News steadily passed on to Jiang Chan through the Goldbiter Rat King.
"Taking four different routes?" Jiang Chen was truly dumbstruck this time. Was this what the four great armies had finally come up with after biding their time for so long?
The Savages were isolated in enemy territory. Weakening their forces by dividing them was a cardinal military sin. The young lord was shocked by the enemy's decision. Not out of fear, but stupefied by the sheer idiocy.
"These Savages must have mush for brains. Don't they have any fear? What do they take us for?" He smiled wryly despite himself.
Wellspring muttered, "They've always been known for bravery rather than intricate schemes. I'd be dubious if they could come up with any profound war plans." To tell the truth, despite the great emperor's wisdom, he couldn't fathom the enemy's intentions.
Peerless shook his head with a wry smile. "I don't understand this either."
Jiang Chen laughed. "No matter what, judging by their different itineraries, it'll be difficult for them to coordinate their efforts. This is an opportunity for us."
Peerless' eyes lit up. "Do you have an idea, young lord?"
Jiang Chen smiled. "I do, as a matter of fact. But I still need more information to be certain it's not a trap."
But in fact, he'd already devoted significant thought to it and felt that the Savages didn't seem ones to come out with new tricks. Without question, they'd made a major blunder.
But he was in no hurry. He sat down and waited for news.
By splitting their forces and marching in different directions, it would take them some time before reaching Veluriyam, not to mention they planned on wiping out stray forces along the way. It would take half a month at the very least, giving for the young lord ample time for his arrangements.
So, he waited to consolidate the stream of information from the Goldbiter Rats. His instincts told him this was a chance. Sure enough, news arrived one after another.
"The four villages really have split up! It seems they're headed for the various first rank sects." He was flabbergasted when he realized their pathing.
Wellspring slapped the table with a shout. "Young lord, what a chance! They're true to their nature alright. Their wildness is bone-deep. They lack any semblance of discipline and can only see immediate gains. It looks like they're planning to loot the deserted first rank sects. They're nothing but bandits!"
Jiang Chen nodded in agreement and slapped his thigh. "Great! I was worried they'd hole up in the Moon God Sect. Since they took the initiative to leave and even split up, it'd be a pity to refuse such a gift. What do you think?"
Wellspring smiled. "One shouldn't refuse a heaven-sent present. Young lord, what are your plans?"
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. "I need to crush only one of the four villages. If I can eradicate it completely, it'll terrify the other three."
He didn't have enough men to split his own forces. It was impossible to head for a second village after dealing with the first, so he had to pick his target carefully.
Wellspring unfurled the map and analyzed the four routes. "Young lord, which group is your goal?"
Lost in thought, Jiang Chen stayed silent for a moment. "This one. They're isolated and their itinerary is full of danger. The conditions are ripe for an ambush."
"It's the one chosen by Gunuo Village." This route headed straight south from the Moon God Sect through countless barren areas en route to the Heavenly Dragon Sect.
Perhaps the Savages thought they were experts in this kind of terrain, hence they didn't particularly mind the route.
"Gunuo Village, what a coincidence!" Jiang Chen's mind was set. "Gentlemen, I leave Veluriyam in your hands while I'm gone. If these secluded masters come to cause trouble, just delay them. They won't be too reckless with the Vermillion Bird here."
He was most worried about the threat posed by the hermits when he was gone. Fortunately, he wasn't so short in manpower at the moment. He even had Senior Vermillion guarding the city.
As usual, he left four golem brothers on Sacred Peafowl Mountain as a guarantee against any possibilities.
He secretly left on that day with the other four brothers, on his way to lay a trap for Gunuo Village. On the whole, their route was crystal clear to him. The question was where to ambush them.
In the end, he set his sights on a large mountain valley sitting just before Heavenly Dragon Sect territory. Gunuo Village was sure to pass through there; they'd have to take a detour that would last a couple days otherwise. That was an impossible choice for a group pressed for time.
Not to mention, the valley was rather safe. There was little reason to avoid it, especially when the Heavenly Dragon Sect would be almost within reach once outside.
"Here will do." After an on-site inspection, the place seemed simply perfect.
The valley wasn't difficult to traverse, but it wasn't particularly wide. There was a razor-thin line in the middle, sandwiched between two mountains.
"Young lord, are we going to fight head to head with the Gunuo here?" Big Stone eagerly rubbed his hands.
"There's just a few of us against a whole bunch of elites. It'd be a gratifying fight, but do you think we're likely to win?"
Big Stone scratched his head with a chuckle. "Hehe, not likely."
Jiang Chen nodded. "In that case, why should we do so? We'd play straight into their favorite style."
With a smile, he started looking for the best spot. The final choice had to be perfect. He couldn't grant the enemy any chance to sniff out any clues. Once done, he announced with a smile, "This place."
He fished out big bundles from his clothes. Those were spoils he'd seized from the Order after killing Elder Mo and Elder Peng.
They contained one of the Order's two most fearsome poisons, namely the Soulless Powder. It was transparent and odorless. Once blended into the terrain, it was more terrifying than any miasma, a silent killer in the night that struck without warning.
Jiang Chen disseminated the powder in every direction.
Big Stone chuckled. "Hehe, isn't that the stuff the Order used against us last time? Savior, you're so good at taking advantage of everything."
Jiang Chen patted his hands with a smile. "It's free, so it'd be waste not to use it."
"Yeah. You're not a moron like that Order. You put that stuff to good use. Then again, the Savages are braindead musclemen, how could they match your intelligence?"
Young lord this, savior that, Big Stone spewed flatteries nonstop, highly excited.
Jiang Chen did indeed put the Soulless Powder to good use. This was the most efficient method he could think of right now. More importantly, he could avoid unneeded fighting. If lucky enough, he could even subdue his foes without sounding the alarm.
If violent fighting were to erupt here, the battle would probably alert the other villages. Attacking a second village wasn't in the plans, but if everything proceeded without a hitch, there was no reason not to give it a try, was there?
After setting up everything, he relaxed and told the four brothers, "Let's take cover for now."
With Goldbiter Rats leading the way, they hid underground, entirely concealing their presence.
All they needed to do now was wait. Gunuo Village's men should be arriving soon, on their way to the Heavenly Dragon Sect.
Meanwhile, the village was regretting their draw. They'd suffered untold hardships en route, encountering many crises as they trudged along: poisonous miasma, extreme weather, poisonous insects or animals, violent spirit creatures...
They'd already lost a tenth of their troops, quite an alarming number. Their so-called army was composed entirely of elites. There were a few thousand of them at most. Losing several hundred men in one go was a great blow for the village.
At long last they left the dreadful area behind them.
"Screw it, I get why humans haven't laid down a road here. It's simply impassable!" a Gunuo fighter swore.
King Gunuo walked among his men, his charismatic face unreadable. Hearing someone complain, he replied mildly, "Stay sharp. If you can't endure this little bit of suffering, how will you subdue the humans, gain wealth and status, drink their wine and enjoy their women?"
An elder at his side encouraged, "Stop complaining. We'll soon reach Heavenly Dragon Sect territory. Think of the loot! Isn't that the reason we've come this far?"
Sure enough, the ranks brightened at his words.