The news spread with astounding, crazy speed; first within Eternal Divine Nation, then quickly transcending the border and reaching everywhere in the Ten Divine Nations. The entire Myriad Abyss was caught in a storm. A bomb had been set off with the status quo.
Meanwhile, Jiang Chen snuck into the capital with Ah Hong’s help. It went more smoothly than he’d expected. The Starlight member was very cooperative and gave them a lot of cover smuggling them in.
The capital was in a city-wide hysteria. The imperial family had become the official ruler, and factions from all parts of the nation had banded under the royal banner to form an anti-sacred land alliance.
In the beginning, there were only six first-tier factions within the alliance. It continued to expand and bring many second-tier factions into its fold.
The alliance was far from a tightly-knit group. Many had actually been forced to join. The Starlight Sect, for example, was now stuck between a rock and a hard place.
It was in an enormous dilemma. They hadn’t anticipated the state they’d be in when they first joined. They’d simply wanted to topple the sacred land’s rule and capitalize on the new political order.
But it and two other aristocratic families made up the bulk of the vanguard. The casualties they’d suffered were unimaginable. In the end, it was all about profit.
However, they hadn’t gained anything so far and had suffered great losses instead.
The sect scrambled to find a solution. They wanted to pull out, but given the circumstances, the other factions would most likely cast stones at them if they did.
If they stayed in the alliance, however, given the rate at which they were losing members, this uprising would end up doing them far more harm than good...
The worst case scenario was that their power would be greatly diminished while they gained nothing, resulting in their fall from a first-tier faction to a second-tier one.
That’d be a harsh result, and one most likely to happen at the moment.
The sect head had been getting antsy lately. He’d sought out the emperor and Duke Xiaoyao to voice his complaints. Both men welcomed him with a smile and commended with faux politeness the Starlight Sect’s dedication and contribution, urging the sect to focus on the big picture.
The sect head’s words didn’t have an impact at all.
There had been a lot of dissenting voices within the sect lately. Its members were tired of their losses, especially since some of the factions within the alliance had suffered almost no casualties, while the Starlight Sect had lost twenty to thirty percent of their elites. That was enough to undermine their foundation.
If things went on, they would no longer be a first-tier faction.
As a result, Ah Hong and his three companions were largely ignored. After Ah Hong volunteered to join the fight, the four of them were assigned to the front line. Their post was at one of the sacred land’s exits, where many of its experts left through.
Ah Hong had done what Jiang Chen had asked him to do.
Jiang Chen smiled slightly. “You’ve done well. I can tell that you still have a conscience. I’m afraid you’ll have to stick with us for the time being. But don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get out safe after things settle.”
“It’s not my conscience,” Ah Hong said responded impassively. “I just want to see what miracles you sacred land loyalists can create.”
The four of them were in charge of an egress passage and its surrounding area. They’d be held responsible if even a fly escaped.
They also had to follow orders issued by a commander from the imperial family rather than be an independent group. The imperial family had the final say in the assault. Even House Xiahou was nominally supposed to listen to them.
The commander-in-chief was a forefather of the imperial family, and under him were three more in charge.
Jiang Chen and his companions were assigned to one of them, the emperor’s uncle who happened to be an imperial prince. He held an important position in the family and oversaw all of military operations in the area. He was known as Imperial Prince Shang.
Every day, Jiang Chen and his friends reported to the imperial prince for a briefing on their achievements of the day. There was no denying that the besiegement had certainly been well organized.
On this day, Imperial Prince Shang summoned Jiang Chen and his companions.
“The four of you were assigned to this area a couple days ago. Why haven’t you achieved anything since then? Is the Starlight Sect just humoring the imperial family?” Imperial Prince Shang made a serious accusation without preamble.
No one had passed through their jurisdiction over the past couple of days. Naturally they wouldn’t have achieved anything. Besides, even if someone had passed through, Jiang Chen wasn’t about to take them down.
He was staying put for the moment because he didn’t have a good enough grasp on the situation. He needed some time to get the full picture of the operation.
He might not be able to make any game-changing moves such as freeing the venerated forefather, but there was a chance he could change the outcome of the assault since there was no divine cultivators stationed here.
Jiang Chen responded pitifully to Imperial Prince Shang’s accusation. “Your Highness, we can’t be blamed for being complacent. No one has set foot into this area. It’s simply not where most of the action is! We can’t fudge the number by killing innocent people, can we?”
He meant he wouldn’t claim innocent people as those from the sacred land in order to get rewards.
Imperial Prince Shang scoffed, making his discontent with the Starlight Sect clear.
“I’ll cut you some slack since you’ve just returned. If you keep this up, I can only send you to the very front where your lives will be on the line.” The imperial prince reprimanded them in a harsh voice, an action he seemed to find joy in.
“Your Highness, the siege is getting close to its conclusion, isn’t it? My brothers and I have been fighting outside the city. We returned to the capital because we wanted our chance to earn glory on the front lines. Will Your Highness give us the opportunity to?”
Imperial Prince Shang paused. His criticism hadn’t been aimed at the four of them, but at the Starlight Sect as a whole. The sect had been growing complacent lately as a show of their dissatisfaction with the imperial family. These four were merely an easy target.
Never had he anticipated that they’d volunteer to fight on the front lines.
He cackled. “You volunteered! Your sect head has been whining about the great sacrifice your sect has made and the great casualties you’ve suffered because you’re always in the fray of the battle. Are you truly going to volunteer yourselves?”
“Yes. My brothers and I are eager to achieve something. Please grant us our wish, Your Highness.”
The imperial prince broke into laughter. “Oh, it’s rare for the Starlight Sect to be this enthusiastic! Alright, I’ll grant you your wish.”
“Go. You’re in charge of the sixteenth defense post from now on. Take this writ to the post and swap out the guards.”
He wrote them a writ without hesitation. He couldn’t be happier about the turn of events. The sixteenth defense post covered the most dangerous region. Experts from the sacred land often showed up there to attack the alliance. Many of their own experts had died there. The defense was held up by piles and piles of corpses.
That post was now synonymous with danger. Many factions and cultivators refused to even get close. The leaders had no choice but to force the job on some hapless folk.
Those stationed in the area had heavily bribed Imperial Prince Shang earlier today, asking him to put someone else in their place. He’d been agonizing over who he should pick, but then these fools had come knocking. He’d be idiotic not to take advantage of their offer.
He quickly finished writing the writ and stamped it with his official seal before handing it to Jiang Chen. “Go. If you are victorious in the sixteenth defense post, I’ll reward you generously and recommend you to the emperor. You’ll enjoy a lifetime of great fortune!”
“Thank you for your generosity, Your Highness,” Jiang Chen said with great enthusiasm.
As beaming Jiang Chen left merrily, Imperial Prince Shang gazed at the departing young man mockingly. He snorted and silently called the young man a fool.
Jiang Chen made his way to the sixteenth defense post. Many senior executives from the sacred land had come to this area and countless intense battles had broke out, leaving the area a tattered living purgatory shrouded in the shadow of death and violence.
“Is this Elder Xun from House Beigong? Here’s a written writ from the imperial prince. We’ll be taking over this post. Let’s finish the handoff.”
Five cultivators remained in the area, three of whom had been seriously injured. They all perked up when they saw Jiang Chen. They couldn’t be happier that they’d be relieved of their duty. Their eyes lit up with the joy of escaping death.
They exchanged their writ for defending the post. Elder Xun gave Jiang Chen careful consideration before his lips curved into a meaningful smile. “The Starlight Sect is indeed courageous. No wonder you’re the vanguards of the assault. I wish you a great success in killing those villains from the sacred land and accomplishing great deeds for the new order!”
Elder Xun cackled and motioned at his men to leave.
Jiang Chen grabbed him with a shameless smile. “Don’t be in such a rush, Elder Xun. We’ve relieved you of a big trouble, haven’t we? I’m not asking for anything in return, but you wouldn’t mind explaining the current situation to me, would you? My brothers and I just returned from outside and don’t know a lot about the situation here.”