The rest of the banquet was a stage for all the best geniuses of the prominent factions. Most of them were also expert hands at socializing, and worked together to raise the atmosphere to new heights.
Abnormally, Jiang Chen laid low and observed from the side.
Yan Zhenhuai on the other hand, was reasonably well-known and accepted. Many geniuses were more willing to make his acquaintance. His talent was ranked highly among the younger generation in Eternal as a whole – regardless of his affiliation and house.
House Yan was declining, but Yan Zhenhuai was on the rise.
Yan Qingsang had no interest in putting himself in the middle of the activity. He was content to converse by Jiang Chen’s side.
The banquet concluded amidst a bustling atmosphere. Jiang Chen and Yan Qingsang readied themselves to leave. If courtesy wasn’t a consideration, the former would’ve left a time ago.
“Young friend, may I have a moment?” As he strode out of House Xiahou’s gates, a voice called out behind him. Jiang Chen knew it was Ziju Min from the sound alone.
Since the older man was his senior, Jiang Chen paused with a sincere smile. “Master Ziju, were you calling for me?”
“Haha, there’s no need for so much pleasantries. I still have quite a few questions regarding the pill dao contest earlier. Will you do me the honor of giving me a bit of your time?”
Jiang Chen traded a glance with Yan Qingsang. His friend pushed him a little. “Go, Brother Shao Yuan. Master Ziju is a well-respected master. If you can receive a bit of his wisdom, or better yet, become his disciple, you’ll have a wonderful future ahead of you.”
He was only half-joking. If Jiang Chen and Ziju Min forged a strong relationship, House Yan would benefit as well. At the very least, it would receive Ziju Min’s help to a certain extent. If conflict arose in the future, asking for assistance from the Eternal Sacred Land was an option.
Ziju Min understood the ramifications of his words much as Yan Qingsang did. He maintained a silent smile until the other youth disappeared. “After you, my young friend.”
“No, no, please go ahead.” Jiang Chen responded with equal courtesy.
They turned a corner to find an opulent carriage, drawn by four magnificent spirit beasts, parked in an open area.
“Come on in,” Ziju Min stepped to the side to let Jiang Chen in first.
A single command sent the carriage airborne. The vehicle soared high into the clouds, vanishing from sight in the blink of an eye.
Not long after it did, several young geniuses pondered the shadow of the departed carriage. “It looks like Master Ziju Min has invited House Yan’s young foreign-surname genius.”
“Is it his lucky day?? A personal invite from the senior can only mean promising prospects.” The ones discussing it were filled with envy.
Clearly, they were quite desirous of Ziju Min’s overture. The pill immortal was a giant in Eternal Sacred Land, at least in the pill dao department. He had a lot of authority everywhere in Eternal Divine Nation.
The young man must have been truly incredible for the senior to see value in him, going so far as to personally take him away!
“I guess it makes sense. That guy was the entire reason House Yan won six hundred million sky spirit stones and first place in the pill dao contest, right?”
“What I want to know is where he comes from. Have any of you heard about him before?”
“How could we have? I think Yan Qingsang brought him back from the Bluesmoke Isles.”
“Yan Qingsang is too dumb to have brought someone back like him. That can’t be right!”
“Hard to say. Myriad Abyss Island has its fair share of mysteries. You get used to it after a while.”
“Heheh, I’ve always felt that the newcomer is too enigmatic to be at home in House Yan. Maybe he’s only using the house as a springboard. Now that a pill dao master from the Eternal Sacred Land has taken an interest in him, he won’t possibly stay with House Yan in its current downturn. He’s going to fly elsewhere!” Although there were multiple voices in this conversation, the main theme was the deep envy they felt for Jiang Chen’s current treatment.
Within the beast carriage, Jiang Chen was perfectly quiet. He answered every question Ziju Min voiced with impeccable accuracy. However, he said not a word beyond what was required.
He wasn’t pretending to be deep and mysterious, but because he knew it was dangerous to speak too much. Being unfamiliar with Ziju Min, he didn’t know the man’s personality or habits.
It was easy to make a misstep by being unnecessarily eloquent.
Rather than bringing Jiang Chen to Eternal Sacred Land, Ziju Min brought him back to his personal residence.
“Do you know why I took you here rather than the sacred land, young Shao Yuan?”
“Perhaps you don’t want me to go there, senior.”
“Haha, It’s not that. Eternal Sacred Land has very strict conditions surrounding it. Once you enter, it’s difficult to come back out.”
“Is it really that extreme?” Jiang Chen smiled.
“Well, rather than extreme… the sacred land doesn’t easily allow outsiders. Anyone who enters either becomes an heir or a servant. It’s almost impossible to leave without any consequences.”
Jiang Chen understood the gist of what the senior was getting at. The Eternal Sacred Land’s objective for doing this was likely to maintain its mystique.
“Alright, back to more important things. Friend, does the Trinonary Sages’ Puzzle really have twenty-seven combinations? If so, how many have you learned?”
Ziju Min was an avid scholar, deeply in love with pill dao as a whole. He was intensely curious about anything he took an interest in. This was the main reason he had invited only Jiang Chen in the first place.
“Did you ask me to come here solely for the puzzle, senior?” Jiang Chen cracked a wry smile.
“Haha, please don’t misunderstand, young friend. I simply wanted to make a few inquiries in the pursuit of knowledge. If it’s inconvenient for you, I won’t push you about it.”
“Oh, it’s not related to convenience or anything. I just didn’t expect you to be so… inquisitive, Master Ziju. May I ask the reason why?”
“I’ve always been fascinated with studying these ancient puzzles. Alas, my available sources of information on them are few and far between. Sometimes, I have no opportunities to do so at all. If you share what you know with me, I will owe you a tremendous favor.”
Jiang Chen smiled slightly. “I don’t see why not.”
Taking a minute to sort out his thoughts, he dictated, “All twenty-seven combinations of the Trinonary Sages’ Puzzle have been passed down through my ancestors. I know them all, but I feel that it’s just a distraction, for entertainment only. I don’t see any special meaning in it.”
“What? You know all twenty-seven?” Ziju Min was exhilarated. He had thought the young man capable of seven, eight, or perhaps a dozen or more. That all twenty-seven combinations were available were shocking indeed.
Without further ado, Jiang Chen put his head down and wrote with the brush and paper near him. It didn’t take long for him to scrawl out every combination. “Master Ziju,” he handed the older man the paper, “all twenty-seven are here. I owe my heritage for giving me such esoteric knowledge, of course.”
“No need to be humble, my friend. I have only the deepest respect for your pill dao knowledge. Your description of the Trinonary Sages’ Puzzle proves it all the more. You were also quite familiar with the five elements’ spirit herb riddle, I recall.”
Jiang Chen sighed. “I happened to have learned about it in the past, that’s all.”
His modesty only made Ziju Min appreciate him all the more.
“Young man, there’s no need to hold yourself back like this before me. Genius is the only thing I esteem, no matter where you’re from or what background you have. Your pill dao ability and foundational skills you displayed while refining pills mark you as superior to every other youth in Eternal Divine Nation. This isn’t empty flattery at all. I’ve been an empyrean rank pill sovereign for countless years, always observing and seeking out juniors with potential for success. I must say once again that though Eternal has its fair share of competent martial dao talent, it’s sorely lacking in the pill dao department.”
Ziju Min looked rather sad when he discussed the present circumstances. His dissatisfaction with Eternal Divine Nation’s current pill dao state was obvious.
However, this had nothing to do with Jiang Chen.
“I don’t have a propensity for poaching people, young man. Still, I have very high hopes for your future in pill dao. If you feel yourself bored by House Yan one day, with no room for further improvement, you can come find me. I may not be the absolute authority in Eternal Sacred Land, but my words are reasonably hefty. I can carve out a spot for you anytime.”
This a formal invitation from Ziju Min.
“All is currently well enough at House Yan, Master Ziju. I don’t have any plans to leave right now. However, pill dao has never had walls or divides. If there is anything you need from me at all, Master Ziju, please contact me at your leisure. I will do whatever you ask, as long as it is within my power.”
Of course Jiang Chen knew what status Ziju Min possessed in the sacred land. But he was deeply aware that once he entered it, he would have to leave House Yan and Huang’er behind. He would very likely be excommunicated.
Naturally, that was undesirable. He’d only been apart from Huang’er for several hours, but his concern for her was already mounting with painful speed. Going into the Eternal Sacred Land was a prospect too horrifying to imagine. He didn’t want to be forced to remain for a few years, only to find upon exiting that something had happened to Huang’er in the interim. What would he do then?
No matter how attractive it was to others, Jiang Chen was completely unmoved. He had come to Myriad Abyss and Eternal Divine Nation not to climb the societal ladder here or to enrich himself, but to rescue his beloved!