Two out of four of the group were dead by now, leaving only Elder Xu and Split-Lip panicking in the formation. The deaths of their companions pulled the rug out from beneath them and sapped their will to fight back.
Split-Lip exclaimed, “We surrender! We surrender!”
Elder Xu’s face turned grey in despair. He silently agreed to his companion’s show of submission.
Their fates were in Jiang Chen’s hands. He wasn’t going to let them off the hook just because they’d surrendered.
“It’s wise of you to recognize your failure. Now, tell me, which faction do you belong to?” he asked nonchalantly. “Remember, you can’t afford to lie to me.”
Split-Lip raised both his hands in the air and yelped, “I’ll tell you! We’re from the Cloudwave Sect.”
“The Cloudwave Sect?” Jiang Chen frowned as he thought back to Shen Fan, his opponent in the third round of the sword competition. He had been from the Cloudwave Sect as well and hadn’t bothered to conceal his hostility towards Jiang Chen. His sect seemed to share the sentiment.
However, this group of men hadn’t appeared to know his identity at first. Why had they followed him?
Perplexed, Jiang Chen scoffed. “The Cloudwave Sect? You didn’t see through my disguise. Why would you follow me?”
Split-Lip spilled the beans without holding back. “We weren’t targeting you, but the entire sacred land. Our superior ordered us to follow anyone leaving the place. No one is to escape our surveillance.”Jiang Chen frowned. “What do you mean exactly?”
“I mean...” Before Split-Lip could continue, Elder Xu cut in, “Let me. Let me explain. The truth is...”
“Shut up!” snapped Jiang Chen.He could tell that Elder Xu was much more slippery than his companion. The old man wouldn’t give out as much information.
“You talk,” Jiang Chen said to Split-Lip.
“Alright, I’ll talk. Please show us mercy, Sir Shao, please. We didn’t want to make you our enemy. We were just following orders.”
“Orders? Whose orders? Give me all the details and don’t try to trick me. I’ll see right through it.” Jiang Chen warned them severely.
His threat compelled the man to obediently admit, “We’re following the imperial family’s orders and our sect’s instructions.”
“Why are you following people from the sacred land?” Jiang Chen interrogated in a low voice.
“Because… because...” stuttered Split-Lip. “We don’t know the details. I hear they… they’re...”“Staging an uprising!” Jiang Chen raised an eyebrow. “Am I right?”
Split-Lip shrank in on himself like he was worried Jiang Chen would shoot him. He continued to stammer, “I don’t know for sure, but the signs suggest that they’re going after the sacred land. Our sect isn’t the only one making a move. Senior executives from many of the first-tier factions seem to have reached an agreement. I think House Xiahou is the one leading everything.”
Jiang Chen’s expression darkened. His concerns had been proven right. He’d wanted to send Huang’er away in case civil unrest broke out in the nation. Now it seemed a storm was right on the horizon, and a strong and fierce one at that.“House Xiahou, the imperial family… are they trying to uproot the sacred land?” muttered Jiang Chen, the look in his eyes turning razor-sharp. “The sacred land has a venerated forefather in the divine realm. Do you think the factions’ concerted effort will be enough to defeat the sacred land? Besides, even if it’s toppled, the ambitious House Xiahou isn’t going to give the Cloudwave Sect the opportunity to rise. You’re making a deal with the devil!”
These men were just doing what they’d been told. Simply put, they were nothing more than pawns. They might hold a high position in the Cloudwave Sect, but they weren’t part of the decision making process.
Split-Lip scratched his face, rendered speechless. He didn’t know much about politics. He was just carrying out what he thought was a simple mission. Who would’ve thought it would put him in fatal danger?“Tell me, when are the imperial family and House Xiahou going to strike? Which factions are involved? Remember, you better be honest. I don’t like being lied to!”
“We haven’t received any notice about when the operation will be, but it should kick off in a couple of days,” hurried out the man. “As for the factions involved, they’re all first-tier factions. I think there are six or seven of them. All three of the biggest sects have joined in the operation, along with many houses, such as Houses Xiahou, Feng, and Beigong. Oh, and House Yan too.”
The three sects were the Cloudwave, Starlight, and Jade Lake Sect.Other than the three sects, seven aristocratic families were involved as well. The remaining houses were most likely the sacred land’s diehard followers.If over seven of the ten first-tier factions had banded together, things weren’t looking too good.
The first-tier factions were no fools. They must have found a way to deal with the venerated forefather for them to be bold enough to stage an uprising. Perhaps some of the factions had their own divine realm forefather as well.
Those forefathers may not be able to rival the sacred land’s venerated forefather in a one-on-one fight, but they had a chance of winning if they had strength in numbers.
Moreover, the sacred land had suffered long-term attrition in the offworld battles. Taking into account factors both for and against the sacred land, it was difficult to predict the outcome of the impending battle.
Jiang Chen was conflicted. Should he take Huang’er and his friends to Winterdraw Island immediately, or should he report back to the sacred land? Would he even be able to return?If the major factions had surrounded the sacred land, he’d be intercepted before he could enter. It’d be next to impossible for him to get in.
“The first prime has been busy lately. Perhaps the sacred land has been preparing for this potential unrest?”
He wasn’t sure if that was the case.
After repeated deliberation, he decided to first escort his companions to Winterdraw Island and locate the ancient portal to make sure they could leave Myriad Abyss Island.
He suspected he wouldn’t be able to return to the sacred land given the circumstances. And he didn’t think it was necessary to send a message. He had a feeling the senior executives were already in the know.The venerated forefather had been the one to tell him about the risk of an uprising, which proved the faction had long since been prepared.
Jiang Chen asked his captives a few more questions, finding out that the sacred land had indeed been surrounded. Anyone leaving would be followed, while no one was allowed to enter.“Alright, we’ll go to Winterdraw Island first. Then we’ll see how things go.” Jiang Chen had always been the decisive sort. He wouldn’t hesitate after making up his mind. “You two are on the wrong side of history. Although you’ve been honest about who you are, that’s not enough to redeem you. I’ll execute you on behalf of the sacred land!”
Without hesitation, he activated the Confounding Puppets to restrain them and drew the Holy Dragon Bow, easily killing the two men as they wailed and howled for mercy.Once the four men from the Cloudwave Sect had been dealt with, Yan Qingsang and the two girls walked out from the shadow. Their change of mood was clear on their faces.
Yan Qingsang was especially affected. He was pale as a sheet as he struggled to find words. Guilt poked at him for dismissing Jiang Chen’s suggestion that Huang’er leave the sacred land. He’d thought that Jiang Chen was overreacting. After hearing what the men from the Cloudwave Sect had to say, he realized that Jiang Chen was right.
“A storm is coming. Let’s not waste any time. The Cloudwave Sect will find out about their deaths sooner rather than later. I worry that more of them will come after us.”
He summoned Starfate without hesitation, the ancient treasure he’d acquired from Winterdraw Island.
Fate was sending them to the island again, and they would travel there on an airboat left by Pei Xing, the island’s first master. Jiang Chen hadn’t been able to look into the heritages within the airboat after acquiring it. Now was a good time to do so.For the four, it felt like a dream to be in the airboat.“This seems to be even better than the House Yan airboat, brother,” Yan Qingsang said curiously. “Is this a gift from the sacred land?”
“It isn’t. I found it at the core of Winterdraw Island when I destroyed its foundations. It’s a treasure left by the island’s first master, who was also the one to develop the island. There are many other heritages here that I haven’t had the time to study.”
Jiang Chen had been very busy ever since arriving at Myriad Abyss, too busy to devote time to studying the heritages.
There was a vast ocean between the island and Eternal Divine Nation, which would take at least half a month to cross even on Starfate at full throttle.
“Brother Chen, if we just go like this, what about the nation…?” Huang’er wasn’t so much worried about Eternal Divine Nation as worried about what would happen to Jiang Chen for not returning to the sacred land as one of its geniuses.Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “If the sacred land is going to be in danger, it’s better that I live to fight another day than stay on a sinking ship.”
Huang’er nodded after a bemused pause. “You’re right. It’s like the time when we were in the Regal Pill Palace.”
“The sacred land isn’t the Regal Pill Palace. Its heritage won’t be destroyed so easily. House Xiahou and the imperial family may get lucky and defeat the sacred land, but they don’t know what they’re actually dealing with. If they win, it’ll be Myriad Abyss Island’s loss. They may bring unimaginable disaster to Myriad Abyss or even the entire Divine Abyss Continent!”
There was a mess of emotions underlying his words.