, Pill King Ce's intimidation tactics did nothing whatsoever to the monarch mentally.
He had a strategy, and he was sticking to it. Not losing was his priority, based on which he could then attempt to eke out an eventual victory. It was a conservative plan, but that fit the monarch's personality just fine. Cloudsoar had no fondness for impudence and brashness. His line of thought was both simple and potent and countered Pill King Ce's perfectly.
The pill king knew that he had no advantage whatsoever based on martial dao alone. Thus, he planned on overwhelming his opponent with sheer ferocity. It was an approach that sacrificed stamina, but that was an acceptable trade-off. If Cloudsoar Monarch didn't already have a plan, he might be browbeaten into submission through initial hesitance.
That too was what the monarch realized after his shock from the beginning fierceness wore off. Still, understanding his opponent's weakness wasn't the same as exploiting it. Pill King Ce might not be the strongest of cultivators, but he had keen martial senses. Cloudsoar Monarch's every move was predicted.
There was a flurry of experimental attacks from both sides. The back-and-forth was instructive for both combatants of their opponent's abilities. In terms of raw strength, Cloudsoar Monarch was slightly superior. In terms of experience and instinct, the same was true for Pill King Ce. The two were evenly matched. None of their maneuvers seemed to gain any ground for either man.
Noticing that the battle had come to a standstill, Sacred Peafowl Mountain's Plumscore Monarch sighed softly. "If it goes on like this, I don't think Cloudsoar will have an easy time winning."
Chronobalance Monarch smashed a fist against the armrest of his chair. "I don't believe that Shura Retreat has someone that strong besides Sun, Moon, and Star!"
"It's no use saying that now," lamented Wildfox Monarch. "If we win this round, we'll at least have some hope. If we can't, even if it's a tie… it'll be a disaster."
Yes, though Sacred Peafowl Mountain seemed to be tied with Shura Retreat currently with a score of four-two-four, there was no chance the remaining two rounds could be won. Therefore, Cloudsoar Monarch's round was the last ray of hope for Sacred Peafowl Mountain. In the monarchs' eyes at least, this fight was key.
Everyone with Shura Retreat looked a lot more relaxed. Though Pill King Hui had lost to Emperor Peerless last round, there was no other possible outcome. There was no dissatisfaction whatsoever on Emperor Shura's and Li Jiancheng's faces. They'd planned around losing the prior round. It seemed that Pill King Ce's was probably going to end in a tie as well.
"Master, the situation is very good for us now. If Pill King Ce can win this round, then we'll triumph for sure. You'll handily crush that Zhen kid, and I can take down the pretty girl over there with no problem. That will be a convincing victory over Sacred Peafowl Mountain with six wins, three draws, and four losses. Veluriyam Capital's throne is as good as yours."
Li Jiancheng's eyes flared with fervor and he couldn't help glancing over at Huang'er. He was almost champing at the bit for the current fight to be over, for a chance to show off his martial dao skills before the regal beauty who was to be his opponent next round. He wanted to conquer her with his display of talent.
He had faced rejection from her once before but wasn't discouraged by the past. In his opinion, he only needed to get rid of that Zhen guy's brainwashing. As long as he could demonstrate strength immense enough to crush Sacred Peafowl Mountain's dreams into fine dust, the daintily pretty girl would understand the truth of things. He could do whatever to her then. In fact, she should be throwing herself into his arms.
To Li Jiancheng's perspective, the world of martial dao was a very pragmatic one. Female cultivators especially favored the strongest. Huang'er had extraordinary presence and grace, but she was surely no exception. Wasn't her reliance on Zhen because of her enthrallment with his embellished exploits?
Li Jiancheng wasn't satisfied with this. He swore in his heart that he would prevail over Huang'er utterly with martial dao. He wanted her wholehearted devotion.
Emperor Shura saw through his disciple's thoughts. "Jiancheng, I know what you're thinking," he instructed seriously. "It's normal for youngsters to think and act with some salaciousness. Still, in your fight a short while from now, you can't lose your cool or underestimate your enemy. That girl looks soft, but she's no pushover. If you lose because of a miscalculation, I will punish you severely. It is possible that your young lord status will be removed, and you will be exiled from Shura Retreat!"
Young people needed to be disciplined. Emperor Shura was immovable upon this point. He was quite concerned that Li Jiancheng would rush headlong into the battle out of a desire to impress.
Li Jiancheng felt a chill pass over his heart. Cold beads of sweat formed on his neck. He had really gotten carried away a bit too much with his daydreams and fantasies. Emperor Shura's harsh words helped him regain his composure. That's right, this wasn't the time to underestimate his opponent or get carried away. He had to use absolute force to seize the girl's heart!
"Don't worry, master. I won't bring you shame on this day. We'll win the competition for sure!" Shura Retreat's chief disciple guaranteed.
Emperor Shura nodded. Li Jiancheng's reaction assured him that his disciple had shaken free of his prior reverie. As long as Li Jiancheng took the battle seriously, the emperor was very confident that he would do very well against that so-called 'Miss Huang'er'. The girl was mysterious in her own right, but surely she couldn't be stronger than young lord Zhen? Li Jiancheng isn't exactly weaker than the young lord either.
The battle between Pill King Ce and Cloudsoar Monarch was nearing its end. The two were still going at it without much result, the balance of victory not tipping toward either side. It seemed that the battle was about to end in yet another tie.
That was no problem if Li Jiancheng couldn't beat Huang'er. The score would be four wins, two draws, and four losses. Even if Pill King Ce and Li Jiancheng both tied, the score would settle at four wins, four draws, and four losses.
Emperor Shura almost wanted something like that to happen. Only then could his final battle with young lord Zhen be called decisive! It would enhance his victory's value tremendously.
The final fight as the one deciding win or loss… if Emperor Shura won such a fight, it would be a much more forceful hit to Sacred Peafowl Mountain. He was perfectly confident in his martial dao prowess, even more so than he had been with his talismans. With talismans, there had been a small chance of defeat. But with martial dao, there should be absolutely zero.
There were rumors that the kid was half-step emperor realm. Even if he broke through to emperor realm recently, then what?
A youth in initial emperor realm competing with a three-thousand-year great emperor? Did that sound realistic?
Not at all!
The world of martial dao was extremely harsh. There was no denying the strength of the strong or the weakness of the weak. Youths were supposed to strive against youths. It was possible to challenge across levels, but how many levels were there between initial emperor realm and great emperor realm?
It was absolutely impossible. The martial dao world had no instances of something like that succeeding whatsoever. Perhaps there were, but Emperor Shura had never heard of it-nor did he believe that it would happen to him.
The Zhen kid was very talented indeed. The emperor had noticed as much during the Ranking of Young Lords. That was why he was certain about the outcome of their fight. Zhen was strong enough to duel Li Jiancheng at most. He would fall like an ant before the might of Emperor Shura.
The emperor had every belief that the fight would be over in minutes. He was in fact, planning to cut the youth down where he stood. There was no shame in nipping a problem in the bud.
Wasn't he supposed to be a genius? The young lord of Sacred Peafowl Mountain?
An accidental death in the arena would only elicit gossip in the short term. Who would remember a dead person in the long run? Plus, he'd have control over the entire Veluriyam Capital at that point. Who would dare speak out against him? The four monarchs of Sacred Peafowl Mountain? Whether they'd still be able to stick around was still up in the air.
Emperor Coiling Dragon? Emperor Void?
If they were tactful, they'd best pretend to be unmoving statues; fit only for show rather than power. If they weren't, then he would do his best to eliminate them. Failing that, they'd definitely have to be sent elsewhere.
Veluriyam Capital would be entirely his then! He barely finished his last thought before the fight on the arena concluded. The four hours were up, and the drawn conclusion was official; neither party had won the fight.