The sect representatives implicitly understood Jiang Chen’s deliberate bias. In particular, the Empyrean River Palace didn’t receive a single chance to ask questions.
Sublime Chord Temple’s Master Dong Ye was equally out of luck. However, the Buddhist master didn’t look particularly interested in the opportunity in the first place. Instead, he tossed an occasional, inspecting look at Jiang Chen, as if he beheld a monster.
The three days’ worth of pill dao lectures incorporated a great deal of pill dao wisdom. In this way, Jiang Chen was able to both maintain interest and broaden his audience’s horizons.
Both the wandering cultivators and the faction delegates reaped substantial benefit. The pill dao prowess that Jiang Chen exhibited during the question and answer segment was especially impressive. It was difficult to deny that the young lord’s pill dao knowledge was almost encyclopedic.
After the pill dao lectures were concluded, it was time for one of the weightiest segments. It was one that carried a lot of anticipation and expectation behind it. A senior from Myriad Abyss Island was going to answer martial dao questions!
“I’m sure that the segment to come has been hotly anticipated. Tomorrow, a mysterious expert from Myriad Abyss Island will descend upon Sacred Peafowl Mountain. However, he has told me in advance that he will answer only seven questions. Only seven of you will be lucky enough to have a question answered. As with this time, one chance will be given to one of our guests, while the remaining six will be limited to wandering cultivators only. Only then can this Meet be called a wandering cultivator meet.
“Unfortunately, how exactly the chances should be handed out is a very thorny problem. Everyone knows that a senior from Myriad Abyss Island is sure to know much more about martial dao than us human domain cultivators. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who do we give these chances to? If we give them to ordinary cultivators, that seems a little bit wasteful. Questions that ordinary cultivators encounter can easily be answered by many of the emperors and great emperors present as well.
Jiang Chen paused here a moment before continuing. “Because of this, I’m conflicted about how I should hand out these opportunities. Why don’t I hear from some of you? There are cultivators of many levels here. Sage realm cultivators, emperor realm experts, and great emperor realm seniors. If we give all the chances to the great emperors, it’ll be unfair to the emperor and sage realm cultivators. If we give some to sage realm cultivators, emperor and great emperor friends won’t be happy about how simple their questions will end up being. Come, share your opinions with me on how to deal with this.”
It was a real dilemma.
“Emperor Wellspring, you are the most senior of the wandering cultivators here today. Why don’t you tell us what you think?” Jiang Chen glanced at the emperor in question.
Emperor Wellspring laughed. “To tell the truth, I’m as interested as the rest of you in conversing with the mysterious expert from Myriad Abyss Island. I can definitely understand where young lord Zhen is coming from. Still, I think that because of how incredibly rare this opportunity is, all of the chances should be left to the highest-level cultivators. It has always been an unspoken rule in the world of cultivation that the strong are entitled to precedence, and I’m sure everyone attending understands me. I do have a suggestion however, to counter the fact that only great emperors are benefiting from the segment.”
“Please go on, Emperor Wellspring.” Jiang Chen wanted nothing more than for the emperor to solve this problem for him. He didn’t want to anger all the wandering cultivators in the world.
“The six chances will be decided by lot among us wandering great emperors. Furthermore, we will adhere to young lord Zhen’s principle of including as many as possible. Each person who gets the chance to ask a question will need to contribute for fairness’ sake, at least. We should give and take to maintain balance.”
“Oh? What kind of contribution do you propose?” Jiang Chen asked curiously.
“Each great emperor who gets to ask a question must lecture to their wandering cultivator juniors. At said event, they must answer at least a hundred martial dao questions. What do you think about that, young lord Zhen?”
Requiring anyone who benefited from Myriad Abyss Island’s senior to teach more of their juniors in turn was a very good suggestion. Since wandering great emperors had six chances to ask questions, the questions of six hundred lesser wandering cultivators would end up answered.
“What do you think, gentlemen?” Jiang Chen looked toward the other wandering great emperors.
“Old Brother Hui’s idea is excellent. We are fully behind him.”
“Yes, it is as it should be. Emperor Wellspring’s advice makes perfect sense.”
“Young lord Zhen, you should do as Emperor Wellspring says. He has always been a fair and reasonable senior in our community. We are grateful that he’s mindful of our needs!”
“Yes, six chances for six hundred questions is rather reasonable. We have no objections.” The lower level wandering cultivators had nothing to dispute. In terms of qualification, it was a complete waste to allow any of the chances to fall into their hands.
Because they weren’t at the senior’s level, there was no common topic of conversation between them. What was the point in asking a distinguished senior a bunch of basic questions?
Such chances were reasonably reserved for great emperors. Most other wandering cultivators hadn’t even thought about competing for them in the first place. That young lord Zhen and Emperor Wellspring were able to protect the masses’ interests was already very kind.
The relative lack of opposition prompted Jiang Chen to beam with genuine pleasure. “Very good! I daresay there aren’t many ways much better than this. The sects’ representatives will have a chance as well. As with the wandering cultivators, we’ll decide who gets the chance by lot.”
The twenty-one wandering great emperors and the factions’ representatives all gathered together. The latter group included representatives from second and third rank sects in addition to first rank ones, but the emissaries from the lesser sects didn’t dare fight for their own prospects. In the end, the first rank sects were the only factions included in the lottery.
The drawing itself was completely aboveboard. The six chances were drawn one by one among the wandering great emperors. Even Emperor Wellspring didn’t get one. Despite this, the emperor was untroubled. There was nothing he wanted to protest given the clear-cut rules.
On the other hand, Emperor Inferno was lucky enough to have his name be drawn.
Emperor Reliance has missed out as well. The remaining chances went to Emperor Ye Jianlei, a great emperor who’d been the first to agree to the transaction with Jiang Chen.
Among the first rank sects, the lucky chance fell into the hands of the Celestial Cicada Court. Su Huanzhen was overjoyed by the stroke of happenstance.
After the lottery was done, Jiang Chen smiled. “Congratulations to our winners. Tomorrow, each person will have an hour’s worth of time to hear from the expert. Please wait here. If the senior is willing to come here, that would be for the best. If not, I can’t exactly force him to come out, so I’ll have to trouble all of you to come to Sacred Peafowl Mountain instead.”
The staging ground for the meet wasn’t far away from Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s entrance. Since they were all cultivators, it took only a few seconds to travel between the two points.
“Young lord Zhen, has a senior from Myriad Abyss Island truly graced Sacred Peafowl Mountain with his presence?” The Jiao brothers looked expectant. Though Mo Wushuang stayed silent, his eyes overflowed with similar curiosity.
Jiang Chen laughed. “I can’t reveal too much about anything that relates to that island. Still, please do not worry.”
The three great emperors came to a tacit understanding upon hearing this. There were no further questions. It wasn’t only those three who were inquisitive, however. The entire Sacred Peafowl Mountain was keen to know more about the senior who had come from Myriad Abyss Island – in particular, whether he was really already here.
Personally, Jiang Chen was in no hurry to remove the veil of mystery. There was someone from Myriad Abyss Island, but it wasn’t some senior. It was Huang’er. If Elder Shun was here, he would count as a senior from the island. Alas, he and Huang’er had been separated for almost ten years now. There had been no news from the old man since.
Within the young lord residence, Huang’er had found out what was about to take place at the wandering cultivator meet.
The time was deep into the night. Only Jiang Chen and Huang’er remained in the courtyard. The moon was full today, and bleak moonlight scattered upon the yard’s stony tiles. The shadows of the trees formed indistinct shapes upon the earth, and the occasional chatter from ambient insects created a rather distinct atmosphere in the inky gloom.
“Your hands are a bit chilly, Huang’er. Don’t catch a cold.” Gently cradling his arms around Huang’er’s shoulders, Jiang Chen basked in the sensation of intimacy to her graceful figure. He didn’t expect the slight shiver from the girl next to him. Though Huang’er tried very hard to suppress this reaction, Jiang Chen caught it nonetheless.
“It’s getting late, Huang’er. The temperature is dropping. Go rest for today.” Instinctively, Jiang Chen took off his coat and placed it over his female companion.
Huang’er’s upward-facing visage was filled with love and emotion. And yet her eyes, clear as mountain springs, hid a hint of muted sadness.
Jiang Chen hummed quietly. “Huang’er, do you have something on your mind?”
The girl didn’t answer, instead gazing directly into Jiang Chen’s face. “Brother Chen, what are you planning to do for tomorrow’s martial dao lecture segment?”
Jiang Chen chuckled. “There’s nothing to do about it. I’ll have to direct a one-man show.”
“But, can you really answer the martial dao questions from those great emperors?” Huang’er paused, anxiety clear on her face. “Brother Chen, you’ve been working really hard the past few days. Do you know? My biggest worry is that you’ll overwork yourself. There are too many burdens on your shoulders.”
Huang’er sighed wistfully. “If I could, I’d like to put everything down and find a secluded spot. We can spend some time there, just the two of us. Brother Chen, do you think I’m being too selfish?”
A sharp, painful sensation spiked into Jiang Chen’s heart. He was apologetic and contrite. As of late, Huang’er was the person he owed the most to. He had spent the past few years traveling the world while Huang’er had stayed behind in the young lord residence to manage and maintain it. That was why he had been able to wander so much without worry.
Realizing this made him emotional as well. He grasped the girl’s hands tightly, taking in her smooth skin. “Huang’er, I’ve been the selfish one. I’ve asked you to do too much, but I haven’t ever calmed down my heart to stay by your side.”
“Don’t say that, Brother Chen. You’ve already spent a lot of time with me. When we went from Myriad Domain to Veluriyam Capital, then from there to the desolate wildlands… I’ll never forget those days of happiness. Never…” Huang’er’s murmuring softened into a whisper. Tears welled up at the corners of her eyes.