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But Jiang Chen didn’t dwell on that. No matter what the future entailed, he’d stay true to himself and his principles.

I can’t determine the fates of the Eternal Sacred Land and Myriad Abyss Island. I can only do my best to grow stronger, to become powerful enough to not only weather the oncoming storm, but also dictate the future!

He knew that he had to stand by the Eternal Sacred Land no matter what. House Xiahou must never replace the sacred land. Otherwise, things wouldn’t end well for him.

To make sure that both he and Huang’er could gain a foothold in Myriad Abyss, House Xiahou was an enemy he must eliminate. With his mind made up, he eliminated all unnecessary thought.

Huang’er and the others slowly came to.

“What happened?” Yan Qingsang muttered. “Why did I black out all of a sudden?”

Huang’er, being more clever than Yan Qingsang, quickly figured out that the venerated forefather of the sacred land must have paid a visit. The three of them had been knocked unconscious due to the confidential nature of the conversation.

“Brother Qingsang, didn’t you say we were going to Cloud Camel Mountain?” Huang’er asked, changing the subject on purpose. “When are we going?”

“That’s right, brother.” Yan Qingsang turned to Jiang Chen, his eyes shining with anticipation. “Didn’t you say you wanted to go as well?”

“Sure I did. Anytime before the sword competition works for me.”

“Great! Let’s go in the next two days then.” Yan Qingsang snickered. “But I can wait if you want some time alone with my sister.”

Huang’er rolled her eyes at him. “Shut it, Brother Qingsang.”

Jiang Chen smiled. “We’ll have plenty of time in the future. Given the difficult circumstances we’re in, my primary goal now is to defeat Xiahou Zong and knock House Xiahou down a peg.”

“Hear hear!” Yan Qingsang tightened his fist. “If you can destroy them, brother, I’ll personally give my sister’s hand to you.”

Jiang Chen snorted. Even Ling Bi’er was amused by Yan Qingsang’s antics.

“Don’t give yourself too much pressure, Brother Chen,” said Huang’er. “No matter how your fight with Xiahou Zong pans out, you know you have my heart.”

She had confidence in Jiang Chen, but she didn’t want her beloved to shoulder too heavy a burden for her. He already had too many responsibilities and too much weight throughout his journey. She didn’t want him to exhaust himself.

Jiang Chen chuckled. “I can take a little pressure. Besides, Xiahou Zong is merely a small rock in my path. He’s not going to give me that much trouble.”

He didn’t feel all that threatened by Xiahou Zong. He didn’t believe that the man could kill him at all. What worried him more was House Xiahou. He didn’t know enough about them in general. He didn’t know how powerful they were or how ambitious they were.

Had their ambition reached a tipping point? If they were to replace the Eternal Sacred Land, they would become a real problem he’d have trouble facing, no matter how brightly his genius shone.

Xiahou Zong alone was nothing to fear no matter how much heaven-defying he was. Jiang Chen had met all manners of geniuses in his past life.

It didn’t matter that Xiahou Zong was a reincarnated god. Though he possessed the memories from a past life, he was merely a regular deity, plus his heritage hadn’t fully awakened yet. Jiang Chen, on the other hand, had reincarnated with all his memory intact. That made him one of a kind in this regard.

The next day, Jiang Chen and Yan Qingsang met up to inform the sacred land that they were leaving for Cloud Camel Mountain.

The mountain was part of House Yan territory, but there had been tension around the area. Under Yan Wanjun’s leadership, house troops had made camp and dug in for the long term at the mountain.

However, House Feng had done the same as well. That house was one of the top factions in Eternal Divine Nation, and slightly more powerful than House Yan for the time being.

Both houses claimed that the mountain was theirs.

In truth, most of the mountain was within House Yan territory, but one of the branches meandered into House Feng territory, which gave the latter an excuse to claim full ownership of the mountain.

Their argument was that Cloud Camel Mountain was a single entity with feng shui that formed the core of House Feng. Therefore, House Yan wasn’t allowed to lay a hand on the mountain.

The absurd reasoning prompted them to further argue that if House Yan fought them for the mountain, they’d essentially be destroying House Feng’s fortunes.

House Feng was blatantly distorting the facts, but in the end, House Yan couldn’t rival the other. Even though they were in the right, the conflict remained unresolved.

Ever since Yan Wanjun had openly defied the patriarch for his granddaughter’s sake during the Skymender Festival, he’d attracted a lot of backlash within the family.

Over the past two days, many elders had criticized him for choosing personal interests over the family, thus disregarding his duty as an elder. They believed that he was no longer fit for the job of a venerated elder, and shouldn’t be the one leading the army into Cloud Camel Mountain.

All sorts of demands for action resounded within the house these days.

The patriarch himself agonized over what he should do. He was displeased with Yan Wanjun as well. When even the patriarch had refrained from taking a stand, it was inappropriate for Yan Wanjun to do so, despite being a venerated elder. And the elder had been so determined to protect his own! His attitude would undoubtedly anger House Xiahou.

“Patriarch, Elder Wanjun must be punished for selfishly ignoring the family’s interests. Otherwise, the house’s law and profits will mean nothing.”

“I concur! Elder Wanjun has crossed a line. It’s shameful for him to go above his station and speak up when the patriarch hadn’t said anything.”

“If he goes unpunished, the house won’t be able to maintain its authority.” Many elders spoke up, urging for Yan Wanjun to be punished.

Yan Wanyou added coolly, “It’s clear that Yan Wanjun selfishly put the house at risk for his granddaughter. His son was the one who sparked the conflict between us and House Xiahou in the first place. His descendants should naturally bear the responsibility. He agreed to the arrangement without hesitation, but he’s changed his mind now. He’s not only digging his own grave, but dooming the entire house!”

Yan Wanyou had never liked Yan Wanjun and viewed the latter as an enemy. He wasn’t going to go easy on his rival when the opportunity presented itself.

Yan Wanchong retorted, “That’s unfair, Elder Wanyou. Elder Wanjun has sacrificed enough for the family over the years. We all bear witness to the contributions he’s made. If you were in his place, would you be able to sacrifice your family without hesitation? Besides, there’s an opportunity now for us to turn things around. Why don’t we seize it?”

“Opportunity? What opportunity?” Yan Wanyou scoffed. “Do you mean Shao Yuan and his marriage proposal? It sounds grand and all, but he’s going to die in his match against Xiahou Zong in the sword competition. What’s he going to do with his oh-so-amazing pill dao talent then? Once he dies, the proposal will be nothing more than an empty promise.”

From his derisive tone, it was clear that Yan Wanyou was as hostile to Shao Yuan as he was to Yan Wanjun. Nothing had gone his way ever since the young man joined House Yan.

“You don’t know for sure, Elder Wanyou. Shao Yuan now represents the Eternal Sacred Land. Do you think he’d have the audacity to propose marriage without the confidence to win? He was confident and he has the sacred land’s support. I think he stands a chance of winning. 

“If we have the choice, why should we sacrifice Huang’er? Why can’t we support the young couple? Why don’t we use this opportunity to get close to the sacred land? Are we so afraid of House Xiahou that we’re going to oppose the sacred land? Don’t forget, they’re the ones governing the nation, not House Xiahou.” Yan Wanchong vehemently argued for Yan Wanjun.

Yan Wanyou sneered. “You’re close to Yan Wanjun, Yan Wanchong. Of course you’re going to support him. But you have to recognize that Xiahou Zong is the top genius of the younger generation. Once Shao Yuan goes head to head with him in the sword competition, there’s only one possible outcome—his death! There’s no reason to be happy about a promise made by a dead man!”

“The sacred land is home to many geniuses. How can you be sure that Shao Yuan will be the one killed? Before he challenged Shi Xuan, no one believed that he’d win either! The young man is the chosen one. He’s created miracles. Maybe even Xiahou Zong will pale in comparison to him.”

“Hahaha, what a bold statement. You think someone will outshine Xiahou Zong?” Yan Wanyou cackled. “In your dreams! No geniuses from the sacred land have been able to surpass Xiahou Zong in the past five thousand years, and no geniuses will in the next five thousand!”

“Yan Wanyou!” Yan Wanjun exclaimed. He’d refrained from saying anything, but he had had enough. “You keep bringing up Xiahou Zong like he’s the best thing to grace this world. Do you still remember that you’re a member of House Yan? House Xiahou has been bullying us for so many years, but you cling to them without any shame or dignity. Our ancestors in the underworld would be ashamed of you!”

Yan Wanjun was absolutely furious. He could take Yan Wanyou’s insults. He knew he’d undermined the patriarch’s authority in the Skymender Festival, and he’d willingly accept any criticism for his action. However, he couldn’t stand listening to Yan Wanyou praising Xiahou Zong anymore.

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