The Taiyi Skymender Pill was the sole reason Shi Xuan had come to the festival. In his eyes, all of the Eternal Sacred Land was beneath him. It was self-degradation to even attend the event.
He was here to fish in troubled waters, and hadn’t expected the Eternal Sacred Land to become so full of bluff and bluster all of a sudden. They’d sent a young man to provoke him again and again, even challenging him to a match like a mad dog!
In his opinion, no one in this sacred land was worthy enough to even be his disciple, let alone be his opponent. Only a fool would challenge him in pill dao.
The one thing all geniuses had in common was unlimited self-confidence. However, it was odd that a young man would insist on antagonizing Shi Xuan to these ends. Something wasn’t as it seemed.
Though Shi Xuan felt there must be a catch, he wasn’t worried. He was confident that the Eternal Sacred Land wasn’t good enough to make him fall into one of their traps. In the end, the only thing that mattered was one’s understanding of pill dao.
He was in enemy territory though, and wasn’t about to be careless because of hubris. He smiled and raised cupped fist salutes at the guests around him.
“Most Myriad Abyss pill dao masters have gathered here today. I didn’t intend to steal anyone’s thunder, but the Eternal Sacred Land has been overly arrogant. I’d like all of you to bear witness to this match. I don’t want people to accuse me of bullying a junior.”
Before anyone could utter a word, Jiang Chen objected with a faint smile. “There’s no need to justify yourself or worry that I’ll cheat. The Taiyi Skymender Pill is my invention. I can do as I wish with it. If you lose though, you must admit to winning against Elder Zimu with unseemingly tricks.”
In truth, Shi Xuan had intentionally provoked the elder at the time, but he really hadn’t cheated. However, he was too proud to defend himself. He sneered. “I don’t care enough to argue with you. How about you? Dare you make an oath that you won’t deceive me with a false recipe?”
“Of course,” remarked Jiang Chen coolly.
Shi Xuan nodded. “Alright, go on then.”
“Just me? Aren’t you going to swear an oath as well?” Jiang Chen scoffed. “Do you think there’s no chance of you losing?”
Shi Xuan threw his head back and roared with laughter. “You really think you’ll be able to defeat me?”
“It’s a bet,” retorted Jiang Chen. He wasn’t going to let Shi Xuan off the hook. “Of course we have to be on equal grounds. Or are you so morally corrupted that you can’t do even that?”
Shi Xuan paused and responded coolly, “I won fair and square against Elder Zimu. It’ll be ridiculous to use that as my stake.”
“Then what are you betting on?” Jiang Chen drawled.
“Hmph, ignorant brat. If you can defeat me, you can ask for anything.”
“Anything?” Jiang Chen smiled lazily. “What about you becoming my pill slave for eternity, with no chance of liberation?”
“How dare you!” Behind Shi Xuan, the others from Flora Divine Nation widened their eyes in fury.
Shi Xuan leveled Jiang Chen with a frigid stare. “That’s bold of you to say, young man. Aren’t you worried that you’ll die prematurely thanks to your big talk? Don’t you fear being smited by celestial thunder for your impertinence?”
Jiang Chen broke into laughter. “You scared?”
Shi Xuan’s expression darkened. “If you want to enrage me, kid, consider yourself highly successful. However, anyone who offends me in pill dao tends to suffer miserably.”
“Is that so? Are you going to take the bet or not?”
“And what if I do?” Shi Xuan scowled. “Do you think you can win?”
“Swear your oath!” Jiang Chen stated coldly.
“Wait!” The middle-aged man following Shi Xuan interjected. “You’re betting only a pill recipe, and yet you want my master to bet with his whole life? What a bargain this is!”
Jiang Chen smirked. “Shi Xuan, it seems that your men aren’t particularly confident in you. If your victory is a guarantee, then the bet’s only going to bring you great profit.”
“Stand down,” Shi Xuan said calmly to the middle-aged man. “This brat’s cunning, but he isn’t good enough to play tricks with me.”
He was highly confident. The Eternal Sacred Land wouldn’t be able to defeat him by sending a random young man.
Unlike other fields, in the world of pill dao, even a young man who’d encountered a bit of opportunity wouldn’t become an expert overnight. He needed time to digest the knowledge and to accumulate experience. This young man looked to be in his thirties. There couldn’t be all that much to him.
Shi Xuan wasn’t at all worried that he’d lose.
Jiang Chen took the initiative and swore an oath, looking at Shi Xun afterwards, pressure mounting with the gaze. At this point, Shi Xuan would be considered a coward if he showed even a trace of regret or caution. Someone of his status would never allow that.
He swore an oath in a cool tone, not going easy on himself. “If I lose the match, I’ll be your pill slave for the entirety of my life without complaint. If I go back on my word, I’ll take my life immediately. Otherwise, may the heavens and earth punish me with death.”
Jiang Chen threw a bizarre smile at Shi Xuan and murmured, seemingly to himself, “Congratulations to me for getting a good pill slave.”
Shi Xuan huffed frostily. The young man was still trying to antagonize him. He wasn’t going to pay it any mind anymore. He didn’t know why the young man was so confident, but that wasn’t important. He would win as long as he performed at his usual level. “What are the rules, brat?”
“Let’s make the rules according to what you said. How about it?”
Shi Xuan paused. “What I said?”
“Didn’t you say that out of all the pills I know, the Taiyi Skymender Pill is the only one you can’t refine, while everyone from the sacred land doesn’t know what you know? Let’s make that the framework. We’ll take turns proposing a question for the other over three rounds and see who know more. Whoever knows the more answers wins the bet. What do you say?”
Everyone’s attention was caught. The match was going to be very challenging.
Every pill expert had their trade secrets - recipes that only they themselves knew. If both sides knew nothing about the subject that the other posed, that round would be a tie. The overall bet might end with no winner.
Shi Xuan paused to go over the rules, surprised. He had thought that Jiang Chen would propose something unorthodox. He’d been ready to turn the boy down and amend the rules to make the match an honest one.
Jiang Chen’s proposal however, allowed no room for cheating. The only thing that mattered was their foundation and skillset. Shi Xuan couldn’t argue with that. If he did, it’d be as good as admitting that he was wary of the young man.
What was more, he believed that the rules were in his favor. He was confident in the basis of their competition. Jiang Chen was young and couldn’t be all that knowledgeable. There was absolutely no reason for Shi Xuan to refuse.
He nodded. “That works. But have you considered the possibility that neither of us are able to answer any of the questions the other poses, or the opposite? Isn’t it going to be a tie then?”
“Easy. We’ll each propose another three questions. We’ll continue the process until there’s a winner.”
Jiang Chen’s boldness appeared incredulous to Shi Xuan. Just why was the young man so confident? Even now, did he still think that he could win?
Shi Xuan tried to calm down and not let the young man get to him. Perhaps that was exactly what the young man wanted: to put on a front to distract him. Having regained his calm, he nodded. “We’ll do as you said. However, this is a match between gentlemen. I’ve admitted to not knowing the Taiyi Skymender Pill. You aren’t going to make that one of your questions, are you?”
Jiang Chen laughed. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to use that pill as my challenge when it’s my forfeit. I’m going to defeat you fairly and leave no room for debate.”
Shi Xuan sniffed. “Enough with your posturing.”
Jiang Chen shrugged. “You’ll change your perceptions soon enough.”
The two of them exchanged a look without a word and fell into deep thought. The game was on.
The participants hotly anticipated the proceedings. In the beginning, they’d thought that the Eternal Sacred Land was simply running their mouth to vent their anger about what had happened to Elder Zimu.
Now though, they’d changed their mind. They’d realized that this was a trap the Eternal Sacred Land had designed with great care. Why was the sacred land so confident in the young man that they were letting him challenge Shi Xuan with the Taiyi Skymender Pill as the forfeit?
Weren’t they worried that he’d lose? It’d be a farce if the recipe fell into Shi Xuan’s hands as a result.
The other factions in the Eternal Divine Nations were just as confused as the guests. On top of that, they couldn’t be more concerned. Why would Shao Yuan so recklessly challenge Shi Xuan?
Shi Xuan ranked among the top ten, or even top five in Myriad Abyss in pill dao. Shao Yuan might be talented, but he was only a young man who’d just begun to make a name for himself.