The process through which he refined the Ming Tuo relic brought Jiang Chen on a rollercoaster of emotions, repeating the cycle of reincarnation. This invisibly, but noticeably increased Jiang Chen's martial comprehension.
It took three days for Jiang Chen to fully refine everything of value in the relic. The Ming Tuo relic itself transformed into faint, iridescent light as he completed the final steps, dissipating in the young man's palm.
This marked the final ending of one life and the renewed evolution of another.
Jiang Chen gradually opened his eyes, relishing the martial dao increase the relic had granted him. He didn't lose himself in exuberance; he had become more collected and composed.
"A martial dao relic is an extraordinary thing. Absorbing a peak emperor's true energy would only bring about a limited increase. But receiving it through something as concentrated as a relic… I was able to take in almost everything." The difference between the two modes deeply stunned Jiang Chen.
This was the first time he refined a martial dao relic. He now understood why many experts preferred to refine the essence of their own martial dao into relics before their deaths.
They had done so in order for their martial cultivation not to go to waste. Generally, these relics were given to their cherished juniors.
The juniors lucky enough to become recipients of these relics were fortunate indeed. In general, all of them were able to follow the path of their genius forebears, eventually making their own names in the world.
Of course, not every cultivator chose to create a martial dao relic. It was a complicated science to be able to do so at all. Moreover, some selfish cultivators were unwilling to benefit others with their legacy. Both these factors contributed to the scarcity of the relics.
The drastic change the Ming Tuo relic had imparted him informed Jiang Chen that he had broken through to ninth level emperor realm without even knowing it.
"A martial dao relic is a marvel of natural artifice." Jiang Chen was very certainly pleased with the change it had affected in him.
He was just as pleased with his own foundations. Any other genius wouldn't have been able to refine the relic within the short span of three days. Six months, a year, or even a decade or two: all were possible.
Jiang Chen had dared to refine the relic in three days for two reasons. One, because he had been seventh level emperor realm in the first place, bordering on eighth.
Two, he had the memories from his previous life as well as distinct foundations to rely on.
These advantages added together created the three-day miracle.
Jiang Chen wasn't happy enough with his current progress. He wanted very much to charge into great emperor realm with his remaining momentum. However, preliminary attempts showed that his grasp over his own strength was somewhat immature. Further consolidation was needed first.
Jiang Chen wasn't single-minded or stubborn enough to insist on doing things his way. He turned back in the face of impracticality. Cultivation required time and steady progress. Compared to others, his cultivation speed was already incredible.
"Never mind. I am only a step away from great emperor realm, so I see no point to be too hasty." After giving up on his impulse, Jiang Chen took out two storage rings from another storage ring.
"Heh heh… Shu Wanqing and Xiahou Jing. One of them was a secluded expert, the other a scion of a Myriad Abyss Island house. Their storage rings are sure to have many treasures."
When he'd first gotten the rings, he had tried brute forcing them open. However, it turned out that he was a bit lacking despite his secret methods. The rings hadn't wanted to oblige.
He wanted to give it another try after breaking through with his cultivation. He was at peak emperor realm now. Perhaps the small gap that had been lacking before was now bridged?
Jiang Chen used a secret art to call upon his consciousness, slowly unlocking Shu Wanqing's storage ring slowly.
Each storage ring bore its master's seal. When its master died, more than half of it would disappear, but the seal that remained was nevertheless hard to break. Thankfully, he had many secret methods to deal with such locks.
"Hmm? I couldn't continue past this point last time. Shu Wanqing put a large obstacle here. That old man was annoyingly cautious. Does he want to keep his fingers closed from beyond the grave?" Jiang Chen wasn't discouraged. He kept noodling at the problem.
A flash of inspiration led Jiang Chen to the sudden opening of the seal.
"Alright. Now that this level is open, the storage ring shouldn't be far behind." Jiang Chen was a bit anxious. He wanted to know very badly whether that old fool had anything amazing stashed away.
The storage ring of an empyrean hermit was still something very much to look forward to.
These empyrean experts were generally over ten thousand years old. They had lived for much longer than the current generation of human experts. Their treasures must contain many more shockingly rare things than one would expect.
Though Jiang Chen was already fabulously wealthy, especially after the raid on the Order, the more quality treasure the better.
Jiang Chen was pleased to hear the opening of the final lock. Shu Wanqing's storage ring was laid bare before his eyes.
Rather excited, he immediately scanned the ring with his consciousness. He needed to eliminate any hidden dangers first.
Many experts were wily enough to leave a few traps and snares within their storage rings. These measures were instituted to avoid having their treasures fall into the hands of their mortal enemies after death.
Jiang Chen wasn't some kind of foolhardy brute. He didn't forget himself in happiness. His consciousness did a perfunctory scan, then paused in surprise. "Old man Shu did leave a trap!"
On the edge of the ring were several thin needles invisible to the naked eye. Each was tipped with deadly toxin!
It was unlikely for them to pain the person they pricked, but the toxins could drop a cultivator in moments should they spread.
"An underhanded old bastard." Jiang Chen remarked to himself, then sucked these poison-tipped needles out using special methods. After dealing with them - and checking for the absence of other traps - he began to tally the spoils.
"Alright, alright!" He drew a sharp breath with only a single sweep of his eyes.
Jiang Chen had seen more than his fair share of wealth. He was the master of Veluriyam Capital, and Sacred Peafowl Mountain's vaults were shockingly well-stocked in their own right. But Emperor Peafowl's remnant riches could not compare to Shu Wanqing's hoard.
One had been the ruler of something as prominent as Veluriyam, and the other, simply some old wandering hermit!
"Living so long has its advantages. He's managed to save up a lot of fortune within his lifetime." Jiang Chen let out a long sigh as he looked over the treasure piled up everywhere within the ring.
The spirit stones could not be counted.
Most importantly, the old man's spirit stones weren't ordinary saint spirit stones, but the highest rank of sky spirit stones.
Just like there were sky rank spirit herbs, so too did sky spirit stones exist. Naturally, sky spirit stones corresponded to great emperors rather than empyrean experts.
One sky spirit stone could be exchanged for ten thousand saint spirit stones, and the old man had tens to hundreds of millions of them.
"Empyrean experts are fabulously rich, alright!" Jiang Chen didn't know what to say. As the son of a celestial emperor in his previous life, he'd seen and owned much more than this.
He was surprised at the fact that the riches of an empyrean expert far outpaced that of an ordinary cultivator in the human domain. The difference was night and day!
"Haha, killing an empyrean expert is risky, but quite profitable!" Jiang Chen smiled self-deprecatingly, then kept tallying his spoils.
"Hmm? Is this a weapon?" He saw a dagger that didn't appear very sharp at first glance, but it emitted a heart-pounding aura. The demureness of its killing intent was a crouching savage beast, pulsating with murder.
"This dagger is definitely an empyrean rank weapon," Jiang Chen exclaimed in praise as he held it in hand. "The old man has quite the collection!"
He had a use in mind for the weapon already. Not for himself, but Dan Fei. Jiang Chen remembered that Dan Fei was an expert with shorter blades. The dagger would be a massive boost to her combat prowess.
"There are talismans here too?"
There was a shelf with several talismans. Four in total, with two of them being identical. The other two were different.
Jiang Chen identified them one by one.
"Tsk tsk, empyrean experts really do only have treasures and no trash. The two talismans that are the same are empyrean equivalents of Imperial Advent Defense Talismans."
These talismans were able to instantly increase one's defense to empyrean realm once activated. It could allow someone to take a full power empyrean attack unharmed!
"Hahaha, old man Shu Wanqing was quite the selfish sort. These treasures weren't particularly useful to him, but he still didn't give them to his juniors." Taking ownership of these empyrean defense talismans both delighted and lamented Jiang Chen.
He couldn't create such special talismans himself for now, but the old man had two of them. They could be used three to five times each. A cultivator would find them deadly efficient in battle against same-level opponents, like growing wings for a tiger.
"Let's see what the other two are!" Jiang Chen was in high spirits. He was discovering how counting the spoils could be. Out of the other two talismans, one had a sharper light.
He laughed after identifying it. "As I expected, there were offensive talismans too. This talisman behaves like the Imperial Advent Onslaught Talisman, but it's empyrean realm. It allows great emperors to temporarily attack with empyrean might. Not bad, not bad!"
What were the talismans left over?
Jiang Chen was even more expectant about the last, picking it up.