The Order's army finally tore away the clothes they'd hiding in, baring their fangs and unleashing their lofty aura. The frightening momentum dimmed the celestial bodies and eclipsed the land, aweing Veluriyam into shock and trepidation.
The Order had launched its attack!
The dreadful news spread like wildfire throughout the city.
Perhaps this force's numbers didn't rival the former northern alliance, but the quality was far and beyond. Each soldier was an elite with absolute strength. Peak great emperors like Pillzenith had been the highest level in the northern alliance, but the empyrean rank supreme lord was personally leading the charge this time!
A genuine empyrean master had finally arrived. The dawn of a new era had arrived! After ten thousand years, great emperors no longer reigned supreme in the human domain!
With his cultivation, the supreme lord rivaled the entire northern alliance all by himself. Moreover, he'd brought along a pack of tigers and wolves. More importantly, Veluriyam was weaker than during the previous war, because events were all too sudden!
As everyone knew, the young lord was currently traveling to the distant Ninesuns Sky Sect. The city was currently without clear leadership. Jiang Chen was the city's backbone. Without him, who was to lead the resistance? Who could contend with the matchless supreme lord? Shock spread throughout Veluriyam.
In the young lord residence on Sacred Peafowl Mountain, many had yet to learn of Jiang Chen's return. He'd ordered a lockdown on the news to avoid letting the enemy get wind of his presence. The element of surprise was the key to victory in this war.
"Ole Gold, I haven't forgotten your clan's contribution in the previous battles. You'll be my surprise force this time. When all's said and done, I'll give you your just reward." Jiang Chen took care to summon the rat king and warn him ahead of time.
After so many years at the human's side, the rat king was keenly aware following the young lord had been the smartest choice of his life.
He'd enhanced the rat tribe's bloodline through various methods, increasing their strength at least tenfold. Thanks to resources provided by the young lord, the rat king's own power had soared to the point it could now easily match an advanced emperor cultivator.
But of course, personal strength had never been the tribe's forte. Rather, they relied on their fertility and numbers. This was a peerless asset in large-scale battles, whether offensive or defensive, and also the greatest reason why the young lord so valued the tribe.
Ole Gold was confident its tribe was even more useful in war than the true dragon clan or the white tiger clan, at least for now.
After all, Long Xiaoxuan and Little White were alone, while the Goldbiter Rats were legion. Before the two matured, they couldn't display their innate superiority in battle.
Now is the most crucial time for establishing our importance in the young lord's mind. When Long Xiaoxuan and Whitey mature, our tribe might have fewer opportunities to contribute.
Indeed, this was the best time window for his kin.
"Young master, don't worry. Just like with the northern alliance, our hard teeth will make quick work of the Order! It'll be a sumptuous meal!" The rat king made a bloodthirsty gesture, its face set in a fierce scowl.
Jiang Chen laughed in spite of himself. The rat tribe usually cowered inside its nest. It was rare to see Ole Gold strike such a ferocious pose. The string of victories and the tribe's continued growth must have increased the rat king's confidence.
But he still warned, "Ole Gold, don't take our enemies too lightly. They're nothing like the northern alliance, so stay sharp."
"Don't worry, young lord. They must be arrogant because they're backed by empyrean cultivators, but it means nothing to our numbers. We'll teach them the meaning of a rat tide!"
The formerly timid rat king had become surprisingly bold of late.
Jiang Chen smiled appreciatively at the change. "Ole Gold, have your descendants keep their eyes open and report anything suspicious!"
As the tribe matured, it had also become increasingly flexible. Many outstanding geniuses had emerged, growing into strong and skilled rat captains. They couldn't match Ole Gold yet in strength or seniority, but the speed and momentum of their growth was a delightful trend.
"Order our allies to take their men and retreat to the core area. There's no need for them to stick to an impossible defense." His command reached all the other factions.
Everyone believed him absent, but an order from Sacred Peafowl Mountain still represented his will. Many allies had been ready for a fight to the death, but immediately sounded the retreat once they received the word.
They were too weak to contend with the enemy. Any resistance, no matter how brave or unyielding, would be hurling an egg against a rock. So no matter how fiercely resolute they were, they naturally wouldn't choose suicide given the choice.
"Defend the inner city, protect the pagodas!"
The army quickly understood the intention behind the command. They were to gather and safeguard the city's most crucial assets. The pagodas, in particular, were Veluriyam's sacred totems. As long as they stood tall, Veluriyam's legacy forever survived!
The Order of Wind and Cloud pressed on, showing little interest for the factions they met on the way. It had its eyes set on the heart of the city. With inexorable impetus, they laid siege to the city's core less than half a day later.
"Supreme Lord, do you see these buildings so tall they pierce the clouds? These are the three Veluriyam Pagodas. The main pagoda is the tallest one, while the other two are the auxiliary martial and pill pagodas. Together, they are Veluriyam's sacred totems."
Many people scrambled to inform the supreme lord, eager to fawn upon him.
The supreme lord's serene gaze landed on the buildings. In truth, he was deeply stirred by their densely ancient atmosphere.
"Such an aura! Worthy of ancient constructions indeed. What an eyesore it is for lowly humans to occupy such a holy land!" His tone brimmed with an overweening sense of superiority.
The Pagodas constituted the ancient Veluriyam Sect's sacred land. He couldn't repress his greed when he thought of the ancient inheritances undoubtedly stored within.
"Supreme Lord, should we attack right now, or…" Devourcloud asked for instructions.
He and Scourcloud had spearheaded this war. Bluntly put, they were to open a bloody path for the rest of the army.
"We're in no hurry. Let's wait first." The supreme lord smiled leisurely. All of a sudden, his figure blurred as he shot in the sky. Standing on a ball of divine light, a mysterious cloak fluttered about him, making him seem even more mysterious and impenetrable.
"Listen to me, you of Veluriyam." His faint voice spread from the sky. "By the will of the heavens, this supreme lord shall take control of the human domain. Henceforth, your city is ours. Submit and prosper, or resist and die!"
His indifferent voice had been far from a shout, yet it rumbled like thunder, reaching the ears of every cultivator in every corner of the city.
Devourcloud didn't miss the opportunity to flatter his liege. "Our supreme lord is an empyrean master! His advent is foreordained by the heavens. Why aren't you submitting yet?"
Veluriyam's great emperors hadn't evacuated yet with the rest of the men. They'd stayed on Sacred Peafowl Mountain instead. At this moment, all of them were gathered together.
The young lord's presence was still a secret. Even they weren't in the know, so as the city's young madam, Dan Fei, had become the de facto temporary leader.
"Young madam, with the enemy at our doorstep and the young lord still far away in the Ninesuns Sky Sect, we are in dire peril." Petalpluck sighed. "Did the young lord leave a master plan with you before leaving?"
Dan Fei calmly said, "Have the skies collapsed? Why are you so anxious?"
Her sharp eyes fell on the supreme lord standing high in the clouds outside the mountain. Surrounded by a crowd of strong sycophants, his majestic aura seemed unparalleled.
"Is that the Order's supreme lord?"
Coiling Dragon nodded. "No one's seen him before. But with his prestige, I assume no one would dare impersonate him."
Dan Fei narrowed her almond-shaped eyes, her voice clear as crystal, "If he's so secure in his victory, why is he parading about for us to see? Why hasn't he attacked yet? Can any of you tell me this?"
The great emperors looked at each other. The young madam's composure surprised many of them. They'd seen Huang'er before and had very much admired her self-possession and the broadness of her vision.
Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter also seemed outstanding in that regard. At the very least, she was far steadier than the great emperors.