Chapter 704: The Tyrannical Eternal Celestial Capital
After meeting up with Huang’er through use of the secret signal they’d established, the two were actually in no hurry to join a team. They’d realized these teams were everywhere in Tai-ah City. There were at least a couple thousand of them floating about the city in various groups.
“Money can make even ghosts turn millstones. What a true saying,” Jiang Chen sighed secretly, despite knowing that these so-called wandering cultivators posed no threat to him at all. Jiang Chen couldn’t help but feel some remorse after seeing a single bounty notice cause such a chaotic scene. Birds die for food while men die for wealth.
Resources were scarce in the world of martial dao, a fact particularly obvious for wandering cultivators. That’s why bounty notices from major sects or empires always caused an immense stir within the Divine Abyss Continent. Things had been no exception this time.
Only ten days remained until the announced date of Dan Chi’s public execution. Although Jiang Chen was nervous, he couldn’t ask around carelessly. The numerous wandering cultivators each had their own opinion, and the news they offered were often hearsay at best. Jiang Chen and Huang’er joined a team later on in order to avoid drawing attention.
There were only eight people in the team before they joined. The leader was a burly middle-aged man called Ke Ding, a cultivator at the third level of the sage realm who claimed to have come from the Upper Eight Regions.
“These two brothers, you chose to join my team out of the so many out there. I’m not one for flowery speeches but I promise you this—if we do get the reward, you will not be mistreated!” This Ke Ding laughed in a forthright manner, seemingly a role model of great friendship and loyalty. Jiang Chen however, didn’t take the declaration very seriously. These were people willing to sell their lives for bounty—he found it hard to believe they had any sort of bottom line.
“Boss Ke, we trust you!” the other wandering cultivators declared heatedly.
Jiang Chen also replied with a smile, “We greatly admire Boss Ke’s strength. By the way, since there are so many wandering cultivator groups here, do we have a specific plan?”
“They have a point, boss. There are too many groups out there. It's an absolute mess. It’ll be hard for us to get any benefits without an organized plan.”
Ke Ding chuckled, “There’s no way to form a plan with all this happening. Let’s just play it by ear.”
Clamorous noises traveled in from the outskirts as they were talking. “All wandering cultivator groups listen up! Have your leaders immediately come forth to to be interrogated!”
There were tens of thousands of wandering cultivators on site, and a large number of teams as well. The entire area erupted in hisses and boos after hearing this tyrannical voice. It was evident that it was a great humiliation for them to be interrogated.
“Silence!” A thunderous voice reverberated through the air. A powerful emperor realm aura swiftly crashed down on the whole plaza.
All the wandering cultivators immediately quieted down in the face of this suppression. It was almost as if the area had been cleared out—not a sound was to be heard.
An emperor realm cultivator! From looks of this aura, it was evident that the cultivator wasn’t any old initial emperor realm cultivator. He was at least mid emperor realm, anywhere between fourth and sixth level emperor realm. Row after row of uniformed sect disciples poured into seal off the plaza from all sides. It was clear that one batch was from the Eternal Celestial Capital, while many more were from the Great Scarlet Mid Region. Although this area was under the jurisdiction of the Swordland Mid Region, it was obvious that the latter was on good terms for the Eternal Celestial Capital. Not only had it not imposed restrictions on the forces from the Eternal Celestial Capital and the Great Scarlet Mid Region, but it’d also sent a large force to assist them.
A weighty atmosphere suddenly descended upon the plaza. Although they were inwardly upset, the team captains all walked up to be interrogated. Jiang Chen and Huang’er remained in their group. They weren’t very apprehensive despite encountering such a large scale of operations.
There were tens of thousands of wandering cultivators. It would be a difficult task to obtain any useful information by interrogating them all. Moreover, the two felt confident that they hadn’t any flaws in their cover. Ke Ding returned after a while, followed by some disciples from the Eternal Celestial Capital. He addressed Jiang Chen and Huang’er, “I’m truly sorry, brothers. All cultivators who showed up in pairs are to be interrogated to the Eternal Celestial Capital. Apologies, but our group no longer needs you two.”
This Ke Ding had been brimming with loyalty and friendship just a short while ago. But now, he was falling out as readily as flipping a book. He couldn’t wait to kick them out, as if they were gods of pestilence.
“Step out,” the leader of the group of disciples said while sizing them up. Jiang Chen secretly surged with killing intent, but managed to forcefully suppress it. He glanced indifferently at Ke Ding as he walked out of the group but didn’t say anything. Fortunately, there were no shortage of wandering cultivators who had come in pairs. Even still, the nearly tens of thousands of cultivators had been cut down to something slightly over a thousand after calling out all the pairs. The thousand strong group was then gathered together.
“Holy King Gong, this should be all of them.” A supervisor from the Eternal Celestial Capital reported respectfully. This was Jiang Chen’s first time seeing Gong Wuji in half a year—the man’s killing intent had grown even denser than before. It was apparent that he hadn't gotten over Gong Qi’s death.
“Take them away,” Gong Wuji said nothing else. He only gestured with his hand and issued the order.
The wandering cultivators were all indignant now.
“What gives you the right to do this?!”
“We are all wandering cultivators. What grievance do we have with your Eternal Celestial Capital? What gives you the right to take us away?”
“You’ve completely failed to recognize our goodwill. We are all here to help capture Jiang Chen! What wrong have we done?”
“That’s right! Brothers, they are willing to kill a thousand in order to capture a single person! We can’t leave with them. Only death awaits otherwise!” The thousand wandering cultivators all protested together. They weren’t idiots; it was obvious that they would definitely lose a layer of skin once they were taken prisoner, if not end up dead. Jiang Chen also played along with the crowd and protested furiously.
“Be quiet!” Gong Wuji’s expression became frosty. The surrounding temperature suddenly dropped as if countless icy mountains had descended from the sky. His ice-cold gaze swept across the thousand wandering cultivators. “The reason for detaining you is that we suspect some stragglers from the Myriad Domain are in your midst. As long as you can prove yourselves innocent, I promise everyone will return safe and unharmed.”
“Hmph, why should we trust you?”
“That’s right, empty words are meaningless. Do it here if you want to interrogate us!” These wandering cultivators were unwilling to submit readily. After all, their survival was at stake. Who even knew how they would interrogate the prisoners? If the Eternal Celestial Palace resorted to extreme methods, they’d be crippled even if they managed to survive!
An emperor realm cultivator beside Gong Wuji snorted and jumped into the crowd. He single-handedly plucked out the protesters yelling the loudest and tossed them out one after another. He was like a lion capturing sheep; the victims had no ability to resist at all as he hurled them out.
Large flowers of blood blossomed wherever they landed as the victims splattered into a mess of blood and gore. The cruel method caused the hooting cultivators to quiet down in fear. Gong Wuji’s expression was cold and detached. “Who else doesn’t want to accept the situation?”
This bloody scene infuriated the wandering cultivators, but no one dared voice anything else. Some of the cultivators who hadn’t been detained stood out to persuade their arrested brethren, “Friends, this type of inspection takes place once every few days. Your lives will not be endangered as long as you have no relationship with the Myriad Domain.”
“Yes, just comply.”
Seeing that even the other wandering cultivators weren’t on their side, the morale of the thousand captives hit rock bottom.
“Move!” The sect disciples came to urge the detainees forward.
These ruthless disciples were more than enough to kill these wandering cultivators, not to mention an emperor realm cultivator like Gong Wuji. Although the prisoners were full of resentment, they could only adhere to the rules as they followed the group further into the city.
Jiang Chen was secretly shaken as he followed along with the group. Although he didn’t know how things would turn out, he was certain that the methods used by the Eternal Celestial Capital would not be easily overcome. But, he still had the time to escape if he wanted to.
If he chose to stay, it might become more difficult to escape once they reached sect territory. The Eternal Celestial Capital could confine all of them by simply laying down a formation. But if he fled right now, what would become of Palace Head Dan Chi?
Jiang Chen was seriously suspecting at the moment whether everything was just a ruse set up by the Eternal Celestial Capital, and whether Dan Chi’s execution was just a pretense.
As Jiang Chen was hesitating, a huge commotion stirred up ahead. An abrupt voice suddenly rang out from the front.
“A ferocious fight has broken out east of the city! Jiang Chen has appeared and is currently surrounded by a group of wandering cultivators!”
“Powerful, that Jiang Chen is so powerful! He instantly tied several hundred wandering cultivators with countless vines!”
“Fellow cultivators, let's go to their rescue!” Many voices rang out pell-mell after hearing the news as countless wandering cultivators charged frantically towards the east.
The group from the Eternal Celestial Capital all looked at Gong Wuji. He was also stunned. He’d been tricked by Jiang Chen so many times that he subconsciously felt this to be fake news. But after hearing about the countless vines, his heart started racing. He turned towards the emperor realm cultivators beside him, “Let’s go take a look.” However, he’d learnt from past mistakes. He left two emperor realm cultivators in charge and reminded them, “This group of people must not allowed to escape. Bring them back and proceed with the interrogation.”
After that, he flew swiftly toward the east with a group of elites. Tens of thousands of wandering cultivators were also madly making their way toward the eastern side of the city. Someone from the detained roared. “Brothers, Jiang Chen’s appearance proves our innocence! Why should we follow them to be interrogated? If they can go to the eastern side of the city, why can’t we?”
“That’s right, let’s go!”
“Let’s go!” One person shouting was enough for the others to follow suit. The thousand-strong wandering cultivator group began to rebel. They immediately dispersed into the tens of thousands of other cultivators and very soon, the thousand detainees had vanished into the torrential crowd.
It was very much like a bowl of water being poured into the river. Who would be able to differentiate between the original bowl of water and the river after one surge of the waves? Thus, Jiang Chen and Huang’er easily merged into the crowd. They felt rather odd—how could a Jiang Chen have appeared out of nowhere towards the east of the city? Although he had no idea who was behind this disinformation, it had indeed helped him out. But who could be the one helping him? It would be difficult for even Palace Head Dan Chi to recognize him after he’d changed his appearance.
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