A din of curses sounded out as more and more dejected heirs gathered together.
“Everyone calm down, calm down. The heirs of White Tiger and Black Tortoise are here. They’re all heirs of the four great dukes, and the leader of us all. We must have a plan to combat against the Long family manipulating the contest. Otherwise, when we leave in a month’s time, we’ll all lose our dukedoms!”
“Yes, we must unite together and can’t allow them to do as they will.”
“That’s right. We don’t want to form factions, but don’t force us down the desperate road of disaster either!”
The heir of White Tiger, Bai Zhanyun, and the heir of Black Tortoise, Yi Tiachu, were both elected as representatives.
“Everyone, although I am one of the heirs to the four great dukedoms, I also think that everyone can see the prospects of the dukes within the kingdom in the future will surely change because of one person.”
Bai Zhanyun spoke loudly as his gaze rested upon Jiang Chen.
“Brother Jiang Chen, I, Bai Zhanyun, will concede only to you.” Bai Zhanyun had been foiled by Jiang Chen several times, but rather submitted with good grace.
“Brother Jiang Chen, I, Yi Taichu, also concede to you.” The heir of Black Tortoise, Yi Taichu, also nodded.
“Brother Jiang Chen, you have firmly suppressed the heirs of Soaring Dragon in your challenge for duke of the first rank. We also concede to you, please give us a few pointers.”
Jiang Chen was someone who could be persuaded by reason, but not by force.
“Everyone, I, Jiang Chen, am not someone who issues orders. However, my conjectures are that the greenwing swordbirds must be within the third level. Even with the many methods that the Long brother and sister have, they still wouldn’t dare to go to the fourth level. Therefore, no matter if they are willing or unwilling, the final battle is sure to be within the third level.”
“Everyone’s chosen strategy is correct. At this moment, the only suggestion I have for you is to form and hunt in teams. Moving about alone will force you to be very passive in the third level.”
This was all that Jiang Chen could say.
“Brother Jiang Chen, does this mean that we still have hopes of completing the mission?”
Jiang Chen smiled faintly, “I can only say that you will have a bit of hope when you form a team. However, if everyone has their own selfish motives, then it will be difficult to say.”
“Right, form teams, form teams!”
“I want to form a team, who’s willing to hang around me?”
“Brother Jiang Chen, are you willing to form a team with us?”
“If you don’t want the Long family to hold a grudge against you or don’t wish to be caught in the crossfire, the best choice is to keep away from me.”
Jiang Chen spoke the truth. The Long siblings had done so much, and he would never believe it if there wasn’t the slightest hint of a sinister plot against him in all this.
Of course, on the other hand, Jiang Chen had always preferred to come and go about freely and naturally didn’t wish to move in conjunction with these other heirs.
After he finished speaking, Jiang Chen sprang off both feet and his figure vanished in the darkness.
No matter what sinister plot the Long brother and sister were planning, Jiang Chen decided to cope with shifting events using one fundamental principle. He wanted to complete the mission first before contemplating other things.
His plans made, Jiang Chen made straight for the heart of the third level.
After penetrating roughly fifteen to twenty kilometers, Jiang Chen suddenly halted his footsteps and his nose vaguely twitched a few times.
Jiang Chen caught a baffling familiarity in the hint of presence that faded in and out.
“What presence is this?”
He sniffed carefully, but gained nothing.
At this moment, Jiang Chen’s pupils abruptly contracted as his “God’s Eye” suddenly sent out a beam of concentrated light. It swept over a small forest of rocks and a flock of swordbirds. There were three or four in the lead, and their foreheads all emanated a faint silvery light.
Jiang Chen flung away all those random thoughts and raised his speed to the extreme, shooting towards that flock of swordbirds.
This was the first time he’d seen a flock of swordbirds since entering the Boundless Catacombs.
There were roughly forty or fifty swordbirds in this flock, with the four silverwing swordbirds in the lead. They were originally flying in another direction, but suddenly turned back and flew towards Jiang Chen’s direction.
Just as Jiang Chen’s body approached, several figures suddenly shot out from the corner directly opposite him. They split up into several directions and blocked off the path of the flock of swordbirds.
“Don’t let this fat target escape from our hands, go!”
The three figures that had appeared all flung attacks at the swordbirds.
How could Jiang Chen let such a prime opportunity pass him by? His body leapt out as he dashed up, the nameless blade cutting through the air!
It was as if the vast seas flowed backwards, as if the milky way hung upside down!
The second form of “Vast Ocean Current Splitter” – Wave Breaker!
A strong blade aura transformed into tempestuous billows and frightful waves, sweeping over a huge number of the swordbirds.
Jiang Chen reached out and snatched with a smooth motion, and two silver pearls immediately landed in his hands. His sleeves waved again, and he brought another nine spirit pearls into his sack.
The other three people also split up the spirit pearls with the fastest speed possible.
“Jiang Chen, you’re profiting off of someone else’s hard-earned effort! We’ve arduously laid in wait here and driven this flock of swordbirds, but you’ve picked up the biggest gains.”
One of the heirs was a bit unwilling to accept this outcome.
Although the other two didn’t make a sound, they watched Jiang Chen like a tiger casting covetous eyes on its prey.
Jiang Chen truly had profited the most this time. Two silver spirit pearls and nine green spirit pearls, it was the equivalent of gaining 29 spirit pearls in one stroke.
Add these 29 pearls to the 57 green spirit pearls that he had gained earlier, and that made for 86 pearls. He was now only 14 pearls away from completing the mission.
“Huh. If I didn’t make a move, would you have the assurance of keeping all these swordbirds here?” Jiang Chen laughed coldly and raised his foot, about to leave.
If he hadn’t made a move just now, it was very likely that the vast majority of these swordbirds would have escaped. After all, the speed of the swordbirds was exceedingly fast, and they were in the dark to boot. These three people could only surround three directions, and this flock had come barreling in Jiang Chen’s direction.
If Jiang Chen hadn’t made his move, they would have only been able to keep a few swordbirds.
At the end of the day, they had gained more from Jiang Chen’s actions.
“Jiang Chen, leave the silver spirit pearls, you can take the green ones.”
“Yes, we’ll let you profit a bit, but don’t be too greedy.”
“This is our bottom line!”
“Come and get it if you have the skills to.” Jiang Chen didn’t want to blather on and directly leapt into the boundless darkness. Jiang Chen had no plans to reason with a bunch of fellows who didn’t understand the concept of gratitude.
With Jiang Chen’s speed, the three of them naturally wouldn’t be able to make Jiang Chen stay if he wanted to leave.
In some remote corner on the third level, four figures were meeting.
One of them asked with a raspy voice, “Any news of Jiang Chen?”
“Boss, that kid has hidden himself well, but he’s finally shown himself in the past couple of days. With the cooperation from the Long siblings, all is proceeding according to plan.”
“Mm. I wonder how that kid has done for himself under these circumstances?”
“According to intelligence two days ago, the kid has already collected half or so of the required green spirit pearls.”
“Half? Looks like this kid has some abilities for him to be able to hunt so many green spirit pearls under these circumstances. It looks like there was a reason for the Duke of Soaring Dragon to pay us double.”
“Heh heh, of course there would be a reason. Otherwise, with the current strength of the Long siblings, what need would they have of us?”
“Mm. If the kid collects enough spirit pearls before reaching this area, then our plan will have to be modified.”
“Mm. Seems like it needs to be modified. We have other plans anyways.”
“Number three, you’re more clever, you go. Since he won’t come to this area, you go lure him here. Proceed according to our plan.”
“Number two, number four, prepare yourselves. If we’re to act, put on a good act. Make sure that this kid doesn’t take the slightest bit of precautions.”
“Don’t worry, with our four brothers making a move together and scheming against the unwitting Jiang Chen, how will be we worthy of our reputation as the Hidden Hand if we can’t get rid of this kid?”
As Jiang Chen penetrated deeper into the third level, he indeed began to hunt more swordbirds.
“It looks like I’ll be able to collect enough green spirit pearls without having to go to the fringes of the third level.” Jiang Chen calculated and felt that he would be able to complete his mission in another half-day at this pace.
Just as Jiang Chen was musing, one of his eyelids suddenly twitched, sending out a sign of alarm. “Who is it, come on out! What are you doing skulking around?”
Jiang Chen deployed his “God’s Eye” in the darkness and saw an heir run out from behind a patch of broken rocks.
“Brother Jiang Chen, is it really you?” A look of surprise and happiness shot out from his eyes when he saw Jiang Chen.
“You?” Jiang Chen thought this person looked familiar, but couldn’t remember his name.
“I’m Ouyang Ping of the Sunchaser dukedom. Brother Jiang Chen, I’ve searched for you all over this level. Fatty Xuan and Hubing Yue have formed a team with a pack of heirs and got into a conflict with some other heirs. They’ve taken quite a beating. I’m friends with Fatty Xuan and with my strength, couldn’t help at all, so I’ve come out frantically looking for you.”
In his memories, this Ouyang Ping seemed to really have a bit of a friendship with Fatty Xuan.
“Where are they? Lead on!”
Fatty Xuan and Hubing Yue were Jiang Chen’s only best friends. He was unable to sit idly by and ignore any matters that pertained to them.
At the same time, he felt that it was odd. With Hubing Yue’s strength, who else could threaten him apart from the heirs of the four great dukes?
“Can it be the heirs of the four great dukes?”
Ouyang Ping led the way as Jiang Chen followed behind, but he didn’t ask further questions. It had already been no easy feat for this Ouyang Ping to come bring him this message.
After roughly fifteen minutes, the two threaded past a patch of marshland, with a patch of thorns and thistles in front.
“They’re right past this area of thorns and thistles.”
Jiang Chen nodded, “Lead the way.”
After passing the thorns and thistles, they arrived at an expansive grassland. The surroundings were all made up of sinister, shiny, slippery, and wet crag walls. The jagged, oddly shaped rocks ahead appeared exceedingly sinister.
“Brother Jiang Chen, just up ahead.”
Jiang Chen nodded and suddenly asked, “Ouyang Ping, how many meridians true qi are you now again?”
“Heh heh, my prospects aren’t as good, I’m only at six meridians true qi, pretty much the same as Fatty Xuan.”
“Oh!” Jiang Chen mused upon something and nodded.
“Brother Chen, you’ve finally come!”
Jiang Chen followed the sound of the voice and saw Fatty Xuan sit dejectedly against a rocky wall. His face was pale and his breathing heavy. He seemed to have suffered injuries.
Hubing Yue wasn’t that well off either. He sat cross legged beside Fatty Xuan, and revealed a trace of joy upon seeing Jiang Chen’s arrival.
“Fatty, what’s going on?” Jiang Chen frowned. “You’re hurt?”
Fatty Xuan cursed dispiritedly, “It’s Yan Yiming and those bastards. Damn it, he bullied us because he had strength in numbers. It was a good thing that I, fatty, have thick skin and flesh.”
“Are you heavily injured?” Jiang Chen took out two Heavenly Karma Pills.
“A bit of an internal injury. Good thing I broke through to six meridians true qi or I may not have been able to withstand it.” Fatty complained.
Jiang Chen’s arm halted vaguely in thin air, but he still flicked his fingers, sending the two pills over. “This is the newest healing panacea refined by the Hall of Healing.”
“Brother Chen is the best!”
Fatty Xuan was wreathed in smiles.