It hadn't taken long for Jiang Chen to eradicate the enemy's shock troops, even accounting for his breakthrough to seventh level emperor realm.
Meanwhile, the supreme lord, also known as Seventh Master Xiahou Jing of Myriad Abyss Island, was mired in a deadlock against the Vermillion Bird. He hadn't ordered the assault yet, wary as he was of the ancient beast. His threatening confidence was nothing but bravado.
The bird hadn't provoked him any further, as if aware of his intentions. The standoff suited it fine. It had little desire for an all-out fight given its physical condition.
"Senior Vermillion, give way and I promise to find a place suitable for your rebirth." Xiahou Jing tested the bird's resolve once more.
However, it was immune to his tricks and merely circled the sky above Sacred Peafowl Mountain in silent disdain.
In truth, the supreme lord was stalling for time as well, calculating how long it would take Elder Mo and Elder Peng to capture Jiang Chen and bring the boy back alive. With the young lord in his hands, the city would crumble without a fight.
But it'd been a long time already. No matter how slow Jiang Chen was traveling, he should be back soon. Why had there been no word yet?
Xiahou Jing stayed staunch despite the sneaking suspicion, but as time trickled by, his doubts slowly morphed into anxiety.
It's been too long. Did he abandon Veluriyam after hearing of our attack to start afresh somewhere else? The possibility wormed its way in his mind. If so, it would bode ill for his plans.
Impossible. Isn't the kid supposed to be loyal to his friends and true to his loved ones? How could he leave so many of them to die?
It seemed hard to believe. Nothing he knew of the young lord suggested he would make such a choice. But if not, there should've been news already. What was taking so long at the border?
Meanwhile, all great emperors were assembled in Sacred Peafowl Mountain.
The siege was a sharp sword looming over their heads, but the passage of time had slowly eased their anxiety. In particular, the return of Emperor Peerless and the Jiao brothers had greatly boosted their morale.
"Brother Mo, playing the undercover agent must have been rough on you. Do you know where the supreme lord comes from?" Coiling Dragon voiced a question everyone was curious about.
Mo Wushuang's face was grim. "He probably isn't from the human domain."
"Oh? How can you tell?"
"It's very simple. If he were, he would at least somewhat consider mankind's future. But personal schemes and ambitions are the only things on his mind. His every deed exposes his origins. He must be an outsider here with some ultimate motives!"
Sadly, that was merely a guess. Even as a lofty protector king, Peerless had learned very little about the supreme lord in all these years.
"An outsider?" Coiling Dragon frowned. "Is he a demon?"
Peerless muttered, "That was my first guess as well, but that shouldn't be the case. For one thing, he would have used demonic arts to control us and not poison. Not to mention, his highest priority would've been to free fellow demons rather than single mindedly strive for rule over the human domain."
"Poison? Is that how he controls you? Then…" Coiling Dragon froze. "He spoke the truth about the violent poison inside you?"
Peerless remained impassive. "Yes, that's true. It's imperceptible once dormant, but extremely virulent once it erupts. Even so, how can we betray our own? Jiao Yun, Jiao Feng, do you have any regrets?"
Jiao Yun cackled. "Regrets my ass! I'm not an upright man, but I have little desire to help them ruin our domain! Their Order is the scourge of humanity!"
Jiao Feng nodded. "That supreme lord acts so jumpy when it comes to the young lord. He's definitely afraid! And I'm sure the young lord will find a way to remove the poison."
Everyone nodded in agreement as if it was obvious. Anyone else might be stumped, but they had blind faith that the young lord was omnipotent when it came to pill-making.
Coiling Dragon nodded. "There's no poison in the world he can't cure."
Emperor Void sighed softly. "Despite his aggressive posturing, the supreme lord doesn't seem anxious to storm the city. He seems to be waiting for an opportunity, even playing for time. Gentlemen, shouldn't we be worried?"
"Why so?" Coiling Dragon puzzled.
"What's the reason behind his patience? He must be plotting against young lord Jiang Chen! Just think about it. The young lord will certainly rush back if he hears of our situation. If the enemy has an ambush set up along the way…" Emperor Void didn't dare contemplate the consequences.
The great emperors turned grave. Without Jiang Chen, everything was meaningless.
Mountaincrush chuckled. "The young lord isn't easy prey. With the stone golems by his side, even the Order will find him a tough bone to chew."
"True, he has nothing to fear in an open fight. But Daoist Peerless just mentioned they are adept with poison…" That was the core of Emperor Void's worries.
The atmosphere suddenly turned stifling. Clearly, even these great emperors were in the dark about Jiang Chen's secret return. But just then, Dan Fei offered leisurely, "It should be soon."
The crowd froze. What did she mean? Was the young lord coming back soon? Why did Madam Dan Fei sound so at ease? Wasn't she worried at all?
Dan Fei suddenly stood up and addressed them. "Gentlemen, young lord Jiang Chen should be back soon. Everyone get ready. You might be in for a pleasant surprise in the battle to come"
As if on cue, the Vermillion Bird crowed with happiness in the sky. Startled, the crowd rushed outside.
Xiahou Jing stiffened. He could perceive the strangeness of the bird's cry. Was it merely illusion? Or was that elation he heard? What was the bird so happy for?
"Hm?" His cold gaze suddenly fell somewhere afar. His consciousness could feel a new powerful force coming closer. He secretly beamed with delight. Are Elder Mo and Elder Peng finally triumphantly back?
The prospect galvanized him.
However, his joy didn't last long. His expression soon turned into a frowned, because he couldn't spot the two elders' familiar figures.
"Jiang Chen!" His heart palpitated when he discovered the newcomers' identity. How could that be? How had Jiang Chen returned safely from the elders' trap?
Had the brat made a detour?
The supreme lord immediately saw red. The plan had been perfect! He'd never considered the possibility that the ambush could fail. So why was Jiang Chen fine and dandy?! Moreover, the eight massive golems at his side seemed full of vigor and eager for a rumble.
"Jiang Chen? You?! How is this possible??" His low, fuming voice almost turned into a roar.
Jiang Chen flew in the sky above Veluriyam, his soaring figure prompting jubilant celebration in the entire city.
"The young lord is back!"
"Haha, we're saved!"
"I knew it. The young lord would never discard the city or abandon its people!"
"Long live young lord Jiang Chen, long live!"
The young lord's appearance breathed new life into the city, instantly dispelling the morose atmosphere and infusing new hope into the inhabitants.
Jiang Chen took in the supreme lord's figure beneath a fluttering cloak and snickered at the pretentious posturing. "Supreme Lord, you don't even have the courage to show your true face, how dare you try to rule over the entire domain? What a joke!"
The supreme lord snorted. Jiang Chen's return left him full of doubts, but in his heart of hearts, he didn't take the young man too seriously.
The ones he feared were the golems standing behind the young man. Without the shock troops led by the elders, it would be difficult for him to withstand all eight brothers by himself, even with all the men at his disposal.
"Jiang Chen, shouldn't you be at the Ninesuns Sky Sect? What, did you miss Veluriyam so much you rushed back to die?" Uncertain of the situation's ins and outs, the supreme lord tried to pry information out of his opponent.