“Elder Wanjun, have you explored the ruins of House Yan?” asked Jiang Chen.
“I have, but didn’t find any clues or hints of note.” Yan Wanjun sighed dejectedly.
“Let’s go investigate a bit more,” Jiang Chen said to Huang’er. “We might make new discoveries.”
“Alright!” Huang’er naturally wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.
“I’ll come as well.” Yan Qingsang volunteered.
“And I.” Yan Wanjun had gone several times himself without much gain, but he believed that Jiang Chen might be able to find something. After all, this youth was a regular maker of miracles.
Jiang Chen and company departed the sacred land. They arrived at House Yan’s ruins in no time at all.
From a distance, the site looked rather desolate. Weeds had already begun to grow in between the broken stones. Clearly, it had been completely abandoned by the passage of time.
Gazing at it from a distance, Jiang Chen felt a mixture of emotions well up within him. House Yan had been a first rate faction in Eternal Divine Nation once upon a time. Its estate had been as luxurious as any top-rank sect.
All of that opulence was no more, cast aside into the wind.
Sadness filled Yan Wanjun’s heart once more upon revisiting the old family site. Elder Shun followed closely behind him. Though the elder was pleased to be reunited with his old disciple, this happiness was dampened by the bleak sights all about them.
Chu Xinghan didn’t feel much for House Yan. In his memory, its only role was the culprit responsible for taking his master Elder Shun away from him. Because of this, he had seen it as his foremost enemy. Still, his emotions were affected by the solemnity around him.
Everyone remained silent as they trudged along in the ruins.
Though Huang’er remained impassive at first, the skeletal remains everywhere grieved her. These people had been alive only a year or two ago.
Yes, House Yan had strong-armed her into many things, but there had also been some kind and sympathetic individuals within the family.
Yan Qingsang gnashed his teeth, cursing all the while. He was incalculably furious. Despite his frustrations with his house, he was nevertheless despondent after its destruction. Suddenly, his footsteps stopped in front of one of the skeletons. He bent down and retrieved a pendant.
“This was Brother Zhenhuai’s. So him, too…” His voice was extremely mournful. Yan Zhenhuai had been the only one among House Yan’s younger generation whom he’d respected.
They had been on reasonably decent relations, a stark contrast to Yan Jinnan and his cronies, who harassed him at any opportunity. Thus, he respected and appreciated the deceased as an honorable rarity among his kinsmen.
The pendant had been hanging off of the skeleton’s neck, which meant that the young genius hadn’t escaped the massacre either. Yan Qingsang was greatly saddened by this.
Jiang Chen had had a reasonably good impression of the youth too. He became mildly melancholic when demise was confirmed.
Circling the ruins again and again, he furrowed his brow more and more as time went on. After his thoughts came to a head, he returned to the outskirts of the estate and carefully inspected a few specific details.
“Elder Wanjun.” He looked toward Yan Wanjun seriously. “Have you noticed?”
“What should I have noticed?” the old man asked in a low voice.
“The entire estate was once sealed off by a powerful restriction. There are traces of it still. It’s possible that only a few were responsible for this bloodbath.”
“Oh?” Yan Wanjun had far less expertise in formations. “How many were there, do you think?”
“Four or five, no more than that. Only four got their hands dirty, the fifth seems to have been their superior. He barely did any of the work.” Jiang Chen noted his finds.
“How did you manage to see all that?” Elder Shun was rather incredulous. To be able to glean so much information from so little was nothing short of miraculous—but then again, the young man before him was a regular with miracles.
Honestly, they’d scrutinized these parts themselves as well, but too much time had passed for them to pick up on anything useful. Yet here Jiang Chen was, firmly insisting that there had been no more than five perpetrators.
Both old men were astonished at this.
“The method of murder and the skeletal evidence shows four killers for the most part. There was another one who was probably giving orders, that would explain how rarely he acted himself.”
Though only bones were strewn about, Jiang Chen could nevertheless tell a great deal.
“Are there any other things you recognize? Their origins or identities, perhaps?”
Jiang Chen shook his head, laughing helplessly to himself inside. Expecting those things to remain after such a long time was absolutely impossible. Sure, using residual auras to trace the butchers would’ve been doable immediately after the fact, but it had been far too long since then. Any clues had long disappeared. Unless those responsible had left any especially glaring flaws, it was largely an impossible task.
Huang’er couldn’t bear to see the dead strewn about. “Grandpa,” she said quietly, “shall we bury these bodies so they can rest in peace?”
At the end of the day, they’d once been her kinsman. She was kind enough to treat those who had passed with dignity, even those who’d once been responsible for persecuting her and her parents. She didn’t want their remains to lay strewn out beneath the sun like this.
“Indeed, they should have been allowed to rest long ago,” Yan Wanjun declared woodenly. “I’ve only refrained from returning them to the earth because I wanted Jiang Chen to investigate the scene for himself.”
Jiang Chen thought about it for a second. He’d seen pretty much all there was to see.
“Let’s get to it, then.” He nodded.
“Should we pick a different place?” Yan Qingsang asked.
“No. Now that House Yan is no more, allow these ghosts to melt into the site of their former home. Even the hall of ancestors has been destroyed. Let them rest with the souls of our forebears.” Yan Wanjun sounded incredibly sorrowful.
For the sake of efficiency, the group moved to work right away.
Something suddenly flickered in Jiang Chen’s consciousness. He pointed a keen eye into a patch of empty space. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”
He placed Huang’er behind himself as he did so, his gaze wary.