House Yan held a brief family meeting once they returned to their temporary residence. They decided to leave Bluesmoke after five days. The youths in the family could use the time to stroll around Miracle City. They could also process the ore they’d acquired in the festival to uncover more value.
Other than Yan Qingsang, none of the members of House Yan had gained all that much in the festival. The ancient jade they’d acquired was far from top-notch. Therefore, there wasn’t a need for them to go to the ancient jade market. Instead, they visited brothels such as Jade Revel Lodge every day.
The geniuses were used to keeping a tight leash on themselves when they were within their clan. Being in a different land and environment gave them an opportunity to do whatever they wanted.
Yan Qingsang, on the other hand, was very disciplined. He didn’t go to the brothels. Instead, he dragged Jiang Chen to the ancient jade market every day.
That earned him Jiang Chen’s respect. Yan Qingsang could sometimes be a little flighty, but when all was said and done, he was a driven, ambitious, and principled man.
“We’re going back to Eternal Divine Nation in two days, brother,” Yan Qingsang remarked seriously, looking at Jiang Chen. “The two elders have already extended an invitation for you to travel with us. They’re not authorized to grant you the title of guest expert, but they said that they will do everything they can in the clan elders’ meeting. Trust me. House Yan is serious about recruiting you.”
That was exactly what Jiang Chen wanted. All this time, he had refrained from taking the initiative and played hard to get. His understanding of House Yan had been proven right. They’d fallen for his plan: hook, line, and sinker.
Jiang Chen affected a thoughtful look before he answered pensively, “Since House Yan has extended such a sincere hand, I’ll go with you, brother. I have to warn you though, if House Yan fails to show me the respect I deserve, then I’ll take my leave as soon as I arrive.”
Yan Qingsang was pleased. “Don’t worry. If the family disrespects you, I won’t be shameless enough to keep you still. I can tell you that if martial dao is your lifelong pursuit, the Ten Divine Nations is the best place for you to be. Spending time in Bluesmoke is a waste of your talent.”
The youth’s opinion of his brother had skyrocketed since learning that Xiahou Xi had been taken out by Jiang Chen.
Jiang Chen then mentioned that he had a disciple he had to take with him. Naturally, Yan Qingsang had no objection.
Jiang Chen returned to the inn and explained the situation to Hua Ming. The boy was delighted. His yearning to go to the Ten Divine Nations ran more deeply than Jiang Chen could imagine.
After paying the bill, Jiang Chen tipped the inn associates and left them a task.
“If a Long surnamed friend comes to this inn and asks about me and my disciple, please tell him that I’ve gone to House Yan in the Eternal Divine Nation.”
“Of course, of course!”
“Pleased to be at your service, sir.” Given the tip, naturally they would readily agree to his request. It wasn’t something hard to do, anyhow. Relaying a message required no effort.
Jiang Chen took the boy with him back to House Yan’s temporary residence. The members of the aristocratic house were slightly curious about his disciple.
However, it wasn’t unusual for someone like Jiang Chen to have a disciple, so they didn’t probe too deeply. The two elders could tell that despite Hua Ming’s limited training, his talent and potential were not to be underestimated at all.
Five days had passed since Huang’er had brought Ling Bi’er into their ranks. The princess was accompanied by an entourage of sixteen — twelve imperial guards and four personal maids.
That was actually a small group, considering the princess was about to travel far. Someone with less restraint might have brought more than a thousand servants.
Huang’er and Ling Bi’er greeted each other with unusual enthusiasm, as if they were best friends who’d finally reunited after a long time. The Yan miss often invited the princess to her room for a round of girl talk. The two of them spent many happy moments together.
Two days later, House Yan returned to home on an airboat.
Their airboat had a unique design. Even though its scale wasn’t massive, the boat was intricate. It was a worthy vehicle for a first-class aristocratic family in the Ten Divine Nations.
Jiang Chen sat on the boat, deep in thought. It was surreal to reflect on what had happened. Everything had gone his way since arriving at Bluesmoke Isles, as if he’d been blessed by the gods. Although he’d encountered some challenges, things had generally progressed according to his plans.
Perhaps it’d been fate that had brought him to the Bluesmoke Isles and Huang’er to the jade festival. Happenstance had brought the two together to reunite. No matter what difficulties lay ahead, nothing could deter him after reconnecting with Huang’er.
He knew there were many more challenges to encounter after arriving at House Yan, Xiahou Zong being the most difficult one. He could emerge from closed door cultivation at anytime and arrive at House Yan to take Huang’er away.
Time was ticking away. There was a proverbial sword hanging over their heads. The only thing he could do before the sword fell was to improve himself and become stronger as much as he could. Only then would he be able to deal with the coming threat with more ease.
Even on the airboat, he put aside any unnecessary thought and focused on cultivating. Yan Qingsang marveled at his diligence.
“I finally understand why you’re such a remarkable man, brother. You pay no attention to the beautiful scenery beneath us and blatantly ignore the beautiful ladies on the airboat. Your pursuit of dao is pure and your mind focused. You really will be able to reach amazing heights in martial dao.” He was highly impressed by Jiang Chen’s focus.
Among his peers in the house, Yan Qingsang was one of the most hardworking ones. Compared to Jiang Chen though, he realized that he didn’t hold himself to a high enough standard. He wasn’t merciless enough to himself.
Even via airboat, it took months to travel from the Bluesmoke Isles to Eternal Divine Nation. If one flew the distance, it would take double the time, not to mention the dangers they would encounter. Jiang Chen had to admit that the sheer size of Myriad Abyss territory was beyond his estimation.
After a long period of time, the airboat finally reached Eternal Divine Nation. Once inside the boundary, the airboat slowed down noticeably.
“We’re entering Eternal Divine Nation territory, brother. Remember not to take an airboat inside any divine nation territory unless you have no other choice. And even if you have to, travel as slowly as you can. Don’t ever speed. Many factions will consider that trespass and a challenge. Do you understand?” Yan Qingsang explained patiently like the good friend he was.
Jiang Chen made a mental note of it. He’d known nothing about the Ten Divine Nations beforehand. But as soon as they’d entered Eternal Divine Nation, he’d felt something different about the place compared to the previous locations he’d visited.
There were steep mountain ranges everywhere his eyes touched, raging rivers, sacred grounds of martial dao filled with abundant energy, and various exotic realms and locations.
“The Ten Divine Nations truly are one of a kind.” Jiang Chen had only just entered Eternal Divine Nation, but he already had a good understanding of the advantages the divine nations enjoyed.
The abundance of energy made them the center of Myriad Abyss Island. They were worth every bit of their fame.
He’d never experienced the ancient times of Divine Abyss Continent himself, but his instincts told him that the current density of energy in Eternal Divine Nation wasn’t much less than what it’d been on the continent in the ancient times.
Otherwise, those from the ancient times wouldn’t have been unwilling to leave after arriving at Myriad Abyss Island.
Yan Qingsang continued to patiently describe his home to Jiang Chen.
“Brother, in Eternal Divine Nation, people talk about one sacred land, three sects, and seven great houses. The one sacred land refers to Eternal Sacred Land, the royal family’s bedrock. The royals are all born and bred in the sacred land. It’s the origin of their bloodline. The three sects refer to the three biggest sects in the country. The seven houses include us, House Yan.”
“So the aristocratic families are considered third tier among all the factions?”
“Not necessarily. The three sects and the seven houses aren’t that different in terms of their power. The three sects aren’t necessarily stronger than the seven families, just that their focus is different. The sacred land can tolerate expansion of the houses, but not the sects.”
Reading between the lines, Jiang Chen mapped out the overall relationship between the factions.
The Eternal Sacred Land was the overlord. The other factions were dependent on it.
The three sects could not expand without restraint. They would never be allowed to grow strong enough to threaten the sacred land.
On the other hand, the houses would never be able to threaten Eternal Sacred Land no matter how they grew. The houses put too much emphasis on bloodline. As long as biological bonds remained important, the houses wouldn’t be able to expand indefinitely like the sects.
Jiang Chen was quick on the uptake. With the few pointers Yan Qingsang gave him, he was able to see with clarity the political structure of Eternal Divine Nation.
“Brother Yan, is House Xiahou the strongest among the seven houses? Do they stand only below the sacred land, and well above even the three great sects?”
“I won’t say they’re well above the three sects, but House Xiahou has developed rapidly over the past couple of years.” Yan Qingsang’s tone turned grave.