Chapter 29: Variables
When the sun came up and Zhu Xianyao awoke, she discovered that Su Chen was no longer by her side.
She got out of bed and washed up, just so happening to run into Su Chen on his way back.
He seemed as if he was quite travel-worn, but in his hand he held an oiled parchment pouch.
When he saw Zhu Xianyao, Su Chen said, “You woke up a bit earlier than I expected, but thankfully I managed to make it back in time. Here, for you.”
He handed over the oiled parchment pouch in his hand to Zhu Xianyao.
Zhu Xianyao opened it and glanced inside, then cried out in surprise, “Falling Horse Alley’s Thousand-Layer Pastry and egg pancakes? How did you know I like to eat those things?”
“Of course I asked your subordinates. What would be the point in having a mouth otherwise?” Su Chen chuckled.
Zhu Xianyao’s face sank slightly. “The Falling Horse Alley is under the Rong Clan’s control. You went there again?”
Zhu Xianyao appeared to be unhappy, but her words were filled with concern and care.
“Oh, I just happened to be passing by,” Su Chen carelessly replied.
“Passing by?” Zhu Xianyao was stunned. “So then where did you go exactly?”
“Of course to the Rong Clan,” Su Chen replied matter-of-factly.
“What!?” Zhu Xianyao was badly startled.
Are you crazy?
She instinctively asked, “What were you doing at the Rong Clan?”
“I went to go investigate why exactly they would pick a fight with you.”
Su Chen walked over and embraced Zhu Xianyao. “You know that I have the ability to camouflage myself, so I can slip in.”
Zhu Xianyao gulped. “But you cannot deceive a Spirit Burning Realm cultivator.”
Once a person’s cultivation base reached the Spirit Burning Realm and opened Divine Palaces within their bodies, their consciousness power would surge, and their perception would increase as a result. As long as they possessed any detection skills, it was very hard to pull the wool over their eyes. After all, humans were not as easy to trick as Ravagers.
“That’s why I went a bit early, right before sunrise. That’s when Yin and Yang are exchanging places. Spirit Burning Realm cultivators must cultivate their Yin and Yang, while Thought Manifestation Realm cultivators must receive the Heavenly Temple, so they all must cultivate during this time and cannot care about anything else,” Su Chen chuckled.
“It’s still very dangerous!” Zhu Xianyao said as she clenched her fists anxiously.
This was the difference between the way Zhu Xianyao and Su Chen saw things. To Zhu Xianyao, infiltrating the Rong Clan was incredibly risky, and Su Chen could have died if even the slightest detail went wrong. To Su Chen, however, this kind of risk was nothing. After all, he had gone through so many tumultuous experiences at this point. The Rong Clan was really nothing to write home about.
However, the reality was that the Rong Clan was strong enough to easily destroy five Su Chen’s at once - at least, at this point in time.
Many people would much more highly evaluate their ability to handle risk and danger after obtaining good benefits following a high-pressure situation. The benefit of this attitude was that the person became harder to fluster in these high-pressure situations, but the drawback was that they would begin to underestimate the risk involved in performing certain actions. This was exactly how most people eventually ended up capsizing their boat in a narrow strait.
However, this was a necessary attitude to have. Otherwise, how could you accomplish anything great?
Even if I flip my boat, you are still merely a narrow strait, and I still despise you.
However, Su Chen very much enjoyed Zhu Xianyao’s concern and worry for him.
He grabbed Zhu Xianyao’s hand. “The Moonstones have almost been completely mined out.”
Zhu Xianyao wanted to say something more, but Su Chen’s words completely erased whatever she had been thinking of. “What?”
Su Chen replied, “The Rong Clan’s Moonstone Mine has almost been depleted. They must find a new mine, or else it will be very difficult for them to sustain themselves.”
Zhu Xianyao said, “But there haven’t been any new veins of ore discovered recently.”
“That’s why they must seize them by force. Since they are going to have to fight you one way or another, and your bloodlines are growing stronger, they would rather not delay.”
“But didn’t you say that they could still survive if they moved locations, and that they didn’t necessarily need to start a large-scale war?”
“It seems my analysis was wrong,” Su Chen sighed.
Zhu Xianyao covered her mouth and giggled when she saw him sighing like this.
She enjoyed seeing Su Chen like this. As a woman who was used to being in control, she particularly enjoyed seeing men frown and sigh - even if that man was her lover.
Perhaps this was also because the impression Su Chen had left on her was too deep. Whenever she saw Su Chen frowning like this, she felt a mysterious sense of victory.
“You silly girl.” Su Chen pinched her cheeks. “If you don’t eat, the food is going to get cold.”
Zhu Xianyao happily sat down and began to eat.
“Right, the Rong Clan should have kept this information extremely secret. How did you manage to find out about it?”
Su Chen replied, “I disguised myself as one of the Rong Clan’s accountants and read through their most recent logs.
“Reading accounting logs in the morning?” Zhu Xianyao was startled.
“I read pretty fast,” Su Chen laughed.
His consciousness power was higher than two thousand units, and he possessed the consciousness crystal. As such, his ability to read and retain information was extraordinary.
“What else is there?” Zhu Xianyao asked.
Su Chen replied, “They invited the Qian Clan.”
Zhu Xianyao’s expression changed drastically. “The White Deer Qian Clan?”
Like the Zhu and Rong Clans, the White Deer Qian Clan also possessed a Demonic Emperor Bloodline. They were based in Yunnan City and weren’t weaker than the Zhu Clan in the slightest.
If the Qian Clan were to ally with the Rong Clan to deal with the Zhu Clan, the Zhu Clan was doomed. This was perhaps the main reason why they hadn’t unleashed an all-out attack yet.
They were waiting for the Qian Clan to arrive.
The Zhu Clan had considered the possibility that the Rong Clan might ask for help, but in the ended they had deemed it improbable.
Zhu Xianyao said, “Demonic Emperor Bloodline clans have existed for a long time, so each of them have trump cards unique to their clan. Even if we are at a disadvantage, the Zhu Clan has ways of making them pay a heavy price if they push us too far. This price is definitely high enough that they cannot accept it, so outsiders normally wouldn’t get involved in a battle between two long-standing clans. At the very least, I am aware of trump cards the clan possesses that would even threaten a Thought Manifestation expert. The Qian Clan...... Why would they do something like that?”
“There’s only one possible explanation, which is that the rewards they have been promised vastly outweigh the price, making it worth their time to take such a risk.”
“What kind of rewards?”
“What about everything belonging to the Zhu Clan?” Su Chen calmly said. “As long as the Qian Clan is willing to lend their support, they can take everything belonging to the Zhu Clan.”
Zhu Xianyao was taken aback.
How could that be the case? If the Rong Clan was so willing to let go of everything, then why even fight with the Zhu Clan in the first place? It was totally pointless. Why wouldn’t they just maintain the current status quo?
There was a difference. The Rong Clan would definitely lose many lives, many experts they had spent lots of resources on training, and perhaps even some of their elders or leadership. However, the Rong Clan would not reap any of the benefits.
The Rong Clan was clearly intent on harming others without any benefit to themselves!
No wonder the Qian Clan had agreed to step in. They would fight with the Rong Clan but got to keep all of the profits. Who wouldn’t be willing to do something like that?
Zhu Xianyao seemed to realize something and said resolutely, “There must be a problem with the Rong Clan! There’s no way this situation is that simple!”
“Yes,” Su Chen sighed. “Unfortunately, even I have no idea what that problem is.”
The information he was able to glean from the accounts was limited. Even Su Chen didn’t know what motivation the Rong Clan had for doing what they were doing, but he was very clear that the Rong Clan was not insane.
“We must immediately tell my mother!” Zhu Xianyao said as she stood up.
This information was too important. It was impossible for her to remain seated any longer.
“Don’t be in such a hurry.” Su Chen pushed her back down. “The Qian Clan won’t get here for a few more days, so we have some time. If you tell your mother now, the Rong Clan might detect it.”
Zhu Xianyao’s heart trembled. “You mean someone from the Zhu Clan is looking to sell us out?”
“It’s merely a possibility,” Su Chen said indifferently. “Before we figure out how news of the Zhu Clan’s bloodline becoming stronger reached the Rong Clan, everything is still on the table.”
“My mother will not sell out the Zhu Clan!”
“I trust that she would not, but who can say whether or not she will tell someone else? Even if you instruct her very strictly, how can you be confident that she will not leak the information? There are all kinds of strange Origin Skills around. For instance, it’s entirely possible that someone has a skill that allows them to listen in on other peoples’ conversations,” Su Chen calmly said.
Zhu Xianyao froze, unable to think of anything to say for some time.
After a long while, she said with some resentment, “So what should we do?”
Su Chen replied, “Find the person who is leaking information first.”
“How will we look for them?”
Su Chen fell silent.
He lowered his head in thought for some time before saying, “I do have a method that will help us figure out who is selling out the Zhu Clan, and it can also help us determine the real reason that the Rong Clan is doing all of this. However, this plan involves many experts, and will be extremely expensive.”
Zhu Xianyao was a bit confused. Why would it be expensive if it involved lots of experts? And how expensive was expensive?
Zhu Xianyao said, “How many Origin Stones do you need? I will ask Mother for you.”
Su Chen shook his head. “I’m not referring to Origin Stones.”
He was obviously planning on using the Origin Bone Scepter. With this item, finding the answer was obviously incredibly easy.
However, the cost of using the Origin Bone Scepter to investigate a situation was much more costly than searching for the truth. The more people the prediction affected, the more variable the outcome, and the more variable the outcome, the more costly the prediction.
The Zhu Clan needed to know two answers: who was selling out the Zhu Clan, and what the Rong Clan’s motivation for their actions were.
The number of people implicated in these answers and their strength was unknown, making it impossible to determine how high the cost would be.
Su Chen was likely wealthy enough to afford this kind of expenditure, but he preferred to lower the cost if possible.
He didn’t intend for the Zhu Clan to pull out their wallets on his behalf. Rather, Su Chen had discovered that finding clues and eliminating certain outcomes lowered the cost of the prediction.
For instance, if you knew that one person had just murdered another person, you would be able to infer that the murderer would likely be targeted for revenge on the same day.
This was quite a simple and logical inference.
In this inference, the murder was a known fact, and the possibility of revenge was an outcome.
When the facts and outcomes lined up logically, and both parties lacked a reason to change the outcome, the situation would develop normally.
If, during this process, some powerful individual were to appear and force the person seeking revenge to stop, then the outcome would change. This powerful individual was thus a variable.
The Origin Bone Scepter required a big sacrifice to predict how humans would behave because humans were inherent variables.
The more people involved, the greater the variability of the outcomes.
When countless individuals were introducing variability, future outcomes would become incredibly variable. Under these kinds of circumstances, it would take a tremendous sacrifice to force the Origin Bone Scepter into giving an answer.
But what if variables were removed?
Using the example above, if someone knew that the murderer was definitely going to run into the powerful individual and had made adequate preparations, then the variables would become constants, and a prediction would be much easier to make.
If the people from the clan seeking revenge were to find out about that, that was a constant that also needed to be factored into predicting possible outcomes.
Actually, what changes would take place in the future depended on the reasoning and speculation of the parties involved.
In other words, even if the party seeking revenge did not possess the Origin Bone Scepter, they could still make a prediction. Under these circumstances, if someone who did possess the Origin Bone Scepter were to use it, the cost would be much lower. This was because the Origin Bone Scepter was not being used to brute-force analyze the possible outcomes but instead following a person’s own logical reasoning.
Simply put, future outcomes were determined by countless variables. Every variable you removed would decrease the difficulty of making the prediction and thus the cost.
As such, Su Chen hoped to be able to get rid of a few variables first and then inquire so that the cost would decrease greatly, and the chances of success would increase as a result.