Chapter 871: Making a Move with Dominance
The valley was very secluded and hard to find. Two soaring mountains arched towards each other, forming the only pathway into the depths of this misty canyon. The desolate wildlands of fable and legend lay beyond them. To an onlooker from outside the valley, mist and fog surrounded the area, enshrouding the valley in a kaleidoscopic haze all year round. The phenomenon imparted the area with a sense of eerie mystery. Currents of air permeated the valley's entrance, rumbling like bolts of violent lightning. It was clear evidence of a powerful restriction.
"It really is the entrance to the wildlands." Jiang Chen exchanged a look with Huang'er. According to the map they had, at least, they knew they had come to the right place. He Hongshu hadn't deceived them. Witnessing the power of the restriction and its intermittent discharge of air currents of the same thickness as a baby's arm, Jiang Chen had no doubt that the seal was weakening. If it were otherwise, even emperor realm cultivators would be reduced to dust when they tried to enter the wildlands. It was completely out of the question for wandering cultivators.
"The ancient times truly did have remarkable restrictions. It still holds such power after innumerable years. No wonder no one has explored this area, even with the Eastern Kingdom and Darkmoon Kingdom so nearby. Considering the strengths of the cultivators from these two kingdoms, it'd be a problem for them to even get to the entrance, much less explore any further." Jiang Chen did not doubt the veracity of his inferences.
It wasn't even two thousand miles from the Jiang Han duchy, but the road between the two wasn't something that ordinary kingdoms' cultivators could simply traverse. Even origin-realm cultivators would find it difficult to keep themselves safe against the beasts and dangers they would encounter along the way, much less spirit realm cultivators, who were the best that these two kingdoms could offer.
"What're you doing here all shifty-looking, eh? Get outta my sight!" Someone felt provoked by the sight of Jiang Chen and Huang'er walking further in. He appeared in front of the two of them, roaring, with displeasure plain on his face.
Jiang Chen pretended to not notice and gazed at the valley entrance instead. Deploying his God's Eye to the maximum, he began to probe the surroundings. He wanted to know which area of the restriction had weakened and when the crack would appear. He Hongshu hadn't mentioned these details in the information he had provided. He had only mentioned that the entrance hinged on passing through several layers of restrictions and that an antidote pill should be consumed beforehand. The opening in the restriction would close shortly afterwards. If the person who entered wanted to leave, they had to wait until its next opening.
Jiang Chen was a man who paid close attention to detail. He liked to investigate everything thoroughly before taking action. The right to speak came only after a detailed investigation, as did a better grasp on the situation at hand. However, his actions inadvertently further provoked the person who had shouted at him.
"Kid, you deaf or mute? I told you to scram!" The sharp voice from earlier rang out again with heightened anger. He seemed ready to charge into a fight at the slightest provocation.
Jiang Chen furrowed his brow, glancing at the person in question. He was standing more than ten meters away from the other fellow. How was he affecting him in any way? But the guy kept barking incessantly like a mad dog. Jiang Chen's mood was already gloomy, and the commotion only served to worsen it.
"What, is this your house?" Jiang Chen's tone was frosty. A casual once-over from him revealed a total of five members in their group. Upon closer inspection, he was even a little familiar with them. Jiang Chen exchanged another look with Huang'er. Both of them remembered where the five were from. It had been just after the fall of Regal Pill Palace, and Jiang Chen had taken revenge against Gong Wuji by killing his grandson Gong Qi. At the time, he had entered the Great Scarlet Capital to gather information. It was the first time he had been to the city and the first time he had appeared at the Dragon & Phoenix. That was how he had met these five wandering cultivators.
The Great Scarlet Mid Region and Eternal Celestial Capital's bounties had just been posted. Their sums weren't quite as ridiculous as they were now, but it was still five million saint spirit stones, three thousand Origin Doubling Pills, and a single sky rank spirit herb. Moreover, the person turning in the bounty would be entitled to a dukedom of ten thousand miles, bequeathed the Great Scarlet Imperial Medallion, and given the right to found their own sect in the region.
The five of them had first appeared at the Dragon & Phoenix, shamelessly claiming that they were going to capture Jiang Chen and collect the accompanying handsome bounty. He had a strong impression of these people. Their leader was a one-eyed man with a ferocious demeanor and a shrewd mind. They called themselves the 'Ghost Cave Five'. They were reasonably strong sage-realm cultivators and could be counted amongst the better of most wandering cultivators here. Moreover, they were a company of five close friends. Appearing strong and mighty to the casual observer, they had claimed a fairly large piece of land as their own. The closest cultivator was located over a thousand feet away from them. Four out of the five were incensed; the one-eyed leader was the only one who didn't register a change in expression. Jiang Chen hadn't just ignored them—he had dared to talk back! The one who had spoken earlier suddenly stood up. He was a lanky man with a pointed chin. "Kid, you looking to die?"
Although the Ghost Cave Five were wandering cultivators, they were still rather overbearing. However, Jiang Chen wouldn't be intimidated by them. Even the old Jiang Chen wouldn't be afraid of any 'Ghost Cave Five', much less the Jiang Chen of present. He glanced at the other party coolly. "You're part of the 'Ghost Cave Five'? It's a wonder that someone as arrogant as you is still alive," he remarked offhandedly.
Huang'er shook her head to herself as well. The only thing they had done to provoke the guy was that they had stood next to him for a brief moment. Any expert worth one's salt could swat these people like one would a fly. In fact, Jiang Chen could easily exterminate the five of them if he so pleased. His unfriendly tone prompted Huang'er to tug on his arm. "It's okay, don't take these guys so seriously."
Jiang Chen allowed himself a slight smile. Of course he would listen to Huang'er's words. He nodded imperceptibly, then resumed his journey inwards, walking directly past them.
"Halt!" The one-eyed man who had been silent up until now moved forward suddenly, landing in front of Jiang Chen and Huang'er. "You can't pass by here," he waved a hand.
Jiang Chen frowned, angered by the repeated rudeness and provocation from the other party. "You want to pick a fight?"
"I don't care who you are or where you're from," the one-eyed man retorted coldly. "Since you're here, you need to follow our rules. We've already claimed this territory. If you want a place for yourself, you can go somewhere else. We all have another agreement as well—you can't go past this line. If you go deeper in, then you'll be breaking the rules we have in place."
"Rules? Did you make them?" Jiang Chen smirked with disdain.
"Everyone made them together. What, you want to piss all of us at once as soon as you get here?" The one-eyed man was obviously proficient at sowing discord. With but a few words, he had placed Jiang Chen on everyone's bad side. As expected, the onlookers' collective gazes gathered towards him. Some were sneering, some questioning, some wary, and some even hostile with a hint of provocation. Still others pretended to be uncaring.
Jiang Chen had planned to take a step back, but the one-eyed man's malicious intent upset him. Twisting his brow, one side of his mouth smirked upwards. It was a strange smile. He swept his gaze across the Ghost Cave Five's faces. "You can get out of here. I'm taking your territory over now," he said suddenly. That the Ghost Cave Five were capable of keeping such a large portion of land to themselves was a testament to their oppressive ways. No one else was willing to even approach them. They weren't necessarily the strongest nor were they the shot-callers, but their position in everyone's eyes was clear.
And now, an unassuming, young wandering cultivator wanted the Ghost Cave Five to vacate their territory? This turn of events thickened the previously peaceful air. The bystanders looked on at this show with glee in their eyes. They were evidently happy to see something more exciting happen. Such a boring wait was difficult for all of them. A spectacle was just what everyone needed to spice up their lives and soothe their nerves. Naturally, this kind of liveliness was agreeable to all.
For a moment, the Ghost Cave Five hesitated. Then, the one-eyed man began to cackle. Halfway through the gesture, his eyes turned cold. The two words, "kill them", spat from his malevolent lips. Killing intent spewed forth like an explosive conflagration. The five were quite experienced and coordinated. They had been brothers for many decades and struck in unison upon their leader's command, viciously coming at Jiang Chen from many different directions.
Thump, thump, thump. Jiang Chen kicked thrice through the air, and the three fast-moving figures looked as if they had run into the tip of his foot. Like sand bags being used for target practice, they fell in the worst possible way. One after another, they fell so closely together that it was difficult to distinguish who was who.
The remaining two were slightly stronger in terms of cultivation. They were both very surprised at the ease with which Jiang Chen kicked away their comrades, quickly reducing their speed and momentum. Smiling faintly, he wound up both hands with a dextrous twist. He reached towards them in the air, picking up the remaining two with his hands as easily as he would little chicks.
"Scram!" Shaking his arms, Jiang Chen tossed both of them away like sandbags. Attempting to resist further, the two found that they were incapable of doing so. They were entirely paralyzed and unable to move, and their bodies crashed into the earth like weights.
Thump, thump. The impact kicked up dust, which subsequently scattered everywhere. The impact left a gaping hole in the ground. With almost the swiftness of thought, the formerly insufferable Ghost Cave Five were sent flying like dead dogs. It was a horrible sight to behold. The damage was severe enough to keep them on the ground for quite a while. The wandering cultivators bearing witness to the spectacle were conflicted. Some of those with previously calm expressions became far more serious.
Clearly, the people present no longer underestimated the pair of youths before them. The Ghost Cave Five themselves were thrown into disarray as well. They were typically quite aggressive and normally fought tooth and nail when at a disadvantage. But, amidst their present cries, the five no longer dared to even look in Jiang Chen's general direction. Helping each other up, they crawled into a distant corner without even a single word of hot air. Their eyes were full of aversion and fear. What energy did they have to make a retort with? They weren't idiots. They knew that they had picked on the wrong person this time.