Chapter 821: The Test Begins
Jiang Chen sat on his seat, his face entirely unperturbed. However, he had the impression Emperor Peafowl had thrown an encouraging glance this way when he said those words. What did His Majesty mean by that? Is he asking me to participate in the test together with those scions of the great clans?
Besides Jiang Chen, Ji San poked him and said via voice transmission, "Brother, I think Emperor Peafowl was looking at me just now. Did you notice anything?"
Jiang Chen was left speechless. This guy was truly narcissistic enough. However, Jiang Chen wasn’t going to tell him the truth. Seeing his brother's face brimming with delight, Jiang Chen didn’t have the heart to burst his bubble. After all, it would be too cruel for a man to suffer a blow in his professional life after suffering from sentimental woes no long ago.
"Ladies and gentlemen, now that the His Majesty has spoken, everyone has to treasure such a great opportunity." The various clan lords were also delighted. They looked at their own children and started discussing the development with them. Soon after, the youngsters all brimmed with excitement, eager to give it a go.
The young people invited this time numbered eighteen, Jiang Chen included. All of them were first-rate geniuses from the various great clans.
"We naturally can’t thank His Majesty enough for his blessings." The Coiling Dragon Clan’s clan lord chuckled. "If I may be so bold, Pill Master Zhen here present is also a striking genius. I wonder if it would be possible for Your Majesty to include him in your test?"
With a hearty laugh, Emperor Peafowl said, "Since everyone here is a guest of mine, everyone will naturally be treated the same."
A pill king? The other young people from the various clans all looked at Jiang Chen in turn. They all revealed clear surprise. What is a pill genius like you sticking your nose in our business? His Majesty’s test was certainly related to martial talent. As a pill genius, this simply isn’t the stage for you to shine. By participating, wouldn’t you be humiliating yourself? Those people’s expressions weren’t overly aggressive, but they still couldn’t entirely conceal the rejection and the doubts in their eyes.
Jiang Chen hadn’t been particularly keen, but the provocation he could see from these guy’s eyes made him unhappy. He immediately cupped his fists in a salute. "Many thanks for Your Majesty’s favors." His words clearly expressed his intent to participate.
Emperor Peafowl laughed out loud. He silently sighed in relief for no reason at all when he saw Jiang Chen agree to participate. He had actually been a little worried. If others were to know Emperor Peafowl’s frame of mind, they would likely unhinge their jaws in shock.
Seeing Jiang Chen really about to participate, the disciples from the other great clans suddenly were a little put out. Clearly, this pill king from a noble house receiving such an exalted treatment didn’t sit well with them. After all, even the scions of noble houses weren’t qualified to participate. As a guest pill king from an aristocratic house, why don’t you consider your own status first? Even if His Majesty is magnanimous, you should still show some discretion and take the initiative to withdraw! Even if you want to take this opportunity to climb the social ladder, that’s still too much lack of tact!
Some of the more narrow-minded were already plotting how to put him in his place when the opportunity arose. They could also let him know at the same time that even a pill genius couldn’t careless stick his nose in the martial geniuses’ territory.
"Are all of you ready?" Cloudsoar Monarch said. "If you’re ready, then please come forward."
All the geniuses hurried forward in a rush to outdo the others and gathered near Cloudsoar Monarch. Jiang Chen reached the group in Ji San’s wake at a leisurely pace. He saw some clan scions with undisguised mockery on their faces as soon as he reached the group, seemingly a little hostile to him. Jiang Chen was long accustomed to such meaningless posturing. He didn’t feel like paying attention to them, and merely replied with a careless smile. For others, his attitude came across as conspicuous contempt.
Miao Suo said with with a cold smile, "Ole Third, are you becoming senile? You even cozy up to an aristocratic house’s guest pill king now?"
The two of them were personal foes. It wasn’t surprising for them to be at each other’s throat.
A contemptuous smile was Ji San’s only reply. "Fatso, do you think you’re qualified enough to run your mouth in my presence?"
Miao Suo was about to speak when he noticed Cloudsoar Monarch’s eyes on him. His bulky figure suddenly shook. His face ashen, he couldn’t find the courage to say any nonsense any longer.
"Do you see the Peafowl Lotus Pond?" Cloudsoar Monarch pointed at the vast Peafowl Lotus Pond undulating with blue waves. It was so vast one couldn’t seem from one end to the opposite shore in a single glance.
"Each of you will be given a lotus leaf. You have to reach the other shore of the pond with the help of this lotus leaf. The Thousand Peafowl Mural is there. What you have to do is to meditate on the Mural. His Majesty Peafowl has left opportunities therein. Whether you can obtain them will depend on your own luck. Of course, keep in mind that whether you can reach the Mural is an issue in itself. There are at least three trials involved."
Three trials? They could only reach the Peafowl Mural after surmounting the three trials. Only after visualizing the Mural would they have an opportunity to obtain a blessings left behind by Great Emperor Peafowl.
One had to admit that the difficulty was substantial. Jiang Chen didn’t bat an eye. Standing inside the group of people, his eyes lightly closed, he seemed to be simply meditating without a care to the various reactions around him.
"Brother?" Ji San cautiously asked.
"Stay calm." Jiang Chen merely spoke two words.
A startled Ji San immediately seemed to realize something. He steadied his state of mind. Jiang Chen’s two words had rang in his mind like a great bell. He realized he had been in a light-headed state of mind every since arriving on Peafowl Holy Mountain. Such a state of mind hadn’t vanished even now. How was he going to face the contest in such a mood?
Some clan scions didn’t pay any attention at Jiang Chen’s appearance. They thought this Pill King Zhen really liked to put on a mysterious act. How far a would a pill genius go in such a situation? It didn’t matter how hard he played the part. Cloudsoar Monarch seemed very interested in Jiang Chen. His gaze revealed a bit of admiration when it swept past Jiang Chen. Even putting aside whatever talent he had in the dao of pills, this young man’s self-possession was definitely out of the ordinary. Not every young man could stay calm by simply willing it.
In such a competitive atmosphere, a young man who could turn a blind eye to the provocative glances from the other competitors, a blind ear to all sorts of provocative words, was definitely a rare sight. After all, all young people were prone to anger. When it came to martial cultivation, all sorts of negative feelings were sources of internal demons.
Greed, envy, pride, anger… Those emotions in particular were great hindrances for martial cultivation. However, most of the time, most martial cultivators failed due to lack of control over their own emotions. To surmount the chains of the martial dao was easy, while vanquishing the demons in one's own heart was much more difficult. However, this Pill King Zhen made Cloudsoar Monarch feel that, though the youth's martial cultivation wasn’t at a particularly high realm, he might not lose to anyone present when it came to spirit and consciousness.
With a broad wave from Cloudsoar Monarch, the blue ripples suddenly surged. Eighteen lotus leaves appeared out of nowhere and fell on the surface of the pond. "Ladies and gentlemen, these are the boats that will carry you to the other shore. Remember, don’t think of it as a normal lake. In this place, your cultivation, your strength, your wits and wisdom, everything will be vividly reflected. No one can certain to be the victor before laughing the last laugh." Cloudsoar Monarch ordered, "Be on your way."
"Brother, do your best!" Ji San leaped on a lotus leaf. With a nod, Jiang Chen also jumped onto a lotus leaf.
By the time Jiang Chen landed on the lotus leaf, he realized none of the other competitors were in sight anymore when he glanced around. What was left in their place was a vast expanse of white water. He surveyed the scene for a moment without any fear or worry, then called upon his internal energy and slowly pushed the lotus leaf forward without striving for excessive speed. Jiang Cheng thought Cloudsoar Monarch’s final words had been anything but casual. Especially when he said that "no one can be certain to be the victor before laughing the last laugh." There had obviously a meaning hidden therein.
In other words, only the one to have the last laugh would be the victor. In that case, pursuing blind speed at the beginning might not be a good thing. Especially when they would run into three obstacles on the way, at the very least. Jiang Chen opened his God's Eyes and observed his surroundings. Although Cloudsoar Monarch hadn’t mentioned whether there would be any element of danger, being careful couldn’t hurt either way.
Something suddenly flashed in Jiang Chen’s consciousness after a quarter-hour. He suddenly narrowed his eyes and looked in front of him. He saw many white streams of water forcibly partitioning the pond like blockades of steel, barring his way.
"Is that the first obstacle?" Jiang Chen slowed down and carefully studied it for a moment. He realized it was a dividing formation.
This formation wasn’t too complicated. It purely used the properties of water to create layer upon layer of folding waves in order to blockade the space. If he couldn’t break through this blockade, then he couldn’t progress any further. Everything was that simple.
Jiang Chen waved his hand without halting. Something appeared in it: it was the Moonshatter Awl he’d obtained from Cao Jin after he'd killed the latter. This item was simply custom-made for this obstacle. The Moonshatter Awl was none other than a formation-breaking artifact. Back then, Cao Jin had used this Awl and, together with several members of his sect using formation-breaking techniques, they'd broken the formation surrounding Mt. Rippling Mirage. One could see from that how ridiculous the Moonshatter Awl was.
Jiang Chen wasn’t one of those inflexible men. He gripped the Awl and ruthlessly slashed with it. A moonlight-like beam of light shot at the layers of folding waves. After seven to eight successive slashes, the moonlight-like beams of light interlaced together and broke a small opening in the folded waves with a loud rumble. As soon the opening appeared, the internal structure of the formation suddenly crumbled and disintegrated, becoming countless sprays of water that scattered away entirely with a crash.
The water surged all of a sudden before recovering its calm a moment later. Jiang Chen didn’t stop after seeing the first obstacle. He steered the lotus leaf and continued his journey forward. He’d passed this first obstacle more easily than anyone else.
"Now that I’ve dealt with the first obstacle, what's the next one going to be?" Jiang Chen wasn’t excessively pleased or complacent despite surmounting the first obstacle. The first obstacle might not have been particularly difficult, but he’d have needed a long time and a lot of energy without the Moonshatter Awl.
"It seems like His Majesty is being serious this time?" Jiang Chen couldn’t help but be a little more interested in this test. He might have many things already, but one never have too many good things.