Chapter 829: The Preparations of a No Preparation Period
A month wasn't too long of a period of time, and Pillfire City's power and influence was undeniable. The contest hadn't even begun, but news had already spread throughout the lands. Only, most of the factions in the human territories unconditionally favored Pillfire City. After all, Pillfire City had been the hegemon of pill dao in the human territories for over three thousand years.
Veluriyam Capital was doing fine, but when it came to pills, it had merely shown a little development in the last thousand years. It was still far from posing a tangible threat to Pillfire City. Never mind the wild speculations running afire throughout the world at large, there were many questions even inside Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Even the four great monarchs were baffled by Great Emperor Peafowl's decision this time. Why did His Majesty trust Pill King Zhen so much?
If one put their respective pill traditions and heritages side by side, it was an almost impossible task for Sacred Peafowl Mountain to go against Pillfire City. Anyone with a little brains knew that Pillfire City was an existence one couldn't provoke when it came to pills. However, Great Emperor Peafowl had gone so far as to pin all his hopes on an outsider. Granted, this outsider had exhibited a pill talent formidable enough to shock everyone in the capital, but was talent truly enough to shake Pillfire City's impregnable, millenia-long position at the top? Even the Cloudsoar Monarch couldn't be certain.
The four great monarchs had tactfully broached the subject with Great Emperor Peafowl several times, but received only a silent smile in reply. The Chronobalance Emperor was the most outspoken of them. "Your Majesty, Pill King Zhen might have outstanding talent, but in your loyal servant's opinion, we will be in deep trouble if he turns out to be an agent sent by Pillfire City. His origin is far too unclear at the moment."
He wasn't the only one with such thoughts. The other monarchs were also baffled at this seemingly obvious oversight . Even the Cloudsoar Monarch, the one most loyal to the great emperor, was somewhat uncertain. After all, to challenge Pillfire City to a pill contest was to publicize their conflict. Even though it was evident that a fight between Pillfire City and Veluyiram Capital had always been inevitable, it was hard not to be surprised by the suddenness of this contest. However, Emperor Peafowl seemed to be set on his course this time, his resolve seemingly unshakable. No amount of persuasion, be it tactful or blunt, could make him waver. Even many of the other great emperors in the Capital had come to Sacred Peafowl Mountain and tried to subtly reminded Emperor Peafowl that going head to head with Pillfire City would have far-reaching consequences. Was it truly a necessity?
Emperor Peafowl had but one answer for them—we fight! His resolve was as firm as iron. When everyone saw his determination, they all understood it was impossible for anyone to change his mind.
As for the one involved, Jiang Chen went into closed door cultivation after returning to his residence, turning a deaf ear to the quarrels outside. He knew that the one Pillfire City would send would definitely not be an ordinary figure, since they were adamant about obtaining the Longevity PIll. Only, Jiang Chen had never been afraid of anyone when it came to pills, and he was certain there was no one on the Divine Abyss Continent capable enough to cause him fear. In particular, Jiang Chen didn't even take Pillfire City seriously when it came to the Longevity Pill. He could even send a pill emperor running with his tail between his legs, never mind pill kings.
The various rumor mills in the Capital were running at full steam. Countless versions of "Pill King Zhen"'s past history came to the fore. Some people said that this Pill King Zhen had once received the teachings of an immortal and had already gone beyond the realm of pill kings thanks to his talent.
Some others said this Pill King Zhen was an agent of a hostile power dispatched to the Capital to disrupt the local situation.
Of course, there also those who said that Pill King Zhen was merely a charlatan. Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s trust in Pill King Zhen would cost them dearly. There were all sorts of rumors flying through the air. The one about being an undercover agent in particular, under the guise of great insight, took a life of its own. What was surprising was that Great Emperor Peafowl didn't adopt any measure to stop these wagging tongues.
All kinds of rumors came and went in the Capital. At Great Emperor Peafowl's urging, the Coiling Dragon clan lord and House Wei didn't make any comment, to say nothing of taking any action. It was as though they weren't concerned in the least about the upcoming confrontation. They only had to do what they ought to do. They didn't have any apprehension on the eve of battle.
As for Jiang Chen, he'd gone straight into seclusion for just one goal, to break through to sixth level sage realm. With the two Sage Smile Pills from before, he now had the possibility to break into sky sage realm in one fell swoop. As long as he broke through to the sixth level, one of those pills could instantly help him break through to the seventh level.
Such motivation filled Jiang Chen with renewed vigor. His cultivation progressed in leaps and bounds with the help of countless Heroic Sage Pills. Supplemented by the refining and absorption of the dragon crystals, Jiang Chen made steady steps on the road to the sixth level, each day nearing closer to his goal.
"I haven't yet seen a great emperor's disciple, but the scions at the great clan level are on the whole comparable to a first rank sect's core disciples. I need more strength to establish myself in the Capital. As long as I can reach the sky sage realm, then I can thrash any peak ninth-level cultivators or half-step emperor realm cultivators that comes my way."
To fight against cultivators of higher levels was child's play for Jiang Chen nowadays. However, after obtaining the information about Myriad Abyss Island, Jiang Chen was much more driven to increase his cultivation. He knew that the Upper Eight Regions wasn't the summit of the Divine Abyss Continent, and weren't even the peak of martial cultivation on the continent.
Remembering Huang'er's background, recalling he was still without news of his father in the Upper Eight Domains, how the rebuilding of the ruined Regal Pill Palace was still a faraway thought, how he still didn't know whether his father in his former life was dead or alive… Jiang Chen felt a heart-rending pain each time he thought of any of these, forcing him ever onward. He didn't dare slack off even in his dreams.
Time flew by, day by day. Jiang Chen finally came out of closed door cultivation three days before the pill battle. In the end, he hadn't broken through to sixth level during this seclusion, but he'd still laid down firm foundations in preparation for his breakthrough.
"Pillfire City." After organizing his thoughts, Jiang Chen reviewed the information he had about Pillfire City. "Greed and shamelessness. A faction can't become grand with these tags attached to it. I wonder which Pillfire house has gotten its hands on Mu Gaoqi and Elder Yun Nie?"
Jiang Chen was in fact still quite worried. He could see how shameless Pillfire City was. They had been so brazen about snatching the Longevity Pill by force, even though it clearly didn't belong to them. Judging by this alone, they were definitely not easy to deal with. He would of course not judge a faction with simple criteria such as "good or bad." However, regardless of morality, it was out of the question for them to occupy his own things. Such was Jiang Chen's temperament. If he was willing to offer something, then he wouldn’t bat an eye no matter how precious a gift it was. If it wasn't a gift given willingly, but snatched by force, then Jiang Chen would never allow it even for the cheapest trifle.
To tell the truth, the Longevity Pill was a mere small fragment among Jiang Chen's countless memories. There were countless more precious pill recipes stored in his mind. Only, the theft of this pill recipe touched upon the principles Jiang Chen lived by. Even the strongest pill faction in the Upper Eight Regions couldn't just take it from him. He would never agree to someone claiming his possession by shady means.
No one from Sacred Peafowl Mountain had come to disturb him while he'd cultivated behind close doors. However, Ji San made his way over as soon as he exited, as the Coiling Dragon clan lord's representative.
"Brother, the clan lord said that the mood in the entire Capital is strange now that the pill battle is near at hand. He thinks that you should go to His Majesty now to boost their morale." Ji San was actually fully confident in Jiang Chen. "I told him those people were short-sighted. They simply don't know your talent and abilities. Pillfire City? If you ask me, they aren't even fit to polish your shoes!" Ji San's words were as blind as they could get. Their only goal was to enhance his good brother's morale.
Jiang Chen actually listened with a calm smile. "Brother Ji, your words actually hit it on the head. I wouldn't let Pillfire City polish my shoes even if they wished to."
These words made have been said in jest, but they still were Jiang Chent's real thoughts. In his former life, there had been so many empyrean powerhouses eager to polish Jiang Chen's shoes they were impossible to count. Even divine powerhouses had been a dime a dozen. However, one could count on one's hand the number of people Jiang Chen had taken a fancy to.
Jiang Chen wasn't as exalted now as he had been in his former life, but he still had the memories of his past life, so his sights were likewise set high. With Pillfire City's manner of doing things, Jiang Chen felt true contempt for them.
Ji San's smile was awkward when he heard Jiang Chen's boasting. "Brother, you actually should pay a visit to His Majesty. After all, His Majesty is putting his faith in you this time. You should go and ease his worries!"
Jiang Chen smiled. "If I am to guess, this doesn’t come from His Majesty himself."
"How did you know?" Ji San blinked. True enough, he'd come this time to persuade Jiang Chen at the clan lord's behest. In the Coiling Dragon clan lord's opinion, no one was optimistic about the upcoming confrontation, and so it brought an enormous pressure down on them. No matter the outcome, the clan lord felt that Jiang Chen ought to report to his Majesty and at least talk about the duel.
However, Jiang Chen and Emperor Peafowl had a faint, unspoken mutual understanding. Jiang Chen guessed that the Longevity Pill was only a small part of the reason why Emperor Peafowl backed him in the pill duel against Pillfire City. The greater reason was that Emperor Peafowl wanted to borrow this opportunity to test Jiang chen, and test the reliability of his All-Seeing Eyes. After the long talk with Emperor Peafowl that day, Jiang Chen in fact understood him now better than many others.
For one seated in Emperor Peafowl's position, one pill recipe or one business opportunity weren't enough to make him move heaven and earth. Rather than saying the Emperor didn't mind shouldering the fallout of going against Pillfire City for the sake of the Longevity Pill, it would be better to say he was doing it to test Jiang Chen, to make the youth prove his talents.
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