As a rule, the Primordial Stone Golem Tribe didn't understand how to leave survivors. Their favorite pastime in combat was to crush their opponents with violent force. This was especially true when they had the upper hand. They relished demolishing each and every enemy in their path.
As such, they couldn't quite come to grips with Jiang Chen's order to capture some prisoners. Still, they had to try their best to comply.
Two great emperors ended up being the lucky ones. The hammer and mace hurtling towards their heads a moment earlier suddenly swerved, the weapons' butts sweeping into them instead. The amount of trauma delivered was immensely different from a no-holds-barred overhead smash.
The only possible consequence of the latter was a head smashed like a watermelon. A hard tap with the handle involved incapacitation and maiming at worst.
Thump, thump. The two elite cultivators fell to the ground, relieved of further fighting ability.
"Savior, here you go." Third Stone was evidently dissatisfied with having to spare two of his prey. He tossed the incapacitated cultivators before Jiang Chen in a heap before taking off with a roar in renewed pursuit.
Jiang Chen grabbed both incapacitated cultivators, dumping them into a corner.
"Alright, speak up. Are we doing this the easy way or the hard way?" He had no interest in wasting words. He didn't find torture particularly palatable, but he would resort to it if he had to.
"Pah, kill me already. How could warriors from Myriad Abyss Island beg for mercy from a lowly human domain cultivator like you?" A short-haired man who looked thoroughly moody had spoken. He didn't appear to be a well-tempered individual, and retained arrogance even as a prisoner.
Jiang Chen burst out into laughter. What a fool. Did he not realize his place as a prisoner? What was he trying to prove?
Jiang Chen didn't want to waste time talking. This kind of foolhardy person was sure to have an equally stubborn personality. It was a pipe dream to expect cooperation from someone like that.
Without further ceremony, he summoned both Long Xiaoxuan and the Astral White Tiger. "Here you go, some food."
The two spirit creatures were tremendously excited to get some fresh air. They set upon the hard-headed cultivator ravenously. And though vitality was escaping from the corpses strewn everywhere, it wasn't doing so briskly. Even carrion was superb nourishment for Long Xiaoxuan and the White Tiger.
The ferocity of Jiang Chen's pets caused the remaining prisoner to blanch in terror.
"Do you want to be like him? Or are you going to cooperate?" Jiang Chen's tone was frigid.
This prisoner was different from his dead comrade. The lack of color in his face was proof enough that this man didn't have nearly the same sort of resolve.
"If you do, I may let you live."
"Really?" This was instantly attractive to the prisoner, who asked after some hesitation.
"Do you think I like telling jokes to worthless strangers?" Jiang Chen smiled coolly.
The prisoner thought about it. "I can tell you everything I know, but… I'll need an oath."
"You won't get an oath, but I never break my promises. I'll let you live, but you must still suffer through some kind of punishment."
"Pun… punishment?" The prisoner stuttered.
"Okay, you know about my offer already. It's up to you whether you divulge your information, but my patience is limited." Jiang Chen looked serenely in the other directions. "There are more still alive right now. Maybe they'll be more interested."
Those afraid of death tended to be characterized by that fear.
The prisoner shuddered and nodded. "Alright, I'll talk! I hope you keep your promise and let me live, though. I guarantee that I will cast off my current identity and never return to Myriad Abyss Island ever again!"
Jiang Chen shrugged. He didn't much care about the prisoner's futures, to be honest.
"Yes, we do come from Myriad Abyss Island." The prisoner inclined his head with quite a bit of certainty.
"Is that it?" Jiang Chen's tone took a turn for the chillier. "Do you think that the fact you come from Myriad Abyss Island is at all useful to me?"
Terror flashed through the prisoner's eyes. "W-we…" he muttered, "we come from House Xiahou on Myriad Abyss Island."
"House Xiahou?" Jiang Chen's face darkened when he heard that name. Some less than pleasant memories resurfaced in his mind. He could not and would not forget them. Huang'er had told him very clearly that this was the house of her mortal enemy.
It was quite a bit stronger than the House Yan that Huang'er belonged to.
The prisoner nodded. "Yes, House Xiahou."
"So, the so-called supreme lord of the Order of Wind and Cloud is someone from House Xiahou?"
"Yes, he's the seventh master of the house. Among the younger generation, he's the third-best genius! Still, the most promising is definitely the third master."
"Third Master? What's his name?" Jiang Chen inquired emotionlessly. The mention of a 'most promising' genius reminded him of Huang'er and the bastard that wanted to use her as a cultivation vessel.
If his estimations were correct, said bastard was none other than the foremost genius among House Xiahou's younger generation… this third master, in other words.
"He… his name is Xiahou Zong. On Myriad Abyss Island, he is also often called Third Master Zong."
Third Master Zong?
Jiang Chen committed the name to memory. This was an enemy he was fated to face, possibly in the near future.
"The supreme lord of the Order is the seventh master? What's his name?" He asked upon taking another deep breath.
"Xiahou Jing. He is quite prominent within House Xiahou too. Without Xiahou Zong's absurd talent, he would be one of the best contenders for the house's inheritance."
"So Xiahou Zong isn't doing well within his house?" Jiang Chen followed the prisoner's line of thought with a half-smile.
"Well, not quite that. House Xiahou is very rich and powerful, enough to raise several geniuses in tandem. Because Xiahou Jing is slightly inferior to his brother, he knows he doesn't have much hope of becoming the heir. That's why he decided to make this dangerous maneuver of sneaking into the human domain to seek his fortune."
"Seek his fortune?" Jiang Chen frowned. Wasn't the human domain significantly worse off than Myriad Abyss Island at present? What fortune was there to seek? Did Xiahou Jing have brain damage? Things were likely more complicated than he had first thought.
The prisoner nodded, then went into more detail to placate Jiang Chen. "I'm not very high up in the hierarchy, so I don't know many secrets, but I did hear that this trip was made to find something very precious. Getting hands on it is supposed to be more valuable than inheriting the whole of House Xiahou. That was why Xiahou Jing took this risk."
"Risk? If he came to the human domain covertly, who could threaten him?" Jiang Chen was stating only the plain truth. He had no intentions of putting down the human domain.
If those from House Xiahou hadn't done anything too exciting or explosive, no one really would have been able to threaten them.
"The real threat comes from the others on Myriad Abyss Island," the prisoner smiled wryly. "Since ancient times, there's been a rule that the island's descendants aren't permitted to enter the human domain. Although the two hundred thousand years time limit is almost up, the restriction hasn't been explicitly lifted. Because of this, it's forbidden to head to the human domain without permission. If no one presses charges, it's fine, but many people would be quite happy to take advantage of this lapse in protocol. If all of them band together, even a faction as big as House Xiahou would be in trouble!"
Jiang Chen instantly understood.
No wonder Elder Shun had been punished so severely and unable to leave the island again. There must have been others who'd hounded him over it.
Jiang Chen felt indescribable worry whenever he thought of Huang'er's plight.
"Let me ask you this, how much do you know of the conflict between House Xiahou and House Yan?"
"Oh, I know all about it, I do," the captive answered hurriedly. "House Yan's Miss Huang'er has returned to Myriad Abyss Island. I heard that she has a tough attitude. She would prefer to die rather than become a cultivation vessel for Third Master Zong."
"How is she doing?" Jiang Chen asked with concern.
"We subordinates only hear about the masters and misses through hearsay. I don't quite know for certain. I'd assume though, that she wouldn't be able to defy the third master on account of her parents still being imprisoned. Third Master Zong isn't planning on using her yet, because his cultivation isn't quite there. When it is, I don't fancy her chances…"
This person clearly didn't know about Huang'er's foray into the human domain or Jiang Chen's relationship with her. He was completely unrestrained in his discussion.
After all, Huang'er's affair was limited to high-ranking members of the house only. It was reasonable for Xiahou Jing to have known, but it would be a stretch to expect the same of a grunt like the captive.
Jiang Chen's face was purple. He was most worried about Huang'er. She was far away on Myriad Abyss Island, so he couldn't help her even if she wanted to. From what this guy was saying, Xiahou Zong was stronger than Xiahou Jing.
If Xiahou Jing was empyrean realm, Xiahou Zong was sure to be higher than that. Even if they were similar in cultivation level, the latter was surely more talented than the former. An opponent like that was very hard for the current him to deal with.
"How strong is House Xiahou on Myriad Abyss Island as a whole?" Jiang Chen asked again.
"Myriad Abyss Island is a huge place. I'm pretty unimportant, so I don't actually know its extent. From what I know through rumors, Myriad Abyss Island is said to be limitless, with countless islands, factions, and kingdoms. There are ten divine kingdoms on Myriad Abyss and House Xiahou is located in Eternal Divine Kingdom. In that divine kingdom, the house is among the top ten factions there!"
Ten divine nations? Countless kingdoms and islands?
The Eternal Divine Nation?
For Jiang Chen, all this information was new. However, it did give him a cursory preview about how Myriad Abyss Island functioned. He'd heard a few tidbits many years ago from Huang'er as well - though she hadn't gone into much detail at the time. Jiang Chen committed all of what he'd heard to memory.