The last talisman shook Jiang Chen to the core. It was a rare specimen of a concealing talisman.
Concealing talismans were incredible in that they concealed every trace of one's presence. Invisible to eyes, inaudible to ears, undetectable to consciousness, completely melded into the song of the void. Only those with the sharpest consciousnesses could notice that something was awry through the tiniest of disturbances.
Concealing talismans were favored by assassins, but they were also extremely difficult to make. Very few of them existed in the world.
The value of a concealing talisman far surpassed an offensive or defensive talisman of the same level. Its uses for sneak attacks aside, it could also be used to aid one's flight in case of danger.
The talisman was perfect for both offense and defense. But of course, it was of questionable effectiveness against especially powerful opponents. However, one could say the same for other talismans too. That still gave the advantage to concealing talismans.
"No wonder Shu Wanqing was able to infiltrate the Moon God Sect's former lands and assassinate Gunuo Village's prince. He had this incredible talisman to help him!" Jiang Chen shuddered at what could have been.
What would've happened if Shu Wanqing had used this concealing talisman to visit Sacred Peafowl Mountain? Thankfully, the Nine Sparks Petalstorm Formation was present here. Though it couldn't have kept him out, it would have forced him to make a racket.
"Shu Wanqing must've come, but found it impossible to break the formation undetected. That's probably why he didn't risk it, hmm?"
This was his best guess.
If Shu Wanqing wanted to get rid of Jiang Chen, the easiest and best way was to just assassinate him. What was the point of feigning an attack on a savage prince?
"Talismans can create remarkable opportunities. Thankfully, I was able to trap him within the Nine Labyrinth Formation. Otherwise, it would've been quite difficult to kill someone using this talisman."
Conflicts tested whether the advantages of one side were sufficient to overcome the disadvantages of another.
The Nine Labyrinth Formation had been powerful enough to ensnare Shu Wanqing, disabling the expert's ability to use the talisman. Not that using it would have done him much good in that circumstance. Within the formation, the talisman wouldn't be able to function at its full strength.
It was far more likely, though, that Shu Wanqing had simply underestimated him.
The old man's temperament meant that he hadn't considered it possible for Jiang Chen to kill him despite trapping him. Thus, it was likely he had never seriously thought of using the talisman.
When Jiang Chen ambushed him, he hadn't had the time to react to the sudden developments. And after his serious injury, he could no longer get the most out of the talisman. From beginning to end, Shu Wanqing hadn't been given any real opportunity to use it.
"But it's good that he never pulled it out. That means all the more uses for me!" Jiang Chen looked at the talisman. It had clearly been used at least twice, but three or four uses remained yet.
"I'm going to keep this for myself." Jiang Chen carefully put the talisman, alongside an Empyrean Onslaught Talisman and an Empyrean Defense Talisman, into his storage ring. These three talismans would be standard issue for him from now on. He would always carry them in order to have a chance against real experts in a difficult fight.
The remaining Empyrean Defense Talisman could be a potential gift. The utility of each and every treasure had to be maximized, no matter what.
The four talismans were only the tip of Shu Wanqing's iceberg of wealth. Most people would find most of the items here unbelievably wonderful, but Jiang Chen didn't consider much of it worth anything. Things intended for great emperors especially, Jiang Chen gathered up and set aside. He planned to give all of it out as rewards to his subordinates.
Shu Wanqing had owned many valuables and seemed to have had a penchant for being a pack rat. The ring was brimming with treasures. Even a hundred great emperors added together would not be able to compare to an empyrean expert in terms of possessions.
"Empyrean experts are very good at accruing wealth." Jiang Chen had to concede this fact.
He ignored everything pill-related in the ring, sparing a passing glance at the other treasures, but refined pills were neither interesting nor worth his time. He gave them a single sweep, then put all of them away.
Still, the pills were extraordinary by worldly standards. The pills provided amazing opportunities for almost any great emperor. He would give these away when appropriate; Jiang Chen trusted only his own pills.
As a master of pills in his previous life, this was a sticking point.
He did like the spirit herbs a lot better, though. Spirit herbs were creations of nature rather than works of artifice. They were much more beautiful to him through their pure origin. He loved these natural, unprocessed specimens.
Shu Wanqing had plenty of spirit herbs in his collection. Regrettably, even an empyrean expert like him had only managed to collect largely sky rank spirit herbs. However, there were many more trees than the average great emperor would have possessed.
The old man's sky rank spirit herbs numbered in the thousands. Many things Jiang Chen had dreamed about were present here. The Heavencloud Ganoderma, for example! A required material for the Emperor Supremacy Pill, and Shu Wanqing had ten of it!
"What a rich old man!" Jiang Chen observed. He had tried to buy these for several years with only limited success.
But here they were, ten of them neatly beside each other, sitting in the old man's storage ring. Moreover, it was obvious that spirit herbs of this level held little benefit for the third level empyrean Shu Wanqing.
Even so, he had greedily clung to them. He preferred to let them gather dust inside his storage ring rather than allow them to benefit the world.
"Are all these empyrean experts complete misers?" It wasn't Jiang Chen's place to speak though. He had enriched himself through exploiting Shu Wanqing's miserly nature.
He inventoried these sky rank spirit herbs excitedly. He wasn't going to distribute these as part of the spoils. Only in his hands could the herbs' values be maximized.
"Hmm? These two spirit herbs are separately contained in high-quality spirit containers. Is there something different about them?" Jiang Chen's eyes lingered on two boxes that distinguished themselves above the rest.
He drew a sharp breath when the boxes were opened.
"Heaven rank spirit herbs?"
Spirit herbs had ranks too. For mortal cultivators, sky rank was the highest they could hope to see in their lifetime. In actuality, sky rank spirit herbs were only so named because they were above earth rank. They corresponded to great emperors rather than empyrean ones.
Sky rank spirit herbs in other words, had not stood the test of the heavenly dao. Ones that did manage to weather the storm were classified as heaven rank spirit herbs.
A catch-all name to be sure, but a necessary one to characterize them as being effective for empyrean experts.
Jiang Chen was filled with familiarity upon seeing the two spirit herbs. These were the kind he'd come in contact with the most in his previous life. Though they were comparatively lower quality compared to their fellow heaven rank brethren, he found their sight comforting nevertheless.
"Not bad, not bad." Jiang Chen toyed with the two heaven rank spirit herbs, lost for a moment in memories of his proud past. He found it difficult to maintain control of himself.
"I must work hard to comprehend and surpass the heavenly dao, so that I can enter and explore the heavenly planes." Remembrance of his former life caused all his repressed emotions to swell up.
It took quite a while before he quelled his emotions. He put away the heaven rank spirit herbs in a safe place; he didn't have a use for them right now, but he was sure to in the future.
One could never have too many of such amazing treasures.
After taking stock of the pills and spirit herbs, Jiang Chen selectively kept back a few other items, leaving most to be set aside for others.
Shu Wanqing had collected methods most extensively of all.
There were tens of thousands of tomes within the storage ring, detailing rare methods of every variety. The old man had been an astute collector. He had sorted his library into bookshelves, organized by level.
"Tut tut, that old man has been robbing and pillaging all his life huh? It's hard for a regular person to gather all these together, even if he lived for ten thousand years." Jiang Chen found this to be rather remarkable.
He had negligible interest in the books themselves, but they were indubitably quite valuable.