Chapter 877: Those Who Make the Rules
"Please wait, friend." A trace of anxiety fleeted across the Prince of Shangping's calm face. If Jiang Chen were to step out of this place, their secret alliance would be completely exposed. If the cultivators outside learned of their plans to take control, they would absolutely go ballistic. This was why they couldn't allow this young man to leave no matter what. Plus, considering his temper, he would definitely rile up the crowd.
Jiang Chen smiled, "Do you think you can stop me?"
The moment he'd arrived, he'd already spread out his consciousness throughout the entire area and thoroughly gauged everyone's strength. Although there were a lot of experts here, they were all in the emperor realm. He was sure that no one here who could truly harm him. Jiang Chen wasn't being arrogant—It was simply a fact that, with his current level of cultivation and the number of treasures he possessed, no ordinary emperor realm cultivator was capable of suppressing him. Sure, a sky emperor realm cultivator who also possessed an overpowered treasure might cause him to be a bit more wary, but even then he wouldn't be afraid of them.
Some cultivators exuded confidence completely for show, while some others' were entirely genuine. As for the confidence Jiang Chen was currently exuding, his was of the unfathomable kind. . In the group's opinion, this young and arrogant cultivator couldn't possibly be all that strong. However, his confidence wasn't simply an act either.
The Prince of Shangping hid a wry smile before shooting everyone a glance. "Everyone, you trust me enough to let me plot our plans and actions. Since this is the case, please stop objecting to my decisions."
Everyone stared quietly at the Prince of Shangping for a moment.
"Alright, I'll give you face, Prince of Shangping."
"Yes, we'll give you face. However, if this kid can't prove himself useful, we won't allow him to stay no matter what."
The Prince of Shangping looked intently at Jiang Chen. "I have a suggestion, Daoist Huang. If you don't mind…"
"Speak," Jiang Chen answered expressionlessly.
"Please understand that everyone here is pretty famous, so their pride is bigger than that of most others, Daoist Huang."
Jiang Chen simply sneered and didn't respond. Understand, you say? Why should I try to understand you lot?
"The reason we are gathered here is in hopes of controlling the current situation and setting down some rules to govern the entry into the desolate wildlands." The Prince of Shangping possessed a voice that was naturally magnetic. It made people want to continue listening to him. "You may have noticed already, but the number of cultivators here has been increasing rapidly over the past two days. In fact, I dare say that there are tens of thousands of more cultivators to come. It is, of course, good news if these newcomers are all experts, but don't you think that it's a bit comical that some origin realm or even spirit realm weaklings are showing their faces too? If we don't set some down some regulations and gain control of the situation, who knows just what kind of mess will happen if everyone were to charge into the secret realm all at once?"
His words made a lot of sense. The desolate wildlands was a place that had been sealed away for at least a hundred thousand years, and during this time no humans had ever set foot there. Therefore, who could say what was inside? There was no doubt that a place that had remained untouched for one hundred thousand years would contain many precious treasures, but could they say that the desolate wildlands only contained loot and no powerful divine spirits? Could anyone say that it was completely devoid of any great powers that could potentially threaten their lives?
Of course not!
In addition, the desolate wildlands was where the demon race had been sealed during ancient times. Who could say that the sealed race hadn't made a comeback during the past one hundred thousand years? Nothing was known about the desolate wildlands. No one could give a sure answer. Therefore, the idea of regulating the amount of explorers inside the desolate wildlands was actually quite sound. After considering the present situation for a brief moment, Jiang Chen accepted these words.
The Prince of Shangping brightened up after seeing that Jiang Chen's face had loosened up a little. "And so, the reason why I've gathered everyone here today is to pool all of our wisdom for our mutual benefit. Of course, the rulemakers must also have the necessary strength required to uphold their rules. If you wish to join us, then you must prove your abilities.. If you do, then there is no reason for us to reject you, is there? What do you think, Daoist Huang?"
His logic was sound, but Jiang Chen refused to accept his entire proposition. If he were to act according to these people's wishes, he would be falling into their rhythm and playing their game, both of which he had no intentions of doing. "Number one, I have no interest in making any rules. Number two, I don't need anyone to acknowledge my worth. Number three, if your rules do not exclude me from the explorations, then everyone gets a happy ending. But if they do, then I'm sorry to tell you that I won't play by them."
The Prince of Shangping frowned, "You put me in a very difficult position with your unwillingness to cooperate, Daoist Huang."
Jiang Chen smiled, "In that case, pretend I never came."
The Prince of Shangping said hastily, "Wait. I'll opt for another compromise—You only need to show that your consciousness is at a powerful enough level to be on equal footing with the rest of us. By doing so, I guarantee that no one will reject you with malice."
Jiang Chen thought for a brief moment before asking, "How?"
The Prince of Shangping said, "Simple. You only need to tell us where the entrance and kill zones of the formation are to pass the test." He looked at everyone as he said this to see if they were okay with his idea. Although they were reluctant to allow a sage realm cultivator to join their alliance, the Prince of Shangping was worth giving face to.
"If that is what you wish, then so it shall be."
"We support your idea, Prince of Shangping."
"I'll give you face, but if this kid still refuses to cooperate, don't blame us for being unkind."
The Prince of Shangping smiled and looked at Jiang Chen, "You have seen our sincerity, Daoist Huang. If we had thought that you were unworthy, we wouldn't have bothered to notify you in the first place and would have gone about our own business, don't you agree?"
Jiang Chen's response was noncommittal. He lifted his eyelids slightly and said, "The place I'm standing on right now is the only exit that exists in this place. There is a kill zone thirty meters to your left, another one over there, there, and… five kill zones in total. Am I correct?"
In fact, he had found a total of seven kill zones in this place. Moreover, he was sure that there existed only seven kill zones in the entire formation. The answer of five was a purposeful deceit. He didn't want to put himself in so high of a position that everyone would be on their guard against him. Right now his current treatment was exactly the kind of treatment he wished to receive. Although these people showed him a mask of acceptance, they were in fact utterly disdainful of him. This was most advantageous to him.
The Prince of Shangping looked slightly startled, "Are you sure, Daoist Huang?"
Jiang Chen smiled. "I'm sure."
The Prince of Shangping rubbed his palms and smiled, "You've all witnessed Daoist Huang's level of consciousness and perception. It is not any weaker than any of yours, is it?"
The rest of the group's original looks of disdain switched to looks of assessment and inquiry. They couldn't deny the fact that Jiang Chen had identified the secrets of this place—the entrance and kill zones—almost flawlessly. In fact, there were many emperor realm cultivators who weren't sure if they could do the same in such a short amount of time. For a time, no objections were raised towards Jiang Chen joining their ranks.
The Prince of Shangping was all smiles. "It is great news to have Daoist Huang and his powerful consciousness in our ranks. I believe that no one will object to your participation anymore."
Jiang Chen looked calm and collected. He showed no excessive gratification towards the Prince of Shangping's praises.
"Alright, now that another person has joined our ranks, our plans will have an even higher chance of succeeding." The Prince of Shangping surveyed his surroundings once before saying, "Nothing can be done without some basic rules. If my calculations are correct, we can allow no more than five hundred people into the desolate wildlands. The situation will spiral out of hand if this number is exceeded."
"Five hundred? Isn't that number a little too small?" Someone asked.
"Yeah, tens of thousands of cultivators have journeyed to this place. If we allow only five hundred people to enter at a time, I'm sure that trouble will arise."
"Trouble?" The Prince of Shangping's face turned cold. "In the world of martial dao, the rules are set by the strong. Why have we come together as an alliance? It's because we wish to set the rules and maintain them so that others can't start any sort of trouble. If they do, then we'll stop them by force if we have to!"
"I support the Prince of Shangping. Those ants are all miserable wretches who won't leave the area unless we show them something to be fearful of."
"I support him as well. We have to play the role of the villain or else, if ten thousand people were to enter the desolate wildlands all at once, the situation would be uncontrollable. Even worse, we might be forced to clean up their shit."
"Yeah. If they were to accidentally upset some powerful beings, we would be dragged into their mess!"
"Godlike opponents aren't scary, but stupid teammates are the devil incarnate. We absolutely cannot allow those average wandering cultivators to enter the desolate wildlands."
The Prince of Shangping nodded, seeing that almost everyone was agreeing with his suggestion. "Then it is decided. The number of entrants shall be limited to five hundred people. There are about thirty people here. If we are to bring our subordinates with us, the total number will reach about four hundred people. We will allow the powerful sage realm cultivators to fight for the remaining one hundred or so spots. By the time they finish fighting each other to the death, in their eyes we might not even be considered the villains in the end."
"Yeah. Once we set the standard, they'll do the killing all by themselves. We may not even need to do anything and have them fight each other for the spots."
Jiang Chen was dumbfounded by the opinions that had been voiced. Although he also agreed with the sentiment of not opening the floodgates, he never once thought to plot against so many cultivators. It was becoming apparent that working together with these cultivators was a bad idea no matter how strong they were. If they could sacrifice others with so little regard at present, then they could sacrifice Jiang Chen just as easily during a critical moment in the foreseeable future. People like them were destined to be self-centered.
"Do you have anything else to add, Daoist Huang?" The Prince of Shangping seemed to utter this question on purpose.
Jiang Chen answered indifferently, "You set the rules. I just want a piece of the pie."
The Prince of Shangping smiled, "We're partners now, aren't we? As a member of this alliance, it's only natural that you contribute your strength as well, right? I just want to know if you'll help us if we're forced to suppress those wandering cultivators."
It was an extremely tricky question. Jiang Chen shot the Prince of Shangping a glance, "You're all experts, aren't you? Do you even need someone at my level?"
His answer dissatisfied one of the alliance members. "Are you planning to reap all the profits and contribute nothing in return? There's no such thing as a free lunch in this world, kid!"
"I'm strong enough to get in and out of the desolate wildlands. I doubt that your bite is as strong as your bark though," Jiang Chen responded faintly.