However, the second sectmaster had to accept reality after she was done with her rant. Against six incoming great emperors, the Moon God Sect would suffer a painful loss even if it won with a territorial advantage.
If Xu Qingxuan wasn't here, the opposing party was much less likely to descend into actual fighting.
"What do you think, Number Two?" Because Xu Qingxuan was a disciple of the Blues, the senior sectmaster had to hear her second-in-command's input.
The second sectmaster was rather annoyed. "Pillfire City has abandoned all semblance of basic shame. They've thoroughly broken with us in the public eye. What can we do? Do we face them head on, staking all that the Moon God Sect has in the process? Ai, that Jiang Chen kid is a bit irksome, but his advice is correct. Qingxuan would do well to sidestep their inquisition."
The Moon God Sect wasn't qualified to stand directly against Pillfire City. Whether out of fear or apprehension, they could not and would not take on the larger faction in an all-out war.
"I'm not strong enough to protect you, Qingxuan. Thankfully, your brother is proving to be somewhat useful today. But I still bear no goodwill towards him. Without him, Pillfire City wouldn't have targeted you in the first place." The second sectmaster was still stuck on the perception that Jiang Chen was the source of all of Xu Qingxuan's troubles.
"It's my fault, master. Don't blame my brother. Pillfire City's ambition towards the Moon God Sect has never changed. Even without the issue of my brother, they would find fault with us eventually."
Though Xu Qingxuan liked being contrarian with Jiang Chen, that was merely girlish impishness showing through. Deep down, she was very proud of her brother. Thus, she couldn't resist defending him from her master's criticism.
Ordinarily, the second sectmaster would have rebuked or chided Xu Qingxuan. In this moment of parting, she couldn't do much but sigh in helplessness.
"I know that you don't like listening to my disapproval of him because you're family. When your mother was around, you were the same way with her. Never mind, never mind… blood is thicker than water. I'm sure he'll take good care of you. I don't like to admit it, but only Veluriyam Capital can protect you from Pillfire City in all of the human domain."
The second sectmaster was sharp-tongued, not stupid. She knew that truth as much as anyone else did.
"Master, I…" Xu Qingxuan hadn't heard such considerate words from her master before. The memories she'd made while studying with her master welled up to the fore of her mind. Her master, though frigid and almost cruel in front of outsiders, loved her dearly. Despite her routine strictness and occasional harshness of language, she had given her all to cultivate this disciple of hers.
Xu Qingxuan wanted to cry upon remembering her master's grace. Her eyes reddened.
"Alright, that's enough moping. We're cultivators of martial dao and we should act like it. What are tears good for? You don't have much more time. Make a few light preparations, then be off at once." The second sectmaster urged, frowning.
Xu Qingxuan felt razors scrape against her heart. "I don't want to abandon the sect by leaving alone, master. I don't want to leave you."
"Fool! What am I supposed to do if you stay? Give you up? Or fight to the death for you? You tell me!" The second sectmaster berated furiously. "What disciple of the sect will trust us if we do the former? If we fight to the death, how will the Moon God Sect survive beneath the combined might of Pillfire City, the Empyrean River Palace, and the Sublime Chord Temple?"
She spoke purely from a pragmatic point of view. The incumbent situation of Xu Qingxuan staying was far worse than her leaving.
The girl at the center of the affair clutched her face, weeping softly into her fingers. Guilt shot through her heart. She felt that she'd dragged down both her master and her sect.
"What are you still standing around for? Do you want me to die of exasperation?" The second sectmaster huffed. "Have you forgotten everything I've taught you? Why can't you be more decisive or resolute in times of trouble? How will your childishness survive in the cruel competition in the world of martial dao?"
Xu Qingxuan knew that her master really was dismissing her. She was sad, but kowtowed anyway. "Master, I'll be off straight away. I'll be a disciple of the Moon God Sect and your disciple no matter where I go, master. That will never change as long as I live."
The second sectmaster's heart was warmed by the words, but she remained expressionless and dismissive. Her body language was as if she was swatting away a fly.
Xu Qingxuan knew her master's personality well. Bowing several times more to the second sectmaster, she turned and walked gradually away.
The second sectmaster felt an emptiness in her heart as Xu Qingxuan's figure disappeared into the distance. There was a hollowness she could feel throughout her entire person. Her mood took a significant turn for the worse. She had raised Xu Qingxuan ever since the girl was little. Her favorite disciple carried many of her hopes and dreams.
Xu Qingxuan had never let her down. Among the Moon God Sect's holy maidens, she was essentially the unquestioned first place student. But now, she had to let her prized pupil leave into the world. The pain she felt was understandable.
"I appreciate your understanding. It's not necessarily a bad thing for Qingxuan to travel outside. Treat it as a learning experience for her," the senior sectmaster counseled.
"Excuse me, senior sectmaster. My behavior has been a little embarrassing." The second sectmaster was still melancholic; the tone of her sighs reflected how she felt.
Jiang Chen was overjoyed to receive the second sectmaster's agreement. He looked carefully at Xu Qingxuan's reddened eyes. "Qingxuan, I know you care about every moment of your time at the Moon God Sect. You've done more than enough for the second sectmaster and your sect."
Xu Qingxuan stopped weeping, but her eyes were still red. "Master and the sect have supported me for so long, but I'm leaving at a time like this, wuwuwu..."
"Taking a step back may reveal a bigger picture. You leaving is a good thing for both you and the Moon God Sect. There's a saying that a short departure today is the backdrop for a better meeting tomorrow, yes?"
Jiang Chen consoled his sister calmly.
Xu Qingxuan's eyes flared. Tears glittered on her long eyelashes. "Who said that? What a wonderful phrase."
Jiang Chen laughed wryly. How could he possibly remember who'd said that? He had heard it sometime in his previous life.
"Alright, Qingxuan, we don't have much more time. The six great emperors should be almost here. We have to leave before they come, otherwise we'll risk bumping into them."
An empty-handed Jiang Chen wasn't going to wait here to have a fight with those six. The Moon God Sect didn't want to publicly break with Pillfire City just yet, either.
Xu Qingxuan was unwilling to leave, but circumstances were forcing her hand. She cleaned up her emotions and belongings. She'd left the Moon God Sect before now, but she hadn't gone far. She didn't know where she was going to go on this trip of hers just yet.
Veluriyam Capital? Perhaps that was her best destination.
At least the void left by her relationship with her master could be filled by another there. Familial love, for example; her parents were there, and her brother was also the city's young lord.
After some basic touching up of their appearances, Jiang Chen and Xu Qingxuan set off for the city.
A day after they left the Moon God Sect's headquarters, he suddenly pulled Xu Qingxuan to a shaded place off the roadside. "They're here," he whispered.
Six great emperors charged with lightning speed into the Moon God Sect's territory. They barged about with complete lack of decorum, as if they were in their own backyard. They didn't care for anyone in their path.
Jiang Chen and Xu Qingxuan suppressed their cultivation and consciousnesses. When the six great emperors' own swept across them, they found only two 'utterly ordinary' cultivators.
Because the six great emperors had come under clandestine instructions, no one was supposed to know why they had come. Therefore, they weren't at all worried about missing their prey.
Because of this, they hadn't paid close attention on their journey to any anomalies. Passing by Jiang Chen and Xu Qingxuan, they took them for a pair of normal cultivators in Tilted Moon Region, thinking nothing further.
There had been countless cultivators like them scattered along the road. They had seen similar people countless times, and sensed no distinction.
The presence of six great emperors at the same time was extremely terrifying. The entire Tilted Moon Region sank into indescribable terror as soon as the six great emperors entered its boundaries.
"Are those the six bastards, stinky brother?" Xu Qingxuan glared in the direction of the six emperors in flight, her eyes wide with trepidation.
"Those guys, yes. Some of them are from Pillfire City and some from the Sublime Chord Temple and the Empyrean River Palace."
"Are they all here for me?" Though she knew the answer already, the girl couldn't resist asking. Her residual feelings of guilt refused to be shaken off.
"I suppose that's half true. However, Emperor Pillzenith also wants to take this opportunity to intimidate the Moon God Sect. At the end of the day, he wants your sect's unconditional submission."
Xu Qingxuan gritted her teeth. "In his dreams! The Moon God Sect has an incredibly long history. We'd rather perish than become his subordinates!"
The young lord's sister respected her sect's heritage a great deal. Every first rank sect began brainwashing their geniuses from a very young age about the importance of their own heritage.
Xu Qingxuan had evidently been a victim of this. She saw her sect's own heritage as sacrosanct.
"Don't worry," Jiang Chen chuckled. "The Moon God Sect is a first rank sect, after all. It should be able to deal with these six no problem. Come, I have someone to show you. Perhaps you'll let off some steam after seeing him. If not, you can beat him up to get it out of your system, too."
"Who?" Xu Qingxuan blinked.
"You'll see very soon." Jiang Chen set off once more, his sister in tow.