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The Goldbiter Rat King paled greatly and howled in anguish. As he spoke, Jiang Chen trapped it with the Featherflight Mirror and urged the Mint Ginseng into action once more. Countless green tentacles instantly wrapped around the rat king and held it tight. Despite its desperate howls and struggles, the Goldbiter Rat King was unable to break free from the green tentacles. The more it struggled, the tighter its bonds became.

Jiang Chen pulled out the two sky rank spirit herbs from the rat's mouth and put them away. Then, he slapped a seal onto the rat's body. The Goldbiter Rat King writhed as if he was electrocuted by electricity. Finally, it was unable to struggle any longer and lay limply beside Jiang Chen's feet. 

After Jiang Chen was finished with everything, he looked thoughtfully towards the direction of the formation. With his God's Eyes, the person hiding at the edge of the formation naturally didn't escape his attention. Everything done up to this point was a show to lure this person out of the formation. 

Unfortunately, he didn't expect his prey to be so steadfast. Despite being tempted with the sky rank spirit herbs and Mint Ginseng, the cultivator had suppressed his greed and moved not a millimeter from the edge of the formation. Jiang Chen had a bag of tricks, but they were completely useless as long as the cultivator refused to step out of the formation.

In fact, his entire show with the Goldbiter Rat King was built on the assumption that their enemy would be greedy. If the cultivator was able to control their greed, then his plan to lure the snake out of its hole was a complete failure. Jiang Chen felt a little depressed when he saw that the person inside the formation hadn't made a move at all. Still, he remained calm and looked into the formation for a bit. In the end, he decided not to attack the formation by force.

Elder Gao was a member of the Scarlet Parting Sect. Countless thoughts passed through his mind as he watched Jiang Chen conducting his show, but he'd forcibly pushed them down in the end. Obviously, the elder thought the chase scene to be incredibly bizarre.

The two men standing inside and outside the formation didn't say anything, but they were well aware of the situation.

Jiang Chen felt anxious because his ploy had ended in failure, but he didn't let it show on the surface. After retreating fifty or so kilometers away from the formation, he let out the Goldbiter Rat King once more and smiled dejectedly. "Was our show really that bad, Ole Gold?"

The rat king hurriedly answered, "We did all we could. I feel like he was tempted by what we showed, but the fact that he restrained himself means that there must be something that he thought was even more important than the sky rank spirit herbs."

Jiang Chen felt that the Goldbiter Rat King's reasoning was sound. Even he had noticed that the cultivator inside the formation was tempted by their bait. This meant that something incredibly important was keeping him in check.

While Jiang Chen was at his wits' end, the other Goldbiter Rats suddenly sent over a message.

"Young master Chen, my children have noticed something amiss along the road."

"What is it?" Jiang Chen's eyes turned a little.

"A large number of experts are approaching this place through many different routes."

"Why?" Jiang Chen was largely surprised by this. The Veranda master had taken extreme precautions precisely because he wanted to avoid notice, hadn't he? So why was there suddenly a large number of experts approaching?

It couldn't be that the painstaking efforts in maintaining secrecy were so terrible that his enemies had found him out in a single night, could it? It would be pathetic if this was all the Veranda master amounted to.

Did someone inside the Resplendent Emerald Veranda turn traitor or something? Jiang Chen entertained the thought for a moment, but it just didn't seem all that likely. Anything relating to the Veranda master's breakthrough is such a tight-lipped secret that even the young madame in name, Wei Xing'er, knows nothing about it, so there's no reason to think that the common workers inside the Resplendent Emerald Veranda will know about this. Those who are trusted enough to let know, well, why on earth would they ever spill this secret?

Did the protectors betray the master then? But the man clearly trusts his protectors, so there's no reason to think that they'll betray him either. He isn't nearly foolish enough to not consider this possibility. Jiang Chen mulled over the questions, but he wasn't able to arrive at an answer.

This entire incident was incredibly bizarre. It was unfathomable in some ways no matter how many times he played it out in his head. The young man didn't hesitate though. He immediately asked the Goldbiter Rat King to contact his descendants and analyze the attackers' paths. It was impossible to break through the formation by force, so he could only hope that these attackers could create him an opportunity for him.

He decided to first capture one of the attackers and question them for answers. He quickly located a suitable ambush spot with the intelligence provided by the Goldbiter Rats. Not long after, a lone expert rapidly approached towards his location.Jiang Chen had arranged his formation and was lying in wait. The expert immediately noticed that something was amiss when he stepped into the formation, but it didn't matter. The chances that a second level emperor realm cultivator could escape Jiang Chen's formation was almost zero, not to mention that the young man was already half-step emperor realm. He could fight a mid emperor realm expert head on and have more than a fifty percent chance of beating his opponent. As for an initial emperor realm in this case, Jiang Chen could easily kill his enemy even if he hadn't arranged a formation. It was the benefit of having countless trump cards.

Right now however, he needed to capture his opponent alive. That was why he had arranged a formation and moved in tandem with the Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice to do just that.

The second level emperor realm target in question hdn't never thought that he'd be captured alive here in Great Scarlet Mid Region. He was both frightened and worried. Jiang Chen commanded the Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice to bring the target underground.

When the second level emperor realm cultivator opened his eyes and saw an unfamiliar face, he asked in a complicated tone, "Who are you, friend? Is there some sort of misunderstanding between us? Why have you captured me?"

Jiang Chen smiled. "I don't have time to bullshit with you. I have in my hand a bottle of poison that can kill you the instant it touches your blood. You can choose to either answer my question or take it."

A bit of panic leaked out of the cultivator's eyes. "What do you wish to know?"

"Are you really just passing by?" Jiang Chen snorted coldly. 

The cultivator tried to stall, but Jiang Chen froze him with the God's Eyes and fished out something from the cultivator's waist. It was a token; a secret order from the royal family itself.

"Oh? My apologies, I didn't realize you're a member of Great Scarlet Mid Region's royal family." Jiang Chen's tone contained a bit of ridicule and mockery.

The second level emperor realm expert's face changed drastically. "You… who on earth are you?"

Jiang Chen's voice turned cold. "It seems that you haven't figured out the situation you're in. I guess I have no choice but to give you a taste."

He acted to pour the poison into the cultivator's mouth as he spoke. The man turned deathly pale as he spoke hastily. "Wait. Wait! Ask me anything you want to know. Please don't kill me!"

Survival instinct flared indiscriminately in both strong and weak beings. The second level emperor realm cultivator wasn't an exception to the rule.

"Are you really just passing by?" Jiang Chen repeated the question, but with a tone that was much stronger from the one he used earlier. He also held the poison right next to his victim's mouth.

"No… no." The man dared not lie at all. He knew that he might not get a second chance to speak if he squandered this chance to answer Jiang Chen's questions properly.

"The Veranda master is just achieving a breakthrough to seventh level emperor realm. Don't tell me he's so charismatic that even the royal family has decided to send him a protector?" Jiang Chen asked coldly.

The cultivator stared at him with a bit of surprise. "Friend… you don't sound like a protector of the Resplendent Emerald Veranda at all."

"And what if I'm not?" Jiang Chen asked coldly.

"Then that's perfect! That means we're probably on the same side. Man, I can't believe we mistook each other for enemies. I may be a servant of the royal family, but I am here with orders to investigate the Veranda master. If he's an enemy of yours, then we can become allies and help each other out!" When the man noticed Jiang Chen didn't sound like one of the Veranda master's protectors, his tone actually relaxed quite a lot.

Jiang Chen snorted coldly. "Become allies? How will that benefit me?"

"Friend, this is the perfect opportunity if you're here to take revenge against the Veranda master because the royal family of the Great Scarlet Empire suspects that the Veranda master has colluded with foreigners. They're currently searching for proof of his crimes."

"Hmph, if the royal family really is investigating the Veranda master, they wouldn't have allowed him to hire as many protectors as he has, would they?" Jiang Chen didn't believe his captive's words easily.

"Haah, I guess you really don't know anything, sir. I dare say that at least half of the Veranda master's protectors are planning to betray him."

"What do you mean?"

Suddenly, the man's eyes turned a little shifty. "Take Elder Gao of the Scarlet Parting Sect, for example. I believe that his hiring was approved by the senior executives of the Scarlet Parting Sect themselves. In fact, the senior executives are probably investigating this matter personally."

Jiang Chen snorted coldly. "Even if the Veranda master did betray the royal family, the Scarlet Parting Region is just a third rank sect of the Great Scarlet Mid Region. There is no reason for them to be this enthusiastic, is there?"

Judging from Elder Gao's previous reaction, Jiang Chen was absolutely certain that they weren't just here to investigate the Veranda master. There must be something more important here that he wasn't aware of. He cut off the man before he could say anything more with a sneer. 

"Your eyes are shifty, and your words are made up of half truths. I guess you don't value your life as much as I thought, do you? You have my final warning: what did the royal family send you here to investigate? Also, do you have an accomplice among the Veranda master's protectors? Remember, this is your last chance. If you still refuse to tell the truth, well then, don't say I didn't given you any chances."

Jiang Chen had completely lost his patience. He had no time to play around with this guy because Wei Xing'er's life was constantly counting down. 

Upon seeing the young man's eyes as unfriendly as they were piercing, the captive quivered and hesitated for a long time before finally asking, "Will you let me go if I tell you the truth?"

"You and I share no enmity between each other. Why not let you go if you're willing to tell me the truth?" Jiang Chen retorted coldly.

His captive shook his head. "You can always change your mind later."

"Alright, I swear on the heavens that I won't kill you if you tell me the truth." Jiang Chen acted decisively.

His captive pondered for a moment before finally nodding. "Alright, I'll tell you what you want to know. The Veranda master has been acting very strangely for the past few years, and it's only recently that a secret was leaked out from the Resplendent Emerald Veranda. Apparently, the Veranda master has found a treasure in secret realm, and he is the only one who knows its exact location. His so-called cultivation breakthrough is just a front. In reality, he's planning to extract the secret realm's treasures."

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