Just as Jiang Chen had thought, Wang Jing was found dead near his residence in a couple hours. Whoever murdered him hadn’t had time to destroy his body yet.
The truth was very clear by now.
No matter how hard Yan Wanjun tried to stay positive, he couldn’t deny the ugly facts that someone had set him up.
He stared at Wang Jing’s body with a dark expression and called all his personal guards back. He was the target of this conspiracy, and the perpetrator was obviously highly skilled. His guards might not fare well against the culprit.
Noting the elder’s dejection, Jiang Chen tried to comfort him. “Elder Wanjun, you have to stay strong.”
Yan Wanjun scoffed. “I’ve devoted myself to the house my whole life, and this is what I end up with? Abandoned and crossed off after I have no more value?”
Jiang Chen didn’t know what to say as he understood how Yan Wanjun felt. Anything that he could offer now would come across as nothing but empty platitudes.
Yan Wanjun couldn’t contain his fury. “That’s it. I will return to the house and demand an explanation!”
“You mustn’t!” Jiang Chen blurted out.
“Why not? At my age, I should be appreciated for my hard work, if not for my contributions. I need to know why he did this to me!”
“You must stay calm, Elder Wanjun. You have every reason to want an answer, but if you return to the family headquarters now, you’re bound to run into troubles along the way. You may not even reach your destination safely!”
Jiang Chen wasn’t overstating the danger. If the patriarch had been behind the attempted murder, he would have a backup plan after the initial attempt failed. Troubles would follow the elder, which was the biggest threat Yan Wanjun would have to face.
An ambush was much more difficult to defend against than an open assault. If the patriarch was pulling the strings, it’d be risky for the elder to stay in Cloud Camel Mountain.
Yan Wanjun fumed. “What do you think I should do then? Be a sitting duck?”
Jiang Chen exhaled deeply. “It’s a tricky situation. It would be better if House Xiahou had been behind the conspiracy. As it is, House Yan will continue to go after you.”
Yan Wanjun scowled. Jiang Chen had a point. As long as he lived, the family wouldn’t give up on eliminating him. Sooner or later, he’d slip up and they’d succeed. He hadn’t become a venerated elder without an iron will, yet he was at a loss of what he should do here.
This was new territory. If he was facing an outside foe, he’d at least be safe in House Yan territory. Even the boldest enemies wouldn’t chase him to home turf. With someone from the family attempting to kill him however, he didn’t even fully know who wanted him dead. His closest friends might turn out to be his enemies, and constantly treading on thin ice would be the rule of thumb.
Yan Wanjun sighed after a long, bemused pause, disheartened and lost. “I didn’t expect to become a downtrodden cur at this age. What should I do, young friend?”
Jiang Chen carefully responded, “If I were you, Elder Wanjun, I’d find a safe place to stay and lie low.”
“Safe? Where can I go that’ll be safe for me?”
“You can go anywhere if you’re going to lay low until the storm passes. The real question is if Elder Wanjun will be able to give up your status and cut ties with everyone.”
Yan Wanjun twisted his lips into a smile. “Just look at me. What status do I hold anymore? What ties do I have? I care only about Qingsang and Huang’er, and neither require my care now. Qingsang has the Eternal Sacred Land, and Huang’er has you.”
Jiang Chen was in no place to get involved in the conflict between the senior executives of House Yan. He was but one person, and he hadn’t gotten powerful enough to influence the house. He therefore didn’t try to make the decisions for Yan Wanjun.
However, there was one thing that was for certain: Yan Wanjun must leave House Yan. He’d be facing countless assassination attempts otherwise. He might be able to survive one attempt, but any mistake would cost him his life.
“Brother Qingsang will be alright in the sacred land, Elder Wanjun. And I promise you that as long as I live, I’ll protect Huang’er from any harm.”
Yan Wanjun considered him for a long while before nodding. “I trust that you’ll honor your word. For some reason, young man, I have an implicit trust in you. If House Yan may change for the better one day, it will be because of you.”
“You’re too kind, Elder Wanjun.”
Yan Wanjun sighed deeply. “Maybe even the Eternal Sacred Land will be changed because of you.”
Jiang Chen smiled slightly. “That day will come, Elder Wanjun. Once House Xiahou is destroyed, everything will fall into place.”
Yan Wanjun nodded. It was easier said than done to destroy House Xiahou, but the confident glint in the young man’s eyes gave the elder hope.
“Alright, I’ve decided. I’ll stay here for a little longer until Qingsang ascends to empyrean realm and you two return to the sacred land. Then I’ll resign and leave.”
Jiang Chen nodded. “You should stay on guard until then. I believe the perpetrator will strike again.”
“If anyone attempts to kill me in my residence, they better be prepared to die!” Yan Wanjun declared confidently.
As a venerated elder, Yan Wanjun was close in status to the patriarch, and there wasn’t a large gap between their cultivation.
Even if the patriarch came personally, he’d need some competent helpers. He wouldn’t be able to kill Yan Wanjun in a one-on-one fight. That was why the patriarch had set him up with the Blackjade Coralplum. It was also proof that the house leader wasn’t confident enough to attack elder head-on.
Jiang Chen nodded. “Elder Wanjun, there’s a silver lining even if the assassination attempt is an inside job. The fact that the spirit herb was used means that they don’t want to be exposed. Moreover, they might not have enough manpower to go after you.”
With the whole clan behind him, the patriarch would be able to easily kill Yan Wanjun. However, he clearly didn’t dare openly send people out to kill the elder.
For now, at least, the patriarch wasn’t bold enough to do so. If news got out that House Yan went after one of their own venerated elders, the internal impact of the news would mark the end of the clan. No one would be willing to put forth any effort for the family anymore. House Yan would be undermining both its reputation and future.
Therefore, Yan Wanjun would be safe as long as he exited House Yan territory. There weren’t that many killers House Yan could send in pursuit. In fact, there was no singular person in the family that could take on the elder.
Yan Wanjun mused carefully and concluded that Jiang Chen made a lot of sense. He ordered all his personal guards to be on high alert.
He’d been caught off guard. Now that he knew what the danger was, he wasn’t going to be complacent. He’d be vigilant and tighten the defenses around his residence.
He wouldn’t say that his abode was impervious to anything, but he wouldn’t let even a fly trespass into his territory. He also reinforced the defenses around where Yan Qingsang was cultivating.
Jiang Chen had exercised caution as well. He’d agreed to meet Astral White Tiger in half a month, so he wasn’t in a rush to head off.
Time passed without any incidents. Because of the earlier attempt, the level of alertness around Yan Wanjun’s abode remained tight.
Half a month later, Jiang Chen returned to the meeting spot he and the tiger agreed upon. According to his estimations, the white tiger should be breaking through soon.
The Astral White Tiger was of a powerful bloodline, and his awakening was rapid. It hadn’t been long since the tiger was a cub, but it was already close to empyrean realm. No human could fathom the potential held in its bloodline.
Even Jiang Chen, with great advantages in cultivation, couldn’t rival the four divine beasts in their efficiency. Both Long Xiaoxuan and Astral White Tiger had progressed at incredulous speeds. Of course, he wasn’t jealous of them as he was good friends with both.
When he arrived at the meeting spot, Little White was nowhere to be seen. He waited patiently at the designated spot.
Without his feline companion, Jiang Chen didn’t dare venture further in. It wouldn’t end well for him if he triggered the terrifying natural restrictions. He sat down in the shadows with his legs crossed, awaiting the tiger’s emergence.
The sword competition is only a few months away. If I reach third level empyrean, I can further break through to fourth level with the Crowning Empyrean Pill. Then there’s at least a ninety percent chance that I can defeat Xiahou Zong.
Jiang Chen was approaching second level empyrean, which he was confident in reaching before the competition. However, reaching third level would be a challenge.