Chapter 795: Preparing for Long Xiaoxuan's Breakthrough
Ji San mused for a moment. "If you want a sparsely populated place, you'll have to go outside the city. It's hard to find somewhere like that within the walls. The Coiling Dragon Clan has countless estates in the surrounding lands, so you'll have dozens of spots to pick from.”
There were several million miles of land under the jurisdiction of Veluriyam Capital. As the foremost clan of the city, the Coiling Dragon Clan naturally had properties all over the countryside. There were many options for a secluded place. "Brother, what do you need it for?" Ji San was curious.
"Cultivation for a breakthrough," Jiang Chen laughed.
Deciding not to probe him further, Ji San simply nodded. "Then, leave it to me. When do you need it by?"
"As soon as possible. It would be best if there was a body of water nearby. A lake, maybe." Jiang Chen added another requirement.
"Easy enough. I'll go make the appropriate preparations now and take you there tomorrow. How about it?" Ji San readily agreed. To him, details like that were merely a trifle. Compared to the things that Jiang Chen had done for the clan lord, this request was negligible.
"That’d be wonderful. Thank you for your help." Jiang Chen was just as straightforward. He wasn't making preparations for himself this time, but for Long Xiaoxuan. It had been almost half a month since the dragon said he was going break through. If Jiang Chen still didn't tend to the preparations, the dragon would be furious.
Jiang Chen returned to Taiyuan Tower to rest for the night, notifying Huang'er of his plans for the next few days. "Huang'er, Long Xiaoxuan is going to break through to the emperor realm. Things are quite urgent. I must leave the city to find a spacious area so that I can help him."
Huang'er had seen Long Xiaoxuan once before, and was no stranger to the dragon. "Would you like me to accompany you?" Huang'er asked, ever so thoughtfully.
"You've been in the Capital for so long, and it can get quite oppressive here. If you're not busy, let's take the chance to get some fresh air together."
Huang'er nodded in response, her heart joyful.
Ji San arrived at Taiyuan Tower early next morning to seek Jiang Chen out. "Brother, I've found a few good places. Here’s a map of them, feel free to choose any of these."
Taking the map in his hand, Jiang Chen saw that the places available to choose from had all been carefully selected and was immensely satisfied. "Let's go here then.”
Ji San grinned, "Shall I guard you while you cultivate?"
The clan leader had instructed him to keep Jiang Chen safe, but from a personal perspective, Ji San also didn't want Jiang Chen to come to harm either. Jiang Chen shook his head. "There's no need. It would be good if you could keep watch for us here in the Capital. I don't want to be followed, and this isn't a matter suitable for crowds."
As a private matter, cultivation was made worse by over-participation. Ji San knew that as well as anyone else. "No need to worry. There's no one able to tail us here in the Capital. Well, not on my watch anyways."
Ji San made a few arrangements, then took Jiang Chen and Huang'er around Veluriyam Capital in a way that made sure to throw off any tails. Before long, the duo were sent out of the capital in secret. "Brother, I've made sure that no one is following you, but security is a lot worse outside the city. Adventurers and outlaws abound in these regions. You should be careful, and worst comes to worst, remember the Silver Dragon Medallion you have."
Ordinary wandering cultivators did not dare offend someone with the Medallion. Jiang Chen merely smiled. "I've already cut through entire armies to get here. We're only going for a walk outside the city today. There’s no need to be overly concerned." In terms of methods of self-preservation, Jiang Chen was likely far more well-equipped than even Ji San.
"Mm. This is my personal letter. Take it to the place you wish to go, and tell the person in charge there that you're taking over temporarily. They'll hand over control when they see it, and you can stay as long as you like. It's all Coiling Dragon Clan land, after all."
Stashing the letter away, Jiang Chen gave Ji San a cupped fist salute. "Brother Ji, see you around."
Ji San waved back, and watched as Jiang Chen and Huang'er disappeared into the distance. "It's not often that I make the acquaintance of a good friend. Suddenly separating like this… ah, I feel a little reluctant."
But after saying so, he shrugged it off with a smile. "Ole Mo, let's stick around for a while, and make absolutely sure no one is watching or following them. We can go back after."
"Precisely," Captain Mo nodded.
Following the map, Jiang Chen and Huang'er arrived at their destination in half a day. The steward here was surnamed Zhang and was a retainer in charge of the nearby lands. He had received a message much earlier, which was only reinforced by Jiang Chen's letter. "Honored Pill King, the surrounding three hundred miles have been marked as off limits to all and available only to you. Rest assured, the peace of your cultivation will not be disturbed. Anyone insensible enough to disobey will be considered an enemy of the Coiling Dragon Clan. We will kill them on sight!"
"Very good. Thanks so much, Captain Zhang. If I may, I shall express further gratitude after my business here is complete." Despite their differences in station, Jiang Chen didn’t put on any airs. Quite the opposite, he was the picture of civility.
The retainer was flattered. "Not at all, not at all. Pill King Zhen, you are someone important to the clan lord. I am only doing my duty as a subordinate."
"Captain Zhang, there's no need to be so distant. We are both on the Coiling Dragon Clan's side. We should be as close as family, and all is shared between friends," Jiang Chen smiled.
Captain Zhang's heart filled with emotion at Jiang Chen's words. Having been a retainer of these lands for many years, he was no stranger to aristocrats from the capital who came out to the countryside to hunt. However, those people were the very image of ostentation. When they were in a good mood, they called him 'Captain Zhang'. Otherwise, they ignored him. Even worse, they would often do as they wished. Though he was nominally the master of the land, his feelings were entirely disregarded. It was quite a depressing time for the captain in hunting season.
When he'd heard the news earlier about a pill king who was coming to cultivate, he’d expected a difficult man with a mercurial temper. Upon contact, however, he found his expectations rather overturned.
This Pill King Zhen was easier to talk to than anyone else he knew. He was perfectly polite, and his words soothed people's hearts. Captain Zhang didn't take it as license to ramble, though. Excusing himself continuously, he and his men retreated from the premises.
"Brother Chen, your down-to-earth personality is really likable. This Captain Zhang, for example… he probably suffers a lot under normal circumstances. When we first came here, he was respectful but a little adversarial. Now, it seems like he'd take his heart out for you." Huang'er cracked a smile.
Jiang Chen easily returned the gesture. "I was just putting myself in his shoes. If I were him, I would want to be respected as well."
Huang'er was deeply moved, her heart in secret applause. She was pleased with the degree of his magnanimity. After all, many young scions, especially from noble houses, found it easy to lord it over those that they felt superior to. They were long since accustomed to their positions of superiority. It was difficult for them to maintain an ordinary heart. Yet Jiang Chen had pulled it off. Moreover, it wasn't simply a charade.
Though Captain Zhang had already cleared the grounds once, Jiang Chen wasn’t entirely at ease. Activating his Cicada Wings, he circled the skies a few times to make sure the place was completely clear of outside interference before descending again. Taking out the Ancient Crimson formation flags, Jiang Chen planted one in each of the eight cardinal directions in order to prepare a formation.
He didn't want an outsider to intrude on Long Xiaoxuan's breakthrough. Once the formation was complete, the only thing visible from the outside would be a black mass. After finishing his arrangements, Jiang Chen went to the lakeshore to summon Long Xiaoxuan.
"Brother Long, please move the lake's water elsewhere. I will put the wood spirit spring here instead. I haven't found a place yet to keep it since recovering it from Gong Wuji. Let's house it here for a time, just for your breakthrough."
With a single shake of his body, Long Xiaoxuan opened his mouth to take in the lake’s water. It didn't take long for the lake to be sucked completely dry. Jiang Chen took out what appeared to be a wine flask, but was actually a treasure for holding liquids. Within it was the wood spirit spring that Gong Wuji had taken, its full volume held by the vessel. Removing the seal, Jiang Chen poured the spring out from the container. Green-blue waves rushed out of the flask, jumping over each other. Before long, the majority of the lake was filled again.
Seeing the wood spirit spring again was quite endearing for Long Xiaoxuan. With a flip of his body, he dove into its waters, immersing himself completely. Jiang Chen watched him for a moment before turning to Huang'er. "Let's back off a little to the outer part of the formation. We can keep watch from there. Best to avoid troublemakers from just barging in here."
Though the formation cut off the outside world and provided a capable defense, there was no guarantee that every expert would be denied entry. Jiang Chen had no desire to see Long Xiaoxuan's breakthrough interrupted. Exiting the formation, Jiang Chen and Huang'er found a peaceful place to rest their feet.
Since they'd bared their hearts to each other, the two had gotten a lot closer. Huang'er no longer avoided certain topics about herself, and was happy to tell Jiang Chen about many things about her past. She was especially eager to speak about the time she'd spent with Elder Shun after they’d escaped the Myriad Abyss Island. Like a bird who’d escaped its cage, she felt pleasure in freedom. That she had to adopt a wandering lifestyle was no issue at all to her. "Brother Chen, I'd like to apologize for something."
"What is it?"
"When Elder Shun paid attention to you all those years ago, Huang'er didn't take him too seriously. I thought you were just some duke's foppish son from an insignificant kingdom, and that maybe Elder Shun had made a mistake, but… mm, now I'm quite embarrassed." Huang'er's smile was full of innocence, without a trace of duplicity. She was graceful and sincere, even in her admission of guilt.
In that moment, the sweetness of her smile sent Jiang Chen into a daze. "That people as amazing as you and Elder Shun lived in the Eastern Kingdom… that was also a thought beyond my wildest imaginations back then." Jiang Chen shared a similar emotion in his reminiscence.
At the end of the day, he had the Heavenly Karma Pill to be thankful to. If it wasn't for that pill's recipe, he never would’ve made the acquaintance of the Hall of Healing. And if not for that, he never would’ve been noticed by Elder Shun and Huang'er.
Suddenly, Jiang Chen's consciousness was struck by a disturbance, and his expression froze. Standing up with a steely gaze, he shook both wings, propelling himself into the air. His God’s Eye was entirely opened in an effort to sweep the surroundings.
"Brother Chen, is there an intruder?" Huang'er was a little surprised by Jiang Chen's unusual reaction, and shot up into the sky as well, staying close behind him.
Jiang Chen paused for a moment, his eyes in close scrutiny of the landscape, before he locked on to the south. "Over there. Let's go."
Dozens of miles out, Captain Zhang and his men had set up a line of defense on a mountain trail. On the other side was a group of ruffians, their demeanors vicious and sullen. From their stance, it was clear they were planning on barging into the area.
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