Jiang Chen's Kunpeng Meteoric Escape was faster than the average great emperor in absolute terms. Within the residence, his speed was increased even more.
Because Emperor Heartcloud was in enemy territory, he could barely use eighty percent of his cultivation. Therefore, Jiang Chen intentionally slowed himself down a bit to allow Emperor Heartcloud to catch up.
From the outside, the residence didn't look particularly big. However, its internals hid a whole new world. Veluriyam's young lord led Emperor Heartcloud in panicked circles all around the space.
He didn't lead the emperor into his trap immediately because he saw the man's natural caution. If he had led the enemy to a predetermined place immediately, the great emperor would surely have doubts about what he was doing.
A bit of a circuitous movement was needed to gain his enemy's trust first. Jiang Chen wanted Emperor Heartcloud to believe that his prey was in a pinch, and there was a very real chance for him to land the catch. Only then could the hunter and hunted reverse roles.
"Jiang Chen, do you think your strange residence will save you?" The lengthy chase was exasperating Emperor Heartcloud.
"Hmph, even if it can't save me, someone as weak as you will never be able to kill me." Jiang Chen intentionally provoked the emperor on his tail.
"How arrogant of you!" Emperor Heartcloud was extremely displeased, pushing himself to accelerate even further. Clearly, he was still partially observing and testing the waters. Jiang Chen's lack of a next move was gradually relieving his worries.
"Maybe this kid really doesn't have any more solutions. He managed to kill those three emperors through a numbers advantage, but his minions have all been sent off because of false generosity. What can he possibly do to me by himself?" This was what Emperor Heartcloud reaffirmed to himself.
With his goal in sight, Emperor Heartcloud's ambition blossomed.
"If I can catch that kid and get the recipes for the Pinecrane and Emperor Supremacy Pills, what need do I have for following Emperor Pillzenith's orders? Why can't I be the decider of my own fate?" Emperor Heartcloud was one of Emperor Pillzenith's closest loyalists, but he wasn't free of his own desires and aspirations.
The more palpable said ambitions were, the stronger his lust to achieve it.
"I need to take down that kid, caution be damned!" Emperor Heartcloud sped up suddenly once more. With a vicious cackle, he materialized a long silver chain in his hand.
At the end of the chain was an enormous claw.
"Soul-Gripping Chain, go!" Without hesitation, the emperor delivered a lightning-fast swing at the young man in front of him.
The Soul-Gripping Chain was his favorite treasure. It could extend or retract at will. It would suddenly appear out of thin air to capture its target and rarely missed.
With its lightning speed, it arrived behind Jiang Chen in the blink of an eye.
The young lord seemed to sense the danger behind him as well and suddenly increased his speed, avoiding the first attack.
"Hmph! Do you think you can escape?" Emperor Heartcloud shook his arm and emitted a series of ghastly cracking sounds from the chain. Its speed increased as well, as if a mythical python emerging mightily from a mountain.
Just when he thought victory was at hand, light suddenly flashed in front of him and eight bizarre stone sculptures appeared around him.
The sculptures confined him solidly within the center of the area.
"What the hell is this?" In his great surprise, the great emperor energetically swept sideways with his chain and brought it crashing down with the force of great army on the sculptures. "Break!"
Clang, clang, clang!
The chain kicked up a series of eye-piercing sparks on the statues, sending out fearsome ripples as if it'd clashed against metal.
The sweep of the chain didn't shake the statues at all, much less deal any fatal hits to them. The terrible blow had only left moderate scratches on them. What was most depressing of all was that the statues seemed to have self-recovery skills.
By the time the chain followed up with a maddened second assault, the scratches had noticeably filled in. It once again smashed onto the eight statues with the same awe-inspiring, harmless momentum.
"How are these things so tough?" Even one as strong as Emperor Heartcloud was losing his cool. He'd never thought that his pursuit of Jiang Chen would be blocked by eight stone statues!
But after forcing himself to calm down, he noticed that the eight seemed to correspond with some sort of formation. The formation was outwardly defensive and inwardly restraining. It was a terrifying dual purpose formation.
"This brat has a lot of tricks up his sleeve alright!" Despite his surprise, the great emperor wasn't afraid. He'd heard of how Emperor Shura had ended up in a draw against the young lord during the Veluriyam Vassal Meeting. Shura had possessed absolute advantage then, but even he hadn't been able to immediately break through the kid's defensive formations.
"Can this eight statue and formation combination be the one that Jiang Chen used against Shura? This brat is a well-rounded genius alright! He's greatly skilled in both pill and formation dao. He'll be a great threat to Pillfire if not taken care of."
Though Heartcloud was surprised, he wasn't scrambling. He wrapped his chain around one of the statues and flung it into the air. He wanted to crush it to pieces and create an opening.
But when he did so, the other seven also began to move, hurtling towards the great emperor like cannonballs. They had the momentum of meteoric mountains, greatly shocking their opponent.
"Damn it! I fell into the brat's trap!" Rage boiled in the great emperor. He thought he'd been as careful as possible, that there couldn't possibly be any more traps lying in wait. But still he'd fallen into a trap!
"Kid, do you think you can keep me down with these things?" In his fury, the Soul-Gripping Chain in hand danced even more wildly.
Each sweep sent a statue flying, but they would boomerang back tirelessly whenever they were launched into the air.
"Ah forget it, I can't keep single-mindedly fighting in a formation." Though the great emperor was infuriated, his still maintained reason. He knew that it was highly likely he'd end off worse for the wear if he wanted to keep fighting.
The best of the thirty-six stratagems was to flee!
His chain extended in the air, folding back on itself to form several dozen chains and a passage through the air. Heartcloud folded in on himself and prepared to flee.
But at this moment, countless vines suddenly appeared beneath his feet. They were in two colors of red and blue and seemed to have spontaneously grown from the earth.
The Bewitching Lotus of Fire and Ice roiled furiously towards the great emperor. Its form had continuously evolved as Jiang Chen reached new heights in cultivation. In its current state, it was making full use of all the advantages of an ancient lifeform. Thousands of vines snaked forward like tentacles.
"Pathetic little trick!" The great emperor wasn't impressed and raised his hand, forming a sharp blade of qi in the air and sweeping it downwards.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh!
The vines were cut through cleanly like a field of wheat being reaped. But at the same time, the eight statues crowded forward together, with one of them smashing right into Heartcloud's ribcage.
Even with his cultivation level, the impact sent him reeling.
"I can't keep fighting, I can't keep fighting like this!" The man wasn't made of steel. His resolve from earlier weakened further and he shouted and hollered inside the residence, wanting those outside to come in and helped him. But naturally, his efforts were all futile.
This was Jiang Chen's palace and all was under his control. Heartcloud's voice didn't travel outside at all.
A hint of a smile clung to the young lord's lips as he observed the panicking great emperor. Everything was proceeding according to plan. The stronger the great emperor resisted, the slower his consciousness would be under the effects of the Great Dream of Spring and Autumn Formation.
This wasn't just a formation to trap enemies. At their highest levels, trap formations would make their targets forget they were trapped and convince them they were in a dream. The targets would ultimately fall into a deep, senseless sleep.
So although this formation seemed harmless, it was a sophisticated construct that many formation masters wouldn't be able to learn had they wanted to.
Heartcloud didn't have much of a reaction at first, but he felt a twinge of alarm after the continued torment of the statues and Eight Trigram Formation. He felt that his sea of consciousness was a pot of glue — sluggish, heavy, and wanting to drift off to sleep.
He was a great emperor after all. The innate sense of alarm belonging to such an expert subtly clanged bells of danger for him during this confused state.
"Now is the time!" Jiang Chen could sense that the great emperor's thoughts were beginning to hesitate. This was the perfect time for him to attack! If he delayed and his enemy recovered his clarity, his attack would much less effective than he wanted.
It would be immensely difficult to take down Heartcloud if Jiang Chen didn't land an extraordinarily effective attack.
The Heavenly Chalice Sword Formation was ready! Sword light surged as if an opening hand formed in the Milky Way. Countless celestial bodies released terrifying power, pouring out over the lands.
Sixteen flying swords howled and soared like enormous dragons that could swallow suns and moons, calling upon boundless momentum. The terrifying power condensed to a singular, explosive point and pummeled Emperor Heartcloud.