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Jiang Chen had to praise the organizers for their speed of analysis and competency. The group division had been done almost flawlessly. Most of the candidates in the other groups didn't raise too many objections either, as they'd found their allocated rankings acceptable as well. Of course, Jiang Chen didn't mind anything because he had already nailed a spot within the top ten in the first group.

Still, those who were ranked poorly were extremely concerned with their own rankings. But not everything was done and dusted just yet. For example, the candidates of the fourth, fifth, and sixth group had a chance to challenge the candidates above them. If they challenged their opponent and beat them, they could enter the top thirty all the same. For now, the fourth group could only fight for the fortieth spot up to the thirty-first spot, but they also had the right to challenge the geniuses of the first group. Moreover, they could only challenge the geniuses of the first group if they wished to bypass the rankings. This meant that they were allowed to bypass two groups and challenge the candidates there.

Just the same, the candidates in the fifth group could challenge the candidates in the second group, and the candidates in the sixth group could challenge the candidates in the third group. However, all the groups after the sixth group did not have the right to challenge upwards. What they needed to do was protect their own group ranking during the ranking battles. Finally, the forty people immediately following the sixteenth group had the right to challenge those ahead of them once and potentially increase their ranking. 

This was because the last thirty-six spots of the Genius Rankings would ultimately be replaced. They wouldn't have the right to participate in the Ranking of Young Lords. They had to fight to enter the top 164 spots of the Genius Rankings if they wished to compete in the next stage. This was because thirty-six geniuses beneath the seven great emperors would be competing for the Ranking of Young Lords, so the last thirty-six of the Genius Rankings would be automatically disqualified. It was a cruel, survival-of-the-fittest circumstance.

Experts were aplenty in the first group. Jiang Chen perused the names within the first group for a bit. Besides himself, Ji San and Liuxiang of the Coiling Dragon Clan were both present. Sunyu Xiaosheng was also on the list. There was actually another wandering cultivator besides Sunyu Xiaosheng. This wandering cultivator was even more mysterious than Sunyu Xiaosheng. Apparently, the referee announced him as Mie Chenzi. [1] 

He sounded like a foreigner. However, Jiang Chen didn't seem to notice any traits that identified him as a foreigner. Still, the person had hidden himself very well, so he wasn't able to determine his background solely from observing his traits alone. Jiang Chen stopped observing the man after a moment's glance. He knew that there must be disciples of other great sects amongst all these candidates, excluding the noble youths of Veluriyam Pagoda and the wandering cultivators. They must have concealed their own identities to participate in the gathering. In fact, quite a few of them might be in the Genius Rankings right now.

Under the guise of wandering cultivators, they were here at Veluriyam Capital to sound out Veluriyam Capital's strength and determine how many young geniuses and heroes they had gathered to date. Sunyun Xiaosheng and Mie Chenzi were the only two wandering cultivators present within the first group for now. Currently, Jiang Chen was considered a Veluriyam Capital member with a slightly unusual identity. He was also close with Sacred Peafowl Mountain and a guest pill king of House Wei, so everyone thought of him as a member of Veluriyam Capital. With the aforementioned, there were only five spots left in the first group. The remaining five people were all Veluriyam Capital cultivators of first-rate great clans.

While checking everyone out, the first person to catch Jiang Chen's attention was Luo Chuan of the Great Shura Clan under Emperor Shura. The two strongest great clans under Emperor Shura were the Majestic Clan and the Great Shura Clan. Naturally, the Majestic Clan was the strongest out of the two clans, possessing enough strength to compete even against the Coiling Dragon Clan. The Great Shura Clan itself was a clan powerful enough to be ranked in the top five.

The reason why the Great Shura Clan wasn't as well known was due to the Majestic Clan's existence. However, the young master of the Great Shura Clan, Luo Chuan, was in fact even more talented that the young master of the Majestic Clan, Wang Teng, in terms of martial dao.

Wang Teng was a young master who was better at considering things from a larger perspective and commanding tactics. Meanwhile, Luo Chuan was just as competent in these areas as Wang Teng was, even though he focused more on martial dao and was content with keeping a low profile. Now that Wang Teng had perished alongside the Majestic Clan, Luo Chan had naturally risen up in ranking to become the strongest clan youth to serve Emperor Shura. Besides Luo Chuan, there were another four youths from varying great clans in the first group. They were Guan Yuchan of the Zen Pursuit Clan beneath Emperor Petalpluck, Alchemist Xi of the Rising Tide Clan beneath Emperor Vastsea, Gongsun Yan of the Amethyst Fire Clan beneath Emperor Void, and Shen Hao of the Vast Sun Clan beneath Emperor Skysplitter.

These four young geniuses were all the cream of the crop within their respective great clans. They also represented the face of their chosen emperors. The only emperor whose young genius was absent among the top ten was Emperor Mountaincrush. The genius of the True Profound Clan subordinate to him was just as strong, but he had been unfortunate enough to run into Liuxiang of the Coiling Dragon Clan. After a fierce fight, this genius had been disqualified and had no choice but to attempt a comeback later on. 

Although these great clans' youths were undoubtedly geniuses, Jiang Chen wasn't particularly afraid of them. To be honest, he felt that these young geniuses of the great clans were at best equal to a true disciple of the Ninesuns Sky Sect. In fact, they might even be a tad weaker. After all, the Ninesuns Sky Sect's ten true disciples were comparable to the true disciples of great emperors. The great clan disciples could only be counted as second-rate geniuses within Veluriyam Capital. Even the absolute best of these great clans' youths still sat at the bottom of the barrel of first-rate geniuses. They were ultimately a few levels away from those cultivators who possessed the true inheritances of real first-rate great emperors.

That was why Jiang Chen didn't feel too threatened in these ranking battles. In fact, he had a rough idea of the strength of all these first-rate great clan youths, including Ji San and Liuxiang. Ironically, the two cultivators that Jiang Chen was a little unsure about were Sunyu Xiaosheng and Mie Chenzi. He felt that these two so-called wandering cultivators were actually the ones who had the highest chance of entering the Ranking of Young Lords. After the list was released, the rules of the battles for each group came out as well. The battles would take place in a round robin format. All ten geniuses within each group were required to fight everyone else within the group once. The final rankings would be decided after the battles were over.

If there were two candidates with the same score, then the results of their battles with each other would decide their rankings. Whoever beat the other candidate the most would have a higher ranking. The rules were tight enough to guarantee a ranking no matter what. Jiang Chen didn't even bother to research the rules. He only had one aim, and that was to win every match.

"Pill King Zhen versus Guan Yuchan!"

Jiang Chen's first opponent was quickly decided to be Guan Yuchan of the Zen Pursuit Clan beneath Emperor Petalpluck. Guan Yuchan was actually a young genius who'd been tonsured. Dressed in pure white clothing, he gave off the impression of an elegant gentleman and appeared to be an immortal of legends. But although he possessed a kindly air between his brows, the fearsome image of a Buddha warrior flitted between them as well. It was obvious at first glance that he was a genius who had reached an extremely high level of martial comprehension.

Emperor Petalpluck himself was an extremely mysterious existence in Veluriyam Capital. He had been the second strongest great emperor in Veluriyam Capital for thousands of years. However, he stood aloof from worldly affairs. Just like a wild crane that flew among the clouds, his main interest lay in plucking flowers, listening to the rain, and pursuing zen. Therefore, Emperor Petalpluck's faction, and even some of the great clans affiliated with him, all carried themselves with an air of zen. The martial arts and techniques they cultivated also embodied the concepts of Buddhism. For example, Guan Yuchan gave off an otherworldly feeling the moment he stepped on stage.

"Your fame precedes you, Pill King Zhen. I shall be learning from you today," said Guan Yuchan calmly. He didn't look affected in the slightest by Jiang Chen's fame. It was almost as if all opponents who stood in the arena were the same to him.

Jiang Chen raised a cupped fist salute and smiled at Guan Yuchan. "Brother Guan, you definitely are one of the few with the greatest bearing out of all my opponents thus far."

"One of?" Guan Yuchan smiled leisurely. "Who else?"

Jiang Chen smiled. "You may not know him, but there was a swordsman called Ye Tianzuo during the earlier Genius Rankings competition. His temperament impressed me quite a bit as well."

"Ye Tianzuo? You mean that swordsman?" Guan Yuchan seemed to have a faint recollection.

Jiang Chen nodded. "Brother Guan, if you please."

Guan Yuchan smiled. "Alright. Know that I, a subordinate of Emperor Petalpluck, am a stepping stone. If you can defeat me, then you are at least qualified to challenge the young geniuses of the great emperors. But if you cannot surpass even me, then I would suggest that you return to improving your cultivation."

Jiang Chen knew that Guan Yuchan wasn't joking. He answered seriously, "I will do my best."

While saying this, Jiang Chen activated his golden body.

Guan Yuchan smiled a little. A trace of surprise finally appeared on his seemingly never-changing face. It would seem that Jiang Chen's action had taken him aback. The Buddha's art Guan Yuchan cultivated contained none other than a divine body protection art and an invincible golden body. They were both extremely powerful. While he had been accumulating his power, his opponent seemed to have predicted his move and activated the exact same body technique. This little detail alone proved that Pill King Zhen was extremely sensitive towards every little detail in battle.

When Guan Yuchan activated his golden body, a Buddha's aura immediately rose thirty meters above his head. Guan Yuchan's body also grew several times larger and turned him into an enormous Buddha warrior attendant. With a solemn look on his expression, Guan Yuchan grabbed the air and somehow pulled a great gada into existence.

Jiang Chen boiled with passion when he saw this. He cried out, "Well met!"

He activated his own golden body and grew nearly as big as Guan Yuchan. Suddenly, the arena battle became a battle between two giants.

1. This literally means Death to/Annihilation to Chen.

2. This literally means Death to/Annihilation to Chen.

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