Old Crane felt steadier after hearing Jiang Chen’s statement.
“I don’t talk big. I will safeguard the human domain for now, until you return victorious from your expedition. What I can guarantee is that any empyrean expert, whether they came for the tea party or not, will not cause trouble for Veluriyam. Anyone who does will regret it for his entire life!”
This was a hefty commitment.
Jiang Chen bowed. “I am all the more relieved despite my imminent departure. Thank you for your words.”
Old Crane was further reassured after receiving more secrets from Jiang Chen. The Way to Grand Ascension had satisfied him a great deal.
Jiang Chen did not become freer after sending Old Crane off. His next order of affairs was increasing Sacred Peafowl Mountain’s level of fortification. The Nine Sparks Petalstorm Formation could no longer handle the current state of affairs. He had set up the formation in order to ward off peak great emperors like Pillzenith, not empyrean experts.
He needed to raise it to the level of the Hundred Sparks Petalstorm Formation. Doing so would give it the defensive prowess required to stand strong against empyrean attacks. Leveling up the formation was a grand project, costing innumerable resources. Thankfully, Jiang Chen had a glut of them from Shu Wanqing’s belongings.
Xiahou Jing’s subordinates, the late Elders Mo and Peng, had carried many resources with them as well. He had more than enough funding for this undertaking.
After about three months, the Hundred Sparks Petalstorm Formation was successfully completed.
Jiang Chen wasn’t satisfied with just this. He fused the ancient mid empyrean cultivator, Guo Ran’s residence into the young lord residence as well. In case of emergencies, those closest to him could take shelter in it.
There remained a terrifying restriction within the residence, refined as Guo Ran’s life’s work. It could instantly slay any cultivator below mid empyrean realm. Even a mid empyrean expert surprised by the restriction would suffer a grievous injury. In this way, the young lord residence had two layers of protection.
The eight stone golem brothers and the other empyrean cultivators meant that the young lord residence had its own complement of experts too. But that still didn’t feel enough.
“My friends,” Jiang Chen instructed Wellspring and Peerless. “You must take care of the affairs here after I leave. When an especially strong enemy comes that cannot be stopped by the formation, you must use this secret attack.”
He gave them a storage ring. “There’s a enormous amount of Soulless Powder of Wind and Cloud in the ring, as well as antidotes. If an enemy manages to get past the defenses, give them a taste of this!”
The Soulless Powder was tasteless and odorless, superb for both offense and defense. Even Forefather Bamboo of the Embittered Savages had fallen prey to it.
“Sacred Peafowl Mountain is virtually impregnable then,” Wellspring laughed.
“We still can’t let our guard down. The world is getting more and more unpredictable these days. Enemies may come that we can’t predict the strength of.”
“Hmm,” Wellspring nodded seriously. “Don’t worry, young lord. Old Mo and I will hold down the fort while you’re gone.”
Jiang Chen implicitly trusted these two friends of his. Wellspring was wise and calculating, Peerless, daring and resolute. Both men could be relied upon for the gravest of matters.
Jiang Chen instructed others of the necessary details as well. After that, he headed to Taiyuan Tower to find Forefather Bamboo.
Having been exiled here by Jiang Chen, the forefather was enjoying some peace and quiet as of late. He knew that the young lord had placed him here because there were still reservations about him.
In actuality, Forefather Bamboo had no thoughts of betrayal whatsoever. He’d resigned himself to his new position a long time ago. What else could he do? Jiang Chen could kill him with a single thought.
“Embittered Bamboo. You’ve been pretty idle recently, haven’t you?” Jiang Chen asked with a smile.
“Not quite by choice, you see.” The old Savage cracked a smile. “I hear many human empyrean experts came to your martial dao tea party.”
“Oh? You heard about that too?”
“I always thought humans barely had any empyrean experts left. If I knew how many there actually were, I wouldn’t have come so foolishly with my people. We were courting death!” The forefather let out a long sigh. His words were lined with tangible regret.
If he had known humanity still had such reserves of strength, they certainly wouldn’t have chosen to march into the heart of the human domain. Border raids would’ve been the most of their endeavors.
Jiang Chen didn’t sympathize with the old man. To the victor went the spoils. It was his own fault for starting a war that he eventually lost. There was no need to pity him simply because he was regretting his actions.
Allowing someone like this to leave would be setting a tiger free. Once he’d forgotten about his recent defeat, he was very likely to come back for a repeat.
Jiang Chen had no intentions whatsoever of forgiving him.
“Embittered Bamboo, I agreed to give you a few martial dao opportunities. The time isn’t right for them yet, but I do have half a scroll of the Way to Grand Ascension. Try to grasp it. If your behavior is good, you’ll have the chance to obtain the latter half.”
“The Way to Grand Ascension?” Embittered Bamboo was confused. “What’s that?”
“It’s an internal method written by one who’s ascended beyond empyrean realm. When empyrean experts continuously cultivate, they receive a chance to break through to a higher level.”
“What? You’re bluffing! A divine existence beyond empyrean realm? Do entities like that still exist after the ancient era?” Obvious disbelief could be found across the alien’s face.
Jiang Chen shrugged. “Do as you like with it.”
He’d given the empyrean masters the complete scroll of Grand Ascension. For Forefather Bamboo, he had only given half. Clearly, this was a test for the old recruit.
Awed by Jiang Chen’s presence, the forefather took the half-volume from the youth.
“I have a few matters I must attend to. I will leave Veluriyam for a time. I’m sure you know what to do during my absence, yes?”
Forefather Bamboo blinked, then nodded. “Don’t worry. If nothing else, the Savages can all read the times and act accordingly. My life is in your hands, so you don’t need to worry. I will remain honest and forthright.”
“You think being honest is enough?” Jiang Chen frowned. “Don’t forget, you’re supposed to be my servant now. You must work on Veluriyam’s behalf. While I’m gone, you must do everything in your strength to take care of the city. In particular, you must defend it against any outside enemies. Do you understand?”
“I do.” The old savage coughed out a laugh.
Jiang Chen waved a hand. “Remember to conduct yourself well. It’s up to you whether you’ll soar the heavens or descend to the abyss.”
He flitted away on the wind after making the declaration, Jiang Chen’s actions and poise were quite thought-provoking for Forefather Bamboo. Though his strength was far above the young man’s, the old Savage was completely docile, as if the youth was actually many generations his senior.
After Jiang Chen was long gone, the forefather laughed weakly. “Never mind,” he shook his head. “That kid was born to be my nemesis. I was fated to meet and lose to him. Let me see if this ‘Grand Ascension’ business is the real deal?”
Forefather Bamboo was a bit stronger than even Old Crane. His heart leapt when he saw the contents of the parchment. He raised an eyebrow, hissing softly in exclamation.
“Is this really a mantra for cultivation?” Having experience that rivaled Old Crane’s, his understanding of martial dao methods was very strong. He saw value in the text immediately.
“So he didn’t lie to me?” Forefather Bamboo was stunned. Focusing back on the scroll once more, he was a bit incredulous.
He’d thought Jiang Chen would grind away at his willpower by putting him in cold storage. But the young man had come to see him so quickly and in such earnest.
“He’s using both the carrot and the stick, eh?” Forefather Bamboo cracked a wrinkled smile. “This Way to Grand Ascension looks quite genuine. If I can get the entire volume, that would be a tremendous opportunity! What did I invade the human domain for? Resources and heritage, that’s what! What’s the point of being so stuck on how I got it with something like this in my hands?”
Savages reasoned differently from humans. They were extreme pragmatists that cared only about the end result. To accomplish it, they were perfectly happy to employ any means necessary.
The secretly happy Forefather Bamboo aside, Jiang Chen remembered something else after he returned. “I left too early,” he mused vexingly. “I forgot to ask him who is the human expert stirring up a storm back in Embittered Savage territory.”
The question had been present in the young man’s mind for a while now.
If not for this expert’s diversion leading to the delay of the forefather’s itinerary, Jiang Chen might not have won the campaign against the Savages so easily or smoothly.
That human empyrean expert had been instrumental in the war effort. Jiang Chen would’ve very much liked to meet such a person. He had offered a helping hand without wanting anything in return, not even reputation. A true man like that was sure to have strong ethics and responsibility.
Alas, I was too hasty. If I went back now, it would be too forward of me. I’ll ask next time. Jiang Chen decided after a little thought.
Back in the young lord residence, he spent some restful moments with his family. His parents, Dan Fei, and his daughter; these were the people closest to him.
Dan Fei was an understanding girl. She knew that Jiang Chen had been preparing for a trip to Myriad Abyss Island in the past few days. Rather than opposing it, she’d quietly supported him by packing and making other necessary preparations.
This mindset was something she had come to understand after her bleak experiences. She was perfectly at peace. As long as Jiang Chen and Nian’er were near, nothing else mattered.
Moreover, Jiang Chen and Huang’er had exchanged vows a long time ago. Though Dan Fei had met Jiang Chen earlier – had known him earlier, their relationship had bloomed later. Dan Fei didn’t have the license to stop Jiang Chen from going to Myriad Abyss Island.