Shi Xuan remained somewhat unconvinced. He hoped the kid was nothing more than a fluke. What if he really was just pretending?
Alas, Jiang Chen’s answer shattered his unrealistic hopes. The answer was exactly the same as his research.
He wanted to pick a bone, but didn’t know where to start. He looked several hundred years older in that instant, his expression preoccupied and gloomy. There were only three rounds. For him to lose the first round was very bad. He rather regretted being so careless.
If he hadn’t agreed to the format of this battle, he might not be at such a disadvantage right now. At the time, he hadn’t thought much of such a green-looking kid. How could he lose to a rookie in any aspect?
That overconfidence had been his bane. He was at a serious disadvantage after only round one.
He needed to win one of the ensuing rounds now. Otherwise, he would lose overall even if both the second and third rounds were ties.
He hadn’t tasted a single loss ever since making his way into the world, despite competing against countless pill dao masters.
If he were to tarnish his pristine record today before all of these peers, he would no longer have a reputation to speak of, even without that bone-chilling bet. Moreover, he had far too much at stake to afford to lose.
Shi Xuan had recovered his wits by now. He finally realized that the young man he’d underestimated had been scheming against him all along. Shao Yuan had provoked him at all costs in order to make use of the long-prepared trap right in front of him.
Alas, he had wandered into trouble thanks to his pride.
It’s fine, it’s fine. There are two rounds left. As long as I win one and tie one, I will still make this match a draw! His worldly experience allowed Shi Xuan to calm down very quickly.
It was necessary for pill dao masters of his achievement to possess tenacious wills. He wouldn’t panic simply because he was at an initial disadvantage.
Shi Xuan quickly adjusted himself to his new circumstances. He couldn’t allow his opponent to take the lead anymore. How was he supposed to win without taking back the initiative?
Thus, he interjected before the young man could speak. “You had the first move for the first round, so now it’s my turn!”
Shi Xuan was embarrassed as soon as he uttered this. The other heavyweights from the Flora Sacred Land shared in his chagrin. They’d never been so awkward when it came to pill dao before. They were losing face for something as trivial as the order of questions in a battle!
Jiang Chen smiled coolly with magnanimity. “Let’s not bother with arguments. Why don’t I give you the initiative for the next two rounds, eh?”
The already joyous Ziju Min spat out the tea in his mouth when he heard the concession.
That kid had a rather venomous tongue. The words sounded harmless on the surface, but the impact of their humiliation was incredibly vicious.
Considering that a young man was making an accommodation for a touted top ten pill dao giant of Myriad Abyss... it was a stinging blow against Shi Xuan’s self-esteem.
As expected, the older man became even more upset.
Shi Xuan was on the verge of exploding. Thankfully, he retained his reason; he knew the young man was using every chance possibly to discredit and antagonize him.
He became cooler despite his annoyance. “The battle should be fair in the first place. There’s nothing you’re giving me. However, I’m definitely going to win the second round. Don’t think that you can dominate the whole world just because you had a lucky run-in with buried knowledge! You’re far from being at the top.”
“Say all that after you win this second round. I think that will be far more convincing.” Jiang Chen smiled serenely. “Alright, I know why you’re trying to waste time. Ask your question! I’m listening.”
Shi Xuan couldn't match Jiang Chen’s acerbic manner. He took a deep breath to retain his composure, then segued into the second question.
“My second question relates to a pill dao formation. I have a formation diagram here, and you have to tell me which parts are problematic.”
Pill dao formations were very convoluted affairs. Any ordinary person would have a headache just by glancing at a diagram, much less analyze it. Shi Xuan’s second question really was much harder.
Jiang Chen’s smile was as nonchalant as ever. He didn’t seem to care much about the prospect of a pill dao formation. He seemed to feel that everything was in control regardless. His confidence won him quiet approval from part of the audience.
Not everyone in the Ten Divine Nations liked the Flora Sacred Land. Because of Shi Xuan’s rise, Flora had angered a fair few of them. Aside from the Flora Sacred Land’s allies, there were numerous factions willing to see it stumble here.
Unfortunately, there were some who didn’t like the Eternal Sacred Land either. In fact, not even everyone in Eternal Divine Nation wanted Shao Yuan to win much glory in this battle.
House Xiahou was probably the most representative example of this.
Currently, Xiahou Ying was green with envy. Nearby, her brother Xiahou Zong was even more displeased than she.
He’d already marked Jiang Chen down as a potential opponent because of various factors. He wasn’t happy about the rise of an enemy that he wanted to quash. Yan Qinghuang’s sincere smile at the first round’s victory made a viper to crawl inside his heart.
But House Yan had a vastly different attitude.
Every attendee was overjoyed by the battle’s proceedings, the patriarch and Yan Wanjun most of all. The house and the sacred land were in a honeymoon period of good relations. After all, Shao Yuan had been their contribution.
Any honor that Shao Yuan won positively reflected upon the house as well. In fact, the patriarch and Yan Wanjun were conversing with some enthusiasm at this very moment.
Yan Zhenhuai was more of an introverted man. The slight smile upon his face was all he showed of his emotions.
Although Huang’er was the happiest of the bunch, she couldn’t openly cheer for her beloved given the situation. But she saw no reason to hide her own radiant smile, and exchanged whispers with an equally content Ling Bi’er from time to time.
As Jiang Chen’s friend and follower at this festival, Yan Qingsang had gained a bit of recognition as well, further improving his house’s mood.
Ziju Min practically brimmed with excitement. If he hadn’t been the host of the festival, he would have burst into laughter himself with a slap his thigh. He was too mirthful for words.
He hadn’t expected everything to go so smoothly. That Shao Yuan could corner Shi Xuan in such a convincing manner was almost incredible!
Shi Xuan vying to be first for the second round meant that he was really stressed. Even Elder Zimu had never threatened him in this way.
Though the three primes refrained from commenting due to their lofty status, the looks they exchanged were full of wholehearted satisfaction and admiration. In this moment, all had become staunch supporters of Shao Yuan. They wanted the young man to crush his opposition in the second round more than anything.
That would bring an early, decisive conclusion to this battle, which would in turn restore the reputation lost so shamefully several decades ago.
Go, Shao Yuan! All three primes shouted in unison from the bottom of their hearts.
Shi Xuan would be forced to pay the price, and the sacred land and Elder Zimu would be vindicated!
Jiang Chen had his hands on the pill dao formation diagram.
In the human domain, such formations were essentially nonexistent. There’d been countless examples in ancient times, but every pill dao faction had been eradicated in the demon-sealing war. The grounds of some had survived, but only as undiscovered secret realms.
Meanwhile, pill dao formations were scarce in Myriad Abyss, but far from nonexistent.
Just like regular formations, pill dao formations had their own complexities according to level.
Jiang Chen was in no haste to study the diagram right away. Instead, he knocked on the table with a smile. “Shi Xuan, you can take this time to mentally prepare yourself.”
“What?” Shi Xuan retorted coldly. “Don’t change the subject, kid. You’re only wasting your time.”
“I have more than enough to spare, thanks. Have you considered that if you lose here, the battle will be over prematurely? From now on, you’ll be my pill slave until the end of your days!”
This was a cruel possibility indeed. The older man couldn't accept such a thing, even though he didn’t think he’d lose. He glared daggers at Jiang Chen. “Everyone knows how to boast, kid. Why don’t you do it after you win your part first?”
Jiang Chen roared with laughter. “I have a feeling I’m going to very soon. I’m especially proficient with pill dao formations, hahaha!”
Truthfully, there was nothing that he wasn’t skilled at when it came to pill dao. He had said this to intentionally anger and confuse Shi Xuan, as well as wear down the other man’s fighting spirit and faith.
The tactic wasn’t necessarily effective, but it did serve to humiliate Shi Xuan further. The three primes and Ziju Min would be happier because of it, and the sacred land thirsted for vengeance against Shi Xuan in any case. Why let any opportunity to humiliate his opponent slip by?