Chapter 819: The Sacred Peafowl Mountain
Though it was his second time coming to the Sacred Peafowl Mountain, Jiang Chen felt entirely different from his first visit. His previous appointment had been marked with worry. His presentation of the Longevity Pill as a stratagem to strike at the Majestic Clan was a slight gamble. Who knew if the people at Sacred Peafowl Mountain would play along? But this time, Jiang Chen was here on the personal invitation of Emperor Peafowl, and his heart was undisturbed. Naturally, he had come accompanied by the Coiling Dragon Clan lord and company. Besides young master Ji San, there were two other geniuses from the Coiling Dragon Clan as well.
The Coiling Dragon Clan trio's cultivation levels were similar. One was at the peak of ninth level sage realm, and another was simply ninth level. On paper, there was no substantial difference between the two of them and Ji San. Unless Ji San suddenly broke through into emperor realm one day, he had no overwhelming advantage in the competition to be the clan lord. The Coiling Dragon clan lord himself had little bias overall for all three of the possible candidates, whether for or against. However, Jiang Chen was keenly aware that young master Ji San had distinguished himself in recent events via his unparalleled contributions. He was likely first place in the clan lord's heart already.
"Ah, this must be the Pill King Zhen I've heard so much about recently?" The one speaking was a smartly dressed youth. The fairness of his appearance easily rivaled Ji San's, though he tended a little more on the feminine side.
Ji San extended a hand in introduction. "Brother, this is one of the best and brightest among the younger generation of the Coiling Dragon Clan. You can call him young master Liuxiang."
"How do you do," Jiang Chen smiled and nodded.
Young master Liuxiang looked Jiang Chen over closely, but his expression was warm. "I've long heard your name, yet we haven't been acquainted until now. Ole Third, you're truly a master smuggler. You've hid a good brother like this away for so long without introducing us. Don't you know I love to make new friends?"
"Well, you're acquainted now, aren't you?" Ji San laughed, and the other two followed suit. However, the third genius refrained from doing so. Garbed in black, he looked at the mirthful trio coolly, his expression stern. His features were well-defined, almost as if they had been sharpened against an axe and saber. His entire person gave off a sense of incisiveness. He was obviously not an easy person to approach.
Ji San had no intention of ignoring him, however. "This is a newcomer to our ranks, a rising star in the Coiling Dragon Clan. His name is Ji Zhongtang, and he is four or five years younger than me, and yet he has already arrived at ninth level sage realm. His future potential is limitless.”
Jiang Chen inclined his head, grinning a little. "The Coiling Dragon Clan's strength is truly profound. Geniuses like him are hard to find."
Ji Zhongtang returned the nod with indifference, as a kind of half-reply. Once the youths' conversations were concluded, the Coiling Dragon clan lord waved a hand. "Come, we should not be late to the Peafowl Gathering. It is not good to arrive after the others."
Led by the clan lord, it only took a short while for the group of youths to arrive at Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Two of the monarchs subordinate to Emperor Peafowl awaited them at the foot of the mountain. The one elegant in demeanor was named the Cloudsoar Monarch; the other was more fierce, called the Chronobalance Monarch. Alongside their compatriots the Wildfox and Plumscore Monarchs, they were the Four Monarchs of Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Together, they were the strongest among those who directly answered to Emperor Peafowl. Of course, it was difficult to gauge their strength against the Coiling Dragon clan lord's.
In the four monarchs' opinion, the Coiling Dragon clan lord was older than all of them, and possessed unfathomable strength. Hypothetically, he would not be an easy opponent. Moreover, the clan lord had always kept a low profile. Thus, it was impossible for the four emperors to have ever sparred with him. Exactly which party was stronger was still a mystery.
"Clan Lord, your complexion is quite rosy as of late. That is cause for congratulations." The Cloudsoar Monarch consoled, clearly on good terms with the Coiling Dragon clan lord.
"I had a stroke of good fortune a while ago, and it's helping me temporarily. Hopefully my good luck continues, and things change for the better." The Coiling Dragon clan lord was not about to betray Jiang Chen's trust.
Some matters were so grave that it was difficult to disclose them, even to close friends. The Cloudsoar Monarch looked over at the youths behind the clan lord. "Many of the Coiling Dragon Clan's disciples are geniuses, as expected of the foremost clan of Veluriyam Capital," he smiled.
The clan lord chuckled as well. "Brother Cloudsoar, there is no need for the flattery. We are amongst friends here. The only reason our clan has the position is because of the emperor's care. Without His Majesty, I'm not sure if we could even maintain a foothold here, much less contest first place."
There were laughs all around. The Cloudsoar Monarch seemed quite interested in Jiang Chen. "Clan Lord, this must be Pill King Zhen?" He asked, pointing to the youth behind the man.
Jiang Chen's submission of the Longevity Pill's recipe was a well-guarded secret, and had no place in open discussion. This was especially true with youngsters present.
"That's right. Pill King Zhen's genius is something to be marveled at. Even His Majesty has made remarks to that effect. That's why he was hand-picked to come to this conference," the Coiling Dragon clan lord laughed.
The Cloudsoar Monarch nodded in agreement. "To defeat the Majestic Clan several times in succession on his own strength alone… a genius like that is worthy of the emperor's invitation. Well then, please come in."
He made an ushering gesture. At the signal, the Coiling Dragon clan lord finally began to walk inside, the youths in tow. There were many guests already present. As the greatest emperor among the seven great emperors of the capital, Emperor Peafowl had a whole seven subordinate clans beneath him. No other emperor came close. This was despite the fact that Emperor Peafowl hadn't intentionally gathered factions to his side. The only one who came close was Emperor Shura, who commanded five clans. Together, Emperors Peafowl and Shura controlled almost half of the twenty-eight great clans of Veluriyam Capital.
Of the seven that sided with Peafowl, the Coiling Dragon Clan was the most prominent. At the sight of the Coiling Dragon clan lord, the other lords who'd already arrived rose to greet him. The internal ushers working directly for Peafowl were just as attentive to the clan lord's arrival, receiving him with great care. Meanwhile, young master Ji San took Jiang Chen away in a different direction, an odd expression on his face.
"Brother, let's take a look over there instead."
Jiang Chen had no preference one way or another. He had no interest in participating in a conversation with a group of old geezers. The deeper they went, the more austere the environment became.
"Ji Ole Third, what are you sneaking around like that for? What do you plan to do?" There was a sudden cry from nearby.
Ji San stopped in his tracks, displeased. "What does that have to do with you, Fatty Miao?"
To the side, several youths showed themselves from behind a flower rack. At their head was a young man, broad-shouldered, stocky of build. Ji San glanced at them lazily, his attitude clearly irreverent. The bear of a youth was named Miao Suo, an heir to the Spiritbranch Clan, another of the seven great clans beneath Emperor Peafowl. Though they weren't the foremost clan, they weren't quite last place, either. They were a respectable top six clan. But more importantly, Ji San and Miao Suo had always had bad relations. It wasn't that they had a natural grudge. Rather, they liked the same girl, a disciple who studied under Emperor Peafowl.
"Hmph, Ji Ole Third. I know you're going to solicit Miss Dan's attention again. I'm warning you, she's in a bad mood lately. I wouldn't disturb her if I were you."
Ji San sneered. "Fatty Miao, are you sure there's nothing wrong with your brain? Or are you seriously telling me how to conduct myself?” Not wanting to bother with Miao Suo any longer, he turned to Jiang Chen again. "Brother, let's go."
Miao Suo was greatly upset, but he was held back by several of the youths near him. "Brother Suo, don't be so angry. If Ji Ole Third wants to be rejected, then let him. Miss Dan is a disciple of the emperor, many of her peers admire her already. There's no way that she'd pick Ji Ole Third."
Unfortunately, the speech only gave Miao Suo further cause for concern. Ji San himself was already a tough rival. If Emperor Peafowl's other disciples joined in, what chance did Miao Suo have? In the moment, he felt a little desperate. For his part, Jiang Chen didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Ji San was taking him to see his prospective sweetheart! It sparked some curiosity in him, though. Ji San was a genteel and handsome youth. What kind of a woman was she, that he esteemed her so?
A bamboo grove was seen in the distance, and a flowing stream lay in front of it. A narrow bridge of the same material connected the shores. It was a charming scene.
Ji San waited at one end of the bridge. "Miss Dan, Ji San of the Coiling Dragon Clan seeks an audience."
A few moments passed. Footsteps could be heard within the grove. A young maid appeared, addressing Ji San. "Please go back, young master Ji San. My mistress is in a bad mood today."
Ji San wasn't about to be deterred after coming so far already. "Little sister Cui'er, can't you let her know that I'm here?" He said, obviously thick-skinned.
The girl named Cui'er scowled back. "Just go back like I told you."
Ji San chuckled. "But I've gone to the effort of making a trip here! This is rare for me. Isn't it a shame to simply leave? Little sister Cui'er…"
Cui'er raised a willowy brow. "Who's your sister?"
Ji San was still smiling, not taking any offense. "Okay, okay. Can I call you Miss Cui'er instead? I have a letter here that you simply must give to Miss Dan. Please, please do. Even if I can't see her, surely a letter is fine?"
Seeing someone as suave as Ji San adopt such a humble attitude shattered Jiang Chen's worldview. How beautiful did Miss Dan have to be for Ji San to act like this? Cui'er thought for a moment, giving Ji San another onceover. He seemed to pass some kind of litmus test, at least compared to the fatty earlier.
"Wait here," she stomped off.
Ji San was very pleased. Miss Cui'er must be deferring to her mistress. He threw Jiang Chen a look of victory.
Miss Cui'er reappeared very quickly, her pace brisk. She was pouting and had a pile of things in her arms. "These are all the things you've given mistress in the past. None of it has been touched. So, you can have it back," she said, candidly facing Ji San.
"What?" Ji San found himself in a disarray by her words.