Jiang Chen had no issue evading the public eye in his own home.
Returning to his secret chamber, he sat down to peruse the diagrams resting in his mind. Different illusion techniques were depicted in each diagram, each symbolic of an incorporeal wall. They were a compendium of the Grand Marquis' lifetime knowledge in the illusory arts. The senior's faith in and encouragement towards his juniors was plain to see.
Heh. The Grand Marquis is such an interesting person. It's obvious that he ardently wants someone to pass the his test, but he puts on such a detached and disinterested facade...
Jiang Chen studied the diagrams meticulously and slowly digested their teachings. Indeed, they were the essence of what the marquis had learned over the years.
He was equally as fond of the seven Confounding Puppets. The senior had meticulously crafted them with every fiber of his being. Every one of them exuded an immensely powerful aura and embodied great battle strength.
It reminded Jiang Chen of the Soldier Rosary Beads, two different items with similar usages. Countless salivated over the beads, and yet the puppets were plainly far superior to the beads. The Confounding Puppets must be one of the marquis' greatest creations. I must make good use of them. They will serve me well.
The third palace trials had gone a lot smoother than expected. The rewards were so bountiful that it would take him some time to digest them all.
He entered closed door cultivation for a few days to consolidate his cultivation and further assimilate his new treasures. When that was done, he spent a few days in meditation.
His consciousness was in overdrive. The chain seal in his mind constantly fluctuated between dormant and active. This wasn't exactly a bad thing, but it still prompted some wariness since Jiang Chen had no control over it.
The power and potential contained within the seal was simply too frightening. Even he didn't dare forcefully investigate at this stage. The best thing he could do right now was follow his heart and let things run their natural course.
If the seal offered him assistance in times of need, he'd accept it with open arms. But if it lay dormant, he wasn't going to force it into action.
Father, what secrets did you plant into my consciousness when destruction visited the heavenly planes? Is the seal truly a heritage from my past life?
Jiang Chen was filled with questions and a healthy respect of this unknown helper in his mind.
All in all, it took him fifteen days before he was finally ready to exit closed cultivation. Just as he'd promised, he spent as little time as he could in here.
"Young lord! You're back already?!" The servants of the manor were surprised and elated to see that Jiang Chen had returned.
He swept his gaze across the crowd and saw nothing but worry and fret between their brows. "It's only been half a month. What's happened?"
Wellspring sighed. "Let me bring you up to speed."
The others nodded in agreement. The wandering titan likely had the clearest grasp of the entire situation.
Jiang Chen's re-emergence was a great source of morale and motivation, as each period of seclusion always resulted in enormous martial dao breakthroughs. The crowd assessed Jiang Chen to determine his cultivation gains, but they couldn't see anything. It was like staring into the bottomless sea!
This dumbfounded them. They knew that Jiang Chen was powerful, but not to the extent where they couldn't even size up his cultivation level! He'd surpassed all of them!?
"Let's take things one at a time, everyone. Old Brother Hui, take as much time as you need." Jiang Chen was a lot calmer and composed than before.
Emperor Wellspring sighed. "Young lord, you've only been gone for half a month, but someone snuck into Moon God Sect territory during this time and ambushed the prince of the Embittered Savages. According to the rumors, the prince suffered heavy injuries. It's unclear whether he's dead or alive."
"Oh? Which hero was so brave and valiant?" Jiang Chen was confused. Wasn't this good news? Why was everyone so anxious and worried? Or had the incident riled the invaders up and made them more aggressive in their conquest?
If that was the case, wasn't it just a simple matter of fighting fire with fire? Veluriyam was now a battle-hardened city. What was there to be afraid of?
"It would be good news if that was the only thing that happened. Unfortunately, the assassin declared your name and claimed that Veluriyam would uphold justice by defending every piece of human territory to the death. He even vowed full out war with the Embittered Savages!" Wellspring sighed.
Jiang Chen's expression snapped to solemn attention. With his sharp wits, he'd instantly grasped the severity of the situation. Someone was framing him!
Worst of all, the ploy had been extremely effective!
Fueled by their hatred of Jiang Chen, the Embittered Savages ㄎ deployed all of their main forces and marched towards Veluriyam. A fearsome enemy had set their sights on the human faction.
Also, by claiming that Jiang Chen was going to defend every city in the human domain, the culprit was able to hold the young lord's strategies hostage. There had been in fact, quite a few territories that Jiang Chen had planned on giving up.
It wasn't the cleverest of ploys, but effective all the same.
Jiang Chen didn't have the military strength necessary to protect every city in the human domain. Even if he did, he would never do such a brash thing. The look in his eyes was frosty. "The culprit is truly a sly one, but do they really think that we will fall so easily?"
"The Order must be behind this!" Emperor Peerless grumbled angrily.
"That's right. They are the only faction in the human domain that's capable of such a thing!"
The Gunuo village had taken over Moon God Sect territory and established their headquarters there. Not even Jiang Chen was confident or daring enough to sneak into the sect's former holy lands to ambush the prince.
He'd traded a few moves with the prince and understood just how powerful and disciplined the foreign prince's bodyguards were. Their loyalty and competency were unrivalled. Assassinating the prince was actually an almost impossible undertaking!
Even with the help of the golem brothers, Jiang Chen's chances of succeeding were close to none. The real culprit must've been quite the master.
The crowd was righteously indignant, and the young lord too suspected the Order was the culprit. However, the current human was filled with all manner of aliens and foreign factions. Who could say for certain that the Order was the true culprit?
Perhaps another faction had emerged out of nowhere yet again?
The human domain was no longer isolated from the outside world. It was entirely possible that there was more to this.
"Who can it be?" Jiang Chen was filled with uncertainty.
The only thing he was certain of was the culprit's motives. They were clearly manipulating the Embittered Savages into launching an all out attack on Veluriyam. It was a dastardly plan.
The Jiao brothers could hold their temper no longer. "Young lord, the Order has gone way too far this time. We need to swiftly get rid of them before the Gunuo army arrives, or they'll surely become a thorn on our side."
"Agreed. Young lord, the Order is a source of instability. How can two opposing factions exist in the same domain? It'd be perfectly fine if they were on the side of justice, but they're not! They're just as evil, if not more, than alien races!"
Indeed, the Order's biggest threat was the fact that they were insiders. Humans. It was easier to fend against a thousand outsiders than a single person inside the home.
Jiang Chen was swayed by the suggestion.
Exterminate the Order of Wind and Cloud?
He simulated the possibility in his mind. The Order had suffered an enormous setback after the previous battle. Unless backup had already arrived from Myriad Abyss Island, their forces should still be rather lacking.
The mysterious hermit of the human domain was the only outlier to worry about. However, Jiang Chen simply couldn't understand why the hermit had sided with the Order.
While he was deep in contemplation, news broke in from outside. "Young lord, breaking news from the northwestern wastes! Three armies from other Embittered Savage villages have arrived. Each carry a different flag!"
"Three other villages?" Jiang Chen was taken aback.
One Gunuo village was already enough to deal with. The arrival of three more armies meant that there was now four great armies in total! If they joined forces, they'd be more than enough to steamroll the entire human domain!
Veluriyam in its current state would have a very hard time defending against four combined armies. If the Order were to take this opportunity and add to the trouble, there'd be complete and utter chaos.
"Young lord, we can't afford anymore delays. We need to make our move before the armies finish consolidating. This'll be our only chance to eliminate the Order!"
"Indeed. Once the four armies have arrived at a common consensus, they'll sweep through the entire human domain like a storm!"
"We can use this opportunity to eliminate the Order!"
"Agreed! They're definitely the ones behind the assassination attempt. Those bastards! Why couldn't they just kill the prince decisively? Leaving him half dead is such a low move!" The crowd was riled up. They were waiting for Jiang Chen to give the order!