Jiang Chen's gaze shifted from the wandering cultivator to the spirit herb lying in the jade box. The presence projected from this specimen was noticeably superior to the aura from the previous Heavencloud Ganoderma. Radiant light morphed around on it. It brimmed with energy, exuding a refreshing air that seemed to bestow a few more years of life by itself.
"Do you mind if I pick it up for a look?" Jiang Chen looked at the other again.
"But of course." The wandering cultivator was quite generous.
The young lord lifted the spirit herb without further ado and scrutinized it closely. With his eye for appraisal, it wasn't difficult to evaluate a mere stalk of spirit herb.
However, this specimen gave him an inexplicable feeling when in hand.
It was a Heavencloud Ganoderma without question, but there was something a bit off about it. The concentration of its energies indicated an age of six thousand years, but its appearance and various details made Jiang Chen feel that it was no more than a thousand.
This was extremely baffling, but a notion quickly flashed through the young lord's mind. Can it be… He looked meaningfully at the wandering cultivator.
"Friend, this is indeed a Heavencloud Ganoderma." Jiang Chen nodded without a flicker in expression. "Do you want to trade it to Sacred Peafowl Mountain, cosign it for auction, or just get an appraisal for it?"
The man smiled blandly. "I'd like for young lord Zhen to put a price on it."
"I already priced this spirit herb during yesterday's segment." Jiang Chen smiled back. "Would you like me to repeat myself?"
The man shook his head. "Mine is obviously superior in quality and appearance. Are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes, young lord?"
Jiang Chen chuckled and flicked another look at the Heavencloud Ganoderma. "Most people might be taken along for a ride, but I can tell that this one is only about a thousand years old. It's not much different from the one yesterday."
"How is that possible?!" The wandering cultivator lost his cool. "Mine's superior to the one yesterday in every way! Young lord Zhen, are you trying to keep the price down?"
"Sorry, but this is my judgment. If you think your Heavencloud Ganoderma is better than this, you can have someone else appraise it as well. But to me, it's just a thousand years old. No matter what other methods that've been used to make it appear otherwise, it's unrealistic to expect a six thousand year old price for a thousand year old specimen." Jiang Chen didn't spare any feelings with his response. He could tell that the wandering cultivator wasn't here to make a trade at all.
And indeed, the man sniffed derisively. "To think that the famous young lord Zhen only amounts to this much. Forget it, forget it. Let's just chalk it up to me being dumb and coming to the wrong place."
He packed up the jade box and left without another word to the young lord, muttering to himself as he did so. "There's as many experts at this wandering cultivator gathering as there are clouds in the sky. You might be blind to true value, but others won't be."
Jiang Chen snorted contemptuously and didn't stop the man from leaving. "Jiao Yun, keep an eye on him and see if he asks anyone else to appraise it. Tell me immediately if he does."
Jiao Yun nodded and tailed the cultivator after he was far off in the distance. Being a great emperor, it was simplicity itself for him to shadow someone.
Indeed, the man headed straight to the Sublime Chord Temple trading district after departing Jiang Chen's area. It looked like Master Dong Ye was his next target. When he saw this development, Jiao Yun about-faced and reported back to the young lord.
"Young lord Zhen, that dick went to the Sublime Chord Temple! It looks like he's going to ask Master Dong Ye the same thing."
Out of the seniors that Jiang Chen had invited to partake in the proceedings yesterday, the Buddhist master indeed had the best eye for treasure.
"Let's see what Master Dong Ye says first." Jiang Chen sounded quite detached. "I'm afraid this person hasn't come with good intentions. He probably wants to make trouble."
"So what if he does, young lord! We'll just throw him out!" The Jiao brothers were straight shooters and disliked wasting effort on talking.
"Heh heh, he'll make a big deal if he really is thrown out and slander the gathering. How can we let him do that? Let's see what he tries to pull first. Master Dong Ye cultivates the Warrior Buddha's Eye. He shouldn't be hoodwinked by these methods."
Although Jiang Chen cast a vote of confidence for the Buddhist master, he was inwardly skeptical. It wasn't just simply faking the vintage of the Heavencloud Ganoderma. The methods used were highly sophisticated, marking it as an uncommon forgery. If it wasn't for his abnormally keen eye and vast knowledge banks, he would've been hard pressed to note the problems.
Indeed, Master Dong Ye came rushing in with excitement not long after. The wandering cultivator was by his side.
"Young lord Zhen, this is a fantastic treasure, a wonderful treasure!" Master Dong Ye was taken over by enthusiasm. "Look at this Heavencloud Ganoderma. It's so perfect and not less than six thousand years! This kind of sky rank spirit herb is extremely rare! Come take a look!"
Jiang Chen didn't know whether to laugh or cry when he looked at the Buddhist master hopping up and down with joy. He looked meaningfully at the wandering cultivator, knowing that the fellow had purposefully not told the Buddhist master that there'd been a previous visit to the Sacred Peafowl Mountain trading district.
"Master Dong Ye, don't focus on the spirit herb just yet, think about this man's motive. You cultivate the Warrior Buddha's Eye. If you can see through to people's hearts, why don't you take a look at his?" Jiang Chen pointed at the wandering cultivator with a faint smile.
Master Dong Ye started. "What makes you say that, young lord?"
"Has he told you that he paid me a visit before going to you, and that I've already given him an appraisal?"
The Buddhist master blinked and shook his head. "No, he hasn't."
The wandering cultivator snorted scornfully. "If I'd said that, Master Dong Ye would've been prejudiced against me. So naturally I couldn't volunteer that. Young lord Zhen, your word alone doesn't represent anything, does it? Or do I have to give your appraisal result first when I visit any other place? You're not the leading authority in this field!"
"My my, don't you have a silver tongue." Jiang Chen smirked dismissively. "Master Dong Ye, do you really think that there's six thousand years to this spirit herb?"
"Is there not?" Master Dong Ye took another long look. "In my opinion, six thousand years is conservative estimate. Young lord Zhen, how old do you think it is?"
"I think it's only one thousand years old." Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
"One thousand?" Master Dong Ye jumped in shock and smiled ruefully. "Young lord Zhen, I too admire your skill, but an estimate of one thousand years is really too far off the mark. This specimen is obviously much better than the one yesterday."
"It seems that way, but only on a surface level. Master Dong Ye, this is why I advised a good look at this man's heart. He purposefully brought this spirit herb to sow dissension between the two of us so we'd fight and disrupt the order of this gathering. You are a mellow and kind individual, don't be taken in by him."
The master grew unhappy. "Young lord Zhen, let's not rush to conclusions. Even if you talk until the sun ceases to shine, that still doesn't make this Heavencloud Ganoderma less than a thousand years old. I would be so bold as to make a bet that if you invited everyone who knows spirit herbs to appraise this one, it would be older than a thousand years."
The Buddhist master had an ornery temper and had already been wavering between acceptance and rejection of the young lord to begin with. Given Jiang Chen's age, it wasn't very likely that the master would wholeheartedly submit to the young man.
It was obvious that this Heavencloud Ganoderma was more than a thousand years old! How would he possible believe the young lord? The young lord was patently lying through his teeth and insulting his Warrior Buddha's Eye!
"Please quell your anger, honored master." Jiang Chen's gaze was removed as he looked at the wandering cultivator. The latter had a half-smile on his face and was watching the proceedings with interest, as if wanting the show to grow bigger.
If that didn't tip Jiang Chen off to the fact that this was a troublemaker, then he'd be a real fool.
"Do you feel that your petty scheme has succeeded?" Jiang Chen tossed a jeering glance over.
"Young lord Zhen, you're the one holding the Dragon and Tiger Meet, so I can't do anything if you want to turn right into wrong. Your so-called objectivity yesterday was just a sham to trick honest people. This is your true self! You just want to depress the price with your insistence that my spirit herb is only a thousand years old. You might be able to get all the wandering cultivators in the world to buy your lies, but I won't fall for them!"
So it'd finally come. The fellow was showing his edge and true intentions.
With Master Dong Ye's temper, his eyes were wide with indignation at this point. "Young lord Zhen, if this really is your true character, then I was blind and a fool to have trusted you!"
The Buddhist master trained in his sect's vocal projection techniques, so his words exploded in the vicinity like a crack of thunder on a clear day.
They crashed onto Jiang Chen's heart with gravity. He abruptly realized that he'd underestimated this Buddhist master. Judging from the situation, Dong Ye was likely colluding with this wandering cultivator. Maybe it was even a meticulously laid out plot!
Thoughts flew rapidly through the young lord's mind as he assessed the most ideal way to deal with the matter. This bald donkey is a good actor. All was clear to him now. With some careful analysis, he realized that he'd been played from beginning to end by Master Dong Ye.
What was seemingly a stubborn and fiery temper was most likely an act, one that'd started the moment the Buddhist master had set foot on the stage.
Sublime Chord Temple isn't too far from Pillfire, and it's never had any relations with Veluriyam. It's only natural that they choose to stand with Pillfire. This bald donkey…
Jiang Chen was swiftly calming down after his initial anger. He knew that he'd underestimated Pillfire's resolve and activity.