“Have a seat, Embittered Bamboo.” Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “It seems that you’ve made good progress in understanding the Way to Grand Ascension. You’re half a step from reaching advanced empyrean realm, aren’t you? Do you know why you’re having trouble making the breakthrough to seventh level?”
Forefather Embittered Bamboo sighed dejectedly. “I don’t know. Perhaps that’s just written in my destiny.”
“Wrong!” Jiang Chen shook his head with a smile. “There’s a tradition of changing one’s fate in the martial dao world. While some are more fortunate than others, all cultivators who are truly on track to greatness possess the courage to forge their own path despite what their fate entails. You, Embittered Bamboo, are not the unlucky sort. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have spared you in our fight. Wouldn’t it have been less risky for me to eliminate you then and there?”
The forefather paused. “Didn’t you spare me so that you can enslave me?”
Jiang Chen snorted. “Enslave you?”
He shook his head and, in lieu of an explanation, waved his hand in the air. A good number of items shining with strange glow emerged out of the blue, covering the table before him.
“Are… are these empyrean decrees?” The forefather widened his eyes. “So many of them. You...”
“These are merely part of what I’ve gained. I have many more decrees. Do you still think I need to keep you around as a slave?”
Embittered Bamboo stared at the table owlishly, unable to utter a word. He felt lightheaded. He’d thought Jiang Chen only spared him to serve, but that didn’t seem to be the case anymore.
“Jiang Chen… young lord Jiang Chen, I’ve been blinded by my own biases,” he said hesitantly. “It seems more blood has been shed during your time in Myriad Abyss than I expected.”
“I’ve fought and killed a good number of empyrean cultivators, many of whom were ahead of you in cultivation. Do you know why I killed them without hesitation, but spared you at the time?”
“I don’t.” Embittered Bamboo pulled a long face. He truly had no clue. The young man was too enigmatic for him to understand.
“It’s simple.” Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “I encountered more than a hundred cultivators who are more powerful than you are in Myriad Abyss, and there are many more than that there. However, a lot of them can’t rival you in inherent presence due to the circumstances under which they cultivate.
“They’re more powerful simply by virtue of being in Myriad Abyss, which is conducive to their cultivation. If they’d been cultivating in your tribe or the human domain, they wouldn’t have reached your height. Moreover, they live to leech off their sects and other experts. They don’t have their agency like you do. If I kill you, I’ll be eliminating the hope for the Embittered Savage Tribe for the next thousands of years. I couldn’t find it in myself to do that.”
“You couldn’t?” Embittered Bamboo couldn’t believe his ears. “My tribe has always been the biggest threat to the human race. It defies logic that you would opt not to exterminate all of us.”
Jiang Chen smiled lazily. He wasn’t as short-sighted as the other seniors of the human race.
Other heavyweights in the human domain might believe that the Embittered Savage Tribe had to be rooted out while they were at their most vulnerable, but Jiang Chen disagreed.
The human race wasn’t his only consideration. His perspective was broader.
On a smaller scale, the tribe could keep the human race on its guard, preventing them from growing complacent. On a larger scale, the tribe would be part of the resistance against demons when they struck.
The conflict between the human race and the Embittered Bamboo Tribe existed within the Divine Abyss Continent. However, once the demons rose, they’d threaten all existence on the continent. If they were left unchecked, all races would become their slaves with no hope of liberation.
Of course, Jiang Chen wasn’t going to spell everything out for the forefather.
He smiled slightly. “Your tribe is merely a small, harmless ailment for the human race. The real fatal threat comes from the demonic race. They are a plague that will make the entire continent a living hell once it spreads. You don’t need me to tell you that, do you?”
Embittered Bamboo was silent for a long moment. He sighed, hit by a faint sense of loss.
“Young Master Jiang Chen is far more forward thinking than I could imagine. We old ones have learned nothing during our long years of existence.” He sounded ashamed.
“Embittered Bamboo, I plan to let you go after some time and send you to make a round through the territories around the human domain, finding out what exactly is happening in the different domains on the continent. It’s said that the continent is occupied by different races, their territories divided by boundary steles. I want you to know the exact scale of the continent.”
Embittered Bamboo smiled wryly. “The boundary steles have divided the continent since the beginning of time. I don’t know how big it is, either. However, the steles have been growing unstable in recent years. Perhaps it is true that the continent is going to face an important turning point.”
The growing instability of the steles signified an upcoming war.
Jiang Chen sighed softly and stared at the forefather. “I just want to know if I can trust you.”
“Why bother asking?” Embittered Bamboo laughed ruefully. “My life is in your hands. Don’t you already know the answer?”
“That only means I can threaten you with death. You may not be truly loyal to me, and you may not do your best when I assign you a task.”
“So what?” the forefather asked coolly.
“Again, if you make the smart decision, I’ll give you more than you expected. If you decide to be my enemy, I can easily destroy you.”
“I can’t afford to be your enemy anymore,” Embittered Bamboo responded in a wry tone. “I’m willing to work with you on one condition. You mustn’t humiliate me out of malice and use me as a pawn.”
“I don’t need a pawn. I need a hot-blooded man who’s willing to fight for his kind. Embittered Bamboo, are you willing to fight for your tribe? Do you have the conviction and courage to risk your life fighting the demons and refuse to be their slaves?”
“Demons?” Embittered Bamboo cracked a feral grin. “Demons may be formidable, but the one thing the Embittered Savage Tribe doesn’t lack is the will to fight! As long as I live, the demons will never enslave my people!”