Jiang Chen had no qualms about putting some pressure on House Yan. He trusted that even Yan Wanjun and his grandchildren would support him in this.
The House Yan of today wasn’t the same as it’d been in the distant past. It needed discipline and correction to teach it penitence and remorse for its past follies and ignorance.
Having made his demands, he had no plans to stay. The Yan patriarch tried his best to keep Jiang Chen, inviting him to a banquet shortly thereafter.
For what reason would he accept though? He knew what House Yan wanted. The banquet’s only purpose was an attempt at repairing their relations and express contrition.
Jiang Chen didn’t intend to accept their apology so quickly. What House Yan needed was a good thrashing. Maybe then they would remember the mistakes they’d once made.
Why had House Yan been so loyal to House Xiahou in the past? Because the latter had been vicious in its strikes against the former.
Why else had House Yan been so dogged? They’d had plenty of chances to join the sacred land’s side, but ended up an accomplice to House Xiahou’s crimes in the end.
Jiang Chen’s desire to depart was met with no resistance from the Yan patriarch. Instead, the senior continually expressed his conciliatory attitude.
“If you want to apologize, Patriarch Yan, use your actions to do so. House Yan has a bad habit of being all talk and no action. The sacred land has given me the authority to handle House Yan. You be the judge of what that means.” After leaving this parting comment, Jiang Chen left without hesitation.
“Sir Jiang Chen,” Elder Shun suddenly interjected. “I find my life here in the house rather mundane. Where have you settled Huang’er down, if I may ask? I’d like to keep her company. Only when I’m near her to protect her can I rest at ease.”
Jiang Chen laughed. “Please come with me then, Elder Shun.”
The old man nodded, then unceremoniously strode into the ranks of Jiang Chen’s retinue. He spared no glances towards House Yan.
His heart had been thoroughly wounded by the people in it already. He didn’t bear a grudge against them, but neither could he accept them once more. He merely wanted to completely say goodbye to his past.
The assembled members of House Yan were utterly forlorn. They were at once both apprehensive and anxious. The young man who’d departed would tower above their house for the long-term foreseeable future. Perhaps they would never be able to reach him again.
Once upon a time, he’d lived so close to them. Once upon a time, they had a chance to achieve greatness. And yet, House Yan had stupidly cast off this genius. Furthermore, it had alienated him altogether.
“What can we do, Patriarch? That kid seems to still be very hostile to us!”
“Shut up!” The Yan patriarch’s anger flared up. “Who do you think you are? How dare you call him ‘kid’? Why don’t you take a piss and take a look at yourself in the reflection?”
The patriarch fumed with frustration. Times were different now, yet there were still people who foolishly dared disrespect Jiang Chen. Did they want to destroy House Yan?
Everyone else was scared into silence. Nobody ventured another word.
The Yan patriarch glared at Yan Wanxi coldly. “Elder Xi, your position as venerated elder owes a large part to House Xiahou’s influence. Now that House Xiahou is no more, your continued occupancy is an eyesore. Do you understand me?”
“No, I don’t understand.” Yan Wanxi was blue in the face.
“You don’t understand? Is that really the case, or are you pretending?” the patriarch shot back icily.
“The council of elders passed the motion for me to become venerated elder!” Yan Wanxi protested loudly. “According to the house’s rules, a similar motion must pass to depose of me. I’ve done nothing wrong or against the house’s interests, nor have I betrayed the house. Why should I leave my position? I absolutely disagree!”
Yan Wanxi was a man that lusted after authority. Having enjoyed time as a venerated elder, he couldn’t accept losing his prominence. The current sense of superiority he maintained was too addicting to toss away. Compared to Elder Shun, he was far less broad-minded and genteel. He wouldn’t possibly abandon the position on his own.
The Yan patriarch was livid. “Elder Xi, some things are better left unsaid. House Xiahou has been overthrown. You were one of the proponents for maintaining an intimate relationship with that house, weren’t you? How can you say you haven’t done anything against the house’s interests in light of that? Can’t you consider the house’s good above your own? Do you want the sacred land to crush House Yan too, before you’re satisfied?”
What would Jiang Chen and the sacred land think if Yan Wanxi continued to be a venerated elder?
Regardless of perspective, Elder Xi was no longer suited for his current role. He hadn’t enough experience to become one in the first place, and the house’s circumstances necessitated his complete demotion.
If Jiang Chen still secretly resented Elder Xi’s smugness at Sacred Peafowl Mountain, the culprit needed to be held to account.
“Why should I consider the house’s good above my own?” Yan Wanxi was riled up. “Why don’t you do the same? Is it entirely my fault that the house is at this point? As the patriarch, isn’t your responsibility greater than my own? You want me to step down as venerated elder, eh? First, ask yourself whether you’re still qualified to be the patriarch!”
He was so indignant that he held nothing back.
“Blasphemy, Yan Wanxi, utter blasphemy!”
“How dare you speak so presumptuously to the patriarch, Yan Wanxi? Do you still think House Xiahou is in power?!”
“Don’t you know yourself how you became venerated elder in the first place? You should’ve resigned long ago if you knew what’s good for you. Why does the patriarch need to remind you? You’re truly shameless!”
“If I were you, Yan Wanxi, I would’ve fled into seclusion already. You don’t feel ashamed, but we feel it on your behalf!” Yan Wanxi’s critics no longer saw fit to leave his dignity intact.
They hadn’t supported House Xiahou in the first place, and possessed an animosity to the true believers that wholeheartedly did. In fact, they stubbornly believed that the Xiahou sympathizers were wholly responsible for the fall of the house to this point.
Without their support for House Xiahou, how would House Yan have sunk so low?
If the house had taken the opportunity to get on the sacred land’s good side and stand unerringly with the greater faction, House Yan would have received significant recognition in this rebellion for their loyalty.
Alas, things right now were quite the opposite. Because of the sycophants’ mendacity, House Yan had a black mark that could never be washed away.
Thus, the verbal assault against Yan Wanxi was relentless.
Barely anyone dared speak on Yan Wanxi’s behalf. The allegiances formed by mutual support for House Xiahou had all but crumbled. No one wanted to come forward to risk becoming the house’s public enemy.
“Alright. As the patriarch, I’ve brought the motion forward, but the council of elders must decide whether it passes or not. Since all the elders are present here, let’s have a quick vote. Those who agree with the dismissal of Yan Wanxi as a venerated elder, do not raise your hands!” The Yan patriarch decided to meet tit for tat.
“What do you mean by that, patriarch?” Yan Wanxi declared angrily. “Why is it that those who agree aren’t raising their hands? That’s unfair!”
“Hmph, the vote is part of the rules, but the patriarch is free to decide the method of voting. Yan Wanxi, if the house really supported you, the method wouldn’t matter. Alas, you have far less support than you think. No one actually believes you should continue as a venerated elder.”
Yan Wanxi despaired. He swept his gaze around the council, but barely anyone raised their hands in opposition to the motion. The only ones that did were his most loyal henchmen.
In other words, almost everyone agreed with the decision to remove him from his current position.
“Elder Xi,” the patriarch proclaimed, “the will of the council is manifest. Do not blame the others. From this day forth, you are no longer a venerated elder of the house.”
It was Yan Wanxi’s turn to burn with rage, but there was absolutely nothing he could do. He couldn’t possibly take issue with the process; he had indeed received minimal support on the council. What did that mean? That no one agreed with or was impressed by him.
“Hmph, so what! If I’m not wanted here, I’ll just go elsewhere. House Yan isn’t for me anymore. From now on, consider our ties severed!” In a fit of rashness, Yan Wanxi brandished his sleeves and began to walk out.
“Why do you say that, Elder Xi? It’s just a title, isn’t it?”
“Why is a title so important to you, Elder Xi? Do you really not care about the house?”
Some tried to convince the old man to stay, but most chose to watch dispassionately. The house itself was not yet safe, and many of its members were uninterested in minding someone else’s business.
Elder Shun was extraordinarily pleased to return with Jiang Chen to the Eternal Sacred Land.
“Huang’er’s not here, is she?” the elder couldn’t resist asking.
“How did you know?” Jiang Chen smiled.
“If you thought the sacred land unsafe, you would’ve sent her off. I’m guessing she’s in the human domain right now?”
Jiang Chen applauded with laughter. “An astute observation, Elder Shun.”
“Not a difficult one, to tell you the truth. I assumed Huang’er actually likes the place, so it wasn’t a big leap from there. Ah, I remember the days we spent vividly still. Jiang Chen, Huang’er has had a hard life. Only after your appearance has her bitter fate begun to turn sweet. I hope you can take care of her. Most of all, don’t hurt her.” Elder Shun sighed softly.
“Of course,” Jiang Chen nodded. “Elder Shun, where did the young man you brought away from Eternal Spirit Mountain end up? Chu Xinghan, I believe his name was.”
The elder was a bit sad upon the mention of the name. “I haven’t seen him in a long time. When I was pursued by the house, I sent him away to fend for himself. I wonder if he’s still alive. I have failed him, as I have your trust.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Elder Shun. A lot of things don’t go the way we want in life. There wasn’t much you could do. You were forced into your decision.”
“Mm. I was thinking of traveling the world and making a few inquiries. With some luck, Xinghan can become a real genius in his own right – though he won’t astound the world to the same degree as you have. The human domain has plenty of talent, but the heritages and resources available to that shattered realm are too few. How could Myriad Abyss match up otherwise, considering the human domain’s former glory?”