The Crowning Empyrean Pill was much more convincing than the Taiyi Skymender Pill. When Ziju Min brought the finished product to the three primes, their few remaining doubts were completely assuaged.
The pill sovereign took the opportunity to intercede. “Honored primes, I don’t see the reason why we shouldn’t fully support Shao Yuan. He is gifted beyond belief.”
The primes traded looks, then slowly nodded in unison.
Even if Shao Yuan had no martial dao talent whatsoever, they should still support him unconditionally. That he was amazing in martial dao was just icing on the cake. He was among the very best in both categories in the entire faction.
Of course, there were also the Five Great Gentlemen. But would Shao Yuan be inferior to them given enough time? The primes couldn’t be so intellectually dishonest.
The potential Shao Yuan had exhibited thus far was already historically unprecedented. This was hardly an exaggeration; there had never been a genius so skilled with both pill and martial dao in the Eternal Sacred Land’s past.
“We can’t hesitate anymore, First Prime. I hear that Xiahou Zong has opened his doors already. Perhaps…” The third prime paused.
The first prime’s expression turned serious as well. “Yes, indeed. We must decide whether we will stand with Shao Yuan.”
Ziju Min was shaken by the news of Xiahou Zong’s emergence as well.
“Xiahou Zong… he’s exited closed door cultivation?” His tone was colored with surprise.
The senior had been entirely devoted to pill-related affairs for the past few days and hadn’t had the time to pay attention to the outside world. At the same time, he was also mildly concerned for his disciple. If Xiahou Zong had come out of cultivation, would he take away Yan Qinghuang immediately?
His worries weren’t unfounded. Recent contact with Shao Yuan had impressed upon him the young man’s stubbornness in this matter.
If Xiahou Zong were allowed to take away Yan Qinghuang without his knowledge, the young man would be severely disappointed in the sacred land. He might very well leave immediately, or even bear a grudge against the entire divine nation for the rest of his life.
“Elder Ziju, you don’t need to tell Shao Yuan about it yet. He shouldn’t be distracted from refining pills,” the third prime ventured.
Ziju Min shook his head. “I can’t keep it from him. On the topic of refining pills, I have something to report.”
“What is it?”
“After refining the Crowning Empyrean Pill, Shao Yuan told me that it was a very difficult task. He doesn’t wish to be treated as a tool for refining pills. He wants to decide how many he will refine, and when.”
A pill dao genius normally wouldn’t have the right or courage to say something like this. If the sacred land wanted someone to refine pills, what room was there to refuse? A young man should be satisfied with the exposure and reputation alone!
But Jiang Chen was far from the average pill dao genius. He had his own principles.
The third prime wasn’t happy to hear the demand. Wasn’t this young man thinking too highly of himself? He’d only just joined the sacred land, but he was already negotiating on the small stuff?
However, the first prime smiled and nodded. “Real geniuses are always somewhat strange in their temperaments. Shao Yuan’s genius entitles him to negotiating with us. Elder Ziju, do you think that the Crowning Empyrean Pill is as difficult as he claims?”
“Yes, I believe so. The time and energy Shao Yuan spent on it indicates that it is significantly more difficult than the Taiyi Skymender Pill,” Ziju Min replied truthfully.
“Hmm. Elder Ziju, go tell Shao Yuan that we will back him fully on the matter of Yan Qinghuang. If there is any disturbance whatsoever, we will mobilize immediately. However, it would be ideal for him to help the sacred land by refining a few more pills in his spare time. We can discuss how much of a cut he gets in the profits. Any distribution is on the table.”
The third prime frowned a little. “First Prime, aren’t we making too many concessions? At the end of the day, he’s just one young man.”
The first prime shook her head in disagreement. “We must plan for the future, number three. I daresay that if we limit or coerce him in any way, it is highly doubtful he will align himself with our values. We must spoil and flatter such a genius in order to keep him around. Moreover, Shao Yuan doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable youth. If we can help him accomplish his heart’s desire, he will repay us in kind. I trust him.” The leader of the Eternal Sacred Land had a keen eye for people.
“What do you think, Elder Ziju? Are you satisfied with our treatment of him?” Chuckling, she turned to the elder.
Ziju Min took a moment to think. “First Prime,” he responded with sincerity, “I don’t think it’s enough to merely mouth support. What if Xiahou Zong goes to House Yan to take Yan Qinghuang away? Our words will not satisfy our young friend.”
“Are… are we supposed to help him take the girl by force? Or forcefully stop Xiahou Zong from taking Yan Qinghuang? We might have the power, but doing so might be perceived as being too domineering. This is a private matter between Xiahou Zong and House Yan, and it’s unbecoming for us to intercede so barbarically.”
“First Prime, we can help him bring his marriage proposal to House Yan. If he completes ‘the Flames of Vengeance’ in the upcoming pill dao festival, he will be made famous overnight. His name will be more than enough to ask for House Yan’s daughter then. In fact, the house would not be worthy of someone like him.” Ziju Min gave his own suggestion.
The three primes traded meaningful looks. This solution was the most appropriate, though it would anger House Xiahou regardless.
After all, the entire world knew of the enmity between House Xiahou and House Yan.
Yan Qinghuang had been fated to be Xiahou Zong’s cultivation vessel at a young age. This was public knowledge to just about anybody in Eternal Divine Nation. If someone butted in to ask for Yan Qinghuang in marriage now, it would be a resounding slap to Xiahou Zong’s face.
Well, impulsive acts were common among young people for the sake of love. And what was so wrong with upsetting House Xiahou?
Hadn’t the Eternal Sacred Land been looking for a genius who could beat Xiahou Zong for a long time? The Five Great Gentlemen had been raised up as potential challengers for quite a while now, their somewhat lackluster performance notwithstanding.
Though Xiahou Zong had made his name known throughout the world, the Eternal Sacred Land had also unexpectedly gotten its hands on a new exceptional genius.
It was a serendipitous surprise indeed.
Would this genius surpass their wildest hopes and dreams? Would he usurp Xiahou Zong’s so-called throne as the foremost genius?
The Eternal Sacred Land was willing to devote itself to the attempt. The young man deserved unconditional support for his pill dao talent alone.
The first prime nodded with sobriety. “It’s settled, then. Elder Ziju, if Shao Yuan can defeat Shi Xuan and complete ‘the Flames of Vengeance’, he is approved to ask House Yan for their daughter’s hand in marriage. We will back him up utterly, no questions asked!”
The speaker was weighty enough for this answer to be conclusive. After all, the first prime was the ruler of the Eternal Sacred Land in name. Furthermore, the venerated forefather had promised that he would give the go-ahead if the young man could fulfill his part of the deal.
Opinions from the two most important individuals in the Eternal Sacred Land meant that Shao Yuan was more than qualified to compete with Xiahou Zong.
At the end of the day though, the competition required his own strength.
“Elder Ziju, you know too that the tournament of geniuses is in a few months. If Shao Yuan wants to compete with Xiahou Zong, he will inevitably meet his rival in that tournament. What should he do then? The arena is fair to its combatants, regardless of their relative status. Shao Yuan’s martial dao is on the shallow side. Does he have a way to deal with the commanding Xiahou Zong?”
“That’s not something we need to worry about, First Prime. Shao Yuan doesn’t seem to care much about Xiahou Zong.”
Ziju Min found this somewhat odd as well. Where did Shao Yuan’s courage come from? Why didn’t he care about Xiahou Zong, the foremost genius of the Eternal Sacred Land? And yet, there seemed to be a reason for Shao Yuan’s confidence. It didn’t appear to be blind.
Having received the first prime’s guarantee, the senior returned to Jiang Chen to inform him of the good news.
Jiang Chen was unsurprised by the development. The three primes had taken a completely sensible course of action. If they had remained indecisive, he would’ve suspected their sincerity and wisdom.
Ziju Min marveled at the young man’s lack of a reaction. Had he predicted this would be the case? He really was extraordinary.
It was difficult for anyone not to be overwhelmed with joy at this juncture, especially someone so young. Calmness in the face of great change was a valuable trait.
“Shao Yuan,” he reminded, “the first prime’s meaning is very clear. If you can defeat Shi Xuan, then the sacred land will openly support you. But you also have to remember another thing: winning over Yan Qinghuang will require your own strength. You must clear away Xiahou Zong yourself before you can bring your love home. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “I don’t need the sacred land to cheat for me. I just need public and moral support, just like how Xiahou Zong is backed by his house.”
“There’s no problem, then. The first prime and the venerated forefather are in agreement on this. Don’t worry about House Xiahou. We will not allow such an overreach.”