"Senior sectmaster, please reconsider!" the second sectmaster urged.
The senior sectmaster waved her hands dismissively. "The decision has been made. We'll discuss this again after the wandering cultivator gathering is over."
The crowd had no choice but to swallow their arguments. Holy Maiden Qingxuan was elated. The senior sectmaster's attitude had given her a little bit of hope.
Meanwhile, Pillfire City had also received news about the wandering cultivator gathering.
Emperor Pillzenith had just returned from Veluriyam Capital, still dazed by what had happened. He'd been filled with ambition when he first set off, but had been forced to run away with his tail between his legs and was even played for a fool in the end by a nonexistent formation.
It was a smudge on his clean record. He grew more and more frustrated as his thoughts lingered on the incident. Why hadn't he thought clearly back then? A sky rank formation? How could the brat possibly set up a sky rank formation in advance? He clearly wasn't clairvoyant!
What frustrated him the most was the fact that his love rival, Emperor Peerless, had joined Sacred Peafowl Mountain.
"Shura, this is your mess. You better clean it up!" Emperor Pillzenith's pent up rage came bursting out when he set eyes Emperor Shura's face.
Failing to usurp the throne, Emperor Shura naturally had no choice but to defect to Emperor Pillzenith's side. The latter had gained a powerful pawn, but there was no lack of powerful beings in Pillfire City.
Emperor Pillzenith only valued Emperor Shura because of his strategic significance in Veluriyam Capital. Shura was a lot less useful if he wasn't in the capital. After all, Emperor Pillzenith's goal was to gain control over Veluriyam Capital through him. The former was extremely annoyed that this plan had been thwarted at the very last moment.
Emperor Shura was dejected. He grit his teeth. "Emperor Pillzenith, in my opinion, the dust in Veluriyam Capital hasn't completely settled yet. We can either give up, or we can double down and assert control through a show of force. Utilizing your fame, we can assemble a group of heroes and march to the capital to assert our dominance!"
Emperor Pillzenith snorted coldly. "You make it sound so easy! How am I supposed to justify those actions?"
The entire human domain would be horrified if he ignored the vast distance between the two factions and led an army there to interfere with Veluriyam Capital's internal affairs. There was simply no viable way to justify this open act of hostility.
If they were allowed to interfere with Veluriyam's politics, who was to say that they wouldn't interfere with another faction some other day? So while Emperor Shura's suggestion might seem perfect, it wasn't viable at all.
"Ji Lang, your nemesis young lord Zhen has achieved so much at such a young age. What's your opinion on this?" Emperor Pillzenith suddenly shifted his gaze. The person who hated Jiang Chen the most might not, in fact, be Emperor Shura. Pill King Ji Lang could very well claim the spot.
"Honored master, that brat is definitely an anomaly. Even someone as great as Emperor Shura was completely helpless against him. We mustn't view him as a young lord anymore. Instead, we should judge him with the same criteria as great emperors like Emperor Peafowl."
Pill King Ji Lang was a genius at retaining face. He'd lost to Jiang Chen twice and hated the young lord to the bone, but he had no qualms with putting the young lord on a pedestal just so that his defeats wouldn't seem too humiliating.
"Pill King Ji Lang is right. That brat is a monster. Emperor Pillzenith, we must eliminate him before he matures. Otherwise, he'll surely threaten your position and maybe even our city's position one day," one of Emperor Pillzenith's most trusted aides advised. He was similar in rank to Cloudsoar Monarch and also a peak level emperor. His name was Baili Shengzhi, Emperor Pillzenith's most trusted strategist.
"Baili, what's your recommended course of action?" Emperor Pillzenith valued his strategist's opinions greatly.
The latter hummed deeply as he pondered. "We can't engage in open hostility against Veluriyam Capital unless we can justify the mobility of our troops. The capital has a good reputation and young lord Zhen is growing more famous with each passing day. We'd be denounced as invaders if we march there. We can't afford to make this mistake."
Emperor Pillzenith nodded. Baili Shengzhi's words were in line with his worries. There were other dominant factions in the Upper Eight Regions as well. If Pillfire City caused a public outcry, these factions might retaliate in kind. The city was mighty, but not even the mightiest could withstand an all out attack from the entire Upper Eight Regions. The strong often had enemies operating within the shadows. They'd lie prone, waiting for an opportune moment to pounce.
"We can't attack in the open, but we can try some things from the shadow."
"Oh?" Emperor Pillzenith's eyes lightened up. "Do go on."
"Young lord Zhen's recent success must've inflated his ego. Why else would he host a wandering cultivator gathering? After tasting the sweet nectar, he must think that every wandering cultivator is as easy to recruit as Emperor Peerless."
"Mo Wushuang that idiot! First he acts all high and mighty, and then he willingly joins Sacred Peafowl Mountain to be their loyal dog. What a disgrace!" Emperor Pillzenith scolded mercilessly.
"Your Majesty, young lord Zhen will definitely become a laughing stock if he truly believes that wandering cultivators are so easy to recruit. This subordinate thinks that we can launch a two pronged attack."
"How do you propose we do that?"
"We can host a similar event and invite the titans of the wandering cultivator world. We'll offer great incentives to sweeten the deal, but we'll also have to be firm like an iron fist in a velvet glove. We'll let them taste the sweet nectar and then show them our might. Our target will be the wandering cultivators that are active around the northern region of the Upper Eight Regions. We need to emphasize that we'll become enemies if they show up at Veluriyam Capital."
Emperor Pillzenith frowned. "Surely such candid statements will not be well-received?"
Baili Shengzhi laughed. "There's no doubt. But we can always use someone else to say them! We'll hire a few wandering cultivators that are trustworthy and let them disseminate the news. Nobody can intervene as long as we don't admit to these statements."
Emperor Pillzenith pondered for a moment. "Hmm. It's worth a try. Upstaging Veluriyam Capital with a similar event seems like a good plan. However, you mentioned a two pronged attack. What else must we do?"
"We can also employ some schemes. We'll hire a few henchmen to stir up trouble in Veluriyam Capital and get them to cause some destruction at the event. It'll be a huge loss of face for both the capital and young lord Zhen." Baili Shengzhi had formulated a closely reasoned and well-argued plan. Emperor Pillzenith's pulse quickened with excitement.
"Excellent! Baili, I'm very pleased with your plans!" The great emperor burst into a hearty laughter. "Now, let's come up with a way to upstage Veluriyam Capital!"
Baili Shengzhi smiled. "Our city has always been more attractive than Veluriyam Capital. Even though we're one step behind at the moment, our city's heritage and your reputation should give us an edge in attracting these titans of the wandering cultivator world."
Veluriyam Capital had only just released the initial announcement without mentioning Jiang Chen's three benefits. Thus, Pillfire was unaware of Veluriyam's determination to host this event. Emperor Pillzenith would've been fraught with anxiety if he'd known otherwise.
Jiang Chen had chosen not to release all information in one go simply because he wanted to "Baili, I'll put you in charge of this. You have to make this event as sensational and unique as you possibly can. We need to take the limelight away from Veluriyam Capital!" Emperor Pillzenith was going all out
"This subordinate understands." Baili Shengzhi bowed to accept his orders.
"Ji Lang, assist Baili in this matter. Also, you'd best reflect on why young lord Zhen was able to defeat you and eclipse you in every single discipline. I'll be very disappointed in you if you've learned nothing from all of your failures.
This was an enormous blow to Pill King Ji Lang. After losing so many times in a row, Emperor Pillzenith had begun to doubt the pill king's abilities. He'd been fond of Pill King Ji Lang in the beginning because the pill king had seemed to possess even more talent in pill dao than the great emperor when he was young. His talent in martial dao was also comparable as well. A young genius like him was definitely a suitable candidate to inherit his legacy if nurtured well.
However, Pill King Ji Lang's two consecutive losses against young lord Zhen had caused a sliver of doubt to grow within Emperor Pillzenith's heart.
Pill King Ji Lang cursed inwardly while remaining respectful on the surface. "Honored master, your disciple will definitely learn from the humiliation."
Emperor Shura stepped forward. "My liege, this subordinate has yet to prove himself to your faction. Is there a way for us to contribute?"
"My liege, please give us an order. Brother Shura and I wish to prove our loyalty." Emperor Vastsea quickly piped in.
"Hmph! If you wish to prove your loyalty then get rid of young lord Zhen! That's the best way to prove your loyalty!" Emperor Pillzenith hectored angrily.