Chapter 767: Showdown Proposal
Jiang Chen tearing off Wang Teng's mask of hypocrisy twice in succession infuriated the latter to no end. He’d never thought that a trivial pill master from House Wei would have the gall to offend the dignity of a scion from a great clan like him, and two times in a row at that! When had trivial pill kings from aristocratic houses become so bold? Ordinary guest pill kings only participated in matters related to pills, rarely involving themselves in the struggles between houses and clans. It was only natural for them to leave a backdoor for themselves, just in case the house they followed fell into ruin. They could then turn elsewhere and carve out a new living. Guests pill kings, in the end, were guests after all. Very few would choose to die together with their houses.
But this inexplicable pill master from House Wei seemed to defy convention, raining down abuse on him instead. Apart from anger, Wang Teng also couldn’t believe his ears. His gaze suddenly chilly, he stared at Jiang Chen and spoke coldly, “A tiny pill master like you? Why don't you first consider your status before intruding in a conversation between great clans? Are you even qualified to interrupt?” Then, he fixed the House Wei father and son with a penetrating gaze. “No matter what, your House is still a ninth rank aristocratic house. Do you not understand even the most basic of manners? It seems someone needs to teach your house a lesson on how to behave!”
Young master Ji’s ire was roused at those words. “Wang Teng, is there no end to the nonsense you can spout? House Wei is a faction under my clan’s banner. If they required manners, we’ll be the ones who’ll take charge of teaching them. As a matter of fact, I've always admired Pill King Zhen, and I've consulted him multiple times on pill matters. His words may be unpleasant to hear, yet they're still irrefutable. Isn't your clan the one posing as a saint while acting like a villain? Isn’t yours the hand in the shadows? Wang Teng, it's not that I look down on you, but you're truly afraid to swear beneath the heavens' watchful eyes. Your clan will forever be unable to act fairly and honorably, to face the public candidly.”
This was classic reverse psychology. It wasn't very subtle, but it aimed straight at Wang Teng and cut off his retreat. If he admitted to anything, then the Majestic Clan would indeed be lacking forthrightness and uprightness. If he didn't admit anything, then he'd appear to be weighed down by a guilty conscience. After all, the Taiyuan Lodge really did belong to the Majestic Clan. House Tong was merely the sidekick standing in front of the stage and raising a racket in their stead.
Wang Teng was clearly not longer eager to continue this line of conversation. He smiled, still as cold and arrogant as ever. “Ji Ole Third, you can't conceal your guilty conscience no matter how much you squabble. When it comes to the pill business, what matters are the pills, not how much of a spectacle you make of yourself. If you're certain of your skills, then take out a peerless pill and let us compete. If you don't have the skills, then continue to feast on empty wind while you watch my Taiyuan Lodge make a fortune.”
Young master Ji laughed boisterously. “Does that mean you admit that Taiyuan Lodge belongs to your clan?”
“And what of it? Ji Ole Third, don't take offense, but it’s rather embarrassing to watch you quibble over these trifles like a common street urchin.”
Without waiting for young master Ji to speak, Jiang Chen responded, “Well said. What matters are the pills themselves. Mighty young master Wang, since you're so full of confidence, with the street packed so full of guests, we might as well have a pill contest right here. What do you say? Words alone hold no weight.”
A pill contest? Young master Ji, as well as father and son from House Wei, were all stunned by his words. All of them turned to look in Jiang Chen's direction. Jiang Chen nodded at them, full of confidence.
Jiang Chen certainly couldn't stay low-key any longer now that the situation had developed to such a degree. If he were to let Taiyuan Lodge have a successful opening, then it would certainly suppress his Taiyuan Tower in the future. It would be much more difficult for him to grow. Since they'd already dropped the act, he might as well throw everything he had in rather than letting them grab him by the throat in the future.
Wang Teng sneered at his words. “A contest of pills? Ji Old Third, does this underling of yours speak for you?”
“Wang Teng, don’t put me in your shoes. This Taiyuan Tower is House Wei's property, it isn't my place to decide in their stead.”
Wang Teng looked at father and son from House Wei, his eyes full of derision. “What say you, House Wei?”
Wei Tianxiao also realized there was no turning back, now that things had reached such a degree. If he were to fall back half a step here, they would never reverse Taiyuan Tower's fortunes in the future.
“Why not, let's have a contest,” Wei Jie took the initiative. “Why would my Taiyuan Tower be afraid of some bandwagoner?”
Wang Teng clapped, his smile a grim slash. He looked at Tong Xianwei. “House lord Tong, please invite all the guests inside to come back out. We'll wage a contest right here in the market street for all to see. Let us see who is the real thing between Taiyuan Lodge and Taiyuan Tower!” It wasn't blind arrogance on Wang Teng's part. He truly had a basis for his confidence. Not only did he have the Longevity Pill as a marquee item for today’s opening, he also had several choice pills developed in the last few years up for display. They had been planning on launching them together in the wake of the Longevity Pill's prominence, seizing the opportunity to break into the market and instantly build a name for Taiyuan Lodge. This wasn't something Wang Teng had come up himself on the spur of the moment. Rather, it was a plan the Majestic Clan's strategic council had come up with after repeated simulations and strict calculations. Therefore, Wang Teng felt very emboldened, especially with the Longevity Pill in hand, a pill that could almost topple the established order in the pill world. A mass launch was definitely bound to create a craze.
Tong Xianwei naturally knew the basis for the Majestic Clan's confidence. He secretly sneered to himself at the thought that the reckless House Wei actually wanted to have a pill contest with the Majestic Clan. “Alright, I'll go invite them.” Tong Xianwei was all smiles. The sidelong glance he shot at House Wei sent the clear message that he was looking at idiots. You can't blame anyone else for the oncoming public humiliation. You're feeling proud of yourself right now, but you'll be crying until no tears are left in just a bit. Also, young master Ji, you want to wade in these turbid waters too? We'll also slap your face in a little while, two for the price of one!
As the news that Taiyuan Lodge and Taiyuan Tower were going to hold a public pill contest in the streets spread, the guests in Taiyuan Lodge all filtered outside, brimming with interest. Jiang Chen signaled Wei Jie with his eyes. Catching his meaning, Wei Jie also called out all the customers who'd gone inside Taiyuan Tower.
The streets were suddenly drowning in people, approximately three thousand strong. The number kept increasing as others had caught wind of this and rushed to watch the show. Even those who hadn't been invited came of their own volition. In normal circumstances, a showdown between House Tong and House Wei would be attractive enough already. But now, they also represented the Majestic Clan and the Coiling Dragon Clan standing at their backs, which made it all the more dramatic. One could almost say this was a head-on collision between the Majestic Clan and the Coiling Dragon Clan.
Just the build up was enough to make hot blood thrum in their veins, to say nothing of the eventual result. Opening on the same day with almost identical names, fighting each other tit for tat, any and every detail was proof this was a fight both sides would see to the bitter end. Out of those two pill factions, only one would be left standing!
No matter which side fell, it would be a significant change to the current landscape. Would the Coiling Dragon Clan suppress the Majestic Clan, or would the Majestic Clan overthrow the Coiling Dragon Clan? A collision like this at the very summit of Veluriyam Capital was very attractive. Soon, almost ten thousand people were crowding around these two stores. It was fortunate the avenue in the market was very wide, but it was still extraordinarily crowded, the sea of men packed like sardines.
Young master Ji was also aware that this matter might very well have a negative impact on the Coiling Dragon Clan if it were to be blown out of proportion. If Taiyuan Lodge were to gain the upper hand today, the Coiling Dragon Clan would also lose face. However, seeing Jiang Chen's calm and confident manner, young master Ji became a little more confident without any apparent reason. He originally had some misgivings, but now he tossed them aside. What was the use in hesitating anymore? Retreating now would be an admission of fear. In any case, the Coiling Dragon Clan's situation was already bad. The worst that could happen was that it would become a little worse, but what did that matter?
The most important factor was that young master Ji was particularly confident in Jiang Chen. Their meeting in Little Leisurely Clouds had definitely imprinted this Pill King Zhen from House Wei in young master Ji's mind. The information about the Pinecrane Pill in particular had impressed the young master even more. He had the nagging feeling this Pill King Zhen would continue to bring him pleasant surprises.
“So, Wang Teng, how do you wish to compete?” Since Ji San had made his decision, he didn't hesitate in stepping forward and showing his support for Taiyuan Tower.
“And how do you want to compete?” Wang Teng's smile was cutting, his eyes a little contemptuous.
Ji San swept his eyes across the sons of great clans present at the scene. “Mere words carry no credibility. If there is to be a contest, we first need to find arbitrators. My first proposal is, why don't we have some judges?”
“That's for the best, or else you might refuse to acknowledge your defeat.” Wang Teng would naturally not be opposed.
The influence of the two strongest clans in the Capital was naturally nothing to be scoffed at. It took no time at all to select nine judges. Each of the judges were advanced pill kings. Even the worst among them was a seventh rank pill king. The highest ranked judge was actually a ninth rank pill king. With but a single step forward, he would be able to assume the mantle of a pill emperor. These judges all enjoyed outstanding reputations in the pill world. There was no need to be worried about partiality. The dao of pills had its own rules. At the very least, the pill kings had their professional integrity. They would never be partial to a certain side because of the degree of their relationships.
Of course, it was not to say that relationships wouldn’t play a little part, but none of these nine pill kings were especially close to either clan. The issue of impartiality was henceforth settled. The most important thing was that everyone had a discerning eye when it came to such contests. Favoritism would be very easy to detect. If a pill king were truly to be partial under several thousand pairs of watchful eyes, his credibility would plummet, damaging his personal reputation.
“Esteemed pill kings, since we are to have a contest, then we can't be the ones to decide the rules. I would like to trouble the nine of you to formulate the rules of this competition,” Ji San proposed.
Wang Teng wasn’t one to fall behind, quickly nodding, “Each of you is a leading figure in the world of pills. The Majestic Clan has full trust in you. I apologize for troubling you this time.”
The spectators also made their views known, “Indeed, you nine pill kings are all great figures, everyone can trust you. You should be the ones to make the rules.”
“Esteemed pill kings, don't fail to live up to everyone's expectations!”
There was no need for House Tong and House Wei to speak anymore. Things had already progressed to where it was no longer a mere showdown between their two subordinate houses. It was more of a confrontation between the Coiling Dragon Clan and the Majestic Clan. While this confrontation might not influence the final situation, it would at least somewhat represent its future direction.
Neither wanted to lose; neither could afford to lose. Seeing that Wang Teng looked like he still had cards left to play, the majority of the crowd felt that the Majestic Clan had come prepared. Their odds of winning should be somewhat higher. After all, merely judging by their staffs and their styles, the Taiyuan Lodge that the Majestic Clan operated was on a completely different level compared to House Wei's Taiyuan Tower.
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