Another cloaked person. Jiang Chen was shocked by the scope of the situation. Cloaked genius after cloaked genius, each stronger than the next. The newcomer surpassed his predecessor in both poise and strength. Jiang Chen sobered up even more so.
“Polylore Divine Nation? The eight houses?” He glanced at the latest stranger with emotionless eyes.
This new stranger cut an odd figure. Whenever he moved, a watery ripple surrounded him. It was difficult to lock onto him. He bore an ancient carved bow upon his back, his eyes sharp and incisive. Someone with a weak consciousness would’ve been utterly crushed with a simple sweep of the eye.
“Not bad. You’re rather exceptional among the natives on Winterdraw to be able to defeat that Xue Feng so handily.” The new stranger’s voice was as indistinct as his person.
Jiang Chen smiled faintly, his heart as astute as a polished mirror. Xue Feng huh?
“Why don’t we go with this. Put down the Goldensable Fleeceflower and I’ll let you have a fifteen minute head start. If you escape my pursuit after that, then you’ll have escaped with your life. If not, then it’s your unlucky day. How about it?” The stranger sounded like he was having a discussion, but it was yet another judgment.
Jiang Chen snickered to himself. These geniuses from Polylore sure were a proud bunch. Did they think that everyone else’s lives lay in their hands?
He had seen plenty of people like that in his time. This wasn’t much to be surprised about.
“You want the Fleeceflower?” he smiled faintly. “Sure. Show me your skills.” He glanced at Xue Feng. “However…” his voice was evenhanded, “I hope you’re ready to follow in his footsteps.”
Flippancy flashed through the stranger’s eyes. “You think too highly of yourself.” He shook his head with complete ease.
“I suppose Xue Feng can be called a genius, but I’m on an entirely different level. Think again if you think you can pull the same trick twice with that powder.” He delivered this in a reserved tone, but there was undeniable deep-seated pride.
Jiang Chen saw little point in arguing. He had many more methods – the Soulless Powder had been one of the most trivial. The newcomer was indeed superior to Xue Feng, but not overwhelmingly so. His archery had slain Xue Feng before the latter could say more, but Jiang Chen was a master of the bow in his own right.
His storied experiences with the Da Yu bow, the Sunpiercer, and now the Holy Dragon Bow proved that he had plenty of methods in that department. The Holy Dragon Bow was a crowning treasure of the Primosanct Sect. Even right now, he could access only a fraction of its full power. Thus, he was unafraid of his opponent in the ranged combat arena.
“Polylore Divine Nation’s geniuses, hmm?” Jiang Chen grinned. “Don’t you think it was foolish to come to Winterdraw to throw away your lives? I think you should’ve stayed home today.”
The new stranger’s pupils contracted violently. His killing intent flared, then disappeared. “You’re optimistic,” he glared coldly at Jiang Chen. “If I’m correct, less than half of you thousand-odd trial-goers remain. I wonder if any will be alive still after fifteen days are up.”
Jiang Chen glanced toward Xue Feng’s corpse. “And him?”
“Did you kill him?” The stranger smiled faintly. “Don’t forget, I did. You Winterdraw dupes are prey. P-r-e-y. Do you understand?”
“Prey?” Jiang Chen frowned.
“That’s right. You were destined to be prey since the beginning of your selection. We are the proud children of Polylore Divine Nation. You’re just a bunch of ragtag prisoners and fated to be no better than lambs to the slaughter.
“A thousand people and more are just toys for us real geniuses in this great hunt. Hah, did Winterdraw’s chief warden make you some kind of promise? Did you think an opportunity had come? Did you think your troubles were over?” His tone was filled with mockery.
Jiang Chen drew in a sharp breath. The stranger’s words raised great waves in his heart. The events surrounding the selection forced him to a painful conclusion: the stranger had in all likelihood told the truth. The so-called selection and opportunity had been a sham from the start.
The new stranger was secretly pleased at Jiang Chen’s silence. “Disappointed, hmm? Angry? But what good will those emotions do you?
“Prisoners will be prisoners, and pathetic is as pathetic does. Here in Myriad Abyss, the world of martial dao is a cruel place. Your birth decides your fate. You have some skills, certainly better than most or all of the other prisoners. But that’s life for you. Remember, you can’t possibly overcome fate. No matter how you struggle, it won’t do a thing!”
Jiang Chen laughed out of great anger. Yes, Polylore Divine Nation was one of the strongest factions in Myriad Abyss Island. The eight houses of that divine nation were likely quite prominent in light of that.
But so what?
This newcomer’s tone and behavior reminded him of House Xiahou in the Eternal Divine Nation. In particular, he felt that the enemy he hadn’t seen yet – Xiahou Zong – was likely the same kind of person.
Despite not having met him, Jiang Chen was absolutely sure that he couldn’t possibly be much different. Condescending, egotistical, and completely vain about their perceived role in the world – someone that could control the lives of others from above.
Jiang Chen was infinitely disgusted by this kind of attitude. At the same time, he felt utter shame for having been fooled by the selection. Perhaps Sin City’s lord, Xie Wushang, had been fooled as well. The weak really were pawns to be toyed with by the strong. Sometimes, their lives were no better than inanimate objects to these rich and powerful people, used only for benefit or enjoyment.
Indignation and ire surged out from his heart, transforming into an enormous bonfire. Jiang Chen suddenly felt an indescribable hatred for all of this. Killing intent burst forth from his eyes.
“Haha, aren’t you angry? Furious? Don’t hide it. This is the kind of reaction you should have.” The stranger seemed to like playing with his food. Jiang Chen’s anger fed his joy. He was having the time of his life.
“What’s your name?” Finally getting his fury under control, Jiang Chen intoned in a low voice.
“What? Do you have to know? You’re about to die. Are you planning to seek revenge on me in the afterlife?” the stranger jeered.
“Identify yourself. I do not kill nameless fools.” Jiang Chen declared coolly.
“Hahaha, you’re certainly a braggart.” The stranger cackled recklessly, his eyes full of derision.
Jiang Chen disregarded his opponent’s conceit. “I’d like to thank you before you die,” he nodded woodenly. “I appreciate knowing the truth. Very good. My role has changed, here and now!”
“Oh?” the stranger responded with a half-smirk.
“I am no longer the hunted, but a hunter. There were twenty-four of you geniuses from Polylore, hmm? Xue Feng was the first. You are the second. There will be a third, a fourth, and so on…” Jiang Chen was completely dispassionate as he described this.
The newcomer looked at him like he was a fool. The corner of his mouth twitched. “An ant is only stupid when it does not understand its weakness,” he scoffed. “Enough bluster, kid.”
He flared his aura as he said this, projecting supercooled air more frigid than a glacier. It was as if the space was being frozen over. At the same time, the ancient carved bow on his back made it into his fingers.
Most concerningly, the pensive face behind the cloak erupted with a mystic light. A third eye of energy had been opened thanks to a divine art. The extra orb was more piercing than a regular eye. It radiated a cryptic aura of malevolence.
A ray of gloom shot toward Jiang Chen, a cold will invading his consciousness through the air.
Jiang Chen snickered. “You want to surprise me with a bit of consciousness like that?”
He opened up his own consciousness to its maximum, his Evil Golden Eye blasting two beams of aureate light out of both sockets. They flew at his adversary like twin arrows.
Under the reinforcement of Jiang Chen’s powerful consciousness, the Evil Golden Eye was virtually undefeatable. The golden beams shattered the eerie light, then continued towards their intended target with virtually no loss of momentum.
The stranger muttered a soft “hmm?”, evidently a little surprised.
His third eye closed, then opened once more. Rippling circles of willpower rushed outwards in watery waves, creating an invisible wall that stood in the golden light’s way. Even so, the Evil Golden Eye’s powerful piercing stabbed the stranger’s brain with pain. It was as if a gold needle had pricked his very consciousness.
The new stranger was badly shaken. He had underestimated Jiang Chen a little before now, but that was no longer the case.
How can he have such a robust consciousness and terrifying ocular skills? He hid his strength during the fight with Xue Feng? He could’ve beaten Xue Feng using this alone!
The grey-cloaked man had no hint of his prior smugness. He had suffered a considerable loss in the ocular duel. A pang of danger about the situation struck him. Remembering Xue Feng’s loss made him extremely wary.