Emperor Newsun and the Purple Smoke forefather still departed in the end. However, Jiang Chen had warned them amply before they left; they were not to announce what they had seen here in order to avoid enormous internal strife.
Full-on civil war in the human domain was no less destructive than a demonic invasion.
This was Jiang Chen's current greatest area of concern. Emperor Pillzenith's ambition was a bone stuck in his throat.
He'd told the other two not to say anything partially to avoid exposing his own location. He didn't want Pillzenith to know that he was in Agarwood instead of Veluriyam.
If Pillzenith knew he was here, he wouldn't have just sent Cloudbillow. He would've come himself instead.
The Vermilion Bird sighed when it saw Emperor Newsun and the Purple Smoke forefather depart. "Aren't you even weaker now that they're gone?"
"There's not much point to keeping them here," Jiang Chen smiled. "If the demon lord really does break free of his seal, they wouldn't help at all. They can barely deal with a crowd of demonic servants as is."
"Why aren't you leaving then?" The Vermilion Bird asked with mixed feelings.
"There are some things in the world that must be done," Jiang Chen sighed softly. "I think that I'm the best person to stay."
The bird sighed as well. "Humans are mundane and trite for the most part, but there are still some interesting ones. That particular head of the Primosanct Sect for example, and you. I'm surprised that you are so knowledgeable at your age. I have a strange feeling that you're supposed to be a genius from the primordial era rather than this era."
Jiang Chen was thoroughly stunned. The Vermilion Bird's instincts were uncannily accurate!
Smiling wryly, he asked, "Why do you say that?"
"The young people of this time give me a frivolous and impulsive feeling. They don't have the foundation, vision, and bearing of a real genius. A true genius must have broad horizons and far sight. Unfortunately, there are very few humans who can reach that standard. You, on the other hand, handily exceed it. I must admit that you are special among your peers in this modern era."
After their extended time together, the bird harbored a unique respect for the young man.
Jiang Chen was knowledgeable, sharp, and magnanimous. He was more like a martial dao master who'd made a name for himself for countless years, not at all like some young human genius not yet thirty.
"You praise me too much, Senior Vermilion Bird."
"No, no, no," the bird shook its head. "You know my personality. I don't care for insincere flattery. If I didn't genuinely find you impressive, I wouldn't praise you one bit. I noticed how extraordinary you were the moment I set eyes on you."
When the Vermilion Bird had approached the group of human cultivators, the others had all gone into the celestial demon lord's domain. Only Jiang Chen had remained outside. He hadn't even hesitated one bit.
At the time, he hadn't any clues as to what course of action he should take, nor had he known that the domain was a trap. The only thing Jiang Chen had gone off on was his instincts.
His instincts as a cultivator told him that the string of events had been too odd to believe.
That was the only reason he had stayed out of the formation.
When the Vermilion Bird entered the third floor, it hadn't expected anyone to have stayed outside either. This was why the bird had had the patience to speak to him at the time. Jiang Chen's mastery of ancient beast language was a contributing factor, but the remainder was his distinction from his fellows.
Because the Vermilion Bird was individualistic in its own right, it had found his behavior quite agreeable.
Jiang Chen laughed when he heard what the bird had to say. "I felt the same way at the time. You killed a lot of human cultivators when we first met, but my first thought was that you definitely weren't some kind of ancient evil that enjoyed killing."
"Oh? How come?" The Vermilion Bird wanted to know.
"Easy. If you really wanted to open up a slaughter, you had plenty of chances to do so along the way. Plus, I had a feeling that you wanted to stop everyone from entering Agarwood's secret realm rather than kill them altogether."
"You're really something, Jiang Chen!" The bird sighed. "I didn't have much hope for you humans at first, but I think your race is lucky to have you. Maybe humanity will exceed its potential once more in a time of adversity."
"Enough praise, senior," Jiang Chen smiled. "That's right, how are you doing? How long can you last if you don't use your divine arts?"
It was a sad topic, but one that had to be discussed.
Dejection flickered through the bird's eye. "Even if I don't use any of my divine arts, I don't have more than thirty years," it sighed.
For an ancient divine creature, thirty years was a blink of an eye.
"Thirty years?" Jiang Chen frowned slightly. That was no time at all.
"Haha, don't you humans have a saying? Life and death are part of fate. I've experienced countless cycles of this, so I don't have any regrets." The bird put on a tough front.
"Why the pessimism, senior? We have another saying as well. Problems will be solved when we get there. My instincts are usually very accurate. Your future will definitely stretch beyond thirty years. There is change written in your path. Let's wait and see."
Just like the Pinecrane Pill, there were pills that extended life for the residents of the heavenly planes. Unfortunately, Jiang Chen currently had no ability to refine such pills. His cultivation level wasn't there, to say nothing of the lack of materials.
He had no problem refining something like the Pinecrane Pill, but any miracle pills exceeding sky rank were limited to recipes alone. The materials required for those pills were extremely valuable and elusive. Therefore, he had no right to make promises ahead of time.
Jiang Chen considered it more viable to find an environment suitable for the Vermilion Bird to seek rebirth. Chasing pills wasn't the way to go this time.
As the two spoke, there was a deafening explosion.
The sound of the detonation echoed across the entire plane. The mountain top beneath his feet shook as well. It was as unsteady as a wavering boat. He couldn't get a firm foothold.
"What's happening?" Jiang Chen's consciousness was especially strong. He scattered it forth immediately, scanning his surroundings. His sense of danger was stronger than most.
The Vermilion Bird was just as confused as him. It had stood guard for countless years without experiencing an explosion of that magnitude. It felt like a hundred-yard-tall wave was cresting to and fro. The commotion was that immense.
Jiang Chen's heart sank. He found the shaking and the loud sound from earlier very odd.
This was the Primosanct Sect's sacred lands, holding very sturdy foundations that were enough to seal away an ancient celestial demon lord. Given this, why was the ground quavering so strongly?
Had the demon lord struggled free of his seal?
Jiang Chen pushed his Evil Golden Eye to its maximum, a ray of piercing light shooting into the palace.
But, though the palace shook as much as everything else, the demon lord was still safely within his seal. There were no signs of him struggling free, and the formation looked relatively intact.
It was the first time the Vermilion Bird had encountered something like this as well. It could barely keep its footing. The question of whether the demon lord had broken free hung on its mind as well.
The stone golems found the shaking irrelevant. They remained in their meditative state and weren't easily disturbed. The shaking had no effect on them whatsoever.
"Senior, is this kind of violent quaking common?" Jiang Chen couldn't resist asking.
"No! I've been here countless years. I've not encountered so much as a small quiver before today." The Vermilion Bird vehemently denied it.
Something suddenly occurred to it. Its expression became quite conflicted. "Jiang Chen, maybe… we're in a worse spot than if the demon lord had broken free."
"Oh? How so?"
The statement was a shocking one.
The bird was silent for a while, its fire-lit eyes dead set on the area near the palace, as if looking for something.
After a few moments, another wave of shaking ripped outwards.
The Vermilion Bird visibly colored. "As I thought, the worst has happened!"
"What?" Jiang Chen blinked. He instinctively felt the importance in the shaking this time as well. From the bird's reaction, there was much more trouble than he could hope to imagine.
"Jiang Chen, the sacred land for the Primosanct Sect was originally the location of the Boundary Stele in the western side of the human domain! I think it's been shattered. That's probably the reason for the commotion."
Boundary Steles divided the races' lands in ancient times. One reason for this was to prevent a renewed demonic invasion from spreading everywhere, but a second was to cease the constant warfare between the races!
The consequences for their breaking were disastrous.