The golems had served Jiang Chen with unswerving loyalty since their reawakening. They never complained, no matter his plans. But this time, the prospect of separating soul from body again worried Big Stone.
"Savior, is it gonna be dangerous? This time, we don't want to…"
"Don't worry, it'll be for less than a day at most. We simply need to get back to Veluriyam in a flash. We'd need a couple days at least otherwise and we don't have such luxury."
Convinced by the young lord's sincerity, Big Stone glanced at his brothers, then tightened his jaw. "Alright, let's do this, Savior. You know best!"
The golems were as simple and straightforward as they came. Jiang Chen naturally wouldn't deceive them. Without further ado, he took the four brothers' souls from their bodies and sealed them inside the four stone carvings while their bodies turned back into giant statues.
Putting away the carvings, he silently vowed, "Big Stone, don't worry. I'll repay you tenfold for today's debt. If I can, I'll help you restore your tribe to its past glory. Even if I can't, I'll reunite you with your kin in the heavenly planes!"
Stone Golems were rare existences, but despite that, the Divine Abyss Continent wasn't their only home. More of them existed on various planes.
Jiang Chen then summoned the allied leaders and told them he had to return immediately to handle trouble arising in Veluriyam. He exhorted them to continue forward as if nothing had changed.
The news gladdened the men. It was surprising the Ninesuns Sect wasn't the enemy's true target, but at least they no longer had to risk their lives. Only, they couldn't make their relief too obvious.
"Young lord, wouldn't it be too arduous to withstand the order all by yourself? Why don't we go back as well and lend you a hand?"
"No need. They might have an ambush prepared just in case. Just charge towards the Ninesuns Sky Sect and make them believe I'm still with you. Let's see who'll have the last laugh!"
The young lord wasn't looking down on them. It would simply be impossible for them to return in time, even without an ambush on the way. So they might as well play along and lull the enemy into a false sense of security while he returned in secret.
In a battle of this scale, numbers weren't all that mattered. Strategy was also vital. Jiang Chen firmly believed there was a chance if he played his cards right!
Woosh! The spacetime seal vanished in the air, melting into nothingness. In the next moment, his figure reappeared inside Veluriyam's Third Palace of Heritage.
"Hm? You came to challenge my palace sooner than expected." A lazy voice rose languidly from the depths of the palace.
Pressed for time as he was, Jiang Chen went straight to the point. "Senior, I'm allowed two chances, correct? I'm merely borrowing the palace for quick transit this time. Please show me the exit, for I must return to Veluriyam posthaste. Otherwise, the city's very foundations will be in peril!"
After a long, stupefied silence, the voice finally responded, a little sullen, "Kid, are you joking?"
"Senior, please be lenient. I wouldn't be so impetuous if I had any other choice." He was indeed in no mood to challenge the third palace at such a time.
And also, back in the second palace, the Crimson Heaven Palace, Venerated Skysoarer had told him it would be best to wait until advanced emperor realm before attempting the third. Otherwise, his odds of success would be almost nil.
Each palace only allowed for two attempts and here he was, recklessly squandering one of them. Naturally, he wouldn't waste such a precious opportunity if not forced to.
"Hmph, peril? What peril could there be? Are the demons back to haunt us?" Indignation still colored the indolent voice.
"I'm not certain either. The enemy is extraordinary, but I don't know if he's a demon. What I do know is that he's no less of a threat." He could only confess the truth. Despite his sense of urgency, there was no exit to be found without guidance.
The voice humphed. "It doesn't matter. Kid, remember this. Whatever the reason, you're committing a grave offense against the third palace! I'll think hard on whether I need to increase the difficulty for you next time!"
Jiang Chen complained silently, but he could only offer a cupped fist salute. "Senior, please punish me as you fit. You won't hear a complaint from me. But right now, I would be grateful if you could show me the way."
Even if still angry, the palace guardian didn't continue making things difficult for him in the face of his earnestness. "Get lost then!"
As if by magic, a beam of light drew an exit in front of Jiang Chen.
"Many thanks for your help, senior!" Delighted, Jiang Chen immediately threw himself inside the gate. The exterior of the pagoda immediately appeared in his sight.
He took in a deep breath. There was a heavy weight on his chest, as if he'd lived through ten years in a flash, yet he was strangely exhilarated.
I'm back. He'd returned in less than an hour!
Even the Vermillion Bird stared in stupefaction when he reappeared inside the young lord residence.
"Kid, did you learn the art of travelling through spacetime?" That would be a shocking feat, out of reach even for all of the ancient powerhouses.
Many of them had a rudimentary understanding of such arts, but to directly cross space and time was beyond an empyrean powerhouse's ability. Even higher existences would find it beyond difficult.
Jiang Chen smiled. "Of course not. It's just some ancient art. Do you think I'm an existence above empyrean masters? Why would I worry about a trivial Order of Wind and Cloud if so? Senior, what is the enemy up to now?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Nothing for now. Perhaps they're waiting to hear about your arrival in the Ninesuns Sky Sect before launching a full-on assault. They're very slippery. You must be very careful this time."
Jiang Chen nodded gravely. The divine creature wasn't being overly cautious. The Order must have made ample preparations to dare attack Veluriyam, while he had little time to plan. This was a thorny problem indeed.
It was fortunate the Order hadn't attacked yet. There was time yet for everything.
"I'll get ready first." He immediately secluded himself.
The first order of business was to reawaken Big Stone and his brothers. It hadn't been long since he'd used the secret art on them. They weren't entirely asleep yet, making his task much easier.
The four stone golems quickly revived safe and sound. Inspecting himself from head to toe, Big Stone was relieved to see he hadn't lost what little strength he'd previously recovered.
"Savior, we back in Veluriyam yet?"
"We are. Big Stone, I had no choice but to use the secret art. I need you the four of you against the Order's overwhelming strength."
Big Stone thumped his chest in excitement. "Don't worry, what's a small Windy Order? Brave warriors of the Stone Golems fear no one!"
"Right, don't worry. We'll charge at the front and flatten everyone in our path!"
Jiang Chen didn't doubt their fighting spirit. They were born for war.
"Great, this young lord likes to see your enthusiasm. Don't worry, ample opportunities await you in the coming fight!"
There would be no steamrolling his enemy like he'd done against Pillzenith. A fierce, bitter battle would take place this time. His current opponent far exceeded the former Pillfire in strength and cunning, while he had fewer men than against the northern alliance.
In Bluesky, at least the Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court had been at his side. They hadn't fought, but their mere presence had been intimidating enough.
But he felt no fear. The worst would be for the Order to shy away from confrontation. On the contrary, he would welcome a head-on clash with open arms. He could understand his enemy's hidden aces then. To know thyself and know thine enemy, and thou shall win a hundred battles without a loss.
In Veluriyam, Jiang Chen wasn't without his own cards.
First, the advantage of terrain. This was his homeground.
Second, he was aware of the enemy's plans, but they were still in the dark about his. They were in for a rude awakening.
Third, with the golems and the Goldbiter Rats at his side, he wouldn't be hurting for manpower!
Even if he couldn't eradicate his enemies outright, he was confident he could teach them a profound lesson.
Of course, he had on clear goal above all else: to get rid of the so-called supreme lord. This man was the core reason why the Order had risen so high so fast.
To think he'd brainwashed so many human cultivators to his side in a mere few years, even titans like Sabledeep and Everviolet! The young lord couldn't but admire the man's skills. The supreme lord was a formidable adversary!