Myriad Abyss Island? Keeper Xia's reaction was identical to that of Assistant Temple Master Gao, Emperor Peerless, and the rest. Her eyes widened and her slender body shook. "You… you're talking about that place?" She gasped.
Jiang Chen nodded impassively. His makeshift secret was out in the open. If he was going to lie, he might as well go the full length.
'Myriad Abyss Island.' These three words almost had a magic to them. Anyone who heard them behaved exactly the same way, no matter how lofty their position, how distinct their strength. Once again, it was utter and unreserved shock. It took a long while for the female keeper to recover herself. "Myriad… Abyss… Island," she muttered. "That place of legend… does it actually exist?"
Jiang Chen laughed briskly. "Why does everyone think otherwise?"
"No, that's not it," Keeper Xia sighed softly. "It's just… Myriad Abyss Island is too mysterious. Since time immemorial, countless experts from the human domain have dedicated their lives to seeking that insubstantial, mythical place. But there's never been any news."
As a poet once wrote, 'Of immortal isles seafarers speak / Beyond mist and wave, their shores so hard to seek.' Many immortal lands were spoken of in legend and lore, yet a scant few could actually be found.
"Enough. Look, I've completed the formation." Jiang Chen waved a hand. He took out the diagram he'd finished, tossing it to the keeper.
Keeper Xia hadn't expected such generosity from the young man. She hadn't paid yet, but he was already letting her see the diagram. How remarkable he was showed through his actions. Her face changed color with only a single glance. Her expression grew solemn, eyes glittering with consternation. The formation diagram that the Celestial Cicada Court supplied had been completely rough. The completed version before her now was much clearer. As an expert herself, she saw his supreme expertise.
Keeper Xia had devoted countless hours studying formations. One look was enough to cement her opinion of Jiang Chen as a true master. After a long pause, she finally moved her eyes reluctantly away from the diagram. They pointed towards the youthful arena lord once more, their contents overflowing joy and respect.
There was a sliver of puzzlement as well, but she decided to hold her tongue from inquiring further. Handing over the agreed-upon bounty to him, the keeper accompanied it with another meaningful glance.
"Arena Lord Shao, I've never imagined this mission would be completed by a youngster. It is as the age-old adage. Ambitious young men can accomplish great things despite their youthfulness."
Her tone was filled with approval. In addition, she extended an invitation to the promising star. "Arena Lord Shao, I would like to formally request you to come visit our sect, on behalf of the entire Celestial Cicada Court. Personally, I sincerely hope that you have the time to drop by. Our Court is situated in the southeast of the Upper Eight Regions, a resource-rich land teeming with genius. In particular, a great number of beauties hail from our vicinity. If you're still single, perhaps you'll consider…?"
Jiang Chen tried and failed to stifle a laugh. He was going to the Celestial Cicada Court, alright, but not because of the pretty girls there. Definitely not, not at all. His lack of an answer only spurred Keeper Xia on.
"It's a promise, then! Our doors will always be open for you."
The young arena lord responded with a carefree chuckle and a wave. The three sovereign missions thus completed, Jiang Chen thought he'd have a moment's reprieve. To the contrary, however, he spotted Master Wang Xuetong approaching mere seconds after Keeper Xia's departure. The old formation expert wore an astounded expression. "Arena Lord Shao, was that… someone from the Celestial Cicada Court? The formation that they had a bounty on… has it been, ah, completed?"
Wang Xuetong was an old man whose life had been dedicated to the art of formations. He was absolutely enamored by them, and anything formation-related was able to draw his interest. He had seen the Celestial Cicada Court's formation-related bounty himself before. Alas, he'd been hopelessly lost as to how exactly to approach it. He did know one thing, though, despite his lack of a solution. The Court's formation was related to an ancient formation-based sect's heritage.
Keeper Xia's reluctant departure gave him an indistinct clue. The conclusion that it led to was utterly disquieting, and he wanted to see if he could ascertain its veracity. An initial supposition was that Arena Lord Shao had completed the bounty. There was no explanation for Keeper Xia's cheerful walk out otherwise.
Jiang Chen saw no point in deception. "I happened to see the formation once back at Myriad Abyss Island," he chuckled. "So… I got off easy with this one."
Master Wang Xuetong's jaw slackened. His mouth was wide enough to stuff several buns into. How could it have been such a coincidence? 9He felt nothing short of disbelief, yet-what other explanation was there? Was the young man instead a formation master that surpassed even him, instead? Gulping down his accumulated saliva, the formation master sighed softly. "Arena Lord Shao, I find it hard to see through you. Are all of the young geniuses from Myriad Abyss Island as heaven-defying as you?"
Not knowing how to answer the question, Jiang Chen stayed quiet instead.
Wang Xuetong had some professionalism left in him, and chose not to inquire further about the bounty's specifics. He knew that it was strictly forbidden to ask about others' missions. Forcibly suppressing his rampant curiosity, he left Jiang Chen's arena with a bellyful of suspicions. Because Arena Lord Shao was the first to complete all of his sovereign missions, the two arenas under his jurisdiction were subject to even better business prospects.
Furthermore, this increased the arena lord's personal fame. All around the Bounty Arena's premises, news spread of the rise of an Arena Lord Shao who was young but extremely proficient. His ability did not pale in comparison to any of his three seniors. The other arena lords were far below their collective level.
By now, insubstantial rumors had spread to Pill King Blue Phoenix about the completion of the Great Yu Skysword Sect's eight-hundred-year bounty. His heart itched to unearth the specifics. Without the heavy workload on his hands, he had half a heart to go ask about it immediately. The final three days were as spectacular as advertised.
Sovereign missions aside, ninth rank missions appeared with alarming regularity as well. This was yet another form of elevation for the current iteration of the Bounty Arena. As with many things in the world, the Bounty Arena was benefiting from a positive feedback loop.
Jiang Chen's outrageous performance had made the rounds by now. Everyone knew that the eight-hundred-year sovereign mission had been completed today, which generated a sort of invisible push. Those who hadn't been particularly optimistic about the event had their interests piqued. They came out of their homes and into the Arena's audience. There were even outcries for the Temple of Cleansing Fire to add a few days, that those who missed the Bounty Arena earlier could have a chance at participating.
Unfortunately for that, rules were rules. Even if the Temple agreed, the arena lords who worked here were unlikely to do the same. It was easy money, but also very demanding. Fatigue had started piling up on them. No one here was an unthinking automaton.
It wasn't until the latter part of the Bounty Arena's final day that the Great Yu Skysword Sect's Elder Lu arrived, rather belatedly.
"My apologies, Arena Lord Shao. I am a little late." The elder's forehead was beaded with sweat. It seemed as if he'd rusheed here in great hurry. His expression told all. He was both anxious and excited.
"The Bounty Arena is about to close, Elder Lu. Your eleventh-hour arrival is a little more than just simple tardiness." Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
Elder Lu was deferential. He could not criticize what Jiang Chen had said, but he hadn't planned to keep the Temple of Cleansing Fire as the middle-man in the first place.
He spoke in a low voice. "Arena Lord Shao, I came here today to tell you something more. We want to add a billion to your reward as long as you're willing to refine a single Reformation Pill for us. It's a private invitation, and the Temple is not involved. You won't need to give them a cut of the money."
Any bounty posted at the Bounty Arena entitled the Temple of Cleansing Fire to a portion of the earnings. It wasn't a large percentage, but an enormous principal still made for a sizable deduction.
"Deal." Jiang Chen did not hesitate. Refining the Reformation Pill wasn't hard for him at all. "But you have to provide the materials, and I'll do it when I see fit."
Elder Lu was glowing with happiness. "Of course, of course. As soon as possible would be amazing, but at your convenience."
"I, too, hope to get it done as soon as possible," Jiang Chen said coolly. "It's just, there's an auction after the Bounty Arena that I'm planning on attending. The pill will have to wait until after that."
Elder Lu knew about the auction. "Alright. The auction will only take a day or too. We can wait that long, no problem."
The agreement with the elder made, Jiang Chen no longer planned to accept any more missions. Any missions that were submitted would be left up to his assistants. Though there were tons of people swarming in still in the last few hours, most arena lords followed Jiang Chen's lead. Thus, the assistants had to shoulder the bulk of the work on the last day.
With the passing of its final moments, the present Bounty Arena finally came to a resounding close. All of the assistants were very pleased. Business had been excellent this time. The last couple of days especially had enriched each and every one of them substantially. Half of their bounties had been given to their arena lords, but they still brought in a tidy sum.
After paying the portion that was rightfully the Temple's, Lin Yanyu's personal net income exceeded two hundred million. For him, it was a king's trove. Lin Zhirong had made only a little less than Lin Yanyu did. Both the Lins' incomes ranked within the top five among all the assistants of the Bounty Arena.
Jiang Chen's income was even more ludicrous than that. His profit amounted to two or three billion. This serendipitous influx of wealth multiplied his fortune. He now had access to a greater sum than the majority of emperor realm cultivators. However, the best takeaway had been the boost to his reputation. It emboldened him for the auction ahead.