Chapter 69: Jade Heart Island
Jade Heart Island was located in a reedy area in Lingyuan Marsh, and the waterways there were particularly winding and accessible. When considering the fact that it was also far away from the city, it was no surprise that it had been infested with pirates a long time ago.
The pirates would often come here to do business after seizing boats and spoils. They would sell what they didn’t need and buy what they needed. Sometimes, they would also trade information, leading to the rise of “blackhands” who specialized in information-related transactions, restoration of objects, searching for lost family heirlooms, etc.
After traveling for two days, the Third River Army arrived at Jade Heart Island.
After arriving on land, Su Chen said, “Everyone is free to do as they please as long as they return after a day. Zhaoxin, Haoli, and Wu Xiao, you three are responsible for supervising them. Don’t let these guys get cocky and try to stir things up. Tang Ming, Juanjia, Iron Cliff, and Jiao Yinguang, we’re going to go and ask around for some information. Wei Yang and Ma Xuan, you guys stay here and stand guard.”
“Damn, unlucky!” Wei Yang and Ma Xuan cried out unhappily when they found out that they were assigned to guard duty.
However, they couldn’t just leave the place unattended. Someone needed to do it.
Su Chen disembarked with Tang Ming, Juanjia, and Iron Cliff.
He wore the demon mask to avoid revealing his true face.
Jiao Yinguang followed behind Su Chen and said in a low voice, “Jade Heart Island has three famous blackhands: Fifth Grandfather Tao, Long Gaosheng, and Demon Hand Zhang. Fifth Grandfather Tao owns an inn and a wine tavern. His wine tavern is where information changes hands. Long Gaosheng is in the business of antique calligraphy and is primarily responsible for receiving black market antique calligraphy items. Demon Hand Zhang has a casino and a pawnshop; he’ll take anything. Right, he is connected to the Bloodline Nobility Clans.”
Since he had decided to surrender, he would naturally do it thoroughly. Instead of waiting for Su Chen to ask him, Jiao Yinguang basically spilled everything that he knew.
“Demon Hand Zhang is backed by the Clear River Bloodline Nobility Clans? Then what about Fifth Grandfather Tao and Long Gaosheng?” Su Chen asked.
“I don’t think Fifth Grandfather Tao has a backer, but his hands reach a lot of places and he knows a lot of people, so everyone here tries to get on his good side. As for Long Gaosheng, he’s part of the Black River Army.”
There were three main branches of Lingyuan Pirates: Jade Mountain Army, Qingyuan Army, and Black River Army. Of these, Black River Army was the strongest; word on the street was that they had at least seven or eight Yang Opening Realm cultivators and might even have the support of a Light Shaking Realm cultivator. As such, they acted extremely arrogantly in Lingyuan Marsh and even dared to attack government troops.
The Jade Mountain Army and Qingyuan Army were also quite influential. Even though no one said that they had the support of a Light Shaking Realm cultivator, the two of them had quite a few Yang Opening Realm cultivators between them.
Most importantly, they were affiliated with the Clear River Bloodline Nobility Clans.
Specifically, the reason the Clear River City Bloodline Nobility Clan Alliance could affect the waterways was because it had good relations with these two branches of pirates.
Of course, not all the pirates listened to them. The Black River Army refused to be pulled along by the Bloodline Nobility Clans and would make moves against them from time to time. However, the Clear River City Bloodline Nobility Clans protected their own fleets, and both sides had their fair share of victories and defeats.
After hearing what Jiao Yinguang said, Su Chen thought for a moment and then said, “Let’s go and pay Fifth Grandfather Tao a visit.”
Based on what Jiao Yinguang had said, Fifth Grandfather Tao was a relatively neutral individual on Jade Heart Island. They had just gotten off the boat, so it made sense to go to a neutral location first.
After arriving at “Tao Wine Tavern,” they found that the place was filled with guests who came from different branches of pirates. Every one of them was guzzling down wine like crazy.
At the wine tavern’s counter, an average-looking old man was pouring some wine for some brawny individuals.
“That’s Fifth Grandfather Tao,” Jiao Yinguang said as he pointed at the old man pouring wine.
“Peak of the Yang Opening Realm. No wonder he can protect his niche and ensure that it’s stable,” Su Chen said.
Old Tao, who was pouring wine for Body-Tempering martial artists, was actually a Yang Opening Realm cultivator.
The ears of the old man behind the front counter pricked up. He looked up at Su Chen.
Su Chen had seemingly spoken quietly, but it hadn’t been able to escape the old man’s ears. A trace of a smile appeared on his heavily wrinkled face. “Young man, your perception is quite impressive. You just spoke a little too quickly.”
He didn’t speak very loudly, and the words should have been drowned out by the din from the other guests. However, Su Chen could hear it clearly; even the people next to him couldn’t hear anything. The old man’s control over his voice was virtually at the pinnacle.
Both of them were slightly shocked.
Su Chen was shocked at the old man’s ability to control sound, while Fifth Grandfather Tao was shocked by Su Chen’s perceptiveness.
Determining a person’s cultivation base relied quite heavily on perception. People of different cultivation bases would have different physical auras manifested. After a person reached the Qi Drawing Realm and could begin to control Origin Energy, there would be nearly invisible Origin Energy fluctuations over their body. When they reached the Blood Boiling Realm, their Blood Qi would begin to expand. The power of their bloodline would begin to overflow, taking on a physical manifestation.
However, these could all be concealed.
Fifth Grandfather Tao had been in Jade Heart Island for many years. Everyone knew that this old man’s strength was deep and hard to fathom, but no one had ever been able to determine the depth of his cultivation base so precisely before. Most relied on analysis and guesswork.
This was Fifth Grandfather Tao’s first time running into someone on the island who could determine his cultivation base with just a single glance.
He didn’t know that Su Chen had his Origin Energy-seeing eye. Any secrets related to Origin Energy would be uncovered before his eyes.
He chuckled, “Young man, since you’ve come, why not take a seat?”
As he spoke, he pulled out a few cups and filled them.
Su Chen didn’t stand on courtesy. He walked over directly and took a sip, then frowned and put it back down.
“What is it? Are you afraid there’s poison in my wine and don’t dare to drink it?” Fifth Grandfather Tao asked.
Su Chen shook his head. “If there was poison, I would have drunk it already. This wine is just too inferior. I can’t bring myself to drink it. It made me lose my thirst more quickly than if I had known that it was poisoned.”
Fifth Grandfather Tao paused for a moment before a smile broke across his face. “Interesting. It’s been a long time since I’ve met an interesting young friend like yourself. Since you’ve said as much, it would be wrong of me if I didn’t bring out some good wine for you. Here, try this.”
He opened a jug of wine and poured some for Su Chen.
Su Chen took a sip and nodded. “This really is some good wine.”
However, he put it back down.
“If it’s good wine, why don’t you drink more of it?”
“The wine is good, but its numbing and suppressing effect is too powerful. It’ll take me some time to work through it, so I can only drink it slowly.”
When Fifth Grandfather Tao heard this, he smiled so widely that his eyes disappeared. “Truly an interesting young man. No wonder Liu Ji fell prey to you.”
“Liu Ji?” Su Chen was confused. “Who is Liu Ji?”
Jiao Yinguang leaned in. “He was the former leader.”
“Oh!” Su Chen was enlightened.
Fifth Grandfather Tao had been running a wine tavern in Jade Heart Island for many years. Naturally, he knew all of the pirates here.
Jiao Yinguang was the vice commander of the Three River Army. For him to be following obediently after Su Chen, it was clear that he had switched loyalties. When taking into account the fact that the Three River Army’s boats had just returned, it was obvious what had happened.
Su Chen gently tapped the counter and said, “Anyone whose blade has tasted blood is not invincible. Liu Ji has fallen, but the Three River Army has not. I hope that Fifth Grandfather Tao won’t be prejudiced against us.”
“Of course not,” Fifth Grandfather Tao said with a wide smile. “You must be here for business. What should I call you as the new leader?”
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