Chapter 879: Entering the Desolate Wildlands
Not including the cultivators who were still streaming in, more than ten thousand people had already arrived. When they heard that only two hundred slots had been allocated to them, the atmosphere instantly turned very strange. Everyone was incensed, but no one dared to erupt first, because they all knew that if they lost control, they might become the focus of these emperor realm cultivators' aggression. They would be turned into the second batch of sacrifices, slaughtered to serve as an example to the others.
The Prince of Shangping's voice rang out again, "Those who have reached the sage realm are qualified to enter. For those who have not, we will make further selections from those at the peak of the origin realm. Once the two hundred slots have been filled, the selections will automatically end. If those who have not qualified don't leave at that time, we cannot guarantee your safety."
The sage realm threshold barred the paths of the majority of cultivators present.. After all, news regarding the desolate wildlands had yet to spread widely. Not many people were aware of its imminent opening. Any well-informed cultivator who knew of the news and wished to try their luck would already be here. When the sage realm cultivators heard this news, their initially rebellious mental states were immediately put to rest. When they put everything into careful consideration, this rule seemed beneficial to them. Comparing the entrance of five hundred people to the entrance of ten thousand people into the desolate wildlands, it was crystal clear which was more advantageous. Hence, every sage realm cultivator stood up one after another. Their attitudes had undergone a complete change, shifting in support of the Prince of Shangping and the other emperor realm cultivators. In this way, the tension hanging in the air dissipated further.
The cultivators in the emperor realm were considered to be at the top of the food chain. They made the rules. As for the sage realm cultivators, they also stood near the top, exerting power over the rest. Both of these two parties supported the recently-established rules. On the other hand, the remaining people were all at the bottom of the food chain. Their hearts were completely unable to accept the situation at hand, but their thoughts were as fleeting as smoke—they had no say at all.
Since two hundred sage realm cultivators would be chosen out of the three to four hundred sage realm cultivators present, all of them thought their chances were rather high. Hence, there were no sage realm cultivators who rose to oppose this rule. Jiang Chen sighed internally. This plot was as clear as day but still extremely effective. The Prince of Shangping had thoroughly segregated those at the scene. As long as the sage realm cultivators were segregated, how could the remaining people have any say?
Truth be told, the cultivators who were below the sage realm but had still hurried here regardless were really just jumping on the bandwagon. If they tried to enter the desolate wildlands, the endless mysterious fog alone would wipe out at least half of them. However, under the intense magnetic attraction of the treasures that might lie within the desolate wildlands, none of them could think straight. They trusted that honor and wealth lay amidst danger. Their chance for a breakthrough was right before their eyes. The ground inside must be littered with endless gold, ripe for the picking.
Whether these people agreed with the rules or not, the selection had begun regardless. It was very easy to single out two hundred people. Most of the people's positions could be decided based on strength alone. The remaining cultivators duked it out amongst themselves for the few spots left. After two hours, the two hundred spots had been completely filled. The two hundred people who had been chosen were beside themselves with excitement while every one of those who had failed were utterly dismayed. Their eyes flickered with silent thoughts of wanting to stir up trouble, but no one was brave enough to be the first person to act out.
After all, the ones who had created and benefited from the rules were undoubtedly superior when it came to their level of power. Even just those few emperor realm cultivators could absolutely massacre everyone else at the scene. After the selection, the Prince of Shangping said calmly, "One hour. The safety of those who have not left within an hour cannot be guaranteed."
This was both a warning and a threat. Some of the more timid cultivators sighed with despair but left unwillingly. With their weak cultivation levels, they knew that staying was pointless so they had no other choice. The minority of sage realm cultivators who had failed the selection were still somewhat hesitant. They had heard that each emperor realm cultivator could take three others with him into the desolate wildlands. Although these spots were tight, many of them were reluctant to part with this opportunity.
Jiang Chen had also helped in creating the rules. He left one of his spots for Huang'er and another for Lin Yanyu, much to the latter's immense delight. With his strength, there was a seventy to eighty percent chance that he would not have made it past the selections. "Daoist Huang, I really owe you greatly for this."
Jiang Chen smiled tranquilly. "You are deserving of this."
From Jiang Chen's perspective, Lin Yanyu had created this opportunity himself when he'd warned Jiang Chen about the existence of the alliance. Lin Yanyu chuckled before solemnly swearing to Jiang Chen, "Daoist Huang, I definitely won't drag you down."
Jiang Chen did not take this kind of posturing statement too seriously. Once they entered the desolate wildlands, Jiang Chen didn't even have full confidence in himself. Even if Lin Yanyu didn't drag him down, things might not be as easy as he was expecting them to be.
"Excuse me senior, may I ask if you have another spot? Can you sell it to me?" Suddenly, a sage realm cultivator shakily approached Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen shook his head indifferently, "Not interested."
The only reason he was bringing Lin Yanyu was because he felt that the boy had some purpose. He could be used in the future. Jiang Chen had no interest at all in bringing anyone else with him. This wasn't some sightseeing trip. An additional unfamiliar face meant an additional potential source of danger. Another unknown factor. No matter how much money the other party might offer to him, Jiang Chen had zero interest. When that wandering cultivator saw how decisively Jiang Chen had rejected him, he seemed to grow a little afraid. He hurried away dejectedly without a single argument. After that, wandering cultivators turned up one by one to ask him for a spot, but Jiang Chen rejected them all.
The hour was soon to be up. The remaining wandering cultivators finally did not dare linger any longer and left the area with gloomy expressions. Although they clearly harbored resentment, they did not dare misbehave. After all, the Prince of Shangping's overbearing course of action had been sufficiently intimidating. Since he'd given them an hour leave the area, if they stayed past the time limit, death might just come knocking at their doorsteps. Even if gold grew from the ground in the desolate wildlands, it wasn't like they could collect it if they were dead. Worst case scenario, they could look for opportunities after these heavyweights had entered.
Even though the remaining cultivators were in the midst of leaving, they were unwilling to go too far away. They either stopped at a few dozen miles away or, for the more timid, at a few hundred miles. Clearly, they were unsatisfied with leaving in such a fashion The Prince of Shangping and the rest did not seem too mindful of all this.
"Everyone, those that remain are the cream of the crop of this expedition. You will all receive the right to enter the desolate wildlands. However, I have a few ugly words that I must say beforehand. After we enter, every one of you must know your place. In particular, don't be too curious if you run into anything too strange or unique. Moreover, you must take special care not to alarm any powerful spirits in the wildlands. Refrain from coming into contact with anything that is obviously out of bounds. If you really stir up any major trouble, no one here can shoulder the consequences."
Unexpectedly, the Prince of Shangping's words carried no trace of selfishness. Everything about the desolate wildlands was completely unknown. If one wished to enter an unfamiliar place to poke and pry around everywhere, one would die a very swift death indeed. If just a single person died, no one would mind. But if any sort of major trouble were to arise, everyone would suffer the same tragic repercussions. The people here had to be warned against such a possibility. Otherwise, if someone who wasn't aware of the consequences lost himself to greed in the wildlands for just an instant, it could spell disaster for everyone.
A chill ran through the listening audience. Even Jiang Chen found himself agreeing with the Prince of Shangping. There must be a reason behind why the desolate wildlands had been labelled as a forbidden area since the ancient era. Extra care had to be taken in a place where demons had been sealed.
The Prince of Shangping rattled off a few more rules that no one objected to. "Alright, that should be all. Everyone here is intelligent enough to understand the situation at hand, so I will not say too much. The gap in the seal will soon enlarge. When the time comes, all of us will attack together to force it wider. Once we enter, we'll immediately seal the gap back up to prevent the remaining people from returning to this place."
This suggestion was met with even more approval. Since five hundred people had already been selected, they definitely couldn't let anyone else enter. The entrance of more people would only result in the reduction of everyone's benefits. This was something they all clearly understood. They did not have to wait long. Approximately two hours later, that gap started to expand at a speed visible to the naked eye. The surrounding air crackled with divine violet lightning that writhed through the air like dragons. Although it looked as violent as ever, the gap soon showed no further signs of expanding.
"Let's move!" With the sharp command from the Prince of Shangping, every cultivator readied their weapons and struck at the gap. Numerous streaks of light rays of various sizes collided uniformly with it. After a few dozen collisions, a gaping crack was finally opened where the gap had been. The restraining forces around the crack were like yin and yang, constantly threatening to fuse back together. But from the looks of things, the crack would not close for a good while.
"Go!" The Prince of Shangping took the lead as he rushed inside at lightning speed. Jiang Chen and Huang'er exchanged glances before they also dashed inside at similar speeds. Lin Yanyu felt his body being lifted as Jiang Chen grabbed him. Wind abruptly howled past his ears and he could barely open his eyes. Wisps of astral wind danced past his face. Claps of thunder assaulted his ears. In the span of a few breaths, the whistling of wind and rumbling of thunder finally stopped.
Lin Yanyu opened his eyes to find himself in an entirely new space. Ancient trees towered upwards towards the sky. Each was so wide that a few people were needed to encircle a single tree. The forest seemed to sprawl on beyond his field of vision. It was as if he had entered a world made for giants. The trees and vegetation that greeted him appeared at least twice as big as those in the outside world. Even Jiang Chen clicked his tongue in wonder at the view before him.
The Prince of Shangping raised his voice, "Don't be distracted by admiring the view. There'll be plenty of time for that later. Repair the formation first. The ones left outside have definitely not given up yet."
Everyone hurried to help out with these instructions. After repairing the gap, the Prince of Shangping applied a few more changes to it. His deep knowledge of formation techniques was evident. After roughly an hour, a new formation had completely taken shape.
"Even if we've repaired the gap, those who dare to take the risk can still enter. With my formation blocking this entrance, anyone who enters will die. They can forget about coming in." The Prince of Shangping smiled calmly as he surveyed the area around him. "This formation cost this prince over a million saint spirit stones. Don't you all think that you should show a little appreciation?"
He was demanding to be reimbursed! From what Jiang Chen could see, the Prince of Shangping was simply taking the initiative to extort the others. He had been silently observing this formation all along. It cost at most two hundred saint spirit stones and yet the moment the prince opened his mouth, its price had risen to a million. How shady.
Nonetheless, Jiang Chen didn't expose him. At any rate, when divided amongst everyone, this measly sum amounted to just twenty thousand saint spirit stones per person. This kind of small fee was a mere trifle to him. There was no need for him to offend the Prince of Shangping over such a minor issue. The others seemed to agree that paying up such a fee was within their expectations. Moreover, twenty thousand saint spirit stones was nothing to those who had gathered there.