If Veluriyam had been at war with Pillfire, Jiang Chen would have thought nothing of slaughtering their men or their allies. However, these people were nothing but puppets manipulated by the demon. He almost pitied them.
The Vermillion Bird read his mood. "Jiang Chen, you shouldn't grieve for them. I've seen far too many of these low lifes in your race since the ancient times. The ancient human elites showed no mercy at all to traitors. Since they've betrayed mankind, it doesn't count as slaughtering your own kind when you kill them. Not to mention, they would've wreaked havoc upon your kin if they got out."
Jiang Chen knew all this. But this wasn't the cause of his sadness.
A single demon lord had already caused so much trouble. What if all ten demon tribes were to join forces?
He shuddered at the prospect. Fortunately, the demon lord had fled toward the Southern Celestial Tribe. Jiang Chen would've found the nights even more uneasy otherwise.
The worst-case scenario had been avoided, but he still frowned when he saw that the Boundary Stele's crack was big enough the demon could sneak back to the human domain at any time.
"Don't despair. He'll need at least a hundred years to fuse completely with his new body, if he's really succeeded in taking it over. His cultivation skills have been greatly diminished already."
With its vast experience, the divine bird knew the demon couldn't make waves for the time being. Even if he did, the Southern Celestials would be the ones to suffer.
"Senior, can we repair the crack in the Boundary Stele?" Jiang Chen asked, his face dark.
"Probably. It should've been built by the Primosanct Sect, so they've linked it to this holy land. We simply need to restore the spirit veins and all of the formations."
Jiang Chen nodded, thankful for the ancient bird's knowledge.
Killing the demonic servants didn't matter as long as the demon lord was at large and the Boundary Stele broken. The Southern Celestial Tribe or the demon could use the gateway to invade the human domain anytime they wished to if Jiang Chen just walked away now. Leaving would be desertion.
"To think the Southern Celestial Tribe would send three empyrean powerhouses in one go. I wonder how many empyrean cultivators they have in total," he muttered in bewilderment.
All the peak experts of the continent should be gathered on Myriad Abyss Island. The other tribes should've been weaker than humans.
But reality had proven him wrong.
The Southern Celestial Tribe had been inferior to humans in the past, but now? Who knew how many empyrean masters they had? Certainly more than the three that'd come. Jiang Chen sighed. He'd been too narrow-sighted and hadn't realized mankind's weakness. This encounter had been a rough awakening with the comparison. The Southern Celestials were plainly above humans now.
If these three men hadn't attacked the palace's restrictions, hadn't let the demon lord escape, hadn't subsequently triggered the ancient bow...
The results might have been entirely different.
They could've attacked the human domain instead. The three of them were strong enough to cause an enormous upheaval.
One had to lament fate's whimsical nature.
He'd felt powerless in those moments. If not for the sect leaving the bow behind as an ultimate trump card, what else could he have done to prevent the human domain from being engulfed by sheer calamity?
"Your race is fortunate indeed." The ancient bird echoed his thoughts. "In ancient times, many a tribe looked down on your kind. Too frail, cowardly, prone to infighting... there was nothing good about you humans. Yet, you survive doggedly like immortal cockroaches where many ancient tribes have fallen. Your fortunes have ever been decent as well."
In fact, the Vermillion Bird had thought earlier that mankind had finally met its doom. But then the ancient bow had suddenly reversed the situation. Humans and their bloody luck!
If the ancient humans hadn't had so many powerful sects, or left so many inheritances, if...
There were many ifs, but ultimately, mankind's fortunes had been strong enough that they'd weathered the winds of the world.
It wasn't easy for a race to weather the primordial age, the ancient era, and these modern troubled times, surviving despite all odds. How many stronger tribes had been ground to dust by the weight of history?
"Eh, what's going on over there?" Big Stone suddenly shouted.
Jiang Chen looked up to be greeted by the surprising sight of a crumbling mountain top. Countless boulders rained down the slopes from the fragmenting peak, tumbling into the abyss. It wasn't an ordinary landslide, but a bona fide collapse!
He gasped in shock and quickly turned solemn as the topmost layers slowly peeled away, revealing a dazzling mountain of treasure!
Indeed, an enormous mountain of spirit stones lay bare in front of their eyes!
"Tsk tsk…" The Vermillion Bird helplessly shook its head with a wry smile. "I finally understand why your race persists despite all odds. What did I just say about human luck? To think a spirit stone mine would be hidden beneath the Celestial Peak! Jiang Chen, what was that? You're too broke to repair the formation? There was no way to repair it? Hahaha…"
The speechless Jiang Chen couldn't retort. The mine had appeared right on cue. It was more than sufficient to revitalize the sacred land's spirit veins, repair all of the formations, and even mend the Boundary Stele!
"Did… did the ancient seniors foresee this day?" he breathed with delight.
"How would I know? Don't ask me." The divine bird shook its head.
"Providence hasn't abandoned mankind yet!" Jiang Chen exclaimed. He glanced at the Vermillion Bird. "Senior, your mission's over now that the demon's free. What are your future plans?"
His question stumped the bird. Indecision flashed in its eyes. It had kept watch for two hundred thousand years. The outside world now felt foreign. His top priority should have been to look for a suitable environment for his rebirth. But given the continent's situation, where would it find such a place?
"I haven't a clue," it sighed. "No matter, I'll help you fix this place first. I owe it to the Primosanct Sect," it volunteered. It wasn't in its best condition, but the young lord could also count on free labor in the form of the eight golem brothers. Together, they made for the best manpower he could ask for.
Even so, it still took them half a year to comb through all of the formations and mechanisms. He didn't merely repair them. Instead, he returned them almost fully to their former glory. That was the best he could do presently.
His cultivation was far below that of his almighty ancient predecessors. The Boundary Stele, in particular, tested the limits of his ability. But he repaired it enough it no longer tottered on the verge of breaking down.
In the process, he'd used more than half the spirit stones in the mine.
However, he didn't think about taking the mine with him. First, carrying so many spirit stones would be inconvenient and second, there was a strategic meaning to the mine's location.
Or rather, the ancient sect had arranged it there for a particular reason. The spirit stones would make reestablishing the sacred land all the easier.
After ensuring he hadn't forgotten anything, he remarked, "Senior, I've done all I can. The Boundary Stele will hopefully keep the demon outside. It doesn't have to be long, just three to five hundred years will be enough."
The Vermillion Bird smiled. "Don't worry. The demon lord will need a couple centuries to refine another celestial demon body. Then he'll needs to regain his power. It's impossible for him to make waves within three hundred years!"