The others looked at Jiang Chen confusedly. Was young lord Zhen mad enough to pick a solution at random? Countless powerful factions had attempted to gather the strength of wandering cultivators for their own over the ages, but success was exceedingly rare.
There were more wandering cultivators than fish in the sea. A single sect or faction couldn't possibly take them all. Moreover, they tended to be an unfriendly bunch. Some were eccentric and bad-natured, others overly competitive and tough to handle.
A single wandering cultivator often fared better alone than a disciple from some sect. But in a group, they were nothing more than a ragtag bunch; hardly comparable to the disciplined team of disciples from the same sect working together.
If a wandering cultivator went up against a sect disciple who was on the same cultivation level and powerful treasures were banned on both sides, then the former would likely win out.
Their world was a crueler one. Wandering cultivators were forced to drift about, risking their lives at every second. Their survival ability and instincts far surpassed those of a sheltered student's.
But things would turn out rather differently if it was a hundred against a hundred. With equal cultivation levels, the wandering cultivators would be slaughtered by the sect disciples without question.
Sect disciples were strenuously trained from childhood; they were instilled with a sense of the group and knew how to coordinate with each other. Wandering cultivators, on the other hand, tended to fend for themselves.
That was why relying on them was considered a universally foolish maneuver. Many sects and experts had met with failure in their attempts. Too many to count, in fact. Some were even brought to ruin because of it. Wandering cultivators were just too complex a group. Neither martial prowess nor power alone could regulate them.
Maintaining his smile, Jiang Chen met his audience's eyes openly. Confusion was plain in their gazes, but he didn't mind their temporary misunderstanding. "Carry on, Old Brother Mo," he urged. "Let's discuss the problems associated with that idea. We can decide whether it's doable or not afterwards."
"There are many problems, as I'm sure you understand. The crux of it is that wandering cultivators are hard to govern. They prefer to be the masters of their own destinies. The whole will always be less than the sum of the individuals. I'm a wandering cultivator myself, so I'm not intentionally besmirching them. A singular wandering cultivator is stronger than most sect disciples, but a group of them is far inferior.
"Experts through the ages have dreamed about gathering wandering cultivators' support, but success is infrequent. The great war in ancient times was one such occasion. Wandering cultivator experts accomplished myriad heroic deeds in that conflict." Emperor Petalpluck was a deft historian.
Ancient times? That was too far in the distant past for most. Only a few scant volumes of literature remained from back then.
Jiang Chen nodded. "I know the disadvantages associated with them. But nevertheless, I trust that there will be a good number of wandering cultivators who may be convinced. You, for example, Old Brother Mo… or the Geng brothers. You are characters at the pinnacle of the wandering cultivator world. There are many characteristics unique to you that experts from sects don't share. You're unconventional, faithful to promises, unpretentious, and straightforward. You make your allegiances extremely clear."
Mo Wushuang roared with laughter. "That is true for many sect experts as well! You can't stick with generalizations."
"You're right! It's wrong to make sweeping statements about anything. Therefore, it's not too much to expect there to be gold hidden amongst wandering cultivators, people with unfulfilled ambitions. There are three reasons for convening this meeting of wandering cultivators. I'll go over them shortly."
His audience grew serious upon hearing those words. They were ready to listen.
"First of all, the wandering cultivator world has many heroic men like Old Brother Mo and the Geng brothers. We're good friends, and they're all terrifyingly proficient. This shows that there are crouching tigers and hidden dragons even amongst wandering cultivators. Even a few fragments of gold sifted from a sandy riverbed is more than a worthwhile effort.
"Second, consider that they can spread news throughout the world like no other. If we at the Veluriyam Capital are founding our own pill dao academy, our endeavor would be greatly enhanced with their assistance.
"Third, we're mired in rumor and gossip at the moment. No matter how we attempt to clarify things, the outside world believes that Emperor Peafowl is now gone. They'll see us as easy targets. We must use this opportunity to announce to them that they are incorrect. That quite the opposite, Veluriyam Capital will climb to greater heights still."
Jiang Chen's explanation was quite detailed. Everyone sank into silence after they heard it. After mulling it over, the young lord's words made a lot of sense.
"I didn't expect you to have pondered the issue so deeply, young lord Zhen," mused Mo Wushuang. "If you're not planning to recruit a large group of wandering cultivators under your banner, I think it's doable. Otherwise, there'll be too much chaff mixed in with the wheat. It wouldn't be worth our while."
"It's ever been the case that a small elite group is superior to a large, undisciplined collective. It's better for soldiers to be trained than numerous, and generals sly than bold. Veluriyam Capital isn't so poorly off as to need a large group of wandering cultivators to embolden us. I simply felt that there are many promising men within their ranks. They have the possibility of a far brighter future ahead of them, but they are lost in the world and wasting away their youth. Their talents would be better used elsewhere."
Mo Wushuang looked very thoughtful. He thought back to everything that Jiang Chen had given him, kunpeng blood included, and found himself in complete agreement.
"Don't worry, young lord. This old man will use all of my reputation to find you a few useful comrades," he declared.
"If your reputation is on the line, they're sure to come," Jiang Chen smiled. "That's not what I want, though. I want the city to have something that attracts their attendance."
"From what you're saying, young lord Zhen," Emperor Void suddenly piped up. "You want to enhance the grandness of the festivities?"
"Yes, the grander the better. If we can draw out a few antiquated hermits from their hiding places, so much the better. We want to make the best show of it that we can!"
"Yes. The more jubilant the affair, the greater the influence. Just as you said, young lord Zhen, Veluriyam Capital matches up evenly against Pillfire City in essentially every way imaginable, but the latter has focused on extending their influence. Meanwhile, we've been too demure about it as a whole. My guess is that you're using this meeting as a springboard to promote Veluriyam to the world at large," laughed Emperor Coiling Dragon.
"Exactly so. Veluriyam Capital must gain in influence. It must expand its reach. People from all the world should flock to it out of natural attraction. The reason that Pillfire City is so bustling is because of all the events that occur there. They've built up a lot of goodwill and authority. The satellite cities around it at the moment have intrinsically recognized their dominance."
"If that's the case, then there's a necessity for holding this meeting after all."
"How do we attract wandering cultivators here, young lord Zhen? Dangle profit before them? We'd have to spend a king's ransom to draw them in from all over the world."
"Profit is perfectly fine," nodded Jiang Chen. "But it's not for everyone. Something that everyone has ends up being worthless."
He smiled in cool confidence as he went on. "I only need to offer three things to bring them in. Firstly, the Pinecrane Pill."
"What? The Pinecrane Pill?" Everyone was stunned at the young lord's generosity. Was he giving away such a precious pill for free?
"Young lord Zhen, I thought you said that it was rare beyond comparison? Is it alright for you to simply donate it away?"
"No, not at all," Jiang Chen shook his head. "I only need to announce that there will be an opportunity to purchase the Pinecrane Pill."
Purchase? His audience's eyes collectively lit up. The Pinecrane Pill was a true miracle pill. Even giants who've secreted themselves would be tempted from their hideaways. Once word got out about the pill's amazing effects, the entire world of cultivation would be up in arms. News of the Longevity Pill had astounded people everywhere, and a new and improved version of the same could only produce better results.
Mo Wushuang slapped his thigh. "Genius. I think that idea is sound. What else?"
"Second, we will offer enrollment in the pill dao academy. If we open some slots to wandering cultivators, do you think that it will garner their interest?"
There were blinks all around, then gleaming eyes one by one.
"That's beyond tempting, young lord Zhen. Your pill dao is legendary in the Upper Eight Regions. Your fame surpasses Pill King Ji Lang's to easily rival Emperor Pillzenith's own. Wandering cultivators have always lacked avenues to better themselves, if they receive a chance like this..."
"There will be a mad dash in our general direction for sure."
"Haha, I'm a little worried now. How will Veluriyam Capital host so many people?"
"What's your third benefit, young lord Zhen?"
"The third thing I can offer is in-person martial dao exposure. I will invite a mysterious expert from Myriad Abyss Island to lecture."
"What? An expert from Myriad Abyss Island?!"
"Are they… an empyrean expert, perchance?"
Jiang Chen smiled enigmatically. "I can't tell you what their cultivation level is. But I guarantee that their lecture will shock each and every cultivator from the human domain."
Emperor Petalpluck couldn't resist his curiosity. "Are you acquainted with mysterious experts from Myriad Abyss Island, young lord Zhen?"
"Truthfully," Jiang Chen chuckled, "I was taught by one in my youth. Where could my pill dao expertise come from otherwise?"
There was mass astonishment in all present. They'd heard rumors of his tutelage certainly, but no one had heard him admit it in person before. How could they resist their surprise?