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Group Acceptance

“Senior brother Shen, we would have all been condemned to eternal servitude if not for our young master. We would have no opportunity to resist or rebel, only endless suffering and shame,” Xue Tong spoke up. Unlike the other sect members executed or slain in the conflict, these people had been able to hide away in Jiang Chen’s residence. Thus, they dared not neglect these members of his personal guard.

“Brother Xue, what’s going on? Can you talk about it in detail? Who is this enemy of the Regal Pill Palace? Is the sect alright?” Shen Trifire asked.

Xue Tong didn’t hide the specifics from them. He gave a comprehensive account, omitting only the things Jiang Chen had instructed him to. All of the disciples were shocked, their faces colorless. The sect had been shattered! Almost no living members of the sect remained aside from themselves. Palace Head Dan Chi was nowhere to be found!

The Regal Pill Palace wasn’t alone. The entire Myriad Domain was in shambles. All of its sects had been attacked, regardless of size, and it had been almost a total rout. In other words, they were all now as homeless as unburied ghouls, with no news of whether their sect head was even still alive. A collective feeling of bleakness entered their hearts. Many of them wore despair on their faces. That they were still alive was the only thing they could be thankful for. They were certainly a hundred times luckier than the others that had died.

After hearing these weighty news, Shen Trifire also sank into a long silence. This news was unbearable regardless of one’s mental fortitude, and he was no exception. The sect ruined, the elders cut down, their comrades vanquished, and the sect head’s fate still unknown. Though they weren’t technically wandering cultivators, what difference was there? They didn’t even enjoy the latter’s freedom. If their enemies knew that they lived still and walked free, that would be the day of their doom.

Shen Trifire was the first to shake off his miserable mood, and rested his gaze upon Jiang Chen. A moment of clarity flashed within Shen Trifire’s mind. That’s right! The Palace wasn’t completely destitute; it still had Jiang Chen! When the Myriad Domain was surrounded and overwhelmed, Jiang Chen had been able to escape. Returning after the sect had fallen, Jiang Chen had escaped encirclement a second time. It was Jiang Chen who had crossed several million kilometers to rescue them from a sad fate of enslavement, navigating the Eternal Celestial Capital’s innumerable obstacles in the process. Was a comrade like this unfit to be relied on?

An idea came to Shen Trifire, and he stood up, raising a cupped fist salute to Jiang Chen. “Senior brother Jiang, our sect is fragmented. Only you are able to lead us now. Shen Trifire is at your absolute command. My only desire is that one day, we may revive our sect, and take vengeance upon our foes!”

The other sect members were startled by Shen Trifire’s words. However, they soon realized that without Jiang Chen’s protection, they would have nowhere to go. Stay at Veluriyam Capital? On whose authority? Even Shen Trifire hadn’t entered the sage realm, having only attained the eighth level origin realm. Someone with that level of strength would be considered third or fourth-rate here. Even if they joined another faction, they would still receive no respect. After all, they hadn’t been counted among the best even at Regal Pill Palace. Aside from Shen Trifire, the rest were only second-rate in the sect.  As for those considered first-rate, some had died, and others had fled. Almost none remained except Lin Bi’er.

“What do you think, Rong Zifeng?” Shen Trifire glanced at the man. Rong Zifeng was the most advanced in cultivation among the rest, and certainly wanted to side with Jiang Chen. But, he had quarrelled with Jiang Chen when he was still under Shen Qinghong’s authority, and they had even fought each other. His perspective was different from Shen Trifire’s.

Rong Zifeng was embarrassed by Shen Trifire’s question, and he looked at Jiang Chen with some difficulty. He had actually submitted to Jiang Chen in his heart. Like everyone else, he was no fool. Jiang Chen had saved his life, and Shen Qinghong had reconciled with Jiang Chen much earlier as well. There was no need for Rong Zifeng to play the apostate. In a time like this, did he really have a choice?

“Senior brother Jiang, I have much offended you in the past. Only after this catastrophe did I come to see your magnanimity. You have my full respect. As long as you don’t consider me too weak, I am willing to follow you in your efforts to reestablish our sect!”

“I, too, am willing to follow senior brother Jiang Chen,” Ouyang Chao stood as well. He had competed against Jiang Chen for the quota of Rosy Valley’s sovereign area, and his grandfather Ouyang De had been an elder in the Herbal Hall.  They’d all had some bad blood with Jiang Chen as well. But, these past disagreements were no longer important.

“We will all follow senior brother Jiang Chen, and contribute to reestablishing the sect!” Following Shen Trifire and Rong Zifeng’s lead, the others declared their allegiances as well.

Jiang Chen didn’t doubt their loyalty to the sect. Though there may have been disagreements between individual disciples of the Regal Pill Palace, they all felt a strong sense of belonging to the sect.  The invasion wouldn’t have resulted in so many casualties otherwise.

Jiang Chen had expected a few to be contrarian, so things had gone smoother than anticipatedthough that was no surprise either after some consideration. A great calamity had just befallen the sect; only someone with brain damage could remain oblivious. Only in unity was there a ray of hope. After all I’ve done for them, there’s no reason for them to spurn my protection.

Having thought things through, Jiang Chen nodded with a serious expression. “I don’t doubt the loyalty of anyone to the sect here here. But I’ll be upfront and frank. Whether sink or swim, we must stand together. If something bad happens to one of us, the rest will suffer as well. The tiny prospect we have for rebuilding the sect can be shattered instantly. So, I hope that certain habits from back home will not be carried over here. You are all comrades, with only each other to rely on. There should be no disputes over feelings, no petty tricks. Our most important goal is to keep on living!”

“Senior brother Jiang is right. Politics and intrigue cannot be tolerated. Selfishness will hurt us all!” Shen Trifire agreed loudly. “Think about it carefully, everyone. Don’t be that rotten apple in our barrel.”

“That’s right, with the way things are now, anyone that acts up will be a criminal to the sect!” Everyone present chattered in affirmation.  Finally, it was unanimously agreed that they would defer to senior brother Jiang Chen in all things. He didn’t shy away from the responsibility either. He might have been able to ignore these people without seeing them in person, but he’d rescued them already. There was no way he could leave them alone. Though it was convenience rather than intent that had precipitated his rescue of these people, he couldn’t just leave them in the lurch, nor could he just let fate take its course with them after rescuing them. For good or for ill, they were once his fellow disciples.

“Since you hold me in such high regard, it is natural that I arrange a future for you here in Veluriyam Capital. My only wish is that our past shame will forge future bravery. Though it may take a hundred, nay, a thousand years, I hope that one among you may rise up with strength unrivalled, to avenge our sect and to rebuild the sect.” After experiencing such adversity, Jiang Chen doubted that they lacked the motivation.

There was a flurry of head bobbing. “That’s right, there is something else. Were Elder Yun Nie and Mu Gaoqi with you on that day?” Jiang Chen asked again, quite suddenly. He was deeply concerned with the duo’s disappearance.

“Yes, we were together, and we were sold here together too. Our senses were sealed away upon arrival, we don’t know anything after that.”

“That’s right, everyone was together before we were sealed.”

“I was near senior brother Mu Gaoqi at the time, and I think I heard them mutter something about an innate wood constitution, and whether they should put a price on him for separate sale, or something …” one of the fellow disciples said.

“Are you sure?” Hearing that made Jiang Chen very excited.

“Yes, I definitely heard those mumblings back then, but I don’t know anything after that because my senses were immediately sealed.”

There can be no mistake if he heard that! So, it was quite likely that Mu Gaoqi and Elder Yun Nie had been labeled for separate sale, or had even gone unpriced. No matter what, they should still be safe under those assumptions. Jiang Chen knew in his heart that it was unlikely that Regal Pill Palace could be rebuilt just by rescuing these people alone. In fact, the possibility was quite slim. But, if they could rescue Mu Gaoqi, the future hope of rebuilding Regal Pill Palace would be more than ninety percent. The high-order innate wood constitution that Mu Gaoqi possessed was definitely something capable of altering the prospects of their sect in the next thousand years.

Once Mu Gaoqi was rescued and given a few decades or a century for development, he would definitely have the ability to rebuild the Regal Pill Palace!  It was too bad that he hadn’t been able to rescue the person he had wanted to the most. Among the youth of the sect, excepting the Lin sisters, Mu Gaoqi was definitely the closest to Jiang Chen. Jiang Chen saw him as a younger brother. At the same time, he was the one Jiang Chen was most optimistic about. If Jiang Chen was asked who would be able to rebuild Regal Pill Palace in the future, he would answer Mu Gaoqi first, then Lin Bi’er. As for Shen Trifire and Rong Zifeng, neither of them was cut from that cloth. At most, they would make good advisors, but they lacked the definite ability to turn a tide.

“Alright, you will all be very safe here. For the next few days, I will ask Miss Huang’er to teach you a few ways to change your appearance. From this day forward, you must adopt different identities. When the time comes, I will open a pill store here in Veluriyam Capital, and openly recruit staff from the public. Then, you can come join me as wandering cultivators. That way, your new identities will be legalized and transparent.”

All were reassured by Jiang Chen’s preparations. Jiang Chen looked at the ten freed slaves again. They had been unsealed with the group shortly prior, and even the weakest among them was earth sage realm. Jiang Chen had plans to put them to good use. As their savior, he had an obligation to extract at least some value from them.

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