“Grandpa!” A panicked voice came from the air. Meng Qianqiu’s body shook, and he couldn’t help but cry out, “Tianxing!”
He wouldn’t mistake the voice of his grandson anywhere. It really was him; Meng Tianxing was definitely here somewhere! Meng Qianqiu’s eyes searched the skies.
In the far distance, the air rippled continually until it finally burst forth like an enormous bubble. Two figures emerged from the commotion. Meng Tianxing was one of them.
“Tianxing, are you…” Meng Qianqiu was cut off when he saw the second person. There was another young man with a half-smile behind his grandson, restricting Meng Tianxing’s every move.
The young master looked with helpless glumness at his grandfather. Meng Qianqiu felt a painful tug on his heart when he saw the expression.
“Who are you? Why have you kidnapped my grandson? I’m willing to talk, but can you let go of my Tianxing first?” The old man quavered in anxiety on his grandson’s behalf.
“Forefather Qianqiu, we’ve waited you here for quite a while. I’m sure you’ve heard of what happened to House Yuchi by now, right?”
Meng Qianqiu was moved. His pupils contracted. “So the Yuchi forefather died at your hand, hmm?”
“So you do know! I’m not sure if you believe me, but I’m seventy percent confident that I can kill you in much the same way, even though you have the Dreamhaze Sect’s main force behind you.”
Meng Qianqiu’s expression darkened. He glared at the young man before him. “Call out your companions,” he stated coldly. “You wouldn’t dare boast like this by yourself.”
Jiang Chen chuckled. “I’d prefer them not to come out. If they did, a slaughter will be more than necessary. I’m sure a hard fight isn’t what you want, Forefather Qianqiu.”
Of course the old man didn’t want that. His grandson was still in this young man’s hands, and would surely be the first to be sacrificed if a fight broke out. He wasn’t going to suffer such an unnecessary loss.
Meng Qianqiu took a deep breath before continuing. “Who are you, really?” he asked. “I presume you waited here rather than killing Tianxing for a reason other than to ambush me. Why don’t we get to the point? I thought this was supposed to be a discussion.”
Jiang Chen respected the relative poise the old man was able to maintain. The hostage situation wasn’t exactly to his favor, and yet he remained doggedly rational.
“I appreciate your frankness, Forefather Qianqiu. As for the actual negotiations, I’ll let someone else take the helm.” Grinning, Jiang Chen waved to seemingly nothing.
A different figure floated out from behind Jiang Chen. It was Prime Puresmoke.
Meng Qianqiu colored when he saw the woman.
“Forefather Qianqiu. What ironic circumstances we find ourselves meeting in.” Puresmoke was cool.
Meng Qianqiu barked a bitter laugh. “I expected you, Prime Puresmoke. Forefather Goldenbell and the others fell at your hand, eh?”
“I suppose you can put it that way,” Puresmoke nodded.
“Then, do you intend to do the same to me today?”
“That depends on your choices,” Puresmoke replied noncommittally.
“Haha, my choices?” Meng Qianqiu spoke with some distaste. “Do you not see what choice I’ve already made, Prime Puresmoke?”
“It was wise for you to pull the Dreamhaze Sect out of the rebel army, Forefather Qianqiu. That alone isn’t enough, however.”
“What else do you want from me?” Meng Qianqiu asked.
“Immediately announce your loyalty to the Martial Sacred Land. Declare that you’re marshaling forces to suppress the rebellion, and urge the currently neutral forces to join your side.”
This was the correct attitude to take, a demand that wasn’t altogether unreasonable.
Meng Qianqiu considered it for a moment. He was able to come up with his response very quickly. “Prime Puresmoke, since the Dreamhaze Sect has withdrawn from the rebel alliance, we will of course pledge our loyalty to the sacred land. I have my own request in turn, though.”
Now came the time for negotiations.
Puresmoke was unsurprised. “I’ll consider anything that’s reasonable.”
“I request that our slates be wiped clean. The Dreamhaze Sect is not to be trifled or troubled for any reason relating to our former involvement.” This was an acceptable compromise.
Prime Puresmoke furrowed her brow. “Is that it?”
“Yes, that’s it.” Meng Qianqiu was rather straightforward. He saw no reason to include Meng Tianxing’s release in the terms, because his grandson would naturally be released if the agreement stood. There would be no reason to threaten him then.
As for the raided vaults, Meng Qianqiu assumed correctly that Puresmoke wasn’t the one responsible. The prime wasn’t necessarily authorized to approve such a request.
Thus, he elected to eschew it as well.
Meng Qianqiu’s quick defection surprised Jiang Chen somewhat. He smiled faintly, but remained silent. He wouldn’t participate in the negotiations, since they involved Martial Divine Nation’s internal affairs.
He was here only to fight. If the negotiations fell through, he wouldn’t hesitate a moment to strike.
Prime Puresmoke accepted the appeal without delay. “If that’s your only desire, I guarantee with my life and a heavenly oath that no persecution of any kind will happen to the Dreamhaze Sect after the fact. Of course, this precludes any future acts of rebellion.”
Meng Qianqiu smiled easily. “A single rebellion is indecency enough. You can be assured a second will not occur. However, the rebellion wasn’t caused by the Dreamhaze Sect alone, but rather a sign of the times. If the sacred land wants full authority over the sacred land, it must provide something a bit more… convincing. Otherwise, another is all but assured.”
The old man spoke plainly. He knew perfectly well that the sacred land had been betrayed because of its recent displays of weakness over the past centuries rather than any kind of tyranny.
A tyrant would never be forsaken on such a large scale.
The widespread range of the rebellions was due to one reason only: the sacred land hadn’t shown enough strength to keep the nation in check. This was key to recognize.
The prime inclined her head a little. “The sacred land will take that into consideration,” she murmured quietly. “We have had our own ordeals to contend with. The truth will come out one day. Now that you’ve made your decision, Forefather Qianqiu, I take it you’ll stick to your word?”
“Hmph. Do you really have no trust in my honor?”
Prime Puresmoke nodded, then signaled to Jiang Chen. “Let the hostage go.”