Emperor Clearsky is a highly competent leader. This was Jiang Chen's initial assessment. He naturally kept the thought to himself and remained unperturbed on the surface. His merry smile made him almost harmless.
"Young lord, Shangguan Yanqing has been singing your praises ever since he returned from Veluriyam Capital. Now that we've finally met, I can safely say that the rumors from the jianghu aren't exaggerated in the least. Please, come in and wash off the dust from your travels!" Emperor Clearsky was incredibly outspoken and forthright.
"I appreciate the sentiments, Sectmaster Clearsky, but I've travelled all the way here to discuss something important. Why don't we find a better place to discuss business instead?" Jiang Chen cut right through all of the civilities.
Emperor Clearsky was taken aback. He'd received many eminent figures from the Upper Eight Regions before and almost all of them were highly particular about welcoming ceremonies. He never would've thought that the young lord of Veluriyam Capital would pay so little attention to such things. But even so, he still admired the young lord. He's already acquired an air of indifference about formalities at such a young age. He'll surely achieve great things one day.
Emperor Clearsky smiled. "Of course. I've always believed that the host should follow the guest's wishes. We should all look up to young lord Jiang for your indifference towards extraneous details. Come. I'll lead the way."
He made a sweeping gesture. "The rest of you may leave. Young lord Jiang and I will take a stroll in the rear mountains."
The crowd was dumbfounded.
Jiang Chen smiled blandly when the four great emperors tried to follow him. "You all can socialize with the Ninesuns Sky Sect's executives. I'll be taking a stroll with Emperor Clearsky."
"Young lord, you…" Emperor Vastsea seemed hesitant. It was only natural that he'd worry about his master's safety.
"That'll be all." Jiang Chen waved his hands nonchalantly.
"Hahaha! As expected of a young hero! I'm extremely fond of your fearlessness! Come, let us depart!!"
The dumbfounded crowd watched as Emperor Clearsky and Jiang Chen walked off side by side. An hour later, the two arrived at a pristine valley deep inside the mountains. The environment there was very tranquil. Taking a stroll in this place would lift anyone's spirits.
"Young lord Jiang, what do you think of this place?"
"Very good. The tranquility is almost otherworldly." Jiang Chen praised.
"Hehe. Young lord Jiang, look at this tree over here. It was merely a young seedling a decade ago, but it has since grown into a towering giant. The world is as unpredictable as it is mysterious. To think that the young boy from a faraway land a decade ago would become the holder of the Upper Eight Regions' fate and titan figure of the human domain!" Emperor Clearsky was flush with emotion.
Jiang Chen wasn't able to discern the emperor's thoughts just yet and smiled. "Emperor Clearsky, our past is long and eventful, but I've not here today to reminisce about such matters."
"Haha, that's very true! The past events seem so insignificant. It isn't wise for great factions like us to be held up with these little things. Esteemed Chen Lei and Wu Gong was a little too brash. Please don't take it to heart."
Jiang Chen smiled. "It's no surprise as I expected it before my arrival. Just as you've said, it's better to make friends than foes."
"Indeed." Emperor Clearsky nodded.
"Sectmaster Clearsky, since you're a straightforward person and I'm not the type who minces words, I'll cut straight to the point."
"Please do." Emperor Clearsky said solemnly.
"I've come to propose a transaction with you." Jiang Chen smiled enigmatically.
"A transaction?" Emperor Clearsky was confused. "Please do elaborate."
"Sectmaster Clearsky should know that the Eternal Celestial Capital and I are mortal enemies. You don't seem to be on friendly terms with them either. As neighbors, you've had countless clashes with them over the years. Would you agree that we have a common enemy?" Jiang Chen asked with a smile.
Emperor Clearsky pondered deeply and nodded. "Indeed, we're not exactly on the best of terms with the Eternal Celestial Capital and there's been some conflict between us, but I wouldn't call them a mortal enemy."
Jiang Chen laughed. "A true conqueror will never allow another to lie peacefully beside him. As neighboring factions, do you really expect me to believe that you've never thought about swallowing them whole?"
Emperor Clearsky laughed. "One should learn to separate ambition from reality. It's a thought constantly on our minds, but we simply don't have the ability to do so and can't afford to launch an assault on such a grand scale."
The sectmaster had quite a glib tongue and wasn't giving Jiang Chen an opening at all. The latter smiled and didn't seem too troubled by it. "Fine. It seems I'm the one thinking too much. I'd thought this would be a good chance for Veluriyam Capital and the Ninesuns Sky Sect to form a partnership."
"Haha! Young lord Jiang, our doors are always open to a partnership! But are you really planning to borrow our strength to wipe out the Eternal Celestial Capital?" Emperor Clearsky smiled. "This isn't something that should be joked about."
"It's only a matter of time before we go to war with the Eternal Celestial Capital. This will happen with or without your faction's participation. I only invited you because I wanted to share the glory and strengthen our relationship. Sadly, you don't seem to be interested."
Emperor Clearsky mused deeply. This wasn't a decision a leader should make half-heartedly. What if Jiang Chen was just testing him?
"Fine. Why don't we talk about something else instead?" Jiang Chen smiled. "I hear that you're an ancient refining sect known for a heritage in weapons forging, ancient forging formations, as well as a plethora of skilled refining masters?"
"Mm. We won't downplay our skill in this regard. If we claim to be second in the Upper Eight Regions, nobody would ever dare claim to be first!" Emperor Clearsky answered proudly.
"Can you forge flying swords?" Jiang Chen asked blandly.
"Naturally." The leader smiled. "That isn't a difficult task."
"But the flying swords that I want aren't ordinary. I want to infuse True Heavensfall Iron into the swords with impeccable craftsmanship." Jiang Chen smiled. "I'm afraid that would be impossible without an refining formation."
Emperor Clearsky was taken aback. "True Heavensfall Iron? Can that metal really be used to forge something as delicate as a flying sword?"
"Of course." Jiang Chen smiled.
Emperor Clearsky smiled wryly. "True Heavensfall iron is too difficult to refine. That task is too difficult even for someone like me, let alone infuse it into a flying sword."
"The True Heavensfall Iron in my possession is even more difficult to refine than its regular version. Thus, I'll need to borrow the aid of a refining formation."
An interested light glinted in Emperor Clearsky's eyes. "Young lord Jiang, a refining formation isn't exactly a small expenditure…" He hinted subtly.
"Mm. I know." Jiang Chen smiled. "An ancient sect of your heritage should possess a refining formation right? Can you lend it to me?"
"Lend it to you?" Emperor Clearsky was taken aback. "Are you going to do things yourself?"
"It'd be better if you could lend me a hand." Jiang Chen smiled. "Sectmaster Clearsky, allow me to cut straight to the point. I'll give you a Pinecrane Pill as a token of appreciation if you'd assist me in my endeavors."
A Pinecrane Pill? Emperor Clearsky's heart spasmed.
"Does the young lord still have a pill to spare?" His eyes glimmered with blazing heat. No cultivator could possibly resist the pill's allure.
"Not right now. But I'll give one to you within the decade." Jiang Chen smiled blandly.
"Haha! So you're making an offer with something you don't have!" Emperor Clearsky exclaimed half-jokingly. "Young lord, I heard that you also possess something called the Emperor Supremacy Pill?"
Jiang Chen shook his head. "It's either the Pinecrane Pill or nothing. The final decision is yours. I'll go somewhere else if you decline." He wasn't in the mood for haggling.
Emperor Clearsky pondered for a moment and snuck a few glances at Jiang Chen. They were on the same playing field; the young man wouldn't be easy to manipulate. The fact that he'd fearlessly headed alone to the rear mountain was testament to his audacity and fearlessness. This wasn't an action easily taken
The emperor pondered for a few more moments before he finally nodded. "I accept your proposal. A Pinecrane Pill must be paid within a decade and you mustn't go back on your word!"
"If it takes longer than ten years, I'll compensate you with a Pinecrane Pill as well as an Emperor Supremacy Pill."
"Are you certain?" Emperor Clearsky was elated.
"I swear to the gods above." Jiang Chen smiled blandly.
"Good!" Emperor Clearsky burst into a hearty laughter. "It's certainly refreshing to discuss business with you! It'd be a sin to not befriend someone like you!"
"Please take some time to consider my other proposal as well. I'll be launching an attack on Great Scarlet in a few days. The Eternal Celestial Capital will surely respond to their calls. If you tie them down, I'll give you another Pinecrane Pill."
Emperor Clearsky's heart skipped a beat upon hearing Jiang Chen's request. "Only tie them down? Not fight them to the death?"
"That's correct. I only need you to hold them back and not let their men pass through."
"The Eternal Celestial Capital will have to travel across our territory to reach Great Scarlet. Their paths will be long and arduous if they take the long way around. This I can help with."
"A man's word…" Jiang Chen smiled with a glance at the emperor.
"Cannot be taken back!" Emperor Clearsky laughed heartily. The two exchanged hand slaps to seal the deal. The sect head would never hastily agree to go to war with the Eternal Celestial Capital. He wouldn't let his men be cannon fodder on Veluriyam Capital's behalf. However, being just an obstacle was a lot more reasonable. They were the stronger faction after all.