Though Jiang Chen hadn’t researched formations as deeply as he had pills in his previous life, he still had a fair amount of experience with them. Plus, the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect was a supreme formations sect from the Divine Abyss Continent’s distant past. A classic text of the sect that had been left behind was The Heart of Formations, which contained many facets of knowledge relating to formations. Jiang Chen’s sharp intuition meant that he would have a very high success rate if he were to carve a formation disk using the classic as a guide. More importantly, a great deal of technical material regarding disk-carving was included in The Heart of Formations—skill, technique, material, and theory. He couldn’t proceed forward with even one of these components missing.
Yes, he was a bit lacking in terms of manual dexterity and practice, but he had several advantages as well—experiences from his previous life, a wealth of knowledge, and a strong fortitude. His past memories were a solid foundation that allowed him a heightened degree of confidence and composure in all that he did. It was no different in this case. He had every faith that the formation disk would turn out perfectly fine.
The difficulty in this case didn’t lie in carving the formation disk itself, but bridging the distance between the disk and the eight statues. He wanted them to resonate in a powerful way. If that couldn’t be done, it didn’t matter how good the formation disk itself was. There were actually many types of materials that could be used in carving formation disks. Naturally, they differed in quality as well, from inferior to superior levels. The materials worthy of Emperor Peafowl’s collection were certainly of superior quality.
Taking the materials into his hands, Jiang Chen marveled at them in quiet awe. As befitting of his status as the foremost titled emperor of Veluriyam, Emperor Peafowl had quite the stash. With their prior agreement in place, Jiang Chen had no reason to refuse the emperor’s intentions to observe.
A secret room was prepared and the youth sprung into action. Jiang Chen didn’t bother attempting to conceal anything from the emperor; he didn’t have the time to waste. Thankfully, he’d already put sufficient thought into how the disk was going to be made. A confident artist with a properly formulated plan up his sleeve could proceed to work remarkable magic. So it was with Jiang Chen. He had the idea and outline for the disk already. His mind and hand moved with fluid inspiration. There was no stiffness in his movements at all.
The process was even smoother than Jiang Chen had imagined. His mental fortitude ensured that every detail in the carving process was etched with perfection, and his handiwork was akin to that of an old hand who’d honed his craft for centuries. Jiang Chen admired his workmanship after the disk was complete, rather pleased.
Now came the heavy lifting. The completed disk had to communicate with the eight statues—a connection that had to be created via formational resonance. Formational resonance was a phenomenon in which the disk triggered a formation containing the eight statues. Jiang Chen’s consciousness would serve as the link between them, carrying information to and fro. It was a very technical process, but it was also one that Jiang Chen had perfected his ideas for. Still, it took an excruciating and grueling seven days for the final step to be completed.
Marveling at the resonance between the eight statues and his consciousness made Jiang Chen feel quite satisfied. His hard work over the past few days had not been for naught. In terms of both bearing and tapped potential, the eight statues under Jiang Chen’s control far surpassed their previous merit under that of the Prince of Shangping. There was no doubt about that. After the entire disk-creating process, only a few days remained before the Martial Pagoda battles. Walking out from the secret room, Jiang Chen saw Emperor Peafowl’s half-smile almost immediately. “Your Majesty,” he placed a hand to his head. “I have forgotten myself. I almost forgot that I was in your estate.”
“So, you really do know how to carve a formation disk,” Emperor Peafowl sighed in praise. “Truly a precocious youngster. That’s an ancient skill almost lost to time.”
Jiang Chen chuckled. “I’m fortunate to have such a masterful teacher.”
Emperor Peafowl deeply agreed, nodding. “Your teacher is truly accomplished. That I once wanted to take you on as my disciple… I blush to consider it, now.”
Being impressed with someone else was a very rare occurrence for the emperor. He had prevailed in Veluriyam Capital for three millennia, commanding a strength powerful enough to shake the entire Upper Eight Regions. There weren’t many who were his equal, much less many whom he could wholeheartedly respect. However, he truly did fully admire this teacher of Jiang Chen’s, though they had never met.
It was easy for Emperor Peafowl to imagine what kind of person Jiang Chen’s teacher was. A secluded expert of legendary prowess with strength that possibly exceeded even the great emperor realm, and perhaps even a level higher still. That mysterious teacher’s martial ability aside, his pill dao ability and formation-disk carving skills showed that he possessed a remarkable breadth of talent. This was no ordinary man. The emperor was very confident in himself, but he also had enough self awareness to feel short in light of those achievements.
Thus, he completely understood now why Jiang Chen hadn’t wanted to become his disciple. With a master as amazing as that, why would he be a consideration? Emperor Peafowl was speaking out of self-reflection, but this was no place for Jiang Chen to follow up on the conversation. He smiled instead. “Still, Your Majesty’s foresight cannot be denied. In a different world, I would have been greatly blessed to become your student.”
It wasn’t really what he thought in his heart, but he still had to be polite. Flattering someone as prominent as an emperor, or even just cheering him up a bit—that was compelling enough alone. Emperor Peafowl roared in laughter. “You certainly talk slick. I somehow can’t believe you’re being very truthful, though.”
“No, I assure you. I really am.” Jiang Chen chuckled.
The emperor didn’t choose to press the matter any further. He inclined his head. “I’m not envious of the fact that you possess the skills you do. Rather, I feel gratified. It was a very wise choice to have entrusted Veluriyam Capital’s future to you. Perhaps even the city itself will be destroyed in the coming demonic invasion, but as long as you remain, our heritage will not be completely lost. Just like what’s happening now with Regal Pill Palace. Their sect fell, but their heritage lives on.”
Stunned, Jiang Chen looked at Emperor Peafowl with some apprehension. Emperor Peafowl laughed again. “Don’t look at me like that, little guy. The things that happen at your Taiyuan Tower are made plain to my All-Seeing Eyes.”
Not knowing how to respond, Jiang Chen simply stayed quiet. This Emperor Peafowl was something, alright. All-Seeing Eyes were shut off to most, even in the heavenly planes. It was quite difficult for him—as well as anyone else, really—to perform any sleight of hand beneath the emperor’s eyelids. Emperor Peafowl’s lack of malice towards him suddenly felt very precious. Jiang Chen was happy as well that he had been friendly towards Sacred Peafowl Mountain in return. He was suddenly thankful for a great deal of the choices he’d recently made.
“Don’t worry, Your Majesty,” he became serious. “I keep public and private business separate. I won’t let Regal Pill Palace become a burden to Veluriyam Capital.”
The emperor he addressed this to didn’t seem to particularly care. “Why split hairs like that? We’re comrades in the same boat, now. Any differences in sect or region should be discarded. Burden or not, there’s no need to explain things like that. Do you really think Veluriyam Capital is scared of a mere Eternal Celestial Capital?”
Emperor Peafowl did not deliberately adopt a regal air as he spoke, but the words themselves had been spoken in an unquestionable manner. That’s right, Veluriyam Capital was stronger than even a first-ranked sect. In fact, the power of the city could barely be matched by two first-ranked sects combined. What was the reason for Veluriyam to be scared of Eternal Celestial Capital?
“Your Majesty…” Jiang Chen had a profound admiration for Emperor Peafowl’s magnanimity. No matter what followed, he was thrilled at the declaration alone. There was no reason for Emperor Peafowl to appease a fourth-ranked sect like Regal Pill Palace, but the emperor didn’t care about the sect’s rank. The broadness of his heart was evident in the gesture.
“I’ve said this before—I won’t oppose you even if you use or borrow Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s power in order to rebuild Regal Pill Palace. Of course, the precondition is that you have to become the young lord. There’s no authority for you to use the Mountain’s resources otherwise.” The older man stared earnestly at his younger counterpart. “Don’t look so startled. When the demonic invasion begins, all of these worldly differences will become history, whether their name is the Upper Eight Regions or the Myriad Domain. There will only be two divisions in the future. Either you are a demon, or you are not.”
Jiang Chen sighed softly. He knew as well as anyone how terrifying the demon race was, how methodically they could tear through the heavenly planes. The demons were a war-like race—tyrannical and intrusive. Like locusts, they brought destruction everywhere they went. A plane inhabited by a great race was extremely difficult for the demons to invade. One like the Divine Abyss Continent, however, with such prevalent internal strife… any incursion made by the demon race would surely lead to them taking to it, like ducks to water.
“Even though the demon race is on the move in the wildlands, Your Majesty, there shouldn’t be an outburst in the short term. I think the next decade or two will still be safe, but fifty or a hundred years later becomes more difficult to say. I set a formation at the wildlands’ entrance, outside the restriction. Great emperor realm cultivators aside, anyone else attempting to break through will have a very hard time.” Jiang Chen had reported this to Emperor Peafowl once before. From what the emperor had said at the time, he appeared as if he wanted to go there himself to protect the formation. Greedy cultivators had to be warded off from forcibly breaking through.
Since the demon race was reawakening in the wildlands, entering would be walking right into the beast’s jaw. It would only feed the speed with which they resuscitated themselves.
Emperor Peafowl sighed softly. “As the saying hopefully goes, if there’s a will, there’s a way. As Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s young lord, you have the authority to decide on everything when I am not here. This extends to matters of the Capital as well. No one can prevent you from doing anything. They won’t even have the right to.”
Jiang Chen’s heart shook. The emperor was giving him a paramount degree of power.
“It’s still too early to talk about these things. At this year’s Martial Pagoda battles, you must fight your way past the competitors and take the championship. Make it known that you have the qualifications to be Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s young lord, and that you’re the best candidate for the job. Silence all voices that question you. The only way to do all of these things is to utterly crush your competition.”
“Crush… my competition?” Jiang Chen muttered softly, his eyes glittering with eagerness. He had been waiting for this moment for a long while. Not because he wanted to become the young lord, but because he wanted to fight it out with the best of the youths within the Upper Eight Regions on a grander stage.