Now demonized, Sir Miao had ranked up several times both in terms of speed and power. But no matter how much he increased his raw characteristics, each and every one of his techniques was easily predictable. Jiang Chen's Golden Cicada bloodline allowed him to ignore Sir Miao's demonic clouds and his tempered body countered the melee attacks. Therefore, he felt no pressure whatsoever despite Sir Miao's rampage.
However, Jiang Chen didn't skimp on making full use of his extraordinary perception. When Sir Miao began a new pouncing attack from his demonic cloud, Jiang Chen paid close attention to it. The trajectory he saw made his heart skip a beat. "Careful, gentlemen!"
He made several hand seals as he called out, creating streams of magnetic force between Sir Miao and the other two wandering cultivators. The force couldn't shackle Sir Miao completely, but it was effective to a certain degree.
Thanks to Jiang Chen's reminder, Old Man Clearcloud and the Silversand Cavalier realized just in time that they were the real targets. As well-established emperor realm cultivators, they didn't let surprise freeze them.
Both men dodged outwards. In terms of speed, the three wandering cultivators had been on the same level. But Sir Miao in demon mode was twice as fast as before and now had a clear advantage in speed. If not for the magnetic force affecting Sir Miao's movement, the sudden attack would've spelled their demise. Being touched by the demonic cloud and invaded by its bloodlust meant that one would become a demonic puppet within a very short amount of time. Sir Miao's puppet, to be specific.
Yet how could Jiang Chen not know what Sir Miao was planning? The corrupted cultivator wanted to turn Old Man Clearcloud and the Silversand Cavalier into demons so that he could turn the tables. Jiang Chen wasn't scared of having the tables turned on him, but he didn't want to see the demonic race gain in strength. Especially around Cloudshatter Mountain, an extra demon was an extra threat.
"Back off a little, friends. That man's demonized mode won't last. He's burning his own life force to fight and it'll cost him a great deal to maintain this status." Jiang Chen understood Sir Miao's methods well. He knew that the other young man wasn't actually a pure blooded demon, but had obtained some methods of the demon race.
Not having a demon bloodline meant that he was forcibly using demonic arts. That required using his bloodline as fuel. Though it increased his prowess in the short term, he could hardly keep it up for long. Furthermore, the aftereffects of doing so were quite severe.
After an instance of entering a demonized mode, several days or more of recovery was needed. But, if one practiced demonic methods to an authentic degree, then one's body would gradually become the same as a demon's over time. Sir Miao was evidently not at that level yet, though. Otherwise, a third level emperor realm like him could've easily taken out experts like Old Man Clearcloud and the Silversand Cavalier.
Jiang Chen's reminder was the cue for Old Man Clearcloud to back off a long way. "Brother Silversand," he called out. "Let's watch for now and help if our young friend needs it."
The cavalier disagreed. "Old Brother Clearcloud, Sir Miao is in a demonic rage. If we're scared of danger, how is our young friend over there supposed to take care of him? Plus, the Resplendent Emerald Veranda's master seems the mastermind here. Sir Miao is just one of his henchmen. If we can't take down a mere henchman, how can we expect to live when the Veranda master's conspiracy comes to fruition?"
The Silversand Cavalier was more farsighted than most. "Old Brother Clearcloud, our way out has been sealed. Either we die like Granny Goldneedle did, or we put our lives on the line and fight our way out."
Old Man Clearcloud became serious when he heard the analysis. Sir Miao's undiscouraged assault on the Silversand Cavalier and Old Man Clearcloud also enraged Jiang Chen. He pushed his magnetic golden mountain to its limits. A mad torrent of magnetic energy flooded downwards like a golden river.
Guiding them with hand seals, Jiang Chen commanded two rays of aureate light towards the two wandering cultivators on his side. Both of them were surprised at this radiant development.
"Don't worry, gentlemen. I'm giving you an extra layer of protection."
Old Man Clearcloud looked hesitant at that, but the cavalier nodded plainly.
"Alright, thank you for your kind assistance." The light wrapped around the Silversand Cavalier, forming intricate markings that covered him in a sort of golden armor before long. Seeing that there was no problems, Old Man Clearcloud tossed aside his own misgivings, allowing the light to protect him as well.
Jiang Chen had used his magnetic energy to enshroud the two of them in magnetic armor. The armor had phenomenal defensive potency. Though it didn't quite match up to the Imperial Advent Defense Talisman, it was at least a third as good. More than enough to take a hit from a demonic cloud, in any case.
Sir Miao was furious. "Mind your own business, kid!"
"You're a demon through and through," Jiang Chen sneered. "Know your place!"
He pressed his hands downward as he spoke, causing the towering magnetic mountain to crash in the same direction. A glowing beam shot out from the mountain after a muttered incantation. A colossal giant descended from the heavens, his muscles rippling with power. It was as if a deity had showed himself amongst mortals.
The Lord of the Golden Seal! Jiang Chen had summoned the mountain's final guardian. Roaring into the firmament, the Lord of the Golden Seal shook both of his arms fiercely. The gesture gave off an impression of explosive strength.
"Crush him!" Jiang Chen ordered.
The agreement between the Lord and Jiang Chen required the former to follow orders to the letter. The magnetic golden mountain's pressure on Sir Miao immediately intensified, limiting the corrupted human's freedom of movement more and more. As for the Lord of the Golden Seal himself, he charged forward like an arrow, jabbing a fist at Sir Miao in a furious smash.
The gentleman was very fast indeed, but the simple attack almost landed on him nevertheless. The first punch ignited the mountain guardian's bloodlust. His fists quickly turned into a storm of pummeling motions, advancing with unrivaled ferocity towards Sir Miao.
Sir Miao's demonic cloud was essentially nonexistent in the face of this assault. Whether the cloud tried to attack or defend, it held no advantage before the Lord of the Golden Seal's flurry of invincible blows. Demonic methods were strong, but not omnipotent or unbeatable.
The most fearsome thing about the demonic cloud was its supreme corrosiveness. The fact that it could infect bloodlines and take cultivators for its own was absolutely horrific. That ability alone was enough to terrorize any regular cultivator who faced it. One misstep in the defenses of their consciousness was enough to let the demonic cloud consume them.
But the Lord of the Golden Seal wasn't a human cultivator, being a spirit born of the mountain. There was no bloodline to be invaded by the demonic cloud. It was uncertain if he could even be considered a living thing.
Everything had its pros and cons. The magnetic golden mountain wasn't particularly suppressive of the demonic clouds, but neither could the clouds do anything to the Lord of the Golden Seal.
However, the mountain's magnetic energy was able to lock down Sir Miao reasonably effectively. His demonic cloud gave him no counter advantage and made Sir Miao's position rather awkward. In fact, he could do little else besides passively take a beating.
Under the Lord of the Golden Seal's tempest of attacks, none of Sir Miao's methods did anything of note. Raw force prevailed on this day. Sir Miao was chased off like a homeless stray beneath Old Man Clearcloud and the Silversand Cavalier's shocked eyes. His yelps definitely matched the comparison.
There was no way a miserable fight like this could last very long. A few moments of barely holding on was enough to incentivize Sir Miao into a full-on retreat. Unfortunately for him, the pressure of the golden mountain prevented him from using any of his speed. No matter how much he tried to flee, the mountain kept him in the same place. Meanwhile, Jiang Chen stood to the side like a bystander, throwing in the occasional sneak attack for good measure. It was annoying enough for Sir Miao to cough up blood.
"If you're a real man, kid, then put away your treasure! Let's have a fair fight," Sir Miao shrieked angrily.
Jiang Chen wasn't nearly stupid enough to agree to something as naive as that. Even Old Man Clearcloud and the Silversand Cavalier felt that Sir Miao was being too shameless. What, he was allowed to use demonic methods as a race traitor, but the other guy wasn't allowed a simple treasure?
Jiang Chen snickered. "Sir Miao, you're just one of the demons' goons. I have no time to waste on you. These are your last moments. Lay down and die!"
A crimson halo appeared around his tempered body as he spoke. A powerful force began to invisibly gather behind him in the next moment. It was like a blazing sun was hidden, on the verge of erupting forth at any moment. The upward heat waves cast by the celestial body created a formidable aura.
Jiang Chen shook both his arms. Heralded by brilliant light, a sea of flames poured out into the open. From that sea grew a strong presence that covered the skies, a vermilion image noble and pure.
It was the image of a Vermilion Bird!
Though Jiang Chen didn't have the bloodline to back it up, the image had nevertheless been created out of the essences of prehistoric skyfire. Paired with his tempered body's image-based methods, he was able to deliver a killing stroke.
"To ashes with you!" Jiang Chen cried out. The image swept a tapestry of endless fire towards Sir Miao, hemming him in from every direction.
Old Man Clearcloud and the Silversand Cavalier couldn't close their mouths. The attack was incomprehensibly powerful. Before this, they hadn't quite understood why the Veranda master had delegated the four of them to kill this young man. But now, after seeing what he could truly do, they knew how foolish they had been to underestimate him.