Jiang Chen wasn't someone easily dealt with, but Emperor Shura likewise wasn't about to resign himself to fate halfway through. After a while of golden monster harrassment, Emperor Shura finally understood Jiang Chen's strategic intent. In his fury, he completely ignored them and poured all of his energy in crazed offense against the formation instead.
Emperor Shura knew that Jiang Chen wanted to maintain this impasse. To end up in a draw was in itself a victory for Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Conversely, it would mean that all of his effort over the few years was for nothing.
The great emperor was absolutely unwilling to accept such an outcome. He needed to attack and break the formation apart. Howling in anger, he spurred himself to new heights. His offensive power flared in strength once more. Bloody aura creeped out menacingly from the demon blade; it roiled crazily towards the formation to reap the living. Once the formation was done, so was his opponent!
"I must break apart this stupid formation. I must kill that kid! I must become the ruler of Veluriyam Capital! Anyone who stands in my way will fall by my blade! Die, die, DIE!" The ambitious emperor was drunk with bloodlust.
But Jiang Chen fought with the same recklessness. Emperor Shura may have gone berserk to enhance his body and offensive strength, but the young lord of Veluriyam had no qualms about tapping into every reserve of strength he had to counter. He drained all he could from the Earth Bodhisattva Orb in order to reinforce his Eight Trigram Boulder Formation and his eight statues.
Both sides having increased their power, the battle's scales remained rather balanced.
"How is this possible?" Emperor Shura wanted to cough up blood. The prospect of his opponent increasing the defense's effectiveness had been wholly unexpected. How could he win if things went on like this? "Does that kid have no limit?"
Frankly, the emperor didn't believe it. He redoubled his efforts with grit teeth. Each saber swing was quicker and more furious than the last. The statues were assailed with with a tempestuous storm of increasing ferocity. He knew that as long as just one statue was shattered, he would have a way past the outer layer of the formation. Such a breach would enable him to exploit the weakness in a much more important way.
A formation was one entity. Damaging part of it typically meant that the rest would also follow. Emperor Shura knew very well that a single crack was enough for his blade to sneak in and find his target. Given that his opponent was a young cultivator, he was unlikely to be able to dodge the attack. The astoundingly potent formation was the entire basis for young lord Zhen's gambit against him. The young man would be worthless without it!
But though he had a plan in mind, it wasn't one easy to accomplish. No matter how fiercely he attacked, the regenerative powers of the eight stone statues far surpassed his understanding. A forceful strike that had left a deep scar a while ago was now only a faint mark.
Actually, were the eight statues becoming stronger?
What's going here? Such a strange situation was incomprehensible for Emperor Shura. It was one thing if the statues were made of an exceptionally durable material. But how could unliving things intelligently improve themselves like this? Were they sentient somehow and adapting to his attacks?
Emperor Shura didn't want to go on. He felt that any further consideration would push him over the brink into insanity. He could not continue such a fruitless attack. His mind ran at top speed. Much of the time limit had already elapsed. Perhaps an hour or so remained, but that was still a reasonable duration to get something done in.
Still, there was no time to waste. If Emperor Shura expended much more energy without seeing returns, he would lose too much momentum. Four hours of continuous strenuous battle was too much even for the hardiest of men. More importantly, much of it had also gone to waste. Great emperor cultivators had limits to their strength, just like everyone else. No mortal expert could possibly have infinite energy.
However, there was a despondency that tugged at his heartstrings. I'm tired after attacking so long. Shouldn't that kid be tired too? His defense should cost him more force of will and vigor, shouldn't it? Is he an actual machine?
Emperor Shura had many questions. Presumably, such a potent defense was as taxing to the defender as it was on the attacker. But then… why did it seem like the kid wasn't tired at all? The emperor absolutely couldn't understand it. Those from the Shura Retreat were just as perplexed.
"How can this be? What monstrosity is that kid, really? Does his accursed formation truly not have a weakness? Daoist Shura's Rain of Blood didn't manage much of a scratch." Emperor Vastsea was the most dissatisfied among the rest. If he had to deal with that technique in an arena, he would have a very hard time. Why then could Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord answer it with such ease?
Li Jiancheng's eyes were full of hate. "Master, you have to kill that kid. You just have to! You can't let him rule Veluriyam Capital! Once he does, will there be any room for us to survive?"
Shura Retreat's young lord was a proud man. There was a common saying that two tigers couldn't share the same hunting ground. Li Jiancheng had observed firsthand his master's helplessness against Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord.
Such stalwart fortitude from a potential rival drove him to despair. He was a peak that Li Jiancheng could not possibly hope to cross, regardless of the size of his ego. He would not suffer someone like that to remain at Veluriyam Capital. He desperately wanted to avoid having to live with such a nightmarish situation for the rest of his life.
Finally, Emperor Shura stopped his barrage and calmed down. Leaning on his blade, he looked seriously into the distance. His eyes regarded the Eight Trigram Boulder Formation and the eight stone statues with a pondering look. His furious expression faded away, giving way to thoughtfulness. The emperor had regained his composure at last.
The limited amount of remaining time forced him to reconsider his situation. He knew that a berserk status could increase his will to fight and give him additional energy, but he would have to trade away his rationality in exchange. Against someone as clever as young lord Zhen, doing so was extremely unwise.
If he could not break through the defense system by brute force, then he had to apply his mind to the task instead. Emperor Shura wasn't a complete fool. After calming down, he immediately began to brew up ideas.
"That kid's defense system is composed of interlocking rings and layers. The eight statues are only the vanguard. If I can destroy one of them, then the outside would be imperfect, creating a flaw in the formation. Thus, I must start with those eight statues. But my strength isn't enough right now, hmm…"
If I can't do it with raw strength, why not do something to occupy them or shift them aside? If destroying them was too hard, he could temporarily control them, couldn't he?
A flash of inspiration struck Emperor Shura's mind.
"Yes, let's try that!" The ambitious emperor was cheered up for the first time in three hours. He finally had a potential path to a solution. Leaning on his blade, he drew across the air with his other hand. Violet rings appeared out of that nothingness, wrapping themselves around Emperor Shura's arm.
"Are those… the Shura Rings of Life and Death?"
On Sacred Peafowl Mountain's side, Emperor Void couldn't help but call out with an ashen face, "This is bad! It seems that Shura has found a way to deal with young lord Zhen."
Emperor Shura snarled without much decorum, sweeping his ringed arm forward. The violet circles flew into the air, forming trails of light behind them. A number of colorful, magical comets tore across the sky.
The rings began to grow and grow, each becoming three meters wide. They headed straight for the eight stone statues.
"Hmm? What's he planning to do?" Jiang Chen was unsettled by this strange sight. Was Emperor Shura attempting to hold his statues in place?
The Eight Trigram Boulder Formation was formidable on its own, but without the statues' deterrence of the majority of incoming attacks, it wasn't going to be enough to stop a berserk Emperor Shura.
The violet rings had a terrifying restrictiveness imbued. If they were allowed to latch onto the statues, any amount of restriction on the statues' mobility would break the link between them and formation. The statues would no longer be able to draw power from the Earth Bodhisattva Orb then.
Without the formation and the Orb's spirit energy to support them, the statues would be significantly weaker. Emperor Shura would very likely be able to destroy them. But it was even more likely that the emperor wouldn't have any interest in them whatsoever. Instead, he would attack the Eight Trigram Boulder Formation directly. As soon as his formation fell, he would be vulnerable to a direct assault.
Despite knowing all of this, Jiang Chen didn't have a solution. He felt only anxiety at his inability to come up with an imminent strategy. The violet rings pulsed with increasing magnitude of restraint. It wouldn't be long now before the statues were taken from his control. Gritting his teeth, Sacred Peafowl Mountain's young lord executed a series of hand seals that recalled the eight statues back into his formation disk.
Having removed a significant obstacle, Emperor Shura beamed delightedly.