Lu Shinan was fully focused on robbing Jiang Chen of his possessions. Treasures strong enough to overwhelm the Prince of Shangping had to be extraordinary! He was someone with ambition, having taken shelter under the demon race's wing because he had a reached a bottleneck in his cultivation. He knew he couldn't ever become the strongest of the strong. Thus, he had taken a road less traveled—selling his soul was no object, as long as the demon race could be the strong backer he needed. It was also the reason for Lu Shinan's unscrupulous nature.
Upon entering Myriad Corpse Valley, Jiang Chen's first observation was that the malevolent air was even denser than it had been three days prior.
"Such a big change in such a short amount of time. The corrupt influence of the demon race is becoming more and more evident. The Wood Demons, the Shadow Demons… I wonder how many other branches are stirring?" He was greatly saddened by the discovery. As the factions within the human domain were still at one another's throats, the demon race was already roiling with restlessness. They were ready to make a resurgence any day now. The human domain was in no condition to engage in a battle of life and death with the demon race.
Jiang Chen couldn't spare the effort to think much more. He only wanted to leave this horrible place and find a safer area so that he could remove Huang'er's Generation Binding Curse. His road wouldn't be an easy one. After fifteen minutes, Jiang Chen noticed numerous throngs of cultivators. He could see many walking by on his road of return. There was only one path, so it was natural to spot them.
"How come there are so many of them?" Jiang Chen frowned. "They're not among the original five hundred that entered with me, hmm? Are there more who came in from the entrance in the outside valley?"
The more he thought about it, the odder he found the situation to be. These cultivators were clearly at varying degrees of strength. Some were even mere origin realm cultivators. The original five hundred cultivators had definitely been stronger than this level. A problem with the entrance was the only explanation. More cultivators must have entered this awful place.
Jiang Chen grieved for them. They thought that there were untold riches here. How could they possibly know that deathtraps were all around them? There were treasures too, of course, but there was no opportunity for normal people to obtain them.
"These people are clearly possessed by a demonic aura. Their expressions are noticeably sluggish and the characteristics of the living are gone. Have these people been demonized already?" Jiang Chen paid close attention to these cultivators. They lacked the vital signs that could be seen in every human. In truth, they were more similar to the walking dead under demonic control. He knew that the demon race had a multitude of methods for taking control of others and using them as their puppets, so it was reasonable to infer that these cultivators had already become demonic vassals. As such, he wanted to avoid further trouble all the more.
Suddenly, the ground beneath him moved strangely. Jiang Chen hastily activated his Cicada Wings, shooting towards the sky. The earth where his feet had been a moment prior was plowed open, as if a furious ox had penetrated it. Countless bone apparitions surged upwards from the ground, mounting an aggressive charge at him. It wasn't the first time he had seen bone apparitions. They weren't particularly strong demonic troops. Not wanting to get involved in the fray, he continually flashed his Featherflight Mirror to reduce the bone apparitions' speed. Meanwhile, he sought to break through the encirclement with Huang'er in tow.
However, the malevolent air in Myriad Corpse Valley was too dense. Despite keeping his altitude low and flights short, Jiang Chen still felt tired. He had to adjust after each brief airborne stint. Thankfully, though the Pentecolor Divine Swords had trouble killing the wood demon parasite progenitor, it cut through these bone apparitions easily enough. Large swathes of bone were torn to shreds with every sweep. The light from the swords burst forth like a lion charging into a pack of lambs, ravaging its prey freely.
His God's Eye lit up suddenly, as Jiang Chen locked on to Lu Shinan, who was commanding the bone apparitions in a corner. Like a white crane riding on lightning, Jiang Chen glided towards the cultivator. A point of his fingers through the air carried the power of a Galaxy Slash. It bore towards the hidden Lu Shinan like a river of stars.
Aiya! Lu Shinan couldn't have possibly expected Jiang Chen's sudden attack. He scrambled to respond to it. Thankfully for him, he was an emperor realm cultivator after all. His personal strength wasn't just for show. He evaded Jiang Chen's lethal attack with a shift of his body.
At the same time, he moved to hide himself even more deeply within the shadows with a cackle. As an emperor realm cultivator, he had no fear of Jiang Chen. He was more concerned about Jiang Chen's prior defeat of the Prince of Shangping. As a cautious man, Lu Shinan had no intention of facing Jiang Chen head on without first fully understanding his opponent.
"Lu Shinan, you've allied with the demons and sold your soul. I'd like to see where you're running off to today!" Jiang Chen was hot on his heels. He flashed his Featherflight Mirror at Lu Shinan's back. Being affected by the mirror's power was like touching electricity. Lu Shinan's body slackened a moment. Jiang Chen had arrived at his location in no time. Raising the magnetic golden mountain high into the air, he smashed it towards Lu Shinan's skull with a lofty motion.
Pfft! Seeing this, Lu Shinan knew that he couldn't leave without a fight today. Performing numerous hand signs in succession, he called a large cauldron into being near him. Its silver light caught the golden mountain, even repelling it.
Jiang Chen flashed his mirror once again at Lu Shinan, not stopping for a second. However, the cultivator seemed to have noticed Jiang Chen's Featherflight Mirror. He bolted to the side the moment Jiang Chen's palm moved. The magnetic golden mountain and Lu Shinan's silver cauldron fought each other directly, ramming into each other repeatedly.
Paying no mind to his mountain, Jiang Chen commanded his Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice into action once again. Countless lotus vines flew across the ground, curling themselves around Lu Shinan's feet. Lu Shinan smirked and stomped. Many defensive wooden stakes rose to counter the vines. Curling around the defenses, the vines couldn't reach further towards Lu Shinan himself.
"How could this be?" Jiang Chen thought it was strange that Lu Shinan had countermeasures for all his methods. Upon further consideration, it made sense. A good guess was that the Prince of Shangping must have asked Lu Shinan to be his ally, planning to fight against Jiang Chen together. The prince must have never entertained the possibility that Lu Shinan would join the demon race.
"Kid, why don't you use the rest of your methods?" Lu Shinan cackled, circling around Jiang Chen from a long distance. He had no wish to enter into a direct confrontation with the youth. Clearly, he wanted to see just how many methods Jiang Chen was actually capable of dishing out. Of course, Jiang Chen had more tricks up his sleeve. However, his brain was operating at max capacity in order to come up with a better solution. In the heat of the moment, he activated a formation disk. The Ancient Slaughter Formation of Seven instantly materialized.
Lu Shinan's face colored immediately. He found himself having already entered Jiang Chen's formation. "You… you're a formation master as well?" He was a little surprised.
Jiang Chen smiled coldly. "Lu Shinan, there's no reason for me to not kill you today. You've joined the demons and are willingly serving as both their informant and lackey."
"Kill me? With what, your half-baked formation?"
The Ancient Slaughter Formation had three levels. Jiang Chen activated the medium difficulty. There was at least some hope of causing Lu Shinan a bit of trouble. However, the defector clearly had a treasure to defeat formations. A blast of radiance heralded an attempt to forcibly break out.
Jiang Chen countered with a swish of his Featherflight Mirror. Greatly astonished, Lu Shinan hurried to dodge. He knew his enemy had a method that could slow both people and attacks down. It was a lethal threat to him. His breakout wasn't delayed by the maneuver. He knew as well as anyone that the longer you stayed in a formation, the greater the risk you'd face. Suddenly, trails of green smoke rose out of the formation, gusting towards him. Lu Shinan tried to sweep the smoke aside with his sleeve. He quickly discovered that the smoke was a little odd. It had a strange restraining power.
"What on earth is this?" Lu Shinan gasped in bewilderment. He remembered what the Prince of Shangping had relayed about the battle with Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen had used the mint ginseng in his battle against the prince, so Lu Shinan was at least somewhat familiar with the attack. Pushing at his reserves of strength, he finally struggled free of the green smoke's binds. Lu Shinan waved a hand, and a folding fan appeared within.
"Take this, kid!" The fan's flourishes had a tectonic strength. It sailed towards Jiang Chen with the irresistible force of two mountains.
Bam! Jiang Chen keeled over from the attack, falling to the ground.
"Hmm?" Lu Shinan was amazed. The kid had a strong offense; did he not have the defense to match? It couldn't be. The Prince of Shangping had said that he couldn't break through the kid's defenses even with the eight statues. Had Jiang Chen used the Imperial Advent Defense Talisman to gain such absurd resilience and without it, he was actually quite weak? Countless thoughts passed through Lu Shinan's mind. As he mulled things over, he discovered that the 'Jiang Chen' who had fallen wasn't actually the real one. Instead, it was an illusion created by the Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice. The discovery was far from encouraging. "Oh, this isn't good."
Lu Shinan moved to turn around, but was met by several golden rosary beads, rolling underfoot. "What are these?" The beads were fairly non-threatening, but due to the strangeness of the scene, he stepped back instinctually. As soon as he did, Lu Shinan realized that he had underestimated the situation at hand after all. The beads twirled over the ground, then transformed instantly into several soldiers in gold armor. They assailed him without hesitation.
"Out of my way!" Lu Shinan was quite upset now. He had been continually toyed with by a mere youth, and still hadn't broken out of the formation. It was a thoroughly unenjoyable situation. The waves of his folding fan repelled the golden soldiers. However, the soldiers seemed perpetually resilient—they came back each time after being sent flying, their ferocity increasing with every rebound.