The head of Hidden Death flashed a ruthless smile. "We're only taking out some interest. Our biggest target is still that scoundrel, Jiang Chen. He killed a number of our members all those years ago, and now he has a worldwide bounty on his head. Maybe one day he'll flee back here. We should all keep our eyes peeled."
Eyes blazed everywhere in the peanut gallery. The very sound of Jiang Chen's name was enough to remind them of the associated princely sum promised by the Eternal Celestial Capital.
Elder Qiu spat hatefully as well, "That kid is Purple Sun Sect's mortal enemy! If we can catch him, we must take him to the Eternal Celestial Capital to receive our reward."
The Hidden Death head snickered in secret disdain. How idiotic. A reward from the Eternal Celestial Capital? Our Ninesuns Sky Sect has an internal bounty on that kid's head too, with the goods to match. Aside from the Ninesuns Sky Sect's higher-ups, however, not many people knew about it. From a grunt's perspective, the Eternal Celestial Capital was the issuer of Jiang Chen's bounty.
"We have to look into our recent mission to Skylaurel Kingdom. We of the Hidden Death emphasize efficiency. It's been quite a few days since we've received word from them. Send some more people to check on them." The head was evidently somewhat dissatisfied with his underlings' abilities.
Suddenly, faint laughter echoed through the air. "No need. They're not coming back."
The voice was extremely out of place. There had been no indication of its source prior to its emanation. Everyone present jumped in their seats.
"Who? Who is it?!"
Some felt like they were hallucinating. Was one of them intentionally being negative? But the voice had come from thin air, not from someone within the seated audience. The head of Hidden Death focused his eyes and deployed his consciousness to his surroundings. His expression grew very serious. "From where do you come, friend? Don't you know that it's proper to notify us ahead of time?"
"Ahead of time, huh?" The strange voice popped up again, this time from a different corner. "How could I make sure that you wouldn't all run off somewhere if I did that?"
The constant changes to the voice's apparent position made it seem like there was someone invisible in the air who kept moving from place to place. They traveled instantaneously, and it seemed as if they didn't even exist. The head of Hidden Death was black with rage. "Who are you really? Why all this excessive mystery?"
"Ah, but I thought that was your sect's specialty." The voice reverberated throughout the grand hall, but nobody could pinpoint it's exact location.
Even with his consciousness fully deployed, the division head didn't have a clue as to where the voice was coming from. The situation was terrifying. Ever since he had lucked out with his sworn brother, the head of Hidden Death's strength had grown in great strides. He'd gradually accumulated a newfound loftiness. He felt that he could take on any cultivator in the sixteen kingdoms alliance. Even outside of it, they still had the Ninesuns Sky Sect to back them up. His organization had been on a roll for the last few years, which took him from behind the scenes into the limelight. Understandably, his nature had changed drastically with this shift. He now found it intolerable to be toyed with on his own turf like this and seethed with anger.
"Since you're playing such idle games with us, I assume you hold the Ninesuns Sky Sect in no regard whatsoever?" His higher-ups seemed to be the only thing still on the division head's mind. It certainly did a good job calming down the others. The chaos in the room subsided a little.
"The Ninesuns Sky Sect? Funny you should say that. I hear that several of their best disciples have been cut down one after another, and that they've lost face numerous times to boot. Is that the sect you're talking about?"
"How dare you!" Everyone else in the room jumped up at the insult.
"Such humiliating words to the great Sky Sect should be punished with death!"
"Division head, this person must die. We can't let him escape!"
"That's right! Such is the fate of anyone that dares insult the Sky Sect!"
The head of Hidden Death was a bit more clear-minded. He secretly fretted about the situation. Death? That was easy to say, but for whom would it be in the end? They couldn't even catch this person's shadow. "Calm down, everyone," collecting himself, he gave appropriate orders. "Get in formation and be ready for the enemy."
His subordinates moved in accordance to his command.
"Friend, you can decide for yourself whether you're our enemy or not. If you have a grudge with the Ninesuns Sky Sect, you should go to their headquarters instead. Why show off your power at one of their mere divisions?"
Though the tone of this statement was still somewhat hardened, it had softened considerably from before.
"Of course I'll go to headquarters. But just as I said, I came here to collect advance interest."
"What do you mean?" The head's face froze.
"Nothing in particular. I'm sending you to the world beyond." The voice was off-handed, almost casual, as if it were speaking ordinary words. However, the contents of his message made everyone's hearts leap.
"How arrogant!" The division head took out a smooth, shiny mirror. It shined with an awe-inspiring light that flooded the corners of the room.
The voice laughed serenely, "You don't need to go to such an extent. I'm over here." As soon as the words were spoken, two figures appeared in the middle of the hall. One male and one female, both quite young. They stood with an odd listlessness, their faces impassive. For the division head, both faces were unfamiliar.
"Kill them both!" He let out a mad roar, heralding his subordinates' charge.
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. These clowns didn't deserve to be killed by his lotus. He braced himself, and a magnetic force blasted in both directions. Immediately afterwards, his ginseng's tentacles followed, spreading themselves every which way. The cultivators of the Purple Light Division weren't nearly as strong as the wandering ones that had attacked Jiang Chen at Myriad Corpse Valley. Those guys had at least been in the origin realm, and some were even in the lower initial sage realm. But within this Purple Light Division, the only sage realm cultivator was the division head. The strongest people in the sect were a few weak origin realm cultivators, while the majority of the remaining cultivators were in the spirit realm.
Jiang Chen didn't need to use any of his special methods, really. The core members of the division were crushed by the mint ginseng's tentacles, exploding in clouds of blood and flesh.
"How can this be?" The absurdity of the scene clued the division head in to the fact that the end had come. Along with a few other wily elders, he tried to walk towards the door. Unfortunately, they didn't get very far before they realized that they were stuck in a formation. There was no way out.
"Trying to leave?" Jiang Chen mocked.
The head of Hidden Death was white with sheer terror. The person before him was infinitely more fearsome than anyone else he'd ever seen. He couldn't possibly hope to bridge the gap between their strengths.
"Sir, sir… we can talk about it, can't we?" Even as a man of many experiences, the division head's teeth chattered.
Jiang Chen scanned his surroundings. Only the five or six strongest remained. "I don't think there's much to talk about." He said coolly.
The division head shivered. "Sir, are you not afraid of the Ninesuns Sky Sect's vengeance? You can't just go around destroying its divisions."
"Do you have memory problems? I thought I said that I would go to the Ninesuns Sky Sect later."
"If you have a score to settle with them, why take it out on us little ants?" The division head cried.
"Little ants?" Jiang Chen boomed with laughter. "Do you remember all the people you sent killers after? Or the number of people that Purple Sun slaughtered when they were in power?"
The few people that remained were all shocked by this announcement, including the division head.
"Who… who are you really?" Suddenly, the head realized, "You, you're that Jiang…"
Jiang Chen smiled faintly again. Grabbing the division head's neck with one hand, he stopped the man from speaking further. "Die." With his other, he killed the rest of the remaining, stunned men with a palm strike. He continued gripping the division head's life in his hand. "You're clever, but you got in way over your head when you first tried to lay a finger on me."
The division head's teeth clattered with fury. Everything about today had been too strange. They'd had so many years of smooth sailing, and they were about to do something big and climb even higher! But everything had come crashing down with this singular slap. The acute feeling of loss made him think it was a kind of nightmare instead. He was incredulous. But he didn't beg for his life. He knew that he was dead without a doubt, so became fearless instead.
"Jiang Chen, you animal. You dare come back?" He shouted loudly. "Don't be so full of yourself. The Sky Sect will tear you to shreds!"
"A pleasant thought. I doubt it'll come to fruition, though." Jiang Chen was perfectly relaxed. He smacked the division head into dust, then destroyed the entire hall with a few more. As for the underlings of the division, Jiang Chen didn't need to tend to them himself. The Goldbiter Rats finished the job in a much better fashion than he would have.
After an hour, there was nothing left alive in the entire Purple Light Division's headquarters. Jiang Chen's heart was as calm and as undisturbed as a pool of water. He had no pity for a faction like the Purple Light Division. No matter whether it was Hidden Death or leftovers from the Purple Sun Sect, they were a scourge to the sixteen kingdoms alliance. It was a crime to leave anyone here alive. There was no guilt in killing them.
News of the slaughter went out of the sixteen kingdoms alliance a few days later—the Ninesuns Sky Sect's Purple Light Division had been utterly wiped out a few days ago. Nothing was left alive on the mountain that served as its headquarters. Even the plant life and spirit vein had been destroyed. All of their foundations had been removed for good, and there was no possibility of rebuilding.
It took even longer for this news to reach the Ninesuns Sky Sect. The entire sect was aghast. Although the Purple Light Division had only been a very small division amongst countless of others, this sort of outright annihilation was a slap in the face to them. It was an enormous challenge and provocation. The sect immediately sent out numerous inspectors in droves to the Myriad Domain for a detailed investigation. However, all of this would only occur a month later.