Yin Hongxue was known for her dominance and condescension in the Purple Smoke Sect. However, she was discerning enough not to take out her temper on specific people within the sect. Those were too important for her to do so.
The elder before her was one of them. He was the Purple Smoke Sect's forefather, more prominent and respected than even the sect head himself. According to rumor, he was close to two thousand years old.
She didn't dare offend such a pillar of the sect. Moreover, the forefather was bearing down on her with an invisible pressure. Because of whom the pressure came from, her grandfather couldn't intervene.
Yin Hongxue wanted to lie in order to brush past the question, but the forefather's crushing aura was like mountains repeatedly crashing down on her. She could barely stand upright under the blows. Her body shivered, and her teeth clattered.
"Well? Was there?" A sharp glint entered the forefather's eye. He was riled up in earnest.
In truth, the forefather disliked this girl a great deal even though she was venerated elder Yin Tianchou's granddaughter. If every disciple behaved like her, the sect would be done for in no time at all!
Yin Tianchou's retainer finally arrived with Jiang Tong and Jiang Feng in tow.
Yin Hongxue was ashen when she saw them land. "These two slaves," she murmured, "I… I caught them many, many years ago. They're low-born filth and there's nothing special about them. The great emperor senior couldn't possibly be looking for…"
She was so upset she was about to cry. No one had ever been so mean to her before. So what if it was the forefather taking the attitude? That didn't make her any less upset. She was the young miss of the venerated elder's family! Why was she being taken so lightly?
Jiao Yun glanced at Jiang Tong and his son. A cursory examination was enough to make his eyes light up.
He hadn't met them before, but Jiang Chen had described their appearances and characteristics. More importantly, these two men bore similarity to Jiang Feng and Jiang Chen. Particularly, brothers Jiang Tong and Jiang Feng were at least thirty percent alike. For strong cultivators, that kind of similarity didn't need close scrutiny.
Jiao Yun was almost certain that the father and son before him was the young lord's uncle and cousin.
His expression remained impassive even as he messaged them. "Are you two Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu? Don't make noise or be surprised. I was sent by young lord Jiang Chen to come receive you. If you are, simply blink once each."
He didn't speak openly because of Jiang Chen's instructions to be careful and not cause a disturbance. There was no need to leave an opening for potential hostiles.
Pillfire City and its allies were looking all over the world for Jiang Chen's family, intent on taking them hostage to trade for young master Tian Lin. That was why Jiang Chen had sent Jiao Yun instead of coming himself. The repeated command not to cause a ruckus was evidence enough.
The bigger the commotion, the more likely a surprise could occur.
Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu were both taken aback by the message. They traded a look, their hearts moved a great deal by this development.
A great emperor expert, come at the behest of young lord Jiang Chen?
They thought that they'd misheard something. Was someone playing tricks on them?
Both father and son knew that Jiang Chen was a genius, but it'd only been ten years. Even if Jiang Chen had been allowed to grow unhindered, it was quite unlikely he would have been able to command great emperors at this point.
There wasn't a single great emperor in the entirety of Phoenix Cry Lower Region. Such experts were rarer in the human domain than gemstones. How could an expert of that level be sent by Jiang Chen?
The father and son pair's uncertainty made Jiao Yun smile.
He understood that they'd been trapped here for very a long time, and thus didn't know much about the outside world. Their reaction was understandable.
He patiently messaged once more. "Don't be afraid. Young lord Jiang Chen is famous throughout the realm as the leader of Veluriyam Capital in the Upper Eight Regions. He found out where you went from Ye Chonglou, then specifically sent people to investigate. After he was sure you were still around, he sent me. If you are concerned about my trustworthiness, I'll have to return and ask the young lord to send someone else."
The name Ye Chonglou finally won Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu over. They blinked to verify their identity.
Jiao Yun formed his own conclusion based on this, turning to look dispassionately upon the Purple Smoke Sect's forefather. "No need to play-act any more. These two are precisely the ones I'm looking for."
The forefather's expression darkened at that statement. He glared viciously at Yin Hongxue, then cupped a fist to Jiao Yun. "Senior, we Purple Smoke Sect are indeed at fault here. This girl is spoiled far too much by her grandfather, and now she's done something so patently ridiculous… we will accept any punishment."
The old man was decisive and resolute. At this point, both deflection and explanation were ineffective. The best solution was to admit fault.
That, coupled with a bit of sincerity, introduced a ray of hope to the situation. If they refused to confess to the bitter end, then the senior could simply demolish the entire sect in his anger.
Jiao Yun returned a dispassionate look, then considered Yin Hongxue for a brief moment.
The culprit in question could barely hide her dissatisfaction. She hadn't yet realized the scope of her error. She didn't believe that a great emperor expert could possibly be looking for such insignificant ants. How could there be a relation at all between them?
"Senior, is there a mistake? These two are so worthless and unimportant. How can they possibly match up to your majesty?" Her brain was clever enough to resort to underhanded flattery.
Jiao Yun snickered, his eyes icy. "Girl, spare me your petty little tricks."
His gaze lingered upon Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu. "As for the girl kidnapping you… the Purple Smoke Sect is culpable for its lack of oversight in this matter. How do you plan on dealing with them? I am beholden to my orders, and will do whatever you ask."
The entire Purple Smoke Sect blanched at this declaration.
The forefather's heart positively quavered with fear. If the great emperor was going to take the father and son's anger on anyone, he'd be at the top of the list.
Jiang Yu peered at Yin Hongxue hatefully. "Witch! Crazy harlot! Tell me, how many innocent cultivators have you killed over the years. I want to rip out your heart and see its color! Is it red, or black?"
Jiao Yun cackled. "That's easy enough. Shall I do the honors for you?"
Yin Hongxue was scared out of her wits. Shrieking, she hid behind the Purple Smoke Sect's forefather, shivering with fear. "Save me, forefather! Save me!"
The forefather wanted to curse out loud. The girl was only making trouble by hiding behind him!
"Yin Tianchou, your terrible upbringing of this girl is the root of all this trouble. Deal with it yourself!" The forefather pointed the spear of the conflict towards venerated elder Yin Tianchou.
Yin Tianchou was thoroughly depressed. "Senior," he spoke with a pleading tone, "I have poorly educated my granddaughter. That's why she's committed such a grave crime. I must bear the entire burden of the punishment. Please, consider her youthfulness and spare her life!"
The old man really did spoil his granddaughter to no end.
Jiao Yun smiled faintly. Such tactics didn't work on him. He looked back at Jiang Yu. He had come at Jiang Chen's instruction specifically to avoid killing if possible. Reducing the gravity of the situation was ideal. Therefore, he sought Jiang Tong and his son's opinion for the most part.
If they weren't interested in severe retribution, neither would he do anything too drastic.
Jiang Yu strode up to Yin Hongxue, his eyes red. He suddenly delivered a resounding slap to her face. "Bitch, this is for my father! You've wounded him all over and it's my duty to take revenge as his son!"
There was another swing. "This one's for me. These past ten years, you've made me taste all kinds of suffering and humiliation. Today, I'm returning that shame and agony in front of everyone in the Purple Smoke Sect!" Jiang Yu delivered a flurry of slaps with both hands.
"These are for the poor lost souls that've died at your hands. You hellion of a woman! Heaven will take you one day. I don't kill women, otherwise I'd cut you down on the spot!"
At the end of this storm of blows, Yin Hongxue's pretty face had swelled up like a pig's. Her heart swirled with vitriol. She couldn't accept being hit by someone she was accustomed to treating as a slave. Several times, she wanted to hit him back, but resisted the instinct to.
If she did that, she'd be dead for sure. None of the experts from the Purple Smoke Sect would be able to save her!
The recurring blows against her face were irritating, then humiliating. Finally, Jiang Yu's indignant expression inspired her with a nonsensical, utterly shameless thought. She felt that the man before her was more handsome and manly than he'd ever been!
Yin Hongxue was just this kind of backwards person. When she'd thought Jiang Yu to be unimportant, she'd heaped abuse upon him. Discovering his close relationship with a great emperor senior on the other hand, made her happy to be hit.
However, Jiang Yu was loath to spare her another glance after he was done with her. Instead, he took his father upon his back once more, sweeping his gaze over all the elites of the Purple Smoke Sect.
"I'm taking my father away from the Purple Smoke Sect. We will have no ties henceforth with you. Is there anyone who disagrees with this?" He stared at them viciously.
The sect's elites were uniformly emperor realm experts, but they felt strangely guilty when locking eyes with a mere origin realm cultivator.
"No, no, not at all. There's been a misunderstanding, is all. We can't stop you from heading to a much brighter future."
"Please, go ahead."