Every tavern and inn in Veluriyam Capital surged in occupancy. The streets bustled with activity and business boomed. A few hundred thousand wandering cultivator experts made their ways into the city over the course of only a few days, making urban life a lot more lively. That number was only a fraction of the expected turnout. Estimates predicted that one to two million total would be present for the start of the festivities.
The world teemed with wandering cultivators of every stripe. One to two million was only a small portion of the greater whole. Most wandering cultivators wouldn't think of attending this kind of event. And yes, on a certain level, they didn't qualify.
Firstly, there was no point or possibility for lower level wandering cultivators to come. What would they even do once they were here? Anyone below sage realm would be too embarrassed to come to the Tiger and Dragon Meet.
Veluriyam Capital would be unwilling to admit anyone thick-skinned enough to show up, anyways. If they allowed it, over ten million would rush in as a conservative estimate.
The number of wandering cultivators residing in the environment around the city and the Upper Eight Regions was awfully large. For the most part, this simple preventative measure kept the situation in the city under control.
Time passed. Only three days remained until the Tiger and Dragon Meet was officially slated to begin.
"Congratulations, young lord. We've welcomed over twenty great emperor realm cultivators into our city. As for regular emperors, a preliminary count puts the number at a few thousand. They've come from all over the human domain. There are even a few from the far north."
The far north was Pillfire-controlled territory. If people were willing to come from that far, that meant the Tiger and Dragon Meet was a success.
"How many of the Upper Eight Regions' sects have come?" Jiang Chen inquired.
"After our last announcement, many factions and sects in the human domain have expressed their willingness to send teams of observers. Representatives from these five first rank sects have arrived: the Great Yu Skysword Sect, Celestial Cicada Court, Ninesuns Sky Sect, Heavenly Dragon Sect, and the Sublime Chord Temple. Groups from the remaining three have not yet reached our gates."
The Upper Eight Regions had eight first rank sects. The ones previously mentioned made up five. The remaining three were the Empyrean River Palace, the Eternal Celestial Palace, and the Moon God Sect.
In terms of martial strength, the Great Yu Skysword Sect, Ninesuns Sky Sect, and Heavenly Dragon Sect ranked the highest. Below them were Eternal Celestial Capital and the Sublime Chord Temple. The Celestial Cicada Court, Empyrean River Palace, and Moon God Sect were at the bottom.
But the difference between each sect wasn't pronounced enough to be notable. If one of the top three was forced to duke it out with one of the bottom three, any victory it won would be at a terrible loss. There was no overwhelming advantage to be had. Any disparity between first rank sects wasn't large enough to be crucial or consequential. That's why they could call each other equals.
Jiang Chen had invited every faction of the human domain to spectate his Tiger and Dragon Meet. This was a natural position he needed to adopt. His final goal was to unite the human domain, placing Veluriyam Capital at the helm.
He wasn't doing so out of personal ambition, but rather an imitation of history. If there hadn't been strong leadership during the great war in ancient times, the human race would've fallen without question. The efforts of said leaders at key moments had single-handedly saved humans from becoming slaves beneath the demon race's iron boots.
The human domain of today was a pile of loose sand. Factional warfare and conflict was everywhere and no one yielded to justice or authority. If the demonic invasion were to occur right now, there would be no resistance to it whatsoever. The human domain would be rapidly conquered and utterly crushed.
Jiang Chen wanted to tackle the arduous task of bringing the human race together. Human hearts were the most difficult things in the world to accurately gauge. Similarly, selfishness was the most dominant in human behavior.
Several conditions had to be in place before consolidation was possible.
One, a powerful, authoritative character had to appear. This person had to be able to overcome each and every rival and challenger that arose.
Two, the people needed to know what kind of trouble the human domain was about to face. There was no solution without exposing the crux of the matter. If mankind didn't have a sense of impending dread driving it forward, what else could compel a widespread suppression of selfishness?
Three, the person had to possess immense personal charisma. Strength alone could stamp out opposition for a time, but it would not inspire faith and trust. A leader that was both strong and charismatic was far more useful and decisive than a brutal despot.
This meeting for wandering cultivators was only Jiang Chen's first step. His long-term goal had to remain hidden and he could only get there step by careful step. Presently, his main objective was to gradually increase his influence. He didn't yet have enough to command obeisance from the world at large.
The Upper Eight Regions formed the core of the human domain. Here was the key to uniting the human race. As long as he could rally all eight of the regions under his banner, the middle and lower regions should be no problem whatsoever.
The Upper Eight Regions were currently controlled by several large factions, plus the eight first rank sects. Jiang Chen and Eternal Celestial Capital knew each other well. Given the enmity between them, it was unlikely that the sect would send a team of delegates.
The Ninesuns Sky Sect was Jiang Chen's number one enemy in the past, though it had eventually been replaced by Eternal Celestial Capital. Would it send some people? It was hard to say.
The Great Yu Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court were Veluriyam Capital's newfound allies. Their representatives hadn't actually left after attending the Vassal Meeting prior. The Han brothers and Su Huanzhen were still within the city.
The Empyrean River Palace, Heavenly Dragon Sect, and Sublime Chord Temple typically refrained from taking a stand between Pillfire City and Veluriyam Capital. The Empyrean River Palace was actually a little closer to Pillfire City. However, that wouldn't stop them from sending representatives here. The sect head was unlikely to appear, but that was perfectly fine.
The Heavenly Dragon Sect was a sect with an ancient heritage. Supposedly, it possessed the bloodline of ancient sky dragons. Among the first rank sects, its bloodline was the strongest.
They were probably the strongest among the eight in terms of raw strength. Even the Great Yu Skysword Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect paled a little compared to them.
The Sublime Chord Temple was a Buddhist sect, rarely inserting themselves into worldly conflicts. This didn't mean that they were free from desire; how could a first rank sect maintain its status if that were the case? It simply had divergent ideas and methods about cultivation.
The only sect Jiang Chen had no inkling about was the Moon God Sect. It displeased him that they hadn't yet received anyone from the sect. The young man frowned a little. There was no way the Moon God Sect didn't know he was Sir Shao from earlier. Was it going to excuse itself despite his favor of saving their Precious Tree?
Because the Moon God Sect neighbored Pillfire City, they couldn't openly support Veluriyam Capital. Still, an arbitrary representative would have sufficed to show their gratitude.
"Eternal Celestial Capital won't come, young lord. They've pretty much broken off with us entirely after the Longevity Pill fiasco. Its leader's departure from the Vassal Meeting signifies that they'd wanted to accomplish something by attending our event. I don't think they will have the face to come."
"Maybe not," Jiang Chen shook his head. "A first rank sect has no problem suffering a hit to superficial things. Even if they do not come, it won't be for that reason."
The only reason Eternal Celestial Capital wouldn't come would be its old enmity with Regal Pill Palace. There was a paper-thin layer of peace between all-out war. To a certain extent, the same was true for the Ninesuns Sky Sect. As they spoke, Xue Tong hurriedly rushed over. "Young lord, the Ninesuns Sky Sect has sent an emissary. He's waiting outside the young lord residence for an audience."
"The Ninesuns Sky Sect?" Jiang Chen was stunned. "They… sent someone?"
There was talk just now that the Ninesuns Sky Sect hadn't sent anyone. They certainly had great timing, but the Meet hadn't started yet. What did its emissary want?
Jiang Chen didn't quite understand. There was no need to be impolite about it, though. "Send him in."
The Ninesuns Sky Sect's representative was a high-ranking official of the sect, a twelfth-ranked inspector. It was the highest rank an inspector could have, an honor given only to those just below the sect head and the elders.
"Your name sounds constantly in our ears like thunder, young lord Zhen. I feel great joy that I am able to see you in person today. My name is Shangguan Yanqing, a rank twelve inspector from the Ninesuns Sky Sect. I'm very honored to meet your acquaintance." The inspector's words were quite humble. He showed no arrogance before Jiang Chen's face, instead opting to salute very respectfully to Veluriyam's young lord.
"A rank twelve inspector is both important and powerful. You count amongst the top five within the Ninesuns Sky Sect. It's I who is lacking in respect." Jiang Chen returned a sentence that contained an equal amount of pointless pleasantries.