“Ah, never mind. We agreed to ten, but I’ve spent most of my life’s skill on eight. Your name is Jiang Chen, hmm?” Browncloak sounded tired and dejected, but there was a rare note of admiration there as well.
“So we’re done fighting?” Jiang Chen chuckled.
“Yes.” Browncloak was still rather upset. “What do you want to know about?”
He was thankful that they hadn’t put their lives on the line. Divulging his origins was much easier to accomplish than giving up his life.
Laughing, Jiang Chen turned to the three other cloaked individuals. “You have no objections either, I trust?”
“I’m number one among them. What I say, goes,” browncloak stated coolly.
“Alright, then. Tell me where you’re from and the reason for your brutality towards House Yan. If you don’t have sufficient reason for committing all of this bloodshed, you will be held accountable for your crimes.”
“Hold us accountable?” the browncloak harrumphed. “That’s easy enough. If you have the strength to, feel free to kill us. Alas, I daresay even the forefather of your sacred land wouldn’t have the courage to do so. No expert would want to anger our master.”
“Is that supposed to count as an answer?” Jiang Chen shot back icily.
The man in the brown cloak chuckled. “Our original identities aren’t important anymore. Lost to history, as it were. I suppose you can call us the Four Experts of Nature now. I am First Wind.”
That was definitely a nickname rather than a real name.
Jiang Chen frowned. “Why are you fobbing me off with this?”
“Not at all,” the browncloak shook his head. “We are only known by one identity now: servants of the master. I am First Wind, this is Second Flower, Third Snow, and Fourth Moon.”
“Who is your master? What enmity do you have with House Yan?” This was what Jiang Chen wanted to know the most.
First Wind sneered. “Are you sure you want to know? Then I’ll tell you. The master never intended to hide all this for long. The truth has to be revealed someday.”
Jiang Chen quietly waited for the forthcoming information. Yan Wanjun and the others sobered up; they were more anxious for the answer than he.
“Well, then?” the young man declared with some impassivity.
“The master’s surname is An.” When First Wind mentioned his master, there was an unmistakable worship in his voice. Whoever this mysterious master was, the browncloak was wholly devoted to him.
“So what? What hero or sage bears that surname?” Jiang Chen asked with some confusion.
First Wind snickered coldly. His gaze shot to Yan Wanjun. “You’ve become senile in your old age, old man. Or perhaps you are just as cold-blooded as your kinsman. There was no value lost in their deaths.”
Yan Wanjun was enraged. “Bullshit! What does this have to do with House Yan?”
“What does that have to do with House Yan?” First Wind laughed long and harsh. “Your heart really is as hard as stone. Did your son not tell you that your daughter-in-law’s surname is An as well?”
As soon as this was said, Yan Wanjun convulsed. It was as if he’d been paralyzed by some mysterious force. He was frozen to his spot.
Huang’er also seemed to have realized something. Her body shook, and deep care radiated from her clear eyes. Hearing this instantly complicated her emotions. It was the first time she’d heard anything substantial about her mother.
If the master of these four cloaks shared her surname, did that mean…?
The answer was easy enough to guess now. Jiang Chen had already come up with several possibilities.
First Wind’s tone was even as he continued. “At seventy-two years of age, our master already exerted virtual supremacy in Myriad Abyss. He was one of the best geniuses among all wandering cultivators. Alas, his great talent drew the envy of others.
“An expert of some sacred land threw him into the Boundless Prison in a fit of anger. Because he was locked away, he didn’t know that the woman he loved ended up bearing him a daughter. Not long after, she died of grief and sorrow. That babe inherited her father’s martial dao talent as well as a token designating her heritage. When she grew up, she met your House Yan’s Yan Qianfan…”
Yan Qianfan was Yan Wanjun’s younger son. In other words, he was Huang’er’s father.
The truth was finally out.
The muscles on Yan Wanjun’s wrinkled face spasmed. The hatred in his heart began to crumble. He finally understood why he had not been killed on his previous excursions here.
These people were more than capable of slaying him, and certainly willing enough. However, his ambiguous status as Yan Qianfan’s father meant that he and their master were related by the marriage of their children.
The old man’s animosity slowly turned to chagrin. He remembered when his son, Yan Qianfan, had brought back his pretty, rather independent dao partner.
The entirety of House Yan had exploded at the time. No one had wanted to listen to Yan Qianfan’s explanation, nor had they wanted to know what kind of woman he’d chosen to marry.
Instead, they panicked when they thought of House Xiahou. Yan Qianfan’s dao partner meant breaking his betrothal to a daughter of that house.
His original betrothed cast the Hundred Generations Curse on the then pregnant Lady An, and the unlucky couple was thrown into the Boundless Prison as soon as Huang’er was born.
Yan Wanjun had used every ounce of his strength and influence to preserve Huang’er, but not without agreeing to House Xiahou’s shameful terms. He also failed to protect even his son, not to mention his daughter-in-law.
These memories of the past washed away his ire. The master of these four cloaks was his son’s father-in-law. Considering his daughter’s suffering, why would he not take revenge when he finally could?
Yan Wanjun would do the very same.
Jiang Chen found it difficult to say anything as well. Sometimes, it was hard to sort out who the righteous party was when it came to karma.
If the master of these four cloaked men was Huang’er’s maternal grandfather, it was perfectly justified for him to seek justice for his daughter.
In the same way, it was understandable for Yan Wanjun and Yan Qingsang to fight back in the name of vengeance.
It was difficult to find a conclusion to any cycle of bloodshed.
“You said you wanted revenge, Yan Wanjun, but I don’t understand who you want revenge from. Why didn’t you say anything when your son underwent such anguish? What about your daughter-in-law and your granddaughter?” First Wind was as derisive as could be. “If my master didn’t refrain for his daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter’s sake, death would be your just desserts as well!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Ding ding ding! Did folks guess correctly?