How would anyone fail to discern that Emperor Vastsea’s apparently plain question was filled with malice to the core? That was obvious to Emperor Peafowl. A conservative prediction was no good. If Pill King Zhen was anything short of remarkable, then why had the emperor made him young lord in the first place? Too much optimism was dangerous as well, though. If Jiang Chen suddenly failed because of either inattentiveness or happenstance, it was possible that the emperor would be secretly ridiculed for making too much of an early call. Therefore, Emperor Peafowl chose not to give a fixed conclusion. He stuck to the facts, and nothing but the facts.
Emperor Vastsea laughed. “Daoist Peafowl, it seems that you have high hopes for that young man. Challenging the eighth Veluriyam Obelisk? You must feel that he’s the best we’ve gotten in five thousand years.”
Emperor Peafowl returned the laughter. “You’re certainly a master of conclusions, Brother Vastsea. There are many unpredictable factors in one’s ability to even advance to the eighth Obelisk. Can you say for sure which one your young lord Ye Piaoling will be able to get to?”
Being upset at his fellow emperor would be only seen as petty. Emperor Vastsea wanted to ensnare him, but Emperor Peafowl was a sophisticated man. Two or three retorts were enough to silence the detractor. Could Emperor Vastsea predict the results of the geniuses under his wing? What was the point of paying more attention to Emperor Peafowl’s students more than his own?
Having been quiet all along, Emperor Petalpluck suddenly asked a question of his own. “Daoist Peafowl, this rhythm you speak of… it’s a rather fresh line of thought for me. Can you elaborate a little?”
Emperor Peafowl knew that his friend bore him no malice. The other emperor truly wanted to know more. “This stems from my personal experiences in times long past. Breaking through the fourth obelisk rewards its challenger with a month, the fifth three months, and so forth. It’s perfectly understandable to use the extra time to cultivate and refine oneself further, only challenging the next obelisk upon sufficient preparation. Why not make best use of one’s time inside the Veluriyam Pagoda, right? If one challenges the next obelisk immediately after breaking through the first one, well, doing that isn’t the best use of time… regardless of how much apparent momentum is gathered by the act. After all, a single failure means elimination, which forfeits all of the previously earned time rewards.”
“You mean, it’s better to wait until the deadline before challenging the next obelisk? So that one can make better use of one’s time?”
“In theory, yes. But exactly how one goes about it in practice, I think that will depend on the situation. I see no reason to hold off if one feels a great increase in one’s prowess after cultivation, or better yet, a spark of inspiration. There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking the next challenge ahead of your own timeline.”
As a young genius, Emperor Peafowl had only passed the seventh Veluriyam Obelisk. His own failure to pace himself had held him off from completing the eighth. Given his talent and potential, he’d had the very real hope of doing so, but opportunity only knocked once. A missed one was a permanent consequence. It was one of Emperor Peafowl’s lifelong regrets. Evidently, he didn’t want Jiang Chen to make the same mistake he had. Anxiety in the pursuit of success was folly. Why not use the time on his hands as much as possible? There would be plenty left to tackle the Veluriyam Obelisks.
Moreover, the Pagoda had opened three secret realms this year. As someone in the first division of the Ranking of Young Lords, Jiang Chen had no restrictions on moving between the secret realms. He had both space and time on his side. There was no reason not to maximize benefits by exerting all of his advantages. However, Emperor Peafowl was dumbfounded by what happened next right away.
Jiang Chen continued his challenge! After leaving the fourth obelisk, he’d immediately beelined for the fifth. He was working ahead of schedule. Emperor Peafowl didn’t know what to say. Here he was talking about rhythm and pacing, and Jiang Chen was just going for the next challenge. Though the fifth obelisk wasn’t going to stop the youth, Emperor Peafowl was concerned more about the impulse. He was worried that a string of successes would make the young man overconfident and irrational. If it did, the seventh obelisk was likely to act as an immense obstacle.
Any genius who’d experienced the secret realm of heritage knew that the sixth and seventh obelisks were two immensely large thresholds. It wasn’t easy to pass either of these. The majority of geniuses were stopped short by one of the two, in fact. A genius that could break through to the eighth obelisk appeared only once every five thousand years. As for one who made it to the ninth, there hadn’t been a single one for more than ten. Veluriyam Capital’s written records for times before then were quite vague. Nothing in recorded history indicated such an event.
“Fellow daoist, your new young lord is a curious one indeed.” Emperor Mountaincrush smiled. He, for one, was impressed by Emperor Peafowl a fair bit, not only by his ability and prestige, but his eye for talent as well. Who else among the seven emperors could dig up such a genius? The sole fact that he was equally capable of pill and martial dao was enough to put him ahead of the pack. Martial dao aside, the young lord’s history of pill battles was proof enough that he could perform on a grand stage despite his youth. Some geniuses were born for grand occasions. At least, that was how Emperor Mountaincrush felt about young lord Zhen. The pill battle against Pillfire City had been one such occasion. The conflict between Taiyuan Tower and Taiyuan Lodge had been another. The Martial Pagoda battles, yet another. Finally, entering the Veluriyam Pagoda to comprehend the nine Veluriyam Obelisks definitely qualified as yet another grand occasion.
Emperor Mountaincrush predicted that young lord Zhen was likely to achieve some unusually brilliant results in the Veluriyam Pagoda. Some emperors didn’t want to admit it yet, but the young lord’s overwhelming momentum and advantage over his competitors was hard to deny. Emperor Mountaincrush’s speculation, for one, was heavily fueled by the performance.
The fifth Veluriyam Obelisk was much more difficult. At twenty days, the time limit for it was higher than its predecessors. The Obelisk involved another image clip of actual combat. It required its challenger to assimilate the essence of both parties’ martial techniques, then simulate it through his own consciousness. Fundamentally, it demanded one to be able to copy a martial technique via watching it in action. This was very difficult to accomplish. Strong martial techniques hinged on both forms and mental methods. Without the latter, understanding a technique’s essence was a bewildering task. Only someone with the dual powers of perception and comprehension could pull it off, by slowly reverse engineering the technique through observation alone.
Because he was unfamiliar with the martial techniques the two people in the image clip were using, Jiang Chen only had a slight advantage. Without his memory to cheat him through, he could only rely on wealth of experience and superb cognitive ability to deduce its details. Thankfully, even if both techniques were new to him, he was still a fair bit ahead of his peers. The martial dao insight from his previous life was virtually unmatched.
Jiang Chen immersed himself in the clip of combat. Without the mental details to match, it was an extreme challenge to deduce a martial technique from its physical manifestation alone. He didn’t have it nearly as easy as the previous few, but was in no rush. The twenty-day period gave him plenty of room to maneuver. He had more than enough time to analyze and infer what he needed. A few days later, several of the best geniuses at the fourth obelisk finished their tasks, joining him one by one at the fifth without hesitation. Ten days later, Ji San broke through the fourth as well. He followed suit, immediately coming to the fifth.
Fifteen days later, the fourth obelisk’s time limit was up. Another four geniuses were cruelly eliminated. Some of the geniuses that had succeeded in breaking through the fourth chose not to continue right away. Wanting to slow the pace a while, they planned to resume only after a period of cultivation. Thirteen geniuses remained beneath the fifth Veluriyam Obelisk.
On the day of the fourth obelisk’s deadline, Jiang Chen succeeded in understanding the fifth obelisk. He had passed once more. Advancing past the fifth had cost him almost fifteen days. Its intimidating difficulty was a warning: Jiang Chen did not intend to take the following challenges lightly.
“If Brother Ji is able to break through here as well, then I have to tell him not to rush into the sixth obelisk. Holding off and cultivating here a while would be a much better use of his time.” Time inside the Veluriyam Pagoda was to be treasured. Jiang Chen did not want Ji San to be kicked out purely because of foolhardiness. Therefore, he temporarily halted his own series of challenges after the fifth Veluriyam Obelisk. He hadn’t lost confidence in himself. He justed wanted to wait until Ji San finished before proceeding. He wasn’t going to waste the time in the interim, though. Returning to his private space, Jiang Chen began to cultivate once more.
With an abundance of Heroic Sage Pills, dragon crystals, and saint spirit stones, he was set to do so to his heart’s content. The relative brevity since his last breakthrough to eighth level sage realm didn’t affect his passion one bit. Inside the Veluriyam Pagoda, a single day of cultivation was worth ten outside, perhaps even twenty or thirty. Each minute and second here was exceedingly precious.
As expected, the fifth obelisk required an excruciating effort from Ji San. Without exceptional mental fortitude and a startling showing at a key moment, he likely would have been eliminated himself. He passed by the skin of his teeth on the final day, barely completing the fifth obelisk’s test. Even someone as self-confident as Ji San felt some lingering pressure. If he’d taken just a little longer, he would have been disqualified for sure.
“Brother Ji, now that you’ve passed both the fourth and fifth challenges, you have four extra months on your hands. You should use amply the time you’ve been awarded.”
Ji San nodded several times in agreement. “Yes, I want to go further, but I must first cultivate. I need to use the time I’ve already got. It would be a huge loss if I’m kicked out before I get a chance to cash in.”