"Is the young lord still in closed door cultivation?"
"Ah, it's been half a year. He's had many visitors since then."
"What can we do? The young lord closed his doors when the Dragon and Tiger Meet ended. Can we subordinates change his decision?" The two conversing parties were Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers.
When the Dragon and Tiger Meet first concluded, Jiang Chen had declared that he would cultivate behind closed doors for a time. At first, the others at Sacred Peafowl Mountain thought it would only be several days. Then, they thought it would be a month or two.
But it'd been half a year without any news whatsoever.
"Old Brother Mo, we brothers are new here. The young lord, is he…" Jiao Yun wanted to know more. He too felt the strangeness in the young lord's behavior.
Mo Wushuang sighed softly. "I haven't been here much longer than you two. However, I think that Miss Huang'er's departure is a key factor in why the young lord has closed his doors."
"I didn't think that Miss Huang'er would be a lady from Myriad Abyss Island. Our young lord is truly incredible, hooking up with someone like that." Mentioning this made Jiao Yun rather animated.
"Remember not to act so flippantly in front of the young lord, Jiao Yun." Mo Wushuang frowned.
"Ah, not at all." Jiao Yun chuckled. "The young lord has my wholehearted admiration. Old Brother Mo, we two brothers have lived half of our lives in a haze. Our recent time here at Sacred Peafowl Mountain have opened our eyes and minds, and we now defer fully to the young lord."
"That's right. If there had been a sect or faction willing to treat us like this before, why would we be wandering cultivators in the first place? The Dragon and Tiger Meet was evidence enough. Wandering great emperors seem carefree and important on the surface, but barely break the poverty line when compared to our peers in sects!" Jiao Feng spoke in a low, muffled voice.
Mo Wushuang deeply sympathized with this sentiment. He too hadn't realized the difference between wandering great emperors and sect heavyweights before now. The unprecedentedly prominent and well-attended auction had helped him realize that even more ordinary members of large sects had wealth that far surpassed what a wandering cultivator could gather.
"I've said this to you already, my friends. You will only gain by following in his footsteps. There's a long road ahead of us." Mo Wushuang laughed.
"Indeed. We two brothers have found a permanent home. From now on, we serve young lord Zhen. There is much promise in what he's doing!" The Jiao brothers said this sincerely.
"You must take care of us from now on too, Old Brother Mo," Jiao Yun chuckled ingratiatingly.
"We're one family here. I for one, consider you my brothers. It's natural for us to take care of each other. You've seen young lord Zhen's abilities and connections. We cultivators in the human domain have long been frogs at the bottom of our well. We thought that dominance over the Upper Eight Regions was the top of the world. The appearance of that senior from Myriad Abyss Island is going to make waves across our sphere. It'll be breath of fresh air in our stagnant situation."
"That's right. We brothers have always heard rumors about a group of old codgers here in the human domain who were potentially empyrean realm, but there hasn't been much proof until now. The appearance of this senior from Myriad Abyss Island might be able to draw his hermit friends out, so that we can at least have something to aspire to."
If peak great emperor was the limit of the human domain's martial dao, that would be far too boring. After all, they were all already great emperors. The presence of empyrean experts in the world would spice things up a great deal.
"It's hard to say how many empyrean experts there really are here. Only a few can potentially exist at one time, I feel." Mo Wushuang had his own point of view regarding this.
The human domain had only so much resources to develop its cultivators. Because of the restriction of the boundary steles, the cultivators here had extremely narrow horizons. They couldn't view the Divine Abyss Continent in a more holistic light, nor could they taste any of the grander state of affairs in the ancient past when countless races mingled together in the same space.
The door to the secret room suddenly opened mid-conversation.
"Young lord, have you emerged from seclusion?"
"Congratulations, young lord." Mo Wushuang and the Jiao brothers paused before they approached the youth.
Faintly smiling, the young man looked back at the three great emperors. "Unfortunately for you gentlemen, I heard everything you were talking about just now. You're lucky you didn't say anything bad about me, huh?"
His relaxed tone eased the hearts of the trio as well. It seemed that the young lord was free of his emotional ties and had defeated his inner demons for now.
"Heh heh, we'll only say nice and flattering things to you from now on, young lord. We'd rather have our tongues pulled out than badmouth someone as generous as you." The Jiao brothers were comparatively smooth talkers - one of the reason why they'd survived out in the world for so long.
Emperor Peerless however, looked intently at Jiang Chen for another moment before smiling. "My compliments to you, young lord. You've improved a great deal during your closed door cultivation."
"A little bit of a breakthrough, yes." Jiang Chen smiled back. "I'm at peak second level emperor realm now. I need only a bit more to reach third level."
All three great emperors found this shocking. They were great emperors now, but their personal experiences in emperor realm had given them firsthand experience about how difficult it was to break through in the emperor realm.
Eight to ten years was considered short. Sometimes it took decades or a century.
Young lord Zhen wasn't yet thirty years old. Had he broken through to peak second level emperor realm already? And to be third level any day now! His cultivation was proceeding at an incredible speed.
Jiang Chen didn't make a point of showing off how quick his ascension speed was. Instead, he shifted the topic. "I'm sure many things have happened while I was occupied. Shall we chat at length about them?"
The three men here were now Jiang Chen's most capable lieutenants. Mo Wushuang especially, had been in charge of managing the young lord residence's affairs after Huang'er's departure, along with Madame Yun. Because of his part in this, it wasn't a stretch to say that he was one of the biggest contributors to Sacred Peafowl Mountain as a whole.
The great emperor launched into a report of all the major events in the half year the young lord had been cultivating.
"Young lord, preparations for the pill dao academy are complete. Emperors Void and Coiling Dragon are in charge of them and the others are helping them. Many have applied to enter. They're still sorting through the applicants.
"The aftereffects of the Tiger and Dragon Meet are still very positive. All wandering cultivators have been talking about it nonstop in the past half year. Everyone's very much looking forward to the next one. Our reputation is now greater than Pillfire City's!"
"What do the other sects and factions think of it?" Jiang Chen asked with a faint smile.
"The sects have more concerns on their mind, and many of them are close to Pillfire City as well. They won't advertise anything on our behalf. Apart from the Great Yu Skysword Sect and Celestial Cicada Court, none of the others have expressed anything."
"And the Ninesuns Sky Sect?"
"They've been mostly quiet. It appears they do not want to get caught in Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City's crossfire."
"What about the Eternal Celestial Capital?" Jiang Chen asked again.
"The Eternal Celestial Capital…" Mo Wushuang smiled wryly. "I was going to leave that for last. They're related to one of the most important things that has happened in the last six months."
"Eternal Celestial Capital has spread the news that Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord Zhen is some ruffian from Myriad Domain and therefore not at all Emperor Peafowl's true heir. They say that you're an usurper, having obtained your throne by improper means. Because of this, you're actually not related to the city at all… According to them, you've fooled both Emperor Peafowl and the entire city…" Mo Wushuang spoke in a rather dubious tone, but went into detail anyway.
The Jiao brothers' expressions were equally odd. Clearly, they'd heard the news as well, but it wasn't their place to share their opinions, given their subordinate status.
Jiang Chen's smile remained cool. "What has been the reaction from Veluriyam Capital's various factions?"
Mo Wushuang breathed a sigh of relief. He was scared of the possibility that Jiang Chen would explode in anger. The young lord's calmness hinted that he had expected such a development.
"All of the city's factions have declared that young lord Zhen is indeed Emperor Peafowl's chosen heir. No matter where he's originally from, his right of succession is unquestioned. They are all fully supportive of the young lord's rule over the faction."
"Yesterday, Emperor Coiling Dragon made a public announcement that Emperor Peafowl knew of that fact in the first place - as did he. Moreover, he stated that young lord Zhen's true name is Jiang Chen, and the two people are one and the same. He has also said that you were a piece that Emperor Peafowl planted long ago!"
Jiang Chen coughed softly upon hearing the last part. Emperor Coiling Dragon was really good at making things up. Still, he knew the old man wasn't being malicious, per se. The rumor would only benefit him.
There was no chance for reconciliation with Eternal Celestial Capital, now. Therefore, he hadn't planned to hide his identity for much longer. He didn't expect it to be particularly possible, after all. But it was quite surprising that this revelation had circulated in the outside world during his six months behind closed doors.
He suddenly frowned. "Has the news travelled through the human domain? Or is it limited to Veluriyam Capital?"
"It is limited to Veluriyam Capital still. However, I believe that the human domain will know with time. You are one of the most popular individuals in the domain right now, young lord. More well-publicized than even the strongest great emperors."
Jiang Chen didn't gloat about the compliment. Instead, he sunk into thought. "Now that my identity is revealed, it's time to deal with Myriad Domain."
The Jiao brothers' eyes darted around. "Are you going to move against Myriad Domain, young lord? Do we have a chance to repay your kindness?"
"What do you mean, move against Myriad Domain? Once upon a time, it was my former home. Even at the top of the world, I would be ashamed to let my homeland wallow in adversity." Jiang Chen sighed softly, but a resolute light shone out of his eyes.
Recovering Myriad Domain and rebuilding Regal Pill Palace wasn't only Jiang Chen's wish. The first half was a wish common among everyone that had belonged to the domain once upon a time.
Palace Head Dan Chi, Elder Yun Nie, Mu Gaoqi, the other disciples from the Palace, and the Domain's various scattered survivors elsewhere besides…
It was a shared desire amongst all of those people.