News of the venerated forefather breaking free was powerful impetus for the sacred land army. Though its members were already in high spirits, they felt the last vestige of their worries melt away.
Now that the venerated forefather was back, what could House Xiahou’s divine forefather do?
Only the venerated forefather was the true foremost expert in Eternal Divine Nation. An undisputed totem and god of protection!
“Duke Xiaoyao, meet your maker!” Saying this, the first prime touched a point in space with a weapon that looked like a willow branch. In the next instant, it turned into thousands of twirling tendrils that filled the air.
Duke Xiaoyao was as still as an inanimate statue. It was as if his soul had been sucked out. He made no move to resist the first prime’s attack.
Jiang Chen’s news was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It utterly crushed any remaining will he had left to fight. There was no question as to the battle’s conclusion now.
The tendrils transformed into streaks of light that wrapped around the duke. He was soon ensnared inside a glowing cocoon. The three primes struck in decisive unison, landing three blows upon Duke Xiaoyao’s vitals. His qi ocean was utterly destroyed, among other injuries.
The duke’s body crumpled like a ragdoll onto the ground. There was barely any breath left in him. The loss of Duke Xiaoyao meant that there was no bite left in House Xiahou’s continued resistance.
The three primes refrained from taking to the field themselves, instead delegating their men to a few final sweeps.
“First Prime, the capital is in fearful unrest. Excessive scrutiny isn't conducive to calming the citizens. We can’t add more fuel to the fire.” Jiang Chen had paid close attention to the situation in the capital the last few days, so voiced his advice.
“House Xiahou’s forces have largely been defeated,” the first prime mused. “The survivors are incapable of causing much more trouble. The capital needs peace.”
“From this day forth, any efforts at hunting down the Xiahou and imperial family sympathizers should take special care to avoid harming innocents! Anyone who disobeys will be punished as a rebel himself!”
After weathering the rebellion, Eternal Divine Nation was somewhat restless. It needed some pacification to reduce the collective stress of the capital’s inhabitants. The prevailing fear was that the sacred land would punish it severely for its past allegiances. The order allowed most to rest easy, making most safe from retribution.
After the matter of the capital, next came the factions.
Various factions had first rebelled alongside House Xiahou, then turned back to the light. The sacred land had agreed it would pardon crimes based on meritorious conduct. They needed to be placated as well. Eternal Divine Nation couldn't bear a fresh rebellion.
The factions that had resisted rather than followed House Xiahou needed to be praised and supported, of course.
As the number one hero of quelling the rebellion, Jiang Chen was chosen as an ambassador to foster his personal growth and connections.
“Shao Yuan, you have a history with House Yan. Do you have an opinion on how to deal with them?” The first prime cared a lot about the young man’s opinion.
In the final hours of battle, Yan Zhenhuai had led a group of House Yan troops into the fray. Their presence offered a minuscule amount of assistance that was better than nothing.
But Jiang Chen didn't actually think that this last-minute posturing was particularly wise.
If they’d sent their men earlier, the sacred land might have taken notice. Reinforcements near the very end of the battle were obviously too late.
Still, he needed to make a trip to House Yan regardless. He wanted to ask them about several things. The exact fate and whereabouts of Huang’er’s parents, for example.
The second day after the vanquishing of House Xiahou, the venerated forefather and the Vermilion Bird made their triumphant return. Under the coordinated onslaught of two experts, the Xiahou forefather had been utterly annihilated.
The venerated forefather didn't fight the Vermilion Bird for spoils; the Xiahou forefather’s divine decree went to the bird.
Now, the dust had finally settled on Eternal Divine Nation’s insurrection.
The imperial family and House Xiahou had been utterly destroyed in the revolution, but the other first-rate factions had suffered losses to varying degrees as well. The nation’s overall strength had taken a significant hit.
Thankfully, long-term confrontation had been broken wide open. Because of this, the war hadn’t lasted particularly long. The divine nation’s foundations were largely intact. A bit scuffed, but nothing some repairs couldn’t fix.
For the sacred land, the victory had been pyrrhic at best.
It had its gains, of course: it had discovered Shao Yuan’s incredible talent and ability. Even those who’d been the most envious of Shao Yuan before had nothing bad to say about him now.
Without Shao Yuan, the Eternal Sacred Land wouldn't have won. He was the deciding factor in their supremacy.
The venerated forefather was very excited to find Jiang Chen upon his return. He had nothing but good things to say both to and about the young man.
“You’ve done the sacred land a great service, kid. Indeed, you saved my life.” The venerated forefather clapped Jiang Chen on the shoulder.
“Ah, not at all,” Jiang Chen evaded humbly.
“Not directly, but you turned the sacred land’s situation around. The Xiahou and imperial forefathers were forced to abandon the sealing formation, giving me room to rest and recuperate. You were the reason I could free myself!”
“The sacred land is a blessed place. Even if I wasn’t around, someone else would’ve come forward to save it.” Jiang Chen was unwilling to take too much credit before the venerated forefather.
“You’re an interesting kid. What? You still want to keep your real identity a secret? What name should I call you? Shao Yuan, or Jiang Chen?”
Aside from Yan Qingsang, the venerated forefather was the only other who knew who Jiang Chen was.
“Now that House Xiahou is no more, I see no reason to hide my identity.” Jiang Chen had used the pseudonym Shao Yuan largely because of House Xiahou. The old bounty on his head from Polylore had been only a tangential reason.
He didn’t want to be targeted before he had a chance to grow, but hadn’t expected House Xiahou to collapse this soon.
“Hmm, it is as you say.” The venerated forefather chuckled. “Let’s use this opportunity announce your true name to the world!”
Jiang Chen nodded. “Alright.”
Rumors about Shao Yuan’s actual identity spread fast in the Eternal Sacred Land.
The three primes were astonished. They had never imagined the brilliant Shao Yuan to have come from the human domain. Wasn’t the human domain a barren wilderness? How could a place as crude as that foster a genius like this?
Questions and surprise filled the sacred land’s every corner. Still, no one suspected the veracity of the forefather’s words.
Ziju Min was the first to seek out Jiang Chen to seek the veracity of the rumors, and the young man admitted the truth readily.
The elder was quite for a long time before sighing. “Shao Yuan… ah, that’s right, I should call you Jiang Chen instead.”
“Elder Ziju, I know what you want to say. My origins aren’t important. I’ve always been grateful to you for your recommendation, and I share that feeling still.”
Ziju Min became thoughtful. “Yes, yes!” he nodded. “The things you’ve done for the sacred land are proof enough. No matter what, Jiang Chen, recommending you joining the sacred land was my biggest success in this life. The conclusion of this rebellion shows that quite clearly.”
After seeing the senior off, Jiang Chen took the more direct approach of finding and explaining to the three primes the course of his history.
The three primes had gathered the same from the venerated forefather already. Rather than give him the cold shoulder, they heaped him with acclaim and commendation.
“Haha, it doesn’t matter who you are, Jiang Chen. We all know you as a genius the sacred land can be proud of. House Yan sent more messengers today, but they were denied an audience. We’d like you to take care of House Yan as you see fit. How about it? Are you confident you’ll do well?” The first prime looked at Jiang Chen with anticipation.
Jiang Chen thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “Sure.”
“Don’t feel weighed down with baggage. We’ve given you all authority to act as you like. No matter what you say or do, we will not interfere. We are laying the way for you, do you understand?”
Jiang Chen knew that the sacred land wanted to raise him up. Right now, he didn’t have a good reason to refuse. “I will do my best.”
Saying farewell to the three primes, he returned to his residence. The Vermilion Bird had closed its doors once more after the battle to cultivate. It had been the biggest beneficiary of the Xiahou forefather’s death, having acquired a large portion of the old man’s life essence. As always, this was an enormously helpful tonic to the bird.
The Xiahou forefather’s divine decree, on the other hand, was given to Jiang Chen.
After making the necessary preparations, Jiang Chen led a group of sacred land experts to House Yan. As the designated heir of the sacred land, he had no shortage of underlings.
House Yan had lived for the past few days in utter turmoil. Each day was a struggle for survival. There was an invisible sword atop the house’s head that could crash down in judgment at any moment.
The house had sent messengers to the sacred land several times to seek a meeting with the three primes, but they were refused every time without fail. The three primes simply weren’t interested.
House Yan was almost in despair when an unexpected guest made his visit. The house instantly began to panic.
The current Shao Yuan wasn’t the same youth as the one who had stayed at House Yan.
They weren’t yet aware of Shao Yuan’s real identity though, since the rumor hadn’t made its way to them just yet. Its members did know, however, that the biggest contributor to the sacred land’s victory would surely be its heir.
That made him an existence that everyone else had to look up to.