Jiang Chen smiled faintly at the bickering between new and old leadership. "Embittered Bamboo, haven't you been the master of the ancestral temple for a long time? It isn't necessarily bad to give up your seat to someone new like the virile King Gunuo. Plus, maybe he'll do better than you did." Naturally, he was only being polite.
Forefather Bamboo sighed dejectedly. "Never mind. There's not much I can't get over at this point. But was what you said earlier true?"
The young lord's tantalizing words weighed heavily on his mind.
"What, that I can help you get through mid empyrean to great empyrean?" Jiang Chen retorted with a half-smile.
"Yes. If you can really do that, then it's not a bad thing for me to lay down my mantle of the ancestral temple's leadership. King Gunuo, you should feel lucky. If I didn't willingly transfer my scepter into your hands, heaven may very well punish your attempt at forcefully offering sacrifice."
King Gunuo felt cold sweat trickle down his back.
Was the forefather's direct support and transfer of scepter really necessary? He had taken the position by force of arms, hadn't he? What an embarrassing prospect. But it was as Jiang Chen had said. The loser had to yield to the winner.
The expected gruesome war with the Embittered Savages didn't end up breaking out after all. With the cooperation of Jiang Chen on the outside and King Gunuo on the inside, the problem of the invaders was resolved once and for all.
Now that King Gunuo had authority, he would surely execute a batch of Flowerback dissidents once he returned to the Savages' homeland. Following that, he would need to establish his newfound status as the head of the Embittered Savages.
Under the restriction of Jiang Chen's consciousness, Forefather Bamboo couldn't even think about betrayal ever again.
Jiang Chen sorely lacked talent. Killing the old man would have been too much of a waste! Hence the spark of inspiration for turning the forefather into his servant. He'd only casually slipped the prospect into the conversation and had thought for sure that Forefather Bamboo would be too dignified to surrender.
Things had gone more or less the way he had expected. The forefather hadn't been particularly pliant at first, but he came around eventually. Jiang Chen wasn't going to keep him inside the young lord residence, of course.
Instead, he acquired a separate residence within Veluriyam Capital for the old man. This was both house arrest and an arrangement. The presence of a cultivator as strong as Forefather Bamboo mitigated potential troublemakers in the form of secluded human experts.
The forefather saw nothing to complain about. He knew well that he was Jiang Chen's prisoner and servant now. The past had little to do with him. With Jiang Chen's support, King Gunuo would no doubt keep a tight grip on the Embittered Savages.
In this way, Veluriyam's young lord resolved the Savage invaders in an unexpectedly smooth and efficient way.
But Jiang Chen didn't relax because of it. The human domain had many Boundary Steles. The northwestern wastes had possessed just a single one. Out of the others, the only one that he'd repaired was the one near the Southern Celestial Tribe. How well would those repairs hold? He wasn't so sure.
During his meditations one day, Jiang Chen suddenly had an idea.
"The situation in the human domain isn't stable, but at least there's a reasonable path forward. Things here aren't too bad yet. Even if another Boundary Stele realm breaks, there won't be mass hysteria like before."
He could feel the human domain grow through the many trials it was weathering. Those of the large sects had left Veluriyam Capital to return homes in droves. Good news was popping up all over.
Peerless and Wellspring both harmonized with the heavenly dao, entering empyrean realm and refining their own decrees. Veluriyam had suddenly gained two native empyrean experts.
Not long after, the Jiao brothers refined the empyrean decrees they'd been given. They became empyrean experts as well.
At the same time, Coiling Dragon successfully refined an empyrean relic, reaching peak great emperor. He had only a little bit to go before empyrean realm. Though it was early days yet for actually getting there, the news nevertheless invigorated and excited the whole of Veluriyam Capital.
Aside from the human cultivators, Long Xiaoxuan and Little White achieved great progress in their own rights. They were truly showing the nobility of the ancient sacred beast bloodline. Long Xiaoxuan had cultivated even more quickly than Jiang Chen had - he'd reached great emperor quite a while back.
The Astral White Tiger had grown far past its cub stage as well. It was almost great emperor!
The tiger and dragon seemed to be competing against each other in their cultivation. Neither was satisfied with letting the other take a commanding lead. However, the tiger had a comparatively slower start, which meant it was at a disadvantage compared to Long Xiaoxuan.
Jiang Chen was pleased with the progress that those around him were making. The human domain was reaching a blowout stage in terms of progress.
He made several selections from the library of martial dao tomes in Shu Wanqing's storage ring, handing them out to the various sects. Jiang Chen wasn't stingy towards particularly the second and third rank sects, as a reward to his stauncher loyalists in the past conflict.
He could foresee that in ten or twenty years, many more factions rivaling first rank sects would crop up in the human domain. These martial dao tomes would ensure that. Existing first rank sects would either grow stronger or be edged out by their competition. This vitality would be a delight to witness.
After the Jiao brothers broke through to empyrean realm, Jiang Chen gave them an important task.
"Jiao Yun, Jiao Feng, I met a demon emperor named Bloodmalva back in Cloudshatter Range of Great Scarlet Mid Region. He hadn't recovered to peak condition at the time, but the great emperors I saw there weren't a match at all for him. I only barely managed to escape from his clutches; the demon emperor went elsewhere. You brothers should go investigate where he is now. If that threat isn't nipped in the bud, I am worried he may cause far more chaos at some future stage."
From beginning to end, Jiang Chen saw the demon race as his primary concern. He wouldn't relent against a single demon, especially an opponent as obviously fearsome as Bloodmalva.
After delegating the job to the brothers, he planned on closing his doors in cultivation once more. His goal was clear this time: he needed to break through to great emperor. He had waited for this moment for far too long.
He remembered Huang'er's exhortation for him not to go to Myriad Abyss Island before he reached great emperor. He couldn't possibly save her before that point!
From her tone at the time, the island held a great deal of danger for someone who wasn't even a great emperor.
"I must break through as soon as I can!" Jiang Chen's resolve was set in stone. He had never been in as much of a hurry to ascend to great emperor realm as he was now. Everything in the human domain was getting back on the right track.
"I've worked for humanity and the public good for many years now. It's time for me to be a bit more selfish… for Huang'er's sake as well as my own." He could only imagine what kind of suffering Huang'er had to be going through with each passing day.
Doing so filled him with initiative. For Jiang Chen, breaking through to great emperor wasn't a challenge at all. His fortune, intuition, and foundations all converged to ensure that.
After nine months, he successfully opened his doors as a great emperor.
This time, he'd arrived at a new level of martial cultivation as well. There was plenty to write home about with regards to how he'd benefited. The young lord could finally style himself Emperor Jiang Chen!
Every step he climbed was a redemption of the yin constitution of his previous life. Every stride filled him with excitement. Everything about him saw a massive boost after breaking through.
The Nine Labyrinth Formation's dimensional mysteries were a bit clearer to him now. The number of Confounding Puppets he could control increased to four. The ability to command four puppets simultaneously in battle gave him an almost insurmountable advantage.
Aside from these, Jiang Chen had worked on his Holy Dragon Bow the most. He'd meditated on it each day to take in the primordial aura the bow exuded. The quality of the bow was remarkable indeed; this treasure was quite a coup! Of course, his other equipment and methods saw large improvements too.
He came out just in time to hear that the Jiao brothers' pursuit of Demon Emperor Bloodmalva had succeeded. The demon emperor hadn't expected two empyrean experts to be on his tail and had been firmly suppressed by them.
After being wounded in the battle in the Cloudshatter Range, the demon emperor found his recovery delayed even more. Despite this and the fact that the Jiao brothers were empyrean experts, the battle had still been quite fierce.
Thankfully, the Jiao brothers were significantly stronger than a demon great emperor. It had cost them a little to kill Bloodmalva, but success meant the removal of an enormous thorn in the young lord's side.
What made Jiang Chen rather upset though, was that the icy old man who'd brought a shouting match to Sacred Peafowl Mountain had seemingly disappeared. There was no actualization to the threats he had made.
Jiang Chen had laid down a plot for any secluded experts to appear, but the frigid old man had apparently smelled something fishy about things here. He had been nowhere to be found since then. This absence was more concerning than his potential presence.
"Spread this piece of news far and wide," Jiang Chen commanded. "Tell the human domain that I am inviting all secluded experts for tea at Sacred Peafowl Mountain in Veluriyam Capital. The more the merrier. I have many gifts for them!"
By doing so, he intended to take the initiative. Perhaps this was a better strategy in dealing with these hermit experts.