Xiahou Zong’s death had a bigger impact than many expected. Everyone from House Xiahou was reeling from the loss and couldn’t pick themselves up.
“What should we do, Patriarch? Xiahou Zong was a reincarnated god. Can he be revived?” Xiahou Zhen was still clinging to his last shred of hope.
Duke Xiaoyao croaked out, “If there’s even a wisp of his soul left, a god incarnate can be resurrected. However, Shao Yuan seemed to know that as well. He was thorough when killing Xiahou Zong and decimated his soul completely. Clearly, he’s adept at killing. He has more practical experience in battle than Xiahou Zong.”
Duke Xiaoyao sighed with melancholy.
Xiahou Zong was the pillar of the family. He was their future, the driver of everything the family was pursuing. Everyone was united behind the goal of laying down foundations for Xiahou Zong. Once he’d matured, he’d be given the reigns to the family and lead them to prosperity.
He was a reincarnation of a god. No one doubted his ability to do so.
However, all that was now nothing but a pipe dream. He was dead, ending with him all the hopes he’d brought to the family.
Xiahou Ying hadn’t stopped sobbing. “Patriarch, Elder Zhen, my brother died a horrible death! Are you all going to let the bastard who killed him get off scot-free?”
Annoyed, Duke Xiaoyao beckoned a few of his personal guards over. “Take her away and keep an eye on her. Stop her from embarrassing herself.”
What was the use of crying now? No amount of tears could bring Xiahou Zong back. With her brother dead, Xiahou Ying was suddenly a lot less useful to the family.
House Xiahou had planned to recruit geniuses from around the nation through Xiahou Zong’s martial dao talent and Xiahou Ying’s ability to manipulate men. It’d served them well in the past, but the method was rendered obsolete now that Xiahou Zong was dead.
Without him, none of the geniuses were going to care about Xiahou Ying.
After she was dragged away, Xiahou Zhen turned to the patriarch with a vicious look. “Are we going to go through with our plan, Patriarch?”
“There’s no turning back for us now. How can we possibly give up?”
“But with Xiahou Zong’s death, will we be able to intimidate and compel the other factions like we did before?” Xiahou Zhen asked worriedly.
“We’ll cross that bridge when the time comes,” Duke Xiaoyao said through gritted teeth. “The house isn’t going to fall apart just because we lost Xiahou Zong.”
The news of Xiahou Zong’s death reached the Eternal Sacred Land in no time at all and spread throughout the entire nation.
Huang’er and Ling Bi’er knew that Jiang Chen was going against his fated rival today. They were anxiously waiting for the outcome inside Jiang Chen’s abode.
Ling Bi’er had always admired Huang’er for her strength and composure, and it was the first time that she was seeing Huang’er this agitated. It wasn’t obvious, but the minute changes in the girl betrayed her nervousness.
“Don’t worry, Sister Huang’er. Junior brother Jiang Chen has achieved so many impossible feats over the years. He’ll be able to do the same this time.” Ling Bi’er knew these were empty platitudes, but she shared the same feelings as Huang’er. They both wanted Jiang Chen to win.
“Sister Bi’er, if Brother Chen were going against any other man, I wouldn’t be worried for him. Xiahou Zong… he’s really different. As a reincarnated god, his potential can rival that of Brother Chen’s, and he’s been cultivating for longer. His only weakness is never having weathered any setbacks. He also doesn’t have as much practical experience as Brother Chen.”
Despite her concern, Huang’er hadn’t lost her judgement. Although she couldn’t watch the fight in person, she had a good grasp on both men’s strengths and weaknesses.
The fight meant too much for both of them.
She prayed that Jiang Chen would win so that she could accept his proposal openly and justifiably. Only then would her entanglement with Xiahou Zong be resolved.
Time passed at an excruciatingly slow speed. Every hour felt as long as a year.
Footsteps suddenly approached and a voice called out. “Miss Huang’er, this servant has been ordered to deliver the good news. Just now, Shao Yuan has demonstrated amazing strength and successfully vanquished Xiahou Zong!”
Huang’er trembled and burst into tears. She and Ling Bi’er held each other as they sobbed in relief. Jiang Chen was victorious! He’d created another miracle.
“Congratulations, Sister Huang’er,” murmured Ling Bi’er.
Huang’er was overwhelmed by happiness. All of her worries and pain were completely swept away.
Back in the sacred land’s resting area, the first prime left after offering Jiang Chen some words of encouragement. The youths became even more enthusiastic in her absence.
“Brother Shao Yuan, there are still three rounds to go. You must persevere and bring home the championship for the sacred land. Don’t let others have it!”
“Of course he’s gonna win! He defeated Shen Fan so easily and even killed Xiahou Zong. Anyone with a functional brain should know what the smart thing to do is!”
“Haha, let’s congratulate Brother Shao Yuan in advance for becoming the champion!”
“Nice work, Brother Shao Yuan. You’ve done a great service for the sacred land.”
The geniuses were eager to talk to him. Some asked how Jiang Chen had felt in the fight. Others wondered how he seemed to never run out of tricks to use.
Jiang Chen explained everything with one word—heritage.
Heritage was endlessly expansive. All seemingly unbelievable abilities could be attributed to it, including bloodlines, magical items, and methods.
It was impossible to disprove his explanation. There were countless wandering cultivators in the world. No one could find out everything about an individual. Besides, Shao Yuan had been a nobody before.
As everyone predicted, no one dared challenge Jiang Chen for the remainder of the competition. His next opponents all surrendered with rueful smiles as soon as they realized who they were going against.
No one participating was a fool. All of them knew the genius who had killed Xiahou Zong would also be able to take them out without lifting a finger. If anyone stubbornly resisted and angered Shao Yuan, they would be torn to pieces.
Therefore, it was no surprise that his opponents all forfeit. Jiang Chen showed them mercy and let them be.
After Xiahou Zong’s death, there was no doubt that Jiang Chen would win. He took home the championship without so much as a struggle. Despite their reluctance, the imperial family had no choice but to give him the prize.
Jiang Chen’s winning streak had prevented many geniuses from gaining a better rank, but at the same time, he’d taken out a good number of strong contenders and paved the road for others.
Yan Zhenhuai, for example, benefitted from Jiang Chen’s victory over the unbeatable Shen Fan and Xiahou Zong. He ended up taking the third spot, a record high for House Yan.
Who would’ve thought that House Yan, suffering under House Xiahou’s oppression, would raise a genius who could take the third spot?
On the contrary, the other geniuses from House Xiahou failed to perform to their usual standards after Xiahou Zong fell. Only one of them was among the top eight. Without their top genius, the other members of House Xiahou didn’t garner a lot of attention. No one cared that much about their performance.
Jiang Chen was as calm as ever when he received first place. It was merely the most natural outcome after his victory. He stood on the elevated stage looking over at House Yan, a meaningful look in his eyes.
“Patriarch Yan, I proposed marriage to House Yan during the Skymender Festival. At the time, Xiahou Zong agreed that it could be arranged as long as I defeated him in the sword competition. An elder from House Xiahou also promised to let me have Yan Qinghuang if I won. Of course, House Xiahou’s opinion isn’t that important in this marriage proposal. What matters is House Yan’s decision.”
The patriarch of House Yan was both resentful and remorseful to Jiang Chen.
He’d received a harsh warning from House Xiahou before this stating that even though Xiahou Zong had died, House Xiahou wouldn’t show House Yan any mercy if they dared marry Yan Qinghuang off to Shao Yuan.
Deep down, the patriarch hated Jiang Chen. The young man had brought too many troubles for House Yan ever since he showed up on their doorstep.
“Young Shao Yuan, although House Yan isn’t what it once was, we honor our promises,” Patriarch Yan responded faintly. “We promised to deliver Yan Qinghuang to House Xiahou. Only that house has the right to determine her fate. I can’t give you any guarantee. I’m not going to go back on my word.”
The patriarch was openly playing dead!
Jiang Chen didn’t seem at all surprised. He nodded with a cool smile. “As I expected, you have taken a side. That’s fine. I wasn’t actually asking for your permission. I was just notifying you that from now on, Yan Qinghuang is mine and has nothing to do with House Yan.”
There was no room for argument.
The air grew tense. Shao Yuan just brusquely made a demand to the patriarch of a first tier faction and blatantly disregarded his authority!