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The conversation with Wellspring enlightened Jiang Chen, deepening the latter's understanding of the human domain.

"A wise man's words are worth ten years of study. Old Brother Hui, I sincerely admire your knowledge and deep insights," the young lord praised wholeheartedly.

"What good is scholarship if I don't put it into practice? I can't compare to Emperor Peafowl. If everyone was willing to act for the greater good like him, would we need fear the demons? How would humanity not flourish?" Grief tinged Wellspring's voice.

Infighting and scheming between the various factions would only lead to disaster. Mankind's current strength was already dismal when compared to ancient times. Continued internal strife simply added insult to injury.

Jiang Chen comforted him. "Don't worry. Though there are signs of a demon resurgence, but we should be safe for a few decades still, from what I've seen. A few of them might stir up some trouble, but they won't be able make big waves."

He had travelled to the sealed lands and seen the situation for himself. Most of the demons were laying low, far from the restlessness surrounding an oncoming cataclysm. But of course, once they mobilized to that degree, then they would be on the cusp of launching an invasion.

Localized raids would continue to appear in the meantime, as proven by his clash against Emperor Bloodmalva in Great Scarlet, but he was optimistic no large-scale invasion would occur within thirty to fifty years.

In the ancient times, not all of the many demon tribes were sealed. Some scattered clans had been imprisoned elsewhere in the human domain. However, surviving remnants might stir to activity and cause untold harm if left to their own devices. After all, rather than destructiveness, bloodline assimilation was the demons' most fearsome ability.

They weren't a fertile race, so the invasiveness of their blood was their greatest weapon. A single demon tribe could turn a sea of humans into obedient slaves, creating an army of puppets. They could do that to a thousand other species as well.

"Old Brother Hui, refine the kunpeng bloodline as fast as you can. With your excellent constitution, there will be ample opportunities  for you to shine in the future." Jiang Chen didn't need the great emperor on the trip to Phoenix Cry. Bringing along Peerless and the Jiao brothers was enough.

The young lord now exercised utter caution before each trip. He didn't feel at ease without inspecting the young lord residence's Nine Sparks Petalstorm Formation one last time before setting out.

He'd worked on the formation whenever free, making it increasingly impregnable and more stable. Now, it would prove a challenging obstacle even if Pillzenith were to charge into Veluriyam with an army of great emperors.

His preparations complete, he finally left with Peerless and the Jiao brothers.

Relative to the entire human domain, Phoenix Cry Lower Region was a remote region. The Purple Smoke Sect was a great local faction, but insignificant when placed into the Upper Eight Regions.

Jiang Chen snuck inside the sect without fanfare. Pinpointing the forefather's location, he landed outside the latter's palace.

For him, the sect's defensive formations might as well not exist. He immediately spotted the many flaws within, slipping inside the forbidden area without anyone's notice.

The forefather was meditating when he suddenly sensed a slight fluctuation outside. In the next moment, a mysterious force broke through his residence's defenses like a hot knife through butter.

"Who goes there?" He turned pale with alarm.

"Zi Tan, I trust you've been well." Jiang Chen came into view, smiling in amusement at the forefather's fright. In truth, it was deliberate intimidation.

The young lord hadn't taken the forefather's words at face value. He'd sprung a surprise visit to uncover any potential schemes, but he'd been too suspicious judging by the old man's reaction.

"Y-young lord Jiang Chen?" Zi Tan froze at first, then beamed with understanding. "Young lord, you kept your promise to grace us with your presence!"

"Let's drop the formalities." Jiang Chen waved his hand. "Your sect seems rather quiet."

The forefather sighed. "We've already dispatched our men. There's a technique I haven't mastered yet, so I stayed behind to meditate over it. I depart in no more than five days. All the great factions of Phoenix Cry have invited their backers this time. Young lord, thank the heavens we're blessed with your assistance!" He flushed with excitement. "Everyone in the sect would be ecstatic if they knew!"

Jiang Chen interrupted bluntly with a wave of the hand. "Save your trump cards for Agarwood's exploration, there's no need to show off ahead of time."

The forefather had forgotten himself out of happiness, but abruptly came back to his senses and nodded hurriedly. "Yes, yes, the young lord is wise."

They might lose the initiative if he showed his hand too soon. Jiang Chen's reputation was undisputed, but there was no shortage of mighty figures in this world.

"Tell me then, which factions are involved?" The young lord cut straight to the chase. He'd always been intrigued by secret realms, and the forefather's depiction of the strange happenings in Agarwood's secret realm had roused his interest. Undoubtedly, something was fishy there.

The forefather sighed. "Agarwood belongs in Phoenix Cry territory, so the secret realm should be our property by right. That's what all the sects agreed so, but some secretly found outside backers in order to hoard all the benefits for themselves. In fact, all of the surrounding regions have been lured here. We've lost control of the situation."

"Lost control?" Jiang Chen frowned.

The forefather nodded. "Indeed. In Agarwood, the foreign influences have sidelined the local factions and seized all authority…" His face darkened at the thought. Things had taken an unexpected turn for the region.

On the surface, the sects had agreed not to involve any outside helpers. But secretly, most had gone back on their words. However, their duplicity had produced unwelcome results. Their own backers had wrested away control and marginalized them.

There was an ironic justice to it, but the forefather couldn't accept it. After all, Purple Smoke was also a sect of Phoenix Cry.

"Be specific. How many factions are there right now?" Jiang Chen had brought enough helpers, but to be forewarned was to be forearmed.

"The two great mid regions surrounding Phoenix Cry are both involved. More importantly, the Heavenly Dragon Sect and Ninesuns Sky Sect have also dispatched their heavyweights. I hear the Sublime Chord Temple, Eternal Celestial Capital, and Pillfire City plan to do the same as well."

"What?" Jiang Chen was stumped for words. How had a trivial lower region attract so much attention? It was basically a backwater! 

The former Myriad Domain might have been worse, that was due to Great Scarlet's massacre centuries ago, while Phoenix Cry's remoteness had sheltered it from outside danger. Its weakness came entirely from its lack of resources.

Yet, such a shabby place had attracted so many factions! Jiang Chen's eyes gleamed with interest. "How did Agarwood become such a grand affair in a few months?" 

The forefather hadn't mentioned anything the last time he'd gone to Veluriyam, so it must have been a recent development.

Zi Tan sighed. "Everything happened less than half a year ago. Agarwood is now divided between the Heavenly Dragon Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect. The other mid region factions have to obey them. If not, these two first-rank sects will show no quarter!"

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