The area to the back of the Shi family compound was a forbidden place for many people to enter. Only the lord of the Shi family and the elders could convene and gather there. One by one, they looked off to a hole in the mountain with a reverent gaze.
Following the sounds of stone being moved aside, the heavy stone gates to the mountain slowly started to rise up, revealing a pitch dark hole. From within, a middle-aged man dressed in white slowly made his figure known to everyone.
Upon seeing this middle-aged man, everyone--the lord of the Shi family included--genuflected to him and spoke out in respect, “Congratulations to the patriarch for breaking through and congratulations on becoming stronger!”
“Hahahaha, I’ve been behind closed doors for twenty years now. But I have finally reached one step further in the comprehension of the mysteries of the world. I’ve reached the Fifth Heavenly Layer. I’ve made yet another step to becoming a Saint King.” The man laughed cheerfully.
“The patriarch is talented beyond all else. Becoming a Saint King is only just around the corner then. Our Shi family is only great because of the patriarch!” One elder smiled as he flattered the patriarch.
In return, the patriarch smiled, “Wait for when I reach the Ninth Heavenly Layer of the Saint Ruler realm and attempt to fuse with the Seal of Treasure Mountain. If I manage to do so, then my chances of becoming a Saint King will become exponentially higher.” But then his expression went askew as he looked towards the group with suspicion. “Where is the Seal of Treasure Mountain? Why can I not sense its existence?”
His words had caused the high ranking elders of the family to grow nervous. Delaying to say anything for some time, the head of the Shi family spoke, “Patriarch, Because of our inabilities, the Seal of Treasure Mountain was lost to us.”
“What! The Seal of Treasure Mountain was stolen?” The patriarch’s face blanched. The joy that he had been feeling from making the breakthrough had instantly slipped off of his face.
Afterwards, the lord of the Shi family began to recount the entire tale of what happened to the patriarch without leaving a single word out. After all was told to him, the anger on the patriarch’s face slowly drained away.
“It would appear my initial command for you to steal the Solunar Bow from the Huang family was a mistake. I had not thought that the barrier I placed on my great-grandson would fail him and lead to his death. The Seal of Treasure Mountain was taken as a result as well.” The patriarch hummed softly.
“Patriarch, the third elder left an Imprint of Death on Jian Chen’s body before he died. No matter where he may run, Jian Chen cannot escape from us. We will reclaim the Ruler Armament with most haste.” The lord spoke nervously.
Slowly closing his eyes, the patriarch thought for a moment. His mouth opened soon afterwards, “I’ve already sensed his location. But what is strange is that I cannot sense the existence of the Seal of Treasure Mountain. It is almost as if my connection with it has been broken. Has this Jian Chen perhaps found a way to hide it from even my own perception? Not only can I not sense it, I cannot even recall the Seal of Treasure Mountain even if I exhausted a tremendous price for it.”
The patriarch hummed. “There has been no conflict between us and the Jiede clan. They themselves are quite strong as well. Since we’ve already made enemies with the Huang family, it wouldn’t do to make even more enemies. Go and notify the Jiede clan of this.”
“Yes, patriarch!” The lord bowed reverently.
“You may all leave. I will go find Jian Chen. The Seal of Treasure Mountain must be returned as soon as possible to avoid any other unforeseen circumstances.” With that said, the patriarch’s figure instantly dissolved into a bolt of lightning that shot straight into the sky with speed just as fast as lightning.
Since he couldn’t sense the Seal of Treasure Mountain, it had filled the patriarch with some dread. He had feared that it would mean the eternal loss of the Ruler Armament. Without it, then when the time came for him to try and breakthrough to become a Saint King, the chances of a successful breakthrough would become all the harder.
After the patriarch had left, the lord of the Shi family had sent men over to the Jiede clan to spread the news and tell them of the whereabouts of the Duanyun sword.
The Jiede clan had actually received information at the very same time of the Shi family of what happened in Mercenary City. They had learned that the one who stole the Duanyun sword, Jian Chen, was still alive. Furthermore, they learned that it was he that killed five elders from the Shi family. When they heard the news, they had immediately sent out a group of people to run for Mercenary City as fast as possible. Even their Saint Ruler had set out when he heard the news to ensure that the operation would succeed without failure. In the eyes of the Jiede clan, Jian Chen killing five Heaven Saint Master was far too important to disregard.
In the blink of an eye, two days had past since Jian Chen killed the five Heaven Saint Masters. In those two days, Jian Chen spent all of his time within his room with the sword spirits trying to purify the Imprint of Death on his body. It had not been that easy, and even after two days, the sword spirits had only managed to get rid of a small speck of it. With this pace, it would take the entirety of the three months as they had initially projected to fully eliminate the Imprint of Death.
Two days after that, Jian Chen was only just opening his eyes when a wriggling sensation could be felt. Looking down, he could see the recently awakened tiger cub sprawled over Jian Chen’s legs in boredom.
As if sensing Jian Chen awakening, the tiger cub looked up to him with a pitiful glance. Opening its kitten-like maw open, the cub began to purr with a barely audible sound as it scratched one of its paws at the Space Ring Jian Chen wore on his finger.
Petting the head of the cub with a soft caress of his fingers, Jian Chen spoke, “You are beginning to want even more and more heavenly resources. You’ve eaten quite a lot of the thousand year old resources already, and you’re still a Class 4 Magical Beast. It seems that it’ll require plenty more heavenly resources before you can become a Class 5. That’s more than I have.” Despite that, Jian Chen was not too stingy with his heavenly resources and handed the tiger cub another five or six heavenly resources to eat.
The cub had let out an excited purr before immediately wolfing down the items given to it. In a short few seconds, it had already eaten them all.
With all six heavenly resources eaten, the cub laxed itself onto the bed in content and closed its eyes in order to fall back asleep.
Seeing the cub act this way, Jian Chen shook his head helplessly. But, he had allowed the cub to sleep while he walked out from the room.
Since he was in Mercenary City, Jian Chen wasn’t worried about anyone harming the tiger cub. The cub hadn’t attracted any outside attention so far, and the only ones that knew of it were Ming Dong and the others.
Arriving at the dining halls below, Jian Chen sat down by the table and spoke, “Waiter, a platter of roast meat and your finest wine.”
The waiter had given only one look at Jian Chen before his eyes lit up with recognition, “Oh my! You’re lord Jian Chen, the King of Mercenaries! Please wait one moment, lord Jian Chen, this server of yours will go notify the chefs to prepare your food with all haste!” With that said, the waiter flew off towards the kitchens as if the floor beneath his feet was slick with oil.
There had been a numerous amount of people in the area, so when the waiter had cried out, plenty of people turned to look over at the source. When their eyes landed upon Jian Chen, they too had let out a gasp in both shock and admiration.
At that moment, a middle-aged man and elderly figure came walking over from their own tables. Without even giving a greeting, the two of them sat down with hard looks at him.
This middle-aged man looked to be around forty years old and wore simple clothing--a cheap azure robe--and his hair was tossed freely behind him without anything to dress it. It had given him a sense of being a messy person, and there was not a sense of aura coming from him. From what it looked like, he looked to be just the average commoner.
As for the other elder, he wore white robes and had hair that was tied together. His seventy-year old face was peaceful looking and seemed to carry around a sagely presence to him. Yet, he too did not have any aura to him, but his face had spoke volumes of the man, marking him to be an extremely capable person.
Jian Chen had looked at the two without a single sound. But in his mind, he had grown serious. He had no way of ascertaining their strengths, even his presence had came up with nothing definitive. His presence was something that could even detect a Heaven Saint Master if they tried to conceal themselves from him. The only thing he knew that could overcome his presence was an expert at the Saint Ruler realm.
“Are you Jian Chen?” The middle-aged man spoke calmly. Not a hint of emotion could be heard from him.
“Correct. I am he. Who might you two be?” Jian Chen replied just as calmly. Although two Saint Rulers were seated in front of him, they were no different than to any other person in Mercenary City.
“We’ve waited for you for one whole day. At last you’ve finally come out. This must be the very first time a mere Heaven Saint Master has received such a treatment in history.” The middle-aged man spoke. This time, his voice had carried a cold edge to it. “Jian Chen, I am from the Shi family, and he is from the Jiede clan. We are both Saint Rulers and came today to have you return our items back to us. You must know that much.” The Saint Ruler from the Shi family spoke. He must have realized that Jian Chen knew the two of them were Saint Rulers and had thus mentioned it so readily.
But to his disappointment, Jian Chen had not reacted at all to this and remained as calm as was before as if this piece of information had no effect on him at all.
“So you are the predecessors of the Shi family and the Jiede clan, greetings!” Jian Chen smiled with his hands cupped together. Even up against two Saint Rulers with less than agreeable feelings for him, he had remained calm.
“Jian Chen. You know why we are here. So, are you willing to return what is rightfully ours? From here, we will write off our debts if you do and won’t seek trouble with you in the future.” The Saint Ruler from the Jiede clan spoke calmly.
Giving an apologetic smile, Jian Chen's poke, “My apologies. But the items you wish are no longer within my possession.”
The two Saint Rulers grew rigid straight away as the Saint Ruler from the Shi family spoke, “Then where are they now?”