Jiang Chen looked harshly at the palace.
After resurrecting the golems, his first thought had been to borrow their strength to kill the demon lord, lest it unleash devastation upon mankind. However, that was easier said than done. Even the Primosanct Sect's head couldn't kill the fearsome creature, a sign of just how terrifying it was. It'd grown to become one of the greatest threats facing Jiang Chen.
Resting beside the human youth, the Vermillion Bird glanced at him, stirring slightly in surprise. It might have underestimated the young man's ambitions. Did he aspire to extinguish the demon?
Big Stone thumped his chest. "Don't worry, young master Chen. Fighting's the one thing we rough guys are good at. Just point us at whoever you want beaten up."
Jiang Chen shook his head with a smile. "You're not hired thugs. My only goal is the celestial demon lord sealed inside the palace. He's an invader from another world. He must be stopped before he causes a calamity for our continent."
Aware of the brothers' eagerness, he'd tried not to sound overly melodramatic, but he roused their fighting spirit nonetheless.
"Celestial demon lord? Is that the demon race you spoke of, young master? Good! We'll let him see what our tribe is made of!"
"Yeah! A punch from each of us will turn him into meat paste. Or we can just drown him in our saliva!" Second Stone looked honest, but he was prone to boasting.
Jiang Chen wasn't so cavalier when it came to the demon lord. He knew how tough the ancient threat was given that the Primosanct Sect hadn't eliminated it.
He glanced at the Vermillion Bird. "Senior, don't pretend to be asleep. I know you're listening. You've guarded this realm ever since antiquity, you're the greatest authority when it comes to this demon."
The bird heaved a soft sigh. It was in a slightly better shape after some rest, but there was no major improvement.
"I wasn't pretending. Not that I want to discourage you, but... you must know by now how strong the Primosanct Sect was? They cornered the demon and rained all sorts of ferocious techniques on him, yet he still lives."
The golems didn't understand its language, so Big Stone asked, "Young master, what's this big fire bird mumbling about?"
"It speaks the ancient beast language. The senior was telling me how frightening the demon lord is and said that the entire sect once launched an all-out attack on the demon but still failed. It doubts you'll succeed in killing him either," Jiang Chen explained, adding some fuel to the flames.
Big Stone grunted in discontent. "Young master, no one under the sky is immortal. Not us golems and certainly not some lousy demon."
"Let us have a crack at him. Hehe, gods or demons, everyone will be smashed flat!"
"Right, right! Who's stronger than us primordial golems?" The brothers didn't fear the demons, not having experienced the invasion nor having first-hand knowledge.
"Senior, please say something. What are our odds of killing him for good?" Jiang Chen clung doggedly to the opportunity.
His solemnity and indomitable spirit moved the ancient bird. Here was someone who never retreated no matter the adversity.
"Senior, my mind is set. And once we kill him, your mission will be complete and we'll be free to attend to your rebirth."
The ancient bird took a deep breath at the prospect. "In that case, you need him out of the seal first. All of your attacks will be meaningless if they're blocked by the formation. You won't be able to reach him if you can't break it.
"That being said, his battle strength will increase tenfold once free. And when it comes to brains and cunning, he's in another league compared to the golem brothers."
It thought for a moment. "There's another possibility, which is to strength the formation. It can both imprison and kill. Had it been stronger back in the day, the sect might have successfully eradicated him. If you can enhance it, then perhaps..."
There were two clear choices here.
First, unleash the golem brothers on the demon after allowing him to break out first. Jiang Chen wouldn't be able to inflict any damage through the formation. Second, destroy the demon lord by strengthening the formation, which would also be easier now that he had been weakened by his long imprisonment.
In fact, the ancient sect could have killed him long ago simply by continuously grinding away with the formation. Sadly, the sect had fallen in the ancient war. And the seal's energy had almost entirely run dry after so much time.
Jiang Chen weighed the pros and cons.
The first method seemed riskier. Even if they could break the formation, what if the golem brothers can't stop the demon lord from fleeing?
Like a dragon back into the sea, the demon could hide somewhere and come back out only when returned to the height of its power to wreak havoc upon the world. The destruction would be devastating then.
Hence, after some hesitation, Jiang Chen decided on the more reliable option.
"Senior, the second method seems more suitable."
The bird blinked, then smiled wryly. "The second? Strengthen the formation? Do you know how much knowledge and effort and resources went into it? Even if you can understand it, are you confident you can enhance it?"
It wasn't that the ancient creature looked down on Jiang Chen, but that a signature formation created by one of the ten greatest ancient sects was almost perfect. Even if there was a tiny flaw, it didn't affect the whole. Was perfection so easy to improve upon? Therefore, this wasn't really an achievable solution. It'd only been mentioned out of courtesy.
The seal's current vulnerability was solely due to a shortage of resources and the withering of the spirit veins. The difficulty of the task ahead seemed almost insurmountable.
"Senior, is there a guide with details of the formation?" Jiang Chen looked at the divine bird in earnest, his mind set. Next to pills, formations were his best area of expertise.
"Are you certain?" the bird couldn't help asking again.
"Senior, let's stop nattering about it. Time waits for no one. The demon lord is making the most out of every second he has, and we should too! The sooner we succeed, the sooner you can leave."
Indeed, instead of watching over this realm until the end of time, the demon's death would also reprieve the ancient bird from its vow.
Seeing how serious Jiang Chen was, the divine creature took a deep breath and nodded. "Alright. I don't have much time left, so let's take a gamble together. I'll show you, follow me."
An ancient inheritance would naturally be well-hidden. Not just anyone would allowed to peruse it. In fact, no truly important treasures would be casually exposed. The items the cultivators had seen on the palace's second floor were merely second or third-rate.
These treasures suddenly reminded Jiang Chen of his brush. Despite its unremarkable appearance, he'd secreted away this one brush out of the dozen others in the pot.
A thought was the beginning of action. He took it out. "Senior, have a look. Is this brush related to the sect?"
The bird's eyes suddenly shone. "Where did you find it?"
"In the palace's treasure chamber. It was hidden with other ordinary brushes. No one else took a fancy to it, so I took it." In fact, he'd attracted unwanted attention for picking up this simple brush. The situation had been a little hairy, but he'd fortunately reacted fast enough.
"Kid, I can't believe the depths of your fortunes. The True Spirit Post is one of the three signature treasures of the sect! The sectmaster once told me the best treasures were hidden in the least conspicuous places, waiting for their predestined owners! One of them can give you the sect's inheritance, two of them the position of sectmaster! With all three, everything in the sect is yours!"