Chapter 77: Limelight Surpassing the Four Great Dukes
Jiang Chen didn’t think that Long Yinye’s slap was to help Jiang Chen out of a sticky situation. It was obvious that Long Yinye didn’t wish for Hong Tiantong to rush over to his death.
In reality, if Hong Tiantong had closed to within three meters of Jiang Chen, the latter’s personal guards would absolutely have ripped Hong Tiantong apart.
Therefore, although it looked like Long Yinye had slapped Hong Tiantong, he’d actually saved Hong Tiantong’s life.
Jiang Chen was as indifferent as the wind and clouds, merely smiling faintly at Long Yinye’s action, and being noncommittal. The eight guards retreated to behind Jiang Chen.
After this battle, the other heirs who had originally sought a place with the Long brother and sister were all internally aghast. They were thinking over if there was a need for them to plunge into the mix when deities fought, and if they had the ability to join in.
Hong Tiantong was a living lesson dripping with blood, to speak of nothing else.
And going back further, when had the Duke of Soaring Dragon ever truly occupied the high ground when it came to contending with the Duke of Jiang Han?
At the banquet at the Soaring Dragon manor, all sides had purposefully created difficulties for Jiang Chen, but Jiang Chen had been the one to soar to the skies in the end with a single amazing feat.
The Duke of Soaring Dragon had propped up the Pill King Garden to befuddle the pill medicine market situation within the capital, but had been defeated with a loud crash by the Hall of Healing.
He had sent men to assassinate Jiang Feng, the Duke of Jiang Han, and rumors abounded in the outside world that the latter had been murdered. However, Jiang Feng had suddenly appeared and actually broken through the shackles of the martial dao, and had ascended to the ranks of the true qi masters!
He’d afterwards sent strong men to slaughter Jiang Chen, but Jiang Chen had emerged wholly unscathed. Instead, it had been the true qi master from the Soaring Dragon’s side who had been crippled and sent back, dying shortly thereafter.
And now, Hong Tiantong had been a weapon for the Soaring Dragon contingent, but had ended up in these straits.
Although there was no clear evidence connecting Long San’s death and the Hall of Healing crushing the Pill King Garden to Jiang Chen, combining all the rumors together made it difficult for one to eliminate Jiang Chen from the list of causes.
This was to say, that in the various open and underhanded conflicts between the Duke of Soaring Dragon and the Duke of Jiang Han, the so-called first duke of the kingdom actually hadn’t gained any bit of an advantage, and had rather suffered heavy casualties in the form of losing his generals and soldiers instead. Even the true qi master, Long San, ranked in the top ten of the Soaring Dragon household, had died with no clear reason whatsoever.
After careful thought, many of those who wished to cling onto Soaring Dragon all privately halted their plans, deciding to wait and see whilst avoid offending either.
After all, from the situation at hand, the Duke of Soaring Dragon, with his ferocious momentum, may not have the assurance of success within his grasp.
At least, this Jiang Han dukedom wasn’t an easy target.
Bai Zhanyun, heir to White Tiger, had provoked Jiang Chen several times, and ended up with a face full of dust for his troubles.
Yan Yiming, heir to Yanmen, had also provoked Jiang Chen several times, and now walked in another direction whenever he saw Jiang Chen.
Everyone had seen what had befallen Hong Tiantong, heir of Vermillion Bird.
As everyone looked at that Hong Tiantong wailing bitterly, having a mental meltdown, they also felt a subtle pleasure in someone else’s misfortunes. Hong Tiantong failing his exam meant that out of the contenders for the position of first rank, one of the stronger candidates was out of the running!
At this moment, the examiner in charge of the arena announced, “The time for the exam is here. All contestants please enter your respective arenas!”
“Keep a cool head, display yourselves well, and don’t feel any pressure.” Jiang Chen didn’t give too many reminders. With the calm leader Xue Tong in charge, and the aid of the “Eight Trigrams Assimilation Foundation”, there shouldn’t be that many problems in the second test.
Defeating eight wooden puppets equivalent to six meridians true qi within half an hour.
Jiang Chen believe that this test wouldn’t be too difficult, unless something affected their mentality. The “Eight Trigrams Assimilation Foundation” had just been put into practical action with the battle against Hong Tiantong’s crew just now, naturally greatly increasing their chances of victory.
After all, it was very important whether or not a formation had had actual battle experience.
When battling Hong Tiantong’s crew, Jiang Chen’s team had been unpracticed with the formation in the beginning, and thus hadn’t swiftly occupied the high ground.
When Jiang Chen’s team grew accustomed to the formation, their frightening level of prowess was displayed, and they practically trampled over Hong Tiantong’s team.
“Everyone guess, will be it young duke Yinye’s team finishing the test first, or Miss Juxue’s team finishing first?”
Someone still couldn’t resist the chance to stand out and offer a few fawning words.
“Heh heh, Duke Long’s pair of heirs are dragons and phoenixes amongst men. It is hard to discern a difference between the two. This question truly stumps all of us.”
“Look, one third of the time has already elapsed.”
“Ai, I hope that my personal guard team can successfully pass.”
“Yes, I still admire the four great dukes. Although Hong Tiantong’s team has collapsed, the four great dukes have two candidate slots. Although Hong Tiantong’s team has failed, it’s still fine if the other team succeeds.”
This advantage was enormous for the four great dukes.
Time ticked by steadily as the hearts of those candidates relatively weaker in strength became increasingly nervous.
They too knew that this test was quite difficult. Unless the crew of personal guards possessed overwhelming strength, it would be difficult to defeat eight wooden puppets at six levels of true qi within half an hour.
Apart from the heirs of the four great dukes, who were relatively more at ease, the heirs of the other dukes were all more or less a bit worried.
As for Jiang Chen, his heart was as settled as still water.
Half of the allotted time quickly passed. Many of the heirs’ breathing started to increase in pace. Jiang Chen’s “Ear of the Zephyr” could even hear their hurried breathing.
At this moment, the great doors to the arena opened —
This meant that a team had completed the test and was coming out!
“Look, the great doors are open, a team is coming out! Is it young duke Yinye or Miss Juxue’s crew? The answer will be revealed soon!”
“What’s the point of speculating about this? If it’s not young duke Yinye, then it’ll be Miss Juxue’s. The most outstanding amongst the Eastern Kingdom are without a doubt, the heirs of Soaring Dragon.”
“Right, no matter whose team finishes first, they all represent the Long family.”
The great doors opened and footsteps sounded out from inside.
A hearty laugh was heard before a figure was seen, “Haha, this test wasn’t that hard! I wonder what place in line our exit falls under?”
“It doesn’t matter what place we are, it’s not like rankings are decided here.”
“Heh heh, although that’s the case, it would still be a damned good feeling if we could firmly sit on those suckers. I, Qiao Shan, was pissed off seeing those suckers put on airs in front of our young duke.”
A crowd of eight people walked out following their voices.
It wasn’t Long Yinye’s team, nor was it Long Juxue’s team.
Neither was it any of the teams of the four great dukes.
It was the team of Jiang Chen of the Jiang Han dukedom!
Everyone was dumbfounded, and even Long Yinye and Long Juxue felt that it was slightly incredible. Both of them exchanged glances on the alert with each other.
They seemed to have suddenly, truly, become conscious that Jiang Chen, and this Jiang Han, were absolutely not a slight defect of small importance, but a true threat!
“This Jiang Chen must be eliminated at the first opportunity!” Long Yinye formed the motive to kill in that moment.
Brother and sister shared an understanding between their hearts. A fierce beam of killing intent also flashed through Long Juxue’s phoenix eyes at this moment.
The education provided at the Soaring Dragon manor since young was that of domination, eradicating all threats that might possibly form, and using one’s strength to bully the weak.
Even Princess Gouyu felt vaguely surprised. Jiang Chen’s team was the first to complete the test!
As the main organizer in charge of the Hidden Dragon Trials, she was well aware of how difficult this level was. Jiang Chen’s team had indeed displayed a strong fighting competency when they triumphed over Hong Tiantong’s team, but none of them had particularly displayed overwhelming power.
As for Long Yinye and Long Juxue’s teams, there were strong practitioners of nine meridians true qi present in both of them.
A nine meridians true qi would mangle a six meridians true qi as the former rolled over the latter.
This was a surprising development, an extremely surprising development.
Jiang Chen ignored the complex looks from all sides and walked towards Princess Gouyu. “Your Highness, here are the results of the second test. Please look over and accept them.”
Princess Gouyu nodded, “Jiang Chen, well done. I have to admit, you’re the biggest dark horse in this time’s Hidden Dragon Trials.”
A big dark horse, absolutely a big dark horse.
One had to know that even just a few months ago, jokes about Jiang Chen still abounded in the capital. Jiang Chen had even been the butt of all the jokes of the Hidden Dragon Trials, a unique character who couldn’t even pass the foundational exams!
However, the affairs of the world are inconstant!
They say that changes in prosperity and decline were capricious in their rise and fall, such as feng shui being favorable on the east side of the river for thirty years, and being favorable on the west side for the other thirty years.
This Jiang Chen had such a rapid change in prosperity and decline, that feng shui had shifted to the other side of the river in three months!
Multiple teams also completed the test after Jiang Chen’s team had passed the tests and walked out of the arena.
Long Yinye and Long Juxue’s team were close behind Jiang Chen’s, with the rest of the four great dukes following afterwards.
There was still quite a basis for talk of family foundations and strength at times like these.
Compared to the other dukes of the first rank, the advantages of the four great dukes were quite apparent.
The Duke of Soaring Dragon had even more apparent advantage out of the four great dukes.
Of course, there was no point in contrasting any of this at this moment because Jiang Chen had appeared. This caused the four great dukes, even the heirs of Soaring Dragon, to be overshadowed and eclipsed.
This was unprecedented that the limelight of the heirs to Soaring Dragon had been suppressed by someone!
One had to know that the Duke of Soaring Dragon had occupied the position of duke of first rank for far, far too long. Almost no powers had appeared in several hundred years to challenge their existence.
Even the existence of someone close to them didn’t exist, not to mention someone who could challenge their position.
However, an unexpected development had appeared today.
An unexpected development that hadn’t been present for hundreds of years had appeared!
Although this small test wasn’t a pivotal one, and just a minor detail that had nothing to do with the greater picture, a general observation of previous Hidden Dragon Trials would reveal that the existence of Soaring Dragon heirs stood out like a crane standing amongst chickens. They were far in the lead, whether in terms of the greater picture, or in the smallest details.
And now, even though they had been surpassed by someone else in the smallest of details, this was still a first in hundreds of years!
News travelled fast, as if it had grown legs and ran along the wind. It had traveled through almost the entire capital in fifteen minutes.
This news was simply too shocking.
The heirs of Soaring Dragon had been surpassed by someone on the Hidden Dragon Trials!
As for the person in question, Jiang Chen, he didn’t feel smugly satisfied at all. His sights were set directly on the third mission after completing the second.
Only after successfully completing the third mission would it be the equivalent of pronouncing that the Jiang Han territory had successfully attempted for duke of first rank.
The succeeding ranking battles would determine the internal rankings of the dukes of first rank.
The ranking battles were the true goal of Jiang Chen’s participation in the Hidden Dragon Trials this time.
These so-called missions were all just warm-ups and appetizers.
His reaction was diffident, but he couldn’t stop the spread of the story behind this time’s upset. The reactions from all sides were greatly beyond his forecasts.
When the Soaring Dragon household received this news, all those present burst into an uproar. Long Zhaofeng, the Duke of Soaring Dragon himself, was silent for quite a while. He had given the order previously that no matter what the methods, Jiang Chen had to die and could not be permitted to grow into his power.
Within the palace, Eastern Lu was similarly speechless for quite a while when he received immediate updates of this. He tragically realized that in the tussle between the royal family and the Duke of Soaring Dragon, Jiang Chen, this originally nameless kid, had become the greatest weapon that the royal family had no choice but to rely on.