Master Dong Ye was a stubborn man who spoke whatever was on his mind.
"Young lord Zhen, I can't identify that jade token, so I have no room to argue with you on that matter. However, I really think that the Heavencloud Ganoderma is unfit to be classified as supreme rank. It's only a high-quality sky rank herb. You've already classified multiple sky rank herbs as top rank, no? Why is the Heavencloud Ganoderma above its peers?"
The Ganoderma was indeed a sky rank herb. Su Huanzhen also knew that because she recognized it. Neither Han Qianzhan nor Emperor Wellspring could contend on Jiang Chen's behalf. It would be unfair to give that herb preferential treatment. What purpose did young lord Zhen have for doing so in the first place, though? Did he have something else in mind?
Jiang Chen was immensely relaxed. He examined the Ganoderma over with a patient eye, sighing. "This Heavencloud Ganoderma should be between a thousand to a thousand two hundred years old. It's been picked it a bit early, alas. A three-thousand-year specimen would be five to ten times more valuable."
"Haha, some of the other sky rank herbs are a thousand five hundred years old or more. If the Ganoderma isn't even a thousand two hundred, why do you prize it so highly, young lord Zhen?" Master Dong Ye was still perplexed.
"If the Ganoderma's medicinal effects were evaluated alone, it would indeed be a mere sky rank herb." Jiang Chen laughed. "Perhaps you don't know of one of its more unique properties, Master Dong Ye?"
The master was stunned, then shook his head instinctively. He was good at identifying treasures, but he didn't know about the unique properties of spirit herbs. He wasn't willing to cede the point just yet though. "Please, go ahead."
Smiling, Jiang Chen continued. "The pill dao world contains tremendous variety. You are all amongst Divine Abyss Continent's best experts. I'm sure you're no stranger to pills such as the Origin Doubling Pill and the Sage Smile Pill?"
Master Dong Ye was impassive. "The Origin Doubling Pill is a pill for origin realm cultivators. The Sage Smile Pill is a bit better, but it's designed for sage realm experts, yes? There's nothing particularly remarkable about that. Plus, the main material for the Sage Smile Pill is the Celestial Grass. I heard that you managed to get your hands on a large batch of the Grass, so you must have plenty of the pills now as well. What does that have to do with the Heavencloud Ganoderma, though?"
The others were just as bewildered as he was.
Jiang Chen grinned. "That's right, there's no relation between the Ganoderma and the Sage Smile Pill. But we have the Origin Doubling Pill and Sage Smile Pill for origin and sage realm respectively. What about emperor realm? Can't we have a similar pill that unconditionally helps a cultivator increase a level in the emperor realm?"
Emperor realm? Mass bafflement rippled through the crowd. The only pills that were known to do that were the Sage Smile Pill and the Origin Doubling Pill.
Furthermore, the former was difficult to find. One of its main materials, Celestial Grass, was itself a sky rank spirit herb. Because it could be refined into the Sage Smile Pill, it was both scarce and valuable.
Back then, a single specimen from Liu Zhen was enough to cause a frenzied auction. Jiang Chen only knew later that there was a sizable clump of the herb later on; Liu Zhen and his father Jiang Feng had discovered it together.
The Celestial Grass had allowed Jiang Chen to refine a ton of Sage Smile Pills, which proved very useful in substantially increasing Sacred Peafowl Mountain's strength.
"Young lord Zhen… can the Heavencloud Ganoderma be used to refine a pill that unconditionally increases the level of an emperor realm cultivator?" Emperor Wellspring was as surprised as everyone else.
Every level in the world of martial dao was stupendously difficult. Especially in emperor realm, a fast rate of progress was considered ten to twenty years, while a slow one, anywhere from one to several centuries.
If one could gain a level unconditionally, there would be tremendous savings in both time and energy. Additionally, if pills of this nature had nonexistent side effects, that destined it to be a hot commodity.
Unfortunately, the highest realm that one could advance unconditionally with a pill in was sage realm. That was public knowledge. Nobody had heard of emperor realm cultivators being able to do the same.
Han Qianzhan was overjoyed. "Young lord Zhen, does this world really have a pill that does that for emperor realm experts?"
"Of course," Jiang Chen smiled. "There are many marvels in the world of martial dao. It's not too far fetched a concept, is it, To have a pill that unconditionally enhances an emperor realm cultivator once as well?"
Everyone was shocked. 'Not too far fetched a concept'? No one present had any experience with anything remotely similar! Did a pill like that really exist within the human domain?
"Pillfire City has let word out that they have a recipe for this kind of pill," Master Dong Ye mused.
"As for whether they really do or not, they didn't admit to much either way. Still, some think it to be rather plausible."
"Pillfire City likes to tantalize others. That's certainly something in their form to do," Jiang Chen chuckled. "However, the Heavencloud Ganoderma has nothing to do with that kind of pill."
Nothing to do with that kind of pill?
Why would he mention all this if it was irrelevant?
There was dejected expressions all around. The crowd thought that they'd just heard an explosive piece of pill dao hearsay. Was there nothing of the sort after all?
"If the Heavencloud Ganoderma can't be refined into a pill that enhances emperor realm experts, what value does it hold?" Master Dong Ye doggedly stuck to his previous point of contention.
"The Heavencloud Ganoderma can't be refined into that kind of pill. In fact, it would be a waste to. The pill it belongs to is designed for great emperor experts. It will raise the level of someone like that by one."
Raise the level of a great emperor? The gathered crowd could scarcely believe what it was hearing. Great emperor experts weren't divided into nine levels. Was young lord Zhen dreaming?
A helpless smile played at the corner of Master Dong Ye's mouth. He shook his head, displeased by Jiang Chen's long-winded sophistry. But as an ascetic, he wasn't exactly in a position to break out in curses.
Jiang Chen was relatively bland with his gaze. "Great emperors aren't separated into nine levels, but they have their own stages, correct?"
"That's so." Emperor Wellspring nodded. "We have these unwritten stages: half-step great emperor, initial emperor, mid great emperor realm, advanced great emperor, supreme great emperor, and peak great emperor."
"Sounds like six in total." Jiang Chen smiled once more. "Emperor Wellspring, you should be supreme great emperor, yes? Close to peak great emperor? How long did you take to get from initial to mid great emperor, may I ask?"
The emperor pondered the question a moment. "If I recall correctly, a hundred eighty years in total."
"Excuse the intrusion, Sect Head Han. What about you?" Jiang Chen turned to the other man.
"I'm embarrassed to say I took about two hundred years too. With the benefit of the sect's various resources, to boot." Han Qianzhan was amused by the question. His current cultivation level was about the same as Emperor Wellspring's - between supreme and peak great emperor.
"Hehe, you're both real geniuses. It took me two hundred fifty years to take that step," lamented Su Huanzhen.
Master Dong Ye was genuinely a bit flustered. "Truly, all of you are the strongest of the strong. I only recently became mid great emperor realm. It took me almost four hundred years to get here."
This reflected upon the martial dao talents of everyone present. Master Dong Ye wasn't a great emperor expert fit to be the head of a sect. As such, there was some expectation for his cultivation talent to be lesser to everyone else's.
"There is a kind of pill," smiled Jiang Chen, "that allows an initial great emperor to advance to mid great emperor within three years. The chance of success? Over ninety percent. Would you consider that a free level in its own right, hmm?"
Though the youth had spoken his words very smoothly, they were still a thunderclap near his captive audience's ears. An initial great emperor, ascend mid great emperor within three years? Wasn't that… too… far-fetched?
"I'm not dreaming, am I, young lord Zhen?" Emperor Wellspring chuckled. "I haven't even heard of such a pill, much less seen one in person."
"Neither have I." Han Qianzhan shook his head in agreement.
"Are you sure it exists at all, young lord Zhen?" Su Huanzhen was taken aback a little as well.
"Before the Longevity Pill, no one believed that such a pill could exist at all. Before the Pinecrane Pill, no one believed that a pill could extend the lives of emperors or great emperors. Both existed, but had to be dug up from the past. In ancient times, pills like those and more certainly existed in the human domain… which, incidentally, proves that the pill I mentioned is true!"
Jiang Chen's tone was one of absolute certainty. His listeners found it hard to doubt him. The Pinecrane Pill alone was already a painful challenge to everyone's worldviews. There was nothing they could rebut him with if he used that as a talking point.
Much of Master Dong Ye's dissatisfaction dissipated. He was still doubtful, but he knew that he had no expertise to speak of regarding pills before Veluriyam's young lord.
Emperor Wellspring sharply inhaled. "Young lord Zhen, what is the pill called? Can you tell us its name, if it exists?"
"Emperor Supremacy Pill. Its name comes from the idea that the pill can help a great emperor to rise supreme above his current level."
"Emperor Supremacy Pill! An excellent name." Emperor Wellspring slapped his thigh. "I wouldn't believe these words if they came from anyone else. However, I have no choice but to believe when it comes to you!"
Han Qianzhan grinned. "I believe him as well. Young lord Zhen, do you understand how to refine the Emperor Supremacy Pill?"
"A bit of it, I suppose." Jiang Chen saw no reason to be humble.
A bit? Curiosity tugged on the audience's heartstrings. If the young lord was saying that, that likely meant he knew how to refine it very well. Rife speculation ran through the crowd and eyes darted to and fro with complexity.