In ancient times, strong creatures often indulged in extreme violence when close to death. For example, a massive slaughter or mobilizing a beast tide on the human world. Perhaps the weakened Vermillion Bird's rampage could also be explained in this way. Jiang Chen could tell that it was at the end of its tether.
However, he couldn't be certain. He had the nagging suspicion the divine creature hadn't wished the humans to enter the secret realm to begin with.
The ancient beast language made the Vermillion bird pause amidst its rage.
Even in ancient times, very few humans on the Divine Abyss Continent could speak such an abstruse and profound language. He hadn't expected to stumble upon one of them in this day and age.
"Human…" The Vermillion Bird's consciousness brimmed with nobility. "Which clan are you from to know the ancient language?" The young man had clearly piqued his curiosity.
There's hope! Jiang Chen thought happily. It seemed that communication was possible. If it hadn't been, he held a spacetime seal, ready for a quick getaway.
"Senior, rather than me, what matters is your hazardous situation. Your life is in the last of its cycle."
"Hmph! Human, petty tricks are useless on me. Don't even try." Contempt laced the bird's voice.
"Senior, these ordinary cultivators are child's play for you, but I'm a different kettle of fish. I merely stayed behind to seek your guidance."
"Guidance?" The Vermillion Bird glanced at the formation with a snicker. "You humans think yourselves clever. In any case, why aren't you hiding in there?"
Jiang Chen shook his head. "First, the formation is strange. It's hard to tell whether death or salvation awaits inside. Second, despite your formidable power, I have ways of protecting myself. Third, something's been puzzling me from the start. It seems you've tried to prevent us from entering the secret realm. As to finally killing us, you must have good reasons…"
The bird stilled. It tilted its noble head, its feathers blazing like holy fire, clearly sizing up the young lord.
"Kid, you're a little different from these idiots." It was too proud to explain any further.
Jiang Chen's doubts deepened.
"Senior, is there something we're not aware of?" he asked keenly.
The bird snickered. "Hmph, I've been benevolent enough. If you humans insist on courting death, then be my guest. Fools. Such an obvious trap, yet you scramble one after another to get inside. Your kind is still so dumb after all this time!"
Trap? Jiang Chen shook.
Indeed, it'd been too easy to enter the Primosanct Sect. Despite the so-called trials, only the lava restriction had proved a real danger. It should have been arranged by the Vermilion Bird. Only, someone had interfered with it and allowed them to pass.
If not for the bird's attack at the end, the cultivators would've suffered almost no harm inside the secret realm. This was why Jiang Chen had been so skeptical. He took a deep breath. "Senior, can you be more specific?"
"What's there to say? I owed your race a debt, so I kept watch over the celestial demon lord sealed here and protected your world. I've done my share, but in your ignorance, you humans keep trying to free him. I fear the end is nigh for your race."
Jiang Chen's heart pounded furiously. When the bird said humans were courting death earlier, he'd thought it meant only their group and not all of mankind!
A celestial demon lord?
Jiang Chen hadn't experienced the ancient demon wars, but the title and the bird's tone spoke volumes about how dangerous an existence it was. Had the demon plotted everything from the start?
"The celestial demon lord… Senior, are you talking about a lord from the celestial demons?" Jiang Chen cried out involuntarily.
"Tsk, you're insightful for a human kid. Celestial demons are the greatest of the ten demon races. They are rulers among their kin, demons among demons. When this one wakes up, it will rain devastation upon your race. Breaking the Boundary Stele will seal your race's fate!"
Celestial demons! Jiang Chen had a deep understanding of the demons from his past life. As the divine creature said, celestial demons were noble existences among their own kin.
In the heavenly planes, demons were known to flaunt their lineage. Celestial demons in particular considered themselves peerless in the three realms. Of course, some of it was self-conceit, but their strength was undisputed. To think he would meet a sealed celestial demon lord in Phoenix Cry!
A demon lord wasn't necessarily the liege of all demons. It referred to a commander of outstanding status. For example, in an invasion of ten thousand demons, there might be several lords involved, or even a dozen, any of which would boast of terrifying power.
In ancient times, a demon emperor's status was third tier at most, while demon lords were second tier. They were at the very least empyrean powerhouses. As to the highest tier, it consisted of forefathers possessing immeasurable strength.
At its peak, the Vermillion Bird must have been an unfathomable existence. Even so, it still seemed wary of the demon lord. The latter's might was clear for all to see.
Mighty waves of emotion surged in Jiang Chen's heart. He looked at the formation. Countless beams of light crisscrossed each other, obscuring his view. Had the hundreds of elites inside become a grand feast for the demon?
There was little love lost between him and Cloudbillow or Long Baxiang. Both were his mortal enemies. He should've been glad for their misfortune, but he couldn't feel a speck of joy at this moment.
"Senior, what on earth is going on? Aren't we on the Primosanct Sect's sacred land? Why can the demon do as he want?"
Looking tired, the Vermillion Bird merely sneered. "It's too late now in any case. As you said, this place belongs to the Primosanct Sect. Here, the sect once waged a great war against the demon lord and sealed him inside this formation. I owed them a great debt, and also needed to rest in solitude due to the stage of the life cycle I was in. So I stayed here to stand guard. But you humans keep rushing inside, so eager to sacrifice yourselves to the demon and giving him hope. How ironic…"
Jiang Chen's brain went blank. He finally understood the truth.
The Primosanct Sect had lure the demon to their sacred land and sealed it inside, while the Vermillion Bird had watched over the formation ever since that time.
But humans discovered this secret realm in the end and poured inside in an endless stream, offering themselves up on a silver platter. Once the demon lord had recovered enough to regain his consciousness, he'd slowly started unraveling the seal.
Demons were hardy creatures. Their consciousness wouldn't perish. It was difficult to extinguish them for good. Celestial demons, in particular, were basically immortal and could easily revive given the chance.
Jiang Chen murmured, "The previous illusions and chants seemed so righteous. Did the demon manufacture them all with his strong consciousness?"
"Hmph, too bad most humans are idiots. Few are as perceptive as you." The bird sniggered. "In my great benevolence, I tried stopping them from dying here. But they insist on doing so. What else could I have done?"
Jiang Chen was speechless. Ancient beasts were proud creatures. Lying was beneath them, to say nothing of fabricating an entire fable to dupe him. More importantly, everything concorded with what he'd observed, down to the smallest detail.
"As I thought…" He sighed. "I couldn't explain why you'd wait for us to reach the palace before slaughtering us when there were ample opportunities beforehand. No wonder."
An icy arrogance laced the bird's tone. "It's already too late. Kid, you should pray now. If the blood of those inside is enough for the demon to break free, your race will soon face extinction!"
Jiang Chen blanched.