"Young lord, are you really headed to the Ninesuns Sky Sect?" Xue Tong was worried despite himself when he heard Jiang Chen wanted to pay a visit.
As Xue Tong recalled, the Ninesuns Sky Sect was a very vicious sect that held a grudge against the young lord. Back in the Precious Tree Sect, the Ninesuns Sky Sect's inspector had clashed with them because his sect backed the Purple Sun Sect. And after that, the young lord had even killed Ninesuns' disciples.
"Xue Tong, you're my little brother so you don't need to call me young lord. I'm going to the Ninesuns Sky Sect together with four great emperors, what's there to worry about? Ah, there will be many things in the young lord residence for you to handle in my absence. Make sure you consult with the various seniors, especially Madame Yun and the four monarchs. Alright?"
Xue Tong bowed. "Don't worry, Brother Chen. I'll take care of things here well."
"Chen'er, are you going on another journey?" In the residence's rear courtyard, Jiang Feng was also deeply worried when he heard his son was about to make another long trip.
"Father, be at ease cultivating inside the residence whilst I'm away. Also, visit our friends from the Regal Pill Palace, as well as Liu Zhen and the others."
"Haha, you're worried about this dad of yours, hmm? Don't worry, your old man won't leave without saying goodbye this time. I'm not setting a foot outside the young lord residence! I know there are countless pairs of eyes on you and Sacred Peafowl Mountain. This old man may not be much help, but I won't hinder you or cause trouble for you either!"
Jiang Feng was a straightforward man. Since he'd obtained news of his wife and daughter, his anxiety about their safety were greatly diminished from before. His worries had now morphed into anticipation. Even so, Jiang Feng knew they couldn't hurry the matter.
"Chen'er, as a father, I'm very proud of what you've done in those past few years. Logically speaking, I shouldn't ask anything more from you. Only… don't forget your missing brother, inquire about him if you can. I'm worried about him the most now."
As parents, the more children one had meant the more worries that came along. Back in the day, Jiang Feng had only Jiang Chen in the Jiang Han province, so he doted very much on the latter. And now, he was likewise deeply concerned about the younger son he'd never met.
When Jiang Chen read the sadness in his father's eyes, he knew this was a deeply-seated paternal love. For a moment, the old scenes from the Eastern Kingdom rushed to his mind, and along with them, warmth.
"Don't worry, father. I'll do everything possible to find my younger brother." This was Jiang Chen's pledge to his father.
Jiang Feng squeezed out a smile. "I only hope the heavens have eyes, that he's still alive among us, that he's still in good health."
Jiang Chen comforted his father. "Don't worry, father. The Jiang sons are blessed with good fortune. The heavens will certainly help him."
Jiang Feng sighed softly and looked at his son's face. It was becoming ever more well defined. His fatherly love overflowed again at the sight of his steady, resolute son.
"Chen'er, Huang'er is a good girl. I'm aware of what's happened to her. Don't be downcast. A real man should never let his woman suffer, no matter how difficult the circumstances are. I was useless in the past and let your mother be taken from me. I didn't have the strength to bring her back. I hope the same thing doesn't happen to you."
Jiang Chen rubbed his head. Although he didn't say anything, the determination in his eyes was answer enough.
Two days later, Jiang Chen quietly left Sacred Peafowl Mountain for the Ninesuns Sky Sect, taking with him Emperor Peerless, the Jiao brothers, as well as Emperor Vastsea.
The Ninesuns Sky Sect was located in the midwest of the Upper Eight Regions, placing it in the core interior region. Although it was far from Sacred Peafowl Mountain, it was still closer compared to a trip to Pillfire City.
Jiang Chen kept a very low profile on the way, avoided all trouble, and arrived at the sect's mountain gates in less than a day. As a first rank sect, the Ninesuns Sky Sect was located on a land with an extremely dense concentration of spirit energy.
"Young lord, is this your first time at the Ninesuns Sky Sect?" Emperor Peerless asked with a smile.
"Yes. Have you visited before?" Jiang Chen was curious.
"I came here once." Emperor Peerless sighed softly. "I came to request a legendary weapon. It was a pity that I failed."
"The Ninesuns Sky Sect is a first rank sect that usually looks down on us wandering cultivators," Jiao Yun remarked. "When it comes to arrogance, if the Heavenly Dragon Sect is ranked first among first rank sects, then this Ninesuns Sky Sect comes at least second."
It was easy to sense his dissatisfaction with the sect.
The group's presence in front of the mountain gates, pointing here and there, alarmed the sect's patrolling disciples. Several of them blurred into streams of light to evaluate the newcomers.
"Who goes there, skulking around in Ninesuns Sky Sect private property?" A middle aged swordsman clad in apricot robes stormed up to Jiang Chen's group with an overbearing air, six younger disciples in tow.
"Go inform your sectmaster that noble guests have come from Veluriyam Capital." With a cold snort, Emperor Peerless slightly flared his formidable aura, blasting the sect members several dozen meters away.
Immensely frightened, the sect disciples wanted to summon reinforcements, but were stopped in their tracks when they heard these words.
"Noble guests from Veluriyam Capital?"
"May I ask who you might be, gracious seniors?" The leader instantly dropped the haughty act and was the picture of docile courtesy.
"There's no need for you to ask anything, just tell your sectmaster to come out and greet his guests." On the contrary, the impatient Jiao Yun wasn't polite at all. "If you don't want to go, then we can go inside ourselves. It's all the same."
Jiang Chen hectored, "Jiao Yun, don't be rude!"
Jiao Yun scratched his head with a mischievous smile, but wasn't greatly chastised.
Inside the Ninesuns Sky Sect, below the sectmaster, four esteemed elders, twelfth rank inspectors, and the upper ranks of the council of elders were gathered together.
The sect held a meeting every half year. Everyone had to attend as long as they weren't venturing outside or cultivating behind closed doors. The Ninesuns Sky Sect's sectmaster was called Zuo Qiuhao. His title was Clearsky, and people usually called him Emperor Clearsky.
"Everyone, apart from examining everyone's achievements during this half year, I also wish to discuss the layout of the human domain. Everyone may speak freely." Emperor Clearsky spread his hands, indicating a forum of free speech.
Someone in the crowd shot to his feet. The man was greatly advanced in age, his head matted with white hair. Added to his tall and sturdy body, he seemed strong and bold.
"Sectmaster, this old man requests you to open the Hall of Punishment and execute Shangguan Yanqing." Astonishing words emitted as soon as he opened his mouth.
All of the upper ranks recoiled with shock and horrors. They didn't understand why. These were rare semi-annual meetings. Why would someone's first words be to demand someone else's death? And one of their own at that?
Shangguan Yanqing was a twelfth rank inspector who'd participated in Veluriyam Capital's Dragon and Tiger Meet. His status was second only to the sectmaster, a personage that stood side by side with the four esteemed elders. Someone calling for his head was a great matter that would shake the whole sect.
"Esteemed Elder Chen Lei, why are you so angry?" Emperor Clearsky chuckled. "Explain things slowly. I will naturally bring forth justice."
As the master of a sect, he couldn't kill someone simply because someone wanted to, especially a pillar of the sect like Shangguan Yanqing. A deed like that would rock the foundations of the sect. Not to mention, the old man who'd just spoken was also an esteemed elder of the sect. His status wasn't any lower than Shangguan Yanqing's.
Esteemed Chen Lei snorted, full of anger. "Let's not even mention Shangguan Yanqing fawning over outsiders, currying favor with them and downplaying our own. He throws away face for our Ninesuns Sky Sect and colludes with our enemies! Someone who conspires with outsiders must be killed to appease the masses!"
Awkwardness descended. Everyone looked at Shangguan Yanqing. He rose and coldly met Esteemed Chen Lei head-on.
"Sectmaster, Esteemed Chen Lie is getting on in years. He's become brash with his words and actions. Your subordinate has spared no effort for the sake of the sect and never asked for great rewards. But it's hard for me to accept someone yelling for my death after all this. I won't accept it no matter how high the elder's status is!"
Wu Gong, another esteemed elder, also stood up and cupped a salute to Emperor Clearsky. "Sectmaster, your subordinate Wu Gong seconds Esteemed Chen Lei. Shangguan Yanqing, an inspector of the highest rank, has sought favor with Veluriyam Capital and lost great face for us. He has completely forgotten the old enmity and hatred our sect has with Veluriyam's young lord. If we can tolerate this, what else can't we tolerate?"
Esteemed Chen Lie's words might not carry enough weight by themselves. But now that two esteemed elders had spoken in concert, the crowd couldn't help but worry when they looked at Shangguan Yanqing. To be targeted by two esteemed elders at the same time was a very dangerous situation, even for a twelfth rank inspector.
Shangguan Yanqing exploded in laughter. "Esteemed Elders, such murderous intent! Crying foul and calling to murder your fellows at the drop of a hat, is that all you can do? You say I curry favor with Veluriyam Capital? Correct, I did indeed chat with its young lord on my previous visit. It was even a very deep conversation. But what I want to say is, how much do either of you know of the situation in the outside world, given how long you've spent cloistered inside?
"Anyone can mouth empty platitudes within the sect. I know that one of you is doing this because your disciple Cao Jin was killed, and the other because your grandson Wu Xingyun's cultivation cauldron was killed. In the end, both of you are acting out of selfishness rather than out of righteousness. Do either of you have any issue about what I've just said?"
As someone who could become a twelfth rank inspector, Shangguan Yanqing wasn't someone easy to deal with either. How would he allow the two elders to simply stomp all over him?
"Hmph, have you forgotten our peers at Infant Shriek?" Chen Lie snorted.
"A large number of our powerhouses died in Infant Shriek. Even the team leader, Elder Hao, died there. Have you forgotten all this?!" Esteemed Wu Gong coldly asked.
There wasn't any fear to be seen in Shangguan Yanqing's eyes. "Then for both of you, what should we have done? Unsheath our swords and fight Veluriyam Capital?"
Esteemed Chen Lie coldly said, "Not once has our Ninesuns Sky Sect ever suffered this great of a shame. If we can disregard even this sort of humiliation, were would our reputation as a first rank sect be?"
"Indeed, Shangguan Yanqing. You side with the enemy and betray the sect. This is an unpardonable crime! Stop quibbling." Esteemed Wu Gong clapped some severe crimes on the inspector in order to discredit him.