Jiang Chen hadn’t overexaggerated the problem one bit.
If the ten sacred lands fully lost control of Myriad Abyss, the descendants of the ancient war’s deserters would take over. Myriad Abyss would lose its fervor then, leaving a bunch of self-serving cultivators to lord over the land.
Under a culture like that, who would enter the offworld battlefield to fight off invaders? Certainly not the new rulers!
Of course, Jiang Chen didn't point all of this out clearly.
Technically, Yan Qingsang and Huang’er were descended from deserters of the ancient demon-sealing war as well. Though they had more fire than the rest, they were too unimportant to affect the grand scheme of things.
Moreover, they had been kicked out from House Yan. They could no longer call themselves its scions.
Because Jiang Chen had a ton of free time within the airboat, he took time to read the various works that Senior Pei Xing had left behind. The texts were quite enlightening.
Pei Xing had been an incredible formation master. The ones he’d set up on Winterdraw alone were enough to evoke Jiang Chen’s respect. The more he got perused the senior’s works, the more praise he had. The old master deserved nothing less when it came to his mastery over formations.
“I didn't expect Senior Pei Xing to have been so amazingly proficient. No wonder he was qualified to work together with the two formation masters from Ancient Crimson Heavens and Earth Bodhisattva on the Great Formation.”
Jiang Chen brimmed with excitement. Faced with row after row of Pei Xing’s books, he was eager to study every single one of them thoroughly.
There had to be information on the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement too. Though Senior Pei Xing had been responsible for only a part of it, his knowledge was invaluable to consult regardless. If he could find the text concerning the formation, he would understand it much better.
After some hard work, he was rewarded with his prize. In ten days, he discovered a text that contained an ocean of information on the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement.
There were tens of thousands of characters detailing the formation and its design.
It described not only the part Pei Xing had been responsible of, but his assessments and various details concerning the entire formation as well. There was nearly everything Jiang Chen had wanted.
His newfound prize was precious beyond belief.
“After all my efforts elsewhere, that was almost too easy!” Jiang Chen had always worried about the Great Formation. He’d grasped the portion the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect had been responsible for, and now Pei Xing’s knowledge was his as well. In fact, the solitary cultivator’s experience was richer than the sect’s.
“Pei Xing must have been a true ancient master of formations. A prodigious genius in his art.” The more he learned, the more he respected the great man of the past.
Starfate traveled for nearly twenty days before approaching the Rejuvenation Isles. Jiang Chen made sure to keep a much lower profile once he was in Rejuvenation territory.
Evidently, Rejuvenation had languished since last he was here. When the three houses of Polylore had caused a severe ruckus, Rejuvenation had suffered heavy losses in both money and men. Right now, it maintained an honest, low-key front.
Jiang Chen was in no hurry to head to Winterdraw yet. He paid a visit to Six Leaf City first instead.
Among the bandits he’d first met upon arrival on Winterdraw, he’d promised the big man surnamed Fang that he would give a storage ring to his daughter.
Jiang Chen hadn’t forgotten about the request. The woman in question was named Fang Yingying.
His last departure from Winterdraw had been in a bit of a hurry. Thus, he hadn’t the time to go to the city and deliver the item. The danger was now past; no one could possibly know he and Jiang Huang were the same, and nobody asked after the joint bounty on his head.
Actually, it’d been so many years that the bounty was no longer in effect.
It took a bit of effort after entering in the city to find Fang Yingying. She was a cultivator of a reasonable level, with a dao partner accompanying her.
Jiang Chen gave the storage ring to her, quite astonishing the woman. When she made to ask after her father though, the young man was already gone. He didn't stay long in Six Leaf City before leaving directly for Winterdraw Island.
The island had been abandoned. It had been rather remote originally, and Rejuvenation had given up on it altogether after finding the formations were irreparable. The island was, for all intents and purposes, totally forsaken now.
Winterdraw had become a nightmare for Rejuvenation that no one wanted to visit. A deserted island so far out in distant waters wasn’t interesting at all.
That suited Jiang Chen’s purposes just fine. He was unhindered by anything on his trip.
The first thing he did once Starfate landed was to send out the Goldbiter Rats. “Ole Gold, scout out the entire island. Report on anything still alive back to me.”
The Goldbiter Rats were particularly suited for tasks like these. Their vast numbers could cover the entirety of Winterdraw with ease, ensuring that no suspicious tidbit escaped his grasp.
After so many years, Winterdraw had become an uninhabited island. The Goldbiter Rats’ comprehensive efforts failed to seek out any man still residing here.
Those who could escape already had. Those who’d failed were long dead at the bottom of the surrounding seas. No one would stay on an isolated island for long.
The lack of inhabitants here was perfect.
Jiang Chen hadn’t destroyed the formations on the island. Instead, he’d refined the item that was its core, the obelisk Pei Xing had left to control Winterdraw’s operations.
If Jiang Chen wanted to, he could restore the formation anytime to restore the island to its former vitality. Still, he was hesitant on whether or not that was the right choice.
When he voiced his concerns to his companions, Yan Qingsang was the first to enthusiastically respond. “Do it! Why shouldn’t you? If you fix the formation here, the island will be our territory!” He was a bit overexcited. One of his youthful dreams was to have an island to call his own.
Huang’er was rather intrigued as well. “Brother Chen, it would be a wonderful thing if we could take this island for ourselves. If there’s an ancient formation here that allows travel between Winterdraw and the human domain, this would make a great base for us.”
Jiang Chen realized the appeal himself. If he could make Winterdraw his own, he would be able to travel freely between Myriad Abyss and the human domain. That would be an enormous boon.
He was extremely conflicted for a time.
“Manpower… I need manpower. Without people to stand guard here, I’m worried that…” Restoring the formation would attract outside attention. Unwanted visitors were, of course, undesirable.
Though Winterdraw’s formation formed a harmonious whole that shunted out the average interloper, a top-level expert would have a chance at getting in past the outer, thinner defenses.
With someone at the nexus of the formation controlling it, that would be much more unlikely; but preventing such a possibility was nearly impossible.
Suddenly, his consciousness shifted. His Evil Golden Eye pointed towards the sky, even as color drained from his face. “Get into the airboat!” he barked to Yan Qingsang and company.
He took out the Holy Dragon Bow and summoned the Confounding Puppets around himself.
The unanticipated visitation placed him on the highest of alerts.
He could feel the incredible strength of the hidden observer. This wasn’t an existence he could necessarily defeat as of yet.
“Hahaha…” A slightly aged voice echoed forth from the void. “Well done, young man. I’m surprised you noticed me.”
Yan Qingsang and Huang’er were astonished when they heard who it was.
“Grandpa?” The former blurted out, stunned by the turn of events.
A figure stepped out of the air, landing before the group. It was none other than Yan Wanjun, who had left Mount Cloud Camel to avoid further danger.
The old man’s appearance here was the last thing Jiang Chen would’ve anticipated. He trained his Evil Golden Eye on Yan Wanjun a long while before he could ascertain that the man was indeed genuine.
With that, he relaxed. “Elder Wanjun, you caused quite a scare. Aren’t you worried that you’ll frighten us youngsters by creeping up on us like this?”
Yan Wanjun roared with laughter. “No one can match your daring, Shao Yuan. There’s no way I could scare you! Where is the domination from when you killed those cultivators from the Cloudwave Sect?”
Jiang Chen blinked. “You…”
“I’ve been following you all this time. I was hidden in the capital during this time, near the sacred land.”
“How did you know it was us?” Jiang Chen smiled wryly.
“My grandson and granddaughter are here. It’s not unreasonable to feel some sort of connection, no? Plus, my intuition told me something about your intentions when you left the sacred land. That’s why I came. That you killed the useless guys from Cloudwave without my help was quite a surprise though.”
As a venerated elder of House Yan, Yan Wanjun was an advanced empyrean cultivator. Killing Elder Xu and his lackeys would’ve been trivial for him.
However, he’d refrained from doing so after seeing Jiang Chen’s remarkable prowess. Instead, he kept an eye on them from the shadows without getting to close.
Since he wasn’t radiating any hostile intent, Jiang Chen had ended up not noticing his presence beside the Cloudwave group.
“It seems you can’t stop worrying about Qingsang and Huang’er, Elder Wanjun,” sighed Jiang Chen.