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However, Jiang Chen still knew nothing about the rules. He didn’t know exactly how many outstanding geniuses there were in Veluriyam Capital either. Emperor Peafowl seemed capable of seeing through Jiang Chen’s thoughts when he saw the youth’s inquisitive gaze. He smiled, “You haven’t been in Veluriyam Capital for long, so you must be very unfamiliar with the Martial Pagoda battles. Do you know how many people are registering for them?”

Jiang Chen wasn’t in a hurry to answer the question. Instead, he asked, “Is there an age limit?”

Emperor Peafowl nodded, “All participants must be below sixty years old. This is because the Veluriyam Pagoda gathering is held every sixty years. Therefore, everyone only gets one chance in a lifetime to participate in the gathering.”

“Is there a cultivation requirement?”

Emperor Peafowl nodded, “All participants must be at the sage realm or above. Of course, those who aren’t even sage realm experts will only be treated as cannon fodder.”

Considering these two requirements, the number of registrants shouldn’t be too ridiculous. He immediately offered a tentative answer, “One hundred thousand?”

He knew that the number of participants in the Martial Pagoda battles must be ten times bigger than the number of participants in the Pill Pagoda battles. After all, in the world of martial dao, cultivation reigned supreme while pill dao was only secondary. Not all martial dao geniuses had pill dao talent and vice versa.

Jiang Chen heard that the number of people who participated in the Pill Pagoda battles numbered around thirty thousand or so. Only two hundred participants were left during the semi-finals—a hundred wandering cultivators and a hundred noble youths. Therefore, although one hundred thousand was a safe estimation, the actual number shouldn’t be too far off either.  

However, Emperor Peafowl laughed loudly, “One hundred thousand? Too few, that is far too few. You might have gotten it right if you had multiplied that number by 10.”

“10 times?!” Jiang Chen looked stunned, “A million? There are that many sage realm geniuses younger than sixty years old in Veluriyam Capital?”

Emperor Peafowl smiled, “It’s not just people from Veluriyam Capital, but also the surrounding powers and wandering cultivators. They are all very interested in the gathering. Veluriyam Capital is an extremely attractive power in the southern side of the Upper Eight Regions, and not even first-rank sects can be considered to be on the same level as us.”

Compared to sects, Veluriyam Capital was more open and free. That was why a power like Veluriyam Capital was more attractive to wandering cultivators and others. After all, a sect had many strict rules and sect-based customs. It was also incredibly difficult for a normal person to enter a sect. However, a power like Veluriyam Capital was different. They could absorb a lot of experts due to their great tolerance and inclusivity.

Of course, their system was not without flaws. A power like Veluriyam Capital was not as unified as a sect. But with Emperor Peafowl around, Veluriyam Capital’s unity was more or less solidified. After all, he had ruled Veluriyam Capital for three millennia. His influence and his power to rally and awe the people were deeply rooted in Veluriyam Capital. In addition, Emperor Peafowl himself had incredible charisma.

Jiang Chen couldn’t help but feel shocked when he heard that a million people had registered for the Martial Pagoda battles. “Only thirty-six out of a million people can ultimately enter the Veluriyam Pagoda?” He was stunned by this extremely disparate ratio.

“Yes, only thirty-six people can truly enter the main pagoda of the Veluriyam Pagoda. However, we do allow up to two hundred people to enter the Martial Pagoda.”

The Veluriyam Pagoda had three pagodas in total, with one main pagoda and two auxiliary pagodas. The two auxiliary pagodas were known as the Pill Pagoda and Martial Pagoda. The main pagoda was the real totem building in Veluriyam Capital. It had stood since ancient times and safeguarded Veluriyam Capital’s fate.

“The saying of one in a myriad is truly fitting here,” Jiang Chen sighed. “Most of these people don’t actually have any hope of winning a spot, so I guess they are just here to make up the numbers?” 

“Make up the numbers?” Emperor Peafowl laughed, “A lot of people knew that they could never qualify for a spot in the Veluriyam Pagoda Meeting, but still they fight like madmen all the same. Do you know why?”

Jiang Chen looked startled. “Why?”

“Simple. They fight hard because it’s an opportunity to train themselves. A gathering of many geniuses and opponents of the same level is certain to spark much conflict and inspiration. In history, there are many geniuses with low cultivation who had failed to enter the top thirty-six, but they all ultimately became first-rate experts after attaining great enlightenment in the Martial Pagoda. In comparison, there are also a lot of geniuses who made it to the top thirty-six, but were ultimately killed in action or died of illnesses. Therefore, uncertainty forever shrouds the path of martial dao. No one knows who will have the last laugh until the time comes. With your level of comprehension, you should understand what I mean when I say that winning is just a process to true geniuses, shouldn’t you?”

Jiang Chen nodded thoughtfully in response. A competition with over a million of participants and innumerable battles of varying sizes was typically a kind of experience that was impossible to encounter normally. A contest of this scale might put a cultivator through hundreds of battles in just a couple of months’ time. There were definitely a lot of insight and experiences to be gained. This was especially true for those martial dao geniuses. This contest was absolutely a great opportunity to temper and improve themselves.

He suddenly understood why there were over a million registrants. It was obvious that not everyone was participating for the sake of making it into the top thirty-six. A lot still wanted to participate in the Martial Pagoda battles despite knowing that there was no way they could enter the top thirty-six. The reason had been stated by Emperor Peafowl earlier. Those who managed to emerge out of a million participants were no doubt geniuses amongst geniuses.

“No wonder the Veluriyam Pagoda gathering is viewed as Veluriyam Capital’s greatest festival. So this is where its attraction lies.” Jiang Chen sighed in admiration.

“A clash between geniuses is never lacking in attraction. However, you’ll not be enjoying any special privileges during the Martial Pagoda battles, Jiang Chen. You must fight from the very bottom like everyone else.”

“What do you mean?” Jiang Chen looked startled.

“The Martial Pagoda battles has three rankings—the New Star Rankings, the Genius Rankings, and the Ranking of Young Lords.

“The so-called New Star Rankings refers to the cultivators who manage to enter the top ten thousand. Only those who qualify for the New Star Rankings have the right to compete for the Genius Rankings. However, a large majority of the noble youths in Veluriyam Capital can bypass the New Star Rankings and participate in the Genius Rankings directly. After the top two hundred cultivators of the Genius Rankings are decided, they are pitted against each other for one last time to decide the strongest thirty-six cultivators of the Ranking of Young Lords. Those who come out on top are allowed to enter Veluriyam Capital’s main pagoda.”

A total of ten thousand people were allowed to enter the New Star Rankings. Out of that ten thousand, a total of two hundred people were allowed to enter the Genius Rankings and Martial Pagoda. Finally, a total of thirty-six people out of the two hundred who made it into the Genius Rankings were allowed to enter the main pagoda of Veluriyam Capital. The difference between all three rankings was extremely clear. For example, it wasn’t actually that hard for many young cultivators to enter the New Star Rankings. Out of a million, the top ten thousand were allowed to enter the New Star Rankings. It was a ratio of 100:1.

However, entering the Genius Rankings was a much more difficult task. All cultivators who managed to endure the cruel competition of the New Star Rankings and enter the top ten thousand wouldn’t be mediocre. Therefore, one could only imagine just how difficult it was to emerge as one of the top two hundred cultivators and qualify for the Genius Rankings.

With these kinds of circumstances, competition would definitely be fierce. Every available spot would be fought for tooth and nail. The ratio of the Genius Rankings was 50:1 since only two hundred geniuses would qualify out of ten thousand. Although this stage of the contest seemed easier because it had a 50:1 ratio instead of a 100:1 ratio, this was absolutely not the case. This was due to the fact that the first stage was comprised of participants of all levels of strength. But after the first round of selection, that was no longer the case. 

Thus, those who managed to enter the Genius Rankings wouldn’t be mediocre cultivators. Every one of them was deserving of the title, ‘genius’. And lastly, the top thirty-six cultivators would be decided from these two hundred geniuses. They would enter the Ranking of Young Lords. The competition and the skill level of cultivators at this stage were only higher than before. One could even claim that the competition of the Ranking of Young Lords decided the future of Veluriyam Capital’s fate. As its name would imply, all cultivators who entered the Ranking of Young Lords were strong enough to qualify as a young lord and heir to any of the seven emperors.

It was like a competition between the top ten true disciples of a great sect. Every one of them was extraordinarily talented, exceptionally smart, and incredibly powerful. The difference in strength was very distinguishable. It was almost impossible for a cultivator who lacked extraordinary strength or capability to reach the top thirty-six. An upset could happen in one or two battles, but only those with true strength would persevere in continuous battles.

Jiang Chen quietly digested the contents of Emperor Peafowl’s words. He had to admit that the three rankings were logically set up and clearly distinctive. The setup ensured that the weaklings would all be disqualified. It was absolutely impossible for those who feigned their strength to enter the final Ranking of Young Lords. Only those who possessed genuine abilities and superior knowledge surpassing all others could enter.

“Your Majesty, it seems that the noble youths have an advantage in this matter. After all, they are allowed to skip the first stage and participate in the second stage of the Martial Pagoda battles, are they not?”

“Theoretically that is true, but there is a quota. A first to third rank aristocratic family is given only three slots, while a fourth to sixth rank aristocratic family receives five slots. A seventh to ninth rank aristocratic family secures tens slots, while a great clan is allotted twenty slots.”

“What about the geniuses under a great emperors?” Jiang Chen asked curiously.

Emperor Peafowl laughed, “The geniuses under a great emperor don’t need to participate in the Genius Rankings contest. They only need to participate in the final Ranking of Young Lords contest.”

“What? Doesn’t that mean that they can wait at ease for the final battle to arrive while everyone else struggles to the top?”

“Yes. That is why the top two hundred of the Genius Rankings should really be counted after subtracting out the quota taken up by the geniuses under great emperors. Therefore, there are in fact only a hundred or so slots open to everyone else.”

Jiang Chen didn’t know how to react. “The geniuses under a great emperor take up a total of thirty-six slots. Doesn’t that mean that they are going to snap up a lot of those slots in the top thirty-six?”

“It’s not a lot, but most of them. The so-called contest of the Ranking of Young Lords is actually a chance given to the geniuses below to challenge them. The system has been set in hopes that a few outstanding geniuses can take down those great emperor geniuses and form a system in which only the strongest survives. Unfortunately, there are very few people who have managed to rise from the bottom after all these gatherings. The highest number of common geniuses to ever replace great emperor geniuses was five. On average, the number hovered around two or three. There were actually a couple of times where no common geniuses managed to dethrone a single great emperor genius at all.”

Jiang Chen wasn’t surprised by this in the slightest. A genius under a great emperor’s banner far exceeded all other geniuses beneath them, be it in terms of talent, resources, or horizon. It was just much too difficult for people who were on a different level since childhood to beat them.

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