Chapter 747: A Battle Between Pill Kings
“Fifth Uncle, since we’re talking about unrelated persons, shouldn’t you take a look around yourself first? I don't recall those random strays by your side being allowed to attend a house meeting.” Wei Jie's countenance was displeased, and his frosty words pointed directly at Wei Tiantong.
According to the house meeting rules, as the son of the current house lord, Wei Jie was the heir and thus had the right to attend meetings. On the other hand, while Wei Tiantong was second-in-command, he was not technically a candidate for house lord. In the unforeseen event of the house lord’s incapacitation, the second-in-command could only take over temporarily before the successor was decided. As such,the second-in-command had no actual claims to the position. Thus, though Wei Tiantong had the right to attend the house meeting as well, one couldn't say the same for his son Wei Xiu.
Despite this, it was customary for Wei Tiantong to flaunt his importance, and he brought his son to every meeting. Because of Wei Tianxiao’s lack of opposition, no one else was in a position to criticize him. Under more serious scrutiny and taking into account the current situation, Wei Xiu’s presence became a blemish.
“What do you mean by that, Wei Jie? I deserve some credit for inviting Pill Master Yu here. Don't I qualify to be here?” Wei Xiu threw a dirty look at his cousin.
“Inviting Pill Master Yu? Who sent the invitation? I don't remember an invitation from the lord of the house to any such person,” Wei Jie smiled faintly.
When it came to bickering, Wei Xiu was no match for Wei Jie. Wei Tiantong’s face darkened, and he looked straight at Wei Tianxiao. “House lord, I only invited Pill Master Yu out of the desire to contribute to the house. Surely he shouldn't feel unwelcome and unwanted? In recent years, our lackluster performance in the arena of pills has wholly failed to live up to our title as a ninth-ranked aristocratic house. I almost become mad with worry whenever I dare think about it. My acts are for the good of us all, should I be shamed because of it?”
The speech both appealed to the listeners and attacked Wei Tianxiao’s lack of ability. It implied that he was to blame for the poor performance of House Wei’s pill business and bringing shame to its good name.
“Ole Fifth, why not take a seat first? You've always liked to raise a clamor. Acting so high and mighty already, who knows how overbearing you’ll become when things are settled?” Wei Tianxiao’s voice was disinterested, taking the insult in stride.
“House lord, I'm not being high and mighty. How can I help it if House Wei’s pill business is doing poorly? Rather, I think I am doing a big favor for the house.” Wei Tiantong chuckled, squarely sitting down on his seat with a flourish. Wei Xiu laughed mockingly before finding a place to sit down behind Wei Tiantong, well aware of his place. He looked towards Jiang Chen immediately after he sat down, clearing wanting to stir up more trouble.
Wei Zhi saw through the young man’s intent at once, and coldly intervened. “Cut the chatter. Pill Master Zhen here is a pill king that both the house lord and young master Jie have invited. We were just about to discuss pill-related affairs with him. It is your own fault that you arrived late. The plans that Pill Master Zhen drafted just now were quite enticing, and I have full confidence in his ability to bring House Wei’s pill business back into the spotlight of Farmer God District.”
A pill master? Wei Tiantong was stunned. The presence of this new pill master was an unexpected twist to his plans. But when he recalled Pill Master Yu’s abilities, he settled back into his chair with a sneer. “Pill Master Zhen? Where is he from? He looks quite unfamiliar. Is there someone like this in Veluriyam Capital?” Wei Tiantong deliberately spoke with exaggerated surprise.
“I haven’t heard of him either, surely he can’t be a common mountebank?” Wei Xiu’s head shaking performance surpassed his father’s in hyperbole.
Wei Tiantong’s elder confidante piped up as well. “Elder Zhi, at your age, you shouldn't be tricked by a charlatan. If pill kings were really this easy to find, House Wei wouldn’t have spent so many years …”
“If you’re not old enough to go senile, how could I old enough to be tricked? So you’re allowed to invite a so-called pill master, but we’re not permitted to petition a bonafide pill king?” Wei Zhi interrupted coldly.
“Really, a real pill king? We should all take a close look. Pill Master Yu, they think that we’re the counterfeits, and that he's the real thing,” Wei Tiantong roared with laughter.
“Everyone knows how to brag,” Pill Master Yu was expressionless as he responded distantly.
Not wanting to waste time on argument or spare Pill Master Yu even one look, Jiang Chen smiled to Wei Tianxiao. “Sir house lord, let's get to the main topic.”
“Yes, we shall proceed without further ado. Everyone, please take a seat,” Wei Tianxiao nodded, his smile broadening.
Wei Tiantong was upset at being ignored, but he knew that he could overlook the slight. The first thing he did after taking his seat was glance seemingly carelessly in Elder Zhuo and Elder Feng’s direction. The two elders in question kept their heads down. There was hardly any response to his gaze. What, are these two old coots playing at being honorable? When the moment comes, they’ll still have to side with me. Hiding a sneer, Wei Tiantong cussed silently to himself.
In truth, Wei Tiantong found both Elder Zhuo and Feng quite grating. He retained some courtesy with them only because they were still useful. When he fully grasped the reins of power in the house, he would discard them at the first opportunity. What was the point of keeping them around if they weren't fully obedient?
With everyone seated, Wei Tianxiao knocked lightly on the long meeting table. “As Elder Zhi has mentioned already, we invited Pill Master Zhen today because he desires to collaborate with us. Pill Master Zhen is a second rank pill king with a lot of potential. It is excellent news for our House Wei.”
“Second rank pill king? Forgive my bluntness house lord, but is a second rank pill king really suitable for House Wei?” Wei Tiantong's expression grew solemn.
In the Upper Eight Regions, a second rank pill king was only fit to work for a third- or fourth-rate sect. As a ninth-ranked house, House Wei surpassed the typical third-rate sect in many aspects, and matched select second-rate sects in some. In terms of requirements, House Wei demanded at least a mid-tier pill king. Fourth rank was the lowest they would go.
“Ole Fifth, your words are quite big. House Wei hasn't had even a single pill king in many years. Now that we have the opportunity with Pill King Zhen, you want to act contrary?” Wei Zhi was displeased.
“Being contrary? Hardly. Pill Master Yu behind me is a fourth rank pill king. You want to hire a second rank while a fourth rank is available … do you want people to make fun of us?” Wei Tiantong laughed.
A fourth rank pill king? All present were shocked, their eyes widening with amazement. No one had expected Wei Tiantong to enlist such capable help, Wei Tianxiao included. A fourth rank pill king …!
Even Wei Jie was a little startled, concentration plain on his face. He couldn’t help but glance at Jiang Chen, but the latter’s expression was still as cool as ever. There was no hint of surprise on his face. Wei Jie’s worries instantly disappeared. So what if he was a fourth rank pill king? Hadn't Jiang Chen already countered Pill Master Yu’s techniques one by one? A contest between pill kings didn't merely comprise of a comparison of rank. Jiang Chen’s skills were miraculous enough to go toe to toe with sixth rank pill kings, much less a fourth rank one.
“There's no need to elaborate on the difference between a fourth rank and second rank pill king, I think? It's pure irresponsibility for everyone to choose a second rank pill king and neglect a fourth rank! Elder Zhuo, Elder Feng, what do you say?” Wei Tiantong’s confidante grinned. Obviously, the gesture was to force Elder Zhuo and Elder Feng to voice their opinion. Wei Tiantong smiled slightly at Elder Zhuo and Elder Feng as well.
“In theory, a fourth rank pill king does surpass a second rank in level. However, a contest must be held to determine relative strength when it comes to pill dao.” Elder Zhuo was expressionless.
Wei Tiantong wasn't particularly satisfied with the reply. He had hoped for a clearer show of support from both elders. He also knew however, that the old man enjoyed maintaining a good reputation, and was thus unsurprised. The only thing I really need their support for is the matter of the Farmer God Market store. Them not taking Wei Tianxiao’s side is enough when it comes to these smaller matters. Wei Tiantong sneered silently to himself.
“Pill King Yu, it seems that not everyone here believes in your abilities. May I suggest that you make a show of them?” Wei Xiu suddenly interrupted behind Wei Tiantong.
Pill Master Yu smiled coolly, directing a frigid stare at Jiang Chen. “Would you be up to play a round?” Disdain oozed from both his eyes and voice, mixed with a few degrees of provocation as well.
“Playing around with you is a little unbecoming of me, but since everyone is so interested in the result, I guess it’s not a problem stooping to your level for once,” Jiang Chen returned a casual smile.
Stooping to your level? The people on Wei Tiantong’s side were exasperated to the point of spitting out blood. How could a second rank pill king with unverified authenticity be so audacious? So pretentious in front of a fourth rank pill king?!
Pill Master Yu’s eyes narrowed briefly, like a venomous snake. He sneered, “A trick like that is child’s play. Are you trying to anger me? How naive.”
“Anger you?” Jiang Chen burst into laughter. “Aren’t you thinking too highly yourself? Are the likes of you worthy enough for me to actively try to anger?”
Pill Master Yu was truly aggravated now. His face darkened in displeasure. Wei Xiu interjected heatedly. “Kid, disregarding whether you’re actually a pill king, do you not understand the rules? A second rank pill king is a junior before a fourth rank. How can you talk like that to your senior?!”
Jiang Chen laughed in spite of himself, but didn't spare Wei Xiu a glance. “A fellow who doesn’t even have the right to attend a house meeting is speaking so shamelessly… what a curious affair.”
Wei Xiu’s face froze, and he almost toppled from his seat. Wei Tiantong harrumphed, “Kid, your eloquence doesn’t matter here. To stand with House Wei, you need to have some genuine skill. If you don’t, I’d advise you to leave as early as possible.”
Pushing against the foot of a table with his own, Jiang Chen slid his chair backwards. Arms crossed, he looked leisurely at Pill Master Yu, “Why don’t you come up with how we’re going to play?”
His extreme arrogance was enough to provoke even the shrewdest of persons, Pill Master Yu among them. If not for Wei Tiantong’s message to stay calm, he almost wanted to explode right then and there. His gaze affixed to Jiang Chen, Pill Master Yu cackled, “Kid, I’m not going to make this complicated. Let us set up a trap for each other, and see which of us can last past fifteen minutes in the other's. How about it?”
Hearing that, Jiang Chen immediately understood that his counterpart wanted to compete with poison. Poison? Jiang Chen almost laughed out loud. He would've been unsure of how much real knowledge his opponent had in anything else, but he was utterly confident when it came to poison. Jiang Chen was immune to all toxins after incorporating the golden cicada bloodline into his blood. What could he possibly be afraid of?