As Xuan Rui thought extremely highly of himself, being made fun of was something he absolutely despised. Because of this, he could no longer control his impulses. Murderous intent rose. He was bent on going on the offensive. His archery skills would be more than enough to take the initiative, at which point he would shoot his opponent dead.
Xuan Rui roared, acting on his conclusion. His entire body rippled with energy, disturbing the air around him. His third eye opened once more.
When he saw the sight, Jiang Chen knew that his opponent could no longer sit still. He’s taking risks! Fantastic.
He hadn’t begun the fight because he’d wanted to compete with his opponent’s dao heart. Xuan Rui’s impatience and interest in fighting pleased him; now was his chance to slay his opponent in one go!
Jiang Chen and his Holy Dragon Bow began to charge up as well. He gathered power from his true dragon bloodline.
Because of the dragon blood in his veins, he could make use of draconic qi. Through repeated experimentation, he’d found that it was quite compatible with the Holy Dragon Bow. Using the qi as fuel caused the bow to be both more powerful and efficient.
It was in the next moment that Xuan Rui made his move.
Almost simultaneously, Jiang Chen moved as well, mirroring his opponent. Countless vines from his Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice whipped forward, transforming into images of himself in another blink of the eye. His real body disappeared into space.
The Lotus was an extremely bewitching plant, adept at all kinds of illusions and disguises. Jiang Chen had discovered this characteristic back when he was still in the sage realm.
Now that he was great emperor, the plant had all kinds of attributes it didn’t possess before. Currently, over a thousand vines were Jiang Chen’s images; an illusory army filling the sky.
Xuan Rui watched the sight with slack-jawed surprise. He was experiencing Xue Feng’s despair. His opponent was too powerful. How could someone as terrifying as this possibly be from Winterdraw? How could he be called prey by any stretch of the imagination?
His third eye was pushed to its limits. Psychic waves radiated outward in an attempt to detect and lock onto Jiang Chen’s real body.
At this, Jiang Chen stepped up next to Xuan Rui’s side. “Know your place.”
A dragon roar emitting from his mouth, Jiang Chen summoned forth as much draconic qi as he could muster. He pulled his bow to its fullest draw, firing an arrow that soared with fang and claw like a true dragon. The missile was before his enemy in only a moment.
Jiang Chen’s Holy Dragon Bow had killed even empyrean experts. Though Xuan Rui had great potential and combat ability rivaling many empyrean experts, he nevertheless felt his body freeze over at the arrow that his opponent had shot at peak condition.
He instinctively wanted to evade it, but didn’t have a chance as he was unprepared. There was no time!
With his last vestiges of intuition, he raised his own bow and fired an arrow to meet it.
It was easy enough for archery experts to find the trajectory of their opponents’ arrows. Following from this, interception wasn’t particularly difficult either.
But there was an important caveat: the arrow had to travel in a predictable way. If that was no longer true because of especially odd pathing, then things were difficult to say.
The Holy Dragon Bow’s arrows followed trajectories that were anything but ordinary. Just as Xuan Rui’s arrow was about to clash with Jiang Chen’s, the other arrow zoomed right past.
“Not good!” Xuan Rui instantly knew something terrible was going to happen. Alas, it was too late. The arrow had found its mark.
Its shaft buried deep into his left ear, piercing out his right with a burst of red and white gore. Xuan Rui’s body shivered, paralyzed in place. In the next moment, his eyes bulged out like those of a dead fish. They were full of despair and incomprehension.
It was the last expression he would ever make.
I lost… A fading though passed through his mind before he keeled over heavily onto the ground.
Jiang Chen took a deep breath. He felt his own mind was rather spent. Because he hadn’t used any overwhelming trump card in the fight with Xue Feng, he’d finished that fight rather fatigued. He hadn’t used any tricks with the fight against Xuan Rui either. He’d won in the end, but not without significant exertion.
Thankfully it’d at least been good exercise. He was sure to benefit from the experience. There was no value to his practical skills if he relied on defeating opponents through extreme trump cards alone. Use of the Confounding Puppets, the Nine Labyrinth Formation, and so on were best kept to a necessary minimum.
Now that Xuan Rui was dead, Jiang Chen saw no problem in taking his storage ring. Among the effects he took was the identification jade slip. He slammed a palm down on the corpse, reducing it to dust and erasing it from the world. He did the same for Xue Feng after confiscating the jade slip as well.
After disposal of the evidence, Jiang Chen left as quickly as possible.
Xue Feng’s signal meant that someone would come over eventually. Jiang Chen had no interest in engaging once more in his current condition. He wouldn’t be able to handle yet another strong opponent.
Kunpeng Meteoric Escape in full speed, he disappeared into a streak of light on the spot. He didn’t stop moving until he was very far away and had found a secluded corner to recover. The fights just now had tired him out beyond his expectations. He needed to find a place to rest a little.
Jiang Chen saw several sites of fighting on his way there, with a few fragments and carcasses littered about here and there.
It was immediately obvious that they belonged to Winterdraw’s contestants. He didn’t feel anything for them, but he was nevertheless mildly displeased by their deaths.
After all, they were his comrades in some sense of the word. They had come to the Blackwraith Mountains together – and fallen victim to the same conspiracy together. He felt some hint of sympathy because of this.
Moreover, this further proved that Xuan Rui hadn’t lied. He and the other natives of Winterdraw were only here as prey for the eight houses.
“Winterdraw Island! Rejuvenation Isles!” There was an unnameable anger in his heart. “Such shameless behavior just to suck up to Polylore!”
It took a long time for his fury to subside. During his rest, he slowly digested the experiences of the past two battles into his grander repertoire. However grueling the fights had been, they were of vital importance and usefulness for his own improvement.
“Often, it’s better and faster to learn by doing. The most important lessons in a cultivator’s life are largely taught in battle. There’s only so much shutting oneself up in a private room can do. The climb to mastery is filled with ridges upon ridges of conflict.”
Without realizing it, three days had passed by.
During this time, Jiang Chen submerged himself in a profoundly meditative state of mind. Countless martial dao secrets came to him in a torrent. Theory had been fleshed out through application, becoming inspiration.
It was time for him to break through once again. One more step, and he would be mid great emperor. Though he was in a dangerous environment, Jiang Chen didn’t want to hold himself back. He allowed the marvelous sensation to surge through his body.
A desire to ascend broke through his dam of restraint.
Boundless power surged through every extremity. Putrid air poured out through his pores, replaced with spirit energy from heaven and earth.
“Mid great emperor!” Jiang Chen opened his eyes with special joy, experienced only with a cultivation breakthrough.
“At the end of the day, getting my hands dirty helped a lot,” the young man mused. “Polylore Divine Nation’s eight houses… what perfect prey that heaven’s given me!”
More than half of the trial’s time was up.
“I’m going to ignore this so-called trial from now on. I only have one mission before me: hunt down the eight houses’ geniuses.”
Jiang Chen wasn’t the kind of man that surrendered to fate. The truth had especially enraged him. Most of all, he wanted to mount a counterattack against these geniuses from Polylore.
“But I can’t hunt all of them down. Otherwise, the eight houses’ seniors will go mad. My primary objective isn’t to antagonize Polylore, nor is it to kill these geniuses. I need to get out of here.”
His reason reminded him that a hunt was fine, but only to a sensible degree. If he crossed that line and roused all of the eight houses’ accompanying experts, it would be very bad for his future plans here.
The thought allowed him to calm down.
“I have to think of an idea. I need to take advantage of Polylore’s presence here to leave Winterdraw.”
His brain whirred with designs and schemes. Suddenly, a revelation came to him. A daring notion made its way into his head like a thunderclap.
Both Xuan Rui and Xue Feng were dead. Because of that, their identities were technically freed up. If he could pretend to be them and find a way out through deception, would he be able to leave then?
Jiang Chen’s interest was instantly piqued. This was a golden opportunity. The stakes were high, but it was definitely worth trying!