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My plan to leave will be jeopardized if I don’t kill them, but killing them also has its own risks. The eight great houses will become suspicious if too many geniuses die. My cover might be blown then. 

Caught between a rock and a hard place, Jiang Chen silently swore at Kuang.

“Oh well, my plan is dead in the water anyways if I don’t kill them.”

After mulling it over, he finally chose to take action. He’d previously been of a mind to use this as an experience to temper himself, but now was the time for decisive killing. That was the best way to ensure he’d stay under the radar.

His mind operated at top speed as he formulated a strategy. His opponents were three, but there was an enormous disparity in their cultivation levels. 

He could get rid of them one by one if everything went according to plan.

“So there’s twenty four geniuses in total. Another three deaths will make it five casualties, six if I want to grab a gray cloak from a member of Xuan Rui’s house. The eight great houses must know the geniuses might target each other, so one quarter isn’t too conspicuous a mortality rate, is it?”

He slowed his steps, kicked off from the ground, and leapt onto a tall tree. Since they wouldn’t leave him alone, he had no qualms about destroying his targets, body and soul.

Kuang was no slowpoke, but he couldn’t compare to Xue Feng in that area. Though the latter was weaker overall, Kuang was soundly beat when it came to speed.

Kuang stopped abruptly when he neared Jiang Chen’s hiding spot. He gazed at the tall tree from afar. “What? Not running anymore?”

Jiang Chen smiled. “What do you think of this place?”

Kuang responded mildly, “It’s a decent burial ground for you.”

Jiang Chen nodded. “Here then, since you seem satisfied.”

He lifted the Holy Dragon Bow and without further ado, greeted his guest with an arrow. Like a revolving comet, the arrow tore through space, leaving a vicious trail in the air.

Kuang’s pupils constricted, a little taken aback. Although Xuan Rui was a skilled archer, this opening seemed different from his usual tactics.

Is he skilled in that many archery styles? If so, I really can’t underestimate him. 

All of a sudden, a lightning-fast shadow pounced in front of him.

“What the hell is that?” He wasn’t afraid of an arrow from so far away, but this sudden appearance caught him completely off-guard.

The assault was full of momentum, and more frighteningly, had occurred without warning. The attack knocked him down, leaving him paralyzed and defenseless on the ground. His body ached all over. The shadow trussed him up like a chicken and tossed him in front of Jiang Chen.

The young lord stepped on his opponent’s face with a cold, unsympathetic smile. “Idiot, I didn’t want to kill you, but you had to force my hand. So tell me, what’s your name?”

He covered the area in a soundproofing barrier. “No one will hear you even if you shout yourself hoarse, so don’t even try. I know you have two companions. Don’t worry, I’ll kill them too so the three of you are reunited in the afterlife.”

Despite the leisurely tone, Kuang shivered from head to toe. Something seemed out of place. Why did the Xuan Rui in front of him suddenly seem like a frightening stranger?

He was now in his twenties, but had frequently fought against Xuan Rui since ten years old. Despite a few defeats, he’d overwhelmed Xuan Rui more often than not. So why had he lost so handily this time? He’d even prepared a trap with meticulous care, yet had ended up becoming the one caught.

And why had Xuan Rui asked his name? How could he not know after fighting each other for more than a decade? He seemed... so much like a stranger at the moment. Unprecedented terror gripped his heart. 

Jiang Chen searched the man without waiting for a reply and found his identification seal.

“Kuang Rong?” He smiled. “So that’s your name.”

Kuang Rong twitched. He stared at Jiang Chen like a frightened rabbit, hissing. “You’re not Xuan Rui! How’s that possible?! Who are you?”

Jiang Chen calmly said, “When did I ever say I’m Xuan Rui?”

Kuang Rong trembled. At this moment, he’d rather have lost to Xuan Rui instead. “Who are you? Did… did you kill him?”

Jiang Chen acknowledged with a trace of an evil smile. “Do you want to keep him company down below? I can grant your wish.”

“You! Who the hell are you? Don’t you know that…”

“Shut up.” Jiang Chen interrupted mildly. “It’s no use scaring me with Polylore. Xuan Rui tried the same and now he’s dead. I don’t mind sending you off if you want to make the same foolish mistake as well. I’m sure your two companions will be more than happy to provide me with the information I want.”

Kuang Rong’s vicious retort died in his throat. He remained silent for a long while, regret flashing in his eyes. At long last, he’d realized his mistake. 

Maybe I wasn’t in his crosshairs to begin with. Why did I have to provoke this demon and court disaster? 

The fellow was clearly undaunted by Polylore’s prestige. How could such a man leave a living witness behind?

Kuang Rong’s heart trembled. He even had the urge to slap himself.

“You have ten breaths to think it over. Will you cooperate obediently, or will you follow in Xuan Rui’s footsteps?”

“You!” As a scion of the eight great houses, when had Kuang Rong ever been threatened? But no matter how Jiang Chen’s arrogance infuriated him, his wretched life was in his opponent’s hands, so he ultimately kept his peace.

“What the hell are you trying to do? Don’t you know the dire consequences for opposing Polylore?” Kuan Rong couldn’t help but throw around the divine nation’s name.

Jiang Chen’s face clouded over. His arm rose slightly and a sharp light grazed past Kuan Rong’s cheek.

The next moment, the man’s right ear fell onto the ground, leaving a smooth and even wound behind before blood slowly oozed out of it.

“Keep up the nonsense and my blade will take your neck next.” He blew softly on his palm, scaring Kuang Rong witless. 

Fear drowned Kuang Rong’s dignity as a noble scion. He stammered, his face ashen, “What do you want to know?”

“Tell me, how many from your eight great houses have come to Rejuvenation Isles? Who are they and what are their levels?” These were the young lord’s most pressing questions.

Kuan Rong beamed inwardly. Is that all he wants to know? Hmph, it’s a good chance to scare him and let him know how vast the world is. He immediately turned stern. 

“Our eight great houses are the eight greatest clans outside of the royal clan. We control Polylore’s lifeline. We wouldn’t have come if not for Rejuvenation Isles imploring and begging us time and time again. The younger generation’s elites have come, accompanied by two to three seniors or elders from each house. Other than that, there’s also powerful house bodyguards. Every house is also led by a sixth level intermediate empyrean master.” 

“Any greater empyrean masters?” Jiang Chen asked.

“Hmph, those are high-level existences even in the Ten Divine Nations. Do you think they have nothing better to do than come along for this jaunt?”

So-called greater empyrean masters were those at level seven and above. There were in fact quite a few of them in Myriad Abyss Island. But people at this level were usually mindful of their status and wouldn’t show themselves so easily.

In particular, a second or third tier power like the Rejuvenation Isles was quite beneath their regard.

The Isles did possess more than a couple greater empyrean masters of its own. But reality was cruel. Despite having the same cultivation, a greater empyrean master from the ten great divine nations was far more exalted.

So despite their absence, the Rejuvenation Isles had welcomed the eight great houses with the greatest pomp and circumstance. The local greater empyrean masters greeted them in person. Though they hadn’t accompanied the guests to Winterdraw, the presence of an imperial prince was also an extremely high honor. 

Kuang Rong’s explanation eased Jiang Chen’s worries. The absence of greater empyrean threats was recomforting amidst countless bad news.

Seeing his silence, Kuang Rong tried again, “Friend, I don’t know what grievances you had with Xuan Rui, but please be at ease. I’m his sworn enemy. I’ll definitely keep his death a secret. Honorable sir, as long as you let me go, I swear I’ll write off this matter. I won’t mention it to my elders, so no house seniors will hunt you. I can even shield you from House Xuan’s inquiries. What do you think?” As a smart man, he tried to regain the initiative.

Jiang Chen replied with a cold smile, “Aren’t you a noble from Polylore? What gives? How can you be afraid of death like the rest of us peons?”

But Kuang Rong responded without any shame, “A man needs to adapt to circumstances and know when to retreat. I’m at your mercy right now, so survival is naturally my greatest priority.”

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