Though Yan Qingsang was loath to leave, the two young men departed Cloud Camel Mountain the very next day. Not long after that, Yan Wanjun temporarily dismissed his subordinates and left a letter in his residence before disappearing as well.
It wasn’t until several days later that the rest of House Yan discovered his withdrawal. The letter was delivered to the local elder in charge, Elder Liang, as soon as it was found.
The elder paled after perusing the letter’s contents. Venerated elder Yan Wanjun had left Cloud Camel Mountain; from what the letter indicated, he seemed to be separating from House Yan as well, at least for the short term. The reason given was quite nebulous, which Elder Liang couldn’t make heads or tails of.
The letter was quickly sent back to House Yan’s headquarters. The patriarch smashed his fist into the tea table as soon as he read the missive, instantly disintegrating the expensive furniture.
“Yan Wanjun, Yan Wanjun! You belong to House Yan, whether dead or alive! Do you think your crimes will be washed away with the ink in this letter? You fled in shameful fear. Do you know how disastrous this will be for the house?!”
The patriarch was incensed. He had engineered the plot via the Blackjade Coralplum, after learning of the spirit herb’s properties from some reference book. He knew of Yan Wanjun’s Dream Inducing Grass beforehand, and how the mixture of the two herbs’ gases would create a lethal poison.
If his machinations had succeeded, Yan Wanjun would’ve died under unknown circumstances.
Alas, they had come to naught in the end. The patriarch was astonished when the news he received was quite different from what he expected. He didn’t understand how Yan Wanjun had found out about the Blackjade Coralplum’s characteristics.
How can this be? Informants had told him that Yan Wanjun had been quite pleased when the Coralplum was first delivered. Furthermore, it had been transplanted near the Dream Inducing Grass. Who would’ve expected things to end in failure after such a successful beginning?
Even if the plot had failed, the patriarch had been hopeful that Yan Wanjun wouldn’t discover anything – especially not the identity of the perpetrator. The rest of the letter however, utterly dashed his hopes.
What others didn’t understand was crystal clear to the patriarch’s eyes. Yan Wanjun was well aware about the lethality of the Blackjade Coralplum and the patriarch’s culpability in the affair.
He hadn’t pointed it out in order to preserve internal peace.
But the patriarch was hardly going to be grateful at this juncture. In fact, he was filled with resentment for the venerated elder.
“Yan Wanjun, Yan Wanjun. Do you think you can just leave after causing so much trouble for the house? Do you understand how grave the price will be for your stubbornness and stupidity?”
The patriarch gritted his teeth, his eyes glittering with savage light.
Xiahou Zhen had threatened that many from the patriach’s own branch would be killed in Yan Wanjun’s stead. The man whom he’d leaned on was a thing of the past. When his closest relatives were threatened, did Yan Wanjun’s life matter nearly as much?
Man was a selfish animal, and the Yan patriarch was no exception. Thus, Yan Wanjun’s vanishment made his heart sink like a stone. He could almost see Xiahou Zhen’s slaughter in front of him.
“Are you trying to ruin the rest of the house by leaving, Yan Wanjun?”
The venerated elder in question was tens of thousands of miles out by now. He couldn’t possibly hear the patriarch’s angry roars.
His graceful exit made waves in the entire house.
Many venerated elders announced their desire for the patriarch to publicly strip away Yan Wanjun’s position as venerated elder. Moreover, they requested that the patriarch issue a joint bounty to hunt down Yan Wanjun in all of Myriad Abyss. The House’s elite would be sent out at the same time, of course.
These suggestions were reasonable enough in isolation, but it was very difficult to actually carry any of them out.
Announcements were easy to make, but more would become curious about the reason behind the departure. Why would Yan Wanjun choose this time to take off? He could’ve avoided Cloud Camel Mountain altogether in favor of outright retirement after the Skymender Festival.
Why would he choose to leave at this point rather than back then? What did the letter contain, exactly?
All kinds of conjecture filled House Yan’s halls, filling the listeners’ hearts with uncertainty and dread. Most felt that there was something fishy about all this.
Rumors quickly spread through the capital about the real reason behind Yan Wanjun’s exile. The Yan patriarch had wanted to kill the elder! The venerated elder had escaped out of despair and fear, leaving behind only a letter to express his thoughts.
Furthermore, the rumor went into excruciating detail about every aspect of the plot, even the bit relating to the Blackjade Coralplum. It was as if the person who spread it had been there.
This rumor quickly boiled over, filling the house and the capital with its vapors. House Yan became the capital’s laughingstock overnight thanks to the rumor’s ubiquity.
Some said that House Yan was destroying its own foundations and reputation, others remarked that Yan Wanjun was a coward, and yet others said that Yan Wanjun’s retirement was wise. There was plenty of debate on the subject.
Jiang Chen was naturally the orchestrator of the circulating rumor. He had spread it after spicing it up. Afterwards, he hid himself inside the sacred land’s secret realm in intense cultivation. He went back to the Eternal River to refine himself once more.
Once his request was approved, he wholeheartedly poured himself into the act of cultivation.
The prism crystals he’d dredged up from beneath the underground world allowed him to take to cultivation like a duck to water. There were five colors among the crystals, corresponding to the five elements.
Each crystal was the size of a cat’s eye. Even so, a stone as small as that contained terrifying power. A normal empyrean cultivator would have had a hard time absorbing it all, but Jiang Chen had the right method to refine the spirit energy within, as well as the attribute. It was easy for him to absorb the prism crystals that aligned with the five elements.
Cultivation was a wondrous thing. If someone only cultivated one or two elements, his speed of advancement wouldn’t be particularly swift. This highlighted the importance of the foundations he had laid down between the true qi and spirit realms. He had all five elements to bolster him.
This was a cultivation method that proved difficult and strenuous at first, but advantageous later on. Jiang Chen also had the tempered body and will to sustain the amount of stress placed on him as a result of his accelerated training.
When he absorbed the prism crystals, there was a world of five elements within him that simulated the truth of martial dao. The crystals were far more potent than Jiang Chen had ever expected.
The spirit energy within them seemed almost infinite. Each cat’s eye held more than an ocean of spirit energy within. Jiang Chen received tremendous benefit from these miniature storehouses.
The third day after his return, he broke through second level empyrean with no sign of stopping. He made pass after frenzied pass at third level.
“I have two and a half months. I can definitely make it to third level empyrean!” Jiang Chen encouraged himself silently. His goal was to hit third level in under two months, then rely on the Crowning Empyrean Pill to reach fourth level.
If he could put that into perfect action, he would astound the crowd and the entire nation. After all, he had shown up in Eternal Divine Nation as a mere great emperor cultivator.
It had been only two years since then. Getting to fourth level empyrean from great emperor in that short a timespan was the stuff of legends – certainly enough to break Xiahou Zong’s prior record. It would dim the halo around the other genius.
Each dig at Xiahou Zong’s illusion of invincibility brought Jiang Chen closer to an overwhelming victory over his mortal enemy at the tournament of geniuses.
If he could topple Xiahou Zong from his mythical throne, Jiang Chen would forever be in the right when it came to Huang’er. Even Xiahou Zong himself wouldn’t humiliate himself in making another pass.
House Xiahou had heard about Yan Wanjun’s exit from House Yan as well. The whole house was completely enraged. If the old man who had shamed them simply left, how would the house regain its reputation?
And how were they supposed to get their hands on Yan Qinghuang without the actual person or hostages to threaten her?
There was heated discussion inside House Xiahou. Some executives proposed a straightforward approach of disciplining House Yan.
“Damn it! Is the House Yan patriarch slacking off, or is he actually useless? Yan Wanjun is just a venerated elder. How can a patriarch be powerless when it comes to a venerated elder? With trash like him as patriarch, no wonder House Yan is in decline!”
“Who knows? Maybe they were in cahoots from the start. I don’t believe for a moment that the Yan patriarch would be so subservient as to help us get rid of Yan Wanjun.”
“Not necessarily. The Yan patriarch is hardly a noble person. He would definitely rather sacrifice Yan Wanjun over his own blood relatives.”
“Either way, we have to do something to teach them a lesson! We can’t let House Yan fool us this time. They’ll remember only a price paid for in blood!”