A powerful force instantly freed Mu Gaoqi from the shackles of slavery. One by one, the seals within his consciousness were turned to nothing. Moments later, Mu Gaoqi placed both hands on his temples and groaned in agony.
Jiang Chen knew that the unsealing process was incredibly agonizing. It was a great burden on one's consciousness. Fortunately, his technique was flawless. The process could've left permanent damage if it'd been some other person with worse techniques. He'd been incredibly meticulous, so there was no need to worry about such things.
The pain didn't last for long. Within fifteen minutes, Mu Gaoqi's mind and thoughts began to stabilize. His memories were slowly coming back to him, including the repression he felt during his time as a slave. He groaned softly as he opened his eye. He immediately was greeted with an unfamiliar environment and a stranger staring at him with a faint smile on his face. He looked towards the side and noticed his master, Elder Yun Nie, lying right beside him. He'd become so old that he almost seemed like a walking corpse.
"What's going on? Wh-who are you?" Mu Gaoqi instantly fell into a state of panic. His memories stopped at the destruction of his sect. At that time, Elder Yun Nie was still as healthy as a bull, the total opposite of his current state. He was extremely shocked by the elder's current state. When he finally recalled what happened to his sect, he began to worry for his own safety as well. However, he soon regained composure after the initial shock wore off.
"Friend, who are you? Why am I here?" Mu Gaoqi was in a much more stable state when he asked the same questions again.
"Gaoqi, you might no longer remember my face after so many years, but you still remember my voice right?" Jiang Chen smiled gently. He'd restored his voice to his original one.
Mu Gaoqi would never forget that voice even after a thousand years. He quivered from head to toe and the light of disbelief shone from his eyes. "You're… Brother Chen?"
Jiang Chen removed his disguise, showing his true face. "Gaoqi, to think that we'd meet again after so many years."
Mu Gaoqi rejoiced for a moment before he suddenly froze again. "Brother Chen, what happened to senior brother Shen Qinghong after the three of us journeyed to the wood spirit spring?"
Jiang Chen was taken aback. Huh? The journey to the wood spirit spring? Since when did Shen Qinghong come with us?
"Gaoqi you…" Jiang Chen smiled when he suddenly realized what was going on mid sentence. "Gaoqi, you've grown. Your suffering from all these years hasn't gone to waste. There's no need to test me, I'm Jiang Chen. It was just us and a few other sect brothers that journeyed to the wood spirit spring. Since when was Shen Qinghong part of us? While we were there, we also killed an elder from the Walkabout Sect. You were backstabbed by Wei Qing of the Walkabout Sect and Du Lihuang of the Sacred Sword Palace when we in the restricted area of Mt. Rippling Mirage. I eliminated both of them soon after. I trust that you still remember all of this?"
Mu Gaoqi finally let his guard down. "Brother Chen, is it really you? This isn't just a dream?"
These were secrets shared only between the two of them. Shen Qinghong truly hadn't been present on the trip. Mu Gaoqi was also the only person who knew about the assassination of the Walkabout Sect elder. As for what happened on the Rippling Mirage Mountain. He was in a state of delirium at that time, but he still somewhat aware. He no longer held any doubts after Jiang Chen spoke of all these secrets.
Jiang Chen was pleased to see Mu Gaoqi act so cautiously. The latter had finally grown after suffering through so much hardship. When he revealed his identity, Mu Gaoqi had decided to give him a test instead of blindly believing. Moreover, there was no apparent flaw in the test. It he had been a fake, Mu Gaoqi would definitely have realized it.
"Gaoqi, you're not dreaming. Although, what has happened in the past few years does truly feel like a dream." Jiang Chen sighed. "Alright, have some more rest and try to recall the rest of your memories. I shall free Elder Yun Nie from his seals first. Rest easy and don't make a sound."
At this point, even a fool with half a brain could tell that he had been rescued by Jiang Chen yet again.
An hour later, Elder Yun Nie was also freed from slavery The two faces he saw after regaining consciousness were also the faces he wanted to see the most.
"Jiang Chen? Gaoqi?" Elder Yun Nie immediately choked up. He was finally able to recall the downfall of the Regal Pill Palace and his enslavement process. The youths before him were irreplaceable to him. As long as they lived, the Regal Pill Palace could one day be rebuilt.
"Master, the heavens took pity on us! I never imagined that we would one day regain our freedom!" Mu Gaoqi's eyes were red throughout. His was a little choked up as well.
The elder turned towards Jiang Chen. "Sage nephew, is it you who saved us from the abyss again?"
Mu Gaoqi quickly quickly answered. "Master, that is indeed the case."
The elder sighed as a gratified yet sorrowful expression flashed across his face. "To think that we will one day reunite after the fall of our sect…"
"Sage nephew, where is this place? How many years has it been since the downfall of our sect?" Elder Yun Nie sounded very dejected. He seemed to be avoiding questions about the sect. He was too afraid to ask anything about it.
"This is Pillfire City. It's a long ways away from where our sect once stood. It's been eight years since the attack." This was only a rough estimation as he didn't really count the years. It might've been ten years, but it was most definitely more than eight.
"Brother Chen, is the Regal Pill Palace… still standing?" Mu Gaoqi asked precariously.
Sorrow flashed across Jiang Chen's face. "The Regal Pill Palace is no longer. In fact, the entire Myriad Domain has been destroyed. The six great sects of yesteryear are also gone. The entire domain has been annexed by the Eternal Celestial Capital and the Great Scarlet Mid Region. Of course, the Ninesuns Sky Sect owns part of it too, but they've been kicked out by the others. The domain is now mostly run by the other two powers."
"Wh..." Elder Yun Nie couldn't come to terms with this. "Is the Grand Cathedral gone too?"
"Yes." Jiang Chen nodded. There was nothing left to hide as it'd been years. The elder and Mu Gaoqi were completely unaware of what happened during all these years. They had been enslaved almost immediately after their capture, and thus knew nothing about what Jiang Chen did to the Eternal Celestial Capital after the destruction of the sect.
"O-other than the three of us… is there anyone else that's still alive?" Elder Yun Nie asked with an extremely pained look on his face.
"Yes." Jiang Chen nodded. "Most of our brethren have died in battle, but there were some who were held captive. Out of the few dozen captives, I was able to rescue thirty and help them settle down in Veluriyam Capital. Ling Hui'er and Shen Trifire are among them"
"What about senior brother Shen and senior sister Ling? And also Jun Mobai and Nie Chong?" Mu Gaoqi asked agitatedly.
"Other than Ling Bi'er who's currently missing, the rest are no longer with us. Jun Mobai was a spy from Ninesuns Sky Sect, but he's dead now. Shen Qinghong died after being plotted against when he returned to the sect. Senior sister Ling Bi'er and I were there too, but only the two of us were able to make it out alive. Ever since then, I've not heard a single word about her whereabouts." Realizing that they were very concerned about matters related to the Regal Pill Palace, Jiang Chen patiently told them everything he knew.
"What about the palace head and the others? Didn't they escape from the Myriad Grand Ceremony?" Back then, Elder Yun Nie didn't attend the Myriad Grand Ceremony as he'd chosen to remain and guard the palace. Because of that, he didn't know what happened to Palace Head Dan Chi and Elder Lian Cheng.
"I was in the Myriad Domain when the Great Scarlet Mid Region attacked. The palace head and the others were the first to receive news about the attack because they were outside of the Myriad Domain, and led a charge to break through the enemy's lines. According to various intelligence, they should've successfully escaped from danger. However, I've yet to hear from them either."
Elder Yun Nie was elated. "Good! With our palace head's abilities, they surely survived the attack!"
Jiang Chen withheld comment on that. Palace Head Dan Chi was merely at earth sage realm at the time. At that cultivation level, it was hard to say if he could survive an encirclement by the Great Scarlet Mid Region and the onslaught from the Eternal Celestial Capital. However, the fact that there was no news of Palace Head Dan Chi's capture meant that there was still hope. Considering how much the Eternal Celestial Capital hated Jiang Chen, if they'd captured the palace head, they would surely make mincemeat out of him and openly gloated about it. Since there was no news of this, it was likely that the palace head hadn't fallen into their hands.
He nodded in agreement. "The palace head should still be alive."
Even though the sect was already destroyed, Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi was able to find some solace within these good news. When they were slaves, all they could feel was despair. There was no room for any fantasy or delusions. But now, they'd escaped from hell and received one good news after the other. They couldn't be more excited to hear this.
"Brother Chen, how did you know that we were here?" Mu Gaoqi asked after a while of catching up.
Elder Yun Nie had the exact same question. Pillfire City was a very long ways away from Myriad Domain. How on earth had he find them?
"It's a long story. After the destruction of the sect, I overheard a conversation between some men from the Great Scarlet Mid Regions. I learned that they've turned a few hostages into slaves. After that, through various methods, I learned that they sold all of you to Veluriyam Capital. I then found our brethren inside the capital's Myriad Puppets Pavilion. Unfortunately, you were the only ones missing. After that, the owner of the pavilion fell into my hands due to a chance encounter. By scouring his soul, I was able to make him spit out your locations. Only then did I realize that both of you were sold to Pillfire City. Eventually, I encountered a few people from Pillfire City that helped confirm that a faction in the city had bought a slave that possessed the innate wood constitution of high order."
Mu Gaoqi was flabbergasted after hearing such a huge series of twists and turns. His journey was filled with so many obstructions, and yet Brother Chen never gave up. His search didn't end until I was finally found. His eyes welled up with such thoughts. How many others could claim to have done the same for him in this lifetime?