As time went on, the day of the Skymender Festival came closer and closer. Pill dao giants from all over the divine nations streamed into Eternal Divine Nation with their entourages.
Though Eternal Divine Nation was a lightweight in pill dao among its fellows, the nation itself was quite strong amongst the Ten. Therefore, the pill dao giants who’d come didn’t dare cause too much of a disturbance. They maintained the necessary respect accorded to a divine nation of Eternal’s strength, while Eternal Sacred Land occupied a lofty position that couldn't be scorned.
Ziju Min visited Jiang Chen’s residence frequently over the past few days. His mood swung up and down like a pendulum as the festival and guests of all stripes approached. The man was enthusiastic one moment and anxious the next.
Jiang Chen remained a reflect of perfect placidity. Ziju Min couldn't see any emotional disturbance whatsoever on the young man’s face.
“Elder Ziju, why do you look more distressed than me?” Jiang Chen chuckled.
Ziju Min laughed with some embarrassment. “Shao Yuan, you didn’t live through the affair with Elder Zimu, so you might not understand our current mood. I daresay that even the three primes have mixed feelings right now.”
“There’s no need to be concerned,” Jiang Chen replied smoothly. His confidence bolstered Ziju Min’s own, but it was unrealistic to demand the senior to become as calm as the youth.
“Is Shi Xuan here yet?” the young genius asked suddenly.
“I think he’ll be here soon. He’s definitely coming.” Ziju Min sounded very sure. “If not tomorrow, then the day after.”
“So, Shao Yuan, have you thought of how to challenge him yet?”
“Don’t worry. Leave it all to me. I need to reciprocate the sacred land’s support with a wonderful surprise.” Jiang Chen appeared to have a well-thought-out plan.
Though Ziju Min wasn't at the age to allow blood to easily rush to his head, he nevertheless felt a heady surge of recklessness.
“Ah, yes. I’ve also invited House Yan to attend this meeting, Shao Yuan, including Miss Yan Qinghuang.” Ziju Min carried on the conversation for the sake of spurring Jiang Chen on.
“Very good. Did you also invite Xiahou Zong?” asked Jiang Chen.
“I invited House Xiahou, though no one was specifically named. Xiahou Zong is undeniably important enough to attend though,” Ziju Min declared.
Jiang Chen nodded slightly, his eyes finally lighting up with anticipation. Was he finally going to meet his mortal enemy? In what way was this universally praised foremost genius excellent?
“Alright. Take the last three days to prepare as you like, Shao Yuan. I won’t disturb you anymore.” Ziju Min bid his farewell.
“If you’re at all bothered, Elder Ziju, you can come chat with me anytime,” Jiang Chen laughed. The young man knew that Ziju Min wasn’t here for anything in particular. He was just here to assuage his own misgivings.
Jiang Chen was very grateful for all of the senior’s help up to this point. The pill sovereign had worked hard to allow the young man to enter the sacred land and garner its support.
Not long after Ziju Min departed, the long-unseen Yan Qingsang snuck in. The young man from House Yan had cultivated behind closed doors for a while now. He was clearly exuberant at the sight of his friend, plopping down in front of him unceremoniously.
“Brother, you’ve done a lot of impressive stuff while I was cultivating. I opened my doors to hear discussions all over the sacred land about you. Even House Yan’s people are sending letters, asking about you all the time.” Yan Qingsang was extremely animated, spittle flying everywhere.
Jiang Chen gazed at his friend for a moment. “Do you want to break through to empyrean realm?” he asked suddenly.
“What do you mean?” Yan Qingsang brightened.
“The Taiyi Skymender Pill may not have much of an effect on the average great emperor, but you’re only a whisper from breaking through. The pill will help you rip that thin layer to shreds, vastly increasing your chances of ascension.”
Yan Qingsang had heard of the Taiyi Skymender Pill as soon as he’d come out of closed door cultivation. This was one of the reasons he had come to find Jiang Chen with so much excitement.
He knew that Jiang Chen had refined a batch of the pill, but had handed them all to the sacred land. As a new disciple, Yan Qingsang wasn't important enough to receive one yet—hence his presence here. Perhaps his future brother-in-law would give him an unexpected gift?
He hadn’t expect Jiang Chen to be so blunt and straightforward though, and was overjoyed that he would get a Taiyi Skymender Pill.
“That, uh… haha…” Yan Qingsang rubbed his hands on his clothes. Despite his thick skin, he was at a loss for words.
“Take it. I kept this pill back for you. It’s a supreme rank specimen.”
“I can’t very well let your goodwill go to waste then.” Chuckling, Yan Qingsang took it and cradled it like a treasure. He was a child who’d gotten his hands on a precious toy.
“I only have this one. If anyone in the house wants to borrow your connection, don’t promise anything too hastily on my behalf,” Jiang Chen reminded.
“Of course, of course. I don’t like anyone else in the younger generation in the house aside from Brother Zhenhuai, anyways. He’s long past the point of needing it though. Oh yes, and Huang’er…”
“Don’t worry about her.” Jiang Chen frowned.
“Okay, okay. She’s like a sister to me, but you’re going to be my brother-in-law. Of course you’re the one that needs to worry about it.” Yan Qingsang was now unabashedly supporting Jiang Chen’s bid for his sister.
He understood that Jiang Chen didn’t have many Taiyi Skymender Pills on hand. After all, his brother was just the refiner; most of the pills had been turned over to the sacred land. And of course, he had no plans to ask for a pill for anyone else.
He wasn’t on good enough terms with any of them, and he didn’t want to unduly trouble Jiang Chen either. Requests like these were a bottomless hole. If he accepted one, he would be obligated to do so for an endless stream of them.
House Yan had countless young geniuses who would leap for the chance at a pill to help them reach empyrean realm, but these pills were destined to remain rare and scarce.
Putting the pill carefully away, Yan Qingsang wondered, “Brother, will the Taiyi Skymender Pill be brought to market in the future?”
“Not necessarily.” Jiang Chen shook his head. “The pill is too expensive to refine. The materials are hard to get, which makes each cauldron precious. There won’t be very many of these anytime soon. I’m not sure if the sacred land even has enough for internal use, much less external sales. Even if a couple do make it out, they’ll be exorbitantly expensive and impossible to procure for the average person.”
The Taiyi Skymender Pill wasn’t as limited as the Crowning Empyrean Pill, but the Taiyi Dragonscale Fruit used as the primary ingredient wasn’t something easy to get one’s hands on. It was impossible to mass produce the pill, much less sell it on the open markets.
“Ah, that’s fine then.” Yan Qingsang grinned.
His line of thought was a bit childish. The fewer people that got the Taiyi Skymender Pill, the better! That would make his own more exclusive.
Jiang Chen knew what his friend was thinking, but changed the subject. “Any news from House Yan?”
Yan Qingsang had remained connected with his own house all this time.
“Nothing too big. Xiahou Zong has come out of closed door cultivation, but he hasn’t mentioned wanting to take Huang’er yet. Don’t worry, the house will try its best to delay him as much as possible.”
Yan Qingsang followed up his encouragement with a digression. “Right, my grandfather is back from Cloud Camel Mountain. I think he’s coming with Huang’er to the festival.”
“How are things over there?” Jiang Chen was rather curious about the mountain. The elder who’d been in charge of it within House Yan had invited him over, but he had refused at the time.
There’d been news of a huge dispatch from House Feng afterward as well. An apparent invading force, which was more than enough cause for Yan Wanjun to reinforce the mountain with a contingent of elite clansmen.
He hadn’t heard the conclusion to the affair since he’d entered the Eternal Sacred Land, though. He wanted to go there to see what was up for himself. is intuition told him that Cloud Camel Mountain hid a secret that hadn’t yet been uncovered.
“It’s the same as before. The house doesn’t have any ways of excavating the place. House Feng seems to want to take the fight to us, but they’re clearly unprepared too. My grandfather served as a strong deterrent, so there should be a standstill right now.”
“If your grandfather comes, will House Feng take the opportunity to invade?”
“They wouldn’t dare. A large-scale war bears no benefit for House Feng. Plus, they know that the Eternal Sacred Land owes House Yan a favor. They will only lose if they irreparably break our relationship.”
Jiang Chen nodded. “I need to go check Cloud Camel Mountain out, if I have the chance.”
His words excited the Yan youth. “I want to go with you. Elder Liang always says that Cloud Camel Mountain is a treasure trove. I’ve heard him repeat it so often that I’m curious too.”
“Sure, we can go together.”
The next few days were spent in further calm repeats of meditation and cultivation. A boring schedule, to be sure, but a fulfilling one.
It was finally opening day for the Skymender Festival, an event that had taken the outside world by storm for the past month and a half. Jiang Chen didn’t know that 'Shao Yuan' had become one of the hottest topics within the Ten Divine Nations.