One day during Jiang Chen’s perusal in the library, he received a summons from the city lord himself. All the geniuses who’d been selected were called together.
The selection had yielded three hundred odd people through the qualifiers and the elite round. Of those, two hundred or so were staying at the city lord manor. Jiang Chen and Su Hong were some of the finest among their ranks.
Xie Wushang personally received them all. A broad smile was drawn over his face. “My friends, I know you’ve been familiarizing yourself with the manor over the past few days. That’s why I didn’t call you together to speak with you. Today, I have an important piece of news that you should know about!”
Everyone perked their ears in curiosity.
Xie Wushang’s expression didn’t seem to indicate anything bad, Jiang Chen noted.
“I’ve just received good news from the chief warden. One of the dangerous zones in Winterdraw will be opened to us for use as a trial. This is an opportunity to distinguish yourself. If you’re lucky to be chosen by the chief, then congratulations: you’ll have advanced from prisoners to becoming his deathsworn. You may not think that that’s a big difference, but following the chief warden means you’ll receive freedom. Freedom, and the ability to leave Winterdraw!”
All cultivators on Winterdraw, young and old, shared the same dream. Freedom was the word that hung in their collective hearts.
Deep down, even someone as prominent as Xie Wushang desired freedom. No matter how powerful and important they were on Winterdraw, the prospect of being the master of one’s own destiny was more tantalizing still.
If anyone was offered to exchange their authority on the island with personal freedom, none of the factions’ leaders would hesitate for a moment.
Perhaps authority would bring them short-term happiness, but perpetual imprisonment quickly caused that to lose its flavor. The chief was a towering presence that always loomed over them.
Even Jiang Chen was moved when by what Xie Wushang said.
Why was the chief so attentive to all of the proceedings? Was the selection possibly related to him? So, were the Rejuvenation Isles were going to pick deathsworn from Winterdraw again?
He found the prospect mildly interesting. If he could gain the freedom to leave the island alive, he wouldn’t mind displaying his true strength. After all, leaving was his foremost priority. However, he didn’t display his eagerness despite that. Quietly listening to Xie Wushang’s speech in order to gather more information was a wiser course of action.
Unfortunately, the city lord didn’t reveal anything further.
“In the last selection, some of you may feel that you didn’t get to show off everything you can do. You’ve got another shot at it. Remember, the chief has very high standards. You may not be able to win his favor as easily as you did mine. Everything will depend on what you can do. You weren’t in control of your destinies before, but you have a golden opportunity now. It’s up to you to take hold of it!”
Xie Wushang didn’t make a particular effort at stoking the geniuses’ emotions. Nonetheless, they became quite enthusiastic.
“Go rest and prepare. Make sure to gather here on time tomorrow. I’ll personally lead you into the Blackwraith Mountains.”
The Blackwraith Mountains? Surprise jolted Jiang Chen. He hadn’t studied in vain for the past couple of days. He remembered clearly that those mountains composed one of the five most dangerous areas on Winterdraw.
Of its peers, it was the largest and most mysterious. Even the island’s strongest factions didn’t dare lightly venture into its core. Why was the trial located in the Blackwraith Mountains?
Still, the chief had to have his reasons for making such arrangements. It wasn’t his place to question things.
“You are dismissed. Remember to be on time tomorrow. Any absent tomorrow will be treated as traitors.”
Though Jiang Chen hadn’t planned on skipping, he was even more astonished at the warning. Wasn’t this only a trial? Why was everything about it so serious?
He wasn’t really acquainted with anyone here on the island, and thus had little to put in order in terms of affairs. In fact, he’d deliberately avoided making connections with anyone after joining the city lord’s manor. He’d kept a healthy distance even from Commander Yong, unwilling to contact him more than absolutely necessary.
If he escaped one day, those closest to him would be affected by his departure. He didn’t want to harm the innocent.
In the same vein, he’d refrained from going back to find Xing Hui and his daughter. They were casual acquaintances, and Jiang Chen had done a rather trivial thing in his eyes. There was no need to drag things out, or he would do more harm than good.
Thus, he didn’t go anywhere that night. He remained in the manor, focused on cultivation and meditation.
Great emperor realm had opened a door to another world, which filled Jiang Chen with even more desire to gain strength. He was initial great emperor, not far off from mid rank. If there was an opportunity of some sort, advanced great emperor wasn’t impossible.
Jiang Chen was very confident in the pace of his cultivation. The chain seal in his consciousness had been especially active lately and he’d gained a great deal from it. He felt that he was more than handling well both cultivation and battle. He had plenty of room to spare even against an empyrean expert. There was nothing worth panicking over; every possibility was under control.
But I can’t relax cultivating even here. Myriad Abyss Island is many times stronger than the human domain. Winterdraw is a test, and many more daunting tasks are sure to ensue. Only through gradual improvement can I find success.
The thought compelled Jiang Chen to throw himself into serious cultivation once more.
The night passed. The morning of the next day, he woke up early and lightly prepared before heading to the gathering place. Quite a few of the other geniuses had arrived before him.
All were present within fifteen minutes. Xie Wushang was the last one to arrive. A throng of elites trailed behind him.
The gathered geniuses were extremely enthusiastic at the sight. The city lord must have received explicit orders from the chief about the importance of the event. The fact that the chief found the trial so important proved that it was very likely a chance at freedom.
Everyone’s blood began to boil.
Jiang Chen warned himself internally to remain calm. There was no appropriate time to overheat his brain. So what if it was an opportunity? It was far better to treat it calmly. Only then could he react appropriately to sudden situations that arose.
“Attendance!” Xie Wushang called out.
The roll call began, and everyone named was present.
The city lord nodded approvingly. “Very good. As expected of chosen elites. You’re certainly a punctual bunch. Well, then! Let’s not waste any more words. Here’s a chance at changing your destiny. Prepare yourselves! We depart!”
A wave of his hand heralded the beginning of the march. The city lord’s elites and a large retinue of accompanying guards moved towards the Blackwraith Mountains.
The surprise on Jiang Chen’s face was even more pronounced at the mobilization of almost the entire city lord manor.
Does the chief warden really place so much importance on this trial? Are many deathsworn going to be picked from the Rejuvenation Isles?
His perspective differed from the others’. In addition to natural optimism, he became mildly wary about the situation. His knowledge about Winterdraw so far had taught him that the purpose of the selection was far from benevolent. There would be a hefty price to pay for being chosen, and thus no reason to be overly happy about any of this.
Getting a chance for departure was a good thing, but he wasn’t interested in becoming cannon fodder or a puppet. So what if he could leave if that was the end goal? As opposed to going somewhere else for some suicidal mission, it was better to stay on Winterdraw.
Some opportunism would be necessary here. If the deathsworn weren’t subject to overly harsh conditions, he wouldn’t mind making it into their ranks. But if they were going to be treated like puppets, Jiang Chen would never agree to that. That ran completely counter to his interests.
The Blackwraith Mountains were quite distant. The entourage took eight days to get to the foothills. From a distance, a blackish-grey mist enshrouded the peaks, and did so all year round. The sight was mysterious and otherworldly.
The mountain ranges stretched on for thousands of miles. Rumored to contain endless nightmares, it was ranked one of the most dangerous places on Winterdraw.
On a patch of flat ground outside a valley, Xie Wushang ordered his men to stop and make camp.
“It looks like we’re early.” The city lord glanced around, noting the conspicuous absence of the other factions.”
There was a strange shriek from the distance before he finished speaking. “Oldie Xie, Sin City isn’t much earlier than Nefarious Vale!” At the end of the voice was a roiling column of black clouds. A large swathe of cultivators jumped out one by one, landing on the ground.
There was approximately the same number on either side. The leader of the Vale party wore a ferocious appearance and a tumorous growth jutted out from his head. He was vicious-looking all around. It was none other than the lord of the Nefarious Vale!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Fight fight fight!
Alright... that probably won't happen given that they're summoned by the chief warden lol!