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The conversation between the group had gradually touched upon Jiang Chen himself.

The Vermilion Bird smiled ponderously in the young man’s direction. The youth himself had a heavy heart. From what they’d overheard, rebellion had broken out quite a while ago. It just hadn’t managed to fully take down the Eternal Sacred Land yet.

Though the sacred land had lost a few battles and partially fallen – some of its people fled, captured, and slain in the process – there was a group that used the sacred land’s great formation to resist the rebel alliance still.

That was mixed news at best.

It seemed from the tone of the conversation that the imperial family and House Xiahou didn’t want word to get out. They still feared repercussions, despite how far they’d come.

Jiang Chen had his work cut out for him: he would do the opposite by spreading the news as far and wide as he could. It was easy enough to understand the wisdom of bringing an enemy’s greatest nightmare to fruition.

“Brother Dragon, I have a task for you. Find a place with as many people as possible and broadcast the news of the rebellion. Try to sound as authentic and believable as you can. There are countless wandering cultivators in Grandeagle City. Word will spread very quickly.

“Oh, and add this bit to it: there are similar rebellions brewing in secret in all of the other divine nations. They plan on overturning the ten sacred lands’ authority to rule.”  

The Vermilion Bird gave a big thumbs-up. “Very good. That will put the other sacred lands on high alert. Even if their respective rebellions have already begun, those sympathetic to the sacred lands will congregate towards their capitals. It will expend additional energy, if not outright turn the tide.”

Long Xiaoxuan thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “Okay, I’ll go right now.”

“Wait, one more thing. Tell your audience that since the cat’s out of the bag, there are rumors that the imperial family and House Xiahou are going to kill all those who know by slaughtering all the wandering cultivators in the nearby cities. If they don’t get out now, it’ll be too late…”

“Sowing chaos, not bad!” the Vermilion Bird remarked. “When people are panicky, many will attempt to escape. News will get out even faster then.”

Long Xiaoxuan stood to carry out the command right away.

“Wait, there’s no need to hurry,” Jiang Chen said. “Let’s listen to anything else these guys have to say. We can spread the news when we figure out a way to leave. Doing that now would unnecessarily alert our enemy.”

The young man was staying rational. Without a way further into the capital, he wasn’t about to ruin the current place they were at.

The disciples of the Starlight Sect were both envious and begrudging when it came to the Cloudwave Sect, but most of all, hateful.

Clearly, it rankled that a faction, once their equal, was now lording its delegated superiority over them. Moreover, their own accomplishments were being stolen rather than recognized.

“Those Cloudwave guys are pretty useless. House Xiahou and the imperial family coddle them, but they still end up losing people. They’ve barely managed to catch anyone from the sacred land, either. The team that pursued Shao Yuan that night was a reasonably elite one, but it was wiped out entirely at who knows where. Useless idiots, the lot of them.”

“Yep they’re useless. Still, Shao Yuan’s strength can’t be understated. Even House Xiahou couldn’t do anything to him, much less the Cloudwave Sect.”

“House Xiahou hasn’t made a serious effort yet, right? If it sends out its elites, I’m sure Shao Yuan will be caught sooner or later. How can they possibly bear the shame of Xiahou Zong’s death? It’ll last as long as Shao Yuan lives. I’m guessing that when things calm down here, House Xiahou might issue a joint bounty in the entirety of Myriad Abyss on Shao Yuan’s head.”

“Hard to say. The imperial family leans towards soliciting Shao Yuan’s services. It believes that Shao Yuan is an invaluable talent that can blossom into something amazing. His pill dao and martial dao talent are both splendid. If the imperial family can get him on its side, he would no doubt become a future pillar of the nation.”

“House Xiahou would never agree to something like that. Shao Yuan, a pillar of the nation? That would be a perpetual insult to every member of the house.”

“Shao Yuan has other places to go. What divine nation among the ten wouldn’t welcome a man with his talents? What about House Xiahou? There are factions even stronger than that in the Ten Divine Nations. As long as one of them accepts Shao Yuan, what can House Xiahou do?”

“I suppose you’re right. Shao Yuan is really good at jumping ship, though. He hopped from House Yan to the sacred land, then left as soon as the latter seemed risky. There’s no loyalty there at all. The sacred land probably regrets it, does it not?”

“People naturally head for greater things in life. That’s nothing to fault him for. How long has it been since he joined the sacred land? He repaid his debt in full by defeating Xiahou Zong. Even if he did leave, that’s understandable. You can’t expect a newcomer to be willing to lay down his life, can you? We wouldn’t be able to do so either.”

“True, true. He hasn’t been there long, so he doesn’t feel much of a sense of belonging. Also, why do I feel that Shao Yuan didn’t actually get much from the sacred land in the first place? His talent and strength are entirely his own, aren’t they? The shortness of his stay and all…”

“Not necessarily. Rumor has it that Shao Yuan entered the sacred land as a great emperor.”

“Impossible! That must be crazy rumors or a smokescreen to conceal the truth. If he was a great emperor only a few years ago and mid empyrean realm now… have you heard of anyone cultivating that quickly?”

“Ah, Shao Yuan is pretty much a walking mystery. Legendary, for sure. I believe that the slayer of Xiahou Zong will shock the entirety of Myriad Abyss one day. It may not be wise for House Xiahou to make such an enemy!”

“There’s another circulating rumor that the sacred land raised Shao Yuan up to be the counter to Xiahou Zong in the first place. If that’s the case, then the sacred land’s resourcefulness is terrifying. Even if the sacred land suffers a total defeat here, such geniuses scattered abroad may one day band together to stage a new rise.”

The others nodded at this suggestion. The explanation was much more plausible, and seemed almost close to the truth.

“Alright, that’s enough. It’s not our place to worry about these things. I just hope that the Starlight Sect doesn’t become cannon fodder. Even if we don’t end up getting much benefit from this rebellion, we shouldn’t have to make too many painful sacrifices.”

“Hmph. We’ve sacrificed quite a bit already. I reckon we’re going to keep on losing out in the future.” The cultivator named Ah Hong still couldn’t get over things.

The talkative cultivators didn’t have much to say after that. Though Jiang Chen and company wanted to hear more, there was no longer anything useful to listen to.

The four people opposite them drank and chatted about inconsequential things. Evidently, they were largely done complaining.

Jiang Chen finished off his own cup. “We move tonight,” he transmitted. “Kill three and leave the brash Ah Hong. We will use their identities to sneak into the capital.”

“Can we really do that?” the Vermilion Bird couldn’t resist asking. As a sacred beast, it was easily revealed when it fought.

“I think so. Didn’t they say they didn’t have much left to do? They’re already preparing to return to the capital to report in. Plus, we have a lot of things we can do once we actually enter the capital. If we need to change our identities again, that’s fine. Getting into the capital is the most important part. After that, the city’s completely open to us.”

The Vermilion Bird had no problem with it. It had heard that not many divine cultivators lived in Eternal Divine Nation. A handful perhaps, but hardly numerous. 

House Xiahou’s and the imperial family’s were both busy facing off against the sacred land’s venerated forefather. They had no time or energy to devote elsewhere. 

This made the capital exponentially safer. In fact, Jiang Chen may very well have the perfect opportunity to break the sacred land’s besiegement.

The quartet from the Starlight Sect hadn’t expected to be observed and followed. After drinking, they found an inn and lodged there to prepare returning to the capital the next day.

That night, Jiang Chen and his two divine creature friends performed an operation without notice.

It was trivial for someone as strong as the Vermilion Bird to kill a few initial empyrean experts. No one was alerted by their silent deaths, and the kills were clean and untraceable.   Afterwards, they unceremoniously pushed open the door to Ah Hong’s room.

The room’s resident was lying down in a daze, lost between sleep and wakefulness. The disturbance he heard woke him instantly. “Who?”

“Haha.” A sinister laugh was his only reply.

The malice in the laugh caused his hairs to stand on end. Ah Hong began to shout. “Brother Ninth, Ole Zhao, Brother Kai, enemy attack!”

However, his voice couldn’t penetrate the chamber’s walls no matter how loudly he shouted.

“Don’t waste your energy. The room is sealed off. No amount of shouting will make you audible outside.” The cool, relaxed voice came from none other than Jiang Chen.

He waved a hand to fill the room with candlelight.

Ah Hong leaned on his bed, weapon drawn and expression alert. His eyes darted about wildly, as if scheming how best to leave.

“You’re Ah Hong, yes? An executive of the Starlight Sect.” Jiang Chen’s smile was kindly on the surface, but Ah Hong’s hairs stood on end.

The sweeter the smile was under these circumstances, the stranger things were.

“Who… who are you? Get out, or I’ll call for others.”

“Don’t bother. I already helped your three companions succumb to the gentle embrace of death. You should be grateful that you’re the one I let live.”

“What did you say? You killed them? I don’t believe it!” Ah Hong’s pupils dilated as he shrieked hoarsely, as if attempting to rouse his comrades. Alas, his plans were doomed to fail. The room they were in had been completely sealed off to sound.

“If you want to struggle more, we don’t mind you sending to the next world. So, would you like to accompany the others or cooperate?”

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