Chapter 536: Baffling Killing Intent
Roughly an hour later, a bell rang through Rippling Mirage hall, summoning the scattered disciples back. The 6 fourth rank sects sat in the first row, a clear marker of their position. The 20 fifth rank sects were relegated to the second row. Whether it be their sect head or disciples, every one of them kept a lower and more docile profile. The sect heads of the six great sects were all sitting on a dais, their stature and grandeur evident at first glance.
Due to the brevity of his tenure and his cultivation being the weakest at present, Palace Head Dan Chi was sitting at the very end. However, no one would think less of him because of his position. Everyone present knew that this sect head at the end could very possibly overtake the others in another hundred years and sit at the head of the six great sects. After all, of those present, the youngest excluding Dan Chi was well over two hundred years old. On the other hand, Dan Chi was less than a hundred years old, almost adolescent in the lifespan of martial dao. One was still a teenager after two hundred years of martial practice.
Contrasting Palace Head Dan Chi’s position, the Regal Pill Palace was still number one of the Pill Battles, and retained a corresponding position, even if they’d only won by the skin of their teeth. Thus, they stood first amongst the six great sects. This immensely shocked Mu Gaoqi and made him feel quite proud, whereas Shen Qinghong, used to throwing his weight around, put on the indifferent facade he so loved.
Ling Bi’er’s mind was filled with thoughts of her father’s ailment, so she naturally wasn’t thinking about the honor of being first. Perhaps to her, it was the natural course of order that the Regal Pill Palace was ranked first since it’d been founded for pill dao. It’d be odd indeed if her sect wasn’t first. Only Jiang Chen’s thoughts had long since flown to Mt. Rippling Mirage. He was giving free rein to his imagination of what he could find there.
Although these were the Pill Battles of Mt. Rippling Mirage, the judges were also the sect heads of the six sects. Of course, since they were all renowned personages and heavyweights, they wouldn’t actually resort to cheating when judging. As the representative of the champion of the last Pill Battles, Palace Head Dan Chi was in charge of making the opening remarks.
“Everyone, we stand here today not just in front of a sacred mountain that harbors spirit herbs. Mt. Rippling Mirage represents the legacy of the Myriad Domain, an everlasting testament to our history. It has witnessed the glories of the Myriad Domain’s yesteryear and has sadly watched its decline due to certain disastrous occurrences. When we cultivators enter the mountain, remember that we are not merely participating in the Pill Battles of today. When we enter the mountain to harvest herbs, we should remember our rich history and find bravery after experiencing shame.”
The other heavyweights were slightly taken aback by Palace Head Dan Chi’s words. They’d thought that Dan Chi would merely announce the rules to the Pill Battles, not that he would go and mention the history behind the Pill Battles, and much less that he’d reference the history of the Myriad Empire’s decline and use it to encourage the cultivators of the Myriad Domain. His words weren’t inappropriate, but they still felt a bit odd in the ears of those assembled.
It was a good thing then that Dan Chi didn’t continue in this vein and switched to the rules. “For the Pill Battles this year, there will be a senior group and a junior group. The top thirty of each group will earn the right to enter Mt. Rippling Mirage. After prolonged discussion with everyone, the entrance method this time will be different from the usual. The top ten can enter for twenty days, the next ten for ten, and the final set of ten can enter in the last five days.”
This meant that the top ten would benefit from the longest period of time, a full twenty days, to harvest spirit herbs. The next ten would have to wait until ten days had elapsed before they could enter, and the final group of ten would only be able to take advantage of the last five days.
This was a clear delineation between the various parties.
Dan Chi continued. “This arrangement has been made to increase the amount of competition and enable pill masters of different skills to receive different levels of benefits. It will also heighten the differences between various skill levels.”
This arrangement was actually much fairer. Otherwise, if everyone surged in at the same time, disregarding their scores, it would actually be unfair to the pill masters.
Dan Chi paused purposefully at this point to give everyone time to digest the new rules.
To be honest, there was quite a bit of competition to reach the top 30, but even then there were a couple of spots for the fifth rank sects to fight over. The thirty spots each for the senior and junior groups meant for a total of sixty spots. The combined representatives from the six great sects numbered only forty eight. This meant that at least twelve spots would remain for the fifth rank sects even if everyone from the six great sects made it into the top 30.
Of course, as a fourth rank sect, the odds were astronomically low for them to avoid taking a sport in the top 30. For the 20 fifth rank sects, fighting over the last twelve spots was where their true efforts would come to bear. Although, there would be that small hope that one of them would be able to seize the food from the tiger’s mouth and take one of the fourth rank sect’s spots.
With four entrants each from the fifth rank sects, their participants numbered eighty. When eighty people fought over twelve spots, that meant roughly one out of eight would be successful. This was indeed tough competition.
However, the fifth rank sects didn’t dare complain. When the Myriad Empire had still existed, the gap between the fourth and fifth rank sects hadn’t been that great, and spot allocation for Mt. Rippling Mirage hadn’t seen that much of a difference. But now, the six great sects almost completely controlled events of the Myriad Domain. The fifth rank sects could participate in some affairs of the region in name, but they’d largely been marginalized.
As a case in point, there was no longer a path for a fifth rank sect to be promoted to fourth rank. Nor were there any resources or opportunities available to them to change their lot.
After Elder Yun Nie heard the rules, he spoke to the other seven representing the Regal Pill Palace. “The rules are different this time, so I hope no one keeps anything back and gives it their all. It’s said that the Walkabout Sect has sent a well rounded team this time and is rather formidable. The Tristar Sect has also shown the signs of an unexpected momentum, so we must stay on our guard. These two are our biggest rivals, and have even released word that they want to take the position of Pill Battle champion from us.”
No matter what internal conflict the Regal Pill Palace may have, everyone was a fellow comrade-in-arms when they walked out on the stage that was the Myriad Domain. They all fought for the Regal Pill Palace and their own benefits at the same time.
Everyone nodded with grave expressions. Vice head Wang Yue was a firecracker and snorted. “The feck is the Tristar Sect? How much ability do they have to their name that they can go head to head with us in pill dao? I would believe it if you said Walkabout Sect. But the Tristar Sect has always been mediocre to lower tier in the Pill Battles. What right do they have to speak tough words like these?”
Ouyang De was similarly dismissive, feeling that the Tristar Sect was just inviting humiliation down on themselves since they dared publicly lay down a challenge. The Regal Pill Palace’s true opponent was the Walkabout Sect. They were also a sect strong in pill dao, but favored sinister ways and the usage of poison. However, they all equally valued pill dao and had always been the Regal Pill Palace’s strong rival. As for the other sects, the Regal Pill Palace didn’t feel like they were of any threat.
Elder Yun Nie specifically sent a message to Jiang Chen, “Jiang Chen, I have one request. I hope that not only do you guarantee a spot in the top ten, but that you show off all your abilities. Personal scores will be added to the final score that determines our overall ranking. The champion of the personal competition will also benefit from additional points, and this will play a critical role in the rankings.”
If it hadn’t been for Elder Yun Nie’s reminder, Jiang Chen really had just planned on scraping by in the top ten. He hadn’t wanted to seek out the limelight in this kind of occasion. To put things bluntly, he was only here for the spirit herbs.
“Jiang Chen, although Palace Head Dan Chi haven’t given you explicit orders, he must also wish for you to use your full strength and defend our position as reigning champion. I wasn’t being an alarmist just now when I spoke of the Tristar and Walkabout Sects. There is indeed a strange atmosphere of energy about the Tristar Sect. No one else might think much of it, but I have indeed received some news this time that the Tristar Sect has been up to a lot.”
The Tristar Sect?
Jiang Chen’s gaze happened to glance in their direction, but immediately discovered a similarly sharp glance shooting towards him at almost the same time. When their eyes met, a hint of killing intent flashed through the other’s eyes and vanished. This person was as if a stone sculpture. He had sharply chiseled features and projected immense calm, giving others a feeling of deep profoundness.
A thought struck Jiang Chen; this person actually gave him the feeling of being quite uncommon. He’d been observing the representatives from all the sects after entering the Rippling Mirage Hall, paying attention to each of the young geniuses of the six great sects. Although this was the Pill Battles, at least half of each sect’s martial dao geniuses had arrived as well. Some of the top geniuses were also showing themselves.
There weren’t many who could leave an impression on Jiang Chen, but the look that this person leveled at him made him take note. When he took another look at this person, Jiang Chen saw someone as calm as the unruffled, serene seas, still giving one the feeling of an unfathomable depth.
“The Tristar Sect actually has such a character? This person’s demeanor gives off an otherworldly feeling that exceeds the Myriad Domain. Where did that kind of feeling come from?”
Even if there were differences between the various top geniuses in the Myriad Domain, it would be as minor as the difference between ninety steps and a hundred. Yet this person made Jiang Chen feel that the gap between the top geniuses of the Myriad Domain and this person was as if ninety steps and hundred fifty steps. If this had been the only case, Jiang Chen would’ve merely paid some more attention to this person. But when their gazes had met just now, Jiang Chen had vaguely detected a hint of killing intent from the other.
This greatly surprised Jiang Chen. He hadn’t had any prior interactions with the Tristar Sect and had never seen this person before. What kind of grudge would he have with this person? What would make someone meeting him for the first time have such a mindset?
He inwardly snapped to solemn attention, feeling that something was afoot. However, he couldn’t immediately come up with a reason. “I need to be on my guard against this one since he wishes to kill me.” Jiang Chen increased his awareness and started observing this person through Psychic’s Head instead of God’s Eye.
However, this person concealed himself well and was as tranquil as a lake’s waters after concealing the light of his edge. But, that brief instant just now had allowed Jiang Chen to understand the surging undercurrents hidden beneath this exterior. This person was an uncommon person that he had to guard against.
“Senior sister, do you know the people from the Tristar Sect?” Jiang Chen suddenly turned to ask Ling Bi’er in a low voice.
Ling Bi’er looked over the Tristar Sect. “I know two of them. Zhu Feiyang, the direct grandson of the sect head, and Mei Ruoxi, a female genius disciple. The other two are unfamiliar to me, and they likely haven’t shown themselves before. I would’ve remembered them had I seen them even once.”
Ling Bi’er had a photographic memory. Otherwise, with her lack of an impressive background, how would she have become a top three genius in the Rosy Valley at the tender age of twenty?