Han Tianzhan looked at Jiang Chen worshipfully. "Young lord Jiang Chen," he promised, "I've never been impressed much by anyone all my life, but you impress me a great deal! The stagnant waters of the Upper Eight Regions should be stirred up. They'll going to turn putrid otherwise!"
Han Tianzhan was a leader with reasonable ambitions. The Great Yu Skysword Sect was one of the strongest first rank sects in the Upper Eight Regions. However, despite its strength, it couldn't compare in strength or resources to the urban giants that were Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City.
That, combined with Jiang Chen's unique charisma and plethora of methods, made Han Tianzhan enamored with the young lord's abilities. His heroism was completely ignited by what Jiang Chen had said.
As for Su Huanzhen, she had always been on good terms with Veluriyam Capital. To this day, she pined after Emperor Peafowl. Her care for Veluriyam Capital was second only to her care for the Celestial Cicada Court.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, the Celestial Cicada Court will stand firmly by Veluriyam Capital's side, wherever and whenever!" This was her promise.
"Alright! Adversity is the toughest trial for friendship. I won't let either of you down for making this difficult choice in such a trying time." Jiang Chen didn't resort to over-the-top language, but the things he spoke sounded quite credible to Han Qianzhan and Su Huanzhen nevertheless. Receiving the Emperor Supremacy Pill had made the two sect heads' trip worthwhile.
Jiang Chen was in a muted mood after sending his guests off. The things that had taken place within the human domain over the past few days could not be ignored.
"Young lord, Pillfire City seems to be dispensing with all civilities. How shall we deal with them?" Coiling Dragon couldn't resist asking.
"We'll deal with them as they come," Jiang Chen replied coolly. "There's no need to panic. Things are absolutely not as simple as they seem. The biggest threat to the human domain now is no longer Pillfire, but the faction pulling the strings behind the scenes."
The faction's secrecy unsettled Jiang Chen.
"We shall maintain steady fortitude in the face of change." This was the strategy that the young lord settled on.
Though Veluriyam was missing Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers, the eight stone golem brothers were here to pick up the slack. In terms of total strength, the city had seen only an increase. Moreover, Pillzenith's son was still in Jiang Chen's hands. Even if the great emperor dared pull some trick or three, he wouldn't do anything particularly dastardly. Otherwise, his dearest son would come to a tragic end.
Jiang Chen still felt somewhat suffocated after he returned to the young lord residence. He found the Vermilion Bird and retold everything that had happened today. The bird was as surprised as he had been when it heard the news. The demise of Cloudbillow and the rest had been witnessed by the divine creature as well.
"You say that they've all come alive again, and they're in the human domain right now? Are you sure?" The Vermilion Bird's tone was nothing short of astonished.
"It sounds incredible, but it's true." Jiang Chen shook his head, uncertain of what more to say. He couldn't make heads nor tails of it either.
There must be some terrifying faction behind all this. Exactly how they'd pulled it off though, he had no clue. He didn't even know who the culprit actually was.
The bird was silent for a long while before it asked another question. "What do you plan to do then?"
"I plan to use inaction to counter their action. I'll let them hop around for a bit, and when they're out of ideas and strategies, I'll deliver a lethal blow. No matter who the mastermind is, I'll drag him out from behind the curtain," Jiang Chen promised grimly.
"A wise choice," nodded the bird. "Stay calm! You can't be thrown off by their antics at this stage. Do whatever you need to do."
Jiang Chen inclined his head as well. "That's right, senior. You've come to the young lord residence for a while. I totally forgot that I have a small present to give you."
"Present?" The Vermilion Bird blinked.
"I can't extend your life yet, but I do have a wood spirit spring that can help you purify your constitution and blood. It may improve your vitality somewhat. It won't actually help you live any longer, but I think it'll alleviate many of your current symptoms."
"A wood spirit spring?" The Vermilion Bird's eyes lit up. "I've heard of it before. A marvel of nature, able to purify blood and enhance many forms of life."
Jiang Chen led the Vermilion Bird to the spring at the back of the mountain.
The divine creature was overjoyed at the overwhelming power the spring radiated. It was certain that the water could do exactly Jiang Chen had advertised. Though it couldn't give the bird new life, it would certainly delay the deterioration of its bodily functions.
Ten days later, the Vermilion Bird emerged from the wood spirit spring looking completely different. The depressed air that'd clung to it was largely gone.
"I didn't expect your home to have so many treasures hidden around it, Jiang Chen. There's more to you than meets the eye." The bird was in a very good mood. The brief respite it had received wiped away its former dejection.
"I can only do this much for you, senior. The baptism of the wood spirit spring may not put off the inevitable, but it will prolong your time until then. From what I know of rebirth from fire however, your opportunities don't lie within the human domain."
The human domain of present day was no longer the bustling one of the ancient era. This place could no longer sustain the demands of a divine creature's tribulation.
The Vermilion Bird looked intently. "Where do you think my opportunities will be?"
"I think the best place for you will be Myriad Abyss Island." Jiang Chen had little understanding of the other races' territories, but those places were unlikely to be the core of the continent. Only Myriad Abyss Island had the requisite strength and prestige to take that title.
"Myriad Abyss Island… Myriad Abyss Island…" The Vermilion Bird repeated those words to itself several times, clearly moved by them.
After a few moments, it nodded. "Jiang Chen, it is only thanks to you that I was freed from the Primosanct Sect. My rejuvenation in the waters of your wood spirit spring is similar. The human race is going through a troubled time at present, so I've decided to stay here to help you whenever you need it!" As a proud spirit creature, it was intent on repaying Jiang Chen's grace.
Jiang Chen blinked. "Does your vitality allow you to delay like this?"
"Don't worry!" The bird said. "I know my body better than you do. Without the wood spirit spring, I may not have had three decades left. After its purifying waters, my vitals have temporarily improved. My estimates give me at least two hundred years left."
"Senior, you may wish to reconsider." Jiang Chen was happy to receive the Vermilion Bird's promise. However, considering the bird's condition, he didn't want to unduly hold it up from its own plans.
As they conversed, someone ran in hurriedly from outside.
"Young lord, we just received news that Pillfire has gathered thirty-some sects in a crusade against Veluriyam Capital. Their goal is you, young lord!" It was Jiang Chen's confidante and cousin, Xue Tong. The young man was quite anxious, evidently scared by the news.
"Thirty-some sects?" Jiang Chen smiled faintly, his expression almost mocking. "Pillfire was able to mobilize quite a number, hrmm!"
Xue Tong was very surprised at his reaction.
"Young lord, the alliance will be within the city in ten days. I fear the worst!" The young lord's cousin was far more worried than the youth himself.
Jiang Chen was perfectly at ease. "How many first rank sects are there?" He asked coolly.
"Four. The Heavenly Dragon Sect, the Sublime Chord Temple, the Empyrean River Palace, and the Eternal Celestial Capital! I hear that the Ninesuns Sky Sect's executives are bickering among themselves. Some of Newsun's supporters chose to stand with Pillfire… but the sect's Emperor Clearsky has clearly expressed his nonparticipation in these pointless crusades. He's also stated publicly that he has faith in the type of person you are, and that the Boundary Steles aren't so easily broken!"
Another sect in such internal strife was the Moon God Sect. However, the division there wasn't quite so significant. Because of the marriage between the two factions, that sect would never publicly support Pillfire. That would hold true no matter the extent of the threats levied against them.
Jiang Chen laughed when he heard all this. "Those four first rank sects again, eh? When I came back from the Moon God Sect, they were the ones who ambushed me. The same villains are now back with the same recipe. I wasn't scared of them while in their territory and there's nothing to fear in our home base!"
His comfort and ease was infectious. Xue Tong calmed down a great deal.
"On the contrary, I'm more worried they won't come." Jiang Chen was referring to Cloudbillow and company. Cloudbillow in particular had been slain by the young lord's hand - or arrow, to be more precise. How could a person return from beyond the pale like that?
Unfurling a map, Jiang Chen studied the terrain around Veluriyam Capital carefully.
A few moments perusing the map was enough for him to circle a few key spots.
"We'll hold them back at these three choke points. We can't let external forces enter Veluriyam proper! How will I live up to Emperor Peafowl otherwise?"
Though Jiang Chen had advocated inaction, his opponent had dealt a potent hand. He wasn't about to remain a sitting duck.
He preferred to counterattack on the outskirts of the city. The fires of battle could not be allowed to burn within Veluriyam's heart.
"Bring young master Tian Lin to me," commanded Jiang Chen.
He had warned Pillzenith that any wrong move would be met with the execution of his son on the field of battle. Pillzenith's repeated provocations had worn his patience thin. Without a doubt, the correct solution was decisively root out the foundation of all trouble!