On this day, Jiang Chen and the Vermilion Bird finally crossed the patch of peaceful seas that bordered the waters around Hell King Island.
“Senior, judging from the landscape, we’re getting close. Perhaps we’ve already in the death zone.” Jiang Chen was hit with a looming sense of danger as soon as they crossed that invisible border. There was a tangible feeling that they’d entered a completely different domain.
The Vermilion Bird snorted disdainfully. “Worry not. As long as I’m here, nothing will dare show their face.”
It had the bloodline of a sacred beast’s bloodline, after all; there was an inherent air of dominion to it. They were drawing close to Hell King Island. Even if great dangers lay await, the Vermilion Bird wouldn't let anyone interfere with its rebirth.
Nonetheless, the turbulence was growing noticeably stronger. Even the Vermilion Bird had to slow down considerably to handle it.
“Stay put, young master Chen. I’m going to transform and shield you with my wings. You don’t have to move a finger no matter what happens.” It was a loyal friend and quite grateful to Jiang Chen for accompanying it to Hell King Island. It wouldn't let anything to happen to him.
The Vermilion Bird’s body transformed subtly. Its feathers all lifted slightly, with the ones on its back standing upright, forming a protective circle around Jiang Chen. All of its feathers gleamed noticeably brighter and became more vibrant. Its trajectory and movement through the air made it seem like a ball of flames.
No matter how aggressive the turbulence became, the Vermilion Bird had its own way of moving along the current to avoid disturbance. Its speed took a hit, but the direction of its movement didn’t change.
Tall waves kicked up by the spatial currents threatened the sky. Gales screamed and seas frothed. A lesser cultivator would’ve been overwhelmed and chewed up by the endless turbulence, never to be seen again.
But for the Vermilion Bird, it was barely a threat.
“We’re close,” said Jiang Chen. He could feel the island getting closer before he even saw it.
The air around them became noticeably hotter and thinner. The sheer high temperatures was burning everything around them.
A sudden steep wave churned up from beneath them. A horde of ferocious sea monsters reared their heads and lunged at the Vermilion Bird. They were the masters of the sea in this region; their first reaction to devour any and all trespassers.
“Hmph, courting death!” Though the Vermilion Bird was at the low point of its life cycle, the wood spring at Sacred Peafowl Mountain had healed and alleviated much of its ailments. Besides, it had only refrained from fighting because it wanted to conserve energy.
Now, the place for its rebirth was at hand. It didn’t care if it was at a natural disadvantage in this fight. In its current condition, it could afford to drain some of its energy.
The Vermilion Bird was still a remarkably fierce fighter when it wanted to fight. A flap of its razor-sharp wings created a honed wave of piercing fire, leaving a scar in the air as it hit the sea monsters below.
They were cleaved in half and burned to charcoal by the frightening fire energy.
One after another, the monsters fell back into the sea. However, there were many more. The fallen ones were quickly replenished by a new wave from the bottom of the ocean.
Still, the Vermilion Bird was powerful. It made quick work of the monsters with its wings every time new ones emerged.
The attackers grew cautious once they saw how powerful the Vermilion Bird was. Instead of rushing to their deaths, they lurked underwater and tailed the bird doggedly, waiting for an opening for a swift, lethal attempt.
The Vermilion Bird scoffed. “How dare you weaklings come after me? Take a look at yourself!”
When all was said and done, it was still a divine beast from the ancient times. Each of the sea monsters might be equivalent to a peak great emperor, but the bird was mightier still.
The monsters continuously emerged from the waters only to face a quick death. There was too big a gap between them and the Vermilion Bird. It wasn’t something that numbers alone could overcome.
“Senior, there must be a king among the sea monsters. Judging from how dangerous this area is, the king here has to be a powerful one. We mustn’t let our guard down.”
The Vermilion Bird nodded. “That’s what I think as well. Don’t worry. Even if there is a sea monster king, I’m not afraid of it.”
“Should I ask Brother Long to come help?” asked Jiang Chen.
“No need,” responded Vermilion Bird. “Long Xiaoxuan has just reached empyrean realm. If there’s an empyrean beast here, the dragon will have trouble dealing with it. I can do this on my own.”
Jiang Chen smiled in response to the Vermilion Bird’s confidence. “Then I have your back.”
“Much appreciated, young master Chen.” Vermilion Bird didn’t dare underestimate Jiang Chen now. This was someone who could kill an empyrean master! With the human’s backup, the Vermilion Bird would be able to better deal with any unexpected dangers.
Jiang Chen stayed on the Vermilion Bird’s back with his consciousness expanded to its fullest. The seal on his mind was unusually active. That told Jiang Chen something big was coming.
“Look ahead, Senior Vermilion. The area covered in thick smoke and the red glow filling the sky must be where Hell King Island is.” Jiang Chen glanced forward to where the sea itself seemed to be burning.
The Vermilion Bird looked at the area the way a wandering son looked at his hometown upon his return. A current of emotions rose in its heart. They’d finally reached it. It could feel the immense fire energy from afar before they’d even set foot on the island.
“Here it is, young master Chen. This is the sacred place I’ll complete my rebirth at.” The Vermilion Bird sped forward, disregarding any potential threats from the ocean below.
Jiang Chen, on the other hand, kept an eye on any minute changes in the area.
A sea monster would cause a disturbance in the water as it surfaced. From high above, Jiang Chen kept his consciousness focused on the ocean. He would be able to detect any major changes in the environment.
With Jiang Chen’s help, the Vermilion Bird was able to focus on rushing towards their destination. Hell King Island was right ahead of them.
From a distance, the island looked like a ball of fire, dyeing the ocean and the air red. In fact, there really seemed to be flames in the air. The water below Jiang Chen seemed to have been affected as well, bubbling gently like it was boiling.
“Look out, senior! There’s a powerful beast lurking somewhere.”
The Vermilion Bird suddenly gave a long whistle. In the ancient language of the beasts, it declared its warning. “Beings of this area, do not provoke me! Otherwise, I will not hesitate to kill all of you. My authority as an ancient divine beast is not to be challenged by wild spirits such as you.”
Several hundred meters ahead of them, something like an iron chain whipped up abruptly, bringing up a wave tall enough to reach the sky.
Up and up, the wave shot up to several hundred meters in height, forming a boundless water screen before them. It continued to rise against the law of gravity, leading the water to rush upwards.
Hundreds of meters, over three thousand meters, six thousand meters, nine thousand meters...
The Vermilion Bird hovered in the air, glaring fixedly at the magnificent water screen. It continued to screech its warning whistle.
Jiang Chen communicated mentally, “Senior, this must be an ancient wild spirit. It’s probably been here for many years. I can see from a distance how enormous it is. It’s probably a large fish-related spirit. Its length exceeds nine hundred meters, and it’s still growing larger.”
His God’s Eye looked past the water screen and saw the large spirit responsible for it cavorting within. It had an intimidating aura, obviously no easy foe.
The Vermilion Bird scoffed. “If I were at my peak, I’d be able to kill this little spirit in an instant. It wouldn’t have the chance to strut before me.”
Jiang Chen firmly believed that that was no exaggeration. The Vermillion Bird had been as powerful as a demigod in the ancient times, which was miles ahead of this large sea spirit, despite how big and powerful it was.
He took out his Holy Dragon Bow and stayed on high alert. Regular physical attacks weren’t enough to kill a large spirit like this. One had to strike its weak point to inflict a fatal wound. Otherwise, the attacks would be as effective as a scratch.
Thus, Jiang Chen planned to identify the spirit’s weak points during the battle. A large spirit such as this must have a weakness. If he could hit it with Holy Dragon Bow, it would be seriously injured, if not killed outright.
That would relieve some of the burden for the Vermilion Bird and finish this fight as quickly as possible. They were in an unfamiliar territory. The longer the fight lasted, the bigger the risk. Who knew if there would emerge an even more dangerous wild spirit as they fought?