After settling everything, Jiang Chen meditated for a few days to sort out his thoughts. He went over many possibilities of his trip in his mind. Though he couldn’t make preparations for every eventuality, he could prepare enough to mitigate most potential surprises.
On this day, Jiang Chen quietly headed out of Veluriyam to the southeast. He didn’t bring any humans along, but he did bring the Goldbiter Rats and the three sacred beasts – the Vermilion Bird, Long Xiaoxuan, and Little White.
He had three of the four ancient sacred beasts and was missing only the Black Tortoise. His secret aspiration and ambition was to acquire a Black Tortoise and thereby gather the bloodlines of all four ancient sacred beasts. Once converged, they corresponded to the laws of heaven and earth by fulfilling the five elements and would form their own minor cosmos.
Getting his hands on a specimen of that bloodline was much harder said than done. He had a vague idea and hope, but wasn’t lost in it.
Lightly equipped, Jiang Chen didn’t ask the Vermilion Bird to carry him. Instead, he requested that the beasts transform to more itinerant forms and carried them on his person.
After breaking through to great emperor, his Kunpeng Meteoric Escape had increased dramatically in speed. He was faster than any great emperor alive. Even some initial level empyrean experts were unlikely to be faster than him.
The plethora of defensive treasures he carried with him gave him sufficient assurance for the journey to Myriad Abyss Island.
In a few days’ time, Jiang Chen entered the territory of the only first rank sect in the human domain’s southeast – the Celestial Cicada Court.
The Court had a long and deep relationship with Veluriyam. Jiang Chen’s reign over the city had been amply supported by its mistress, Su Huanzhen. Thus, he afforded the older woman a great deal of respect.
Moreover, she had been Emperor Peafowl’s lover and they’d nearly become dao partners. Their relationship had been an extremely intimate one. Though a few specific reasons had prevented their union in the end, Su Huanzhen still loved Emperor Peafowl in her heart of hearts. Her attention had been constantly on him wherever he went.
She’d been sad for quite a while upon the emperor’s disappearance, unable to accept what had happened. Her affection for him was deep-seated and immovable. Because of this, Jiang Chen was filled with the utmost respect for her.
Loving someone was easy, but loving someone for a long time was hard. Especially when that love was unable to come to fruition, but did not turn to hatred. A long-lasting attachment and loyalty like that was exceedingly rare.
Jiang Chen kept everything on the down-low for his visit. Only when he neared the Celestial Cicada Court’s sacred grounds did he send a message glyph to contact Su Huanzhen.
He’d promised her that he would visit a long time ago, but he hadn’t had the free time because of a series of Veluriyam-related affairs. Now that he was finally here, it was appropriate for him to stop at her doorstep.
Upon defeating the Embittered Savages and removing the looming danger over the human domain, the various sects returned to their bases. The Celestial Cicada Court was to the southeast of Veluriyam Capital, which meant it had been shielded from the disaster by the city’s protective wings. It was comparatively safer here than the other sects. This meant that the Court had seen no damage whatsoever. The four Savage armies’ invasion had left these lands untouched.
Su Huanzhen had been spending recent days in a daze. She was surprised by Jiang Chen’s visit, but also very pleased. The young lord had asked her not to make raise a fuss in his message.
She discreetly left the sect’s headquarters, arriving near a quiet valley just below the mountain. Jiang Chen’s solitary shadow stood before a boulder, looking off into the southeast. His back cut a sharp figure.
Su Huanzhen was overwhelmed by the sight of the young man. He was almost the spitting image of Emperor Peafowl in his youth.
Back then, he’d been as separate from the crowd as Jiang Chen was now. No matter how remote or unassuming the place they stood was, they always found a way to distinguish themselves in the eyes of others.
She was overwhelmed by a rush of bittersweet nostalgia. But she quickly ceased this emotional disturbance; Jiang Chen was technically her junior. She had to maintain some semblance of decorum before someone so much younger than her.
“Young lord Jiang Chen, the Celestial Cicada Court can finally welcome you!” Su Huanzhen’s voice was crisp and pleasant to the ear. It was almost youthful in its harmoniousness, and distinguished itself from the dust of the world.
Jiang Chen smiled when he heard her, turning around. “Sect Head Su. I didn’t inform you of my coming beforehand… my deepest apologies for the intrusion.”
Su Huanzhen smiled slightly. “You are so much like the young Peafowl… both of you speak even the most common of courtesies in such an elegant manner.”
Jiang Chen broke into laughter. “Please excuse me, Sect Head Su.”
“Ah, I didn’t mean that in a ridiculous kind of way. In any case, good timing, young lord. I have something to ask you.”
“Oh?” Jiang Chen was a bit surprised.
“Have you had any news about Peafowl lately?” Su Huanzhen cut to the chase. At her age, there was no longer any need to be as embarrassed as a sixteen-year-old girl would have been.
Jiang Chen blinked. “Why do you ask that, Sect Head Su?”
Su Huanzhen sighed softly, her voice solemn. “In the past few days, I’ve felt uneasy during my meditations. I can see strange images and scenery flickering through my head, all of them related to Peafowl. I think he’s still alive!”
Her tone was resolute, her eyes radiating intense concern.
“His Majesty Peafowl is sure to be alive still. I’ve never doubted that.” There was steel in Jiang Chen’s voice.
“Really? Then… will he reappear in the world?” Su Huanzhen asked.
“His Majesty Peafowl carries the entire world in his heart. If he’s in a position to, he will certainly make himself known again. Don’t worry about that.”
Hearing this lifted a burden from Su Huanzhen’s shoulders. Some color returned to her face. “I just hope he’s doing well these days,” she sighed softly. “He’s still the same man after these thousands of years. Pure-hearted and single-minded, holding the entire world in his heart but his own…”
Though Jiang Chen knew about Su Huanzhen’s relationship with Emperor Peafowl in years gone by, he couldn’t comment much because he didn’t know the details.
Instead, he changed the subject. “Ah, Sect Head Su. Last time, you invited me to the Celestial Cicada Court for a few formation discussions. I have a bit of time on my hands right now. Why don’t we take this opportunity to see that come to fruition?”
“That’s perfect!” Su Huanzhen was overjoyed. “I will summon all of the young geniuses and elders in the sect for your lecture. How about it?”
“That won’t be necessary,” Jiang Chen hastily amended. “I don’t want to make too much of a fuss or bother too many others. Just us two is fine.”
Su Huanzhen didn’t press him on it. “Then I’ll benefit from your wisdom myself,” she smiled.
Formations had always been the sect’s forte. Su Huanzhen had listed a formation-related bounty in Pillfire’s Bounty Arena for this precise reason. It was Jiang Chen’s guess that the sect was very likely related to the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect.
Su Huanzhen related the problems the Celestial Cicada Court had with its formations in detail to Jiang Chen. The young man was patient enough to solely listen while she recounted all the issues. It took many hours for her to be finished the basics.
“Young lord Jiang Chen, we became a first rank sect solely on the basis of formational knowledge. However, there are a few flaws still…”
“Celestial Cicada Court’s existing formation heritage is quite uncommon already,” Jiang Chen chuckled. “The only issue is that much of it is incomplete in some way. You only have a superficial portion of the ancient formation sect your heritage originates from, which means a severe limitation on the power of your formations as well.”
“You are a formation master, young lord Jiang Chen. Please enlighten me.” She’d never asked anyone in such a studious voice before, not even Emperor Peafowl.
“Enlighten is a strong word,” Jiang Chen smiled. “Do you know where the Celestial Cicada Court’s ancient heritage comes from?”
“I don’t know.” She didn’t feign knowledge that she didn’t possess. “Might you know, young lord Jiang Chen?” Her tone saw an uptick in serendipitous joy.
“There’s an ancient formation sect called the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect. Many of the your sect’s formations are deeply connected to their formations.”
“The Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect?” Su Huanzhen was lost. She’d never heard of it before.
Jiang Chen didn’t have time to explain to her in more detail. He took out a storage ring. “Sect Head Su, there are many books in this storage ring about formations. A few diagrams are included as well. Everything comes from the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect. Their stores of knowledge were profound indeed. If you research and study the ring’s contents, you will surely be able to increase the potency of the Celestial Cicada Court’s heritage many times over. You would have a good chance at even surpassing the other first rank sects!”
Su Huanzhen was ecstatic. She’d yet to recover from the shocking information Jiang Chen had brought – everything was simply so incredible! The Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect; formational heritage; surpassing the other first rank sects!
These directly corresponded to the goals she had as sect head.
“Young lord Jiang Chen, it seems that the Celestial Cicada Court has only met with good fortune after making your acquaintance. These things are priceless treasures for us. Truly, I don’t know how to repay you. You have a dao partner, right? A shame. We have many pretty girl geniuses in our own right… hehe.” The sect head giggled at this point.
“Please don’t arbitrarily play matchmaker for me, Sect Head Su,” Jiang Chen smiled wryly. “Actually, I came today for another equally important matter.” His tone grew serious.