Jiang Chen quite agreed with the Vermillion Bird's opinion.
The demon needed to fuse with his new body, refine it, then restore his power. All of which would require at least a couple centuries. He wouldn't be a threat during that time!
In fact, Jiang Chen wasn't afraid of the demons at all. Time was his only enemy. As long as he had enough time to grow into his power, all ten demon tribes together would be no match for him.
He'd simply come to try his luck in Agarwood Valley. The unexpected events had let him experience how unpredictable and exciting life could be!
"Senior, you spoke of three signature treasures. The True Spirit Post is number three, the divine bow number two, so where's the first?"
A signature treasure was too important for him to forget. What did he lack most currently? Not martial techniques or pills, of course, but equipment and resources.
With the human domain's current state, he could only pray for a stroke of luck to stumble on earth-shaking equipment or materials. Thankfully, the current trip hadn't been in vain in that regard, despite the intense ups and downs.
However, despite the divine bird's close relationship with the sect, even it didn't know what the number one treasure was.
Jiang Chen felt some regret for missing out, but if it was destined to be his, he would obtain it sooner or later. To linger further would be a meaningless waste of time.
"Big Stone, are you brothers sure you want to follow me?" He naturally had to settle the eight golems' future before leaving.
Despite their immense strength, golems weren't as mature as humans, at least during childhood. The unknown represented an inexplicable fear for them.
Big Stone instantly tensed. "Savior, do you not want us?"
Jiang Chen smiled. "Of course not. I very much admire your strength and honesty."
"Then we'll follow you."
"Savior, you must take us in. Where are we gonna go if you don't?" All eight brothers sounded very nervous.
The scene struck the Vermillion Bird speechless. Like kids, the stone golems were begging a human far weaker than themselves. Humanity, and Jiang Chen in particular, are truly blessed by the heavens.
Its eyes suddenly flashed. "That reminds me. Jiang Chen, do you think the number one treasure could be these eight brothers?"
The young lord froze, then laughed. "That's right, why didn't I think of that?"
Eight statues towered mightily outside the palace like guardian totems. Yet they were living creatures, placed there by the sect's founder back in the primordial era. And it so happened that Jiang Chen had chanced upon the statuettes containing their souls. What was this if not providence?
His eyes gleamed as enlightenment struck. "Senior, you must be right! No prize could be greater than their help. What do you think?"
"I no longer have words for your amazing luck. Just be thankful for your good fortune!"
The divine creature had seen many so-called lucky men in the ancient times. But none of them could match this genius. The young man had shocked and awed again and again. His luck seemed to rival that of his entire race.
Thankfully, the bird wasn't familiar yet with Jiang Chen's past achievements. What would it think then?
Jiang Chen cast a glance at the golems' imposing stature, a little disgruntled. They were ten times as tall as regular men. Such frightening existences would attract too much attention in the human world. And no matter where they went, people would secretly set their eyes on them.
Jiang Chen thought for a moment. "Big Stone, your size is a heaven-bestowed gift. But you'd be too conspicuous in the human world. I have a technique that can shrink you down to human size. You can always return to your real stature when you need it. What do you say?"
"We want to learn, we want to learn!" Big Stone said hurriedly.
In fact, golems had always been frustrated by this issue. Their huge stature had alienated them from other races and made them the target of unwarranted enmity. It might have partly caused the tribe's downfall actually. So the brothers were of course willing. They didn't want to be seen as freaks and oddities.
The Vermillion Bird tilted its head, puzzled. Why could this young man solve an issue that had defeated so many mighty figures in the past?
The young human seemed more and more enigmatic. He had a special aura not even supreme ancient powerhouses had possessed, as if he was destined to be a leader of his race!
The golems practiced the art taught by Jiang Chen and indeed shrank to the size of a normal man, much to their delight.
Without the demon lord's siren calls and the Vermillion Bird's obstacles, the way back proved uneventful. But to the young lord's surprise, they saw not a soul outside Agarwood Valley.
True, they'd been inside for almost an entire year, but there should have been some people waiting for them even so!
"Maybe they heard some secrets from Newsun and Zi Tan that scared them away?" Doubt took root in his mind.
Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers had also come with him to Phoenix Cry. Where were they? Even if they'd left, they would've left signs for him. Yet he saw nothing of the sort.
All living creatures outside the valley seemed to have vanished, as if carried away by some mysterious power. Increasingly baffled, he looked around, certain that something had happened.
Everything seemed normal, but on closer inspection, he spotted faint signs of fighting. An ominous premonition rose in his chest. Peerless, in particular, was loyal to a fault and would never have left without a word. At the very least there should've been one person left here unless something terrifying had occurred.
Sensing his disquiet, the ancient bird couldn't help asking, "Jiang Chen, what's the matter?"
"Senior, something isn't right. I had three companions stationed outside the valley. They're loyal followers and wouldn't have left without a word."
The bird blinked, then observed the surroundings. "Strange. Is that what they call a paranormal phenomenon?"
Jiang Chen shook his head firmly, many ideas clashing in his mind.
"Let's go back first." Agarwood wasn't too far from the Purple Smoke Sect.
They soon reached it and found someone to inquire. It turned out the sect was equally on tenterhooks as they awaited the forefather's return!
Curiouser and curiouser. Zi Tan and Newsun should have left the secret realm safe and sound.
But they hadn't been at the entrance to the valley and neither had the old man returned to his sect. Jiang Chen's sense of unease grew even stronger.
He returned to the valley. Nothing had changed. There was no soul in sight and nothing but a deathly silence, as if the place had been forgotten in the mists of time.
He searched the area but ended up empty-handed. He could only bear his frustration and return to Veluriyam.
But on the way back, he noted with increasing dismay that a bizarrely bleak, silent, and lifeless atmosphere seemed to have descended upon the human domain. The sense of foreboding almost stifled him. In less than a year, the human world had become thoroughly unfamiliar.
Was it mere illusion? Or had something truly happened?
Restless, he made haste towards Veluriyam, his heart beating faster with every passing second. He would never forgive himself if something had happened to his city!