Xiahou Xi, die here?
The young man in question was slightly surprised, but Yan Qingsang was positively stupefied. Were his ears working right?
Get rid of Xiahou Xi, in this isolated place?
The idea stimulated his imagination and made his blood boil. His anger made his thoughts take an evil turn. Still, although it was an invigorating prospect to think about… but was it truly possible?
Yan Qingsang mulled it over. If Brother Shao Yuan were stronger than him – if he was roughly equal to Xiahou Xi – then he might just tip the scales enough in favor of their victory.
It was a small chance, in theory. Perhaps too small to gamble on. His fury receded at these second thoughts. If there wasn’t a good chance of pulling it off, the risk wasn’t worth it.
If Xiahou Xi didn't die here, there would inevitably be another round of verbal sparring outside. House Xiahou’s current dominant position would lead to a renewed attack on House Yan. Though Yan Qingsang was often a straight-shooter, he didn't want to add any more troubles to his house than he’d already done so.
“Don’t be too impulsive, Brother Shao Yuan. It’s better for us to live to fight another day. If we band together, he won’t be able to do anything to us.” Yan Qingsang calmed down after he’d gotten a clear read on the situation.
“Leave what you have, Yan Qingsang,” Xiahou Xi declared coldly. “Then kneel and kowtow to me three times. I’ll let you go then. Your servant’s life is mine, though.”
“Don’t you go too far, Xiahou Xi!” Yan Qingsang snapped back indignantly. “We are two, and you are one. What do you intend to do? Do you want to face us both?”
“Trash like you? I could take on ten of you.” Xiahou Xi was astoundingly arrogant. He felt a natural sense of superiority over anyone from House Yan.
“Are you going or not, Yan Qingsang? I’m asking you for the last time.” Jiang Chen glanced remotely at the young man beside him.
Yan Qingsang shivered as the gaze made contact with him. “Brother Shao Yuan…”
“Stop wasting time. You’re only dragging me down by staying. Get out of here, alright? You saw nothing nor met anyone out of the ordinary today. Do you understand?” Jiang Chen’s tone was meaningful.
Intimidated by his friend’s steely look, Yan Qingsang instinctively nodded. “Okay, I’ll pull back first. Don’t hold on for too long.”
“Go as far as you can. Remember, if you don’t want to make any trouble for yourself, you haven’t seen anything. Nothing at all!” Jiang Chen instructed once more.
Yan Qingsang had a sudden realization of something and silently vanished in retreat.
Jiang Chen’s Evil Golden Eye locked onto Xiahou Xi, forcing him to cautiously remain still until Yan Qingsang’s departure. Only then did he retract some of the pressure of his ocular skill.
Xiahou Xi harrumphed, then cackled. “I didn’t expect House Yan to have a slave like you. I underestimated you, huh?”
Jiang Chen ignored the banter. He stood perfectly still in casual disregard of his opponent. He was waiting for Yan Qingsang’s presence to disappear completely from the vicinity. Once it did, he opened his eyes once more.
“Xiahou Xi, hmm? I wonder what your relationship to Xiahou Zong is?”
“Hmph. Xiahou Zong is the best genius of our house. Who do you think you are to say his name like this?” Xiahou Xi reacted as if his tail had been stepped on. He was annoyed and flustered.
“Best genius? I’ll make that so-called genius’s head into my chamber pot one day. That’s right, there’s another Xiahou Jing from your house. Do you know him?”
“Brother Jing? You know him?” Xiahou Xi darkened, then snickered. “Don’t bother with name-dropping. House Xiahou has countless geniuses. Do you think you’ll be able to escape your doom today just because you can name two of them? Impossible!”
Jiang Chen laughed joyfully. “I thought Xiahou Jing was trash enough, but I’ve misjudged him. Compared him, you are far more of a piece of trash. He’s definitely the smarter of the two.”
Xiahou Xi bristled with fury. “You want to get the better of me with words, kid? I understand —
you’re so near death already. Alright, I’ll do you the favor of sending you to your doom.”
“Actually, I’m doing you the favor. I’ll send you to a happy little reunion with Xiahou Jing.”
“What do you mean? Have you met Brother Jing?” Xiahou Xi became more uncertain with each passing moment.
“Sure I have. I killed him while I was at it.” Jiang Chen smiled serenely. “Oh yes, he had two dogs of a servant with him too. Elders Mo and Peng, correct?”
Xiahou Xi had repeatedly told himself to calm down, but he couldn’t after hearing this tidbit.
“Who are you, really? Why do you know these things?” His discomfort was becoming unbearable.
“Me? I’m a gravedigger for your entire house. Xiahou Jing’s was the first I dug, and you’ll be the second. Many more will come after. The entirety of House Xiahou will be sent to the underworld one day. You can all be together then.”
Having said all this, Jiang Chen suddenly clapped both hands together, producing a burst of strange light from the air. Nine strange images floated within empty space, producing a series of interlaced pocket demiplanes.
He’d brought his Nine Labyrinth Formation to life.
“What’s this?” Xiahou Xi blinked.
“Haha, tell me how you’d like to die, Xiahou Xi.” Jiang Chen’s voice echoed by his ear.
The young man’s expression changed drastically, turning his head all around him. Alas, there was nothing to be found save for these odd-looking pictures in every direction. They seemed infinite and endless without exit, extending in every direction to create new domains of space.
“A formation?” As a genius of a great house, Xiahou Xi instantly realized the gist of what he was encountering. “What a petty trick!”
He refused to give in. Murder flashed across his eyes. The wave of a hand conjured a weapon into his fingers. He used it to cut into the image right in front of him.
The image was ripped right in half by the attack. A mocking smile appeared at the corner of Xiahou Xi’s mouth. He was pleased with his success. “What a joke a cheap prank like that is…”
He hadn’t finished gloating before his voice ground to a halt. What he saw behind it terrified him.
It was another identical image, though the aura it exuded was even more mysterious and impenetrable.
This was absurd!
Xiahou Xi was in a complete panic. He finally felt that he’d met a fearsome opponent – someone who had the ability to threaten his life. Roaring multiple times in succession, he delivered a flurry thundering strikes against the Nine Labyrinth Formation’s images.
Jiang Chen snickered to himself when he saw Xiahou Xi’s rage. This was one of the dumbest ways to counteract the formation. Even Xiahou Jing hadn’t been this foolish. Xiahou Xi was definitely inferior to his kinsman.
There wasn’t much fun in tormenting such a weakling.
“You disappoint me, Xiahou Xi. I thought you’d be able to make a solid pass at solving this, like Xiahou Jing did. You got my hopes up for nothing.”
Xiahou Xi howled resentfully. “You’re just a slave of House Yan, kid. How dare you mouth off like that about House Xiahou’s geniuses? Aren’t you worried that you’ll cause trouble for your masters?”
“House Yan? The hell does that house have to do with me? I’d be happy to see you two houses fight to the death, really.” Jiang Chen had little goodwill toward Huang’er’s house. A house that gave away its geniuses to another to be cultivation vessels wasn’t worth his respect.
Xiahou Xi was flabbergasted. What did this man mean by what he’d just said? Was he not a servant of House Yan, after all? He’d hit a brick wall this time, truly.
“If you’re not related to House Yan, friend, then you are no enemy of mine. This is a misunderstanding!”
“Not at all. I killed Xiahou Jing, you know,” Jiang Chen smirked playfully.
“He has nothing to do with me. House Xiahou isn’t without its own internal conflicts.” Xiahou Xi tried his best to slither his way out of the situation. He had no other way to deal with his current dilemma.
The guy before him had more than enough ability to kill him on the spot. It was better for him to survive over anything else.
Jiang Chen shook his head. Xiahou Xi was conducting himself in a rather ugly manner. It looked like deep down, the Ten Divine Nations’ geniuses weren’t much different from the rest.
Cowardly, fearful of death, absolutely base and vile.
“Are you begging? Do you plan to to kneel before me and kowtow, hmm?” Jiang Chen scoffed.
Xiahou Xi was thoroughly discomfited. He tried his best to remind himself to stay calm and not run headfirst into his opponent If he did, he would be cut down where he stood.
“Friend,” he offered a simpering smile. “I always pay my debts. If you let me live today, I will pay back tenfold.”
“No need.” Jiang Chen’s expression darkened. “I have one principle only in my dealings with House Xiahou.”
“What is it?”
“Death with no exceptions.” Having said this, Jiang Chen raised his Holy Dragon Bow and sent an arrow hurtling into the formation. Outside of it, he could not guarantee his accuracy, but the formation worked in perfect tandem with the Holy Dragon Bow’s power. Even Shu Wanqing, back in the human domain, had fallen prey to the combination.
Moreover, Jiang Chen was very different from his old self back in his campaign against the Order of Wind and Cloud. He was much stronger now.
‘Death without exception’ – the enunciation of these words chilled Xiahou Xi to the bone. He knew he was done for. A ray of light from within the void was accompanied by a reaping arrow in flight. The missile flew towards his face.
Xiahou Xi ducked hurriedly.
Alas, his attempt was stymied by the contracting images all around him. Within moments, they had boxed him into a tiny space. He was like a scurrying mouse trapped in a cage. The room left for him to maneuver grew increasingly tiny.