Jiang Chen’s consolation brightened Su Huanzhen’s mood a little. She was clever enough to make an educated guess about the young man’s intentions. “Young lord,” she inquired, “are you planning to make a trip to Myriad Abyss Island?” Why else would he be looking for the island’s outpost otherwise?
“So you’ve guessed it too,” Jiang Chen sighed softly. “Please, do keep it a secret.”
“Of course,” Su Huanzhen nodded hurriedly.
“How are you planning to go?” she continued with interest. “Is there a teleportation formation here? Or an entrance of some sort?”
The older woman was very curious now that she’d calmed down. The head of a first rank sect wouldn’t be disquieted for too long.
Jiang Chen smiled. “I’m trying to figure out how to find the entrance. Sect Head Su, that’ll be all for today. If you have any other business to attend to, please feel free to go back to the sect. You’ll find many surprises in the tomes and diagrams I’ve given you.”
Su Huanzhen giggled. “You’re sending me away, huh? I guess I’m not of much help to you in staying here anyways. I hear your dao partner, Miss Huang’er, is from Myriad Abyss Island. Are you going there to kidnap your wife back?”
Peafowl’s paramour sure liked to joke around. Without waiting for Jiang Chen’s response, she disappeared into the cloudy sky in a flash of rainbow light. Though her person was gone, her laughter rang still.
Jiang Chen waited for her to fully depart before he broke out his secret investigation method.
If there was an outpost here, it would be invisible to the naked eye. Even the consciousness might not be able to perceive it. Only secret methods would function properly. Finding a more specific area was vital before one could materialize the formation from the ether.
Thankfully, the proceedings were hard but not impossible. He was executing according to a predetermined line of thought. Jiang Chen continued following the riverbank.
Suddenly, his consciousness shifted. He paused before a patch of space. “It’s here,” he noted happily. “Reveal yourself!”
Jiang Chen manipulated torrents of air in an attempt to disturb the fabric of spacetime in this spot, further disturbing the natural turbulence already present. Introducing more entropy caused the affected area to widen and expand.
Suddenly, an enormous twister of water rose out of the river. It soared to impossible heights before falling once more. A huge swirl was left on the face of the water, cryptic and mystifying.
“This is it.” Without hesitation, he dove headfirst into the spiral. The flow of the water swallowed him up. In the next moment, the surface of the water returned to calm.
It was as if everything had been an illusion.
Within the twister, Jiang Chen was completely calm. Though the churn and forth of the vortex was an enormous trial, his tempered body found it easy enough to resist the agitation.
After who knew how long, his consciousness began to recover its awareness. His body was no longer being thrown about so wildly. He opened his eyes to discover himself upon a hillside.
The hill was jadeite green, pretty to an almost artistically perfect degree. Its beauty seemed somewhat otherworldly. So too was the other scenery he beheld around him. Land and verdant green water were equally breathtaking.
The sight brightened his mood considerably. Jiang Chen climbed up from where he lay, dusting off and cleaning up his clothes in the process. He surveyed his surroundings.
He was reasonably sure he had entered Myriad Abyss Island, but he had no idea where and how the vortex had taken him.
“That was easier than I thought!” Jiang Chen was very pleased with himself. He began to walk around.
There was nothing to be dissatisfied about with his journey. He’d expected extreme trials that demanded risking his life in the process, but the formation had directly taken him here!
Though he had been sorely tested in the process in more ways than one, it had nevertheless been significantly easier than he’d thought. He took in the fresh air, taking in the potent spirit energy concentrated in the air. His heart sang in the breeze.
“There’s more to this place than meets the eye. It seems that I really am at Myriad Abyss Island. From the perspective of cultivation alone, this place is only better than Veluriyam and Sacred Peafowl Mountain. But this looks like only some far-off corner!” Jiang Chen smacked his lips in exclamation.
Something suddenly registered in his consciousness. He instinctively dodged a few steps to the side. Three figures appeared at the other end of the path he was walking on.
They descended before Jiang Chen. The one in the middle was as thick as an iron pillar. The two who flanked him were fat and lean, though their expressions were uniformly sinister.
The heavy-set man in the middle roared with laughter. “It’s our lucky day today, brothers. It’s been a long time since there’s been a newcomer to Winterdraw Island. And now that there finally is one, we’re the first to meet him. Not bad, not bad!”
“Take off all your clothes first, kid!” The fat one cackled.
Jiang Chen didn’t know what to say. What exactly did they want? He’d seen many bandits in his time, but none had told him to strip before. Did they want his money or his person?
Snickering, he swept his consciousness about himself. The trio before him were great emperors, but he saw no reason to fear them. He was more interested in whether they had companions nearby.
The lack of nearby activity was a reasonable negative.
“Boss, did this kid freeze up or something?” The fat man was perplexed at the lack of a reaction. “Didn’t someone tell him about the rules here at Winterdraw?”
Jiang Chen was none the wiser.
What ridiculous place is this Winterdraw Island? Was stripping really a mandatory part of coming here? Was there something stranger than this under all the heavens?
The thin man snickered maliciously when he saw Jiang Chen’s blank look. “What are you looking at, kid? Can’t you see that we’re robbing you?”
“Robbing me?” Jiang Chen was still quite confused. “Even if you’re robbing me, you’re not poor enough to need the clothes off my back, are you?”
If he didn’t know this was Myriad Abyss Island territory, he would’ve thought himself lost among barbarians. Who tried to steal clothes?
The thin man glowered. “Stop feigning ignorance, kid! We’re telling you to strip so you have nowhere to hide your treasures! Didn’t someone tell you about this when you were exiled to Winterdraw, eh?”
Jiang Chen had no words to respond with.
He had no idea what this ‘Winterdraw’ was supposed to be. From what the man was saying, it was a place where people were exiled to? That didn’t make much sense. Why was it so nice here then?
This vacation-worthy weather and scenery was a deserted prison??
The fat man chortled. “Ole Third, that kid’s really messed up in the head. Let me crack it open in a bit. I bet there’s nothing in there.”
The thin man grinned, revealing bone-white teeth. “We haven’t tried boiled brains in quite a while. I miss the taste. This kid looks pretty young and soft… we’ve struck gold today, brothers!”
The big man glared at Jiang Chen. “Stop pretending, kid. It’s your unlucky day to run into the Cursefiend Trio!”
“The Cursefiend Trio? Do you three own this island?” Jiang Chen intentionally allowed fear to show upon his face.
The three men guffawed when they heard the question.
“What an uninformed idiot!” The fat man was even more sure of his judgment now. The blubber on his entire body quivered when he laughed.
“What’re you laughing about?” Jiang Chen played up the dumb act as he glanced sidelong at the fat man. “Do you know you look really creepy when you laugh? You have more fat on you than a well-bred pig! Don’t you have any self-awareness?”
The fat man blinked, then realized what the young man had said. “The f*ck, this kid is calling me names! Let me cut him up, boss!”
The big man frowned. “Let’s tie him up first. He’s not the softest or the whitest, but he ain’t a bad looker. I haven’t had a woman in a long time, so I suppose he’ll do.”
The fat man roared with reckless laughter.
Though Jiang Chen wasn’t scared one bit of these men, goosebumps of disgust popped up all over his body. What was up with them?
The Cursefiend Trio were aptly named, for they were an accursed bunch indeed. One said he wanted to eat brains and another enjoyed sodomizing people. What were they if not perverts?
Jiang Chen’s eyes contracted when he saw the fat man stride toward him. Without warning, a ray of aureate light blasted forth from his pupil.
The fat man’s smug look met the light head on. It pierced into his eyes and in the next moment, he froze as if he had been electrified.
The fat man was approximately mid great emperor. In terms of cultivation level alone, he was technically slightly higher than Jiang Chen. The technicality alone wasn’t nearly enough to save him.
In terms of practical battle strength and the strength of one’s consciousness, he wasn’t on the same level as Jiang Chen at all. And this was without factoring the latter’s wealth of items into the equation.
Jiang Chen’s Evil Golden Eye instantly froze the fat man in place. His inflated body visibly solidified in real time. In a few moments, he had hardened into a golden statue, almost as if he’d been cast in metal and immediately cured in place.
The big and thin men were both slack-jawed at the sight.
“This isn’t good, boss. That kid was just pretending to be easy prey!” The thin man bolted, completely ignoring his companion.
“Where do you think you’re going?” Jiang Chen sneered. He flicked his fingers, sending two Confounding Puppets through the air.
Two thumps marked twin tackles from the puppets, forcing the would-be bandits to the ground.