Without the monster’s interference, Jiang Chen and company arrived at Hell King Island very quickly. Even the reefs around the island burned a dull red. There was fire everywhere upon the landmass.
The strangest thing was that plant life seemed to thrive here. In fact, there was plenty of floral coverage. Most of them had a fire attribute to them; it was the purity of the veins of fire energy that enabled them to prosper.
“Brother Long, stay in the outer seas. The inner part of Hell King Island is like a furnace. Can you stand guard for us against that monster’s return?”
Long Xiaoxuan thought for a moment, then nodded. “Sure. I don’t think that thing’ll be coming back any time soon though.”
Jiang Chen tended to agree. Big fish weren't known for their intelligence, but a healthy fear of death was characteristic of almost every living thing.
“Senior Vermilion, I will patrol the skies to prevent you from being disturbed by outside forces. As for any issues deeper into the island, you’ll have to deal with those yourself.”
“Alright. Young master Chen, Xiaoxuan, thank you for the hard work. If my rebirth is completed, I will owe you both a big favor!” After making this promise, the bird shot into the inner part of the island like a fiery comet. From the sight alone, it looked like a fireball thrown into a fiery pit.
With Jiang Chen and Long Xiaoxuan around, no disturbance from the outside was likely to get through.
The Astral White Tiger hadn’t broken through to empyrean realm yet, and it lacked the protection afforded by Jiang Chen’s Bewitching Lotus of Ice and Fire. It couldn't move about in Hell King Island, which was why it remained unsummoned.
Days flowed into weeks.
Each day Jiang Chen spent in protecting the Vermilion Bird wasn't done so in vain. He cultivated all the while, using the surrounding ocean to polish himself.
One day, as he fought amid the waves, inspiration struck him once more. He successfully broke through to advanced emperor realm.
He’d only thought himself to be only a step away before. The majesty of the endless waves and the power of nature had allowed him to leap over threshold almost effortlessly.
After breaking through, he felt another marked increase in his strength. In great emperor realm, every additional level led to a noticeable direct increase of power.
“Advance great emperor, peak great emperor, half-step empyrean…”
Jiang Chen vowed to himself that he would get to peak great emperor as quickly as possible. Once he was close enough, he would use the Emperor Supremacy Pill to reach half-step empyrean.
At that point, empyrean realm wouldn’t be far away.
In the water, Long Xiaoxuan found himself indescribably at home. It was as if a king had returned to his throne. Though he’d just broken through to empyrean realm, he was filled yet again with inspiration. The awakening of ancestral memories increased his level by one more.
“Young master Chen, it seems that coming to Myriad Abyss was the right call.” The dragon’s words were heartfelt. There was nothing better than for true dragons to find inspiration in than an enormous ocean.
“Brother Long, take as much time as you like to solidify and develop your cultivation. In fact, you can even stay in these waters for a while. Do be careful though.”
“I’ll think about it.” Long Xiaoxuan was accustomed to being a bit contrarian, but deep down, he did care very much about the human. The dragon had relied on the young man since the day they’d met.
He was maturing more and more now, but childhood friends were always the closest bonds. Furthermore, he had little experience living by himself. He found it hard to accept being alone.
“Brother Long, dragons have lived in oceans since time immemorial. We are partners, brothers, and comrades. Don’t change what you want to do based on my potential opinion. If you want to stay here, I’m right behind you.” Jiang Chen was thoroughly sincere as well. He’d helped Long Xiaoxuan grow because he’d wanted to borrow the dragon’s strength, but leaving him there was both a trial and preparation for the future.
Three months passed by in the blink of an eye.
One day, as Jiang Chen patrolled the air, he suddenly felt an enormous disturbance in the volcano and fire energy on Hell King Island.
As he wondered what had happened, an earth-shaking tremor passed through the entire area. In the next moment, an explosion appeared in the middle of the island. The Vermilion Bird’s body rose out from the fire-pit like a rising ball of flame, catching the eye of all observers. The crimson rays it exuded were almost blinding.
It had forged itself anew in fire!
It soared into the heavens with an excited cry, trailing long embers behind it. Each cycle of rebirth meant an entirely new life for a Vermilion Bird.
A single completion signified the beginning of a new lifecycle; it didn't need to worry about its lifespan for a long time from now on. Furthermore, it would gradually recover its former strength after the rite, back to its former peak. It needed only time and the right environment. After that, it would perhaps be given the opportunity to attain new peaks.
Jiang Chen was just as pleased for the bird as the bird itself. Everything had been a great success!
After waiting an eternity, the Vermilion Bird had finally reached a new chapter in its life. It had been reborn into a new cycle and received a new lifespan.
“Congratulations, Senior Vermilion!” Jiang Chen sent his felicitations to the fiery bird.
The Vermilion Bird screeched proudly into the air to its heart’s content, venting all at once all of the repressed negativity it had bottled up over the years.
“I’m very grateful for your help, young master Chen!” Passionate light flared from its glittering orbs. It was truly thankful from the bottom of its heart.
Without the young man’s help, it wouldn't have been able to come to Myriad Abyss Island. There was nowhere in the human domain as perfect for rebirth as this.
A good location for the process of rebirth was essential for success. The likelihood of succeeding would’ve been almost nonexistent regardless, and its life permanently extinguished then.
“It was your own good fortune, Senior Vermilion. I only helped you along. As long as your destiny dictates it, no one in the world will be able to destroy you!” Jiang Chen comforted the bird.
“Part of my good fortune was meeting you. Where would I find my fortune otherwise?” The Vermilion Bird’s feelings ran high.
Long Xiaoxuan also rose out of the water and took up a coiled position in the sky, looking furtively at the sacred fowl that was countless years his senior.
“Congratulations, big fiery bird. You’re very strong, but I’ll catch up to you one day soon.” The dragon was as swaggering as ever.
The Vermilion Bird was in too good of a mood to care. “Xiaoxuan, your bloodline is so strong that it’s only a matter of time before you catch up to me. It seems that you’ve benefited quite a bit as well from our trip to Myriad Abyss as well. Your cultivation has seen some breakthroughs.”
Long Xiaoxuan nodded coolly. He harbored some respect for the Vermilion Bird, so he wasn’t too aloof despite his ego.
“Senior Vermilion,” Jiang Chen intruded. “I have something to talk to you about. Will you give me some direction?” He talked about Long Xiaoxuan and the latter’s new discoveries in these seas.
“Xiaoxuan is a true dragon,” the Vermilion Bird mused, “and true dragons are at home in the ocean. It’s not a bad choice to cultivate further in these seas.”
“That’s what I’m thinking too.” Jiang Chen nodded.
“But Myriad Abyss Island has oceans everywhere. Long Xiaoxuan can cultivate anywhere.”
“I suppose so, but there aren’t many living beings here. Even the creatures that live in the water clearly avoid these parts. It’s a good place for undisturbed cultivation. In other places, the human cultivators passing by alone would be hard to defend against.”
Jiang Chen knew how much humans thirsted after true dragons. If powerful cultivators knew that a true dragon had appeared, they would show themselves in an attempt to tame it for sure. He didn't want that to happen.
“You’re right. These seas are a rare patch of tranquility. You know, the seas surrounding Winterdraw were pretty good too,” the Vermilion Bird remarked thoughtfully. “Why don’t you leave Xiaoxuan for a while to train? You can meet up again when he grows stronger.”
“That’s what I’mI thinking too. However, Brother Long is an innocent dragon, and doesn’t guard himself zealously enough against human malice. I’m worried that a human expert who chances by this place…”
The bird’s expression grew serious. “Your worries aren't misplaced. How about this? I may be reborn, but I want to stay here for awhile longer to fortify my cultivation. Xiaoxuan can stay in these waters and we’ll look after each other. But you…”
Jiang Chen’s eyes lit up. “Very good. It’s settled then. Senior Vermilion will look after you. No one will dare touch either of you if you combine forces.”
“No. What will you do if both of us leave?” Long Xiaoxuan objected.
“Me? Don’t worry about me. I can survive on my own. I won’t be able to keep you two company for a while though. I need to take a trip back to the Bluesmoke Isles.”
The jade festival was about to begin. Jiang Chen wanted to return to gather some more information. He hadn’t forgotten what he’d come to Myriad Abyss for.
“Will you be fine by yourself, young master Chen?” The Vermilion Bird gazed at Jiang Chen.
“No problem. Let’s split up for now so that we may meet again in better straits next time. I trust that we’ll all be pleasantly surprised on that day!” Saying this, he roared with laughter. “Alright. Now that you’ve completed the rite of rebirth, Senior Vermilion, I no longer have any more concerns. Brother Long, you can stay here to cultivate and take care of each other. I’m going back to the Bluesmoke Isles immediately.”