Li Jiancheng, nicknamed the crown prince, had been publicly acknowledged as the number one genius of the Ranking of Young Lords after young lord Fan’s unfortunate demise, before Jiang Chen appeared. Neither Zhou Yan nor Shui Rutian had the qualifications to challenge his position as the strongest young lord. However, right at this moment, he felt an enormous shadow threaten his number one position. As he cast a complicated glance at Jiang Chen, he had to admit that young lord Zhen definitely deserved his full attention. In fact, young lord Zhen possessed many qualities that exceeded his own.
It was enough to depress Li Jiancheng. His domain was being encroached on, his status challenged. But like any fierce animal’s first instinct in defending its territory, his hackles rose. When he saw Zhou Yan and Jiang Chen talking and laughing with each other, the threat seemed even greater than before. Zhou Yan was clearly giving a sign that he didn’t plan on competing with young lord Zhen. This naturally wasn’t what Li Jiancheng wished to see. He wished to see Zhou Yan and young lord Zhen would fight each other out of jealousy. He wished for a conflict between the two members of Sacred Peafowl Mountain that would lead to internal strife. Only then could he rest easy. If the two great geniuses of Sacred Peafowl Mountain were to come to a compromise with each other... or worse, if one of them were to submit to the other, that would be the worst outcome for the young lord of Emperor Shura’s faction.
This cannot stand. I mustn’t allow them to enter a honeymoon period. If these two doesn’t fight each other, they’ll absolutely work together to attack me. Li Jiancheng knew very well what kind of situation he was facing. But, he wasn’t in a hurry to take action. If he were to rashly do something now, he was sure to fail to attain his goals. He would have to endure and wait until the right opportunity presented itself.
Two days later, Shui Rutian finally completed his challenge. As Emperor Petalpluck’s young lord, Shui Rutian wasn’t lacking in either wits or talent. However, he wasn’t familiar with sword dao because of Emperor Petalpluck’s school of teaching. That was why he had fallen slightly behind when studying sword dao. That being said, he was still faster that the fourth ranked young lord Ye Piaoling. He finished his challenge just four hours before his one month time limit, cutting it very close to the wire.
Young master Ji San was now the only person left beneath the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk. He still had plenty of time since he and Jiang Chen had arrived a dozen or so days later than the others. A sneer crawled over Ye Piaoling’s face when he saw the lone remaining candidate beneath the obelisk. “Ji Ole Third is such a blind fool. Does he really think that a mere great clan descendant like him is qualified to challenge the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk? Should we call this the final desperate struggles that precedes impending failure?”
Zhou Yan frowned. “Ye Piaoling, you barely squeaked through yourself. Are you sure you have the leisure to criticize others when your own position is at stake?”
Ye Piaoing smiled faintly. “When all is said and done, I passed the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk. I heard that Emperor Peafowl himself only managed to reach the seventh Veluriyam Obelisk. This also means…”
“Stop right there. Let me guess: You want to boast that your talent is comparable to that of a young Emperor Peafowl, am I right?” Zhou Yan sneered derisively. As a true disciple under Emperor Peafowl’s personal command, Zhou Yan naturally knew why Emperor Peafowl’s progress had halted at the seventh Veluriyam Obelisk. In reality, Emperor Peafowl hadn’t been lacking in talent. He’d been too young and failed to keep his emotions in check. That was why he’d fallen for the goading from his peers. Emperor Peafowl hadn’t talked about this with the other great emperors, but Zhou Yan knew a bit about what’d happened back in the day. There had been a lot of geniuses back in Emperor Peafowl’s era. He’d also been rather cocky in his youth and high off his fame. This had made him an easy target for provocation, and he’d chosen to challenge the seventh Veluriyam Obelisk right after completing the sixth. As a result, his consciousness and train of thought weren’t fully prepared, and his desire for haste only bogged him down further. In the end, he’d failed moments before he was about to complete the obelisk’s challenge.
Although Emperor Peafowl hadn’t relayed this to him directly, he had warned his disciples to never lose control over their emotions or act irrationally while they were inside the Veluriyam Pagoda. Zhou Yan was a detail oriented person and had deduced the facts from some of Emperor Peafowl’s words. It would appear that even someone as great as Emperor Peafowl had a preposterous past. Talent wise, the emperor was absolutely qualified to make it all the way to the eighth Veluriyam Obelisk. In fact, there had been those who felt that the young Emperor Peafowl’s talent had been good enough to carry him to the ninth Veluriyam Obelisk. But that was all in the past now.
Although he’d learned from this lesson and later become a mighty ruler over Veluriyam Capital for three thousand years, that failure remained a twinge of regret in his mind to this day. He didn’t regret falling for his enemies’ provocation back then, but he did regret missing the opportunity to get to know and interact deeper with the Veluriyam Pagoda. He knew very well that this Veluriyam Pagoda was extremely wondrous, filled with limitless possibilities. That was why he attached so much value to the gathering and went so far as to appoint Jiang Chen as his heir, pushing the latter into participating in the Martial Pagoda Battles and enter the Veluriyam Pagoda.
He wanted to make up for the regret he’d harbored since then. Zhou Yan was Emperor Peafowl’s true disciple, and he had always respected his master like a living god. That was why he was extremely offended by Ye Piaoling’s words. But Ye Piaoling just cackled oddly. “Zhou Yan, each new generation exceeds the previous one. Is no one allowed to be better than Emperor Peafowl? Have you never heard of the saying that ‘each age bring forth new geniuses onto this noble land, each to rule their own domain for years to come’?”
Jiang Chen couldn’t hold himself back from a snort, casting a glance at Ye Piaoling, “‘Each age bring forth new geniuses onto this noble land’, huh?”
Ye Piaoling frowned. “What?”
Jiang Chen smiled leisurely. “Oh, nothing. I have nothing but agreement for the sentiment. That being said, I can’t help but laugh if you’re applying it to yourself to signify that you’re better than the older generation.”
“What’s so funny about that?” Ye Piaoling’s tone abruptly turned cold. “Are you saying that I’m boasting? Do you really think that you are the only genius that exists in Veluriyam Capital?”
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “I don’t know how many geniuses there exist here, but I’m going to throw your comment about Ji San being a ‘blind fool’ right back at you.”
Ye Piaoling laughed oddly. “You want to throw it back at me? What, you can’t possibly be thinking that this Ji Ole Third will succeed in passing the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk!” He threw his head back in laughter, ridicule in every guffaw.
“You don’t think he’ll succeed?” Jiang Chen asked, a ghost of a smile appearing on his face.
“Of course not,” Ye Piaoling said with a sneer on his face. “Even the top ten of the Ranking of Young Lords dare not claim that they can easily pass the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk. Who the hell does he think he is?”
Even Zhou Yan couldn’t hold himself from speaking up at that. “If you’re going to use the Ranking of Young Lords to prop every one of your arguments, then I have to ask: why did you come out later than senior brother Zhen, even though you’re ranked fourth on that list?”
His question was a huge slap right across Ye Piaoling’s face. But the latter snorted softly. “We can stop right now if you insist on using Zhen to boast. I’m talking about Ji Ole Third. What does it have anything to do with Zhen?”
“Very good, very good.” Jiang Chen started clapping. “Then let us assume that you’re talking just about Brother Ji. I’m still going to fight for justice on his behalf though.”
“Fight for justice on his behalf?” Ye Piaoling asked coldly, “How?”
“I bet that the time Ji San spends on the the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk will be shorter than yours,” Jiang Chen said calmly.
Ye Piaoling thought he heard wrong. “What? You’re going to bet that he will spend less time than me? Are you seriously thinking that he’ll succeed?”
“Just say if you’re willing to bet or not.” Jiang Chen’s eyebrows wrinkled slightly.
“What’s at stake?” Ye Piaoling’s eyes lit up, even as a trace of dark malice appeared in his eyes.
“The bet is between you and I. Whoever loses leaves the Pagoda. What do you say?”
Zhou Yan hastily interjected. “Stop this. We shouldn’t let emotions get to our heads. There’s no meaning behind this bet at all. Senior brother Zhen, you…”
Zhou Yan’s feelings towards Jiang Chen were rather complicated. In fact, he even felt a twinge of jealousy from time to time. However, Zhou Yan was extremely loyal to Sacred Peafowl Mountain. He realized that young lord Zhen was currently the face of his faction, and that he represented the interest of Sacred Peafowl Mountain. If he was forced to leave the Veluriyam Pagoda due to a meaningless conflict, then they would lose out horribly in this venture. Zhou Yan wouldn’t have cared if Pill King Zhen had bet on himself instead. It was highly doubtful that Ye Piaoling would even consider agreeing to such a bet.
But they were betting on young master Ji San’s progress right now. Zhou Yan himself didn’t think that Ji San had much of a chance to succeed. After all, the foundation of a great clan descendant could only prop him up so much. Even Zhou Yan himself thought that young master Ji San was simply here to earn some cheap experience. He didn’t believe for a second that the young master could grasp the sixth Veluriyam Obelisk.
Footsteps rang out from behind the group, and a vigorous but calm voice reached their ears. “Junior Zhou, we are fighters, are we not? Some emotionally charged conflict is the millstone that pushes us to become better. You are free to act as overly cautious as you wish, but must you interfere with another person’s decision?”
It was none other than the leader of the ranking board, Li Jiancheng. When he saw that young lord Zhen had chosen to butt heads with Ye Piaoling and then come up with such a ridiculous bet, he couldn’t help but entertain some thoughts of his own. If he could disqualify young lord Zhen with this bet, then he could remove this latent threat as easily as pulling a thorn from flesh. A person who was disqualified from Veluriyam Pagoda so early had absolutely no chance of competing against him in the future. Moreover, Li Jiancheng had always believed himself to be the genius who was born to fulfill a great destiny; the genius that would control Veluriyam Capital’s fate in the future. Therefore, he only had one thought in his mind towards every person who showed even a tinge of becoming a threat. Suppress them all.
Ye Piaoling’s complexion looked dark with anger, but he was inwardly a bit unsettled. If this bet had happened some time ago, he would have agreed without a second thought. But after witnessing young lord Zhen’s miracles again and again, he was instinctively wary of Jiang Chen. He couldn’t help but feel the presence of enormous risk even when he was certain that he would win without question. If he won and disqualified young lord Zhen, then it would without a doubt great news. But if he lost? After a moment spent in deeper thought, Ye Piaoling realized that he would only be benefiting Li Jiancheng regardless of the outcome. He was also the only one taking any risk. He hesitated for a moment.