“Moreover, Winterdraw has patrol teams as well as various factions vigilant against each other. They all want to get off, you see. This place has seen hundreds of millions of prisoners, but less than ten have ever successfully escaped. Do you understand what that means?” The thin man retorted.
Jiang Chen didn’t believe what the man was saying. “Is your thin brother over here telling the truth?”
“Pah! I don’t have a brother like him. He’s spineless, cowardly, and scared of death. On Winterdraw, anyone like that is the first to die!”
The big man glared at Jiang Chen with reddened eyes. “I’m not scared of you. Kill me if you want. I’ve had enough of this awful place, anyways!”
“If you’re not scared of death, why are you afraid of telling me the truth?” Jiang Chen replied coldly.
The big man blinked. “What?”
Jiang Chen frowned. “I asked you if he told the truth.”
“Are you crazy enough to think of escape?” the big man mocked. “You better forget about it right now! That monkey exaggerated things a bit, but he’s mostly accurate. In the last several dozen millennia, less than ten have managed the feat!”
Though this big man was apparently into sodomy – which in itself was a trait that gave Jiang Chen a ton of goosebumps – he looked much more trustworthy than his thinner compatriot.
Jiang Chen nodded, then let the big man go. “You can leave.”
The big man was stunned. “You’re letting me go? Aren’t you worried I’ll do something against you in the future? Or tell on you?”
“That’s your business.” Jiang Chen shrugged.
The big man was completely lost. Someone on Winterdraw was allowing him to live? This defied all understanding of how things worked here!
The law of the jungle ruled this place.
The big man was rather suspicious that the young gentleman before him was possibly playing a trick. Was the gentleman going to launch heavy pursuit after the fact? Did he enjoy hunting and toying with his prey, perhaps?
“What, you don’t want to go?” Jiang Chen frowned. “I guess I won’t be opposed to you committing suicide.” He seemed completely at ease.
The big man couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You’re really letting me go?”
“You can take this thin monkey with you. I don’t want to kill him on principle, but he’s plainly too disgusting. I really don’t like him.”
The big man wordlessly strode up.
The thin man shrieked. “Sir, sir, I’ve said everything I could. Please let me live. Don’t kill me. I’ll lick your boots!”
Jiang Chen was reviled.
Anger flashed through the big man’s eyes. “You’ve utterly shamed me with your behavior, you bastard.”He stomped his sizable foot down.
The thin man’s head exploded like a watermelon.
“Nicely done,” Jiang Chen smiled coolly.
The big man glared at Jiang Chen. “You’re really not going to kill me?”
“Do you really want me to?” Jiang Chen asked with a half-smile. “If you’re uneasy, talk a bit more about things the other guy didn’t talk about. Maybe I’ll let you live longer if I’m in a good mood.”
The big man let out a long sigh. “Never mind. You probably offended someone in your clan. That’s how you got exiled here. Maybe you still don’t know how scary this place really is. If you did, you might not be able to laugh any more.
“I can tell you straight that we brothers were just bottom-feeders here on Winterdraw. Someone like me has to flit around the edges here, worrying about my own safety from day to day. We made up the scary name and exaggerated our behavior to intimidate anyone who might mean ill for us.”
“If you’re at the bottom, what level are the strongest cultivators here? Empyrean?”
“Empyrean for sure. I hear the strongest are great empyrean experts. But that’s just rumors… no one has actually seen any. Winterdraw isn’t as simple as you think. It’s extremely unlikely for you to be able to leave this place. Rather than think about these things, you should first think about how you can safely live here from now on. Only by staying alive will you have future opportunities. If you’re not alive, you can’t be picked to be deathsworn.” These words sounded much more trustworthy coming from the big man, rather than his dead comrade.
He appeared to be a bit grateful for Jiang Chen’s mercy. Long periods of dwelling here would harden anyone’s heart. However, matters pertaining to things as grave as life and death were sometimes sufficient to soften it.
“Are there really a lot of factions on Winterdraw?”
“Yes! But here, we don’t know how many there are exactly. Even the weakest factions don’t care about us!” The big man was mildly sad. Clearly, the trio hadn’t had a good life here. They had been three sparrows of roughly equal unimportance.
There was little information Jiang Chen could gather from someone as insignificant as this. He waved sadly. “Get out of here. You’re a bit more bearable than the other two, so I’ll let you go.”
Jiang Chen had originally hated the three men equally, but that was before hearing about the environment here on Winterdraw. It was enough to drive any man mad. The big man didn’t intrinsically seem to be an irredeemable criminal; Jiang Chen didn’t have much interest in killing ordinary people.
The big man hadn’t expected this turn of events. After some hesitation, he grit his teeth and nodded before turning to depart.
After reaching safety, he breathed out in relief. But his mood didn’t relax because of it. He found it quite ridiculous to have been let go. This was Winterdraw! Was there someone capable of showing mercy?
He hesitated about simply stepping away, losing himself in thought for a while. After a few moments, he turned back towards Jiang Chen.
The young man had taken a seat near his original location. His consciousness noticed the big man returning. Surprised, he furrowed his brow. “Do you think I really won’t kill you no matter what you do?”
The big man raised both hands airborne. “I’m not here to start a fight. I already got to a safe zone. I came back because I remembered something.”
“You better have a good reason for this,” Jiang Chen retorted coldly. If he didn’t value a chance at life, the young man wouldn’t mind sending him off in a different way.
The man didn’t get too close. Instead, he tossed something at Jiang Chen. It landed in the grass.
Jiang Chen discerned with a glance that it was a jet-black jade slip. “What is this?”
“I don’t really know. I found it inside the bones of a corpse a few years back. My consciousness is too limited to decipher what it contains. Maybe you’ll find it useful.”
No one on Winterdraw could possibly be called rich. There was only robbery and no production here. Material goods didn’t just appear out of thin air!
Limited resources were gathered in the hands of a few, transferred generally only upon death. Whenever someone died, his murderer received a windfall of possessions. The murderer would sometimes be killed in turn the next day, resulting in another transfer of wealth, and so on. It was impossible to tell where many items had originally come from.
Picking the slip up, Jiang Chen did a perfunctory scan before trying to break into it.
“That’s right, another piece of advice. On Winterdraw, you should be as vicious as you can. Don’t just let random people live. Here, doing that harms only yourself.” The big man continued to remain to offer advice rather than leaving.
Jiang Chen didn’t agree with or rebuke the man. He knew that the big man was doing everything he could to repay him for his life.
The big man didn’t know whether the young gentleman before him had taken his advice. He sighed helplessly. He suddenly recalled something else. “Sir,” he glanced at Jiang Chen once more. “You said you wanted to escape the island?”
“What?” Jiang Chen replied nonchalantly.
“Don’t misunderstand. I’m not looking to tell on you. If someone else said something like that, I would think his brain was fried. But I can’t understand a lot of things about you, and I actually don’t think you belong here. Maybe you really will be able to get out one day!”
“Of course I will.” Jiang Chen delivered in the same deadpan.
The big man sank down on both knees without any forewarning. “Sir, I have a request.”
“What now?” Jiang Chen frowned again.
“I have a daughter in the Rejuvenation Isles, within Six Leaf City. She doesn’t know that I’ve been imprisoned or that I’m here on Winterdraw. I have a few things here. If you manage to escape one day and pass by Six Leaf, can you give my daughter these things along the way?” The big man showed a rare display of emotion when he spoke of his daughter. His eyes reddened, and his lips trembled. Clearly, he loved his daughter very much.
“Why aren’t you waiting to give her these things yourself?”
“Me?” the big man shook his head. “I don’t have any hope of getting out for the rest of my life. I know how much I’m worth. On Winterdraw, I’m less than nothing. Escape? I can try, but I’d only die faster. Ah! I’m not a good father. My daughter is all alone in the world. I…” He slammed his fist into the ground as he said this and laid face down in the dirt, sobbing.
Jiang Chen was reminded of his father the Celestial Emperor from his previous life.
“What’s your daughter called?” He was compelled by an indescribable feeling to ask this.
The big man was overjoyed when he heard the reply. “This means you agree, sir?”
“I’ll try my best. Six Leaf City, hmm? I’ll remember that.” Jiang Chen didn’t admire the big man, per se, but the paternal love he radiated was real. He felt it reasonable to oblige on the basis of that alone.
“My daughter lives in Six Leaf City. Her name is Yingying, and her surname the same as mine: Fang,” the big man said.