Chapter 827: Preemptive Strike
Emperor Peafowl smiled meaningfully, "And what is your best stratagem?"
The audience perked up their ears, their eyes fixated upon Jiang Chen. They waited for him to reveal his last plan.
"The best stratagem is to completely defeat them on a technical level. That way, they would have nothing to say over their loss. The biggest advantage of this is that it will shake up Pillfire City's hegemony over the pill world. Though circumstances won't immediately change, we can damage their foundation. From what I can see, Veluriyam Capital doesn't want to be crushed by Pillfire City to the point of asphyxiation when it comes to pills either, does it?" It had to be said that Jiang Chen's words were extremely motivational and persuasive. If it wasn't because Veluriyam Capital lacked the prowess to compete with Pillfire City, who at the capital was willing to see such a thing happen?
Indeed, Pillfire City's monopoly was against the interests of the entire human domain. After all, the current situation was oriented in a very anti-consumer fashion. That Pillfire City was able to to control over seventy percent of pill-related profits was precisely because of their position of utter exploitation. Their pills were always measurably superior to other pills of the same level. Moreover, the city quashed any potential competitors to the degree that no one was able to put up a fight. Even a place as gargantuan as Veluriyam Capital could only protect the city itself and a few surrounding areas from Pillfire's market invasion. Pillfire City’s products dominated everywhere else.
For Veluriyam Capital, its pill business provided a crucial source of income and was one of the capital's lifelines. However, this lifeline could never grow nearly to the degree that they wanted it to thanks to the existence of Pillfire City. Pillfire City had both the coercive might and the historical wealth to back its hardline stance.
Its ancient pill recipes, its systems for training pill kings, its various tomes on pill dao… Pillfire City's resources were three or four times those of Veluriyam Capital. This kind of gap wasn't something that time could reduce. In fact, the passage of time possibly only served to widen the distance between the two cities. Thus, for a long time now, the attitude of Veluriyam Capital towards Pillfire City was very mixed. There was recognition, of course, but antagonism and jealousy accompanied it as well. Of course, the Capital also did many things in an attempt to bridge this gap. Such action extended to even Emperor Peafowl himself. However, the result of their efforts only led to the maintenance of the gap, a sort of preventative measure. But truth be told, even that was a victory, considering the scope of the difference between them.
When Jiang Chen had submitted the Longevity Pill's recipe, the Sacred Peafowl Mountain felt the arrival of an opportunity, an entry point. If the production and distribution of the Longevity Pill proceeded smoothly throughout the human domain, it would be a significant turning point for their pill market. Veluriyam Capital's influence in the pill world would soar, and its market share with it.
However, while their plans were still in the cradle of infancy, they discovered that Pillfire City's targeted persecution had come. Without a doubt, the city’s aim was to prevent Veluriyam Capital from executing designs. In this environment, Jiang Chen's best strategy was immediately attractive to all of his listeners. Past the initial rush of enthusiasm, however, a wave of wry smiles emerged around the room. Overcoming Pillfire City on a technical level was easier said than done.
If they were really this easy to defeat, how could they command so much of the market share in a market as hostile and competitive as the pill industry? Pillfire City's claim to fame was their overwhelming superiority in terms of technique. That was why they held over 70 percent of the profits. Pills made from forgotten recipes, pills that were rare and expensive and impossible to duplicate, countless pill dao techniques, and a rich pill tradition - the Pillfire City had all of these things. No other faction could remotely compare.
Although Pillfire City appeared to be only a city, just how many first ranked sects in the Upper Eight Regions were under its control was anybody's guess. It was a hot topic of discussion in private circles. There were only eight first rank sects in the human domain and less than five factions surpassing first rank sects in strength. Both Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City were examples of these mega-factions. However, though Veluriyam Capital had influence over many sects, one would not go so far as to say that it controlled them.
The Pillfire City was different in this regard. Their methodologies were more materialistic. They relied on their influence over pills to infiltrate the ranks of the various sects and thereby accomplish their goals. It could be said that in the human domain, Veluriyam Capital was an entity which no one wished to provoke, while Pillfire City was an entity which no one dared to provoke. In terms of threat and authority, Pillfire City slightly exceeded Veluriyam Capital.
The Chronobalance Monarch didn't like Jiang Chen's perceived boasting and spoke with a slightly dissatisfied tone, "Pill King Zhen, I don't know how strong your teacher is, but Pillfire City has dominated the pill industry's profits for many years. Their position has always been stable. You can't defeat them just by saying so."
The Coiling Dragon clan lord smiled wryly as well, "That's right, Pill King Zhen. Your suggestion sounds great, but unless you can convince your teacher to help us, I don't see how it can be done."
The clan lord was entirely focused on Jiang Chen's teacher. His opinion of the latter definitely approached that of outright worship. His thoughts were entirely on requests for Jiang Chen's teacher to leave seclusion so that he could refine a Pinecrane Pill.
The Wildfox Monarch chuckled, full of wisdom, "Only a sage above the mundane could be Pill King Zhen's teacher. I don't fancy our chances, even if we do extend an invitation."
From the circumstantial evidence shown in Jiang Chen's methods and talent, no one doubted the existence of his "teacher" any longer.
"A famous master breeds excellent disciples. Perhaps Pill King Zhen's teacher is a hermit who cares not for the world, but there must be some merit to his suggestion as well. Why don't we hear more about how Pill King Zhen intends to defeat Pillfire City on a technical level?" Emperor Peafowl suddenly declared.
With the direction of the conversation set, the others had no room to protest.
"I can't promise the same for all matters, but what's so difficult about defeating them on the matter of the Longevity Pill?" This was no mere display of arrogance. The Longevity Pill was originally Jiang Chen's recipe. It didn't matter how superb the pill kings from Pillfire City were - they had no chance of surpassing him with the recipe having originated from him. Moreover, this was only an ordinary mortal plane. Regardless of how strong his opponent was, they could not rival the pill dao saints of the heavenly planes in his previous life. Therefore, Jiang Chen's words were backed by sufficient confidence.
Emperor Peafowl raised an eyebrow, secretly pleased by Jiang Chen's earnestness. The youth hadn't refused to work or withdrawn, but rather faced the problem head-on. His temperament, at least, was something that the emperor was happy to see. "The Longevity Pill is an original creation of your teacher, Pill King Zhen. As your master's disciple, you are of course its lawful owner. Even if Pillfire City has the Longevity Pill's recipe, it is the unrighteous result of the Eternal Celestial Capital's robbery. Morally, they cannot compare to the Longevity Pill recipe that we rightfully obtained. If we can surpass them in technique, Veluriyam Capital will assume natural ownership of the pill."
The emperor spoke only words of encouragement, and looked with the same at the young man, "Pill King Zhen, how certain are you of the outcome?"
Jiang Chen thought for a moment. "Seventy to eighty percent." He refrained from making a full guarantee to avoid being perceived as a madman. Nominally, he was still a low-rank pill king.
"In all worldly things, one may strive for something with even a thirty percent chance of success. Seventy or eighty means that victory is nearly assured. Since Pillfire City bears only malice, why should we cower at the prospect of a fight? Gentlemen, what say you?" Emperor Peafowl's tone bore an unquestionable air of solemnity. Though it was worded as a question, it was actually an announcement.
"We defer to your decision, Your Majesty."
"Pillfire City has pushed us too far. It is time for us to teach them a lesson! If we can crush them with the Longevity Pill, it will be a huge boost to Veluriyam Capital's influence in the pill world."
"Yes, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We can't miss it."
"Everyone is thinking only of chastising Pillfire City. What if we lose? How shall we conduct ourselves then?" It was Plumscore Monarch, the female monarch who had been silent thus far. Her tone was collected and cool. "If we fail, we will be branded as thieves of the Longevity Pill as a result. We will receive universal condemnation… not something desirable for Sacred Peafowl Mountain or Veluriyam Capital, I'm sure." Her figurative bucket of cold water was splashed at a timely point in the proceedings.
"It matters not whether we win or lose," Emperor Peafowl smiled. "What's important is the conflict between good and evil. The Longevity Pill belongs to Pill King Zhen, thus we represent justice. Even if we lose here, there is nothing to be ashamed of."
"That's right, winning or losing doesn't matter. We got the Longevity Pill through completely fair and equitable means. Even if we don't win, we can have the peace of mind to refine the Longevity Pill." At the end of the day, nobody was willing to simply abandon the Longevity Pill. Everyone knew that the pill meant a huge business opportunity, one that would propel Veluriyam Capital forward in the pill world.
Emperor Peafowl gave the final, decisive word. "It's decided then. We will send out notices immediately. From today onwards, the Longevity Pill is the exclusive secret of the Sacred Peafowl Mountain. No other factions are eligible to privately refine it, and those that do will be labeled as thieves. If anyone disagrees, they can come to an open competition within these next three months. If they win, they may refine at their leisure, but it remains theft otherwise."
Emperor Peafowl was full of boldness. Even though he faced an entity as big as Pillfire City, he wasn't ambiguous about his decisions. Moreover, the announcement was aggressive and on the offense. Rather than remaining passive, he had taken the initiative and made a preemptive strike.
Jiang Chen found the mindset very admirable. If Pillfire City was able to strike first and take the initiative, the Sacred Peafowl Mountain would only be able to reactively respond, thereby falling into their opponent's cadence. However, the voluntary announcement ignored any possible ploys from Pillfire City. They were essentially nullified. The Sacred Peafowl Mountain's announcement had priority.
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