The Purple Smoke Sect's head and elders swarmed out from their hiding places. None of them could sit tight any more; they congregated behind the forefather. Though they were uniformly terrified and apprehensive that something grave had happened, they could do little else but present themselves.
"Hmph. A few years ago, a girl and her retinue of brutish servants kidnapped a father and son pair on the road. Does anyone remember anything like that?" The unwelcome guest was none other than Jiao Yun, whom Jiang Chen had sent to the sect as an escort.
Almost all eyes of the Purple Smoke Sect's elite glanced towards one specific old man. This elder in question had a large build and a head of monochrome hair. He was one of the sect's venerated elders, Yin Tianchou.
The old man blushed at the collective gaze of his peers. He knew what their furtive looks meant. The girl that the unwelcome guest had mentioned was more than likely his granddaughter, Yin Hongxue.
Drops of sweat ran down the old man's back. "D-don't look at me like that, everyone," he stuttered, "the Purple Smoke Sect is a big place. Y-you can't say for sure it was my granddaughter."
The forefather frowned. "Tianchou, call for your troublesome granddaughter first. Why not let this senior verify in person and see if there's a misunderstanding? Of course we'll check first if this has anything to do with her. If she was actually the culprit, we can't just let her go either."
Yin Tianchou tasted bitterness in his mouth. The Purple Smoke Sect had plenty of troublemakers, but most of them were men.
The female disciples generally tended to shy away from unruliness. He hurriedly muttered a few sentences to a nearby retainer, his expression extremely serious.
Upon his instructions, his retainer shot to the back of the mountain, his mission of retrieving Yin Hongxue clear.
If there was someone at their door, there must've been considerable investigation beforehand. If Yin Hongxue really was the culprit, there was no point in trying to deflect blame. If it wasn't her, things should be perfectly fine.
Yin Hongxue stood uncertainly in the yard of her residence when she saw her grandfather's retainer rush in.
"Young miss, milord would like you to go to him."
The girl was a bit surprised. "Where's grandpa? Where can I find him?"
The retainer saw Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu out of the corner of his eye. His face colored a little. "Young miss, who are these two?" he asked without reservation.
Yin Hongxue had done many absurd things in the past few years, capturing countless people from the outside world. Yin Tianchou's guards and retainers didn't have the authority to ask after what she did.
However, this retainer in particular suddenly remembered something when he saw this father and son pair. A sense of foreboding came over him.
Yin Hongxue made her displeasure clear. "What's it to you? It's not your place to speak!"
She saw Yin Tianchou's guards as servants and subordinates. What right did they have to inquire her, a young miss, of anything?
Ordinarily, the retainer would have laughed it off and stopped talking. However, the answer to this question was very important. "Young miss, did you take these two from the outside world?"
Yin Hongxue's pretty face darkened. "You talk too much. You think I won't tell grandpa to pull out your tongue?"
A subordinate questioning a young miss! Didn't he know he was speaking above his station? Of course Yin Hongxue was upset. But this time, the retainer wouldn't relent. He needed to get to the bottom of this. "Young miss, you need to explain where these two people came from."
Yin Hongxue was furious. "You think you can tell me what to do? Get out, right now!"
The retainer's face colored with concern. He examined Jiang Tong and his son with unease. "Young miss, there's a great emperor senior outside. He says he's looking for a father and son pair who were captured a few years ago by a young female cultivator."
As soon as he said this, Yin Hongxue's pretty face drained of color.
A great emperor realm expert?
Looking for a father and son?
She couldn't help looking at Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu, her mind clouded with doubt. Immediately, she tried to deny this possibility.
Those two had been accompanied by only normal sage realm cultivators. Weaklings, the lot of them. None of them could have reached emperor realm, much less great emperor. Was she supposed to believe that great emperors would associate with people like that? The very prospect sounded ridiculous to her. Absolutely absurd.
Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu looked at each other when they heard the conversation. A great emperor realm expert, looking for a father and son pair?
The timeframe and involved individuals made sense, but neither father nor son thought that they were the ones sought for. After all, they barely knew any sage realm cultivators in the first place, much less great emperors.
As the weakest region in the human domain, Myriad Domain didn't even have a single emperor realm cultivator all those years ago. How could a great emperor be looking for them?
Though their hearts throbbed at the prospect, they didn't get their hopes up. A sage realm or emperor realm cultivator was possible, perhaps. But great emperor was the highest level in the human domain! An expert at that level couldn't conceivably be related to the Jiang family. The Precious Tree Sect's Ye Chonglou was miles away from that kind of cultivation.
Yin Hongxue tossed the father and son pair in front of her a look of disdain. Their confusion cemented her belief that they weren't the ones the senior was looking for.
Brandishing her whip, she pointed it toward Jiang Tong and his son. "If you two dare try to escape, I'll make you suffer!" Saying this, she looked back toward the retainer. "Lead the way." Her voice was stiff.
The retainer was still somewhat concerned. "Let's take these two with us."
"They're my slaves. What are we bringing them for?" Yin Hongxue's displeasure was palpable.
The retainer smiled wryly. "Young miss, they're father and son, are they not? Perhaps the senior is looking for them?"
After all, the duo fit the guest's description perfectly. Their filial relationship was evident at a glance. Their strength and station was far inferior to the guest, but stranger things happened in the world.
Yin Hongxue wanted to refuse, but the retainer spoke once more. "Now isn't the time for a temper tantrum, young miss. Milord has been singled out by the senior. If you delay now, I am worried the senior will take his anger out on…"
Regardless of her natural insolence, Yin Hongxue knew that she was worthless without her grandfather. Therefore, she cared a great deal for the man who enabled her indulgence and affluence.
She waved a hand impatiently. "Fine. Don't get ahead of yourself, though! These two pieces of trash are too weak to be related to anyone important. There's no way the senior knows them!"
Understanding the situation her grandfather was in, she didn't dare waste any more time. Yin Hongxue propelled herself outside the mountain gate.
The retainer saluted Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu with cupped fist. "Gentlemen, I understand that the young miss might have been a bit too reckless there. I apologize sincerely on her behalf."
Jiang Tong's expression was blank.
"There's no need for your present pretentiousness, sir," Jiang Yu retorted coolly. "You're a retainer of the venerated elder, Yin Tianchou, and thus quite important. Your politeness exists only out of worry that we're the ones the great emperor senior is looking for."
The retainer was a bit embarrassed. That was exactly what he was thinking. Their frankness didn't anger him, however. "I'm thankful that the two of you are alright. The Purple Smoke Sect would have committed a real gaffe otherwise."
The lack of polity from Jiang Tong and Jiang Feng prompted him to continue. "Since you're father and son, maybe the senior really is looking for you? Why not go and take a look?"
Jiang Yu harrumphed quietly. He didn't think it possible for them to be related to any great emperor expert.
"If I may ask, how many did the great emperor senior come with? What does he look like, or they?" Jiang Tong asked feebly.
"You'll find out if you go see, right?" The retainer was in a rush, but didn't want to risk rushing them on. If something unexpected were to happen, there could be a lot more unwanted trouble.
Jiang Tong nodded. "Yu'er, let's go take a look. We won't lose anything by doing so."
Jiang Yu treated his father's will as paramount. Jiang Tong's wounds necessitated taking advantage of this opportunity, anyways. If they didn't, the consequences later would be disastrous.
Bearing his father on his back, he stated emotionlessly to the retainer, "Please lead the way."
Yin Hongxue arrived early outside the sect's gate. She ignored the gravity of the situation, nudging her grandfather affectionately. "Grandpa, what did you want from me?"
Yin Tianchou spoiled his granddaughter beyond belief. However, now was not the time for public displays of affection. He forced his expression into a scowl.
"Xue'er, do you have any impression of capturing people from the outside world? Especially a father and son pair? Don't be too quick to answer. Think about it first."
Jiao Yun snickered. "Are you hinting something to her? Don't be too quick to answer? Is she supposed to make something up, then come clean with her version of events?"
Despite what he'd just said, Yin Tianchou was in more of a hurry than anyone. He knew intimately how capricious his granddaughter was.
Yin Hongxue took the topic and ran with it. "Grandpa," she crooned, "I've captured a few people over the years, but they were mostly wandering cultivators and lowborn talents. I took them here so they could cultivate and have a chance to enter our sect…"
She was a crafty girl. Her answer was detailed, but it made no mention of any father or son. She had intentionally avoided the most important part of the topic while whitewashing what she had done.
"Elder Tianchou, this is your granddaughter?" The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather scrutinized the proud girl coldly. "So you're Yin Hongxue, hmm? Answer the question plainly! Did you take a father and son duo several years ago? I need the truth, and only the truth!"
The forefather was impatient. He could feel the smoldering anger of the great emperor expert opposite him. If he didn't put forward the correct attitude, he was sure to receive thunderous rage!