Chapter 769: Wang Teng, You Can’t Afford the Bet?
Jiang Chen didn't care what the bystanders thought. His gaze was so intense that Wang Teng found it difficult to avert his eyes. One was an unknown pill master, and the other was a young lord of one of Veluriyam Capital's foremost clans. For any normal person, the two weren’t even on the same level. But, to everyone's surprise, the guest pill king of House Wei was fearlessly looking straight at Wang Teng.
Suddenly, Jiang Chen smacked his forehead with a laugh. "I almost forgot. The store opposite isn't actually the Majestic Clan's property. I don't think young clan lord Wang can actually make any decisions here. Well now, since you can't afford to make the bet, let's pretend I didn't say anything." Jiang Chen's words took a drastically different turn, tugging at the hearts of their onlookers yet again.
What was this? From his tone, it seemed that House Wei's guest pill king really did want to pick a fight with the Majestic Clan. He really wasn’t an undercover agent? The challenge wasn't particularly clever, but it was still sharp as a sword. The attack was a direct jab at Wang Teng, who found it difficult not to engage. As large as Veluriyam Capital was, how many people in it dared to say "you can't afford to make the bet" to the Majestic Clan?
Was there a bet that the Majestic Clan couldn't afford?
Though the store didn’t belong to the Majestic Clan, there were countless methods to take possession of it! Even though Wang Teng had reminded himself time and again to keep calm, he couldn’t help but feel fury eat away at him because of Jiang Chen's attitude. Sneering, he turned his attention the Wei father and son. "Wei Tianxiao, no wonder House Wei has been more dead than alive. Bad upbringing and manners can't be helped. Since when can a guest pill king act on House Wei's behalf?"
Wei Tianxiao was cautious by nature, but he was surprisingly calm in that moment. He knew there was no backing out now. The Majestic Clan wanted to seize this opportunity to utterly crush House Wei. Even if Jiang Chen hadn’t made his promise about the Longevity Pill, they would still have to step up to the plate. Steeling himself for the worst, he smiled faintly. "Young clan lord Wang, there's no problem with being forthright if you really can’t afford to make the bet. We at House Wei are not in the habit of forcing people's hands. As for Pill King Zhen, I have already given him full authority for today’s matters. Anyone whom we entrust a position with has House Wei's complete trust."
It was another mention of "you can't afford to make the bet"! Perhaps he might have begrudgingly endured things if the words had come from anyone else, but what kind of person was Wang Teng? Was he someone that a ninth-ranked house could say "you can't afford to make the bet" to? Where was his dignity? Wang Teng’s angry grimace was telling of his extreme displeasure, his eyes glinting with disdain. "Good, very good, House Wei has some guts alright! If you really must give this store as a present to me, I’m happy to take it."
Still, he couldn’t figure out House Wei’s intentions. Using the store as the ante had been wholly unexpected. The stakes were too high for them. From Wang Teng's perspective, House Wei was blustering with all their might; they had no bite. They were feigning aggressiveness in order to force him to step back. But, what did they take him for? How could Wang Teng not take the bet?
Jiang Chen smiled coldly. "I wouldn't hurry to accept if I were you. The winner is still undecided. If you want to put the property itself on the line, you should first acquire the rights to Taiyuan Lodge. Otherwise, who do we collect from if you're betting with someone else's belongings?"
He spoke as if House Wei's victory over the Majestic Clan was assured. Wang Teng’s anger no longer knew any bound. He had never before been met with such arrogant provocation in Veluriyam Capital. Indeed, the Majestic Clan didn’t own Taiyuan Lodge. It was also true that the Majestic Clan had used forceful means to coercively rent the premises for a time. He scanned the surroundings for the owner of the store. It belonged to another ninth-ranked aristocratic house, not subordinate to either the Majestic or Coiling Dragon Clan.
"House Lord Teng, I am willing to use my family's store in the Heaven Road section of the Farmer God Market as collateral. If I lose your store today, then that store will belong to you. As you know, it’s located in a superior position and occupies a larger area." In his anger, Wang Teng was willing to pledge a superior store as collateral.
The lord of House Teng wasn’t comforted, however. He had no interest in meddling in these factional affairs. He complained with a wry face, "Young clan lord Wang, it’s not that I don’t trust your word, but something like this… there is no guarantee in a verbal promise."
Wang Teng was enraged by these words. This house lord’s distrust was blatant. How could an entity as great as the Majestic Clan lose to a mere House Wei? Though the store was collateral, that was only in name. What else did he need aside from a verbal promise?
Ji San chuckled at the scene. "Wang Teng, you're gambling in such a carefree way with someone else's property. Generosity at the expense of others… truly a masterful plan. If you lose, you can just up and leave. Since there's no guarantee, are you expecting House Teng to pry that store from the Majestic Clan's hands?"
Ji San was adept at finding weaknesses. His commentary was clean and upright, and drew much cheering and applause from the crowd. After all, the Veluriyam Capital had twenty-eight clans. Though many of the other clans couldn’t compare to the Majestic Clan, that didn’t mean the latter held absolute power either. Wang Teng's attitude carried an overbearing overtone that, alone, was enough to cause mild dissatisfaction amongst onlookers. He’d thought he was giving sufficient face to the lord of House Teng, but Ji San's interjection made him look like a menacing bully instead. He suppressed the boiling anger in his heart, glancing at Ji San coldly. "Ji Ole Third, I'm not the type of person to cheat others out of something as insignificant as this. You on the other hand… what will you placate House Wei with after they lose the store, hmm?"
"Don't try to change the subject by mentioning unrelated things. No guarantee, no bet," Young Master Ji San smiled serenely. Wei Tianxiao loudly backed him up. "Young master Ji San has the right of it. Any bets that House Wei makes must be transparent and open. We cannot allow young clan Lord Wang to wager the property of others."
Wang Teng had been backed into a corner by Ji San and Wei Tianxiao's verbal barrage. "Get some pen and paper." If he was going to leave some proof, he was going to be unequivocal about it.
"We are cultivators, what need is there for pen and paper? Even if written proof exists, what can House Teng do to you if you want to get out of it?" Young Master Ji San grinned coolly. "Cultivators are beholden to different rules. A heavenly oath is far more convincing than any contract."
House Lord Teng's eyes brightened, looking to Ji San with gratitude. Clearly, he was very supportive of an oath. Jiang Chen frowned. "Wang Teng, you are the young lord of a clan, yet you fuss like an old woman. Are we betting or not? If you aren't confident enough in your chances, then say so earlier. Why waste everyone's time?"
Wang Teng was so angry he almost spat blood. If looks could kill, everyone standing by House Wei would be a fresh corpse. Forcing himself to calm down with some effort, he locked eyes with Wei Tianxiao. "Wei Tianxiao, you're freely taking potshots now, but just wait a while and I’ll show you what for. You won't even be able to cry!" Saying this, he turned to the lord of House Teng. "Lord Teng, if you want a heavenly oath, I'll give it to you. But you will soon know that your worry is unnecessary. The Majestic Clan's victory is certain."
In that moment, Wang Teng was filled with fortitude and pride, brimming with determination. He swore a heavenly oath with the crowd as witness. Wang Teng did not leave any textual loopholes in the oath, and expressed that if House Teng's store really was lost to House Wei, he would reimburse House Teng with the Majestic Clan's better premises within the Farmer God Market. With the oath made, Wang Teng cheered up greatly. "The wager is set. Now, let's see what other tricks you have up your sleeve!" He looked contemptuously at his opposition.
"Pill King Yu, with both the stakes and the rules in place, why don't we begin? Time is money. I’m sure this true for everyone." Having lost the advantage in the verbal exchange, Wang Teng had a lot of frustration bottled up. He eagerly awaited a crushing, convincing victory against House Wei. He could almost taste the pleasure of taking their store for himself.
Pill King Yu reiterated the rules and the wagers for clarity. "No final questions from either side, yes? Then the competition begins!"
An empty space was quickly cleared. The nine judges fanned out in a solid line; the betting parties separated themselves to either side. Taiyuan Lodge had the absolute advantage in both line up and formation. "For the first round, each side must submit three types of pills. Remember, there is no need to deceive us with rare pills. The pills must be suitable for mass production and sale. Our purpose is not to view your personal pill collection, but rather to compare the quality of each side's pill supply," Pill King Yu warned sternly.
A duel between two pill stores had to involve pills actually available for sale. There was no point in bringing out the pills that were rare and sought-after, those kept solely in personal collections. After all, those pills were hardly representative of a shop’s capabilities.
Ji San had wanted to secretly return the Longevity Pill he’d accepted from Jiang Chen to bolster his side, but Pill King Yu's words forbade it. From his perspective, Taiyuan Tower had no way of making the Longevity Pill. However, Jiang Chen had no intention at all of using the Longevity Pill from the beginning. The situation wasn’t even close to dire, so why expose himself? Moreover, it wasn’t as if the pills he'd prepared earlier were ordinary either.
He quickly picked out three types of pills. The Heptarune True Dragon Pill for breakthroughs, the Tiger Eruption Pill for battle strength, and the Half-Step Immortal Elixir Pill for poison. As for the cosmetic Aeons Evergreen Pill, Jiang Chen decided against taking it out in front of the judges. The pill kings here were all male, and this kind of pill held no attraction for them. To the contrary, it was possible that they would deem it as unorthodox tomfoolery.
For the sake of fairness, the three pills weren’t taken out simultaneously by both sides. Rather, they were presented one at a time, and neither would know what pill the other would bring. The Heptarune True Dragon Pill Jiang Chen chose for the first round was placed in a jade box, labeled with Taiyuan Tower as its origin, and brought before the nine pill kings.
Each of the nine judges began to investigate and examine the two pills. They were all well-traveled and knowledgeable. Though the grade of pill presented was high on both sides, they were not shaken. After about fifteen minutes, voting began among the pill kings.
It wasn’t long before the results were out. As the first of three pills in the first round, Jiang Chen's Heptarune True Dragon Pill scored the initial victory with a 6-3 advantage!