In the guest quarters, Jiang Chen made his farewells and bid his men to take good care of his distinguished guests.
Old Crane was in a solemn mood. He felt quite distressed and rather guilty after conversing with Jiang Chen.
Off to the side, Zhu Yun was huffing indignantly. "Jiang Chen is too young after all. He doesn't understand how to converse in polite society. He glorifies the demons and disparages his fellow humans!"
Old Crane knew that Zhu Yun was quick to jump to conclusions and didn't have any bad intentions. He shifted his glance to Liu Yuan instead. "Liu Yuan, what do you think?" The person in question was in deep thought. This was an issue that needed to be considered seriously.
"Old Crane, Jiang Chen's words are harsh, but I do agree with him. The human race has weakened greatly after the ancient war. Most of our ancient heritage was either taken to Myriad Abyss Island or has vanished completely. As it currently stands, our current foundations and strength aren't even a tenth of our ancestors'. If the demons recover up to thirty percent of their full strength, we won't be able to put up much of a resistance." Liu Yuan was already being rather tactful.
Old Crane sighed. "At first I thought that Jiang Chen was overstating the severity as well, but after careful consideration, I believe his words to be true. The Embittered Savages and Southern Celestials might not be anything to be afraid of, but the start of the demon invasion will plunge us into the depths of hell."
A depressed atmosphere clung to the crowd after these words.
They were empyrean masters. Worldly matters no longer concerned them, nor did humanity's plight, but the demons were a threat that not even they could avoid. Once the demons came back to life, even the experts would be drawn into the conflict. In fact, they would likely be the first to bear the brunt of disaster.
A grinning Liu Yuan wasn't as sombre as the others. "Old He, even though Jiang Chen is extremely wary of the demons, it's likely that he has some kind of plan in store. During our conversation, he mentioned something about a great change of fate. Perhaps things might not be as grim as we think."
Old Crane's eyebrow twitched. "Where do you think this change of fate lies?"
"I can't tell for the moment, but perhaps Veluriyam and Jiang Chen is one of the possibilities. I once heard that an ancient leader of humanity built Veluriyam Capital, and that the Pagoda is his trademark masterpiece."
Old Crane mused deeply. "That is indeed a saying, but it's never been verified. And in fact, every age since the ancient times brings with it some empyrean masters who try to spy on the Pagoda's secrets. But no one's ever succeeded. Either they realize they need to back off, or they just don't make it out."
Several more secluded masters filtered in during the rest of the day. It wasn't a given that all empyrean masters had dealings with each other. Those who arrived after the initial group were even more mysterious and low profile. Some of them surprised even Old Crane — he hadn't figured that they'd still be alive.
After exchanging pleasantries, all retired for the night in the guest quarters that Jiang Chen assigned to them.
It was without a doubt that they weren't here for just the tea party. They also wanted to take in what kind of person this famous young lord was. Would this miracle-maker actually bring forth some valuable benefits this time?
The sun shone brightly the next day, overlooking very pleasant weather. Jiang Chen rose early and went to look in on his guests after washing up and composing himself. Nothing was overlooked in the care of his guests.
The martial dao tea ceremony was held in a clearing on the mountain to the rear of the young lord residence. It was a prime location outfitted with high altitude, excellent and unobstructed visibility, and an excellent view.
The empyrean visitors who'd travelled quite a distance to be here filtered into the clearing. There were nine in total — a figure smaller than what Jiang Chen had anticipated, but not too great a disappointment overall.
At the start of the tea party, the young lord announced with a smile, "Everyone, we have all manner of drinks in sufficient quantities today, be it tea or alcohol. Sacred Peafowl Mountain is only a humble place, so please do excuse us if our offerings are inadequate."
The tea and spirits that Jiang Chen had prepared today were likely to be novelties to even the empyrean masters — particularly the spirits.
Back in the mundane kingdoms, his random 'Nine Magnificience Dew Wine' concoction had been enough to conquer Skylaurel Kingdom. For today's tea party, he'd painstakingly prepared real, heavenly-plane level drinks.
"Everyone, the green pot in front of you is filled with Drunken Immortal, while the red pot holds Shennong [A mythical Chinese deity and sage ruler of ancient China] Liquor. I've taken meticulous care with both. Please, try some." Jiang Chen poured a cup for himself as he spoke.
Their interest piqued, everyone present poured a cup of each. They were all empyrean masters, so they could naturally discern good from bad after they'd been so bold as to answer the invitation. A quick scan was sufficient to tell them that all was well with the drinks.
Interest gripped Old Crane and he drained a cup of Drunken Immortal. Its mellow sweetness instantly imparted good spirits and a light mind. He blurted out compliments, "Fantastic wine. It suits the name alright! This is wine that can put down even the gods and immortals. What a beauty, haha!"
Seeing Old Crane partake further drove the reservations out of people's minds. Besides, one of the shared interests between these secluded experts was a love of drinking.
Each chose Drunken Immortal or Shennong Liquor as they would, and almost all set down their cups with unanimous appreciation. "This really is fine alcohol!"
"Young lord Jiang Chen, you brewed this yourself? It's really something! Hahaha, looks like I have to come visit often in the future!"
Zhu Yun loved drinking. Jiang Chen was much more pleasing to his eye after two cups; any previous prejudices were nowhere to be found.
How could a brewer of such lovely alcohol possibly be bad? Such was Zhu Yun's logic.
The others burst out laughing. Jiang Chen joined in as well. "Please have as much as you'd like if the refreshments are to your taste. Like I mentioned, we have more than enough for everyone today."
Zhu Yun's eyes gleamed. "Really? Then I'm going to solemnly indulge myself!"
There was another roar of laughter at his words. Atmospheres were always most easily warmed when drinking. After a few cups of alcohol, people warmed up to each other and relations were closer.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, I've heard your name often in the past years. Old fogeys like us rarely inquire about mundane matters, but I must raise my thumb in approval and admiration to what you've done lately. You're definitely something! It's the human domain's fortune to have someone like you."
The speaker was a short and stout elder. He had an enormous, red nose that lent him quite some character.
Talk was cheap and compliments free. The others chimed in as well. Having drunk the young lord's alcohol, Jiang Chen was much more agreeable in their eyes.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, the battle with the Embittered Savages cemented your position as the leader of humanity. Though us old fellows don't seem to have accomplished anything, we too must admit that you're a qualified leader of the human domain. You have such abilities at your age and such a sense of responsibility. It really puts the rest of us to shame."
"Truly, therefore, our attendance at today's tea party is also a sign of respect."
Pretty words abounded, but Jiang Chen didn't forget himself amidst the mass flattery.
He smiled faintly, raised his cup and took a sip. "I took the risk of being forward in holding this tea party. I wanted to see where the limits of the human domain are and just how many empyrean experts humanity possesses. Please forgive me if I've offended anyone with my brash actions.
"My second intention is to make use of the tea party to express a few sentiments to the various seniors present. She Wanqing's death wasn't the result of pointed provocation on my end. He brought it down on himself, and I absolutely mean no disrespect to my empyrean seniors. He was too depraved and sunk to the depths of colluding with robbers from Myriad Abyss Island! Under those circumstances, I wouldn't have let him off even if I knew him personally!"
Jiang Chen's attitude was quite resolute when it came to this matter.
"Perhaps there will be those who think I'm too overbearing, that I'm being disrespectful to my seniors. I want to re-emphasize that I mean no offense. At the same time, I want to stress that even if the seniors here decide to withdraw from the world and refrain from sharing the burdens of mankind, please keep to a bottomline of morals. Don't aid and abet tyrants, or collude with alien invaders."
The young lord's words were a bit heavy, but he delivered them quite openly. The others could tell from the clean look in his eyes that he had no ulterior motives.
"The third intention behind the tea party is that I wanted to make use of this opportunity to get to know all of the seniors present. I really don't want to spend my time and effort on civil strife, and want even less for internal troubles to create misunderstandings! This kid feels that although the danger for humanity has been temporarily defused, the human domain lies in shambles with a thousand boils and a hundred holes. It can't take much more. Thus, whatever we all may do, please remember that we are all humans at the end of the day.
"And finally, when I sent out the invitation, I mentioned that there would be some benefits to attending."
Jiang Chen was showing an adept hand at how to operate in social situations. He'd had the serious talking to first, then pivoted to benefits at the end. In this way, any ruffled feathers or uneasiness would be smoothed over to a certain degree.