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Silence stretched on.

The others were rendered speechless by the patriarch’s words, despite any dislike they might’ve had for Shao Yuan.

What else could they possibly say? The young man had contributed greatly to the house despite his short period of time with the family. And when he left, he imparted another great favor even though he’d been furious with them. No one could find any fault in his treatment of others.

At the same time, some were secretly jealous of Yan Qingsang. The boy had always been mediocre, but he’d been blessed with great fortune again and again after the trip to the Bluesmoke Isles. His good luck was unstoppable.

Yan Wanjun had already stormed away in anger, but someone brought the news to him immediately.

He sighed with resignation when he heard that Shao Yuan was going to join the Eternal Sacred Land. “How can a family as big as House Yan have no place for a genius with a different surname? Is there any hope left for us?”

He was genuinely concerned. Ever since the death of the forefather, there had been a lack of absolute authority in House Yan, which left them directionless. As a result, the family failed to reach a consensus on many issues, intensifying the infighting. No one could ever agree on anything. Thus, the clan’s strength steadily declined. 

A breakdown in a family’s operations led to problems in all aspects.

Mixed emotions assailed Yan Wanjun when he heard that Yan Qingsang would be leaving along with Shao Yuan. 

He cared greatly for his grandson. The boy was almost the only thing that mattered in his life. He was genuinely happy that Yan Qingsang could enter the Eternal Sacred Land, as the latter’s success was what made Yan Wanjun feel hope in life.

Yan Qingsang received the news immediately as well, but his immediate reaction was more lost than excited. He went back to his residence at once to find Jiang Chen standing in the yard, deep in thought.

“Brother Shao Yuan, have I wronged you?” Yan Qingsang sounded quite distressed.

Jiang Chen sighed softly. “No, you haven’t.”

“Has House Yan wronged you, then?”

Jiang Chen didn’t respond immediately, taking a moment to slowly gather his bearings. “For your sake, I would’ve ignored how House Yan bullies and humiliates me, Brother Yan. There are other things I don’t know how to tell you.”

“Tell me,” Yan Qingsang said urgently. “This makes me wonder even more why you decided to join the Eternal Sacred Land.”

“Do you really want to know?” Jiang Chen asked faintly.

“Yes, tell me now or we can’t even be brothers anymore.” Yan Qingsang cared about emotional ties greatly. The only person he’d ever trusted over the years was Jiang Chen.

He couldn’t have been more disappointed when he heard that Jiang Chen was leaving House Yan. His young heart even felt that he’d been betrayed by the friendship.

Jiang Chen considered Yan Qingsang patiently.

“Do you have a dao partner, Brother Yan?” Jiang Chen asked out of the blue.

“No.” Yan Qingsang was caught off guard and scowled. “Don’t try to change the subject.”

Jiang Chen ignored the response and continued, “If you have a dao partner that you’ve sworn an oath that to death do we part, would you save her at all costs if she was in danger? Would you be willing to die for her?”

“If there’s a woman like that, I would,” Yan Qingsang replied without hesitation. “We’ve sworn our lives to each other. Of course I’d risk my life to save her.”

“We’re on the same page then. That’s why you’d understand my decision if you were in my shoes.”

“In your shoes?”

Jiang Chen nodded. “Yes.”

Yan Qingsang looked owlishly at him. “What do you mean? Who’s your dao partner?” Realization dawned on him. He stared at Jiang Chen with wide eyes. “Do... do you mean my cousin Huang’er?”

Jiang Chen wasn’t surprised that Yan Qingsang would come to the correct answer. There’d been more than enough clues given. Yan Qingsang would have to be a right fool to still not connect the dots.

“Brother Yan, everyone in your family, including you, has been overprotective of Huang’er. You’re afraid that someone may sneak in and take her away. However, have you ever thought of the possibility that Huang’er and I already have a history together? That we’ve already sworn ourselves to each other until the end of time?”

Yan QIngsang gaped at him. He wasn’t stupid. It didn’t take much time for him to think through everything.

Elder Xi had made a report about Huang’er’s experience in the human domain when he returned. Yan Qingsang had been informed as well. She’d had a young genius for a dao partner while in the human domain.

Yan Qingsang didn’t take it seriously at the time. What genius could there be in a place like that? He’e even thought that Huang’er had lowered her standards when she was there. But, the man standing before him was that precise genius!

Jiang Chen didn’t pay any attention to a petrified Yan Qingsang. He declared with conviction, “When Elder Xi took Huang’er away from the human domain, I told him that one day, I’ll come to Myriad Abyss Island to take my woman back. I won’t let anyone stop me! Not you, not House Yan, not House Xiahou. Anyone who tries will be my enemy!

“I must make choices that will best further my goal. I have time, but Huang’er doesn’t. The moment Xiahou Zong ends closed door cultivation will be the moment her life ends. You of House Yan may have accepted that she must be sacrificed in exchange for your peace and safety, but I haven’t! I haven’t grown numb. I won’t give up! Even if everyone in your family has given up, I refuse to abandon her. I’ll persevere even if the whole world is against me!”

Yan Qingsang imitated a statue for a good while until he recovered, taking some time to digest the new information. A trace of anger broke through his calm face. “Does that mean you approached me with a purpose? That it was all part of your plan?”

“Yes,” Jiang Chen admitted.

Yan Qingsang’s eyes blazed with fury. He charged at Jiang Chen and slugged him in the chest. Jiang Chen took the hit with no intention of dodging and crashed right into a pillar.

Blood streaked down the corner of his mouth.

“I owed you that punch.” Jiang Chen got to his feet without wiping off the blood.

Yan Qingsang’s resentment subsided somewhat upon seeing Jiang Chen taking a hit without defending himself.

“Why didn’t you dodge my punch?” Yan Qingsang fumed. “Do you think that’ll make me feel better?”

“I never do anything against my conscience, Brother Yan. I may have approached you for Huang’er, but I’ve never harmed you. I’ve never wronged you or House Yan. And I’ve always considered you my brother.

“But you continue to intervene and keep me away from Huang’er.” Jiang Chen sighed. “You’ll never understand what Huang’er means to me. You don’t have a dao partner.”

Yan Qingsang didn’t have a comeback for that.

After a good while, he punched the ground angrily and clutched his head with both hands, agonized. “So what? Can you stop Xiahou Zong? He’s ending his closed door cultivation in a few years. Once he does, Huang’er’s fate is set in stone. You can’t change that! Do you think I don’t want her to be happy? Do you think I don’t know you like her? That I don’t want you to chase her? I want the best for House Yan, for Huang’er, and for you. If I let you get close to Huang’er, you’ll disappear from the world in less than a month!”

Yan Qingsang’s voice was hoarse. He sounded on the verge of tears. “You’ll never know what atrocities House Yan and House Xiahou are capable of committing. You don’t see the gravity of the problem. I consider you my brother. I can’t let you get yourself killed!” He swallowed a sob.

Jiang Chen stayed silent. He understood Yan Qingsang’s sentiments. House Yan and House Xiahou wouldn’t let any men get close to Huang’er. If anyone did, both houses would immediately get rid of the man.

Yan Qingsang plainly knew that, which was why he’d constantly issued severe warnings that Jiang Chen shouldn’t even think about pursuing Huang’er.

“Alright, I’ve told you everything there is to know. You’re the first person to know my secret. Not even Master Ziju or my disciple Hua Ming knows the truth. No one else knows that Shao Yuan is a toad from the human domain!”

Surprisingly, Yan Qingsang didn’t retort or snap back. Instead, he stared fixedly at Jiang Chen with great concentration. He sighed after a long pause. “So your real name is Jiang Chen?”

“Yes.” There was no point for Jiang Chen to hide anything now.

“I know all about you and Huang’er. Before I met you, I thought you were a scumbag, a toad who wanted to eat the meat of a swan. Both I and everyone in the house have underestimated your competence and determination.” Yan Qingsang’s tone turned wry. “I’d always thought you wouldn’t possibly have the courage to come to Myriad Abyss Island, but here you are. You killed Xiahou Xi for your own reasons as well, didn’t you?”

“He’s not the only one,” Jiang Chen responded indifferently. “I killed Xiahou Jing and his thugs as well. Xiahou Xi wasn’t the first one I took out, and he won’t be the last. My goal is Xiahou Zong!”

Yan Qingsang wasn’t at all surprised after their conversation. In fact, he’d heard similar from Jiang Chen before.

When Yan Wanjun had asked, Jiang Chen had resolutely responded that he wouldn’t hesitate at all if he had the opportunity to kill Xiahou Zong. It looked like he’d made plans for this long ago!

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