"Young lord, must we do things this way?" Peerless asked, a little worried by the daring plan Jiang Chen had revealed moments ago.
The young man was grave. "I brought the three of you because I'd planned on taking control through brute force, but it's impossible with all the great sects in the valley now. We need to think of another way."
Peerless wasn't entirely reassured. "But who will protect you then?"
"No matter. Pillzenith brought so many great emperors to waylay me last time, but did that stop me? No one will be the wiser once I disguise myself as a member of the Purple Smoke Sect. Even if Pillzenith were to come, what could he possibly do?"
In the past, Jiang Chen had been somewhat intimidated by formidable characters like Pillzenith. But he'd mostly taken the latter's measure with their increasing interactions and was no longer as wary of his opponent. Of course, he wouldn't underestimate his enemy out of conceit, just that he no longer felt any fear.
Peerless opened his mouth, but Jiang Chen forestalled him with a smile. "Don't worry. If push comes to shove, I have many ways of protecting myself."
Peerless pondered a moment, then nodded. Hadn't the young lord always landed on his feet despite the many dangers and ruthless enemies he'd faced?
Despite their great strength, three great emperors couldn't take on so many first rank sects, to say nothing of Pillfire being involved as well. They might even become a hindrance if they exposed themselves.
Their martial styles weren't as varied as Jiang Chen's and wouldn't be as easy to disguise as their appearances.
In particular, how many pairs of great emperor brothers were there in the human domain? Their particular way of fighting also made the Jiao brothers were easily recognizable. Perhaps it was indeed best not to show themselves, else they alert the enemy and ruin the young lord's plans.
Jiang Chen was the greatest thorn in Pillfire's side. For a chance to capture him, Pillzenith would disregard any distraction, including a chance to explore Agarwood Valley.
"Zi Tan, let this great emperor be blunt. You're the only one in the know. If mishap befalls the young lord because of you, you should be aware of the consequences." Peerless rarely used threats, but he needed to browbeat the forefather a tad this time.
Jiang Chen's status was extremely sensitive. It would be a catastrophe for all of mankind if the forefather secretly leaked his whereabouts to Pillfire.
The forefather nodded hurriedly. "Senior, I swear to the heavens I won't betray the young lord. May they condemn me to eternal damnation otherwise."
Peerless nodded impassively. "Do your best then."
Jiang Chen smiled. "Old Brother Mo, no need to worry. I've experienced greater storms than this. Nothing in Phoenix Cry can scare me."
It wasn't boasting, just pure confidence born not only from his strength, but also from his past life's experiences. His curiosity was piqued. Just what secrets did Agarwood hide to attract so many first rank sects?
Dressed up as a Purple Smoke disciple, he followed the forefather to the valley.
Phoenix Cry was located at the western border of the human domain, even farther west than the Heavenly Dragon Sect, while the valley itself lay at the western end of the region, not far from the Boundary Steles between mankind and the other races.
In ancient times, the major races had agreed upon an inviolable division of territory, thereby establishing the Boundary Steeles. It was the only barrier between the different races and prevented invasions both ways. To destroy its seals would be to shatter the peace between them. Despite its strength, mankind had been but one of the myriad races on the continent in ancient times.
The Divine Abyss Continent had been rife with conflict over resources and territory before the demon invasion finally put an end to it. Instead of pointing their spears at each other, the natives suddenly found a common enemy.
However, everyone had fought separately with next to no cooperation. To summarize, contradiction on the continent existed not only between the natives and the demons, but also between the different local races.
At this moment, many factions stood outside Agarwood Valley, each staying in their own areas, making for a lively scene.
More conspicuously, the Ninesuns Sky Sect and the Heavenly Dragon Sect controlled the valley's entrance. These two weren't any regular first rank sects, but among the strongest ones.
With his outstanding status, Long Baxiang was the most eye-catching on the Heavenly Dragon Sect's side. Judging from his arrogance, he seemed to have a firm grasp over the situation.
The Ninesuns Sky Sect had dispatched even more senior executives and occupied another side of the valley's mouth, looking just as overbearing.
Like two watchdogs, the two sects blocked the entrance.
Looking grave, the surrounding sects were afraid to protest out loud. Obviously, they lacked the courage to force their way in. Rather than benevolence, the two first-rank sects were known for their viciousness. They would kill anyone who dared challenge their authority.
Given their air of menace, they seemed on the prowl for resistance to trample. Bluntly put, they wanted to make an example out of someone.
Sadly, no hapless fool had volunteered, denying them an opportunity to let loose. Purple Smoke's men had arrived at the scene and were huddled in a corner together with the Spirit Crow Lodge and several other local sects.
Compared to the first rank and second rank sects, Phoenix Cry's factions were but specks of dust.
By the time the forefather arrived, his sect members were full of grievances. Several tried to complain, but the old man cut them short with his hand. "Be quiet."
His sect had no right to speak in the current situation, to say nothing of grumbling and protesting. Doing so in public would be stupid and perhaps fatal for the sect, so he simply ordered them to shut up. A trivial character like him was powerless to change the situation.
Great emperors spearheaded the first rank sects and many second rank sects from mid regions could count on experts that were half step great emperor realm. In comparison, he was only at ninth level emperor realm.
Might makes right. Without force, words were useless at best, and potentially harmful.
Jiang Chen observed the situation without batting an eye.
The Ninesuns Sky Sect and the Heavenly Dragon Sect had blocked the entrance, clearly intent on presiding over the exploration.
The overbearing Long Baxiang proudly declared, "Ladies and gentlemen, Agarwood is close to the Boundary Steles. Since it concerns the fate of mankind, our Heavenly Dragon Sect will assume command!"
His attitude caused a stir of dissatisfaction. True enough, the valley was close to the border, but it was also on Phoenix Cry territory.
You're on someone else's land, but unilaterally take charge without consulting the locals? Anger simmered at his high-handed approach.
"He who disagrees may step forward." Long Baxiang cackled, acting as the master of the place, rather than a guest.
One of the Ninesuns leaders snorted. "Long Baxiang, don't get ahead of yourself. We're sharing command together."
Long Baxiang chuckled. "It's all the same."
Like him, the Ninesuns man was a well-known figure from a first rank sect. If the gloves came off, a frontal clash could prove a challenge, so he had to put up with the Ninesuns Sky Sect, no matter how unwilling he was.
"Emperor Dragontyrant, you first rank sects are strong, but doesn't this area belong to Phoenix Cry? Shouldn't you ask our opinion first?" The obviously disguised voice had suddenly appeared out of thin air. It was impossible to detect its origin.