A bird of fiery crimson roosted upon Hell King Island’s hottest volcanic peaks. The figure it cut was as timeless as an ancient totem. Its wings were large enough to blot out the sky. Its plumage was a glistening vermilion that exhibited a dazzling, mirror-like sheen.
The bird was none other than the Vermilion Bird, of course!
After so many years upon Hell King Island, it had finally reached the doorstep of the divine realm. This crucial change had happened half a year ago.
A demigod required fuller intuition of the heavenly dao to attain the first level of godhood. Since its breakthrough, the bird had constantly pursued to make this step as perfectly as possible.
It was no easy task, of course.
Though it was an ancient sacred bird, it sometimes wondered whether it had reached the extent of its own capabilities. It wouldn’t accept that prospect. Its blood inheritance should have entitled it to far more. The Vermilion Bird believed that it had plenty more potential to play with.
But how was it supposed to do that?
This was its current top priority. More than anything, it wanted to fully enter into the divine realm within its current lifecycle. Once it did so, its lifespan would stretch to nearly eternity. Aside from the disasters restricted exclusively for the gods, it wouldn’t encounter any restrictions caused by mortality.
A cultivator in the divine realm lived as long as heaven and earth. Little could threaten him save for specific disasters related to his condition.
Suddenly, the bird felt a wave of movement in its consciousness. A needle had pricked it there, allowing a nameless energy to flow in.
“Hmm?” The Vermilion Bird was shaken by what it sensed. “Young master Chen?” it blurted out.
The bird had given its feather to only one man – Jiang Chen. The reaction it was having right now was due to that feather having burned up in flames of destruction.
“This isn’t good. Is young master Chen in danger?”
It had always been on good terms with human cultivators, and its bond with Jiang Chen was especially strong. The young man could be counted as one of its saviors, after all.
It was an incredibly loyal fowl. It felt that its rebirth had almost entirely been thanks to Jiang Chen. Thus, it long considered him a member of its family. The feedback from the crumbling of the Vermilion Feather naturally shocked it.
It could no longer remain focused on its cultivation and comprehension of dao. Within several wingbeats, it soared out of the endless volcanoes in a curtain of flame that colored the sky a sea of red.
The presence of the Vermilion Bird had caused life from the seas hundreds of miles around to clear out. Therefore, the surrounding waters were reasonably calm despite its ruckus.
“Xiaoxuan, Xiaoxuan…” Its low wails were tinged with urgency.
Long Xiaoxuan was cultivating in the nearby seas. Self-improvement had allowed the dragon to expand his influence over water. Whereas before he could manage only a few dozen, he now affected the seas hundreds of miles around.
Hearing the Vermilion Bird’s cries, Long Xiaoxuan crashed out of the water with a geyser of water. “Old brother Vermilion, what is it?”
Though the bird was from the ancient era and supposedly from an older generation, the sacred beasts weren’t particularly interested in seniority when it came to their relationship. Thus, Long Xiaoxuan and the Vermilion Bird treated each other as equals.
“Where are we going?” Long Xiaoxuan had never seen the Vermilion Bird so anxious before. Something was wrong.
“Young master Chen is in trouble. He just crumbled the feather I gave him,” the bird declared hoarsely.
“What? Why didn’t he destroy my scale too?” the dragon responded with shock.
“He knows we’re together. One is enough. Why waste the other?”
Long Xiaoxuan hesitated, then nodded in agreement. “Then we should get going right away. Do you know where young master Chen is right now, old brother? How far is he away from here?”
“I can’t tell precisely the distance, but he should be around…” The Vermilion Bird used its consciousness to gauge the region of reaction, then blinked. “He’s quite close. On these waters, in fact. Yes, yes, he must have pursuers on his tail! That’s why he fled here!”
“How close is quite close? Will we make it in time?” Long Xiaoxuan was even more distressed than the bird. He had weathered many a troubling time with Jiang Chen and considered the young man his only family. His devotion to the human was absolutely whole-hearted.
“Within three or four thousand miles. Young master Chen must’ve drawn quite the trouble to himself this time.” The Vermilion Bird was just as worried as the dragon. Neither beast nor fowl wanted their human companion to perish.
It was difficult for ancient sacred beasts to survive in the world nowadays. A human friend allowed them to have a much easier time of it. Moreover, Jiang Chen had been genuinely nice to them.
All sacred beasts were grateful for services rendered.
The Vermilion Bird pushed itself to maximum speed, while Long Xiaoxuan swam at equivalent pace in the sea below.
Jiang Chen’s Starfate was less than three thousand miles from Hell King Island. The currents rushed strongly here, and the wind and clouds were stirred into chaos. A group of people had cut him off.
They scattered, putting his airboat in the center of their encirclement.
“Keep running, kid! Why aren’t you running anymore? You looked like you had real guts and speed escaping from us like that!”
Boss Luo was furious. He spat out taunt after taunt in an attempt to rile Jiang Chen up.
The white-haired old man was still somewhat concerned. “You have no way out, sir,” he declared. “Either you tell us your identity now, or we kill you and investigate after.”
The boss wasn’t particularly fond of the former. He wanted more than anything to cut Jiang Chen down without anyone else knowing.
“You have no right to ask my identity,” Jiang Chen smiled coolly. “Most of you don’t look like you’re from the Silversword Gang. Why are you lending your power to evil?”
His eyes scanned Warmspring’s executives coldly. In that moment, they felt it difficult to meet his gaze.
“The Silversword Gang has done everything bad under the sun. Rather than stopping them, you aid and abet them. It seems that Warmspring Island is just as bad as the gang.”
“Big words, kid!”
“Venerable elder, why waste time on the kid? He has a vicious tongue. We don’t need to make ourselves upset by listening to him.”
“Yes. He deserves a beating. Let’s take him down first.”
The white-haired old man sighed. “Someone who has too many edges dies an early death, young man. Listen to my advice and surrender. You can choose a relatively honorable death then. If you anger me, we will seek out and rout your family and friends as well!”
Jiang Chen glinted with cold scorn. “So Warmspring defies justice to the bitter end then!”
In the next moment, an eerie smile crept over his face. “I suppose that’s fine. I was hesitating earlier whether to kill you lot, but it seems that all of you deserve it utterly!”
“Kill us?” One of the executives brayed with exaggerated laughter. “Are you daydreaming, kid? You’re a stray dog on the brink of your own death, yet you’re still talking as if we’re the ones in trouble?”
Jiang Chen grinned from ear to ear. He licked his lips as bloodthirst rose. His eyes swept across the faces of those before him icily.
“Get him!” the white-haired old man bellowed a call to attack; several empyrean realm experts struck in unison.
The fighting of empyrean cultivators was different from their weaker peers. Rather than cause a lot of unnecessary commotion, they used only their deadliest methods.
Empyrean abilities sealed the sky. Each man took a corner, blocking Jiang Chen from every vector of escape. There was nowhere left to hide or flee.
Furthermore, the cultivators’ expertise was evident in their coordination. Clearly, they were used to fighting alongside each other. Every motion was perfectly practiced and rehearsed, as if they’d had countless bouts.
Jiang Chen didn’t dare take them lightly. He knew that he wasn’t facing down just any old group of cultivators. Executives of Warmspring Island were both martially capable and well-trained. Without something he could rely on, he would find it nearly impossible to escape. Once trapped, he could only resist until he was fatigued or slain.
The Silversword Gang’s Boss Luo seemed rather out of place here. “I thought you were good at killing, kid?” he sneered. “Why don’t you do a repeat performance?”
“Resign yourself to your fate!” Seeing that his companions had set up their tactical formation, the white-haired old man beckoned to the gang boss. “Boss Luo, are you going to help us in the attack? Or ready yourself at the side?”
“Help you attack, of course.” Depravity was written all over the boss’s face. “He killed so many of my guys. How can I let him die so easily?”
“With us, then!” the old man stated before producing a fly-whisk. He swept an innumerable cascade of white threads toward Jiang Chen.
The young man realized what the attack was as soon as it was executed. “Mortal Silken Threads?!” he cried out involuntarily.