Yan Wanjun had suffered the most at the hands of House Xiahou. His youngest son had been forced into suffering for all eternity in the Boundless Prison. His most talented granddaughter had been cursed since young. Though the Generation Binding Curse had been lifted, her fate was still decided.
And now, House Xiahou had its sights set on Shao Yuan, someone his grandson had plainly benefited greatly from becoming brothers with.
If that happened, Yan Wanjun knew that Yan Qingsang would lose another strong companion that the boy could depend on. Age and experience had made him observant. He could see that his grandson had improved immensely in all areas ever since Shao Yuan came into his life.
One took on the color of their company. Even the most ill-tempered man would improve after being with someone well-rounded. Shao Yuan was clearly someone who could make Yan Qingsang better.
The only one Yan Wanjun could pin any hope on was his grandson. If Yan Qingsang’s path to success was blocked, he would really have nothing then. He didn’t know what crazed things he would do, nor did he know if he’d still have the motivation to keep fighting for the house.
No one could fight with complete lack of motivation. If everyone he loved and cared about was destroyed, why would he keep fighting?
That was why Yan Wanjun was determined to keep Shao Yuan.
Yan Wanchong sighed. “Patriarch, if Shao Yuan is this important to House Yan, we mustn’t give in to House Xiahou’s request. Otherwise, we’ll end up becoming their blood bank and they’ll suck the life out of us whenever they want. We’ll become nothing but an empty carcass one day.”
“That’s not true,” said Yan Wanyou. “Shao Yuan may be an extraordinary man, but he doesn’t bear our surname. It’s doesn’t seem wise for us to offend House Xiahou for him.”
He’d been appreciative of Jiang Chen when he wanted to marry off his granddaughter. Rejection had turned that appreciation into irritation instead.
He wanted to kick this eyesore of a youth out of House Yan. It was the norm for them to submit to House Xiahou. It wasn’t that big of a deal to embarrass themselves again. He’d also be able to strike a blow at his old enemy Yan Wanjun. It seemed like a fair trade.
Yan Wanyou’s points were persuasive to many others.
Elders who supported him started speaking up. “He’s right, patriarch. Shao Yuan’s talented, but he’s not talented enough to call for our unconditional support. Think about it. If we gift Shao Yuan to House Xiahou, our conflict with the Jade Lake Sect will be resolved as well. The sect has a problem with Shao Yuan, not House Yan.”
“Additionally, the Cloud Camel Mountain has troubled even the most prestigious experts. Shao Yuan may be knowledgeable about ancient jade, but he’s not necessarily knowledgeable in land development.”
Yan Wanjun had had enough. “Do all of you hear what bullshit you’re spouting? What do you mean Shao Yuan is the one the sect has a problem with? Their anger is aimed at House Yan for taking the first place in the contest! Do you really think they’re targeting Shao Yuan? I bet they’d be ecstatic if we give him to them!”
The Jade Lake Sect was irritated by the very fact that the first place had fallen in another faction’s hand. They didn’t have anything against Shao Yuan himself. And in fact, they’d happily accept a young man with such remarkable talent in pill dao.
Only a fool would think the sect was targeting Shao Yuan instead of House Yan.
“Elder Wanjun, we understand you want to protect Shao Yuan because he’s Qingsang’s sworn brother, but you must put the family’s interests first.”
Now this was a severe crime of disregarding House Yan’s interest.
Yan Wanjun flew into rage and growled, “What do you mean I don’t care about the house’s interests? If I didn’t, would I be leading an army to Cloud Camel Mountain? Would I have sacrificed my own granddaughter? Would I have allowed my son be thrown into the Boundless Prison? All of you run your mouths with no skin off your back, what the hell have you done for the family?
“My grandson is all I have left. I won’t pull my punches if anyone wants to hurt him. The worst case scenario is that I go down too in the end. Try me!
“It was my grandson who made the family proud in the ancient jade festival, and it was my grandson who pushed the house into participating in the pill dao contest. Which of these matters that brought honor to the family have we not participated in? All of you have glib tongues when spewing nonsense, but where are you when the family needs you? I didn’t want to embarrass anyone today, but whose grandchildren was it that put the family to shame during the birthday banquet in House Xiahou?”
Yan Wanjun’s temper had been thoroughly riled up. He’d sacrificed so much all these years for the family’s interests, but who among the family had shown genuine gratitude to his family branch?
Thus, it was understandable that he was so furious.
The patriarch’s expression sank. “I won’t stop anyone from expressing their opinions, but if it’s said that Elder Wanjun is selfish, then I’d be the first to disagree. Everyone knows that the elder has sacrificed the most for the family over the years.”
Many others nodded with these words.”
“That’s right. Elder Wanjun has sacrificed so much. You all shouldn’t have made such flippant comments.”
“House Yan didn’t do anything wrong with the pill dao contest. Should we not fight for our own interests? Should we avoid taking the first place just because we don’t want to offend others? Even if we take second, there’ll be many other factions we offend. Should we take third place then? Or even aim for the bottom? House Yan is a great faction. If we’re afraid of everything, we can’t achieve anything. We might as well do nothing!”
A fierce debate broke out.
“Settle down,” said the patriarch. “House Yan must decide on what to do with Shao Yuan. I believe that we need new blood. There’s no reason for us to give a genius like him away. Besides, House Xiahou doesn’t have leverage against us in this regard. There’s no need for us to be too submissive.”
“The patriarch is right. If we do whatever House Xiahou tells us to do, how are we going to continue developing?”
“Agreed. We accepted their unreasonable request only because we did something wrong. House Yan’s in the right now. We don’t have to listen to them.”
“Besides, House Xiahou is clearly trying to destroy House Yan. Why should we let them?”
“How about we have a vote?”
“I agree. Many of the senior executives are here. We’ll vote. Majority rules.”
Jiang Chen stood up with a half smile and raised a cupped fist salute at the patriarch. “May I have a few words?”
“Of course. It’s about your future, Shao Yuan. Your opinions are very important.”
Jiang Chen smiled leisurely, completely at ease.
“Patriarch, elders, clan leaders, I must emphasize that I only came to House Yan because it felt that I was old friends with Brother Yan Qingsang. I’m not a stray dog that you brought home to order around as you would.
“In addition, please remember, I’m Shao Yuan. I’m a living person, not an item or a product you can give to anyone you want.
“My feet are my own. If the house doesn’t welcome me, I can leave immediately and disappear from your collective sight. We can forget about anything that’s happened between us.
“Lastly, Myriad Abyss Island is vast. There are many factions in the Ten Divine Nations. I know my abilities. It’s not that difficult for me to find a place to be. You don’t have to debate where you should send me to. Remember, I’m not a House Yan servant.” He shrugged. “That’s all. You may continue with your discussion. Once you come to a conclusion, I’ll make my own decision.”
He rose gracefully and walked outside.
He’d had enough of the boring conversation. He wouldn’t have stayed in a declining faction like House Yan at all if not for Huang’er. Moreover, many members of House Yan were foolishly arrogant and unreasonable.
He left dashingly without looking back.
The patriarch sighed and glanced helplessly at Yan Wanjun.
Yan Wanjun responded woodenly, “He’s right. There are some of us who must’ve suffered blows to the head. Do you honestly think that you can just send Shao Yuan where you will, like a servant? Someone with a unique skill set like him will be able to find patrons anywhere. What’s more, I’d like to remind the floor that Shao Yuan’s talent lies not only in pill dao. His martial dao rivals that of Yan Zhenhuai. You simply haven’t noticed it yet!”
That created an uproar. Better than Yan Zhenhuai? Was Shao Yuan truly that talented in martial dao?
The patriarch started. “Are you serious, Elder Wanjun?”
“I swear on my character that his talent in martial dao rivals that of Yan Zhenhuai, and he’ll one day shock all those present with his achievements.” Yan Wanjun’s tones were heavy and his expression disinterested. “Alright, I’m tired. I’m going back to rest. I’m setting out for Cloud Camel Mountain tomorrow. The worst that can happen is for me to die there. It’ll be a death worthy of the ancestors’ approval!”
He stood up and left, his old form seeming rather melancholic.
Many of the elders felt a surge of sorrow. Even someone so loyal as Yan Wanjun was now in such lonely straits. Was there any hope left for the family?