That Emperor Peerless was able to break through at his age was exceptional. The outside world saw him as simply lucky. He'd received a gift from Jiang Chen after joining up, perhaps the Emperor Supremacy Pill… or so most people thought.
In actuality, Jiang Chen hadn't even had the time to refine the pill in question. How could he have given it to the great emperor?
The latter's breakthrough hadn't been due to pills, but a perfect increase in martial dao understanding and physical body enhancement. The catalyst for these changes was the kunpeng bloodline.
The three drops of kunpeng blood Jiang Chen had received from the first of the Six Palaces had been distributed twice already: one to Emperor Peafowl and one to Emperor Peerless.
The remaining drop was kept with the young lord. He couldn't give away this last one willy-nilly. In theory, he should have given one to the Jiao brothers as thanks for their staunch support. Alas, he only had one drop remaining, and it was inappropriate to give it to either brother in light of that.
Jiang Chen's plans to reward his subordinates were currently on hold. The Jiao brothers of Mount Huai were presently his capable assistants. He appreciated their efficient and methodical way of doing things.
Every mission he tasked them with was done to perfection. Though he couldn't give them the kunpeng blood, Jiang Chen wasn't going to be miserly about other rewards.
That was the primary reason they'd decided to follow him in the first place, after all. His earlier lesson in martial dao had taught them that the young lord had real knowledge and talent.
The Jiao brothers sought great things on their path of martial dao. They also knew that they couldn't achieve significant breakthroughs by themselves. That was why they'd been so close with Emperor Pillzenith before. The Pillfire leader was expert at using the two brothers' psychologies to control them.
The brothers wanted desperately to get some miracle pills from Pillzenith, but after meeting Jiang Chen, they realized how foolish and ridiculous their connection with Pillzenith had been. They'd been taken along for a complete ride.
Though Pillzenith had made his fame thousands of years ago, he couldn't compare at all to the young lord in terms of pill dao knowledge.
Jiang Chen kept pushing out pill after astounding pill. The Longevity Pill had been unimportant to the brothers since that pill was only useful for sage realm cultivators. The Pinecrane Pill, Emperor Ascension Pill, and Emperor Supremacy Pill that came after were far more attractive.
"Old Brother Mo, how do you feel about your chances?" As fellow wandering cultivators, the Jiao brothers knew that Mo Wushuang was at a slight disadvantage compared to Emperor Wellspring.
It wasn't easy for a duel between the two parties to have a decisive winner, but a drawn-out bout was more advantageous for the higher-ranked emperor. Of course, the rankings were dated and not necessarily reliable any longer.
Mo Wushuang's tremendous breakthrough made things a lot more uncertain, hence the brothers' intense curiosity.
"In the past, I can't say I would've had much of a chance at winning," smiled Emperor Peerless. "Now? I think it's fifty-fifty. And in decades or a century, I am sure that I'll have a ninety-plus chance of winning."
The great emperor wasn't a man that liked misrepresenting himself. Thus, his words shocked the Jiao brothers a great deal.
"Old Brother Mo," chuckled Jiao Yun, "I know you're the type of guy to say thirty when you actually mean seventy. Fifty-fifty means you're extremely confident in yourself, do I have things right? Eighty percent, maybe?"
Emperor Peerless roared with laughter. "If my opponent were anyone else, I would speak more cautiously. With Old Brother Wellspring? No, no. Fifty-fifty is what I really think."
"Fifty-fifty is really good still, right? After all, he's in the top half and you're in the bottom half of the six titans." Jiao Yun sighed.
"Heheh, perhaps you'll rise into the top half after this fight," Jiao Feng chorused.
The largest arena in Veluriyam Capital was the one at the foot of the Veluriyam Pagoda. It was a sacred place for every martial event that took place in the city. Countless experts and geniuses had clashed against each other in that ring.
It was hard to say exactly how many geniuses had made a name for themselves in it. Arenas like this could build up and tear down people's reputations in moments. Many geniuses had gotten their starts by distinguishing themselves in one-on-one public duels.
Having received the agreement of Emperor Wellspring and Mo Wushuang, the fight was open to every emperor realm cultivator in the city and above.
Each great emperor could bring up to three of his disciples to observe. Emperor realm cultivators could only bring themselves. Those who weren't citizens of the city were heavily restricted from spectating.
Any wandering cultivator could only observe with the mutual agreement of both combatants. Any sect cultivator needed the personal approval of Veluriyam's young lord.
Jiang Chen had done plenty of homework and propaganda to create sufficient hype and attention around this event. Veluriyam Capital was once more the talk of the realm.
"My friends, this upcoming fight is only a friendly duel. The emphasis should be on teaching and learning, not victory. If both of you can use all the techniques you've learned in your lives, I'm sure you'll receive a great deal of wisdom by doing so. Moreover, the observers will receive just as much benefit. In particular, the cleverest of geniuses may receive a lifelong gift from watching the fight. Therefore, Veluriyam thanks you regardless of the result! Your willingness to be present is already a fact we should be grateful for."
Jiang Chen and the other great emperors of Veluriyam were positioned before the arena as judges. Not missing a single beat, the young lord had brought a full retinue of his underlings.
The youths under his hand were increasing swiftly in martial dao cultivation as well. Though they couldn't necessarily understand every blow that was traded between the two great emperors, simply taking in the atmosphere of the place was more than valuable enough.
There were a fair few wandering cultivators that managed to get the permission of both emperors to view the proceedings too.
"Do you see the expectant looks in your audience? Without further ado, let the fight begin!"
The protagonists of this duel were Emperors Wellspring and Peerless. Jiang Chen wasn't going to steal their thunder. The Jiao brothers flanked the young lord left and right. They weren't just his subordinates, but also his personal bodyguards.
Upon the arena, the two emperors were calling upon their fighting spirits. One's presence was like a towering mountain, grand and austere. This was Emperor Peerless.
Another was as deep as the sea. Though the surface was calm, there were innumerable currents beneath. That was Emperor Wellspring.
Though the two men's auras were different, the clash between their spirits set the atmosphere around the arena aflame.
"After you, Daoist Peerless!" Without further delay, Emperor Wellspring created a burst of ripples around his body. His figure was wreathed in wind and rain, dream and illusion. Amid tumultuous wave, it began to meld with nothingness.
The sensation itself seemed like a hallucination. It was difficult to distinguish the emperor from his surroundings.
Chuckling, Emperor Peerless snatched at the air. A weapon appeared in his hands.
"Daoist Wellspring, I received this blade a while back but haven't practiced with it yet. During my last breakthrough, I managed to communicate once with the weapon. I can wield it as my own arm now. Shall we test a new blade technique I've created?"
Hearing that Emperor Peerless had invented his own blade techniques moved Emperor Wellspring's heart. "Alright, my friend. Let me admire the mysteries of your new technique!"
Emperor Peerless drawing his blade awed Jiang Chen as well. "Old Brother Mo's martial dao did improve in quality. This is more than worthy of congratulations!"
He and the emperor were old friends by now. He had a rough estimate of what Emperor Peerless had been capable of before. As soon as Mo Wushuang produced his weapon, Jiang Chen knew that the Peerless of today and the Peerless of yesteryear weren't the same man.
The blade carried a potent momentum like crashing peaks. Even Emperor Wellspring was taken aback.
Amid the chaos, a flurry of exchanges had already occurred.
"Tsk tsk, there's a remarkable difference post-breakthrough. Without Emperor Wellspring noticing it, Old Brother Mo's blade-strokes are imbued with the truth of blade dao."
If one had to pick a specific emperor realm cultivator who'd completely understood everything about the duel so far, it would be Jiang Chen.
Though Emperor Wellspring was the challenger in name, he maintained a conservative strategy. In the beginning, he didn't follow Emperor Peerless' brisk rhythm.
His opponent didn't seem to pursue a reserved playstyle, either. He began to attack with incredible furor as soon as he entered the ring. As the most expert of everyone present, Jiang Chen instantly saw where Emperor Peerless's confidence in doing so came from.
After assimilating the kunpeng bloodline, his speed became more pronounced. Additionally, the offensive prowess that he was displaying forced the higher-ranked Emperor Wellspring into fatigued defense.
Wellspring wasn't necessarily at a disadvantage, but he definitely looked somewhat worse for wear.