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Chapter 992: Enormous Gains

Jiang Chen refrained from resuming his challenge for the next several months, choosing to focus on polishing himself within his private space. Breaking through to ninth level sage realm wasn’t exactly a matter of a day’s work, but he was unwavering in his determination. He had set it as his absolute prerequisite for his trip into the Veluriyam Pagoda.

Cultivating inside his private space for a day was akin to ten or even twenty days outside, so a two-year stay was equivalent to at least twenty or thirty years. Ample time, a good environment; he’d never had those luxuries before, not since his first steps into this world. It was a perfect time for cultivating without distractions. Over the next several months, the memory of his performance faded from the minds of those in the outside world. Only Jiang Chen was aware of the  true extent of his benefits.

For one, the development of the magnetic golden mountain deepened with each passing day. Every ability he drew from it was strengthened, especially his skill at summoning the Lord of the Golden Seal. His rapport with it grew deeper, as did his proficiency with the Magnetic Armor art. It had grown from its originally rusty roots to an easy familiarity. Now, he could shield up to ten people instantly. His defensive capability was now as reliable as that of an initial emperor realm cultivator. As his cultivation advanced, so would the armor’s defensive prowess.

“The magnetic golden mountain is truly a treasure trove. Although I’m almost certain that I’ve excavated all it has to give, making the most of these will take a bit more time.” While there was little left for Jiang Chen to discover in the mountain, discovery and master were two different beasts. For example, the Lord of the Golden Seal’s potential was something that had to be unearthed over time. The same went for his Evil Golden Eye. He knew the extent of its abilities, but he needed to invest lasting effort to achieve their peaks.

Besides refining the mountain, Jiang Chen had also spent time on his cultivation level. While he still had a ways to go before he could break through, a new glimmer of hope had appeared on the horizon. As ever, cultivation was a walk along a winding path, each level being nothing more than a rest stop. Jiang Chen could see ninth level sage realm waving in the distance, beckoning him over for a rest. Next, he had spent time practicing his Divine Five Thunderclap Sword.

Unlocking more and more of its mysteries only meant an increase in its strength. meant that it was becoming stronger. Finally, Jiang Chen’s main target for refining had been the eight statues. Through the formation disk, he could now release more of their innate strength. As he practiced with them, he realized that the statues had nearly endless potential. He surmised that their ultimate power would likely rival that of the magnetic golden mountain. As his consciousness synced further with the eight statues, his control over them grew more precise. With the formation disk and the Eight Trigrams Assimilation Formation amplifying their strength, the eight statues demonstrated much greater combat ability.

“Who knows where the eight statues come from? Their strange, life-like will is remarkable in and of itself. It’s almost like they were once alive. What a shame that I can’t yet use all of its potential to augment their power yet.” The eight statues’ origin was unquestionably extraordinary. Especially since he couldn’t see how much potential they had left. Even still, his instincts told him that something with such strong wills and plentiful untapped strength couldn’t possibly be any less valuable than the magnetic golden mountain. In the world of martial dao, there was no such thing as an excess of treasures. Even if the statues one day reached a peak in their strength, they would still be a keen tool in his arsenal. They were far too deft at both offense and defense to be ignored.

With more and more of his trump cards played in front of others, and since some of his old tricks coming up short, the eight statues were sure to be crucial to his next steps. By the time he’d completed everything he’d set out to do and resurfaced, Jiang Chen spent a full six months in seclusion. 

The world had not stopped, and he immediately noticed many differences. Of the thirty-six geniuses in the Ranking of Young Lords, no more than half remained in the Pagoda. Ji San was one of them. He hadn’t relented once over the past few months, spending them in cultivation and seclusion just like Jiang Chen. His own goal had been to break through to emperor realm. However, the gap between half step emperor realm and emperor realm proper was deceivingly large. Many cultivators had been stopped short at that step, and even after spending their whole lives beating at its doors, fallen. 

Though Ji San was remarkably talented, he had nevertheless failed to take that last step. Still, the months of tough cultivation had not been without rich rewards. He had focused on fully assimilating the true dragon’s blood, strengthening his body and soul several fold. Indeed, it’d almost like he’d been reborn. As a result of completing subsuming it, he had achieved bloodline reversion in both strength and purity, a true return to his roots. Vague memories of true dragon lore had begun to awaken in the back of his mind. The dragon totem image within him had exploded in size.

There was unbounded potential in that image, enough to surpass that of all his ancestors. His ancestors had only passed down a draconic bloodline, and generations of dilution had thinned its primal strength. But the blood he’d refined was a hundred percent true dragon blood, with no impurities whatsoever. He knew his gains better than anyone. Compared to that, what did a failure to break through to emperor realm matter? They were hardly comparable. Given his new latent strength after purifying his bloodline, doing so would be a walk in the park. All he needed to do was shut himself up for a couple of months.

When Jiang Chen saw Ji San again, he felt the rich sensation of a fellow bloodline from his sworn brother’s body. A faint hum of resonance sounded within him as his sharp eyes swept over the young master. “Congratulations, Brother Ji! Looks like you’ve brought back quite the prize in the last few months.”

Without saying a word, Ji San rushed up and clasped Jiang Chen in a rough hug. “Brother, there’s nothing adequate that I can say. For as long as I live, both my life and strength are yours.” Ji San was very animated in his emotion. Only he could truly understand what kind of amazing potential and power lay within his bloodline and body. And more importantly, it was something that had been freely given to him by this very man. This wasn’t just a favor, but something life-altering.

Without the true dragon blood, Ji San could still accomplish a modest number of things in his martial dao career. However, top twenty in the Ranking of Young Lords was probably the extent of his abilities. Breaking through that limit necessitated an almost miraculous fortune, which had an absolutely miniscule likelihood. Besides the man before him, Ji San could say with utter confidence that no one else in Veluriyam Capital had more martial dao potential. He was now confident enough to even take on the young lord Fan of yesteryear.

Ye Piaoling? Shui Rutian? He could smash all of them within three years! Even the first-ranked Li Jiancheng was someone he was sure to surpass in under ten years. This wasn’t some blind egoism. The dragon bloodline in his body gave him endless courage. It made the previously impossible, possible.

Jiang Chen could feel the intrepid determination that radiated from Ji San’s frame. He was filled with happiness for his friend. Smiling, he raised both eyebrows. “Don’t forget our promise.”

Ji San grew serious. He remembered the words Jiang Chen had spoken when he’d given him the true dragon’s blood. Back then, his sworn brother had hoped that Ji San would become Veluriyam Capital’s future master. He had thought it only a joke at the time, said to encourage him. Hearing it a second time shook his heart. Had brother Jiang Chen been serious back then? Was master of Veluriyam Capital not a title that sufficed for a man of his ambition?

Jiang Chen barked a soft laugh at Ji San’s overreaction. He patted the young master’s shoulder. “Potential and strength aren’t the only things you managed to harvest this time. You have faith in yourself now, and something more intrinsic as well. So, how about it? Do you feel brave enough to challenge the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk with me?”

Ji San was completely fired up. “What could I possibly be afraid of?”

He didn’t have long left in the Veluriyam Pagoda. If he could grasp the sixth obelisk, he would be rewarded with a six-month stay. It was an extremely enticing reward. 

Four people had already gathered beneath the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk. They were the top four ranked geniuses from the Ranking of Young Lords: Li Jiancheng from Emperor Shura’s faction; Zhou Yan the sword dao genius from Emperor Peafowl’s faction; Shui Rutian from Emperor Petalpluck’s faction; and Ye Piaoling from Emperor Vastsea’s faction. Together, they were the unofficial four giants of the Ranking. Their very presence meant that they were the ones in the limelight, more so than Jiang Chen. They hadn’t paused long after breaking through the fifth Obelisk. Their actions alone spoke of their dominance over the rest. In addition, there was an internal struggle between the four. In the clash between geniuses, none of them wanted to be the first one eliminated.

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