The venerated forefather smiled slightly. “You don’t have to answer. True god incarnates are rare, but they do exist in Myriad Abyss. One such example is… Xiahou Zong.”
“What?!” exclaimed Jiang Chen.
He’d wondered about Xiahou Zong’s unnatural talents, but the possibility that the young genius was a reincarnated god had never crossed his mind.
“Don’t worry. Xiahou Zong is touchy and proud because he’s an incarnation of a divine being, but his memory hasn’t awakened completely yet. What’s more, there exists a critical flaw in his character. You may not be able to defeat him in the sword competition, but in the long term, you’ll surpass him sooner or later.”
The forefather’s tone was casual, like he didn’t think much of Xiahou Zong, which made Jiang Chen curious.
The young man was the top genius of the younger generation in Eternal Divine Nation. Why was the forefather so dismissive of him?
The forefather seemed to read Jiang Chen’s doubt. “I recognize the value of god incarnates due to their scarcity. However, Xiahou Zong isn’t the type that deserve my appreciation. Besides, there are geniuses in the sacred land who are more powerful than he.”
“Are there?” wondered Jiang Chen.
“Yes, there are, but many, including you, don’t know about them.” The forefather smiled. “And now we have another disciple who’s stronger than Xiahou Zong—you.”
“There are others?”
The forefather laughed. “Of course. It’s not simply a matter of natural talents. It’s about mental fortitude and character as well. Xiahou Zong is among the most talented youths, but he doesn’t possess the traits of a great man. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Jiang Chen didn’t fully understand it. The forefather’s words contained a wealth of meaning to which he could grasp part of, but not the whole picture.
Noting his confusion, the forefather smiled. “Let’s go back to my second question. You hold biases against Myriad Abyss Island, do you not? I’m not surprised by your misconceptions. The decisions by our ancestors in the ancient times made it our fate to shoulder a certain duty, a lonely one misunderstood and misinterpreted by all.”
“Yes, our duty,” repeated the forefather, his tone deep with traces of sorrow, frustration, and even resignation. “During the ancient war against the demon race, cultivators of all realms on the Divine Abyss Continent fought demons at the cost of their wealth and lives. Sects were destroyed and legacies forgotten. Those who fought in the war died honorably, respected by generations to come. What we’ve been doing is just as important, and yet we’re forced to shoulder blame we don’t deserve, thought by all to be cowardly deserters.”
Jiang Chen frowned, puzzled. The forefather seemed to be implying that their ancestors had come to Myriad Abyss Island for an unknown reason.
“I’ve only heard rumors about the war, Venerated Forefather. I don’t know a great deal about it. Please tell me the truth about what happened.”
“Alright. I came to you because I have high hopes for you. You’ll know these secrets sooner or later.
“A precursor to the ancient demon race invaded and the heavenly axis also happened to shift at the same time, revealing the coordinates of Divine Abyss Continent to the other planes. Powerful foes from outside our plane noticed our existence and invaded in droves. Finally, the demon race came and caused a great catastrophe.”
It wasn’t the first time Jiang Chen had heard about something like that. As the son of the Celestial Emperor in his past life, he knew about deviating heavenly axis like the back of his hand.
“In the ancient times, there were many self-sacrificing cultivators from different sects and factions. Some argued that they should fight the demons in a war to end all wars. Others argued they should restore the heavenly axis to its original position and defend the portal to the continent. In the end, a consensus was reached. The majority of the human race would stay in the domain and fight, while a small number of elite cultivators brought their heritage to the axis deviation point and defended the portal from invaders.”
Jiang Chen blurted out, “Is Myriad Abyss Island the deviation point?”
“You’re a sharp one,” the forefather said with a sigh. “Those powerful cultivators came to the island with a mission and slowly established a prosperous civilization, which then became the Ten Divine Nations. Each nation has a sacred land, populated by descendents of those ancient cultivators. Only the second or third tier factions in Myriad Abyss, and ones other than the sacred land in each nation, are descended from the deserters.”
Jiang Chen froze. The forefather’s words had proven all his preconceived notions wrong.
“Now you know why the sacred lands exist, and why we seem so set apart from the other factions. We have to remain free of any tainted or inferior bloodlines and souls. We shoulder a heavier burden than people perceive. On the surface, the sacred lands are in charge of maintaining order in each nation, but the reality is that we’ve been holding true to our duty ever since the ancient times, and will continue to do so for an end that may never come.
“Each realm paid a heavy price during the war, but once the demon race was sealed, the fight came to an end. The axis deviation point, however, will always be a battlefield. No one can predict when the next battle will break out.” The forefather spoke bleakly.
“Countless powerful men and women from the sacred lands have died since the ancient times. Generations after generations have devoted themselves to the cause. The duty has become a heritage. Only those with the potential of greatness are allowed to join the rank of defenders. Therefore, I said that Xiahou Zong lacked the traits that would make him great. Men like him only see and think of the interests of himself and his family. Are things clear to you now?”
Jiang Chen struggled to sort through his thoughts.
“I didn’t know that Myriad Abyss Island has such a turbulent history,” he lamented in the end. “So, are the real geniuses from the sacred lands sent to the battlefield outside the plane? Are they staying at the deviation point, standing in defense and ready to face an invasion?”
“Yes, they are. Thankfully, not every invader we face is that strong. Since the ancient times, we’ve yet to encounter enemies as powerful as the demons. What’s more, we’ve done some restoration work to the heavenly axis, masking part of the energy radiating from the continent so that outside forces will see us as an impoverished plane. Perhaps we’re deceiving no one but ourselves, but it may be enough to divert the adventurers from outside our realm.”
Anyone other than Jiang Chen may not have been able to fully understand the forefather’s words. He knew that there was never a lack of adventurers in the heavenly planes. They ventured into whatever plane that may benefit them. Their purpose in life was to kill and loot their way through different planes and conquer the weak.
As the forefather had said, the duty of the ten sacred lands was to terminate intruders at the fringe of the plane, preventing them from invading the continent. It was undeniably a great responsibility that required great faith to shoulder.
The ten sacred lands had persevered for countless years since the ancient war. That alone warranted Jiang Chen’s respect.
The war against the demon race had taken a great toll, but it had ended. However, defending the realm from outside forces was an uphill battle that demanded and demanded with no end in sight. As long as the heavenly axis hadn’t been restored and the coordinates of the continent remained exposed, there would always be dangers and casualties.
It was difficult to say which side bore the greater responsibility, but of one thing Jiang Chen was sure of—Myriad Abyss Island had been judged unfairly.
Many of its residents were descended from deserters of the ancient war, but there was still a secret group of elite cultivators who were shouldering great duty that demanded great sacrifice.
Jiang Chen respected them immensely for that.
“Venerated spoke, I’d like to apologize to you for my ignorance and misunderstanding,” Jiang Chen sspokeaid earnestly.
“There’s no need for that. I only hope that one day, you may join the group of defenders. Even if you don’t, I hope you’ll keep it a secret.”
“I will join the team if I can spare the effort in the future,” responded Jiang Chen seriously. “However, I have a more important mission to complete at the moment.”
“Oh?” The forefather smiled. “Do you mean the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement?”
“How do you know?”
The forefather chuckled. “You talked about many things earlier with your companions. I’m old, but my ears are keen. I happened to overhear your conversation.”
Jiang Chen smiled wryly. “Well, since the senior knows already, I’ll be frank. There are signs of demonic activities in many domains, the human one especially. In less than a century, the demons will invade and the world will fall into chaos. There’s a possibility that the Divine Abyss Continent will collapse from both outside invasion and inner turmoil.”
This was no exaggeration. If the demonic cataclysm happened, the different domains wouldn’t be able to organize resistance as large as the one in the past. Without a force that could deter them, the demonic army would become more and more powerful.
The ten sacred lands from Myriad Abyss wouldn’t be able to do much no matter how hard they fought the invaders. In either case, some demons had already crept into this world.
The forefather nodded. “You have an important duty as well, young man. Though the human realm isn’t as it was before, some heritages have been passed down and foundations remain solid. I believe that you will succeed in re-sealing the demonic race. Otherwise, all the sweat and blood we’ve shed outside the plane would be for nothing.”
He meant what he said. If the demons broke out of the formation and conquered the different domains before invading Myriad Abyss Island, the demon race would be able to break through the portal and make the entire continent their territory.