A self-collected man, Old Crane asked with a deep breath, "Young lord, doesn't that mean the Grand Ascension can…"
Jiang Chen nodded immediately. "Yes. The senior said that if I can fully comprehend it, I can at least reach the peak of empyrean realm. If destined to, I can even shed the material plane for a higher plane of existence."
Even a personage like Old Crane shook all over. With an intense stare, he whispered, "Did the senior mention what kind of plane that is?"
"Above the empyrean realm lies the road to godhood, where both the soul and the flesh can communicate with the divine. At that stage, apart from heavenly tribulations, there's no limit to one's lifespan. One can survive as long as the universe exists."
This had been common knowledge in Jiang Chen's past life.
As the son of a celestial emperor, he'd been a prominent figure standing above the masses. The things he'd seen were a million times beyond the ken of the Divine Abyss Continent. Anything he casually imparted would stun these secluded masters.
Sure enough, the atmosphere became heavy. The guests' expressions took a strange turn. Apart from Old Crane, all of the empyrean masters were seized by a sudden sense of inferiority.
Sudden realization had dawned that this confident young lord was truly their equal, or perhaps even their superior. They were entirely at his mercy at this moment, desperate for him to grant them "The Way to Grand Ascension."
From a certain point of view, wasn't it the same as young men longing for their elders' guidance? Jiang Chen had gained the upper hand in that regard.
And in fact, this was the result he'd been gunning for. It would've been difficult to use force to beat honest obedience into the bunch. However, his knowledge and experience, and the prestige of his mysterious teacher, had awed them into submission.
If an expert could casually impart a mantra such as the "Grand Ascension," how could his strength be lacking? Could he be worse than ordinary empyrean cultivators like them?
Old Crane exclaimed, "Divinity... sure enough, such an indistinct realm exists above ours! There's indeed no end to the grand dao. They say that the gods are immortal, residing in the everlasting heavenly planes, enjoying endless bliss and pleasure. How enviable! They've truly become perfect lifeforms."
Empyrean experts were mighty enough. But like common mortals, their lifespan was limited. They would kick the bucket all the same when their time was due. They seemed eternal to the common folk, but were far from true immortality.
Jiang Chen smiled. "They're not actually immortal. The gods also have to face heavenly tribulations and cataclysmic disasters. Mortality is high among them. In fact, it might not be lower than for mundane cultivators."
"Ah?" The guests looked at each other, perplexed. How could death be so frequent for the gods? Were the heavenly tribulations that frightening?
Jiang Chen smiled. "Of course, that's all hearsay from my teacher. I used to be curious as well, so I asked him if gods lived forever."
"How did he answer?" Old Crane quizzed.
"That the heavenly dao has its own rules. Life and death, rise and decline, there is a cycle to everything. Nothing is everlasting and lives forever. Of course, if divine cultivators survive their tribulations, they will live as long as the sun or the moon. However, their world isn't foreign to conflict and massacre. Their wars also result in heavy casualties. Otherwise, no matter how vast the heavenly planes, how could they contain an infinite number of divine creatures?"
Like frogs at the bottom of the well, the guests were shocked time and again by his revelations.
Old Crane exclaimed. "I wouldn't dare presume comment on the affairs of the gods. I simply wonder if your teacher's cultivation…"
"It's far above all of yours. of this I'm certain of. His aura and presence are on an entirely different level. However, I didn't dare ask for specifics, and I probably won't have another opportunity to."
The crowd took his explanation in stride. Of course such a figure was stronger than them. The mysterious man must have been close to divinity. Otherwise, how would he raise a monster like Jiang Chen in such a short time?
Did an ordinary man have such ability? Only a near infallible god did. Even Old Crane had to concede that he couldn't possibly train a mundane youngster into a third of Jiang Chen in a short amount of time.
So what if they were weaker than this mysterious teacher? That was only right and proper; there was nothing to be angry or resentful about here.
Old Crane sighed in regret. "No further opportunities? Young lord, did the senior already leave our continent?"
Jiang Chen sighed deeply, his voice desolate. "I don't know either. I once asked him, 'Will I see you again?' He responded, 'When the time is right.' But when might that be? I haven't a clue."
Like an inborn actor, he skillfully made this fake teacher come to life, firmly fooling the crowd.
Old Crane wrung his hands. "It'll be the regret of a lifetime if I can't pay my respects to such a master."
The others nodded, sharing in the sentiment. They were envious of Jiang Chen as well. Since he and the unknown senior were predestined to cross paths, the latter must've paved the young man's entire future, only waiting for the boy to progress step by step until empyrean realm, then even further in the pursuit of a higher plane...
The same thought flashed in everyone's mind: they couldn't afford to make enemies of Jiang Chen.
You can become jealous of someone who's on the same level, or even a little inferior. You might want to beat him down or ostracize him. But when you find out that this person is only inferior to you for now, and that his origins and potential far exceed yours… and that his backing can easily crush you like a bug...
Jealousy of such a person was futile. Jiang Chen was destined to walk a different path and soar to higher skies. What waste effort being jealous of or suppressing him?
Their sole preoccupation was currently whether he would pass on the "Grand Ascension" to everyone. Hadn't he mentioned benefits?
Jiang Chen smiled. He could surmise their thoughts. "We've digressed. Let's go back to the topic at hand."
The guests sat upright, their eyes fervent.
"My teacher told me that I can pass on the mantra to predestined friends. But he solemnly warned me it requires upstanding moral character and unyielding resolve. More importantly, you need to be human and stand fast by mankind, never to betray it! You must work for humanity's betterment with a thankful heart!" The young lord's voice was full of sincere gravitas.
"Why did I arrange this tea party outdoors? Because the gods watch us from the firmament. In your heart of hearts, do you believe you can fulfill my conditions? If yes, the mantra is yours. If not, then perish the thought forever." His open gaze swept over each of them.
Old Crane chuckled. "Though I've retired from the world, you've ignited a fire anew in my chest. If I can obtain this mantra, I hereby declare I'll always be loyal to mankind and support our race with a heart full of gratitude. May the heavens smite me if I lie."
He swore an earnest oath beneath the vast blue sky, his heart brimming with sincerity.
As his faithful follower, Liu Yuan also pledged, "I also swear to the heavens that I'll always be grateful if I can cultivate this mantra. No matter my future results, I shall be loyal and work to the benefit of the people. May the heavens destroy me if my resolve ever weakens or if I betray mankind!"
Zhu Yun laughed heartily. "Count me in too…"
Everyone gladly obliged with their pledges. No one could resist the mantra's temptation. For one, Jiang Chen hadn't made excessive demands. But even if he had, such as a task for Veluriyam, they'd also have accepted cheerfully.
Jiang Chen nodded with a smile. "Wonderful. All of you have perceived the rules of the world, making you particularly attuned to the heavenly dao. So you must be aware of the significance of an oath in the name of the heavens. Very well. You will each be given a copy of the mantra. As to your future achievements, they're up to your own potential and comprehension ability."
The crowd was elated by his promise.
"Young lord, you're truly a man of principle. We pale in comparison." Liu Yuan sighed. "I have to say, since you've been so generous to us, we naturally have to reciprocate. Feel free to ask if Veluriyam ever needs us."
Old Crane laughed gently. "Liu Yan's said everything I wanted to say."
Zhu Yun grinned. "Old Crane happens to be a friend of mine. I can't go wrong listening to him. Young lord, I used to have my reservations about you, but now it looks like you're really a good man. You're a friend worth having!"