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Almost every executive was present in the house gathering hall. House Yan’s young geniuses were in attendance as well.

Yan Qingsang grabbed a chair to sit down with. As someone with reasonable importance in the house now, Jiang Chen too had a seat to himself.

Taking a casual glance at the patriarch, he found some worry to be present between the man’s brows. Had House Yan encountered a large stumbling block?

Jiang Chen was perturbed. He didn’t care about anything that happened to House Yan, save for Xiahou Zong opening his doors. He absolutely couldn’t accept any attempt to take away Huang’er. 

As long as that wasn’t the case, he had ways of dealing with everything else.

“Since everyone’s here, I’ll cut to the chase. I felt that everyone should know about several of the emergencies that the family is facing.

“Firstly, our land near Cloud Camel Mountain, the part that borders on House Feng territory, has seen numerous supernatural manifestations. House Feng has sent a large group of their elites to encroach on our territory. There’s no need to dodge the issue: our strength has waned since our venerated forefather has departed. It goes without saying what difficult straits we’re in.

However – we’ve never suffered the shame of being invaded before. House Feng’s troops seem intent on occupying our territory as soon as it’s convenient. We’re facing the serious problem of needing to protect our holdings. 

“We are all hot-blooded men and there’s no reason we should yield even an inch, no matter how much of our own blood is poured out in the process. Otherwise, we won’t be able to face our ancestors after we die!

“Cloud Camel Mountain’s issue must be swiftly dealt with, but that’s only the first. Second is the Jade Lake Sect. They’ve been provoking us as of late. Because they failed to take first place in the pill dao contest, they now hold a grudge against us. 

“In fact, they’ve been causing trouble in the capital for quite a while now, attempting to rile others up about it. Recently, they’ve gathered together a group of pill dao experts to attempt the overturn the Mirage Introspection Pill judgement.

“Thirdly, House Xiahou has made another demand. According to them, Xiahou Zong will exit closed door cultivation within three years. They demand that we promise nothing happens to Yan Qinghuang during this time. Furthermore, Shao Yuan is to be delivered to House Xiahou. Apparently, they admire his talent...”

Jiang Chen didn’t care about issues one and two. Number three though, concerned both Huang’er and himself. He frowned slightly.

House Xiahou wants me? Did they take an interest in me after what I did at that birthday banquet?

He didn’t know precisely how to react to that. He’d come to Eternal Divine Nation to rescue Huang’er from peril as well as destroy House Xiahou. It was patently absurd to hear that they wanted him.

“Alright. All three matters are quite important by themselves. Let’s discuss them one by one.” The patriarch waved a hand, indicating that the others were free to talk.

“There’s nothing to talk about for Cloud Camel Mountain, patriarch. We must station forces there as well. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We can’t show weakness despite our shortage of resources. We may lose, but we can’t be intimidated.”

“That’s right. Since when did House Feng dare bare its fangs in front of us? When our venerated forefather was still alive, it was only worthy of kneeling down before us.”

“Give the order, patriarch. We are willing to go to Cloud Camel Mountain and take the battle to House Feng.”

“Yes, patriarch. We absolutely can’t relent! Perhaps we can make our name known again through this clash with House Feng. Let’s tell the rest of the world that we haven’t fallen that far at all!”

Almost every House Yan descendent held the same opinion with regards to Cloud Camel Mountain. The world of martial dao emphasized fighting and bravery, after all. To back off rather than fighting intimidation head-on would only get oneself laughed at and dismissed.

Moreover, House Feng wasn’t one of the strongest factions. House Yan knew that resistance was futile against the likes of House Xiahou, and would concede accordingly in light of that. But if it couldn’t stand up to House Feng – a faction formerly inferior to House Yan – then everyone would really be out for blood.

The events of the recent past showed that House Yan was being targeted by other factions all over. Upon return from the Bluesmoke Isles, its airboat had been intercepted by the Starlight Sect. And now, House Feng was churning up a storm in Cloud Camel Mountain.

On top of that, the Jade Lake Sect was trying to pick a fight with House Yan because of the earlier pill dao battle. Even though it had been the losing party, it was utterly sore at its defeat. That was also because House Yan was weak. Would the sect dare to do the same if House Yan were as strong as House Xiahou? 

Not necessarily.

Aside from these three factions, House Yan’s biggest problem hadn’t been just resting either. House Xiahou had added clan favorite Shao Yuan to its list of demanded people.

“Patriarch, that sect goes too far. They were the ones who lost, but now they’re resorting to all these underhanded tactics to get even. If they can’t take the loss, they should be forthright about it. Why all this nonsense?”

“It’s a gross overreach on their part.”

“We can’t blame all of it on them. In the pill dao battle, we caused them to lose face. It’s understandable that they’d bear a grudge because of it.”

“Absurd! What’re you talking about? Nobody with half a brain backs off from a challenge. Are we supposed to sandbag even though we have a good chance to win?”

“Exactly. Our victory was fair and square. We did nothing underhanded. Why aren’t we allowed to win?”

“Let them do their worst. We’re not scared of them even if they appeal to the Eternal Sacred Land!”

Relative consensus was reached on the matter of the sect. The latter really was stepping grossly out of bounds.

Jiang Chen smiled slightly before continuing. “No matter how many pill dao masters they invite, they won’t be able to overturn my results regarding the Mirage Introspection Pill. The superiority of Silverstripe Grass in the refinement is the absolute truth, and there’s no room for negotiation in fact. Even if the Jade Lake Sect’s strongest pill dao expert were pitted against me, I can easily defeat his Illusory Spirit Grass with my Silverstripe Grass.”

There was an undertone of unparalleled confidence to his lines.

The patriarch found this to be tremendously praiseworthy.

“Very good. Your determination fills us with the same. So, the Jade Lake Sect wants to cause a ruckus, does it? It wants a group of pill dao masters to invalidate the truth? Are you bold enough to take it to the end with them?”

“Any time. They can decide the time and place.” 

Jiang Chen didn’t much care for the so-called seniors from the Jade Lake Sect. He didn’t know how competent they were, but he had seen Ziju Min, a master of the Eternal Sacred Ground.

It was impossible for the Jade Lake Sect’s experts to surpass Ziju Min, since the sacred land occupied a loftier position than the sect.

And taking a step back, even if they were, what then? Jiang Chen had never been afraid of anyone in pill dao before.

His certainty was met with a fair bit of doubt.

“It’s good that Shao Yuan believes in himself, patriarch, but excessive confidence isn’t necessarily a good thing. In the pill dao battle, he faced only Pang Wei and peers from the younger generation. Pang Wei is a martial genius, but has clearly not perfected his pill dao. Against a master from the Jade Lake Sect, the situation may change.”

“That is definitely something to be concerned about, patriarch. The smallest likelihood of failure is nevertheless worthy of consideration.”

House Yan’s patriarch pondered this for a few moments. “One shouldn’t use those that one doesn’t trust, and one should trust those one uses. Given the events at the pill dao battle and Master Ziju’s judgment, I am inclined to trust Shao Yuan.”

As the leader of an entire house, the patriarch didn’t lack for charisma. Decisiveness was needed in a time like this, rather than pointless hesitation. There were a smattering of opinions on almost every topic. Without strong decision-making skills, it was impossible to steer a great house.

“As for Cloud Camel Mountain, I’ve decided that two venerated elders should be stationed there. Venerated Elders Wanjun and Wanzhong, you are both well-respected within the house. Our expedition to Cloud Camel should be spearheaded by people such as you. Will you lend us our strength?”

Yan Wanjun and Yan Wanzhong traded a glance. “We can’t shirk our responsibility in this time of need. We are at your command!”

House Yan marshalled its forces in preparation for a confrontation at Cloud Camel Mountain. Though an all-out war wasn’t guaranteed with House Feng, the posturing made the house’s hardline stance evident.

Jiang Chen wasn’t going to interfere with the decision. In fact, he agreed that it was probably better to be a bit more forceful in this situation.

This was Eternal Divine Nation. There was often friction between large factions, but actual full-blown war to the death was unlikely. How could the house face a real large-scale battle if it couldn’t handle a few skirmishes?

Thus, Jiang Chen found House Yan’s behavior here reasonably admirable.

“Alright. Now that issues one and two are decided, let us discuss the third. This problem affects our house holistically.” The House Yan patriarch gazed at Jiang Chen thoughtfully. “House Xiahou wants us to give up Shao Yuan. He’s the one that the Jade Lake Sect has a grudge against too. Cloud Camel Mountain’s excavation will likely need him in the future as well. So, what are your opinions on House Xiahou’s unreasonable request?”

If Jiang Chen were to be delivered to House Xiahou, the first two issues would be entirely resolved.

“Feel free to voice your thoughts.”

Yan Wanjun was the first to speak. “Patriarch, House Xiahou has been too full of itself lately. Its appetite is insatiable. If we are coerced into compliance this first time as well, they’ll just come back for thirds and fourths. House Yan can’t become their docile prey or blood bank, or they’ll consume us whole before long!” His attitude was very resolute.

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