Chapter 838: The Gathering of Pill Dao Heavyweights
It was natural that a reunion between peers would result in exceptional excitement from everyone. Experiencing the destruction of their sect together had drawn everyone much closer together. They had been competitors before, but now they huddled together for warmth. They were all vagabonds, and the feeling of meeting old acquaintances in a foreign place was indescribable.
Ling Hui’er listened to Shen Trifire's retelling of Jiang Chen's exploits with much gusto. The more she asked and the more answers she was given the happier she became. Though Ling Su had stayed quiet during the recounting of the tale, his heart was astonished by the news. For Jiang Chen to be capable of achieving such results in the short time that he'd been here at Veluriyam Capital…
Ling Su had been saved by Jiang Chen before, but he'd only awakened after Jiang Chen and Ling Bi’er had departed from Regal Pill Palace for the Myriad Grand Ceremony. Thus, his previous impression of Jiang Chen wasn't that strong. He only knew that the youth was his one-time savior. They'd met once more at Tai-ah City, but that instance had been brief as well. They parted ways after a few scant moments of conversation, agreeing to meet up again at Veluriyam Capital. Ling Su had always based his impression of Jiang Chen off of Ling Hui’er's retelling of events.
Because of the girl's admiration for Jiang Chen, her words constantly sounded overexaggerated. Jiang Chen was portrayed as a prodigious genius without equal. From Ling Su's perspective, his daughter had likely described him as such because Jiang Chen was the object of her affections. It was common for girls in love to embellish the exploits of their beloved. Though Ling Su was grateful for Jiang Chen's help, he didn't raise the youth up on a pedestal simply because of what his daughter had said. It was more accurate, in his opinion, to guesstimate Jiang Chen's abilities to be at around half that level.
The brief gathering with Jiang Chen hadn't helped much in terms of further understanding the young man, either. He later heard some rumors that Jiang Chen had eliminated an entire group from the Eternal Celestial Capital, headed by Gong Wuji. Ling Su dared not inquire too much about the rumors, however, and found it difficult to believe them entirely. Only now, after Shen Trifire had recounted recent events, did he understand the full extent of Jiang Chen's remarkable accomplishments. His daughter hadn't exaggerated at all—in fact, from the sound of it, she'd been fairly conservative. After all, Ling Hui'er had no way of knowing about anything that had happened at Veluriyam. She was only familiar with Jiang Chen's exploits at Regal Pill Palace. How could they compare to the recent happenings here in the capital? She was someone who blindly worshipped Jiang Chen. She never found anything he did too surprising, regardless of how impossible it might seem in the eyes of others.
However, Ling Su didn't possess that element of pure admiration or girlishness, and the things that Jiang Chen had done shocked him to an extraordinary degree. That a youth from the Myriad Domain could do such great things in Veluriyam Capital, the heartland of the Upper Eight Regions… And moreover, he had Emperor Peafowl as his backer. It sounded legendary. Shen Trifire also wasn't the type of person to boast for the sake of boasting.
Ling Su was both surprised and overjoyed. The surprise was from learning Jiang Chen was far more prodigious than he had previously expected, and the joy was from being able to find a place to stay at Veluriyam Capital after meeting him again. He was doing quite well here—even the heir of the Coiling Dragon Clan called him brother.
"Uncle Ling, you and your daughter have wandered for so long. Why don't you stay at Taiyuan Tower for now? I'll have Trifire help you settle down… and of course, your wounds need to be treated."
Flesh wounds like his weren't difficult to treat. Ling Hui’er latched onto Jiang Chen's arm and refused to let go. "Senior brother, tell me more about Veluriyam Capital…" She shook his arm relentlessly.
Jiang Chen smiled wryly. "Trifire's gotten to everything already. What else do you want to know?"
"Anything is fine." She'd always been an adorably simple girl, one who held little regard for trivial details. The fact that she continued shaking Jiang Chen's arm, to the point that he was put in close proximity to her ample chest, went by completely unnoticed.
Ling Su cracked a similarly wry smile internally upon seeing his daughter's closeness to the youth. As the saying went, it was indeed hard to keep a matured woman at home. Jiang Chen wasn't the type of lech who couldn't think straight after seeing a woman, however. "We can talk more some other time, when there's a better opportunity for discourse." he smiled.
"Junior sister, senior brother Jiang Chen has a pill battle in two days. It's quite important. You should let him make the necessary preparations for it," Shen Trifire exhorted.
Ling Su joined in on the reproach, "Hui'er, don't be rude. Senior brother Jiang is very busy. He doesn't have the time to waste with you."
"Okay, okay, fine." Ling Hui'er pursed her lips. She was only slightly capricious, not a child who didn't know good from bad. Though a little reluctant, she let go of Jiang Chen's arm.
"Senior brother, you have to tell me more stories after the battle—that's a promise. I heard that you really ruined those bad guys from the Eternal Celestial Capital."
Jiang Chen furrowed his brow upon hearing the Eternal Celestial Capital's name. "Can that really be called ruining the Eternal Celestial Capital? It's not even enough to pay off the interest they owe us for destroying our sect."
All of Regal Pill Palace 's disciples nodded at the mention of the sect's fall, their expressions tragic. Finding the Ling father and daughter duo had relieved Jiang Chen of one of his worries. Though he didn't need to prepare for the battle over the Longevity Pill, he didn't want to underestimate his opponent either. He spent the next two days in a secret room, wholly focused on researching pills and organizing his thoughts. The battle was extremely important. Losing was not an option.
When the time for the battle came, Sacred Peafowl Mountain opened its gates to welcome pill dao heavyweights from all over the world. They had been invited to spectate the battle here. Almost everyone who'd made a name for themselves in the Upper Eight Regions had an invitation from either party. The battle concerned not only ownership of the Longevity Pill, but a larger direction for the Upper Eight Regions' pill scene as well.
If Pillfire City won, the right to the Longevity Pill would not be their only spoil—Veluriyam Capital's recent momentum in the pill world would be crushed instantly. On the flip side, if Veluriyam Capital won, their right to the Longevity Pill would no longer be questioned. Furthermore, it would be a modest challenge to Pillfire City's dominance in the pill world. Thus, there was more at stake to this pill battle than met the eye.
The invited guests had largely neutral stances in the conflict. It made no difference to these heavyweights whether Veluriyam or Pillfire won. They were only here to spectate and observe—to get a glimpse of how amazing the Longevity Pill actually was. It was the catalyst for this confrontation between the two great factions of the Upper Eight Regions, one southern and one northern. Of course, the guests served dually as referees as well.
The battle could not simply be decided by word of mouth. There had to be pill dao experts observing the outcome. In order to settle the matter once and for all, a significant crowd of masters had to attend. That was the only way to ensure that future disputes would not occur.d On a rational level, none of the observers thought that Veluriyam Capital had the ability to challenge Pillfire City when it came to pills.
On an emotional level, however, some hoped that the attempt would have some effect. Pillfire City's monopoly over the pill industry was too severe. For the human domain, such a dominant position was illogical on a larger scale. Pillfire City received far too many benefits from their throne. The scene needed to be shaken up. Only, could Veluriyam bring that into effect? That was the biggest question that had arisen in everyone's hearts.
Apparently their representative was not one of the long-established pill kings from Sacred Peafowl Mountain, but rather a newly-minted pill king. That raised even more questions. A fresh pill king, and apparently a youth too… did such a youngster really have the strength to challenge Pillfire City? Everyone's hearts were filled with many doubts.
Whether it was pill refining or martial dao, youthfulness had no benefit aside from granting natural vigor. Pill dao especially was a discipline that called for foundational work, aggregated knowledge, and accumulated experience. No matter how much of a genius a pill king was, it was unlikely for him to even match an average peer who was well-read, much less a top-rank master from Pillfire City.
There was a Peafowl Stage upon Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Pill dao heavyweights from all around the Upper Eight Regions all had seats around it. All of the greats who'd been invited were either pillars of their sect or true masters of their generation. Each individual was at least halfway to pill emperor, a step above ninth-level pill kings. Any one of them would be able to cause ripples across the Upper Eight Regions on their own. They were the greatest amongst the countless pill experts of the human domain, the most radiant stars in the night sky.
There were thirty-some-odd Pillcraft Scrolls in the human domain. Every thousand years, a new scroll was drafted, recording a hundred people within its text. The people present today all had their names in the most recent edition of the scroll. There were thirty-two in total, all of them prominent and well-known. They had gathered out of respect for both Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City. But most importantly, the battle itself was attractive to them.
All of the guests had arrived by now.
"I hear that Pillfire City has sent the brightest star of their younger generation, Pill King Ji Lang."
"Pill King Ji Lang, eh? Rumor has it that he's already received the full tutelage of Emperor Pillzenith. It looks like Pillfire City is attaching a considerable amount of importance to this fight."
"I'm not surprised that they sent him. The bigger surprise is that Veluriyam Capital is sending a nameless pill king… Pill King Zhen, was it? I've never even heard of him before."
"What does Veluriyam Capital have up their sleeves this time?"
"They're acting too mysterious for me to tell, that's for sure. Apparently, this Pill King Zhen hasn't been at the capital for long, but he's already stirred things up several times… and he's also a disciple of the Deviant Pill Faction, I think?"
"The Deviant Pill Faction? Unorthodox scoundrels, nothing more."
"You can't just say something like that. I know the Deviant Pill Faction doesn't have any outstanding successors in the public eye right now, but they have their place in the pill world."
The Deviant Pill Faction was always a topic of hot debate when it was brought up.
"I say, do you guys mind not squabbling? That's not the main focus of today."
"Exactly. It doesn't matter what faction he's from, sending out a young pill king like that… is Veluriyam Capital trying to destroy its own reputation?"
"Perhaps they're just utterly giving up. They must have heard about their opponent being Pill King Ji Lang, and thought it was a guaranteed loss. They may as well send a young pill king to cut things short, right?"
"Hah, that'd be a bore. If that really were the case, why would Veluriyam Capital make an announcement to begin with? So that just about anyone could challenge them for the pill at Sacred Peafowl Mountain in three months? That doesn't sound like they've given up."
"Maybe they didn't think Pillfire City would swoop in in the first place?" There was widespread discussion before the start of the battle. The gathered parties had many guesses about the circumstances.