Yan Wanjun was overjoyed. He stared at Yan Qingsang for a long moment before shifting his focus to Jiang Chen. “You really are the lucky star for House Yan and my family branch, young Shao Yuan,” he said earnestly. “I can see the amazing transformation Qingsang’s gone through since he met you. It’s no exaggeration to say that his fate has changed for the better after you appeared on the scene. Perhaps you’ll be able to change Huang’er’s fate as well...”
He continued emotionally, “We owe you a great debt for that, Shao Yuan. I’m not good with words, but I can promise that I’ll do all I can to help you and Huang’er, even at the cost of my life. I don’t care who it is that tries to force you two apart, be it House Xiahou or members of House Yan. They’ll have to get through me first!”
He declared with steel in his voice. He’d come to consider the talented young man one of his own.
He’d refrained from taking a stand before because Yan Qingsang was young and not yet come into his strength; he’d needed the family’s protection and resources. The elder therefore went against his nature and even grit his teeth when the family sacrificed his son and granddaughter.
Yan Qingsang had been the shackles stopping him from acting.
Now though, his grandson had earned the sacred land’s approval and protection. He continued to grow day by day. There was nothing holding Yan Wanjun back anymore, and it was all because of Shao Yuan.
Yan Wanjun had no hesitation when it came to viewing the young genius as his family’s savior. He’d not only changed Yan Qingsang’s life; he might even also save Yan Qinghuang.
If there had ever been a choice, sacrificing his granddaughter would’ve never been an option. Yes, he did care about House Yan’s future and was willing to sweat for it, but what had the family done for him in return? They continued to demand compromises and rarely empathized with his pain.
During the meeting of elders, many members of the family had accused and censured him, judging presumed crimes. That had been the precise moment he’d realized there wasn’t much worth caring for in House Yan.
He’d continue to help the family and wouldn’t forget that his roots, but he wouldn’t be sacrificing all he had anymore.
It was human nature to seek reciprocation. House Yan had disappointed Yan Wanjun. Despite the lingering affection he had for the family, realization had finally arrived that many of its members didn’t deserve his protection.
He’d sweated and bled to keep the family together. It pained him to see that so many just wanted him punished in the end. His eyes had been opened, which was why he was coming out in clear support of Jiang Chen.
The youth sighed inwardly at Yan Wanjun’s serious expression. He had indeed judged the elder prematurely, considering the latter cold-blooded for blatantly disregarding his granddaughter’s life.
Now it seemed that Yan Wanjun had his reasons after all.
“I will fight my hardest for my future with Huang’er, Elder Wanjun,” Jiang Chen said honestly. “Not even House Xiahou can stop me from fighting for her. I didn’t want to drag you into this.”
He appreciated Yan Wanjun’s support, but it was enough for the elder to keep Huang’er in mind. He didn’t have to show his concern, or he risked putting himself in danger. If something was to happen to Yan Wanjun, Huang’er would feel guilty about it.
Yan Wanjun laughed heartily. “Dragged in? This is my granddaughter we’re talking about. Why should I fear getting involved? Is House Xiahou going to hack at me?”
Yan Wanjun hadn’t mellowed with age. Instead, he’d dug his heels in even more and wouldn’t be swayed once he’d made up his mind.
Yan Qingsang laughed and piped up, “Don’t be too worried, grandfather. Brother Shao knows what he’s doing. When doesn’t he have a plan? No one believed that he’d succeed when he joined House Yan, competed with the Jade Lake Sect, and went head to head with Shi Xuan, but he always came out on top.”
“Then it seems that young Shao Yuan has planned every part of his move. Your shrewdness is admirable.” Yan Wanjun chuckled. “By the way, Qingsang, what do you plan to do during your visit?”
Yan Qingsang shrugged. “I came to see if there’s anything I can help with.”
“Foolish!” Yan Wanjun reprimanded with a stoic face. “You should be cultivating for the sword competition right now, not trying to help. Don’t forget that you’re now a disciple of the sacred land! You don’t have to worry about the family just yet.”
He turned to Jiang Chen with a smile. “Shao Yuan, you’re likely to clash with Xiahou Zong in the competition. You should be preparing for the fight rather than wandering about.”
He was speaking from the bottom of his heart. Although he didn’t believe that Jiang Chen would be able to defeat Xiahou Zong, he didn’t want the fight to be completely one-sided.
Jiang Chen smiled. “I can’t make a significant breakthrough in such a short period of time by staying in the sacred land, so I came to seek inspiration. Perhaps the trip will help my cultivation.”
One couldn’t force a breakthrough. That was why many young cultivators and older ones preferred to live a nomadic life, roving about the jianghu to encounter different people and events, and to gain different experiences.
Real life experiences could often inspire a cultivator in meaningful way.
“It seems that your understanding in martial dao is no less than in pill dao, Shao Yuan,” Yan Wanjun remarked appreciatively. “It’s become more and more apparent to me what a great loss House Yan has suffered in driving you away.”
“Grandfather, House Yan wouldn’t be able to keep a genius like Brother Shao in the long term anyways,” said Yan Qingsang. “I’m just glad that I’m his friend rather than his enemy.”
Yan Wanjun couldn’t agree more.
“Elder Wanjun, Elder Liang invited me to Cloud Camel Mountain before. I’ve always kept this in the back of my mind,” Jiang Chen added suddenly. “I also came to look around and see what I can find. May I have your permission to do so?”
He was very curious as he believed that something of great value lay hidden away in the area. Why did House Yan pay so little attention to the mountain?
However, since he was no longer a member of House Yan, he needed Yan Wanjun’s permission to explore the area.
Yan Wanjun smiled. “You’re my future grandson-in-law. Of course you can look around. However, there are many elders here at the moment. Although I’m the leader of the operation, I have to strike a balance between conflicting voices. You may disguise yourself as a expert surveyor here to survey the landscape and spirit veins.”
The prospect of being able to come and go freely appealed immensely to Jiang Chen.
“Do I need to apply for a pass of some sort?” he asked.
“No, I’ll get you a pass. You may go anywhere you wish. I promise you that no one from the family will stop you. However, there’s been great tension around the area lately. House Feng claims that the mountain is theirs and their troops are inching towards our territory. I worry that a great conflict is going to break out.”
“Alright, I’ll be careful.” Jiang Chen was pleased by Yan Wanjun’s offer. He had many ways to sneak around the mountain on his own despite it being heavily guarded, but that would slow him down. With a pass, he could go anywhere he wanted without restriction.
He wasn’t worried about running into House Feng. He’d be able to solve whatever troubles that came knocking.
Yan Wanjun was highly efficient. He soon presented Jiang Chen and Yan Qingsang each with an extremely high-level clearance pass.
Yan Qingsang had come to the mountain with the goal to understand the heavenly law and ascend to empyrean realm as quickly as possible. Therefore, he wouldn’t be accompanying Jiang Chen for the time being.
Jiang Chen too made his preparations after receiving the pass. After a night of rest, he set his mind to surveying the mountain. The mountain range spanned tens of thousands of miles. He wouldn’t be able to find much if he flitted around here and there.
He decided to put some time and effort into conducting an in-depth survey. The region where even House Yan’s defense troops wouldn’t venture into might be the best place to start.
As Yan Qingsang had said, the mountain was filled with a ferocious energy, but the energy wasn’t wild or bloodthirsty. There was an edge to it that was difficult to understand.
The deeper Jiang Chen looked, the more he felt like the mountain itself resembled a legendary weapon containing the power to destroy heaven and earth. The power was merely temporarily dormant.
“Man, no wonder those from House Yan dislike the mountain. Most would be creeped out by the dense, murderous intent in the area.”
Jiang Chen had trained in Boulder’s Heart, making his mind as steady and strong as the mountain, but even he quavered slightly in face of the aggressive energy.
“What’s going on here?” The more he investigated, the more confused he became. He tried to understand the mountain as an entity, but to no avail.