Deep down, the palace head didn't want something so miserable to happen to the Empyrean River Palace. They had followed Pillfire City out of necessity; because it was the city's closest neighbor. Pillfire had plenty of ways to subjugate them unwillingly.
Even if that kind of effort wouldn't have destroyed them completely, it would have weakened and sidelined them out of the ranks of the first rank sects. Without Pillfire, they would be intentionally degrading themselves if they voluntarily joined the Order of Wind and Cloud.
Jiang Chen hadn't overrun them last time, but that didn't mean he would hesitate to do so this time. After thinking about it for a long while, the palace head rubbed the letter between his fingers, reducing it to dust.
"Forget it all. The Empyrean River Palace has erred once, and we will not do that again. The Order's rapid rise must have a hidden faction and agenda behind it. Perhaps tempests are looming on the horizon again. It may be wise for the Empyrean River Palace to take shelter..."
"Palace Head, self-preservation is the worst strategy." The venerated elder shook his head. "I think we must look instead to Veluriyam's attitude. Young lord Jiang Chen has ambition, acumen, and ability. He isn't going to idly stand by and allow the Order to rampage freely. It's impossible that the new faction isn't rousing Veluriyam's ire. I think that Veluriyam hasn't made its thoughts known yet because it might be observing everyone in secret. Testing our reactions, maybe?"
These words were a sharp reminder to the palace head. The elder was right. Veluriyam was the publicly acknowledged leading faction of the entire human domain. It should have been the most sensitive and reactionary to a faction as ravenous as the Order.
Why hadn't it reacted yet, given that information?
Could anyone guarantee this wasn't a test of loyalty?
The Sublime Chord Temple and the Moon God Sect received similar missives at almost the same time. The Order's ambitions were blatantly on show within.
The Great Yu Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court, however, didn't. It seemed that the Order was still mildly wary of Veluriyam.
There was no panic on Veluriyam's side. Its high-level leadership had experienced plenty of winds and waves before now.
Having seen the ease with which young lord Jiang Chen had smashed the originally arrogant Pillfire City, the momentum of the current Order didn't intimidate the city.
In the Veluriyam of today, Emperor Peafowl was seldom mentioned anymore. Young lord Jiang Chen's status and prestige these days had surpassed even their erstwhile ruler for three thousand years.
It wasn't that the city was particularly forgetful or ungrateful, mind you. Jiang Chen's accomplishments were simply too remarkable to ignore. In the last ten thousand years at least, there hadn't been a young genius that could pull off anything remotely similar to him.
Not everyone could be so calm about the Order though. One such impatient man was Shangguan Yanqing, the inspector of the Ninesuns Sky Sect. He'd participated in the Dragon and Tiger Meet, impressing Jiang Chen with his upright attitude. His existence was a lubricant between the young man and his sect.
Now that Ninesuns was under threat from the Order, he was the man for the tough job of requesting help from Veluriyam Capital. The reason was very simple: he was the one who hit it off best with Jiang Chen.
The Ninesuns Sky Sect had steered clear of the northern coalition affair a few years ago. 'Emperor Newsun' hadn't managed to fool them into participating. This decision meant that there was no enmity at all between Veluriyam and the sect.
The revelation of the imposter's deceit hadn't revealed the whereabouts of the real man. It was precisely because of the lack of stiffness between Ninesuns and Jiang Chen that the sect thought it prudent to request his assistance.
The two venerated elders most embittered against the youth, Wu Gong and Chen Lei, had no opposition to the motion.
The Order's hard attitude had quite isolated the Ninesuns Sky Sect. Without relying on Veluriyam's strength, they could very well become the second Heavenly Dragon Sect. Just recalling that sect's near-destruction in such a short time frame terrified the entire Ninesuns Sky Sect. There was no schadenfreude left, only a strange sadness for a comparable rival.
It'd been almost three months since Shangguan Yanqing's arrival at Veluriyam. Unfortunately, everyone told him that Jiang Chen was in closed door cultivation.
In the world of martial dao, closed door cultivation was only slightly less important than matters of true life and death.
In other words, people behind closed doors weren't usually to be disturbed without exceptional emergency. It was easy to create a cultivation deviation with the interruption.
"Daoist Coiling Dragon, when is young lord Jiang Chen coming out of cultivation? Do you have a timeframe of some sort?" Shangguan Yanqing was extremely anxious.
"How would I know when the young lord finishes his seclusion?" Emperor Coiling Dragon smiled wryly. "I daresay the young lord himself wouldn't be able to give you a specific date."
Shangguan Yanqing was about to burst into flame. "The enemy is at the gate. The Order is extremely ambitious. Unsatisfied with the Heavenly Dragon Sect alone, it now moves against the Ninesuns Sky Sect. If we can't stop it in its tracks, the human domain will suffer more than it ever did under Pillfire City!"
This wasn't entirely exaggeration. The Order's recent actions had indeed sent the human domain into a panic.
Pillfire was once quite fierce, but never so overtly as the Order was now being. To put it bluntly, it hadn't had the gall. The Heavenly Dragon Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect had been wary of Pillfire, but never particularly afraid. The Order, on the other hand, had inspired plenty of fear into Ninesuns.
Suddenly, Emperor Coiling Dragon's face brightened. He looked down the hall. "Young lord!"
The other great emperors collectively stood up as well. Jiang Chen's reappearance had given them back their confidence. Their eyes lit up with enthusiasm.
Jiang Chen swept his eyes across the room. Almost every expert in the city was congregated here. There was an additional guest as well: Shangguan Yanqing.
"Inspector Shangguan, how are you doing?" Jiang Chen smiled at the man in greeting.
For Shangguan Yanqing, the sight of Jiang Chen was like a parched man in the desert catching sight of an oasis. He rushed up to the youth. "Young lord Jiang Chen, you're finally available again."
"Don't be in such a hurry, Shangguan Yanqing. I know about the Order. But since I'm so freshly out of seclusion, I haven't finished many of my considerations. If any of you have any specific tidbits about the Order, please do let me know."
"The Order is lording it over absolutely everyone. It's already taken over most of the Heavenly Dragon Sect's former holdings. I suspect that even the sect itself may have bowed down secretly to their enemy. Many of the Upper Eight Regions' sects may find themselves embroiled in indecision once again."
"I'm glad that Pillfire's been quelled already. If the Order and the old Pillfire had banded together, the combination of their interests would prove disastrous."
"Young lord, the Order is very mysterious. We believe that it will come for Veluriyam Capital sooner or later."
"Yes, the Order carries a lot of momentum right now. It seems to want to rule the entire human domain."
"Young lord, the Order may be harder to deal with than Pillfire."
A lot of information was fed to the young leader, giving him a better grasp of the situation.
"My friends, the Order is indeed concerningly strong. Do you know who their sect head and executives are?" Jiang Chen was curious about some things not yet revealed.
There were only two possibilities: either the executives were human experts who'd hid themselves from the world, or aliens altogether.
The former was fine enough, but the latter had to be carefully guarded against.
Jiang Chen consoled Shangguan Yanqing a bit. "Inspector Shangguan, go back to the Ninesuns Sky Sect for now. If the Order wishes to rise as a human faction, I see no reason to stop it. However, if that rise involves the conquest and destruction of other sects, that is another matter altogether! Veluriyam will certainly intervene in that case."
He made no promises about actively assisting, but his attitude was clear.
Shangguan Yanqing was very pleased. "You are a chivalrous man, young lord Jiang Chen. With Veluriyam's backing, we Ninesuns can stand tall once more."
The inspector clearly harbored a healthy respect for the youth.
There was a good deal of discussion among Veluriyam's great emperors after Shangguan Yanqing was sent off. The conservative ones didn't support aiding the sect, with Emperor Petalpluck at the forefront.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, the relationship between Ninesuns and us is lukewarm at best. They are courteous because they have something to ask of us…" The emperor was the first to voice his concerns.
"That's right, young lord. It may not entirely fit with what is most profitable to Veluriyam." Emperor Skysplitter offered similar advice.
Jiang Chen's eyes were filled with wisdom. "Settle down, everyone. The Order means ill, and it would be foolish to judge things so transiently. Its enormous appetite forebodes its ultimate goal. It's sure to be our enemy one day in the future."
There was no question about that.
Any faction wishing to rise to prominence in the human domain couldn't bypass the presence of Veluriyam Capital.
The Order was practicing the art of dividing and conquering. It was sure to point its spear at Veluriyam eventually. Rather than fighting alone at that time, it was more advantageous to interfere early on. For this reason, Jiang Chen possessed more poise than Petalpluck and the rest.
"Coiling Dragon, send out the news to every sect under the heavens. Veluriyam is planning to hold a meeting that encompasses the entire human domain, at which we will discuss matters of import. Any sect third rank or above is eligible to participate."
Jiang Chen was never hesitant about the important things. His command was decisive and clear-cut. Though he didn't know where the Order had come from, the human domain could not presently permit any delay. He had to resolve the crisis immediately!