Compared to the single-minded second sectmaster, the head sectmaster hadn't been thrown into total disarray by the fight just now. She knew that the Moon God Sect had to hear Jiang Chen's ideas to ensure its survival. Respect and dignity had no place here. Without life, what dignity was there to speak of?
"Sectmasters, it's not my place to advise the Moon God Sect. However, if you find these northwestern lands too indefensible to stay n the near future, Veluriyam welcomes you. Though other sects like the Sublime Chord Temple and Empyrean River Palace may be allied with us, I will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to take them in. The Moon God Sect's responsible behavior at a crucial time at least tells me that our ideals are similar."
This was all that the young man could offer. He couldn't be more direct in his demand for them to join Veluriyam in their time of difficulty. Even if that was what he meant, it was inappropriate to be that blunt.
Moreover, he wasn't so mean as to force them to join. It didn't matter to him whether they did in the end. Veluriyam Capital wasn't going to be fundamentally improved via the addition of an extra faction or two, and neither did the human domain just need a simple addition of manpower.
Jiang Chen had made things very clear. His help today had been offered on the basis of Xu Qingxuan alone. The Moon God Sect's efforts at defending and repairing the Boundary Stele were a minor supporting factor.
He saw little reason to extend his stay. "Sectmasters, things are tough everywhere. I came here with the risk that the Order could attack Veluriyam in the meantime." His intent to depart was obvious. "Now that the immediate danger has passed, I must return without delay. Whether you're going to fight or retreat, you must make ample preparations. The Embittered Savage Tribe may have suffered a short-term loss, the fact that the Boundary Stele has been broken means they won't wallow in loneliness for very long. I wonder how much of their forces were rallied against you today?"
The head sectmaster had an answer for this. "From what they said, that young man seemed to be the prince of a village called Gunuo. The Embittered Savage Tribe has many of these villages, and they are the elites."
Jiang Chen's expression was somber. "If that's the case, the Embittered Savage Tribe is even more difficult to deal with. If the elites of a single village are a force to be reckoned with, the full brunt of multiple villages can only mean catastrophe for the human domain."
The Moon God Sect's executives were grave about this prospect. They had all realized the severity of the situation.
"Ah! The Embittered Savages and the Southern Celestials both have empyrean experts. There's no reason for the human race not to have them!" The third sectmaster suddenly exclaimed.
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. "Who says the human race doesn't?"
"Do we?" The three sectmasters collectively blinked. "Are you talking about… the ones Veluriyam Capital has, young lord?"
Jiang Chen waved in dismissal. "They are stone golems, not humans. I can definitively tell you that the human race has its own empyrean experts. I've seen one with my own eyes. Unfortunately, he has no intention of helping the rest of us. Instead, he rescued the Order's supreme lord, and is liable to bring trouble down on Veluriyam at any moment."
Though he didn't know where that human hermit expert had come from, he disliked the man a great deal. An empyrean expert like him should have stepped forth to stem the tide when his race needed him, not cause trouble when it was needed the least.
Jiang Chen hated irresponsible troublemakers like him. "Alright. Time is of the essence, so I must be off."
He made a cupped fist salute and readied to leave. Seeing Xu Shan with a sidelong glance, he smiled at her. "Holy Maiden Xu Shan, your Yin Yang Reverse Bloodline lives up to its fame. It hasn't been long at all, but your cultivation has already advanced by leaps and bounds. You have a bright future ahead of you. When a new age arrives, the Moon God Sect is sure to stay ahead of the pack with a genius such as you."
Having said his piece, the young man stepped into the air, drifting away on the wind.
The Moon God Sect's heads looked at each other, conflicted in his wake. The youth they hadn't taken seriously a few years back had become a man they now had to look up to.
The world was constantly in flux.
Despite her customary pride and hard-headedness, the second sectmaster found it difficult to tap into her usual obstinacy. Jiang Chen had become someone that she couldn't even criticize behind his back.
"Head Sectmaster, what shall we do?" The third sectmaster was a bit lost, and her face reflected it. She - and the entire sect - was completely unprepared for the rocky road ahead.
"What do you think, number two?" The head sectmaster sighed softly.
"You decide." The second sectmaster's tone was unusually low. "I've realized over the years that my personality holds me back from important matters. It's easy for me to get too emotional. If you listen to me, the Moon God Sect may very well fall into the abyss of destruction."
It was rare for her to be so self-aware.
The leader of them all wore a bleak, woeful expression on her face. She gazed out over all the lands the sect encompassed, especially the Precious Tree with a soft, radiant hue around it. Emotion overcome her for the moment.
"Number two, number three, I don't think we can keep hold of this place for the time being." She stated sadly.
Though everyone had long guessed this result, the head sectmaster's words nevertheless brought them to tears.
"Alright, that's enough sadness. Young lord Jiang Chen has a point. Life and death hinges on a single decision. As the head sectmaster, I must bear responsibility to our forebears and ancestors as well as all of our disciples. We can take back our lands, but we won't exist without our heritage. Therefore, my orders are as follows: everyone belonging to the Moon God Sect must pack up his bags and head south. We shall seek asylum with Veluriyam Capital!"
Seek asylum with Veluriyam Capital!
This command from the head sectmaster saddened the entire sect. However, no one was surprised by it. This was the only choice they had.
With the Embittered Savage Tribe at their gates, the Moon God Sect wouldn't even have had this chance without Jiang Chen's timely assistance.
Time waited for no woman. The Savages weren't going to launch any immediate attacks after eating the loss; they were sure to gather information about Jiang Chen before proceeding in any kind of pursuit.
This gave the Moon God Sect a chance to withdraw.
When the Embittered Savages finished their preparations and invaded Tilted Moon a second time, it would be much harder for the sect to do so.
It was easy to evacuate people and things. The hardest was the Moon God Precious Tree. Transplanting it was quite challenging. Thankfully, the sect had its secret methods in this regard.
But even so, there was some risk to taking the tree with them. Men were revitalized upon a move, but trees tended to die. It wasn't going to be easy to take the ancient Precious Tree with them while preserving its vigor.
Jiang Chen returned very quickly to Veluriyam Capital without delay.
Thankfully, the Order hadn't come in the few days he was away. Things in the city had been stressful, but under control. His reappearance gave the city its spine and mind back.
Xu Qingxuan hurried over to ask him about his trip when she heard the news. She'd been very much set on going with Jiang Chen originally, but her brother had expressly forbidden it. Only with her parents' patient pleas had her determination dispersed.
"Qingxuan, the Embittered Savages have broken the Boundary Stele in the northwestern wastes. Luckily, we arrived in the nick of time to save the sect from their entrapment. The Moon God Sect isn't in any immediate danger, and I've analyzed the situation in the human domain for the sectmasters. As for their choice, I'm not in a position where I can make it for them." Jiang Chen saw no reason to hide anything from his own sister.
Xu Qingxuan stomped anxiously. "Brother, you should've taken me! I would've absolutely convinced them to let their holdings go. If their students and heritage remain, what worry is there of not being able to retake the land?"
"No, I have to go talk to master." Truthfully, Xu Qingxuan was worried most about her stubborn master. If she couldn't take a step back and accept the facts…
The head sectmaster, on the other hand, could definitely make the best decision in light of all the information.
Jiang Chen shook his head. "No. If you go now, I don't know what danger will end up getting you."
Xu Qingxuan's anxiety softened Jiang Chen's heart. She looked like she was going to sneak out if he didn't agree, anyways. "Okay. Write a letter, and I'll have someone deliver it. Make everything you want to say clear in that letter. Will that be alright?"
The girl knew her brother wouldn't permit her to endanger herself. This was the only reasonable solution.
"Young lord, the members of the alliance have returned from the Ninesuns Sky Sect. The heads of the various sects are asking to see you outside of Sacred Peafowl Mountain."
"They're back?" Jiang Chen blinked. "Send them in."
The last time he'd ordered a domain-wide meeting, every first rank sect had been in attendance, aside from the defeated Heavenly Dragon Sect.
The fact that they'd all come back to Veluriyam Capital meant they had all sensed the delicacy of the human domain's present circumstances.
The Great Yu Skysword Sect and Celestial Cicada Court had gone with Emperor Wellspring to the latter's base prior upon detecting the Order's infiltration. They had congregated at the capital this time as well, alongside their first rank peers. One could say that every major faction of the human domain had gathered at Veluriyam.
"Young lord Jiang Chen."
"Congratulations, young lord Jiang Chen."
"Felicitations on your complete victory over the Order of Wind and Cloud!"
"Veluriyam Capital is the only rightful leader of the human domain. The Order was just some boisterous upstart. It didn't stand a chance!"
The sects and factions' leaders saluted Jiang Chen when they saw him, all spewing words of courtesy and endearment. Evidently, Jiang Chen had been elevated even more in their eyes after his battle with the Order.