Jiang Chen perked up. He had joined the Eternal Sacred Land precisely to gain its support against Xiahou Zong. Given how limited his time was, it would be difficult for him to deal with Huang'er's issue on his own.
This was the perfect opportunity for him to negotiate a deal with the venerated forefather. But what was the right way to bring the issue up?
The forefather was the top of the command chain in the sacred land. Jiang Chen's relationship with Huang'er might be immensely important to the couple, but it might be wholly insignificant to the forefather.
Jiang Chen thought long and hard about what to say.
"We are generous to our disciples, young man. We're willing to support you in getting the House Yan girl. However, you have to show us your potential and prove that you're valuable enough for us to support you, even at the cost of making House Xiahou our enemy."
Ziju Min had said the same thing before, but what kind of a demonstration of talent would be considered enough? It was difficult to define the standards.
"Venerated Forefather, how will you determine my potential? What should this junior do for the sacred land's approval and wholehearted support?"
"We didn't have a set of standards before, but I can think of one for you now. Listen carefully."
"I'm all ears," Jiang Chen rushed out.
"First, cultivate by the Eternal River located within our grounds. In half a year, comprehend the heavenly law and acquire an empyrean decree.
"Second, everyone has to earn his keep here. You must make sufficient contribution to the sacred land by accumulating a hundred thousand points in a year.
"Once the first and second requirements are fulfilled, I'll evaluate you myself. If you pass, I'll take you in as my direct disciple. Although your status won't rival that of the three primes, you will be the equal of the upper elders. By then, the sacred land will naturally support you in anything."
The first two requirements were concrete, while the third was vague and subjective. How would he pass the venerated forefather's evaluation? What were the benchmarks?
Jiang Chen still had questions, but he didn't voice them. Knowing the requirements was enough for him. He was fine as long as the objectives were clear.
"Alright, my time is limited. Do your best, young man. Don't let your talents go to waste." The apparition disappeared.
Jiang Chen paused for a moment before smiling. "It's good to know the specific requirements," he murmured to himself. "So I'm to understand the heavenly law and gain an empyrean decree?"
That he was confident about. His understanding of the heavenly planes were ten times more than even the venerated forefather. His understanding of martial dao had been limited to theoretical application in his past life, but he was an extraordinarily quick learner. Half a year wasn't that long, but it was long enough.
Jiang Chen was roughly eighty percent sure he'd reach his goal. That the venerated forefather had specifically mentioned the Eternal River suggested that it was significant in some way. It would likely be beneficial to cultivate by the Eternal River.
As for the second requirement, he didn't know how much a hundred thousand contribution points was. He'd only just officially joined the faction after passing the Nine Winding Caves evaluation a couple days ago.
Ziju Min returned at this time.
"Has the venerated forefather left, Shao Yuan?" Ziju Min meekly stayed outside the residence.
"He has. Please come in, Elder Ziju."
Ziju Min walked in after receiving the confirmation.
"I have some questions, Elder Ziju. I'm glad you're back." Jiang Chen was a little lost and needed some information.
Ziju Min was curious about what the venerated forefather had said and responded without hesitation, "If you have any questions, come to me. I'll tell you everything I'm know and am allowed to tell you."
The pill sovereign now held the young man in the highest of regard. He knew he couldn't maintain the attitude that he'd done Shao Yuan a great favor. It was best for him to treat the young genius as an equal. Shao Yuan was meant for greatness and it was only a matter of time until he soared to great heights. It wouldn't hurt at all to befriend a genius.
Jiang Chen repeated the requirements he'd received.
Ziju Min gaped before he took a deep breath. "Grasping the heavenly law and obtaining an empyrean decree in half a year! That's much too short a period of time. Let me be frank, many are unable to ascend to empyrean realm for a hundred or a couple hundred years after reaching peak great emperor. Some are stuck for a lifetime.
"Half a year… that's very little time. You must be prepared for failure. Of course, there have been many geniuses since the dawn of time. Perhaps the odds are higher for you. Never say never when it comes to martial dao. You must work hard and do all you can. I believe that even if it takes a little longer for you to breakthrough, you'll still be considered qualified as long as the venerated forefather sees your potential. The six months mark is likely to be a simple motivator."
Jiang Chen smiled. "Perhaps. I do believe that I'll be able to grasp the heavenly law in half a year. I actually have more questions about the second requirement. How are the contribution points calculated?"
"There's a complicated system in place. If you take on only simple missions, you won't be able to accumulate a hundred thousand points even after ten years. To be honest, this isn't an easy requirement to fulfill either. A year is too short."
Ziju Min felt sorry for Jiang Chen. In his opinion, both requirements were too harsh. It was almost impossible for Jiang Chen to succeed. If he'd been faced with the same two requirements when young, he would've never been able to reach them.
Reach empyrean realm in half a year?
Acquire a hundred thousand contribution points in a year?
Nonetheless, the venerated forefather must have a reason for setting such targets for Shao Yuan. He was all-knowing. Perhaps he'd set the standards according to Shao Yuan's potential.
What Ziju Min couldn't do might not be impossible for Shao Yuan.
This set the pill sovereign's mind at ease.
"I can take you to the Eternal River. As for the contribution points, the Hall of Merit can provide a detailed explanation. Doing regular missions won't give you a hundred thousand points, but missions of larger scale or higher difficulty will award a hundred thousand points.
"Most of those missions have been there for decades, centuries, or even millennia. They are mostly for show. Not even the senior executives can complete them, let alone the youths in the sect."
Jiang Chen nodded after a bemused pause. "I'll first go to the Hall of Merit for some information. I have to make some preparations before going to the Eternal River."
Ziju Min nodded. "Alright. Manage your time smartly."
The Hall of Merit was an important division in the sacred land. Its power rivaled that of the pill dao division under Ziju Min's governance. In some ways, it was even more important than the pill dao division.
It kept records of contributions made by every member of the sect, which was essential for the sacred land to operate normally.
Jiang Chen reached the hall with Ziju Min guiding the way. The elder in charge, Gu Yunjin, was one of the ten great elders and with Ziju Min. They weren't good friends, but they were familiar enough with each other.
Both of them held power over an important division in the sacred land, and both might need help from the other at any time. Therefore, their relations were more or less harmonious.
"I was wondering why the magpies were chirping so early in the morning. Turns out it's Daoist Ziju come to visit! Hahaha!" Gu Yunjin was one who could warm an atmosphere by himself. His charismatic demeanor drew others in. People like him were adept at dealing with others and socialization in general.
Ziju Min smiled. "I'm here with the venerated forefather's orders to teach Shao Yuan about the contribution points system. He'a a recent addition to the sacred land. There are many rules he doesn't yet understand fully."
Gu Yunjin laughed heartily. "Young Shao Yuan is an exceptional genius that all of us are proud of. It's my honor to answer his questions. After fifty or a hundred years, maybe it's us old men who will be looking up to these young geniuses."
Ziju Min chuckled. "Don't flatter him too much, Daoist Gu."
"Haha, it's not flattery, no. It's my gut feeling and wishful thinking. The sacred land can develop only if the youths continue to grow and become the pillars of the sect." Gu Yunjin had a silver tongue and easily broke the ice between the three of them.
Jiang Chen did find Gu Yunjin too talkative, but he didn't dislike people like this. After all, even though Gu Yunjin was being a little dramatic, it was obvious that he meant well.