Tian Shao couldn't contain his excitement when he left. Though he was silent the entire way back, the recent revelations sent powerful waves surging through his heart. After they returned to the capital, he dismissed the rest of the guardsmen. "Come with me for a moment," he spoke to Tang Long.
The latter had been promoted by Tian Shao and naturally obeyed his every command. The two of them walked towards a secret room in the Dragonteeth Guard headquarters. Tian Shao's serious expression made Tang Long a little uneasy. He knew as well as anyone that they couldn't survive in Skylaurel Kingdom anymore after killing those people from Hidden Death. Seclusion via retirement was their only choice. Closing the door of the secret room, Tian Shao looked about him before erecting a soundproof barrier. "Little Tang, do you remember how you got to your current position?" He messaged, as a final security precaution.
Tang Long paused a little before nodding. "It's because I met young master Chen, my great benefactor, while I was out on border patrol. After that, you promoted me every step of the way."
Tian Shao smiled wryly, "My current position was given to me through the same way."
It wasn't good for subordinates to comment about the matters of their superiors. Thus, Tang Long kept silent. Still, he thought that something was odd given how solemn Tian Shao was. He also messaged silently, "Director, what's the matter?"
Taking out the storage ring he had been given, Tian Shao retrieved a wealth of treasures from it.
"Did… did that cultivator give this to you, director?"
"Yes, he gave it to the both of us." Tian Shao remarked after a glance. The things in the storage ring were portioned for pairs. One set for him, one for Tang Long. These things were useless to Jiang Chen, but for Tang Long and Tian Shao, they were priceless treasures. Pills, the essence of a wood spirit spring, the blood and bone of a Redscaled Firelizard, various weapons and armors, talismans, and hundreds of thousands of origin spirit stones… It was an enormous treasure trove.
"How come there's so much stuff? There's some for me, too?" Tang Long was surprised.
Tian Shao laughed, "Do you know who that cultivator was, Little Tang?"
Tang Long thought for a moment, his eyes glittering. Tian Shao's earlier question inspired him. "Was it young master Chen?"
Smiling, Tian Shao nodded affirmatively. "That's right, it was him. Young master Chen messaged me about it and how we should split up these things he gave me."
"Young master Chen… thank goodness he's alright!" Tang Long's eyes reddened. "I always knew that a genius like him would come out unscathed. It's the best news I've heard in a couple of years. He's… he's already a sage realm cultivator, huh!"
"I don't think he's just at the sage realm anymore. He mentioned that he was going to destroy the entirety of Hidden Death."
"What, the entirety of Hidden Death?" Tang Long stammered. "Taking down the whole sect? By… by himself?"
Tian Shao found it hard to believe as well, but he had mulled over the entire situation for a little longer than Tang Long had. "When has young master Chen done anything brashly since making his way into the world? He's always had a good grasp on things."
The reminder rang true. Tang Long agreed after thoroughly considering everything.
"He told me some other things as well. He said that we should be patient. As long as we're alive, there's hope. It looks like he has great ambitions in sight. Maybe he'll recover the entire Myriad Domain some day and drive out the bandits who are currently residing here." Tian Shao was enthusiastic at the prospect.
Tang Long's face was full of joy. "I'm sure that day will come. Someone as prodigious as young master Chen will definitely return with a vengeance. Look at how long the Eternal Celestial Capital has chased after him for, but he's still fine!"
"Yes, that's why he gave us these things. We should become strong in preparation for that day's arrival."
Tian Shao's tone was very passionate. "We're here today entirely because of young master Chen. That's why we must keep his secret, even unto death. You must remember this, Little Tang."
Tang Long nodded gravely, "Don't worry, I won't sell him out even if I'm at death's doorstep. Oh, yes, should we tell His Majesty about this?"
Sighing softly, Tian Shao shook his head. "Young master Chen probably doesn't want His Majesty to know yet. After all, His Majesty has to stay to maintain the current situation here in Skylaurel Kingdom. From his point of view, there's no way for him to leave."
Tang Long nodded. "Then if we go now, wouldn't His Majesty be even lonelier?"
"We must go. We cannot burden him with our continued presence. His Majesty has suffered for so many years already. Perhaps it is a kind of trial from young master Chen?" Tian Shao had thought through things more thoroughly than Tang Long had. It was difficult to judge the machinations of men in power. Though young master Chen and His Majesty had been almost akin to brothers in the past, Tian Shao didn't know if that was still the case now. Thus, in the end he couldn't tell the king about these things.
"Little Tang, make your preparations. We'll turn in our resignation to His Majesty shortly." Tian Shao instructed.
"Will His Majesty agree?" In truth, Tang Long wanted to quit as well. He had stayed these past years because he had wanted to repay Tian Shao, not out of devotion to the king. Now that the director was leaving, it was natural for him to follow.
"His Majesty will understand," Tian Shao said sadly. "We can't help him much anyway. I find it hard to understand what His Majesty thinks sometimes, nowadays." Because of the change in circumstances, Ye Rong now lived an aggrieved life as a figurehead king. His relationship with Tian Shao wasn't as seamless as it had been before. Tian Shao was nominally a vice director of the Dragonteeth Guard, but the Guard itself was powerless in Skylaurel. They had none of the glamour and style of their bygone days.
Jiang Chen was not in a hurry to leave Skylaurel Kingdom. He wanted to make sure that Tian Shao and Tang Long were able to safely depart. He didn't want them to encounter any further complications. He also took the time to draft up some plans against Hidden Death.
The organization had crossed him twice before, and he hadn't returned the favor. This was the perfect opportunity to uproot them in their entirety. No matter who their new backer was, no matter what faction they were now part of, Jiang Chen would no longer allow Hidden Death to exist in this world. Such a faction was not fit to exist.
Tian Shao and Tang Long left in the night, and Jiang Chen protected them part of the way. He only left after ensuring their safety. The next day, he arrived at the Purple Light Division's headquarters very early in the morning. The division was located in the Purple Sun Sect's former territory. He had heard rumors about a gathering held here in three days' time. Everyone belonging to the division would come to the gathering.
Given Jiang Chen's current level of cultivation, there was no one at the division who could even detect him, much less throw a wrench in his plans. Any security became just for show around him. He had enough time to wait. He observed that half of the Purple Light Division was made up of original Purple Sun Sect members, and that the other half consisted of Hidden Death newcomers. However, the killer organization was in the leading position now. The Purple Sun Sect people were forced to occupy second place.
Purple Sun Sect's geniuses of yesteryear were pretty much all gone by now. The ones that remained were largely the elderly. Knowing that they didn't have a future elsewhere, they treated the Purple Light Division as a retirement home. They spent their days living off the Ninesuns Sky Sect's handouts. The Purple Sun Sect no longer possessed its previously illustrious prestige.
Jiang Chen was unsympathetic. They had brought their troubles upon themselves. They had been in cahoots with Ninesuns Sky Sect from the very start, and they were the first ones to sell out the sixteen kingdoms alliance. Their current situation was well-deserved. How pretentious they once were in the sixteen kingdoms! It was not easy to forget the overbearing old man Sunchaser of the past.
Three days passed, and the conference was set to begin. All of the middle and high-ranking members of the Purple Light Division had gathered together. There were several hundred people in the same place. Most were from Hidden Death, but a few were old-timers from the Purple Sun Sect. The head of Hidden Death was seated high on the division head's throne. His gaze was proud and his spirits high. "Everyone," he looked all around him. "After the last few years of growth, our Purple Light Division is improving with every passing day. There's some good news that just came in during these last few days. A territory with a spirit vein that used to belong to the six great sects has fallen under our control. We will use this land in the next decade to strengthen ourselves even further. We are sure to receive even more accolades from the Ninesuns Sky Sect!"
The audience below resounded with applause. Waves of flattery swelled up like an incoming tide. The Hidden Death head looked over at Purple Sun Sect's previous members. "Elder Qiu, do you or any of the other Purple Sun Sect people have leads on the Precious Tree Sect? It's been so long since their leader's disappearance and the disbanding of their sect. Even their precious tree has disappeared. How can this be? Have you forgotten your grudge with them?"
The elder who'd been called on laughed ruefully. "Precious Tree Sect must have received some kind of forewarning. They scattered even before mass change swept across the land. Even if we wanted to pursue them, what clues do we have?"
"Hmph, do you Purple Sun Sect old-timers all waste away your days like this? Wallowing in incompetence?" The Hidden Death head's tone became chilly. "We can't have that kind of thinking here. Useless people are not welcome within the Ninesuns Sky Sect."
The old-timers from the Purple Sun Sect could only agree. One of them piped up, "They can hide for a time, but they can't hide forever. Skylaurel Kingdom is the Precious Tree Sect's home. If we decimate the place, maybe they'll show up."
It was a very malicious suggestion.
"Decimate Skylaurel Kingdom? What, you want me to just walk in and slaughter some people there? The martial dao world has unspoken rules about interfering with worldly affairs. That's a stupid idea. I remember there was a group sent to the kingdom in order to take revenge for something," the head of Hidden Death added suddenly. "That was a few days ago. Is there any news of them?" Having said this, the head looked to an officer responsible for the delegation.
"Maybe they're still waiting to strike," the officer explained hastily. "They can't publicly make a scene in the capital. They might need a bit of time."