The experiences from Jiang Chen's past life meant that he had an excellent eye for people. The Jiao brothers' lukewarm attitudes gave away their lack of agreement with Mo Wushuang's words. The young man was perfectly fine with this. He knew that wandering great emperors tended to be wild and untamed. The Jiao brothers had only joined up with Sacred Peafowl Mountain out of necessity.
They needed to be more substantially convinced of Sacred Peafowl Mountain's greatness, of his own competence and skill as young lord. Only then would he truly win their allegiance.
Tapping a finger against a nearby pine branch, Jiang Chen looked at the Jiao brothers with casual nonchalance. "Gentlemen, when you fought three to nine, your companion died in that battle. Did you consider that if you were just a tiny bit stronger, perhaps you would've easily escaped from those numbers?"
The Jiao brothers blinked, unsure why young lord Zhen was suddenly saying something like this.
Jiang Chen ignored their reaction, carrying on with a question. "Old Brother Mo, do you think things would've been different if, say, either Emperor Everviolet or Sabledeep had taken their place instead?"
Mo Wushuang pondered a moment before responding. "Hard to say. Emperors Everviolet and Sabledeep are some of the best of the best. If they were set on making a break for it, they'd have a small chance even if they fighting against nine others."
"A small chance." Jiang Chen nodded. "You're right. The world of martial dao can be a cruel place. A small difference in strength can mean the difference between life and death. If Emperor Shura had been a bit stronger, he could've escaped even with both you and Emperor Wellspring on his tail. It's a matter of cultivation level in the end."
Emperor Peerless deeply agreed with this statement. "That's correct," he nodded. "A hair's breadth can turn out to be a world of difference."
Jiang Chen concurred. "I saw what went on during that fight pretty closely. From that, I think I've noticed a few issues you may want to address."
"Issues?" The Jiao brothers blinked in unison.
"Yes, issues with both of your comprehension of martial dao." Jiang Chen smiled faintly. "You two have cultivated a martial technique designed to be used in tandem with each other. However, cultivation-related reasons have led to your inability to perfectly harmonize your strikes. This has affected your battle strength when fighting together, yes?"
The brothers were bewildered. They couldn't believe what they'd just heard. Did young lord Zhen have eyes that sharp? They did have a martial technique designed to be used in unison, but certain problems meant that they couldn't hone it to the peak of its potential. Because of this, they couldn't unleash maximum power in practical situations.
If the technique could be cultivated to its highest mastery, their offensive and defensive strengths would be amplified by a great deal. They could've fought their collective ways out then. This secret between the two of them was entirely unknown to the outside world.
Yet, Jiang Chen had pointed it out at a glance. The duo looked at the young man with doubt and distress.
"Young lord Zhen, if you'll excuse me saying this," Jiao Yun couldn't help but protest. "We're pretty ordinary among our peers, but we are still great emperors at the end of the day. You're definitely a martial dao genius, but you're also very young. Were you really able to understand everything you saw in that battle?"
Jiao Feng provided tacit agreement through inclining his head. The brothers had fought countless experts, but none of their opponents had ever been able to see the crux of their problem. The possibility that young lord Zhen surpassed all of their former foes was incredible. Or was it just a lucky guess?
As if he knew what they were thinking, Jiang Chen smiled serenely. "That fight back there looked hectic, but there was nothing complicated about it. I saw and understood all of it. You had three chances to escape, but you were always one step short in the end. Once, you were forced back by Emperor Inferno. Another time, intimidated by Emperor Reliance's arrows. And the last time, hemmed in by Ye Jianlei's powerful sword aura. You had a sixty-to-seventy percent chance at getting away in the final case, but you were too scared of losing. I can sympathize. Losing often means instant death, after all, but that's what stopped you."
Boom. The Jiao brothers felt their minds reel in disbelief. The youth's acumen was too piercing to take in. It was as the young lord before them had said. They did, indeed, have three chances to escape, all three of which they let slip away.
Ye Jianlei's sword aura had presented the best window of opportunity. Unfortunately, they hadn't managed to grasp it at all, instead being forced into a dead end. Jiang Chen's pointing out of the fight's intricacies shook the Jiao brothers to the core. They finally realized that Sacred Peafowl Mountain's current young lord was much more astute than they'd given him credit for.
He really had understood their fight earlier. He could recount and analyze every little step. It was impossible to do that without extraordinary perceptiveness. For the Jiao brothers, this only added another layer of awe to the young lord's person. They were beginning to comprehend why he had become Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord despite his inexperience. Veluriyam Capital's young lord, even! He seemed to have real talent.
Such keenness of sight from a young genius alone was quite marvellous.
There was nothing easy about reading a brawl between great emperors. One-on-one duels were a lot more apparent in their flows. Which party was weaker, which party was stronger, where the dangers and flaws appeared, et cetera… all of this and more was reasonably transparent to an adroit observer.
In a brawl, it was very difficult to keep a single pair of eyes trained on so many people and details. But young lord Zhen had pulled it off with tremendous aplomb. Slowly, very slowly, the Jiao brothers let go of their pride. They were forced to admit that young lord Zhen's martial dao knowledge was expansive beyond compare.
In truth, Mo Wushuang was as surprised as they were. He'd been occupied with Emperor Shura at the time and had missed the fight. Still, the Jiao brothers' expressions told him that young lord Zhen more than likely had a point. Their reactions wouldn't have been so exaggerated otherwise.
However, Jiang Chen went on as if he hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary. "If your tandem technique had been just a bit stronger in that battle, you would have certainly been able to break through Ye Jianlei's defense and flee. Well, have a sixtyish percent chance at least."
With a flourish of his sleeve, he sent a few pieces of paper airborne. They fluttered down to the Jiao brothers. The brothers took them almost reflexively. A single glance was enough to blanch their faces.
The papers delineated each and every crucial moment in their fight in excruciating detail. The descriptions were vivid and straightforward. Moreover, one of the sheets showed them what would've happened if their technique had functioned at its theoretical full power instead. The conjecture that Jiang Chen had written was watertight.
The brothers were positively incredulous by the final sheet, their bodies trembling in trepidation. Their expressions transitioned from shock to joy, then admiration and gratitude. Gratefulness flashed in the brothers' eyes. "Did you pull an all-nighter for this, young lord Zhen?"
"I had a bit of time last night. A few idle thoughts about what had taken place during the day, if you will."
The brothers looked at each other, blatant admiration brimming in their eyes. "Idle thoughts… just a few idle thoughts, eh. But you've seen right through what we couldn't in many, many decades. Are you teaching us through these words, young lord?" Jiao Yun murmured.
Jiang Chen's expression was mild. "You're great emperors. I'm only first level emperor realm. You can hardly call that 'teaching'. Even a wise man sometimes makes mistakes, just as a fool sometimes blunders upon wisdom. A mere flash of inspiration, I assure you."
The Jiao brothers were quiet a long while. Suddenly, they took a simultaneous kneel. "Young lord Zhen, we were fools not to recognize Mt. Tai. News of your genius have spread far and wide, and we were idiotic not to believe them. There is often a kernel of truth buried in rumor, and in your case, I think it encompasses the entire grain."
"You've fully won our respect this time."
"Please excuse our earlier rudeness, young lord Zhen. We shudder to think of the extent we misrepresented you. Everyone knows that your pill dao genius is unrivaled, but we can see now that your genius extends to your martial dao as well. Having so much understanding of martial dao at such a young age… that's absolutely astounding."
Like most wandering cultivators, the Jiao brothers had plenty of pride and dignity. Even though the situation at the time had compelled them to join Sacred Peafowl Mountain, they hadn't really wholeheartedly submitted to its authority. But that was no longer true now.
A few thin sheets of paper outlined the key to their life's cultivation. Furthermore, it clarified complexities which had formerly perplexed them.
"We've always thought our technique was perfect, young lord Zhen. We didn't realize that the manuscript we were cultivating from was incomplete."
"If it wasn't incomplete, your unified technique would be many times more potent, no?" Jiang Chen smiled patiently. He had read virtually every book in the heavenly planes. In his eyes, the strongest techniques of the mortal planes were absolute simplicity. The barest amount of simulation was enough to find and fill in their flaws.
But what was easy for him was a once-in-lifetime opportunity for the Jiao brothers. It opened a brand-new door on their path of cultivation. Henceforth, they entered new, much broadened horizons. How could this not utterly satisfy the brothers?