Chapter 768: Let’s Go A Little Mad With the Gamble
When everyone looked over at the Taiyuan Lodge side, they immediately glimpsed several pill kings in their midst. The highest ranked one was obviously a high order one, and there were two more mid order ones at fifth and sixth rank pill king. There were even low order ones acting as assistants. That a pill king was acting as an assistant was a mark of how deep Taiyuan Lodge’s pockets were!
When their eyes swivelled over to Taiyuan Tower, the contrast was stark and jarring. They didn’t have a single person dressed in the clothing of a pill king! Jiang Chen stood next to the Wei father and son, wearing a set of casual clothes. It was difficult for anyone to match his appearance to that of a pill king’s. The blatant contrast caused a significant bias in the winning predictions of everyone present. Given House Wei's lackluster performance in the pill arena as well as the Majestic Clan's insatiable expansion in recent years, there didn’t seem a need for careful analysis. Even a three-year-old child knew which side victory was favoring. Some of the more reserved and mature onlookers shook their heads inwardly. The normally elegant young master Ji San had been far too brash this time. He'd finally fallen into the Majestic Clan's trap.
"To think that the Coiling Dragon Clan is finally about to abdicate its status as the number one clan of Veluriyam Capital after two hundred years…"
"Ah, it’s truly a shame that the Coiling Dragon Clan's lord is facing his twilight years."
"As the foremost clan, though the Coiling Dragon Clan is a little forward, it has never tyrannized anyone. If the Majestic Clan really replaces it, I'm afraid that the situation in the Capital will become worse than before!" Many of the onlookers mulled over the tradeoffs in their hearts. They did not wish to see a drastic shift to the order within Veluriyam Capital. Such a change often necessitated much strife, conquest, conflict, bloodshed in its name...
As the foremost clan, the Coiling Dragon Clan had maintained reasonable order within Veluriyam Capital, and was a force to be reckoned with in the Upper Eight Regions. The Veluriyam Capital owed much of its past two hundred years of stability to the prominent work of the Coiling Dragon Clan. A change in leadership, to the Majestic Clan, birthed uncertainty in the hearts of many. After all, from what could be seen of its actions thus far, the Majestic Clan was without a doubt greedier, more profit-oriented, even tyrannical. Thus, though many of the guests chose Taiyuan Lodge, it didn’t mean they were actually loyal to the Majestic Clan. Their choice was merely an instinctive act of self preservation, a selection of the more favorable choice between the Majestic Clan and House Wei. At the bottom of their hearts, at least half of those present did not wish for the Coiling Dragon Clan to be replaced by the Majestic Clan.
The nine judges huddled together for only a short while before they drafted an outline for the contest. "Young master Ji San, young master Wang, we have the outline for the contest." A ninth rank pill king with shockingly bright white hair walked towards them.
"Pill King Yu, please speak." Neither Ji San nor Wang Teng dared flaunt their stature in front of the pill king, and showed only the utmost respect.
"Since today is the opening ceremony for both of the stores, and a store opening is naturally accompanied by new kinds of pills, the first round of the contest will be about pills. Each side will bring out three pills to evaluated by all nine of us judges. The side that receives more votes will be counted as the victor for this round," Pill King Yu said. It was a predictable suggestion. Both stores were pill shops, so what would one bet on, if not for pills? This round was essential.
"There's a first round, so there must be a second as well. What’s the topic of the second, if I may ask?" Wang Teng smiled slightly.
Pill King Yu declared, "Besides attractive pills, talented employees are important as well. Therefore, we believe that a competition between pill kings will be appropriate for the second round. Strong talent signifies a flourishing store—an indisputable fact, no?"
Every pill shop had its own in-house experts. Big stores had pill kings, but even the most insignificant of stores hired a few pill masters to hold down the fort. It was undeniably true that talented people formed the backbone of a pill shop. Any pill shop would be quite popular with a genius pill king sitting inside. A genius pill king was actually even more enticing than a desirable pill.
Pills were made by people. Even the hardest pill only took three to five years to make. But the development of a pill king took at minimum 30 to 50 years. It was not uncommon for ten times that time span to pass again before a pill king reached a high rank. A competition between pill kings? Everyone found the details of the second round amusing, especially those on the Taiyuan Lodge side. Insults and jests started to fly.
"Pill king? House Wei's Taiyuan Tower has a pill king?"
"Isn't this too hard on Taiyuan Tower? Haha, a competition between pill kings? We'd have to wait until House Wei finds a pill king first!"
"Look, you can't say things like that. Perhaps House Wei is requesting a pill king from the Coiling Dragon Clan as we speak."
"Do Coiling Dragon Clan's pill kings have any relation to House Wei?"
However, those on House Wei's side were unexpectedly calm. The was none of the panic and tension on their faces that Taiyuan Lodge wished to see. Young master Ji San was the first to speak, interjecting softly, "Pill King Yu, excuse my verbosity. Taiyuan Lodge has many pill kings, but do any of them have tokens identifying their employment? If not, doesn't that count as cheating? If that is permissible, then I take it that I can call in support from the Coiling Dragon Clan's pill kings?"
The question was certainly reasonable. Glancing at Wang Teng, Pill King Yu nodded, "Young master Wang, are all of these pill kings representative of Taiyuan Lodge?"
Wang Teng spoke equally unassumingly, "Is this round by specific designation? Or random selection?"
Pill Master Yu looked at House Wei, seeking their opinion.
"It is best for the contestants to be designated specifically, lest there be cheating," Wei Tianxiao hurriedly responded.
Wang Teng scoffed in disdain. Cheating? Aren't you guys overestimating your importance? Implying that we need to cheat to beat House Wei … what a riot. Wang Teng directed his question at the mass of pill kings behind him with a turn of his body. "Which of you is willing to take the stage?"
"Young clan lord, send me!"
"Is there a need to fight? Of course it's me." The pill kings scrambled over one another in their bids for the position, save for the higher-ranked pill king who stayed silent. Clearly, as a seventh rank pill king, he held himself in too high an esteem to make such a public appearance. Wang Teng had a sudden stroke of inspiration. "Does House Wei have a pill king?"
"Wang Teng, your eyesight isn't very good, hmm? This humble one is House Wei's guest pill king and am the sitting pill king at Taiyuan Tower."
"You?" Wang Teng flicked a cold glance at Jiang Chen. How could he not know who Jiang Chen was? He had only asked the question in order to shame House Wei. In truth, Wei Tiantong and Pill Master Yu's prior failure had already drawn attention to House Wei's new pill king. Wang Teng looked over Jiang Chen coolly. The latter didn't have three heads and six arms, nor did he appear to be an amazing pill dao prodigy. There was nothing for Wang Teng to beware of. He spoke to the sixth rank pill king, "Pill King Rong, you go. Teach this kid a lesson in life."
The chosen pill king's face lit up. "Understood. I will not fail my mission."
After both sides locked in their choices, everyone focused their attention upon Pill King Yu again. The first round was a comparison of pills, the second round was a competition of pill kings, but what of the third? "We have rounds one and two, so there must be a round three, right?"
Pill King Yu nodded, "If each side wins a round within the first two rounds, then we naturally will have a deciding third round. But, if one side wins two in a row, then the third round is unnecessary. Still, let us mention it in passing. It will be a round based on personal judgments from the nine judges. The content being judged can be discussed when the time comes."
All three rounds had been explained. "So, do both sides understand the rules?" Pill King Yu asked.
House Wei nodded in agreement, but Wang Teng was not content. "The rules are quite clear, and the nine pill kings are all pillars of the pill world. There is nothing for us to be concerned about. But, since it's a competition, there should be some stakes as well. What's in it for the winner? What happens to the loser?" He curved his lips in a grin.
This was the crux of the issue.
This extensive setup Wang Teng had orchestrated wasn't simply for fun or show. His ultimate objective was to close Taiyuan Tower before it even had a chance to open, and thereby stomp House Wei into the ground completely. It would also be a slap to the face for the Coiling Dragon Clan.
"What do you want?" Ji San asked scornfully.
"Everyone knows the old adage that a mountain has no room for two tigers, not to mention two stores directly facing each other with similar names! I suggest... winner takes all," Wang Teng laughed.
"Take all of what, exactly?"
"It's very simple. The loser closes shop and removes their store sign. They’re also forbidden from appearing within a thousand metres of the winner's store." Wang Teng had everything thought out already.
"You call that 'winner takes all'?" Jiang Chen smirked before young master Ji San had a chance to respond.
"Then what do you propose?" Wang Teng sneered.
"Winner takes all should be absolutely everything, including the deed to the properties!" Jiang Chen's words bewildered not only the onlookers, but House Wei as well. This was not within their original plans. Seeing Wei Jie and Wei Tianxiao's quizzical looks, Jiang Chen conveyed, "Lord Wei, if I lose, I will recompense House Wei with the formula for the Longevity Pill."
The formula for the Longevity Pill. Wei Tianxiao was instantly reassured at these words.
The others present wore astonished expressions. The bystanders were especially dazed, a strange suspicion popping into their heads. Was House Wei's mysterious pill king yet another double agent from the Majestic Clan? Why else would he up the ante in such an absurd way? Everyone knew that House Wei's Taiyuan Tower would be the loser. Since their loss was assured, wasn't it too much to offer up the property deed to the store as well?
After all, the store was located in one of the best spots in Farmer God Market. Moreover, House Wei's store occupied a rather large area, and excelled in many aspects. Even the Majestic Clan had salivated over the store for a long time. Wasn't House Wei's pill king delivering the goods right to the door then? The previous pill king from House Wei was already suspected of being an undercover agent from the Majestic Clan. Given the current way of things, that the same thing was happening again was a natural conclusion for the onlookers to draw. The more they mulled it over, the more it appeared to be the case.
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