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Xiahou Ying had always been a bit of a spoiled princess. Jiang Chen had first drawn her attention at her birthday banquet with his astonishing performance.

Girls’ hearts could be strange things. She was long used to the fact that every man near her wanted to fawn on her, so she found them uninteresting. But when a man different from her admirers appeared before her, she felt rather different.

Curiosity and inquisitiveness were positively alien emotions to her. When they roared to life, they were the source of incredible motivation. She had held out one olive branch after another, testing, inviting, and messaging Jiang Chen on House Xiahou’s behalf.

Sadly, every single attempt had been ignored. In fact, Jiang Chen never bothered to hide his dislike for her whenever they met. At their last meeting at the Eternal Sacred Land, he had also openly mocked her. Her curiosity and inquisitiveness had morphed entirely into hatred because of this.

Since childhood, Xiahou Ying had always been chased after by others. This was the fundamental reason for her haughty personality. Thus, the animosity that rose at her suffered indignity was easy to imagine.

How could she not embellish and exaggerate when Xiahou Zong asked her about what made her angry? She’d wanted her brother to emerge as soon as possible to teach Jiang Chen a lesson. It would be best if her brother could smash him irrecoverably into the ground, so she could step on and shame him too.

Xiahou Zong frowned a little after she finished.

“Shao Yuan?” He was slightly confused. He’d closed his doors for several years, but thought himself reasonably well-informed on the Ten Divine Nations’ affairs regardless. He hadn’t heard of anyone among the divine nations’ factions with the surname Shao. As a name, ‘Shao Yuan’ was foreign to him.

But he found Xiahou Ying’s declaration that he was a wandering cultivator even odder. Wandering cultivators had always been a bunch of underdogs in Myriad Abyss. Geniuses did exist among them, but the chances were slim. Similarly, their quality couldn’t compare to geniuses from the larger factions.

Xiahou Zong found all of this rather odd. However, his personality was such that he considered himself number one in the world without question. No matter what kind of genius or his background, he didn’t care.

“Don’t be upset, Ying’er. If the kid participates in this year’s tournament, I promise he’ll regret having come to Eternal Divine Nation.”

“Don’t underestimate him, brother. He’s not easy to deal with. There’s never been anyone who has passed the Eternal Sacred Land’s Nine Winding Caves before him. That kid passed the entire exam in a single attempt, so he’s wildly popular. I hear the sacred land is focusing on raising him—maybe he’ll be a serious opponent for you someday.” Xiahou Ying’s provocation was a bit more indirect this time.

Xiahou Zong chuckled. “I already have opponents, but they’re not here in Eternal Divine Nation. My goal is to win the Ten Divine Nations’ young genius tournament in three years. I want all of them to tremble before me. I will become a nightmare that persists for the rest of their lives!”

The young linchpin of House Xiahou was irritatingly haughty. However, he had good reason to be confident.

Xiahou Ying giggled. “I knew my brother was the best in the world! Brother, you need to really teach that cocky kid a lesson. Otherwise, people will think that you can’t compare to the Eternal Sacred Land’s geniuses at the end of the day.”

“Hmph. The Eternal Sacred Land? Their so-called geniuses wouldn’t dare boast before me.” Xiahou Zong knew of the ‘Five Great Gentlemen’ from the Eternal Sacred Land. But were they really that great if none of them was brave enough to face him?

Their self-styled title was nothing more than self-consolation. He and they were not on the same level at all. This year’s competition between Eternal Divine Nation’s geniuses would provide an opportunity for them to compete. Xiahou Zong could barely wait.

He had closed his doors to cultivate all these years in order to prepare for precisely this. Regardless of who his opponents were and where they came from, Xiahou Zong was going to sweep the floor with them. They would tremble beneath his feet!

His road to stardom would be littered with the bodies of other geniuses. This was his ambition, his most faithful belief on his martial path. He had always felt that the rise of a real genius needed to use others as stepping stones. Therefore, his goal was to crush every genius he saw.

This Shao Yuan would be no different.

Mid-conversation, a secret letter was delivered into Xiahou Ying’s hands. She took and opened it, then was stunned by its contents. Her slender eyebrows grew sharply angled in indignation.

“What is it?” Xiahou Zong asked with mild surprise. His sister’s reaction was unusual.

Xiahou Ying gritted her teeth. “That Shao Yuan has been causing a real ruckus,” she huffed angrily. “This secret letter came from the Eternal Sacred Land. Apparently, that kid has requested one of their sovereign missions.”

“A sovereign mission of the Sacred Land?” Xiahou Zong was taken aback. He knew the Sacred Land’s customs, and understood very well what a sovereign mission represented. Sovereign missions were typically meant for the oldest generation within that faction.

Each such mission possessed an astronomical reward in contribution points, but were so commensurately difficult that younger members couldn’t pay the penalty. Even the most senior members weren’t all capable of taking on sovereign missions. Each request was only made after serious and lengthy consideration.

Requesting them willy-nilly would only lead to ruin.

“That’s so annoying, brother. How long has it been since that Shao Yuan got into the Eternal Sacred Land? Not even a year, right? What gives him the guts to take on a sovereign mission?”

“This is very strange.” Xiahou Zong nodded. If he hadn’t cared about the name ‘Shao Yuan’ before, he certainly felt it dig into his throat like a thorn now. It felt slightly uncomfortable.

“Right? He’s just a kid. I think he’s gone crazy for the sake of making himself famous. A sovereign mission? Really?!” Xiahou Ying was furious.

“I don’t think he did it to make himself famous, Ying’er. As long as his brain hasn’t fried, he would only take on the mission if he thought he had a decent chance at success. What would give him the courage otherwise? If he fails the mission, he’ll lose a tenth of the reward contribution points. He’s just a newcomer, so I doubt he has many in the first place. He wouldn’t want to go into the negatives.” Xiahou Zong’s reasoning was more detailed. He didn’t think that Shao Yuan had requested a sovereign mission out of stupidity.

Even if Shao Yuan was being reckless, had the senior mentoring him gone mad as well? According to his sister, Ziju Min had taken the young man under his wing. Where was the senior’s opposition to the foolishness?

“Give me the letter, Ying’er.” Xiahou Zong wanted to investigate in a bit more detail. He needed to get to the bottom of this.

Xiahou Ying handed the paper over to her brother.

Looking over the letter, Xiahou Zong was mildly impressed. “Shao Yuan aside, Ying’er, you’ve done well in creating informants within the Eternal Sacred Land. Remember, use your advantages to the best of your ability. Wrap all these young geniuses around your little finger.”

“Hehe, I know that! I can control pretty much sixty to seventy percent of the geniuses in the sacred land. Not quite all of them, but it’s a start.” Xiahou Ying looked particularly enthusiastic and confident when she mentioned this.

“From what you and the letter have said, this Shao Yuan isn’t just a martial dao genius. His pill dao talent is even more shocking. His mission is called ‘the Flames of Vengeance’, and rumor has it that it’s related to a pill dao giant who died several decades ago.”

“Oh? Do you know about the mission, brother?” Xiahou Ying was a bit surprised. She was too young to have known about something so old.

Xiahou Zong nodded. “I’ve heard about it, but I’m not clear on the details. I am sure about one thing though. This is a pill dao mission that requires tremendous talent and knowledge to complete.”

“Looks like the kid is ignorant and incompetent after all,” Xiahou Ying remarked scornfully. “Putting his pill dao skills on display like this means he’ll delay his cultivation. Maybe he’ll end up getting nothing done at all.”

Xiahou Zong shook his head. “Ying’er, his data doesn’t look like he’ll be a fleeting genius. Perhaps he’s the real deal, capable of achieving great things in both pill and martial dao.”

“How genius can he be, really? He won’t ever match even a tenth of my brother, hmph!” Xiahou Ying continued to put her enemy down, flattering Xiahou Zong in the process.  

“So you’ve learned to sweet-talk me, eh?” Xiahou Zong roared with laughter. “Though I don’t mind. I like it, hahaha! Ah, that’s right. Ying’er, has that House Yan girl been good lately?”

“Hmph, she wouldn’t dare be anything but. House Yan will iron her out either way!” Derision dripped from Xiahou Ying’s tone.

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