Chapter 497: Threats and Temptation
“Brother Chen, you’re simply too awesome!” Mu Gaoqi’s brows danced as they left Shen Li Palace. He was sincerely happy to see Jiang Chen take the championship in the preliminaries.
Jiang Chen himself was rather calm. With his foundations in the dao of pills, it was only right and proper that he’d taken home the championship in the preliminaries.
“Hmph, victory for now means nothing, just like being fat initially is nothing. It’s only the final weight that tips the scales. The hell kind of use is a champion of the preliminaries? The residences of the Sovereign Area will only be settled in the finals. What kinda use is gaining the limelight in the preliminaries?” Vicious, cold mockery rang out behind them. It was Linghu Feng’s irritating voice again.
Mu Gaoqi snorted derisively. “Pssht. Linghu Feng, why didn’t you take the championship if you’re so good? Don’t tell me you’re jealous, hmm?”
Linghu Feng glowered at Mu Gaoqi in a sinister fashion. “Huh, Mu Gaoqi? Who would’ve thought that you’d grow a pair? You don’t believe that I can run you right out of the Rosy Valley, ah?”
Jiang Chen didn’t wait for Mu Gaoqi to respond when he heard this. He reached out a hand to stop Mu Gaoqi, laughing coldly, “Now that I really don’t believe.”
“Jiang Chen, don’t you strut around either! I know you have someone backing you up, but you’re just a country bumpkin. A mere rookie trying to throw your weight around in the Regal Pill Palace!” Linghu Feng didn’t dare tell Jiang Chen that he would run the latter out of the sect. He could only glare viciously at Mu Gaoqi with an expression that shouted “just you wait!”.
However, Mu Gaoqi wasn’t the same person of old. He wasn’t stopped in his tracks by Linghu Feng, merely shrugging with a cold snort, dismissing Linghu Feng’s threats.
Some of the other core disciples had walked out at this time. Jiang Chen didn’t want to make a spectacle of himself like Linghu Feng was so keen on doing, and so left with Mu Gaoqi.
Linghu Feng cursed loudly as he watched Jiang Chen and Mu Gaoqi leave. “A wuss and a bumpkin, the shame of our Regal Pill Palace!”
Suddenly, someone walking up to him smiled leisurely. “Linghu, if you’re looking down on them that much, why are you so angered by them? I say, are you feeling a bit insecure?”
“What do you mean by that, Ouyang Chao?!” Linghu Feng was even more incensed when he saw that the newcomer was Ouyang Chao, the heavily favored candidate in the Regal Pill Palace.
Ouyang Chao responded noncommittally. “I didn’t mean anything. I’m just saying that if you’re feeling low on self confidence, you should back out while it’s still early.”
“Bullshit! What do I have to doubt?! I’m a proper scion of the Herbal Hall, how can a country bumpkin compare to me? How can a wuss like Mu Gaoqi compare to me?”
“Is that so? I don’t know about Mu Gaoqi, but I feel that Jiang Chen is exceedingly likely to claim a residence in the Sovereign Area.” Ouyang Chao’s tone was relaxed.
This of course, further displeased Linghu Feng. “Pah! You talk like he’s not one of your competitors! Aren’t you afraid of him threatening your position?”
Ouyang Chao shrugged. “I don’t care. If he really is stronger than me, then I’ll go for the second slot. If there are two stronger than me, then my skills are just inferior. I’ll accept that and try harder.”
Linghu Feng was almost breathless with rage. He knew that Ouyang Chao was jeering in saying that he’d go for the other residence if Jiang Chen was stronger than him. If this was the case, there’d be nothing for Linghu Feng.
Linghu Feng’s gaze wandered around and stopped on a little girl. A sinister grimace crossed his face. “Junior sister Ling, this Jiang Chen is being so blatantly cocky that he’s slapping our faces! He’s not even in the top five favored candidates but is coming on so strong. He’s obviously making a statement to us!”
The little girl was short in stature, and her cheeks that were heavy with baby fat made her both cute and likable. If it wasn’t for her enormous womanly wiles that even her disciple uniform couldn’t conceal, it was likely that no one would think she was eighteen years old when looking at her. She was one of the favorites of this time’s competition, Ling Hui’er. Famous amongst the pill masters in the Rosy Valley for both her potential and her youthful looks, all the male disciples drooled over her, especially when combined with the fatal attraction of her chest.
“Senior brother Linghu, Hui’er has no grudge with senior brother Jiang Chen. He has no reason to make a statement to me.” Ling Hui’er made a face and walked off, beaming. It was obvious that she hadn’t been affected by Linghu Feng’s crude provocation.
When he looked around and saw how the smiles on everyone else’s faces carried a bit of mockery within them, he knew that he’d become a laughingstock.
“Gaoqi, this Linghu Feng possesses extreme pettiness of character. Come to my residence tonight, I can share some pill dao reflections with you.”
Mu Gaoqi was overjoyed. He’d long since viewed Jiang Chen as a god and was quite excited that he’d been invited to Jiang Chen’s residence. He knew that this was Jiang Chen thinking enough of him to go to this much effort.
“Of course! This is a most welcome opportunity.” Mu Gaoqi was actually worrying about the possibility of Linghu Feng getting up to any tricks in the middle of the night, like disturbing his sleep or otherwise. It wouldn’t be a good development for him if this happened.
Although Palace Head Dan Chi had said that whoever cheated would be punished, one still had to guard against some things.
Jiang Chen made the appropriate arrangements when he arrived at his residence. Mu Gaoqi was a frequent visitor anyways; his appearance wouldn’t cause much surprise. It was actually Mu Gaoqi who was slightly taken aback when he saw Gouyu and the others. His venerated brother’s followers seemed to have grown mightily in a few short months.
Jiang Chen was of a mind to teach Mu Gaoqi a few things with this invitation. Although Mu Gaoqi possessed good potential already, he was still a bit shaky in his theoretical knowledge. His potential was very high due to his wood constitution and his ability in refining pills. However, there was much in his foundations that lagged far behind Ouyang Chao and Linghu Feng, scions of the Herbal Hall. Jiang Chen wanted to shore up these gaps for Mu Gaoqi tonight. Although pill dao theory was as vast as the misty ocean, if one grasped one part of foundational theory, one would be able to grasp all of it.
Mu Gaoqi thought it odd at first, but he was stunned as he continued to listen. He knew that an immense stroke of luck had fallen into his lap. Much of what Jiang Chen was teaching him was absent even in many of the scrolls in the Regal Pill Palace library. The theory in particular started off easy, then quickly ventured into deeper territory. This kind of mindset and level completely shattered Mu Gaoqi’s usual understanding.
The two became more engrossed in their conversation as they chatted. Mu Gaoqi didn’t even notice the sky darkening to night as he’d sunk into the chat. Suddenly, a visitor came knocking.
“Elder Linghu?” Jiang Chen was a bit surprised that Elder Linghu Xian from the Herbal Hall was paying him a visit.
Linghu Xian’s youthful looks contrasted his white hair, standing there with a benevolent smile on his face. However, Jiang Chen didn’t relax his guard at all. For Linghu Xian to come knocking at this time was a hint of nothing good to come, particularly as he’d tried and failed to recruit Jiang Chen last time as a medicine boy. There was an obvious grudge between the two. He’s also clashed twice with Linghu Feng today. Being his grandfather, it was impossible that Linghu Xian would sit idly by.
“Haha, what, are you not going to invite me in to sit?” Linghu Xian smiled.
Jiang Chen frowned. “It’s the finals of the competition tomorrow and we are in tense preparation. What business might Elder Linghu have?”
Linghu Xian’s smile remained in place, “Let’s go talk inside, let’s go inside.”
Jiang Chen was about to decline with a darkened face, but Linghu Xian spoke lazily, “Jiang Chen ah, you declined me last time I came to visit, are you not even going to let me in the door this time? Then I’ll stand at your door all night!”
When he saw how shameless the elder was being, Jiang Chen snorted softly, not knowing what the elder was up to. However, given that Linghu Xian was willing to play the fool at his age, Jiang Chen could only let him in.
When they’d taken their seats inside, Linghu Xian smiled. “Young friend Jiang Chen, I still quite admire you. I’ve actually been planning on asking Elder Yun Nie to make you an administrator in the Herbal Hall; how about it? You’ll receive the stipend of an administrator and that of a core disciple. It’s a wonderful deal to be able to draw on two stipends.”
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “I’ve only entered the Regal Pill Palace for a short amount of time. I’m afraid I haven’t the fortune to enjoy your largess.”
Linghu Xian’s forehead creased when he saw Jiang Chen turn him down without a second thought. “Jiang Chen ah, I only have the best intentions. Don’t always look at me with such prejudiced eyes! We can chat about anything!”
“My apologies, Elder Linghu. If this is the only thing you’re here about, I find no need for us to continue talking. I still need to prepare for tomorrow, so I won’t keep you any longer.” He waved his hand and issued his intention to show his guest out.
Linghu Xian had not reached his current position without possessing a face thicker than the city walls. He didn’t mind in the slightest when he saw Jiang Chen gesture to send his guest off. He just laughed leisurely, “Jiang Chen, name your price. I’ll give you whatever I can as long as you’re willing to withdraw from the competition for the Sovereign Area residences. Even my proposal to enter the Herbal Hall still stands. I know you’re from the Precious Tree Sect and are certainly short on resources. I happen to have quite a bit of family wealth to draw on. If you want it to, we can absolutely make this transaction happen.”
He is indeed here for the residence. Jiang Chen looked at Linghu Xian with a faint smile. “One, I’m absolutely confident in winning a residence. Two, your grandson still may not win one even if I withdraw.”
“His success and failure is not your burden to worry about. Our transaction will remain in effect as long as you back out.” Linghu Xian was very confident in his grandson. Only Ouyang Chao was only a bit stronger than Linghu Xian when the unknown factor of Jiang Chen was removed. He truly wasn’t worried about the others.
Jiang Chen laughed, at ease, and lightly shook his head. “Elder Linghu, Palace Head Dan Chi emphasized most gravely that cheating would have dire consequences. Strictly speaking, your words are already cheating on behalf of Linghu Feng.”
Linghu Xian’s expression grew frosty. “Jiang Chen, be careful with what you say. I’m only worried about your future out of the goodness of my heart. Isn’t it just a residence? There will be doubtless be more created in the future and act as opportunities for you. I can promise to help you obtain one in the future if you promise me this now. The Sky Pillar Area is second only to the Sovereign Area. That’s not too much of an insult for a Precious Tree Sect newcomer like you, is it?” His words conveyed both overt and covert disdain for Jiang Chen’s background.
Jiang Chen gave a bark of laughter. “Even half a sentence is too much when the conversation is unpleasant. Elder Linghu, I’m from the Precious Tree Sect alright, but who told you that I’m unworthy of the Sovereign Area? I gave you some face because I respect you as an elder of the Herbal Hall. But I’ll have to report this to Palace Head Dan Chi if you refuse to leave.”
Linghu Xian’s expression changed drastically when he heard Dan Chi’s name. He surged to his feet in a rage. “Good, good, good! Jiang Chen, you’re something else, huh! You’ve got some guts! You’re the only junior who dares treat me like so in all my years of dominating the Regal Pill Palace!”
“The Precious Tree Sect, is it? Sixteen kingdoms alliance, hmm? Jiang Chen, I’ll remember that!”
Jiang Chen frowned. Did Linghu Xian meant to covertly suppress the sixteen kingdom alliance and attack the Precious Tree Sect?