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Hundreds of thousands of years had passed quietly by after the ancient demon cataclysm. The Vermillion Bird had suppressed its lifeforce and avoided using any of its divine arts to minimize the exhaustion of its lifespan. Even then, it couldn’t avoid the decaying effects of time and was now in its twilight years.

If this had been the ancient era, it could simply plunge into the flames of rebirth and have a fifty percent chance to rise from the ashes again. Unfortunately, the current state of affairs wasn’t conducive for such things. 

If it were to attempt rebirth now, its success rate would likely be less than one in a thousand. Thus, it’d already given up hope. Its promise to the ancient Primosanct Sect was the sole reason it persevered to this day.

It would keep an eye on the demon lord until death relieved it of its duty.

Deep down, it’d already accepted that death was inevitable. However, a sliver of optimism suddenly blossomed from the stagnant waters in its heart.

Within the demon domain, the demon lord’s actions had drained his consciousness greatly since he was still shackled by the seal.

The mysterious nightly fragrance in Agarwood Valley and various illusions were all manifestations of his consciousness. He’d even penetrated the Vermillion Bird’s restriction so that the human cultivators could get through. The schemes and tactics used to lure them to his domain had been a large drain on his being.

Emperor Newsun and Long Baxiang’s defiance had only aggravated things further. In fact, he was almost spent after marking the cultivators with his imprint. He was weak beyond measure.

However, those before him were now wholly under his control, making passing on demonic arts to them a much more efficient affair. This gave him time to catch his breath and recharge. He was very content with the outcome of reducing the human cultivators to demonic slaves.

He picked a few demonic arts, sorted them according to level, and “bestowed” them to his new servants. He was extremely amused when he saw the excitement and gratitude from his new minions. 

Humans are truly a vile race. They cravenly cling onto life and every small boon they can get their hands on. Yet somehow, they continue to prosper and thrive. They really do make for very excellent slaves.

The demons didn’t think very highly of humans. Their obsession with the human domain stemmed from the human race’s reproductive capabilities and disunity. Simply put, humans were easy targets. Moreover, most human cultivators lacked faith and would rather kneel to the enemy than die.  

However, the demon lord also understood that humans were a force to be reckoned with. No matter how great the adversity they faced, they still clung ferociously to life, like weeds growing in the cracks. Their resilience was something that many races lacked.

Countless races had been wiped out during the great primordial war of the races. However, despite countless calamities, humanity always had the last laugh.

They weren’t always the victors in wars, yet in defeat, they’d swallow their humiliation and come back stronger. By relying on their reproductive capabilities, heritage, and time, they’d eventually come to defeat countless extremely powerful races. It was a bizarrely mysterious and complicated race.

Every time it seemed like their flickering candle had been snuffed out, they’d rise again after the raging storms. No matter grim their lives were, a new tomorrow was always right around the corner.

On paper, humans seemed like an inferior race. But when push came to shove, heroes would always emerge and completely turn the tides. 

They were afraid of death, yet often boasted of experts who feared nothing.

They were disunited, yet in the face of danger, they’d come together and achieve many earth-shattering feats.

They lacked loyalty, yet they’d somehow find stores of incredible strength when protecting their homeland. 

The demon lord was filled with great emotion as he looked down on his slaves. The demonic invasion into the human domain during the ancient cataclysm had was obviously a great failure. They’d underestimated the humans from the very start. Conquering a disunited race was supposed to be as easy as destroying a rotten log.

Unfortunately, this oversight had proven costly. The humans were greatly set back after the war as many great sects were completely annihilated, but so were the demons. Many demonic descendants were killed in the war, and powerful experts were either killed or sealed away.

The demon lord had vowed to learn from his mistakes. The best method to conquer the human race was to rip them apart from within. It was why he’d spared the humans’ lives instead of killing them.

However, what’s with that human brat? How did he see through my plans when not even the great emperors could? The question niggled at the demon lord, concerning him greatly.

“Cloudbillow, come.” The demon lord summoned his servant after his consciousness had recovered a little. His mind couldn’t help but dwell on the matter.

The demon lord had assigned Cloudbillow as a first rank personal attendant. Even though the human was still merely an attendant, he was clearly higher than the others.

“My lord, how may I help you?” Cloudbillow responded subserviently.

“When you entered my domain, there was a youth that lingered outside. Who is he? The two of you don’t seem to get along.”

Cloudbillow gnashed his teeth in anger when Jiang Chen was brought up.

“My lord, that brat is a cunning one. He will become a thorn in your side one day if you plan on dominating the world.” The great emperor immediately placed a target on Jiang Chen’s head without a care for the world.

“Oh? He’s just a youth! Why do you fear a mere emperor? Did you suffer a great loss at his hands?” The quick-witted demon lord immediately saw to the heart of the matter.

“My lord, when I was still a citizen of Pillfire City, the brat…” Cloudbillow answered truthfully without holding anything back. To drive his point home, he even added some embellishment to make Jiang Chen seem as cunning as possible.

“My lord, the brat is already a leading figure in the human domain at the age of thirty. You mustn't underestimate him. You have to be ruthless and cut all the nonsense when it comes to him. If you give him any breathing space, he might wriggle his way to safety yet again.” This was Cloudbillow's final conclusion after several encounters with Jiang Chen.

The demon lord’s face darkened. “So it sounds like he will be a problem indeed. The human race always gives birth to a few fearsome geniuses like him in critical times. I will keep a watchful eye on him.”

“My lord is wise.” Cloudbillow bootlicked.

“Mm, Cloudbillow, I expect a lot from you since you're a first rank personal attendant. I’ll have many great uses for you when I begin my conquest. As long as you serve me well, there will be plenty of rewards and opportunities for you. With your potential, great emperor is your limit. Do you wish to reach the empyrean realm and be a man above all men?” 

Empyrean realm?

Cloudbillow’s eyes burned with excitement. “My lord, can I really ascend to the empyrean realm, receive the heavenly dao’s recognition, and obtain an empyrean decree?”

“You don’t believe me?” The demon lord’s tones chilled.

“N-no! Never! I have nothing but respect for my lord’s abilities. It’s just that it’s been a very long time since an empyrean expert has appeared in the human domain, so…” 

“Hmph! What a falsehood! The true experts from your race have abandoned the human domain. You’ve been sidelined, destined for a life of mediocrity.”

“My lord, what do you mean?”

The demon lord answered blandly. “The human domain was one of the main battlefields during the ancient great war. Countless spirit veins have been destroyed since, depleting the spirit energy from the heaven and earth. Meanwhile, resources grow more and more scarce with each passing day. It’s only natural that this domain would be sidelined.”

“My lord is well-informed about the matters of the outside world despite being trapped behind a seal. Your subordinate is in awe.” Cloudbillow was genuinely taken aback. “If what my lord says is true, then what do you stand do gain by conquering this land?” 

This question yet lingered in Cloudbillow’s heart. Since the human domain had already been sidelined, the demons should no longer have a reason to conquer this land.

The demon lord laughed coldly. “Plenty. First of all, instead of establishing foundations on this land, we lost a great number of our brethren during the ancient war. So, we need some territory to strengthen our numbers again. Secondly, many powerful demons remain sealed in this domain. Only by freeing them can we grow stronger. Thirdly, you humans might not be very powerful, but you make extremely good slaves. The destruction of the spirit veins and the lack of resources are issues that can be fixed. Moreover, we need humans a lot more than any spirit vein or resource. For us demons, a big population is the most important resource!” The demon lord didn't need to hide anything since he'd gained sovereignty over Cloudbillow.

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