Jiang Chen was rather surprised. He hadn't thought that the Purple Smoke Sect's forefather would remain so calm in such a crucial moment. The man hadn't fled for the safety of the formation.
"Why didn't you run to safety, Zi Tan?" Jiang Chen asked with his consciousness.
The forefather smiled wryly. "I'm taking my chances."
He was putting a lot on the line!
The Vermilion Bird's impending heat waves made him just as afraid as anyone else. He was was afraid of death and could feel the heat eating away at his life force.
Jiang Chen looked over at the formation vortex once more with internal conflict. All of the other cultivators were enveloped within the seven sacred lights, their figures obscured.
He didn't know himself why he hadn't gone in. There was just a resolute voice inside his heart that told him he definitely could not!
The heart-rending birdsong echoed forth once more. The Vermilion Bird was a crimson sun with tides of heat swirling all around. The third floor was completely subsumed.
The red light of the heat waves slammed across the space, almost suffocating the Purple Smoke forefather. Despite his cultivation level, he felt the blood in his entire body approaching the boiling point.
It was a feeling worse than death.
"Daoist Zi, come inside quickly!" some cultivators from Phoenix Cry yelled.
The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather looked at Jiang Chen thoughtfully, his eyes uncertain. The young man was still immobile like a statue, but in this moment, suddenly raised both hands and summoned blue lotuses that blossomed in every corner. They formed a defensive encirclement around both himself and the forefather.
These blue lotus blooms were precisely his Bewitching Lotus of Ice and Fire.
At this moment, he was only calling upon the ice portion of the flower. The appearance of the ice lotuses instantly lowered the temperature of the surroundings. The once-shaky forefather felt his strength return.
The people within cried out with surprise.
"What's happening? Who… who is that kid?"
"How could the Purple Smoke Sect have such a strange guy?"
"Does the Purple Smoke forefather need protection from a young man? This is very strange!"
Even Emperor Cloudbillow frowned slightly, looking at the new development outside with confusion.
"Those blue lotuses… he… maybe he's…" the Eternal Celestial Capital expert beside him blurted out.
"Who?" Emperor Cloudbillow asked in a low voice.
"Jiang Chen… that kid could be Jiang Chen!" The Eternal Celestial Capital had always been on hostile terms with Jiang Chen and thus had done the most research into his capabilities. That was why the expert was the first to react.
Emperor Cloudbillow gasped in shock, his eyes flaring with killing intent. "Did you say that that kid is Jiang Chen?!"
Pillfire had sent several great emperors along with Emperor Cloudbillow. All of them hated Jiang Chen with every fiber of their being. After all, Emperor Pillzenith's son, young master Tian Lin, was still in the brat's hands!
"More than likely, Daoist Cloudbillow!" An expert from the Empyrean River Palace spoke up in reminder. "Phoenix Cry isn't far from Veluriyam. Pillfire is further out in comparison, and look where we are. What reason does our enemy have for not coming?"
"Sure, but who's seen anyone else from Veluriyam here?
"That kid is a real scoundrel. He hides his identity every time to land an ambush!" In these people's minds, the mysterious kid outside seemed more and more like Jiang Chen.
Emperor Cloudbillow locked onto what he could see outside the light, muttering to himself. "Jiang Chen, Jiang Chen! That kid and Pillfire are mortal enemies. Who is with me to take his head?"
"I will!" The great emperor from the Eternal Celestial Capital was the first to volunteer. Another was here in Sect Head Luo Jue's place.
Clearly, the Eternal Celestial Capital intended to subjugate itself to Pillfire. Before now, it had been a solitary sect unwilling to bow to any faction. They were a first rank sect themselves, and possessed sufficient authority and status to reflect that fact.
Unfortunately, its opposition and grudge against Veluriyam made it a growing threat in Jiang Chen's eyes. The Eternal Celestial Capital had no way out from its difficult position except to request Pillfire's assistance, uniting the two factions against their common opponent.
"I'll come, too." Another initial rank great emperor from Pillfire piped up.
The two volunteers pleased Emperor Cloudbillow very much. "Good," he nodded. "Be careful out there. If you succeed, I will give a full account of it to Emperor Pillzenith. He will reward you handsomely for sure! It would be for the best if you can capture him alive."
Young master Tianlin was still in Veluriyam's hands. If Jiang Chen were to die now, then Veluriyam could potentially dispense with all civility. Taking Jiang Chen alive made everything easier.
The duo nodded, then attempted to step out of the formation, but their movement was stopped by a collision with a light veil. Its translucence rippled with waves that flowed about a while before dispersing.
Everyone blinked at this weird sight. They all thought they were seeing things.
The two great emperors in question paled. As first hand witnesses, they knew what had happened the best.
An invisible light veil that had flickered into being before them at some unknown point. They were stuck inside, repelled despite their great emperor cultivation.
"What's this?" Both great emperors were greatly disquieted.
Emperor Cloudbillow was extremely startled. He hurried forward, his expression growing serious after a cursory examination.
"Fools!" The voice could be heard once more. "The formation has been activated already to protect you. Are you delivering yourselves as food to that feathered brute?"
The stern voice pierced people's hearts.
Emperor Cloudbillow was hesitant and somewhat doubtful. "Senior, is this a formation restriction? How do we leave it?"
"Hmph! You want to go to your death? If so, I can take away the restriction and send you out right now! Is that what you'd like?" The voice asked coolly.
Emperor Cloudbillow had no answer. In fact, no one else present did either.
"Don't be so paranoid," someone called out. "This formation restriction is protecting us all. Isn't opening it up leaping into the jaws of death?"
"Anyone that wants to die should die alone. We don't want to die with you."
Most preferred the safety of the formation. Why open things up? If that happened, the Vermilion Bird would return to being a threat.
The rain of meteors outside the palace akin to heavenly judgment had scared the living daylights out of its observers. A repeat of that kind of disaster meant that maybe even great emperors only had a small chance of surviving. As for the rest? None whatsoever.
"What do you two sects say?" Emperor Cloudbillow glared at Long Baxiang and Ninesuns' great representative.
The latter was the first to express his opinion. "The Ninesuns Sky Sect does not wish to leave. We will not participate in your grudge against Veluriyam Capital."
"I may hate that brat," Long Baxiang mused, "but there's no point muddying the waters at this juncture."
If even the Heavenly Dragon Sect didn't want to go, Emperor Cloudbillow could do little else than acquiesce.
"If so," he sighed softly, "then we'll leave the kid to his own fate. I don't believe that the Vermilion Bird can't tear apart his feeble tricks!"
As an ancient sacred fowl, the Vermilion Bird had strength and power far surpassing these great emperors without question. It was on an entirely different level.
If the bird was completely healthy, it could kill everyone here in a single instant without a doubt. It was an empyrean rank existence at a minimum! Alas, this Vermilion Bird had lost the vast majority of its strength due to the passage of time. Less than a tenth of its cultivation remained. Otherwise, the number of casualties outside the palace would have been much higher.
Emperor Cloudbillow didn't want to think about what fighting an empyrean sacred fowl at peak strength was like.
A battle like that would be completely unequal.
So what if the Jiang Chen kid had a few skills? Could he possibly escape from the clutches from an ancient empyrean divine creature with them?
Emperor Cloudbillow waved a hand to the two great emperors. "Don't bother going out. The Vermilion Bird will take care of that kid."
The duo nodded and retreated.
Many within looked ponderously at what was happening outside, unwilling to miss the display of Jiang Chen's grisly murder.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, we… we… shouldn't we go inside to weather the storm as well?" The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather transmitted, unable to hold his fear back. The Vermilion Bird drew closer and closer. The forefather's soul shivered from the intense pressure, as if it would be shattered at any minute.
At this time, Jiang Chen suddenly opened his eyes and sent a streak of consciousness shooting toward the Vermilion Bird. He was using the ancient beast language, a language that had long been lost to the ravages of time. Only Jiang Chen knew it in the entire world.
The Vermilion Bird's potent pressure made his own scalp tingle simply because he was nearby. He had the spacetime seal, sure. But if he couldn't make contact with the Vermilion Bird, there was no way he was staying to his death.
A murderous aura rose from the bird as it approached. Its frenzied flames were hot enough to reduce the entire palace to ash. It was obviously on a furious rampage.
"Caw!!" Raising its noble head, it let out a long screech that shook the entire building. Even the formation formed by the seven sacred lights convulsed in a moment of weakness.
Jiang Chen pretended not to notice. He allowed the overwhelming aura to wash over him, gritting his teeth against it.
In the next moment, the bird suddenly fell silent. Two ember-bright eyes glared at Jiang Chen, seemingly considering something important.
"Senior, you are an ancient sacred beast, a noble bloodline of the heavenly planes. But even the greatest of lives experience moments of downfall… are you going to give up on yourself like this?" Jiang Chen tried to communicate with the Vermilion Bird through his consciousness, using ancient beast language as a conduit.