This group was even fiercer and more murderous. Furthermore, the patriarch led it personally. It was none other than House Kuang!
House Kuang was top three among the eight houses. The fact that its patriarch was here greatly surprised both Houses Xue and Xuan.
Has House Kuang also…
The elders of the two houses traded a glance. Their burning anger was strangely somewhat abated at the sight of House Kuang’s more severe fury. They could see that House Kuang had it a lot worse than they did. The patriarch himself wouldn’t have come otherwise.
The Kuang patriarch was a bit surprised to see the other elders. “You’re elders from House Xuan and Xue, no?” he inquired coolly.
In response, the elders from the other two houses stepped aside for him.
“You came with such momentum, Patriarch Kuang. Would you like to use the transmission formation as well?” Elder Zun couldn’t help but ask.
“As well?” Patriarch Kuang clearly didn’t want to lose face before outsiders. He was barely holding back his rage.
The elder sighed. “If I were to guess, House Kuang has also lost geniuses in the Rejuvenation Isles, is that right? And you want to question the people there too?”
Their common plight was written over their faces.
Patriarch Kuang was indignant. “All three of House Kuang’s young geniuses perished simultaneously. I say the Rejuvenation Isles don’t want to live any more!” He was red-faced and eyes bloodshot. His tone sounded downright genocidal.
The two elders collectively drew a sharp breath. Their frustration was significantly reduced by the schadenfreude. There was someone even worse off! Only one genius had died from each of their houses, but House Kuang had lost all three.
That was a complete massacre, given that only three had gone from each house.
They didn’t feel so bad any more.
House Xue’s elder allowed the hysterical Patriarch Kuang to use the formation first. House Kuang was in a far worse spot than they were.
The patriarch bawled through the transmission formation, “Rejuvenation Isles, get your f*cking asses ready! You’re going to use three thousand lives to pay for House Kuang’s three geniuses!”
House Kuang lacked even the desire to find out the reason for their geniuses’ deaths. They just wanted to vent their boundless hate and rage onto the Rejuvenation Isles.
“What’s the situation with your houses?” Patriarch Kuang couldn’t resist asking.
“Ah, our Xue Feng has unfortunately died. The Isles have gone too far.”
“How about House Xuan?” Patriarch Kuang flicked a glance at Elder Zun.
“Our best genius, Xuan Rui, was lost.” Elder Zun was extremely dejected.
“I’m going to the Rejuvenation Isles myself. Are you coming?” The Kuang patriarch gave both elders a once-over.
“Of course! We must! How can we live this down without getting an explanation and reparations from the Rejuvenation Isles?” House Xue’s elder shouted.
House Xuan’s venerated elder wasn’t far behind. “Yes, I will go too. I won’t rest until I get to the bottom of this.”
The Rejuvenation Isles’ royal family sank into terror at the news. They immediately issued a lockdown on the information to restrict the spread of unnecessary hysteria.
“Did something unexpected happen to our plan?” The Rejuvenation emperor was particularly tense. As the highest authority in the Isles, anxiety rampaged with the situation. The shocking news had nearly scared him witless.
The harsh scolding from House Kuang’s head in the end gave him a sense of impending doom. What was supposed to have been wonderful hospitality had turned into a terrible accident. The entire event had gone sour.
“My trusted advisors, have we smashed ourselves in the foot? House Kuang’s head seemed like he wanted us to be responsible for the troublesome news.” The emperor was as frantic as ants in a hot pan. “If any of you have any ideas, please share and don’t keep them to yourself.”
Doomsday was near for both the emperor and his subjects. They were transfixed by their anxiety.
“Your Majesty, I think we must send personnel to further investigate what’s happened at Winterdraw. I would assume our men there are still completely oblivious as to what’s transpired.”
“That’s right. We must lock down the premises and find out the reason.”
“If there’s a culprit, we must catch them.”
“That’s right. Only when we deliver the culprit do we have a semblance of an explanation.”
“Ah, three of the eight houses have suffered casualties. I wonder if there are any others who share that misfortune… all this trouble came out of the blue.”
None of the advisors were able to maintain their composure.
“Send out a team to Winterdraw straight away,” the emperor commanded. “Put Imperial Prince Huo in charge of investigations. We must get to the bottom of this!”
It took more than a day or two to travel from the capital to Winterdraw. Gathering a team together, making preparations, departing… if they were quick about it, perhaps they could get there before the trial ended, though actually doing so would be quite difficult.
Of course, they had little choice otherwise. What else could they do but investigate first?
The trial on Winterdraw had finally ended after half a month. The eight houses’ geniuses gradually exited the Blackwraith Mountains one by one.
Among Winterdraw’s contestants, there were actually a few elites who came out as well.
They were completely oblivious as to what had transpired. As soon as they came out, they returned to their factions to complain.
“City Lord, we were attacked by unknown experts within the grounds of the trial. We suffered great casualties!”
“Vale Lord, you must serve justice for us!”
These cultivators hadn’t yet reacted to their circumstances. They hadn’t realized that those who’d attacked them were Polylore’s geniuses, from its eight houses.
The lords of Sin City and Nefarious Vale were completely impassive. “Go complain to the chief warden.”
The cultivators noticed that the atmosphere was awry. Several of the chief warden’s experts came by, their expressions serious. “You are charged with trespassing in forbidden territory in the Blackwraith Mountains. Come along quietly with our investigation.”
It appeared that Jiang Chen’s judgment had been correct. Death awaited the survivors of the hunt outside the mountains. They were going to die at the hands of people who were supposed to be on their side.
“We’re innocent! We didn’t take a single step into the forbidden territory. We were in the designated area the whole…”
The chief warden’s experts didn’t wait for them to finish. The survivors were slapped into unconsciousness and picked up by the nape of their necks.
Everyone had seemingly come to an astonishing consensus about them. No one said a word. In fact, everyone pretended that they were invisible.
The poor survivors were thus tragically sacrificed for the sake of Winterdraw and Rejuvenation Isles’ reputation. Only when they were silenced could the entire affair become shrouded in mystery. It wasn’t good for future selections to be negatively impacted.
After a lengthy waiting period, it appeared that everyone still alive and intact had already come out. Those who had not were likely to be dead within the mountains.
Aside from Su Hong, of course.
The eight houses’ geniuses were counted. Most houses found all three of their geniuses whole and accounted for. Said geniuses came to the tabulation area of the eight houses, handing in their spoils in an orderly fashion.
In fact, the majority of the geniuses were accounted for.
House Xue however, was missing a Xue Feng. Its seniors looked about anxiously, but he was nowhere to be found.
It was the same with House Xuan. Only one of their scions had come out, the weakest among the three who’d gone in. Xuan Rui and Xuan Fei hadn’t appeared.
House Kuang’s seniors were the most distressed. None of the house’s geniuses had come out. The senior executives felt an uncertain panic about their disappearance. Why hadn’t they come out yet? Shouldn’t everyone be out by now? Or had they gathered together to come out together?
All three houses with absent geniuses were jittery and restless.
It was at this moment that Jiang Chen came forth wearing a grey cloak. He appeared from within the Blackwraith Mountains at a moderate speed, looking at House Xuan’s group as he approached.
“Xuan Rui, you’re out! Have you seen Xuan Fei?” House Xuan’s seniors brightened at the sight of ‘Xuan Rui’.
“No.” Jiang Chen feigned Xuan Rui’s voice.
He went to the tabulation area to hand in the spoils. Because the trial had in itself been a competition, they needed to score the number of prey each genius had taken down to decide the victor.
The item to confirm kills were the medallions that Winterdraw’s contestants had been given.
Jiang Chen handed in a portion that he assumed would be appropriate for Xuan Rui’s skill. He didn’t want to seem too excessive. There was no need to show more prowess than his ranking dictated.
Everything was done in an orderly manner. Jiang Chen was cautious, but not nervous.
In the last bit of time, two more geniuses appeared. After that, no more came out from the Blackwraith Mountains.
House Kuang’s people were beside themselves with agitation.
“How could this be? Not a single one of my house’s geniuses made it out?”
“Our Xue Feng didn’t come out either!”
“Our Xuan Fei as well!”
A head count revealed five missing geniuses. All had died at Jiang Chen’s hands.
It seems that the eight houses did have an agreement that killing between them wasn’t allowed. Otherwise, there would be far more deaths than these.