Chapter 1096: Prelude to Inner Conflict?
Just as the Heavensworn Four were gathering themselves and preparing to force their way back into their headquarters, a few figures strolled out from the main entrance. Jiang Chen and Long Xiaoxuan were in the lead, and Emperor Peerless and Madame Yun leisurely bringing up the rear. As for Liu Zhen, he didn't bother coming out at all, instead staying inside to guard the now-hostage members of the Heavensfall Sect.
The hostages had all had restrictions placed on them, making them fish in a barrel, unable to resist in any way, shape, or form. Even a true qi cultivator could easily kill them in their current form, much less Liu Zhen.
Upon seeing Jiang Chen and his companions emerge, the Heavensworn Four were taken aback and reached new heights in their rage. Their surprise stemmed from the fact that these four outsiders could enter and exit headquarters so easily, while their rage came from the situation at hand. They were the lords of the Society, but were being made to look like challengers stirring up trouble. These outsiders were here to supersede and supplant them!
Cong Taiyan took a deep breath to forcefully suppress his rage and rasped out, "I have to say, you've got some nerve killing people in our territory."
Jiang Chen smiled noncommittally while Long Xiaoxuan shrugged. "So we killed them. What do you want? Why don't you mention how they all deserved their deaths?"
Cong Taiyan almost spat out a mouthful of blood in rage. Such flippant attitude from a murderer quite angered him, that youngster had no idea that great disaster was about to descend on his head!
"Good, good, very good! It seems that there's no need for me to ask about your backgrounds." Cong Taiyan signaled to his brothers with a meaningful look. "Kill them without exception regardless of their origin and background!"
With a large bellow, he prepared to attack. He was sure that although the two youngsters looked smug, their confidence was founded on basis of the couple in the background. One had to admit, Cong Taiyan's judgement of the situation and dynamics between people was rather superb.
The atmosphere grew so heavy that it could almost be cut with a knife. Battle loomed at any second. In this critical moment, a sudden shout was heard from a distance. "Hold, hold! Stay your hands!"
Cong Taiyan and his brothers were elated to hear the voice. They recognized it! It was Third Master Jing from the first division of the Moon God Sect! Even though his actual strength was slightly lacking, Third Master Jing was far younger than them and possessed adequate social standing and sufficient backers, ensuring that his opinions were respected within the sect. Most importantly, the first division of the Moon God Sect represented one of the official powers in Frostmoon City. With their participation, the attempt to apprehend these insolents would have a higher chance of success.
Third Master Jing approached with large, rushed strides. Noting the tension in the air, he hastily placated, "Let us all calm down. Brother Cong, please quell your anger."
Cong Taiyan felt slight irritation when hearing Third Master Jing's tone of voice. If one was to consider the two in terms of seniority, the third master was actually Cong Taiyan's junior. Despite this, Third Master Jing had ignored social conventions and directly addressed him as "Brother Cong". This was slightly difficult for Cong Taiyan to swallow. However, due to consideration of the third master's position, Cong Taiyan had no choice but to pinch his nose and endure this slight. But the Third Master Jing's words hadn't bolstered the Heavensfall Society at all. In fact, in wanting Cong Taiyan to calm down, he was actually chipping away at the Society's morale! With this, the hope and expectation that'd formed in Cong Taiyan's heart instantly transformed to cool detachment.
"Third Master Jing, you are still a Moon God Sect division head regardless of anything else. We have an obligation to uphold the rules of our city. These scum came to my headquarters and commited mass murder! Take a good look! Which of these aren't key members of my Society? They killed my Society's members on a whim! Third Master Jing, do you think that I can take this lying down and take no action at all?" Cong Taiyan's anger grew with every sentence uttered.
Although both the Heavensfall Society and the first division were influential powers of Frostmoon City, they weren't tightly knit when it came down to it. While they occasionally cooperated under the table, the first division was an official power, but the Heavensfall Society an underground faction. Between the two, they still had some differing opinions and clashes of interest.
Most importantly, they belonged to different factions, ensuring that they could never coexist and interact intimately. But, even when belonging to different factions, the first division was entirely honor bound to help the Heavensfall Society when faced with such a matter. After all, everyone was toiling for the Moon God Sect in the end.
Third Master Jing was one who'd seen grand occasions and wasn't easily bothered by a few words from Cong Taiyan. Honestly, any single lord of the Heavensworn Four was stronger than him in terms of martial dao. Even so, this didn't automatically dictate that the Heavensworn Four was in a higher position of power. In fact, his position as division head was even higher than them. After all, he was so much younger and had been tapped as a candidate with exceptional potential for future development.
As such, the third master smiled with only his lips when he heard Cong Taiyan's unfriendly tone. "Indeed, Lord Cong, Frostmoon City has its rules. If you insist on having the first division intervene, you must at least allow both sides to state their piece, no?"
If it'd been anyone else, the third master wouldn't have wasted a single breath and just captured the interlopers first, only considering the consequences later. However, he'd recognized from afar that it was this familiar group of people, the ones that had delivered a hearty setback to him and forced him to swallow bitter results.
Honestly, the third master was no saint, and neither was he one to remain at a disadvantage. However, the previous incident had thoroughly illustrated for him that there is always someone better. This was the only point in his life where crazed thoughts of revenge didn't develop after losing face. This was because the more he thought about it, the more frightened he became that he'd almost met his doom. How had he dared swindle a great emperor?! Every time he recalled these foolish actions, the third master felt a chill run down the back of his neck as his heart palpitated with lingering fear.
The Moon God Sect may not necessarily be afraid of a great emperor, but Third Master Jing didn't represent the entire sect. Even if he was killed by the great emperor and the sect had been able to avenge him, so what then? The dead could not come back to life, so there was no meaning in being avenged. This lesson had been etched deeply into Third Master Jing's mind, making him comprehend principles of life that he hadn't been able to normally.
When he received word from the Society today that they had troublemakers, the first division of the Moon God Sect naturally couldn't sit idly by. He had to put in an appearance even if it was just for show. He also had to help if he had to, because the sect was also the Society's patron. But, when he saw Jiang Chen and Emperor Peerless from afar, Third Master Jing experienced a complete reversal in attitude. He resolutely decided right then and there that he would not intervene or interfere in this matter
The Heavensworn Four didn't give him all due respect normally anyways. They were used to having the final say and threw their weight about everywhere. The two parties were cordial and amiable on the surface but privately, neither side was cowed by the other.
The Heavensworn Four had built the Society and committed countless crimes and profited handsomely from illegal avenues. Yet, they'd never offered some of those profits to the first division to stop tongues from wagging. Many of the Society's dealings were underground and illegal, ensuring that Frostmoon City and the first division had to constantly clean up after them It was a thankless job and yet the Society took it for granted, never acknowledging or appreciating all the help that the first division rendered under the table.
In Third Master Jing's opinion, the Heavensworn Four didn't understand social conventions and didn't respect him, despite his position as division head. With this predisposition, the third master even sometimes wished to see the Heavensworn Four suffer a setback. Now that they had clashed with Jiang Chen's group, a small part of his heart was exulting in schadenfreude. Perhaps it was his usual unhappiness, or that he was really ticked off with the Heavensworn Four's attitude, regardless, the third master just didn't see eye to eye with them.
On the Heavensworn Four's side, their mood ran the gamut of negative emotions after hearing Third Master Jing's words. So not only was he not siding with them, he seemed to be helping the opposition instead?
Cong Taiyan furrowed his brow and regarded Third Master Jing coldly. "Third Master Jing, everyone present has eyes and can see for themselves. If Third Master would pretend to not see our plight, then just stand aside with your men and watch the show. We brothers can settle this matter ourselves." Pure displeasure and disdain rolled off Cong Taiyan.
"Brother Cong, you're speaking purely out of anger. Since the first division represents Frostmoon City, we must at least deal with matter fairly. Even if we are just putting on a show, it's still necessary, wouldn't you say?"
"Jing, don't think you're all that just because we're showing you some courtesy!" The youngest of the Heavensworn Four was a rash and hot-tempered person. His ire grew when he saw that Third Master Jing didn't seem to want to help them at all. He gave voice to a long string of curses. "Do you really think you're a master just because people call you Third Master Jing? What, you think you're amazing for being the vice head of the first division? Remember, without the Moon God Sect, you're even less than a fart!"
Third Master Jing smiled indifferently. "I know very well how much I'm worth. Unlike some others who have an exaggerated opinion of themselves, and don't even know what can be done, what can't be done, who they can offend, and who they can't."
Cong Taiyan's anger flared at this, while Bei Gongming seemed to consider something and snuck a glance with a trace of confusion in it at Jiang Chen and the others. He'd also felt that something was a bit off. These 'insolent murderers' were far too calm and collected. Not only did they not attempt to sneak away during this conversation, but they stood there with mocking expressions, seemingly enjoying the grand show of inner conflict between Frostmoon City factions. It was likely these people had an uncommon background based off this exemplary mindset alone.
"Jing, f*ck off and get out of the way if you want to watch the show. Stop being such an eyesore idling around here. But remember, we'll eventually get you for all that has happened today!" The youngest of the Heavensworn Four had obviously been completely provoked by Third Master Jing's attitude.
It was at this point in time however, that Jiang Chen suddenly clapped hard with laughter.
"You guys have said so much, is it our turn yet?" Jiang Chen's tone was relaxed, but there a glint of killing intent flashed sharply through his eyes when his gaze swept across the four brothers. "The Heavensworn Four? So, you guys were the ones who founded the despicable and evil underground organization that is the Heavensfall Society?" His voice suddenly dropped as he looked at the four brothers.