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Less than two weeks remained before the Martial Pagoda battles. Jiang Chen planned on preparing amply in the time that he had left. The battle was a chance to test his mettle. He didn’t want to use too many of his treasures unless they were absolutely required, especially ones that were overwhelmingly strong. Many things could only be honed in the heat of battle—things such as understanding the boundaries of martial prowess and sharpening the ability to process information. Jiang Chen knew this well.

“The fact that I’ve reached the seventh level sage realm is definitely related to the countless battles I’ve fought in, both big and small. Many geniuses are planning to attend the Martial Pagoda battles. It would be foolish for me not to take this opportunity to test my martial ability.” Jiang Chen had used various items to assist him in many of his battles, especially those fought against higher-level opponents.

If neither side used treasures, Jiang Chen had the natural confidence that he could crush anyone on his same level in a purely martial competition. Even opponents who were one or two levels higher weren’t a problem for him. However, each of his battles had been a matter of life and death. If he hadn’t used items, his enemies would have. Thus, the Martial Pagoda battles were a rare opportunity for him to participate in something different… a proving ground of sorts.

Understandably, if others used items despite the circumstances, Jiang Chen wasn’t likely able to stay the odd one out. His trip to the wildlands had provided him with considerable benefits. The large defensive cauldron that had belonged to Lu Shinan looked quite imposing. It seemed to possess a remarkable force that could draw in various kinds of attacks. It was definitely a defensive powerhouse.

The eight statues that he’d acquired were even stronger. What a shame that the formation disk hadn’t come with them. Jiang Chen was very curious about the statues. He felt that they hadn’t been fully utilized in the hands of the Prince of Shangping. Since its master was dead, Lu Shinan’s cauldron no longer had a personal imprint on it. It took no effort at all for Jiang Chen to claim the defensive cauldron as his own. But although the same was true with the eight statues, he was more upset about the missing formation disk. However, he did take the time to examine the statues more closely. There seemed to be a particularly strong will hidden within. They weren’t just typical relics of the past.

“The Prince of Shangping is already dead. From the look of these statues, any previous connection between them and the formation disk is no longer. It seems that the prince had created his own formation disk to communicate with the statues. Unfortunately for him, he could only command the bare minimum of the statues’ strength. If he had been able to access even a tenth of their full potential, I likely would have been the loser back then.”

The more Jiang Chen looked at the eight statues, the more he felt afraid. He had been really lucky to have the Imperial Advent Defense Talisman on him. Without it, the eight statues would have been impossible for him to take on. “What a lucky bastard the prince must’ve been, to have gotten his hands on a treasure like this.” He fiddled with the statues in his hands, filled with an inexplicable fondness for them. “Too bad his fortune didn’t last.”

He had the feeling that the eight statues would be tenfold stronger now that they were in his hands, perhaps even a hundredfold. Jiang Chen was a man of action. There were about a dozen days left, so he decided to give personally crafting a formation disk a shot. The earlier he could control the statues, the better. He wasn’t after perfect command of them from the outset. As long as he could delve into the basics of their strength—even a tenth was enough!—it would be sufficient to use them as a potent weapon on the offense.

“No wonder something as powerful as my Galaxy Slash technique left only a faint mark back then. More remarkably, the statues can even self-repair! It looks like the earlier damage from my attack has already disappeared.” The more closely he examined the eight statues, the more surprised he was. Though the eight statues appeared to be unliving, they had the ability to regenerate like living creatures.

“There are endless marvels in this boundless universe. The eight statues are definitely extraordinary. Let’s see if I can carve a formation disk and put them to good use.” He had gotten the feeling of immense strength from the eight statues during his battle with the Prince of Shangping, but he hadn’t taken them too seriously. He had many treasures with which to fend off the eight statues. Conjuring up a magnetic golden mountain, using the mint ginseng, commanding the Bewitching Lotus... and so on. But now it seemed that he’d underestimated the eight statues.

“Perhaps that prince’s consciousness hadn’t reached the particular level necessary to discover these statues’ greatness. Like pearls before swine, their true value had been obscured because of their owner’s blindness. How disgraceful.” Thinking such thoughts, Jiang Chen exited the secret room and headed outside. As he came to the door, he saw Shen Trifire leading two others. All three were standing in a circumspect way, clearly having awaited Jiang Chen for hours.

“Senior brother, these two came to Taiyuan Tower half a year ago. They said that you’d sought them out. As a junior, I dared to decide on matters myself, so I sent them out separately on a few errands. Conveniently, they came back to report on their missions today, and because they heard that you were back, they just had to come and see you.” Shen Trifire was a little uneasy. He was scared that he’d been duped. They had tokens on them that signified Jiang Chen’s trust, true, but who knew if there was some kind of hidden deception involved?

Jiang Chen smiled. “I’m glad that the two of you arrived in one piece. Fantastic. I’ve been busy ever since my return, so I haven’t been able to make time to see you guys.”

The two were the old friends that Jiang Chen had rescued from the Great Scarlet Mid Region—Myriad Spirit Sect disciples, Liu Wencai and Lu Yali, hailing from the sixteen kingdoms alliance. Both of them were brothers that Jiang Chen had met during their previous trials in Eternal Spirit Mountain. Because the Myriad Domain had been shattered into pieces, they no longer had a place to go home to. They’d been a bit fearful after coming to a place as big as Veluriyam Capital, not knowing what to do afterwards. Thankfully, Shen Trifire hadn’t given them any attitude despite his wariness. Their existences here were somewhat riddled with anxiety, but also relatively peaceful, much better than drifting out in the chaotic world, anyway.

“For convenience’s sake, you two should call me senior brother from now on as well,” Jiang Chen instructed.

Both Liu Wencai and Lu Yali nodded. Discovering Jiang Chen’s lofty position of prominence after arriving at Veluriyam Capital had been daunting, even frightening to a certain degree. Yes, they had been brothers since a long time ago, but there was such a huge gap between them now. Even Liu Wencai felt like he was reaching significantly up the social ladder. 

Jiang Chen didn’t think so, though. He gave both of their shoulders a firm pat. “Get Trifire to settle you in. I’m going out to deal with a few more things. I’ll catch up with you two later.”

He valued Shen Trifire a fair amount, but he had only average relationships with the other disciples from Regal Pill Palace. He was closer with these two brothers from the sixteen kingdoms alliance. After all, he’d barely spent any time at Regal Pill Palace, and he wasn’t on tremendously amicable terms with the members even back then. If the sect hadn’t fallen, Jiang Chen would have never gotten together with them.

Even now, he sheltered these people only for Palace Head Dan Chi’s sake. If the broken Regal Pill Palace wanted to rise again another day, they would have to rely solely on themselves. Essentially, he was helping the palace cultivate a new batch of hopefuls. Alas, Mu Gaoqi was still lost in the outside world, a fact that hung heavily on Jiang Chen’s mind. Of the younger generation that was still alive, only he and Ling Bi’er warranted his worry. Departing from Taiyuan Tower, Jiang Chen headed for Sacred Peafowl Mountain straight away.

“Haha, young friend, it’s rare for you to come find me of your own volition. I don’t think it means anything good?” Emperor Peafowl found Jiang Chen’s spontaneous visit a little unexpected.

Jiang Chen avoided being roundabout, “Your Majesty, I haven’t refused any of your requests,” he chuckled. “Now I have a few problems of my own, and I’d like to ask for your generous assistance.”

“What are you planning to extort from me, hmm?” Emperor Peafowl smiled. “Please do tell. There’s nothing I have that I’ll deny from you.”

“I’d like to create a formation disk. I wonder if Your Majesty has any materials for that sort of thing?”

Formation disk? Emperor Peafowl hesitated for a moment, his eyes looking deeply at the youth. There was astonishment in them. “You know how to make formation disks? Do you know how much energy and effort goes into them?”

Jiang Chen shrugged. “Those who find something particularly difficult do not truly know how, and those who do find it rather easy. I’ve learned a few things about carving formation disks here and there.”

Emperor Peafowl was silent for a long while before he spoke again, “Your mysterious teacher taught you that too, didn’t he?” He asked dejectedly.

Jiang Chen smiled, but didn’t deny it. Even Emperor Peafowl listened to this with jealousy. “Ah, little friend, I wonder what kind of a terrifyingly proficient person your teacher is. It feels like there’s nothing he doesn’t know.”

Jiang Chen smiled again. “You know, maybe that’s true. My teacher is full of knowledge and wisdom. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him stumped on any matter.” 

“A senior as great as him is worthy of all respect. It’s unfortunate, us experts of the present are mere well-dwelling frogs in comparison, often full of ourselves to boot.” Emperor Peafowl had some strong feelings regarding the issue.

Gazing serenely at Jiang Chen, the emperor spoke once more. “As for the materials you want… I did, as a matter of fact, incidentally manage to collect some on my travels. I can give them to you, but I have a request in return.”

“What is it?” Jiang Chen was curious.

“I would like to observe the entire carving and creation process.” Emperor Peafowl was extremely blunt, discarding courtesy.

“Does Your Majesty wish to secretly learn from me?” Jiang Chen chuckled.

Emperor Peafowl grinned, not refuting the claim. It wasn’t that he necessarily wanted to learn from him in such a manner. Rather, he was more interested in whether this incredible youth really could make a formation disk on his own. Formation disks in general weren’t especially incredible. How strong a disk was depended on its rank and quality.

Moreover, the formation activated from a disk had no foundation. Compared to ones created with flags and spirit stones, it possessed a few more flaws. However, it did also have a distinct advantage—that of instantaneous activation, without much advance preparation required. Formation flags couldn’t compete with formation disks in this aspect. In duels to the death, this unique benefit provided by a formation disk often provided opportunities to turn the tables. Thus, a strong ancient formation disk was still fairly attractive to powerful cultivators. Even Emperor Peafowl was no exception to this rule.

The emperor was no formation expert, but he had more than a passing interest in them nevertheless. The art of carving formations in particular had always been seen as an ancient tradition. On the modern Divine Abyss Continent, artisans that were knowledgeable in this skill were as rare as dragons and phoenixes. Highly proficient ones were essentially extinct.

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