The argument between the three sides raged on and on.
One of their venerated elders had left, while the other cared nothing for clan affairs. As a result, members of lower ranks suddenly had more of a voice, one of whom was Elder Xi, the one sent to the human domain. He was a devoted supporter of House Xiahou.
He’d visited the human domain to curry favor with House Xiahou. Afterwards, the house had approached him and promised to make him one of House Yan’s venerated elders.
Before Yan Wanjun’s departure and Yan Wanchong’s change of attitude, Elder Xi hadn’t been experienced or well-respected enough to become a venerated elder. However, after the uprising broke out, he was promoted as a special case via instructions from House Xiahou.
The house argued that while Elder Xi wasn’t advanced enough in martial dao, he was a competent and efficient man. He could always take time to improve his strength, while his problem-solving ability was something that couldn’t be learned.
Elder Xi thus became House Yan’s venerated elder - well, a probationary one for the time being. It’d take some time before he became an official venerated elder, but in practice, he was one already.
Elder Xi declared with shining confidence, “You shouldn’t have pulled away from the alliance because of Shao Yuan’s alluring words, Patriarch. Things may very well change again after Forefather Xiahou returns. House Xiahou is unhappy with us enough as it is. What if...”
He sighed, putting on a heavily disappointed expression. In reality, he wasn’t that affected.
Of course, he still wanted House Xiahou to make a comeback and come out on top. Then they would settle the score, which wasn’t a good thing for House Yan, but could end up benefiting him.
The patriarch would be the first to come in for his share of blame. Then a few senior executives who’d been in their positions for years would be made an example of. In that case, it was possible that House Xiahou would make him the patriarch of House Yan.
That was his dream scenario.
His words were met with immediate rebuttal from others. “Elder Xi, House Xiahou is clearly doomed. Only you would put your hopes in them.”
The look in Yan Wanxi’s eyes grew sharp. “What? Are you mocking me, a venerated elder?”
He hadn’t acquired the title for long, but had taken to parading around his rank like a duck to water.
The man scoffed. “Don’t try to be something you’re not, venerated elder! We all know how you got the title. You’re merely a fox flaunting the borrowed might of a tiger. Does that make you feel good? We feel embarrassed for you even if you don’t yourself!”
Yan Wanxi raged. “How dare you?! Is the hierarchy within the family a joke to you? Are you blatantly disregarding the family rules? Patriarch, what is the punishment for those who offend their superiors?”
The patriarch didn’t even blink. The family was in shambles. He had no time for such petty arguments. One of their scouts suddenly returned, interrupting the escalating argument.
“Patriarch! Great news, enormous news! House Tian suddenly gave up defending their post and let the sacred land army pass through without resistance. After that, the Cloudwave Sect followed suit.
“House Xiahou’s fort has fallen! Apparently most of their experts have been killed. Only a select few are still resisting. The three primes, along with a few other heavyweights, are now attacking Duke Xiaoyao, who is in great danger of being overcome at any time...”
The news dropped a bomb within House Yan. Senior executives who’d supported the sacred land cheered and applauded in delight.
“Fantastic, absolutely wonderful! Fate is indeed in favor of the sacred land. House Xiahou is nothing but a petty villain. Fortune isn’t on their side!”
“Even the so-called top genius Xiahou Zong was slaughtered by Shao Yuan. That tells us House Xiahou doesn’t even have a solid enough foundation!”
“House Xiahou is doomed! What fantastic news!”
“We’re too late again, Patriarch. We didn’t join the sacred land’s army in time. We should send our elites to attack House Xiahou now. Better late than never.”
“That’s right. Otherwise, how are we going to face the sacred land in the future? How will they look at us flip-flopping like this?”
“It’s all because of certain people who just had to flirt with House Xiahou! We used to be on friendly terms with the sacred land, and could’ve become their closest ally through Shao Yuan and Yan Qingsang. House Yan has been ruined by a few black sheep!”
Those who supported allying with the sacred land now possessed the clear upper hand. Even neutral members had turned into supporters as well.
Executives close to House Xiahou gaped in stunned silence.
Elder Xi scowled and muttered in a low voice, “Everyone, perhaps this is false information from the sacred land in order to attract support. Besides, House Xiahou’s divine forefather still lives. The war is not settled yet. I believe we should stay put.”
“Stay put my ass! This is no time for us to do nothing! Once the sacred land eliminates the alliance, it’ll be our turn to pay the price! Even if the sacred land spares us, we’ll end up being marginalized. Just wait and see. House Yan will fall from a top-tier faction to a second-tier and even third-tier one!”
“How much has House Xiahou paid you, Yan Wanxi? Why are you still speaking for them?”
“House Xiahou has their ambitions, but not the ability to back it up. What a bunch of vermin they are! They should die already before they harm even more!”
“You mustn’t hesitate, Patriarch, or House Yan is going to fall.”
The patriarch sighed, his voice filled with regret. He’d made a series of terrible mistakes since he’d taken the position. Every time, he picked the worst possible option.
“Patriarch, maybe we can try to mend our relationship with the sacred land through Shao Yuan. He’s a sentimental man. If he’s willing to put in some few words for us, the sacred land will pardon us. He’s made a great contribution to the sacred land now, and his opinions is second to only the three primes.”
“Agreed. Shao Yuan is a man of integrity, and he’s our son-in-law. He’ll at least show us some mercy.”
“Son-in-law? Then pray tell, where is his father-in-law?”
The blunt retort rendered everyone speechless. That was right. Shao Yuan’s father-in-law, Yan Qinghuang’s father, was still suffering in the Boundless Prison.
Expressions clouded over.
“Don’t worry, we can still seek out venerated elder Yan Wanjun. As long as we change his mind, he’ll be able to convince Shao Yuan.”
Though Yan Wanjun had left House Yan in a rage because of the patriarch’s assassination attempt, few knew of this inside story. Although some senior executives had guessed the truth, most didn’t know what had really happened.
The patriarch’s heart clenched. Huang’er’s father and grandfather… he’d offended both deeply. How was he going to change House Yan’s fate? There was nothing he could do.
He slumped, wanting nothing but to slap himself.
“Patriarch, Shao Yuan is an extraordinary man. I don’t think he’s as petty as we worry. As long as we show him enough deference, he won’t make things difficult for us. After all, he’s been in House Yan for a while. He won’t add insult to our injury, will he?”
“No, no he won’t. Shao Yuan isn’t a petty man.”
It was ironic how everyone in House Yan was now praising Shao Yuan.
“Shao Yuan is indeed remarkable. It’s difficult to believe he started out as a wandering cultivator!”
“Since when have there been extraordinary wandering cultivators like him in Myriad Abyss?”
“Wait, everyone, there’s something we’ve been overlooking,” someone piped up.
“What is it?”
“Something big. Something about Shao Yuan and Huang’er is unusual!” The man frowned. “Elder Xi must remember, don’t you?”
Yan Wanxi rolled his eyes. “What does it have to do with this venerated elder?”
“Have you forgotten, Elder Xi? You were the one who brought Huang’er back from the human domain. Didn’t you say she was madly in love with a man called Jiang Chen and wouldn’t part with him on pain of death? Why would she throw herself at Shao Yuan then? They have no history together. They rarely crossed paths when they were in House Yan. Huang’er isn’t the kind of person who would fall for another man for no reason.”
Glances were exchanged with odd expressions. Those who knew Huang’er frowned.
Yan Wanxi’s heart skipped. He suddenly recalled the stubborn young man he’d run into in the human domain.
The young man’s cultivation was nothing to write home about, yet he’d been able to shrug off the elder’s mental attack. It didn’t exactly make the elder doubt himself, but it did leave an impression. He had a foreboding feeling he couldn’t explain.
Huang’er then had warned him to not push the young man too far. Otherwise, the young man would make him regret his actions.
He’d thought it was merely an angry rebuttal, but now there seemed to be more to it.
He thought back to the young man’s sharp gaze, iron will, and the mysterious force protecting his consciousness - all signs now pointed to something big, something he’d overlooked.
The way Huang’er and the young man had looked at each other clearly suggested that they’d lay their lives down for each other. Huang’er couldn’t possibly have such a sudden change of heart.
Can it be...
A shudder ran down Yan Wanxi’s spine. A sense of deep apprehension rose from his heart.