The Upper Eight Regions was quite a bustling place these days. First, Veluriyam Capital announced the Tiger and Dragon Meet and invited all wandering cultivators in the world to attend. Not long after, Pillfire City announced that they were hosting a Pill-Martial Summit. All wandering cultivators were likewise invited to attend.
Pillfire City also boldly declared that their summit would feature every single one of the city's emperors as lecturers. Pillzenith included, they would be available to discuss pill and martial dao with the wandering cultivators of the world.
News of this caused a shockwave to ripple through the entire human domain. The contents itself were shocking enough. Though Pillfire City hosted events frequently-almost on a daily basis in fact, the grandness of this particular event marked a once-in-millennium experience. If every Pillfire emperor really was going to make an appearance, the experience would be unprecedentedly amazing.
It was tremendously joyous news for wandering cultivators all over the world. The overwhelming nature of the news aside, there was a more important signal being broadcast. Pillfire City's gesture was clearly aimed at Veluriyam Capital.
Veluriyam's Tiger and Dragon Meet was already on the horizon. Pillfire City jumping out now was intentional opposition. They were both core factions within the Upper Eight Regions. One dominated the south, one prevailed over the north. Their authorities combined could steer the direction of the entire human domain.
Though there had always been clandestine conflict between them, their geographical distance meant that all-out warfare hadn't really occurred before. This was definitely the first time they'd gone head to head like this.
A collision between two giants was sure to spark incredible heat. The usually peaceful Upper Eight Regions was feeling the initial stages of the tremendous ripples. Were the two great factions really going head-to-head?
The atmosphere in all eight regions became odd and another rumor began circulating feverishly.
Pillfire City was holding its event was because of its intense displeasure with Veluriyam Capital. Wandering cultivators everywhere were to refrain from attending the Tiger and Dragon Meet. The wandering cultivators that did would be blacklisted, forever banned from entering Pillfire City. They wouldn't be able to do any business with Pillfire.
There was no official verification from Pillfire, but the rumors had too much substance to ignore.
"Have you heard? The scale of Pillfire City's Pill-Martial Summit is unprecedented. Apparently they'll auction off a number of sky rank pills. The pills will be rarities that one usually wouldn't be able to buy with money, and Pillfire is offering such a valuable opportunity to wandering cultivators everywhere! This is a benefit that group's never seen before. Pillfire City's generosity is overwhelming."
"Given their rich history with pill dao, they're sure to have many excellent pills. The Pill-Martial Summit is something to look forward to."
"Too bad for Veluriyam Capital. They've made the announcement about their Meet already. I'm not sure how things will pan out for them now. They'll have a hard time trying to win a popularity contest with Pillfire City."
"That's right. Emperor Peafowl isn't around at the moment, so there's already a measurable gap between the two factions. Ah, I'd heard Veluriyam Capital's young lord Zhen to be a capable character. I was hoping to go meet him. But Pillfire's event shouldn't be missed."
"I think so, too. The Tiger and Dragon Meet will be botched, I'm sure. Maybe twenty percent will choose to attend their event over Pillfire City's. And even those would be doing so due to Emperor Peerless' reputation!"
"Young lord Zhen is too young. He hasn't thought many things through as much as he should have. The name 'Tiger and Dragon Meet' sounds quite impressive, but there's nothing particularly amazing about it. His exploits in recent years aside, the young lord's name alone isn't enough to compete with the whole of Pillfire City."
"Heh, Pillfire City's answering move is pretty vicious. The rug is being pulled out from Veluriyam Capital's feet. It's going to fall and die from that height."
"Maturity has its benefits. Emperor Pillzenith is pushing young lord Zhen off the edge of a cliff. The pitiful amount of fame he's accumulated is going to disappear into nothingness. He'll be the joke of the Upper Eight Regions." The sects, nobles, and various other factions were all discussing the same topic. Coincidentally, so were the wandering cultivators.
There was intense comparison between Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City. The majority felt that Pillfire City's counterattack was perfectly executed. They'd cut off any means of retreat for Veluriyam. Falling from a much greater height than initially was very painful.
After careful consideration, most wandering cultivators tended to concur. They thought that Pillfire City's Pill-Martial Summit would feature more desirables.
"I didn't think that Veluriyam Capital would lose its cool so quickly after Emperor Peafowl's fall. This would've never happened in the wise emperor's time."
"I agree. Emperor Peafowl was sophisticated and conservative. He knew of the huge gap between Pillfire City and Veluriyam Capital in terms of pill dao, so he avoided direct conflict. Young lord Zhen is too hot-headed and brash. He let the blood rush to his head and made this decision far too lightly. That's why Pillfire City was able to find his weakness so easily and win with a decisive stroke."
"Don't say that. Young lord Zhen's actions are always measured and strategic. Just think about everything he's done over the years. He's always had the last laugh in the end. Are you so sure that young lord Zhen doesn't have a follow-up plan? Are you sure that he'll just lie down and give up?"
Veluriyam Capital had its fair share of loyalists among wandering cultivators too. Young lord Zhen's name was well known among some circles. Because many wandering cultivators hated the stronger party by nature, they preferred to stand beside Veluriyam, the underdog.
The wandering cultivator world never lacked for contrarians. They had their own thoughts and harbored principles of justice in their hearts. The more Pillfire City attempted to use its clout and authority to edge out competitors, the more they were despised for it. Thus, this group unconsciously veered towards Veluriyam Capital, supporting and arguing on young lord Zhen and the city's behalf.
However, the lion's share of wandering cultivators was still biased toward Pillfire City. Most thought logically that Veluriyam Capital simply did not possess the capital to oppose it on even ground.
The support for the Pill-Martial Summit was overwhelming. The ratio of Veluriyam to Pillfire supporters was almost twenty-to-eighty. Less than twenty percent of wandering cultivators believed that Veluriyam Capital would ultimately prevail.
On the other hand, eighty percent confidently said that Pillfire City would crush its opponent thoroughly. This portion didn't actually like Pillfire City all that much. Rather, they'd made their judgment through rationality alone.
The two viewpoints between the wandering cultivators continued to ferment and collide. Unfortunately, the opinion that Veluriyam Capital would win was completely drowned out.
However, another piece of news a few days later crushed that sentiment.
At the Tiger and Dragon Meet, Veluriyam Capital would auction its own collection of rare and top-quality pills. The Pinecrane Pill would be included among said collection!
What was the Pinecrane Pill?
Veluriyam Capital gave the explanation that it was a pill that extended the lifespan an emperor realm cultivator or even great emperor for eight hundred to a thousand years. A true miracle drug, the pinnacle of sky rank pills! It was a pill that surpassed its fellows.
If news of the Pinecrane Pill had been rather limited before to private circles, this announcement verified what had been wild speculation. This legendary turn of events caused the wind to shift once more.
The Pinecrane Pill! It could lengthen the natural lifespans of emperors and great emperors? The mythical nature of the pill took the entire human domain by storm.
The news shocked both the wandering cultivator world and the world of cultivation at large. Without the presence of the Longevity Pill, the Pinecrane Pill would be branded a joke. But the Longevity Pill was excellent precedent and added to the truthiness to this claim. If something as wondrous as the Longevity Pill existed, why not the Pinecrane Pill, too?
More importantly, the Pinecrane Pill was backed by a giant of the wandering cultivator world. Almost every wandering cultivator knew that Emperor Peerless' cultivation partner, Madame Yun, had once been grievously injured. But she was perfectly fine now; not a trace remained of her life-threatening wounds. The main reason for her recovery was the Pinecrane Pill.
Emperor Coiling Dragon was another example of the pill in action. When he was still the lord of the Coiling Dragon Clan, his mortal life had almost reached its natural end. His death sentence was exonerated by the Pinecrane Pill, granting him renewed vigor that allowed him to break through to great emperor.
There was plenty of substantiated evidence around the Pinecrane Pill, both circumstantial and anecdotal. Those who had their own channels of information independently verified that the Pinecrane Pill did indeed exist.
News of this pill spread across the wandering cultivator world like wildfire. Verified news had significantly more force than idle gossip. It took only a few days for astonishing accounts of the pill's marvels to spread to every corner of the world.
"First the Longevity Pill, now the Pinecrane Pill. This is simply too amazing! Veluriyam Capital has managed some truly unbelievable things. Everyone's underestimated young lord Zhen after all. And that's just what I thought! Young lord Zhen isn't someone to stand around and be slaughtered. Pillfire City has done something ignoble with their gathering. If Veluriyam wants to hold a wandering cultivators' meeting, why hold a Pill-Martial Summit in retaliatory response? It's an open provocation!"
"That's right. Pillfire City has lost all honor. Any reprisal from Veluriyam Capital is completely understandable. Still, young lord Zhen's counterattack is certainly sharp. I think the tides are turning once more."