Everyone's indignation at the Order also kindled Jiang Chen's own fury. Though the human domain was in poor shape already, the Order had been so blind as to contribute further to the mess. He could bear its existence no longer.
"Friends." Jiang Chen motioned downward with both hands, indicating for calm. "The Order has gone insane. It's a blight upon the human domain. If I continue to allow it to exist, its activities will only grow more damaging with time. This is why I hereby announce today that we will launch a campaign against the Order of Wind and Cloud!"
There was mass excitement at his words. His audience positively glowed. Clearly, they were at the end of their patience with the Order as well.
"Young lord, the human domain is already in a rough spot. We shouldn't create more problems for ourselves. If we become engaged in a bitter war with the Order and the Embittered Savages take advantage of that, then we'll be fighting on two fronts…" Petalpluck was as conservative and old-fashioned as ever. His mandate was always to reduce the number of problems by avoiding involvement in everything.
However, no one agreed with him this time. Even Skysplitter, who was quite close to him, had stayed quiet.
Coiling Dragon snickered. "If not wanting to get stepped on counts as creating problems for ourselves, let's just be doormats instead of people then! We're not the ones looking for trouble here! The human domain won't have peace as long as the Order is around!"
Petalpluck responded. "Their supreme lord comes from Myriad Abyss Island. He has a powerful background and equally powerful backers. It's easy to crush the Order now, but what of the trouble that results from it?"
He was one step ahead.
"If we don't get rid of the Order, the human domain won't have a future at all," Coiling Dragon fired back. "It's hard to say whether Veluriyam will have one, either. Compared to this, what's trouble down the line worth, hmm?"
Wellspring sighed as well. "Daoist Coiling Dragon is right. We are choosing the lesser of two evils. The Order has become a cancerous tumor upon the human domain. If we don't remove it, it will even grow more malignant. As for the future…"
The wandering emperor went on coolly. "Myriad Abyss Island is not owned by House Xiahou alone. Justice will be served in the end!"
"That's right. Are we supposed to allow him to do whatever he wishes just because he has some connections?"
"Uh huh! This is no laughing or trivial matter. If it were, we could simply steer clear of him. He's trying to destroy our homeland and our heritage. That's a grudge bitter enough to die for!"
"I support the campaign on the Order of Wind and Cloud!"
"And I!" General emotion in the room ran high. Those wishing for peace and diplomacy were almost entirely drowned out.
Jiang Chen inclined his head. "It looks like none of you can bear the Order's antics any more. If that's the case, prepare yourselves for battle. We march soon on my orders!"
Some preparations were naturally required for a campaign. Veluriyam's experts were exceedingly numerous now. Setting aside empyrean realm, it had a shocking number of great emperors.
Its lineup consisted of the ones it'd originally had, plus the ones that had come from various major sects, and the ones who'd formerly been wandering cultivators. In fact, the city now had over a hundred of them, with that number increasing by the day.
Because these experts came from all over the world, a unified command was even more imperative.
After everyone else left, Jiang Chen kept back a few of his closest confidantes.
Wellspring smiled. "Young lord, I feel that the campaign against the Order doesn't require any trumpeted announcements. Making such a big fuss over this will only allow them to put up defenses ahead of time."
Currently, the Order was badly hurt. Without reinforcements, it lacked the ability to take on Veluriyam head on. If it used terrain to its advantage and turtled in a war of attrition though, it could drag things out for an undesirably long period of time.
Veluriyam wanted a swift, decisive victory. If forced to drag out the campaign and the Embittered Savage army arrived, it would be at an immense disadvantage.
Peerless thought for a moment before adding, "I feel the same way as Old Brother Hui. The few years I spent at the Order gives me an understanding that if we ambush them, we can exploit the many holes in its defenses. The apparent strength of the Order was entirely due to the momentum it had. Fundamentally speaking, it has many flaws."
The viewpoints of the two men were quite similar.
Jiang Chen smiled slightly, glancing at Coiling Dragon. "What do you think, Coiling Dragon?"
The emperor chuckled, scratching his head. "Haha, I agree with my fellow daoists. It may not be optimal to announce our attack so publicly."
Jiang Chen burst into laughter. "So your agreement earlier wasn't heartfelt, huh? It was just to back me up?"
"Of course it was heartfelt!" Coiling Dragon hastened to explain. "I'm just beginning to see things in a different light thanks to my friends' opinions here. Maybe a frontal assault wouldn't be as good as an ambush."
This was also true.
Jiang Chen returned his casual smile. "I entirely agree with you. I did that to hide my true intentions from my enemy!"
"Oh?" Wellspring's eyes lit up. "Do you have another plan in mind, young lord?"
Jiang Chen nodded. "I will make a public announcement and openly prepare for a campaign. But discreetly, we shall take the Order by surprise!"
"Who will you send, young lord?" Coiling Dragon brightened.
"I won't send very many. The main force is solely a diversion. I am planning to take the field myself!"
Jiang Chen's daring suggestion elicited simultaneous cries of "no!" from Peerless and Wellspring. It was inappropriate for Veluriyam's young lord to personally infiltrate deep behind enemy lines.
Veluriyam had plenty of soldiers and combatants. Jiang Chen's hands-on participation didn't seem necessary.
Jiang Chen had expected their opposition. "Old Brother Mo," he smiled faintly, "do you think it'll be possible to defeat the Order in a short amount of time using a more common and ordinary method?"
Peerless considered this for a second, then shook his head. "Maybe, but it would be very difficult. The supreme lord is from Myriad Abyss Island and has some methods available to him even I can't fathom."
"The Order's main force has already been crushed. That organization now is nothing to be concerned about. I suspect the one responsible for the attack on the Embittered Savage Tribe is the human empyrean expert that came out of nowhere, rather than Xiahou Jing himself," the young lord mused.
Jiang Chen grew solemn. "My goal this time is twofold. I want to not only take out Xiahou Jing, but the mysterious empyrean expert as well."
The declaration rocked the group back on their heels.
"Empyrean expert? If he's a human senior, why is he doing such despicable things?" Peerless was a little perplexed.
Wellspring sighed. "A senior cultivator with the talent to attain empyrean realm… and yet he is so selfish. He's destroying his own roots and homeland. He's not fit for his cultivation level!"
The wandering cultivator titan rarely criticized others, but he was truly angered this time.
He completely agreed with Jiang Chen's hypothesis. As the supreme lord of the Order, Xiahou Jing couldn't possibly have risked himself on the venture. It was highly likely that the empyrean expert had done it.
At least, the expert had more than enough motive to be in cahoots with Xiahou Jing given the current way of things. If they had indeed formed a pact of some sort, the Order was sure to cause more trouble for the human domain.
"Why does this expert debase himself so?" Coiling Dragon still couldn't accept it.
He considered an empyrean expert to be someone above the pettiness of the world. A veritable immortal who worked and worried for the sake of the world. But this empyrean expert in particular completely defied his expectations.
Jiang Chen waved a hand. "I don't care what his motives are. The fact of the matter is, he's hostile to Veluriyam and doesn't have a sense of belonging to his race. These two points are obvious."
"If he's found responsible, he cannot be forgiven despite being an empyrean senior." Jiang Chen's tone was uncommonly stern.
Everyone else nodded in assent. "Absolutely not. A human senior who stoops so low is much more harmful than most!"
Jiang Chen nodded slightly, then changed the subject. "Veluriyam currently has many great emperors. I can hardly count the number of ordinary emperors we have any more. Unfortunately, we are a pile of loose sand right now. Our strength is scattered and incoherent. If we're engaged in a bitter battle, we'll only be able to have each man fight for himself. This means we are easy to defeat. I do have an idea that we can consider though."
"What ideas do you have, young lord?" As one of the foremost supporters of Jiang Chen's every idea, Wellspring couldn't resist asking about it.
"I know a few formations suitable for pitched battles. These formations will be able to induce increased harmony and synchronicity between the cultivators using them. Their battle strength will also be increased a great deal. For example, great emperors are essentially helpless before an empyrean expert. However, that won't necessarily be true after harnessing the power of formations."
These formations weren't from the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect, but ones that Jiang Chen carried in his own memory. He had trained a flock of Goldwing Swordbids to use such a formation back in a mundane kingdom. His eight followers then had also studied it.
The name of the particular formation was the Eight Trigram Assimilation Formation. Its largest advantage was that it was appropriate for cultivators of all levels, its strength depending on the composite of its users.
Back then, eight true qi realm cultivators had been able to fight against a spirit realm cultivator with it. The same applied here.
Great emperors who refined this formation to the fullest were able to fight evenly against an empyrean expert and were even capable of winning.
Veluriyam currently had no lack of manpower. It needed a proper battle plan instead. Jiang Chen knew that the cultivators gathered here came from all over the realm, which meant that all of them had their own habits and ideas. It was unrealistic to command them as if they came from a single sect and banner. How then was their fighting power to be maximized?
Thus, the Eight Trigram Assimilation Formation was essential.