"Let me say a few things first." The Purple Smoke sect head was the first to break the stifling silence. "Hongxue, are you sure that young man was called Jiang Yu?"
"No question about it," Yi Hongxue sobbed. "He really was called Jiang Yu. His father always called him 'Yu'er'."
"Ah, that should be it then. The Jiao brothers of Mount Huai joined up with young lord Jiang Chen, so it's understandable that he sent one of them on that errand. The young lord should know about all this, then.
"Given that that's the case, the fact that Senior Jiao refrained from going on a killing spree means that the young lord didn't give him permission to do so." The sect head's analysis was reasonable.
His captive audience felt their hearts settle down a bit.
"That father and son pair is definitely very close to young lord Jiang Chen. Otherwise, he wouldn't have sent a great emperor to personally pick them up!
"Another point: the young lord Jiang Chen has no intention of destroying our sect. Otherwise, he would have given instructions to Senior Jiao to do so. The rumors are true; young lord Jiang Chen is a principled man, not just some brutish lout.
"Finally, young lord Jiang Chen is unlikely to pursue a grudge against us at a future date. To us, the matter is something to lose the entire sect over, but the young lord is concerned with far more important things. He has no energy to waste on people like us! There's no need to wait. If he wanted to destroy us, he would've done so already."
The summation was almost too rational to listen to.
One of the elders breathed a sigh of relief. "You're absolutely correct, Sect Head. We're shrimp and small fry to him. He's not interested in stooping to our level."
"Quite so. That father and son suffered a bit, but at least they're still alive and intact. The only regret is that Jiang Yu's father was rather beaten up when he left. Still, the injuries weren't anywhere close to being fatal. Perhaps young lord Jiang Chen meant to see what Jiang Yu thought was best. If Jiang Yu wanted to take revenge, Senior Jiao would've acted upon it. Otherwise, they would just depart and turn over a new leaf."
"Makes sense. Good thing Jiang Yu wasn't the petty type…" The discussion became quickly heated.
The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather remained silent. Only after everyone finished speaking did he let out a soft sigh. "Yes, let bygones be bygones, but we can't rest easy yet."
"Forefather, fortune and misfortune are often intertwined with one another. What has happened may have been a lot of trouble for the Purple Smoke Sect, but there's opportunity here as well."
"Oh? How so?"
"If Jiang Yu is truly young lord Jiang Chen's relative, we can take this chance to head to Veluriyam to apologize. At the same time, we can bring Agarwood Valley to the young lord's attention as a means of building a relationship. No faction in Phoenix Cry can do anything about the valley, but perhaps Veluriyam has a solution? If we can use this as a chance to bring us closer to a prominent faction, this may turn out to be an amazing blessing for the Purple Smoke Sect after all."
Everyone's eyes lit up at the suggestion. If all that could come to pass, the whole situation would be turned on its head.
The Purple Smoke forefather beamed. "A wonderful approach. Phoenix Cry doesn't have the ability to investigate Agarwood Valley. Asking Veluriyam's assistance may turn out to be a very wise decision."
Jiao Yun didn't let Jiang Chen down. He took Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu back to Veluriyam Capital in perfect safety.
On the way, father and son couldn't shake themselves free of a dreamlike feeling. They were both anxious and excited.
Jiao Yun had spoken clearly to them, but they found it difficult to fully accept their newfound happiness for the moment. The memories of captivity were still too fresh in their minds.
Only after entering the city proper and seeing Jiang Chen within the young lord residence did their hearts settle down. Jiang Feng was tremendously pleased by the sight of his lost brother.
After the ordeal he'd been through, Jiang Tong felt similarly about their reunion. That, on top of discovering his brother was back together with his wife, made him happy enough to cry.
Jiang Tong had always respected Jiang Feng a great deal. What had happened to his marriage and family had always saddened him. Now that his brother's family was whole once more, he was wholeheartedly delighted for him. Similarly, Jiang Yu was overjoyed to see Jiang Chen again.
"Brother Chen, you saved me yet again," sighed the young man. "It's only been ten years, but you're Veluriyam Capital's young lord now, huh? You're respected the world over!"
"My brother. It seems that your decade of trial has matured you a fair bit. Very good. I thought you would ask Jiao Yun to slaughter them. As expected of a Jiang son! Your benevolence will serve you well. Once you settle down here in the young lord residence, we can start catching up on your ten years of wasted cultivation."
Jiang Yu's throat quavered. He couldn't do much more than nod, forcing down his tears that were about to burst forth at any second.
Jiang Chen gave him a pat on the shoulder. "There, there. All that trouble is behind you now. Xue Tong, please accompany Jiang Yu for the next while."
Xue Tong and Jiang Chen were both Jiang Chen's cousins. Though they weren't directly related, they knew each other well nevertheless. The company was completely appropriate.
Having received Jiang Tong and Jiang Yu back into the fold, Jiang Chen was finally done with another important matter.
"The only one who's not with me right now is Huang'er…" Jiang Chen felt pain strike his heart whenever he thought of her. His reunion with Dan Fei, his parents, his other relatives… all these were good things. But his time and vows with Huang'er were similarly invaluable and irreplaceable.
A gathering like this without Huang'er made him feel somewhat empty. He wanted to sprout wings and head for Myriad Abyss Island immediately. Alas, he had promised her that he wouldn't before he attained peak emperor realm.
She wasn't the type to run her mouth.
There was a definite reason for her in saying that he had to reach peak emperor realm. A place like Myriad Abyss Island was incomparable to the human domain.
Emperor realm cultivators were reasonably high level in the human domain, but perhaps they were only middling on Myriad Abyss Island. Regardless, no amount of mystery and fear relating to that isle could curb the enthusiasm in Jiang Chen's heart.
He couldn't sit tight whenever he remembered that Huang'er was there, waiting for him with nervous tension. He had to cultivate ceaselessly, as quickly as he could. He couldn't make hr wait too long. Time was of the essence. He didn't want to reach Myriad Abyss Island only to find her corpse.
She'd promised him that if he didn't come in time, she wouldn't serve as a cultivation cauldron for the genius from House Xiahou. She'd commit suicide instead. However, he couldn't accept either outcome.
"I have to hurry up in my cultivation."
Unfortunately, he didn't feel confident enough to challenge the third of the Six Palaces of Heritage without reaching mid emperor realm first. Still, he was immensely self-assured as he was already at peak second level emperor realm.
If he hadn't been forced to leave to combat Emperor Pillzenith's kidnapping during his time in the Eternal Celestial Capital's territory, he would've broken through to third level in that residence.
Now that his affairs were taken care of, Jiang Chen was more than happy to spend some time in closed door cultivation to make up for lost time.
When he broke through to third level, he could use an Emperor Ascension Pill to get to fourth level. That would make him mid emperor realm, qualifying him for the third palace. The short-term action plan bolstered his determination even more.
Having spent a few days doing the city's paperwork, Jiang Chen was ready to announce closed door cultivation the next day.
On the day of his announcement though, there was an uninvited guest outside Sacred Peafowl Mountain's gates.
"Phoenix Cry Lower Region? The Purple Smoke Sect?" Jiang Chen was mildly taken aback at the identification on the visitor's card. Wasn't this the sect the one responsible for kidnapping Jiang Yu?
Why had this person come? Did they feel excessively guilty, perhaps?
Despite his surprise, Jiang Chen also realized that the sect might have guessed closer to the truth. That was eminently the most likely reason for their follow-up apology.
He didn't feel there to be much bad blood between them and was initially set on having Xue Tong dismiss the man. But this guest in particular was very stubborn. He would see no one but Jiang Chen, reportedly because he had important news to personally inform the young lord.
"Show him in." His extraordinary obstinacy surprised Jiang Chen, spurring a change of heart.
It was none other than the Purple Smoke Sect's forefather.
"Greetings, young lord Jiang Chen. I am Zi Tan of the Purple Smoke Sect." The forefather's attitude was one of utmost respect. He didn't dare put on any airs before Veluriyam's de facto ruler.
Nearby, Jiao Yun snickered. "What? I didn't annihilate the Purple Smoke Sect on my visit, so you came asking for a beating?"
"Not at all, not at all. Truly, I am grateful to your mercy last time, senior. I apologize for not recognizing someone as famous as you. Thankfully, a friend came by who did, and that's when I learned how much trouble our sect was actually in. I was quite worried, as was the entire sect…"
"Is that all you came to say, Zi Tan? After coming so far?" Jiang Chen cut him off coolly.
The forefather's heartbeat skyrocketed. He felt an inexplicable pressure before Jiang Chen, one that persons in authority customarily exerted. Its power drew cold sweat from his entire body.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, I didn't come just to apologize. I also have very important information to report. This matter has troubled Phoenix Cry Lower Region for many years, but our region's sects aren't strong enough to deal with…." The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather stepped forward reverentially, leading into the next topic.