Emperor Vastsea had lied low the past several days after his defection. He knew that it wouldn't be that easy to win forgiveness and acknowledgment from Veluriyam's other great emperors. He'd spent his recent days in unease and misery. The other great emperors of the city were either knowingly or unknowingly, distancing themselves from him. It was as if he was infected with some infectious disease.
It wasn't the others fault, though. Almost all of the blame could be assigned to his past self. His current situation made him feel uneasy about the young lord's request to see him. Is young lord Zhen looking to criticize me? Is he reneging on our agreement?
Jiang Chen arrived in the middle of one of his conflicted deliberations.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Vastsea." Jiang Chen was the image of politeness.
"Oh, not at all. I wasn't busy or anything. If young lord Zhen wants to see me, waiting a few moments is nothing." Emperor Vastsea adopted a very humble position.
"There's no need for such excessive courtesy, Vastsea," Jiang Chen waved a hand. "I said already that I'm looking for actual actions rather than groveling. It's to be expected that everyone isn't going to accept you so quickly back into the fold. Don't think too much about it. Instead, make some substantial contributions. As long as you speak with your actions and properly atone, you'll eventually become a respected great emperor of the city once more."
"Yes, yes." Emperor Vastsea had spent much of his efforts prior upon buttering up to Emperor Shura. Now in new circumstances, he didn't have any ideas about how to contribute.
"Don't worry. This isn't something that can be rushed. Question: when Shura departed from Veluriyam Capital, did he bring all his wealth to Pillfire City?" Jiang Chen cut to the chase straightaway.
Emperor Vastsea was rather embarrassed. "Both his and mine are at Pillfire City, yes. When we left the city, Emperor Pillzenith forced us to leave our belongings behind under pretense of 'safekeeping'. In actuality, he was probably preparing for our indefinite absence."
Jiang Chen was greatly dismayed when he heard the expected conclusion. "I knew that old bastard would embezzle it all. How absurd Emperor Shura's actions were! He hoarded wealth all his life, but that old bastard Pillzenith was the one to benefit!"
Emperor Vastsea didn't know how to respond. He hadn't played a pleasant part in the matter, so he didn't have a right to complain. Now that the assets were in Emperor Pillzenith's hands, it wasn't going to be easy to force him to cough it up.
Seeing the young man gnash his teeth, the emperor suddenly added, "Young lord Zhen, I doubt Emperor Pillzenith will be able to get into Shura's things."
"Emperor Shura realized towards the end that it was hard for him to maintain any prominence in Pillfire City. Emperor Pillzenith didn't seem to care about him much. Because of this, he took the preventative measure of placing his Shura Bloodcurse upon his storage ring. If he wasn't able to return, the Bloodcurse would serve as an unbreakable seal. If Emperor Pillzenith was to recklessly open up the storage ring, he would be irrevocably cursed."
"Oh?" This development soothed Jiang Chen's emotions over somewhat. The wealth hadn't returned to Veluriyam Capital yet, but Pillfire City couldn't use it either.
"What about your own possessions?"
"Mine… I don't know any such curses, so I put my things inside Shura's storage ring. Ah…" Emperor Vastsea had been living a pretty frugal lifestyle as of late. He hadn't brought back any of his wealth and his original subordinates had all but deserted him. Though he was still a great emperor in name, he had no followers.
"Young lord Zhen." A resolute light shone from the emperor's eyes. "I've decided. My crimes yet weigh down on me. It's hard for me to make my way alone here in Veluriyam Capital. I think it almost impossible for me to return to my former status. Therefore, I'd like to join up with you, young lord Zhen. I'll serve you just like Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers. You can count on me to be your champion… or I suppose guard isn't bad, either."
"Hmm? Why the change of mind?" Jiang Chen blinked.
"I've thought it through. Even someone like Emperor Peerless is willing to follow you. The Jiao brothers have been with you only a few days, yet their loyalty is as strong as steel. And someone as ambitious as Shura… he was arguably quite competent, but lost every match with you. All these things show the genius behind your leadership, young lord Zhen. Following you all but assures a bright future." Emperor Vastsea was extremely serious. His speech was the result of careful consideration.
"If you're set on it," Jiang Chen smiled faintly, "then I don't mind. A word of advance warning, though: if you ever become half-hearted or duplicitous, I'll be able to see that over time. I advise you not to cut your last path of escape off. I've given you a chance already, and I won't give a second."
"Young lord Zhen," Emperor Vastsea swore hurriedly, "if I change my mind henceforth, let heaven and earth destroy me, and let the five thunders annihilate my form."
"Alright. Come with me, then. I've been pretty short on manpower recently, and someone has to do the dirty work."
"Yes, young lord. Come hell or high water, I shall do as you command!" There was undeniable joy upon Emperor Vastsea's face. He knew that young lord Zhen had finally accepted him.
Three days of trading having concluded, Jiang Chen returned to his residence. During this time, Palace Head Dan Chi and Elder Yun Nie had been almost inseparable. As the former's understanding of past events deepened, so too did his fascination with Jiang Chen's achievements.
At the young lord residence proper, Jiang Chen suddenly remembered something and went to find Palace Head Dan Chi and Elder Yun Nie.
"I've been too busy these past few days, my friends. I almost forgot to something." Smiling, Jiang Chen retrieved five cauldrons from his storage ring one by one. These five cauldrons were part of Regal Pill Palace's heritage: its five strongest legacy treasures.
Back in the Great Scarlet Mid Region, Jiang Chen had chanced upon four of the cauldrons at an auction. He'd purchased them with Wei Xing'er's assistance. His winning bid at the time was thirty-five million saint spirit stones. Jiang Chen had given his helper fifty million in return.
The sight of the five treasure cauldrons surprised both Palace Head Dan Chi and Elder Yun Nie. The two men widened their eyes, gazing upon the cauldrons in sheer disbelief. Many years ago, Palace Head Dan Chi had passed the Skyweave Cauldron onto Jiang Chen.
After the Myriad Domain's invasion and Regal Pill Palace's destruction, the other four fell into the hands of the Great Scarlet Mid Region, whence they eventually found themselves at an auction house. Palace Head Dan Chi and Elder Yun Nie had thought the other cauldrons lost to the four winds. It was a truly welcome surprise that Jiang Chen was able to produce them so readily today.
"This… young lord Zhen, where did you get them?" Elder Yun Nie was the picture of astonishment.
"I passed by Great Scarlet Mid Region once, and came upon an auction there. They were auctioning off four of the five cauldrons. I spent fifty million saint spirit stones to wrest them from their unlawful owners so that I could unify them with the Skyweave Cauldron I have. Regal Pill Palace's treasures should not be so easily lost."
"Jiang Chen, Jiang Chen..." Palace Head Dan Chi couldn't stop himself from sighing. "The Palace owes you a great deal and more."
"Hardly so, Palace Head. I too am one of the Palace's disciples. Doing this was part of my duty. Now that the five treasure cauldrons are together again, the time for Regal Pill Palace's resurgence is at hand. After recent events are over, let's discuss in more detail about how to retake the Myriad Domain!"
Palace Head Dan Chi slapped his thigh. "Perfect! I've dreamed day and night for years about this, but I didn't think that the day would come so quickly!"
"If Regal Pill Palace's resurrection is backed by young lord Zhen, its fortunes are sure to last a hundred million years!" Elder Yun Nie was excited as well.
After extensive buildup of anticipation, the high-profile auction was underway at last.
Jiang Chen set the auction hall up in a central area. Any guest interested in participating had to pay a princely sum as a security deposit. Those without security deposits had only the right to observe; they couldn't bid.
Everyone knew that the items at this auction were very high level. Several dozen sky rank treasures had been eliminated from the auction list, which only increased the hopes of the attendees. Therefore, every guest of at least reasonable status had paid the security deposit in order to participate.
Even Master Dong Ye of the Sublime Chord Temple and the elder from the Empyrean River Palace shamelessly threw their chips in. Jiang Chen wasn't about to stop them. He'd allowed their presence in the first place, and he had more than enough courtesy to spare for such an unimportant gesture.
"Everyone, I have an announcement. To ensure the justice and fairness of this auction, I've decided to oversee the proceedings and the hammer personally. There will be no cheating involved." Jiang Chen declared to an attentive audience.
"Hold on!" Someone called out suddenly. It was the Heavenly Dragon Sect's Long Baxiang. "Young lord Zhen," he chortled, "so you're serving as the auctioneer, eh? I suppose that's a good thing. But if someone from Sacred Peafowl Mountain decides to make a bid… heh, no one would notice if you were to tap that hammer slightly faster."
"Who told you Sacred Peafowl Mountain was going to make any bids today?" Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
"Oh? You're not participating?" Long Baxiang narrowed his eyes.
Jiang Chen ignored him altogether. "Gentlemen, I've chosen sixteen treasures from the wandering cultivators' possessions, adding one more to their ranks. The added item is Sacred Peafowl Mountain's very own Pinecrane Pill! There are seventeen items auctioned today in all. The Pinecrane Pill will be offered last. If you're interested, feel free to hold back those stones.
"Furthermore, no member of Sacred Peafowl Mountain will make a bid today. There is nothing to be concerned." Jiang Chen looked around in a circle. The wandering cultivators had some very nice items, but none of them particularly appealed to him.
"The first item up for auction is a single fingerless glove. I'm not sure where it originates from, but it is a sky rank treasure. If worn, it increases its wearer's attack and defense by thirty percent! It is most compatible with emperor realm experts. A great emperor will enjoy a diminished ten percent benefit instead. The starting price is sixty million saint spirit stones."
Everyone went mad at the sight of merely the first item. Was there something as amazing as that? Was the seller mentally impaired? Why wasn't he keeping something this good for himself?