Jiang Chen was completely silent, as if he’d entered into a trance. He suddenly leapt up from the Vermilion Bird’s back. “Senior Vermilion,” he messaged, “let’s attack in tandem.”
“No need,” the bird retorted proudly. “I’ll take on this monster myself.”
An ancient, divine fowl bore itself with dignity that befit its bloodline and status. Though it wasn't at peak strength, it didn't see the monster in the deep as an opponent on the same level.
With a ringing cry, it expanded in the wind. Its body instantly became more than ten times its previous size, and a wing-flap sent rows of crimson energy surging outwards.
The bird’s wings oscillated like two giant blades. The fiery aura they exuded created arcs that sliced the very fabric of space itself. Energy crashed into the watery veil that stood in their path.
The red aura disappeared into the water veil with lightning speed. In the next moment, a scar was torn upon it.
The veil crumpled without a second thought.
Its concealment stripped away, the fierce beast’s true form was brought into daylight. With the vastness of the ocean, its colossal body stood like a large coral reef. It raised its gargantuan head and opened a ravenous maw to unleash a resounding roar. Earth and water trembled for miles around.
Though the monster’s body was huge, it was also exceedingly swift when traveling on the ocean currents. Its tail had been swishing in the previous moment, and in the next, its jaw surged towards the Vermilion Bird with an electrifying motion.
“Ridiculous!” The Vermilion Bird wasn't intimidated by such a crude attack. It dodged, unleashing fiery blades from its wings once more. The attack headed right for the inside of the beast’s mouth.
The monster tilted its head downward. A strange light appeared upon its forehead, producing a defense from seemingly nowhere. The fiery blades broke upon the makeshift shield, producing a dull thud.
It’d managed to block the Vermilion Bird’s attack outright with a strange ripple around its forehead! There was no wound to speak of.
This surprised the bird a little. Though it wasn't in its final form, it’d still been confident that it could kill the monster easily. What’d just happened defied expectations. There seemed to be a strange defense on the beast’s forehead that enabled it to block an attack of much higher level.
Jiang Chen was also astonished. In his opinion, the Vermilion Bird’s attacks weren’t easily weathered even by mid empyrean experts.
“Senior Vermilion, perhaps you should make use of mobility rather than a frontal assault. There’s something off about the beast’s forehead. Try elsewhere.”
The human transmitted a reminder, but the Vermilion Bird knew what to do even without it. If it were in peak condition, that strange defense would still be no obstacle. However, now was a time when technique was superior to viciousness.
Naturally, the Vermilion Bird was both quicker and more dexterous than the monster. In spite of the watery beast’s endless roiling of interfering waves into the sky, the bird was barely affected.
After several rounds of back-and-forth, the monster sustained several hits. Unfortunately, it was too bulky and thick-skinned to have been seriously injured. For the time being, its life was completely unthreatened.
Furthermore, the monster was a devious one. When it noticed its titanic body was the target of attack, it became more devious by hiding itself beneath the waves. Only its head and neck were visible now; the rest was concealed by the briny deep.
“We can leave first, Senior Vermilion,” Jiang Chen pointed out. “There’s no need to drag out a fight now – why not come back and take care of this beast later?”
“If we do, it will definitely make trouble for us when we are upon Hell King Island,” the Vermilion Bird replied. “Monster are always thus. They must be either tamed or slain, or they won’t stop their harassment and hostility.”
Jiang Chen agreed with the bird’s point of view and stopped trying to persuade it otherwise.
For a while, the Vermilion Bird and the huge monster were locked in a stalemate.
Intrinsically, the bird was stronger than the beast. Alas, the latter had the advantage of being on homeground, which afforded many advantages. Moreover, the beast was a tough nut to crack. It could ensure its life by using the seas to its full advantage, poking out occasionally to discharge a powerful strike.
The bird’s attacks from high in the air were accurate enough, but non-lethal at best. If it wanted those attacks to become lethal, it needed to close the range – ergo, swoop closer to the water.
But doing so also increased risk to itself. Flying so low made counterattacks from the beast significantly more possible and threatening. If the beast could drag the bird beneath the waters, even a creature like the Vermilion Bird would suffer a great deal. Death wasn't out of the question.
The Vermilion Bird wasn't used to the sea and at an obvious disadvantage.
Jiang Chen sat high in the air to watch the combat. He could feel the bird’s fury. It was greatly displeased that an existence far below it was holding it up like this. This was the height of disrespect!
“I suppose the monster can’t be underestimated,” he sighed to himself. “It’s managed to go even with Senior Vermilion by relying on its environment!”
Jiang Chen was observing the fight, but hardly relaxed. Instead, he paid close attention to every detail in an effort to seek out a vulnerability. He believed that one surely existed.
He finally picked up a few clues after half an hour. Each time the monster made a pass at the Vermilion Bird, it raised its head to face the bird squarely. Each time the bird repositioned, the monster followed closely behind in the water to maintain the same facing.
Though it couldn't necessarily keep up with the bird’s speed all the time, it would contort itself to raise its forehead to its foe. Whenever its head was held up, it made sure the back of its neck was well-protected. In fact, it seemed positively fearful of showing that part. This was a rather startling discovery.
Summoning Long Xiaoxuan, Jiang Chen gave him some instructions. “Brother Long, when this monster goes at it with Senior Vermilion again, sneak up and give it the old one-two. Remember, safety first.”
“Dragons belong to the sea,” Long Xiaoxuan harrumphed. “That’s our territory. Why should I be scared of such a pathetic creature?”
The more his heritage memories awakened, the more Long Xiaoxuan’s regal aura intensified. He held himself with the bearing appropriate for an ancient sacred beast.
“Let’s do it.” Jiang Chen drew his Holy Dragon Bow, then vanished in mid air.
Long Xiaoxuan manifested his true form, projecting a roar into the air. As he did, all the oceans around him stilled. Even the monster’s eyes shied away instinctively, its instincts taking over its mind for a moment.
It hastily raised its head to scan the surroundings, fear clear in the beady orbs.
Though Long Xiaoxuan was only initial emperor realm, his presence and might nevertheless held natural sway over organisms that lived in water. The dragon extended a claw into the air, bringing a lightning-infused blow down on the beast’s head.
The beast shrank its head when it saw the true dragon. It didn't dare eat the attack at all, instead sinking beneath the waves. Long Xiaoxuan’s talons were unsatisfied with stopping here, and he followed into the water.
The leviathan was in a full blown panic now. It swam at top speed into the nearby waters. Clearly, it was overtaken with dread. Vermilion Birds and true dragons were both ancient beasts of the most terrifying variety. Though it had never fought against a true dragon in its life, it had the basic instinct as an ocean-dweller that dragons were indomitable kings of the sea. They were impossible to beat.
Thus, Long Xiaoxuan succeeded where the powerful Vermilion Bird had failed.
Jiang Chen didn’t know how best to react to this absurd turn of events. His fingers remained upon the Holy Dragon Bow. He’d wanted to find an opportunity to strike at back of the monster’s neck and possibly search for openings. He hadn’t expected it to run so decisively and certainly!
When the Vermilion Bird flew over, Jiang Chen was a bit apologetic. “Excuse me, Senior Vermilion. I took some initiative there. Hell King Island is right before us, so I didn’t think we needed to waste any more time. Because we are over open seas, we were fighting in its domain. The island will becomes yours, senior. If it dares disturb you, you can easily crush it.”
He was somewhat worried that the Vermilion Bird would be displeased. Some flattery was the least he could do.
The bird laughed helplessly. “What, you thought I would blame you? I know full well where you’re coming from. So true dragons do a much better job of scaring monsters off, eh? I suppose my race is a bit less intimidating and well-known.”
“True dragons have always reigned supreme over the ocean,” Jiang Chen smiled. “Denizens of the deep instinctively fear them. I don’t think it’s a racial thing.”
The bird sighed, but said nothing more on the subject. Instead, it turned to Hell King Island in the distance. “Come, let’s go.”