Jiang Chen kicked the bones aside and took the precious bow and quiver of arrows.
“And I’d been thinking of how to find a precious bow for Xue Tong. This Xue Sha was a man bearing gifts.” Jiang Chen was someone who could tell good from the bad. He knew that this bow was uncommon.
After finishing Xue Sha off, Jiang Chen didn’t linger and walked outside.
At the same time, he communicated with the division of Swordbirds in the beast language, having them search for Fatty Xuan and Hubing Yue from the first to the third level.
Apart from the Goldwing Swordbirds, who could just barely understand Jiang Chen’s words, the other Swordbirds could only be reached through the commands of the Goldwing Swordbirds.
Jiang Chen didn’t idly sit around, he too started searching in every corner.
“Fatty Xuan, nothing better have happened to you.” Jiang Chen knew that Fatty Xuan and company had actually suffered from undeserved misfortunes. If it wasn’t for the others wanting to make a move against him, they would have never targeted Fatty Xuan and the others.
There were still five or six days left until the end of the allotted time for the mission. Jiang Chen was in no hurry to leave.
The number of heirs left in the Boundless Catacombs in the last couple of days had noticeably decreased. In addition, traces of combat could be seen all over the Catacombs. One could also see that this time’s trials were very bloody and that the fights between the various heirs had been quite serious.
“These are the sins of the Long family. These heirs have most likely all suffered from undeserved calamities.” Jiang Chen sighed lightly.
The traces of the Long siblings manipulating this time’s contest were very evident. Looking at the corpses, some of them were close to the Long family, while some weren’t close to the Long family.
It must have been the seizures and fights between the two camps.
It looks like the rate of loss during this time’s competition would exceed at least thirty percent.
For the kingdom, this was truly a higher rate of loss. One had to know that the rate of loss in previous examinations and trials wouldn’t exceed ten percent.
Anything over ten percent would count as heavy losses.
“Internal friction, this is likely the bad consequences from the result of internal friction? The Duke of Soaring Dragon is using these methods to build his power. Even if he replaces the royal family and controls the entire kingdom, the kingdom’s vitality would be greatly sapped. Besides, how will these dukes voluntarily submit to him?”
Jiang Chen shook his head. At the end of the day, he actually didn’t have the slightest interest in the power scrambles of common royalty and nobles. However, the flow of the greater picture had brought him to stand on the side opposite to the Duke of Soaring Dragon.
The fact that the Duke of Soaring Dragon had hired killers this time had also thoroughly enraged Jiang Chen.
“Duke of Soaring Dragon, I, Jiang Chen, will one day make your Long family clan disappear from the domain of the Eastern Kingdom!”
Jiang Chen had been truly angered this time.
He made no progress on the first day. He neither found Fatty Xuan nor located Hubing Yue!
Under these circumstances, no news was actually the best news.
Having not found them meant that the they might still be alive!
The next day, the heirs that were left in the Boundless Catacombs had basically all withdrawn. Jiang Chen still didn’t find any clues.
“Can it be that they haven’t died and they have already left?”
Jiang Chen wasn’t willing to give up. He decided to search for another day. If he still found nothing on the third day, then he would leave the Boundless Catacombs.
There were still two or three days left, there was still enough time to make it back!
It was on the third day that a Goldwing Swordbird found a trace of a clue. There was the breath of a living person in one of the random patches of bog on the second level.
Jiang Chen immediately rushed over and discovered that there truly was a live person in the bog. A great part of his body had been sucked in by the bog, but this person was tightly gripping a branch, unable to climb up or retreat. He had sunk into a coma, but his hands were still curled around the branch in a death grasp.
“Fatty Xuan?” Jiang Chen was stunned when he saw this person’s face clearly.
He hastily ordered the Goldwing Swordbirds to save him.
Fatty Xuan was quickly hauled to safety, he was incredibly weak and feeble. Jiang Chen fed a medicine pill to him and massaged him for a bit.
Fatty Xuan awoke leisurely, his lips white. “Brother Chen, am… am I not dead?”
“Damn fatty, I really thought you died. Have you seen Xiaoyue?” Jiang Chen asked.
“No… I haven’t seen him. I was freaking unlucky. I sank into this bog on the third day of entering this place. I called out day and night, but no one heard me!” Fatty Xuan complained.
This patch of bog was exceedingly isolated, it was pretty impressive that Fatty Xuan had made it to this forsaken place.
Jiang Chen was also secretly rejoicing, good thing you sank into this bog. Otherwise, your way would be fraught with grim possibilities.
“Ai. Brother Chen, I’ve taken a tumble this time. I haven’t collected a single green spirit pearl. Damn it to hell, even this bog bullies fatties? I’m just a bit heavier is all. My qinggong is not too shabby, why did I sink in?” Fatty Xuan self deprecated.
Jiang Chen was speechless and he flicked a glance at Fatty Xuan. He smiled, “You’re not entirely empty handed. Look at your body fat, most of it has gone.”
Fatty Xuan was flabbergasted and looked down. His originally skin tight clothes were flapping emptily, like stolen clothes.
The waist that had been thicker than a pail was pretty much on the level of an ordinary person’s.
After almost one month of not eating or not drinking, if it wasn’t for the fat on his body, he probably would’ve long since starved to death.
“Brother Chen, I… I dieted successfully?” Fatty Xuan leapt up as his eyes sparkled. “Haha, I really dieted successfully? This is to say that when I pick up chicks in the future, none of them will complain that I lean so heavily on her that she can’t breath?”
Jiang Chen was completely speechless. Fatty wasn’t just in an ordinary good mood. He’d only used one sentence to talk about failing the exam, and in fact, he had started thinking about picking up chicks.
It was a good thing that Jiang Chen had collected enough green spirit pearls from the bodies of the dead heirs on his way back.
Even after adding together the amount required by his mission and Fatty Xuan’s mission, there was still more than enough left.
After resting in the catacombs for a half day, Fatty Xuan slowly recovered some of his vigor. He immediately became curious, “Brother Chen, what’s happened? How come all these Swordbirds listen to you?”
“Fatty, we’re brothers, so don’t ask about these matters. The more you know, the worse off you’ll be.” Jiang Chen knew that Fatty Xuan was destined to not have any particular martial dao achievements in his life. It was better that he didn’t know of these matters.
“Alright, no matter what, you’re still my most admired Brother Chen.” Fatty Xuan didn’t ask further. “Brother, how many days has it been?”
“27 or 28 days?”
“Is it 27 or 28 days?” Fatty Xuan was depressed. “If it was 27 days, then the army would still be outside the mountain valley. If it’s 28 days, then the army will have left and we’ll have to go back alone. If we don’t have fast horses, how will we make it in time?”
“Don’t worry about this, right now I’m worried about Xiaoyue.” Jiang Chen sighed.
“Xiaoyue is eight meridians true qi. What could possibly happen to him?” Fatty Xuan asked carelessly.
Jiang Chen spread out his hands but didn’t say anything.
If Hubing Yue died, whatever the reason, Jiang Chen would be sure to make the Long family pay a price, a price that was hundreds and thousands of times more than his death!
After resting another night, roughly sixty to seventy percent of Fatty Xuan’s injuries had recovered. After the two walked around in the Boundless Catacombs for a few hours, they finally walked out of the Catacombs!
It was blue skies and a bright sun outside, the trees making a pleasant shade.
Fatty Xuan tilted his head up to the sky and breathed in, yelling out loudly. “Is anyone alive? It’s great to be alive! The air of the outside world is damn good to breath in!”
Walking out of the mountain valleys and coming to the place where the army had been originally camped, it was a scene of disorder. Everyone had long since left.
“We’re truly late after all?” Fatty Xuan was a bit shamefaced. “Brother Chen, I seemed to have dragged you down again.”
“Stop your nonsense.” Jiang Chen looked around the area. “Judging from these tracks, they should have only left a day ago. This means we have two days to make it back.”
“Then what are we waiting for, let’s set out immediately!” Fatty Xuan said hurriedly.
“No rush.” Jiang Chen smiled faintly and murmured some words in the beast language. The ten Goldwing Swordbirds immediately left the shrubbery and flew over.
“I want to go back to the capital and need to borrow your wings.” Jiang Chen instructed.
He arranged for six Goldwing Swordbirds to take turns carrying the two of them. The other four were in charge of leading the Swordbird army.
Jiang Chen naturally wouldn’t take the Swordbird army to the capital. He settled them deep in the mountains several kilometers from the outskirts of the capital.
A distance of several kilometers was the work of five minutes with the Swordbird’s speed.
With this flying army, Jiang Chen felt a lot more reassured in his heart.
Within the capital, a great furor had also been raised these days.
The rate of loss for this time’s trials had reached thirty percent. Out of a hundred heirs, only seventy to eighty had emerged.
And out of these seventy to eighty, almost half of them bore injuries.
The rumors of the heirs of Soaring Dragon manipulating the competition spread throughout the capital, shocking the entire Eastern Kingdom!
If it was said that the conflict between the Duke of Soaring Dragon and the royal family had been conducted in secret before, then manipulating the competition was almost a public provocation of royal authority.
Although there was nothing in the rules of the Hidden Dragon Trials that mentioned manipulating the competition, the moves of the heirs of Soaring Dragon, that of “those who adhere to me ascend and those who defy me die”, were a blatant pressure of forcing other dukes under their banner.
This was forming a clique to pursue their own selfish interests!
A duke had started forming his gang publicly. This was the precursor to rebellion!
Of course, this was only one sort of public opinion in the capital.
There was another rumor exactly opposite this version. It said that Jiang Chen from the Jiang Han dukedom was the one manipulating the competition.
This saying made Jiang Chen out to be the person behind the scenes manipulating the competition. The reason for the internal strife within the heirs was pushed onto Jiang Chen.
In addition, this rumor also mentioned an exceedingly sensitive intelligence, that Jiang Chen had attempted to ambush the Long siblings and usurp the rank of first duke from the Duke of Soaring Dragon!
The two versions represented the two contending powers within the capital!
Although the first version was obviously more persuasive and closer to the truth, but out of the 108 dukes in the capital, over half had already silently admitted to Soaring Dragon’s strength now.
Therefore, although this version was closer to the truth, it was slowly oppressed.
As for the second version, because of the disappearance of the person in question, Jiang Chen, it snowballed. This also represented that, on a certain level, the scales were slowly tipping towards Duke Long in the conflict between the royal family and Soaring Dragon.
Although Jiang Feng could stabilize the situation in the internals of the Jiang Han household, he was powerless to halt the rumors in the outside world with his influence.
After all, Jiang Feng’s foundations were shallow. He didn’t have one tenth of the Duke of Soaring Dragon’s power within the capital.
Another way of saying it was that once the royal family was withdrawn as a backer, Jiang Feng would become utterly isolated with no mass support. The entire Jiang Han household was like a lone canoe in the wild seas, facing the violent impacts from the Duke of Soaring Dragon and his accomplices alone.
The situation in the capital became more and more delicate.
Within the Soaring Dragon household, Long Zhaofeng was full of high spirits. The thorn in his side, Jiang Chen, had finally been removed at last. Although the Long siblings had been unable to see Jiang Chen’s death with their own eyes before leaving the catacombs, Duke Long was quite at ease. Jiang Chen had barged into the fourth level, the openly acknowledged forbidden zone. Once he entered, he would be dead without a doubt!
Therefore, in Duke Long’s eyes, Jiang Chen was undoubtedly already a dead man.