The world of martial dao was a wondrous place. When passion was kindled in people's hearts, they tended to be easily persuaded by others. That didn't mean they were brainless sheep without opinions of their own, but that the world was a place with the strongest at the top. When it came to pill dao, young lord Zhen's exploits over the past few years were nothing less than legendary.
After his exploits were dug up, many noticed that he was already a monument to others, despite his youth. The Longevity Pill and the Pinecrane Pill. These two alone were enough to immortalize his name. Moreover, young lord Zhen had also defeated the 'invincible' Pill King Ji Lan-and more than once, to boot.
Under the people's intentional embellishments, his stories spread in a frenzied wave, his exceptional performance at the Vassal Meeting naturally included. He'd faced Emperor Shura for five rounds and crushed his opponent utterly in pill dao, beast taming, and formations, with a draw in talismans and martial dao.
A decisive score of three wins and two losses against the arrogant Emperor Shura was very impressive indeed. Some said that it was blind luck, that the young lord had looked a bit frayed in the final round. But so what?
Young lord Zhen wasn't even thirty. He'd made a name for himself only in the last decade. It was amazing for a thirty-year-old youth to tie with a three-thousand-year great emperor, no matter how that result had come about. Anyone else in his situation wouldn't have been able to take one hit, much less survive four hours.
There were plenty of young geniuses in Veluriyam Capital, but none of them could say they could weather a punch from Emperor Shura at the peak of his powers. That was too preposterous a statement to make!
But young lord Zhen had accomplished the impossible. More impressively, he had come out unscathed! The battle itself was already legendary. There were plenty of examples on the Divine Abyss Continent of the weak defeating the strong, but doing so with such a large strength differential was absolutely unheard of. Young lord Zhen's achievement was more than stellar.
It would be the talk of the town for the next long while. Storytellers favored tales that bordered on the fabulous.
Even those who didn't like young lord Zhen were forced to admit that if he was allowed enough time to grow, he would rise to truly great heights. Emperor Peafowl had ruled essentially perfectly for the last three millennia, and his chosen successor displayed even greater potential!
Though Emperor Peafowl was no slouch in his youth, neither he nor Emperor Shura were competent enough to achieve the independence that Jiang Chen could boast of. Not all the vassals would turn and worship the young lord immediately, but his incentive provided at least a start.
He firmly believed that once the school was established, the relationship between ruler and vassal would be much improved. The sense of unity with Veluriyam Capital would be greatly enhanced.
It had been many years since Jiang Chen's arrival in the city. He'd pondered all this time why Veluriyam Capital was inferior to Pillfire City in pill dao. Lack of knowledge and resources was the most important reason, but there was another similarly key one—a deficiency with Emperor Peafowl.
In most respects, there was a negligible difference between Pillfire and Veluriyam's rulers. In terms of charisma, Emperor Peafowl could even be hailed the clear victor. The serene ruler of Veluriyam Capital adopted compassion in his rule most of the time. Emperor Pillzenith stood in harsh contrast, acting with ruthless ambition and imperiousness. But the latter's stance was much more effective at consolidating and controlling a faction.
Though Emperor Peafowl cared about his people and ruled wisely, he had certain moral quandaries. He and Emperor Pillzenith were complete opposites in this regard.
The atmosphere that Jiang Chen had experienced upon his visit to Pillfire City was that of absolute internal cohesion. Moreover, the satellite cities around it respected its absolute sovereignty. The system stuck out because of how natural it had been.
Pillfire City was rather attractive because of its advancement in pills. Most factions couldn't resist its allure, much less consider leaving. But Emperor Pillzenith's personal actions on the city's behalf also contributed to this. The foremost goal of Pillfire City has always been to increase its influence.
Emperor Peafowl had no desires to do such a thing with Veluriyam Capital. He had a tremendously large heart to accommodate countless more subjects, but not the nature to conquer them in the first place. Recently, he'd been largely focused on repelling the future demonic invasion. Meanwhile, expanding Pillfire constantly hovered at the front of Emperor Pillzenith's mind. That was the fundamental difference between the two.
From an objective point of view, Emperor Peafowl was the more respectable man. Subordinates, however, often preferred a more authoritarian and ambitious leader. Activities such as the Temple of Cleansing Fire's Bounty Arena were common in Pillfire City. Not so for Veluriyam Capital, at which similar events rarely took place.
Affairs of that variety were exceptionally attractive to the wider public. They created commotion and bustle, drawing experts from all over. Once the population base was there, the place naturally became a hub of activity.
It was precisely this perception that'd led Jiang Chen to institute a pill dao school. It was his first decision as the ruler of Veluriyam Capital. The excitement from the vassals told the young man that his decision was a wise one. Regardless of how much manpower and capital it required, it was a worthwhile investment for the long term.
Emperor Mountaincrush slapped his thigh admiringly. "Your boldness and resolution is remarkable, young lord Zhen, and not unwelcome. You have my unquestioned support! Whether you need men or money, I won't refuse whatever I can provide."
"It's a very charitable gesture," chuckled Emperor Petalpluck. "My faction and I cannot shirk our duties to it."
No one would oppose the foundation of a new pill dao school. Everyone had seen that young lord Zhen and his Sacred Peafowl Mountain were the best at the craft in the entire city. Generosity from the rising star was too benevolent to ignore. They couldn't oppose such unselfish sharing.
Over in the guest area, the Han brothers from the Great Yu Skysword Sect roared with laughter. "Congratulations, young lord Zhen. Congratulations! You turned the tides through your efforts alone, and the dust has finally settled. I think we can all look forward to Veluriyam Capital's bright future ahead. We admire the young lord's mastery over pill dao from the bottom of our hearts. After all, you are our guest pill emperor! We are willing to sponsor part of your pill dao school."
"Young lord Zhen, if we at the Celestial Cicada Court donate as well, will you open enrollment to us?" Su Huanzhen was not to be outdone.
"If I'm to open a pill dao school, it will recruit students from the entire human domain. Of course, we will show preference for our people to a certain extent" Jiang Chen smiled.
Both Su Huanzhen and the Han brothers were pleased by the declaration.
"You're a joy to work with, young lord Zhen. I'm pleased to call us friends," Han Qianzhan affirmed animatedly.
Su Huanzhen maintained her faint smile. "We at the Celestial Cicada Court have ever treated Veluriyam Capital as our own. Alas, your master had far less charisma than you, young lord Zhen."
The female sect head had loved Emperor Peafowl very dearly all those years ago. Unfortunately, much of the blame for a lack of a happy ending was on Veluriyam's usually-wise lord. She was still melancholic about it, though she hadn't allowed it to turn into hatred.
Emperor Pillzenith was in a pickle. If he didn't have other plans in mind, he likely would've left with Emperor Shura. Jiang Chen at least, was quite surprised that the ruler of Pillfire had the heart to stay.
Emperor Pillzenith barked a dry laugh. "I must congratulate you, young lord Zhen. You've done great things at such a young age. I don't think even Emperor Peafowl in his youth surpassed you."
This was excessive praise. Jiang Chen didn't take his words very seriously.
He looked back at Pillzenith, smiling faintly. "I didn't expect Emperor Pillzenith, the lord of Pillfire City, would grace humble Veluriyam Capital with your presence. But since you were invited here by Shura, and Shura no longer resides here in the city… I'm afraid I find no excuse to keep you here any longer."
Everyone found this statement amusing. Young lord Zhen was publicly showing Emperor Pillzenith the door!
Regardless of Emperor Pillzenith's dissimulation, he felt a surge of anger in his heart. What a despicable kid, to have not shown him the proper respect he deserved!
His instincts as a great city's ruler took over at the last second. He maintained a skin-deep smile despite his fury. "I hear that young lord Zhen is planning on founding a pill dao school. We at Pillfire City have some skill in the subject. Perhaps the titans of the north and south can cooperate as allies in this endeavor?"
Cooperate? The audience felt their faces color. Cooperate with Pillfire City? Wasn't that inviting a snake into one's bosom?
"Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City are not well-acquainted," Jiang Chen smiled coolly. "I don't think there's much of a need for us to cooperate. I don't think there's anything worthwhile in that."
If Emperor Pillzenith hadn't been mentally prepared for mockery, he would've coughed up blood on the spot. Judging from his tone, he thinks himself way superior to Pillfire City!
The false smile vanished from the emperor's face. His face became dark. "Young lord Zhen, I can understand your youthful pride. That said, is that disrespect toward Pillfire City I'm hearing in your tone?"