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An Astonishing Secret

“Let’s have the bad news first,” Jiang Chen responded with a faint smile.

Wei Jie tittered, scratched his head, then spoke with a wry smile, “Let me say the good news first, because the bad news is related to the good news.”

Jiang Chen shrugged, “Stop with the nonsense, don’t waste time.”

Wei Jie laughed mischievously. He knew Jiang Chen wasn’t truly angry, but he still didn’t leave the other hanging any further. He said, “The good news is, the number one auction house in the Capital is going to hold an enormous auction tomorrow. I hear there will be quite a few good items on sale.”

“What about the bad news then?” Jiang Chen frowned.

“The bad news is, our house is only allotted two participating seats.” Wei Jie was obviously somewhat depressed when talking about it.

“What kind of auction is so upscale that even House Wei is only allowed two seats?” Jiang Chen found it hard to fathom. Since it was a large-scale auction, with House Wei’s status inside the Capital, they shouldn’t have been restricted to so few seats.

Wei Jie responded dejectedly, “This auction’s main theme is related to pills. Our House has had a rather weak presence when it comes to pills in the recent past, so it’s normal to be overlooked on the invitation list. Giving us two seats is already a show of respect for our status as a ninth-ranked noble house. Our House doesn’t have any pill kings, so no one would cry foul even if they didn’t allot any to us at all!”

Related to pills? Jiang Chen felt a twinge of interest when he heard this. The number one auction house in the Capital and an immense auction related to pills. Just these two things made Jiang Chen perk up with interest. He wanted to establish himself in the pill business inside the Capital, so a gathering like this was one he couldn’t miss no matter what. He’d already visited various shops in the Farmer God Market, but he could only observe and get to know part of the situation. Some details still required long-term observation before he could grasp them. This auction would be a perfect opportunity to observe the Capital’s pill world.

Wei Jie noticed Jiang Chen’s interest and hurried to say, “Brother Zhen, my father intends to give you one of these two seats no matter what happens. Only…”

“Only, I’m not your House’s guest pill king, so you’re also afraid it’d be hard to justify, correct?” Jiang Chen said, a hint of a smile floating on his lips. In fact, he was aware House Wei very much wanted to invite him to remain as a guest pill king. They were merely too embarrassed to ask him for now.

Wei Jie chuckled mischievously. “Brother Zhen, this thing is really a little hard say upfront. I already mentioned it to you last time, our House had a pill king before, but he passed away because of some old affair. So, every pill master in the Capital knows now there’s some danger in assuming the post of guest pill king in our House. That’s the reason why… our House didn’t dare request it of you.”

Wei Jie had already previously mentioned this matter. Jiang Chen had thought it curious back then, but hadn’t inquired too much. After all, he hadn’t known much about House Wei back then, and wasn’t much interested in becoming a guest pill king. Since he was working with House Wei nowadays, and also had some understanding of the house, Jiang Chen actually thought he wouldn’t object to becoming House Wei’s guest pill king. Only, he didn’t understand what kind of danger there could be in assuming the position.

Would the noble houses use pill kings as scapegoats in their conflicts? However, what did Jiang Chen have to fear even so? In contests between pill kings in the world of noble houses, he was truly unafraid of anyone. When it came to pill making, the pill king who could trounce him utterly probably hadn’t born yet on the Divine Abyss Continent.

“Young master Jie, you should know me by now. I’m not one to fear trouble, I only fear a lack of sincerity,” Jiang Chen faintly said.

Wei Jie froze, then hurried to explain, “Brother Zhen, we’re absolutely not hiding this from you on purpose. It’s just too awkward, too hard to ask you upfront.”

“What do you mean?”

Wei Jie thought for a moment then heaved a sigh. “With regards to this matter, our House in fact suffers from a great injustice. The reason why our House is in such an awkward situation is also related to it. You should be aware that we have thrown our lot in with the Coiling Dragon Clan. The reason why we became a ninth ranked aristocratic house, thanks to their assistance and protection. So our House is faithful and true to Coiling Dragon, our loyalty unwavering…”

Jiang Chen frowned, “Please get to the point.”

Wei Jie said with a wry smile, “Brother Zhen, this thing involves a secret. After I tell you, please never ever spread it around, or else all hell will break loose.”

Jiang Chen gave a slight nod.

“I have to start first by mentioning a secret of the Coiling Dragon Clan. Several decades ago, rumors developed that the clan lord of the Coiling Dragon Clan was at a bottleneck with his cultivation. the Coiling Dragon Clan’s clan lord is also the most senior and aged amongst all clan lords in the Capital. Rumors have it that he’s already past three thousands year old, while his cultivation has actually stopped at ninth level emperor realm. He’s missing a step and can’t rise to the realm of a great emperor.”

“The realm of great emperor?”

“Indeed. At the pinnacle of the emperor realm, one further step forward takes you to the great emperor realm. However, this step is one countless ninth level emperor realm powerhouses have failed to cross even after a lifetime of struggles. the Coiling Dragon Clan’s master is one of them. If he could cross this step, then he would be the eighth great emperor in the Capital. But if he can’t cross it, then it’s very possible he can’t even maintain his clan’s position as first in the Capital. Such is the ruthlessness in the world of martial dao, even more so in the Veluriyam Capital. A single step away, yet a thousand miles apart.”

Wei Jie heaved a sigh, his voice lamenting as he went on. “The Coiling Dragon Clan lord couldn’t surmount this step even after trying many secret methods. On a certain day ten years ago, he had the premonition that his cultivation would dissipate within a few decades. The dissipation of cultivation is the portent of life is drawing to a close.”

It wasn’t something Jiang Chen was unfamiliar with. An emperor realm’s cultivation dissipating was something he’d already seen inside the ruins in the Paramount Realm back in the Myriad Domain. Cultivation dissipating was the cruelest thing for a powerhouse of martial dao, and also the most inexorable thing. It signified life drawing to a close, that the cultivation accumulated throughout a whole life time would become fleeting as clouds when all was said and done.

Back when he’d been cultivating in the four great sects inside the sixteen kingdoms, Jiang Chen had once seen a Redscaled Firelizard tormented by a group of fire crows with lowly cultivation. Cultivation dissipating was akin to a tiger out of its mountain cave, trapped on flat plains. As inexorable as the sun setting in the west, as merciless as the finals days of a glorious hero.

Back in the Myriad Domain, the Great Cathedral’s Sacred Elephant head Xian Wentian had been nearing the end of his predestined life and was soon going to see his cultivation dissipated. That was the reason why he spared no capital to desperately buy a Longevity Pill. Xiang Wentian had been a mere ninth level sage realm, yet he still spared no cost and latched onto an opportunity to prolong his life. He wouldn’t let go of it no matter what. He turned hostile to whoever tried to compete with him.

Meanwhile, the Coiling Dragon Clan lord was a ninth level emperor realm cultivator. He was a great figure ruling the roost and riding the herd even in the whole of the Upper Eight Regions. Each and every one of his gestures were naturally even more far-reaching. One had to lament no choice but to lament when such a personage’s cultivation dissipated.

And so, Jiang Chen could understand Wei Jie’s sigh. This House Wei truly has bad luck. They aligned themselves with the Coiling Dragon Clan, then the clan lord’s lifespan drew to a close. They follow the Great Emperor Peafowl, but Emperor Peafowl’s direct disciple, young master Fan, also passed away. This House Wei must have stepped on some dog shit to have such a halo of bad luck.

“Young master Jie, what’s the relation between what you just said and your house’s pill king?” a distracted Jiang Chen asked, his train of thought coming back to the original issue.

“It’s related, highly correlated,” Wei Jie said with a sigh. “Back then, the various noble houses under the Coiling Dragon Clan were all dimly in the know. They all wanted to offer some contribution. Alas, it was because of our House’s eagerness to render service and gain merit that we trusted our guest pill king too easily back then. Maybe that guy went mad trying to fawn to a superior. He actually said he had some way, or maybe he was hopeful he could help the clan lord postpone the arrival of his cultivation dissipating…”

Jiang Chen understood the gist of things after hearing this. It sounded like House Wei had been conned by that hasty guest pill king. That was the reason why they found themselves in such a situation today, forsaken by all. So many things had happened, yet the Coiling Dragon Clan hadn’t even offered a word of sympathy. With House Wei’s status as a ninth ranked aristocratic house, they shouldn’t have received such a cold shoulder. It turned out that this was the problem!

“That pill king must have made a mess of things?” Jiang Chen said with a sigh.

Wei Jie’s smile was bitter, “Not only he made a mess of things, he even somewhat aggravated the clan lord’s situation! From there on, our House had also fell from grace in his wake. There are even people who said our House did it on purpose. There are those who wrongly accuse us of following orders from the Majestic Clan…”

“It’s really hard to reason with them even if you’re innocent.” Jiang Chen was actually a little sympathetic with House Wei’s bitter experience. It was just like yellow mud dropping onto one’s trousers. It was viewed as shit, even if it wasn’t.

“Isn’t it?” Wei Jie also felt a little wronged. “Our House is so loyal and true to the Coiling Dragon Clan, how could we be following Majestic Clan orders?”

“Did you investigate that pill king?” Jiang Cheng was curious. Even though there’s surely no issue with your House, you can’t guarantee there wasn’t any issue with that pill king.

“There shouldn’t have been any issue with that pill king either. After all, he’d been in our house for more than a hundred years. If there’d been a problem with him, it should have come to the fore long ago. No matter how treacherous the Majestic Clan is, they still couldn’t have planted a pill king in our House a hundred years beforehand, could they? Have you ever heard of such a far-reaching plan?”

That matter was clearly to be an unsolved case. Jiang Chen hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, so it was difficult for him to draw any conclusion from a few words from Wei Jie. Moreover, all this was water under the bridge. There was no medicine for regret, even if they talked about it over and over again. Jiang Chen didn’t plan on looking into ancient matters of the past.

“So how did that pill king die in the end?” This was Jiang Chen cared about. “Did the Coiling Dragon Clan order his execution?”

Wei Jie was dejected, “What’s truly depressing is that we don’t know either how on earth that pill king died. He just suddenly died one day in the streets.”

“How could that be?” A conflicted expression emerged on Jiang Chen’s face, “That’s even more detrimental to your House.”

“Isn’t it?! Him dying an obscure death, some people said our House did it to prove our innocence to the Coiling Dragon Clan. Some people also said that the Coiling Dragon Clan secretly gave the order, as not to make us lose too much face. Some others said the Majestic Clan were the one who dispatched people to do it, to strain the relations between our House and the Coiling Dragon Clan. All these sound credible, and they made our House’s situation more awkward day by day! Alas…” Wei Jie was often sighing now that his words had reached this part.

Obviously, the series of blows that House Wei suffered after that matter had greatly damaged the House’s vitality. They were caught between the Coiling Dragon Clan’s suspicions and the Majestic Clan’s threats interspersed with cajoling. House Wei was truly struck between a rock and a hard place, pressured on all sides.

Jiang Chen finally understood where House Wei’s awkward situation came from. No wonder no pill king was willing to come to House Wei. Who’d dare to? Who knew, one might well suddenly die in the streets one day, and one wouldn’t even know if one had been wiped out by the Coiling Dragon Clan or by the Majestic Clan, one’s death a puzzling, unsolved affair!

“Brother Zhen, I’m not trying to explain anything, and I’m even less trying to rope you in. These matters have been buried in our hearts and minds for truly too long. I grew up in such awkward circumstances, so I have a deep feelings about it. A grand scion of a noble house like me might not even have it as easy outside as a son from a lesser house!”

 

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