Ziju Min had observed Jiang Chen a long while and had put a lot of thought into each of his interactions with the youth. At their first encounter, the young man really had been uninterested in the invitation. That rejection had absolutely not been for the sake of a later acceptance.
The pill had lived for more than enough time to be able to glean that trivial amount of information.
If the young man had planned to join the Eternal Sacred Land all along, he could’ve done so at the first invitation. There would’ve been no need to initially refuse.
The pill sovereign had only pulled off the second invitation by using the friction between the young man and House Yan. Thus, he was certain that the young man would do no harm to the sacred land.
Someone snickered. “Elder Ziju, your guarantee is entirely personal. I don’t find it very convincing.”
Ziju Min smiled coolly. “What do you think we should do? Exile him? Dismiss him from the sacred land?”
“Not necessarily, but we should be wary of him. It’s never bad to understand all of the specifics.”
“That’s what some of House Yan’s executives thought. And what came of it?” Ziju Min sneered.
“House Yan isn't remotely worthy of comparison to us,” the dissenting elder retorted.
“The reasoning is sound. I can’t believe any faction in the Ten Divine Nations would be blind enough to give away a genius like him.”
Ziju Min was frigid. “Though I suppose the possibility of brain damage can’t be discounted.”
The first prime didn't take a side in the argument. Instead, she smiled serenely. “That’s enough on that subject. We will see in time whether Shao Yuan has any ulterior motives.”
“He has a goal of his own,” Ziju Min declared. “He’s mentioned it to me, in fact. I told him that the sacred land will not support him before he displays absolutely dominant talent and capability.”
“Oh? What goal does he have?” the first prime inquired with interest. Goals were fine to have. Goals unknown to others were much more concerning.
Ziju Min sighed softly. “First Prime, I’d be happy to discuss it at length with you later.”
The first prime nodded after a moment of consideration. “Acceptable. Everyone knows of Shao Yuan’s surpassing talent by now. I’d like to issue a formal warning that all debate regarding him should cease. If there really is a problem with him, I will deal with it personally. If not, all of this noise is pointless. House Yan lost this young man because of envy from a bunch of fools, but this is the Eternal Sacred Land. I don't enjoy the company of fools. Have I made myself clear?”
The elders who had been arguing a moment earlier were shakingly silent. They could hear the admonishment in the first prime’s tone.
A slight slap to the face was to teach them to behave. No obstructionist behavior would be tolerated.
“Alright, that’s that then. Let’s keep our eyes peeled to see if our newest genius can’t work a miracle. Will he break the Nine Winding Caves’ record?”
Jiang Chen was embroiled in a bitter struggle. Under the precondition that he couldn’t use his Confounding Puppets, he found it difficult to deal with the situation using his other, more standard, techniques. However, he took pleasure in the difficulty.
This was the best time to hone his own combat ability. The more he strived, the more he sharpened his battle senses. He rather liked this kind of training; it would increase his overall skill a great deal.
It was difficult to look for chances to do so; he had come upon this opportunity by happenstance.
Jiang Chen’s all-roundedness really shone through here. If the ninth cave hadn’t forbidden flight, he felt that he could use speed alone to penetrate the creature’s defense.
Unfortunately, the cave’s restrictions were too severe.
He could only rely on his own agility and various methods to navigate around the serpent. His advantage lay in his mobility, his toolbox of abilities, and his limitless supply of pills.
The serpent was colossal in size, and would fatigue itself as the fight waged on. More importantly, it needed a lot of food to replenish its energy. Because it couldn't refine pills, it lacked the portable supply of energy that was available to Jiang Chen.
This was the only opening he could make use of at the moment. Therefore, Jiang Chen went to painstaking lengths to force the snake to drain its own energy. His goal was clear: even if he couldn't harm the serpent, he wanted to leech it of stamina until it could no longer move.
Jiang Chen utilized his strategy in a very adept manner. The serpent was excessively large and couldn't command all its extremities with particular dexterity.
Its tremendous mass gave it a crushing advantage in battle, as well as destructive momentum. However, the associated negative side effects were not to be discounted. It used up a lot of energy very quickly and had a hard time replenishing it.
This was why many towering races had declined from the primordial to the ancient, and from the ancient to the present. A large body meant a lot of inconveniences.
Though humans were naturally weak and mediocre in terms of bloodline, their ability to reproduce was extremely potent. Additionally, their bloodline could accommodate that of many others, and they were rather small in size.
These details didn't immediately appear advantageous in a single generation, but the passage of time showed their vital importance in a race’s propagation. A race with such qualities was very resilient.
This serpentine spirit was undoubtedly a descendant of ancient creatures. Evidently though, a creature like it was no longer the ruling race in these lands. It wouldn't be placed in a trial area otherwise.
Because it was kept in a trial cave, that might mean its existence was under the Eternal Sacred Land’s control and permission. More bluntly, it was a puppet of the sacred land – albeit of a different nature.
The first prime appreciated Jiang Chen’s clever use of strategy. In the world of martial dao, a young genius wasn’t considered amazingly gifted if all he had to show was talent alone.
Countless youths with exceptional potential existed among the first-rate factions of Myriad Abyss Island Aside from remarkable talent, a cunning intellect and a calm mind were decisive factors that distinguished a genius from his peers – and many other personal qualities besides.
The first prime was very satisfied with this young man in particular in these areas. A genius who could strictly carry out a strategy in a bind must have a sharp mind.
“How are things in there, First Prime?” someone asked.
“Rather well. This young man is a lot more resilient than we thought he would be. More exceptionally, his thoughts are crystal clear. Someone who can keep their cool in a heated moment is hard to find. The fact that he’s executing a strategy even now… he really stands out from the crowd.” The first prime didn't hold back any praise.
“First Prime, he… he’s executing a strategy?”
“Yes, he’s attempting to tire out his opponent. The serpent is very large, and each motion requires a lot of energy. He’s trying everything he can to get it to move around and speed up its exhaustion. On the other hand, he’s using pills to restore his own energy. If the serpent can’t deal with him shortly, perhaps the young man can get past.”
“Tire out his opponent?”
“Exactly so.” The first prime nodded.
Ziju Min’s eyes lit up. Relying on the serpent’s fatigue was the best strategy right now. The serpent was assuredly stronger than him in terms of pure offense and defense.
Taking advantage of the energy discrepancy between the two combatants was a perfect solution. As long as there was the tiniest of openings thanks to the snake’s fatigue, Jiang Chen could take advantage of it.
Many of the Hall of Elders nodded to themselves. The young man was indeed remarkable. Stratagems were not uncommon, but it was much harder for a young genius to come up with the best one in so short a time. That was a much rarer quality.
Just as the first prime had said, Jiang Chen was putting the maximum amount of effort into exhausting his enemy. He aimed his attacks specifically at the serpent’s most vulnerable areas, forcing it to dodge. He also occasionally provoked it into attacking him recklessly.
As long as the serpent moved without rest, it would expend energy at an exponential rate. And as long as he didn’t actually enter melee range with the serpent, Jiang Chen was unafraid of its attacks. The scariest missile range attack of the serpent was its poison mist, completely ineffectual against him.
After four hours spent in frenzied brawl, the serpent’s presence began to weaken. It was having a hard time keeping up the intense assault. This was Jiang Chen’s chance!
He nocked two arrows upon his Holy Dragon Bow.
“Eat this, you brute!” Jiang Chen hadn’t used it earlier because he’d been waiting for this moment. His Holy Dragon Bow could inflict the maximum amount of damage among everything in his arsenal. Thus, Jiang Chen wanted to use it only when the serpent hesitated.
His target was the beast’s eyes.
His Evil Golden Eye had failed to destroy the serpent’s eyes despite being deployed several times. It was time to break out a more potent weapon.
The fully drawn bow unleashed a powerful ancient aura.
Jiang Chen concentrated the strength from his entire body into a single point. He prepared himself to fire the most powerful set of twin arrows in his entire life. His heart was as clear as calm water. His consciousness rested upon the two arrows.
Only the weapon was in his heart.
The serpent shrieked, feeling a tinge of oddness and unease. Its gargantuan body slithered to and fro, attempting to land a lethal strike upon Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen’s own body was light as a swallow, his eyes perpetually trained on his target without hesitation. He was narrowing the focus onto the serpent’s eyes.
As long as he managed to hit its eyes, it would be blinded. Without its eyes, its senses would be severely deadened. The opportunity created by the pain would be the chance he could dart past!