Jiang Chen and Huang’er were emotionless as they descended into a lower altitude where the battle was happening. Because he was disguised, Tian Shao and Tang Long wouldn’t know who he was. In fact, not even Gong Wuji would, even if the man were to come back to life.
The men in black were slightly intimidated by the fact that Jiang Chen and Huang’er hadn’t flown on mounts, instead descending middair with their own strength. Tian Shao and his subordinates saw it as well. Flying! They looked at each other with shocked eyes, their faces pale. These newcomers had flown in without spirit beasts. They had to be at least in the sage realm! Although the occasional sage realm cultivator did show up in Skylaurel Kingdom from time to time, seeing such a cultivator in person was off limits for them. Even if they were accidentally able to catch a glimpse, they wouldn’t know about it. Both parties were surprised at such a rare sight.
“Wh-… who’re you?” The leader of the men in black stammered. “We… we are of the Hidden Death…”
“Hidden Death. Is that one of those clandestine killer organizations?” Jiang Chen said impassively. Tian Shao and company were relieved at Jiang Chen’s evaluation of the organization. It didn’t sound like they were on particularly great terms.
“That’s how we were before,” the black-garbed leader nodded. “We have become followers of the Ninesuns Sky Sect and are now a faction beneath one of their first-rank sects. Our sect head is one of the division leaders for the Purple Light Division.”
“Ninesuns Sky Sect? Purple Light Division?” Jiang Chen blinked. Isn’t the Purple Light Division what the Purple Sun Sect changed its name to after defecting to the Ninesuns Sky Sect? It appeared that after the sect’s elites died, the Division had fallen into Hidden Death’s hands.
The black-garbed leader puffed himself up. “That’s right, the Ninesuns Sky Sect. Our sect head is sworn brothers with an eleventh-rank inspector of that sect and has received sufficient recognition from the sect itself. He’s a sage realm cultivator now. Friends…”
Jiang Chen’s face suddenly darkened. “Friends? What right do you have to call me your friend?”
“We might not, but surely you’ve heard of the Ninesuns Sky Sect’s name?!” The black-garbed leader loudly proclaimed.
Are these guys trying to pressure me using the sect’s name? Jiang Chen couldn’t help but laugh. He hadn’t been scared of the Ninesuns Sky Sect even when he’d been a mere spirit realm cultivator. What possibility was there of that changing now?
On the other hand, Tian Shao and his guardsmen were quite anxious. They were fearful that these two strong cultivators would leave after hearing the sect’s name. If they did, then the Dragonteeth Guard would lose their only lifeline.
Seeing that Jiang Chen had fallen silent, the black-garbed leader thought that the person in front of him had grown fearful. He began to push for an advantage. “I don’t think you’re related to these Skylaurel ants, friend. Why risk your head for theirs? We need to settle some old grudges. Surely that doesn’t relate to you?”
Jiang Chen laughed coldly. “Are you threatening me?”
“I don’t think I am. Rather, I’m trying to convince you to see the truth of the matter. Why make an enemy of the Ninesuns Sky Sect? There isn’t anywhere to rest under the heavens for people who do.”
It was sounding more and more like a threat after all. Jiang Chen was no stranger to words like these, but the source that they came from… the men in black didn’t even have an origin realm cultivator in their group. How did they have the guts to threaten him? Quite odd, really. These people from Hidden Death showed themselves to be upstarts after all. Now that they had the Ninesuns Sky Sect to back them up, they thought that they were the greatest in the world.
Jiang Chen bobbed his head a little. “How unfortunate for you. I have old debts to settle with Hidden Death as well. I’ll treat you guys as an advance payment of interest.”
“What? You should think things through… ah!”
The time for talk was over. Jiang Chen smacked his hand down, conjuring a golden hand sign that grew bigger and bigger until it became a mountain. The hand burst the men in black as easily as if they’d been bubbles. Their lives were snuffed out like candle flames, their screams stifled in the process. A cultivator of Jiang Chen’s caliber could fight toe-to-toe with an emperor realm cultivator. These spirit realm toadies were no match for him. They were ground to dust beneath the palm of his hand.
To Tian Shao and his men, however, the sight was enough to make the muscles on their faces spasm. Their opponents were the ones being killed, but the method that had been used to do it was still gut-wrenchingly fearsome. The scores of enemies who had been after them couldn’t even take one slap of this stranger’s palm. They had been directly reduced to smithereens. Just what kind of power did he possess? Tian Shao’s entire body felt limp. He barely calmed himself, offering a cupped-fist salute to Jiang Chen. “Thank you for your help, sir.”
Jiang Chen looked back at Tian Shao, then at Tang Long. Those two’s strengths had increased a fair amount during these many years. But alas, the Skylaurel Kingdom of today was no longer the same as the Skylaurel Kingdom of days past. Their skills were a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things. Faintly nodding in approval, he asked, “What’s up with Hidden Death? Can one of you explain in more detail?”
Tian Shao worked up the courage to come over. He recounted the drastic changes that Hidden Death had undergone during these past few years. Everything was described in detail. When Hidden Death had worked within the sixteen kingdoms alliance all those years ago, their strength had been formidable even back then. Though they weren’t as strong as the four great sects, they were only weaker by a small measure.
Their first opportunity came after the alliance of Precious Tree Sect and Regal Pill Palace several years ago. Purple Sun Sect had been at a low point then, and the other sects all had different backers. Ninesuns Sky Sect’s plans were greatly disrupted, and that was where Hidden Death had come in. The head of Hidden Death offered up a treasure that greatly pleased a certain rank eleven inspector of the Ninesuns Sky Sect. The inspector instantly became sworn brothers with Hidden Death’s sect head, wholeheartedly recommending Hidden Death to his higher-ups. With Ninesuns’ assistance, Hidden Death shot up in strength over the course of only a few years. Their strength surpassed the historical four great sects, and neared that of a fifth-rank sect.
When Eternal Celestial Capital invaded the Myriad Domain, a further opportunity for Hidden Death’s advancement came. The added chaos was perfect for the Ninesuns-backed Hidden Death to develop like wildfire. The Hidden Death of today was fully under the Purple Light Division. Its sect head was the second-in-command there. There was no difference between the second-in-command and the actual person in charge, since the latter was designated by the Ninesuns Sky Sect. For the most part, they didn’t mind much of the division’s business. Thus, Hidden Death grew full of themselves in the sixteen kingdoms. Moreover, they were able to spread their reach to the entire Myriad Domain.
Though the domain had a multitude of factions occupying it, others gave the Purple Light Division a wide berth. They were subordinate to the Ninesuns Sky Sect, after all. A few days prior, someone at Hidden Death had probably recalled the shame of their previous failure in Skylaurel all those years ago, putting forward a proposition to get even. Tian Shao had been one of the heads of the taskforce at the time. Unfortunately, he had been found on duty and engaged by this bloodthirsty group.
“Sirs, the Purple Light Division will surely investigate now that you’ve killed someone from Hidden Death.” Tian Shao couldn’t help but mention after his explanation. “They’re backed by Ninesuns Sky Sect now, and they use that as license to run rampant all over the place. You should depart as soon as possible.”
“What about you?” Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
Tian Shao looked depressed. “We can only change our names and retire. Skylaurel Kingdom isn’t what it once was. If it wasn’t for our loyalty to His Majesty the king, we would all have left long ago.”
Jiang Chen sighed softly. It hadn’t even been ten years, but things had already become this bad. Even a place as insignificant as Skylaurel Kingdom had been caught up in the sweeping changes of the world. The Eternal Celestial Capital and Ninesuns Sky Sect were the ones ultimately responsible for the state of things. Thinking for a moment, he took some time to sort through a few things before giving Tian Shao a storage ring. “Here, take this.”
Tian Shao figured out its nature as soon as he received it. “Sir, what are you…”
“Ole Tian, this is Jiang Chen,” Jiang Chen messaged. “There are a lot of things in this storage ring that will help you in your retirement. Some of it will also increase your strength. Go split them up with Tang Long. As for the fourth prince… he’ll have to sit tight for a while longer. Remember, as long as you’re still alive, there’s always hope.”
The message shook Tian Shao to the core. He immediately remembered that Jiang Chen was still technically a criminal at large. His location could not be betrayed. Suppressing his elation, he bowed. “Thank you for your generosity, sir. If you have any interest, please come to the capital for tea and a chat.”
“There’s no need,” Jiang Chen waved. “If you intend to hide yourselves and your names, you should leave now.” He followed up with a message. “Don’t worry about Hidden Death. Starting tomorrow, there will be no such organization anymore. However, you should still retire into seclusion. There will definitely be an investigation from the Ninesuns Sky Sect if Hidden Death simply vanishes off the face of the earth. You should be prepared for it so as to avoid being implicated.”
Tian Shao had wanted to retire for a long time. His heart was amazed at the contents of Jiang Chen’s second message. Was the young man going to destroy Hidden Death alone?
Hidden Death was as strong as a fifth rank sect and had the Ninesuns Sky Sect as its backer. It was the strongest entity in the sixteen kingdoms alliance. It was likely that the current Purple Light Division could do as it wished even within the Myriad Domain. Not necessarily due to their own strength, but because Ninesuns Sky Sect’s name carried far too much weight.
However, Tian Shao recalled a few rumors that had circulated about Jiang Chen. A few years ago, Jiang Chen had been able to kill an emperor realm cultivator from Eternal Celestial Capital. Perhaps his cultivation as of late allowed for even greater miracles? Though Hidden Death was strong, they were mere upstarts. They had a million chinks in their armor before a genius like Jiang Chen. There was no more time for small talk, though. Tian Shao bowed once more with the rest of the Dragonteeth Guard, then beckoned to them. “We’re off!”