The Vermilion Bird’s speed was frightfully astonishing. It’d arrived at the scene of the battle in the blink of an eye.
The group looked up at the sky with brows furrowed. The clouds looked as if they had caught fire, the flames spreading until the entire sky was set ablaze.
“What is that?” exclaimed one of the elders.
The white-browed elder’s expression turned severe. “Be careful. A formidable foe is coming.”
Even someone as ferocious as Boss Luo was paralyzed by the terrifying phenomenon. The killing intent in his eyes gave way to horror.
An endless sea of fire roiled and invaded their space. Out came a divine spirit with expanded wings that obscured the sun. Its graceful form stood out from the flame like a blooming lotus.
The Vermilion Bird had come to the rescue!
Its shriek reached the dome of the sky and stirred both heaven and earth. Winds gathered from all directions and the ocean raged. The world trembled!
Jiang Chen was thrilled to witness its tremendous might. The bird had recovered to the level it’d been in the ancient times and even exceeded its peak, a stark contrast to its sickly self when they’d first met.
“Congratulations, Senior Vermilion! You’ve had tremendous progress during the years on Hell King Island. This is cause for celebration.” Jiang Chen’s delight was clear in his voice. He was genuinely happy for the Vermilion Bird.
The bird laughed. “I’ve only made a little breakthrough. You’ll know what I mean when you see Xiaoxuan. Now that’s what you call progress!”
Among the raging ocean and rolling clouds came a staccato of six soaring columns of water threatening the sky. They combined into a waterspout that shot through the air and fired right at the group of seven, catching them off guard despite their extraordinary skills.
Fortunately, their cultivation enabled them to defend, albeit with some difficulty, instead of being caught by the vortex. Still, the shock alone was enough to debilitate them. What was going on?
A column of water suddenly rose through the air with tremendous force, on top of which was a coiled true dragon.
A true dragon!
The seven men could barely believe their eyes. Was it really a true dragon?!
Jiang Chen was ecstatic to see the dragon’s demonstration of power. He’d improved as much as the human had, if not more. The dragon must have reached fourth level or even fifth level empyrean.
Otherwise, not even the descendent of true dragons would be able to almost decapacitate seven advanced empyrean experts with an attack. The dragon now rivaled an advanced empyrean expert!
The elders and Boss Luo widened their eyes in disbelief. Who would’ve thought a true dragon resided in this ocean? The spirit hovering in the sky was even more terrifying. It seemed to be the mythical Vermilion Bird!
Who the hell was this young man and how had he acquired such helpers? The true dragon and Vermilion Bird were descendents of the Four Divine Beasts from the ancient times! The elders and Boss Luo weren’t among the top cultivators in Myriad Abyss, but they were experienced enough to know of the divine beasts.
“Venerated Elder Lu, are they… the Four Divine Beasts of legend?”
“I can’t say.” The white-browed old man had completely lost his calm. Fear had crushed his heart in a tight grip since the destruction of his silk. He struggled to even make a sound.
“Watch out,” he reminded in a low voice once he’d finally recovered from his fear. “We can’t defeat them. We’ll split up and run.”
Boss Luo couldn’t accept that. “Venerated Elder Lu, there’s nothing for us to fear if we stick together! So they’re of the divine beasts’ bloodline. Big deal! As long as they aren’t at their peak, we stand a chance of winning by fighting as a team!”
The white-browed old man scoffed mockingly. “Boss Luo, your Silversword Gang is going to be the death of us. My silk was supposed to be indestructible against fire or water, yet it was easily consumed by the bird’s fire. Even if the Vermilion Bird isn’t at its peak, it’s not a foe we can rival.”
“We can’t win!” the old man rushed out. “Face reality and run!”
Jiang Chen had arrived at the Vermilion Bird’s side. It nuzzled Jiang Chen with its head. They’d both missed each other after the long absence. “Who are these people, young master Chen?”
“A group of insistent bastards who used their number against me,” Jiang Chen spat. “Senior Vermilion, I need your help this time. Show them what you’ve got.” He deliberately switched to human language. “They’re irredeemable villains that deserve to die. Send them all to hell.”
The bird grinned. “That’d be a waste. They’re all advanced empyrean cultivators. They’ll make great supplements.”
It was speaking in the language of the ancient beasts, so the elders and the gang leader didn’t understand it. But its disturbing expression was enough to send a shudder down their spines.
“Please listen to me, my friend.” The white-browed old man knew when to back down. “There must be a misunderstanding. Please... ”
“Misunderstanding? You chased after me for hundreds of thousands of miles. You had plenty of time to realize your mistake. Why didn’t you see there was a misunderstanding when you were chasing me, or when you were trying to kill me?”
The old man froze and smiled ruefully. “We were cheated by this man, my friend. There’s no reason for Warmspring Island to take the fall for the Silversword Gang. Don’t worry. We’ll do what’s right this time. You can decide what to do with the gang leader. We’ll destroy the gang once we return to the island. There will be no Silversword Gang from then on!”
Boss Luo scowled. “Venerated Elder Lu, you... ”
“Shut up. Your gang has committed a myriad of crimes. I’ve long warned you to behave and stop stirring up trouble. You bit off more than you can chew this time! As the law-enforcing elder of Warmspring, I won’t let you run rampant on the island no more.”
The old man changed his tune at the drop of a hat. More surprisingly, his subordinates had circled the gang leader without missing a beat, clearly intending to apprehend the gang leader.
“Just wait for a moment,” the old man said respectfully. “Warmspring will play by the rules and arrest this man. The rest is up to you.”
It took some time for Jiang Chen to recover from his surprise. He’d seen his fair share of shameless men and hadn’t expected the respectful looking old man to take the cake. Still, he wasn’t going to be deceived.
He scoffed. “If you’d done this back in Warmspring, I may have forgiven you. However, after pursuing me for such a great distance, don’t you think you’ve changed your story too suddenly to be believable?”
The white-browed old man’s heart sank. His move had obviously failed. He dropped down to his knees immediately and begged, “This old man is Lu Che. I’m deeply regretful for rousing your fury. Please give me another chance. I’m willing to surrender and serve as your slave.”
“Oh?” Never had Jiang Chen foresee that the old man would surrender so readily after realizing the futility of resistance. His gaze swept through every one of his foes, his eyes glinting in deep thought. The show of submission swayed him somewhat. He turned to the bird. “What do you think, Senior Vermilion?”
“Whatever you say.” The bird nodded.
“Brother Long?” Jiang Chen asked with a smile.
The dragon huffed. “Even Brother Vermilion said it’d listen to you. What else can I say?”
Long Xiaoxuan was still his prideful self after all these years.
Jiang Chen broke into laughter and said bemusedly, “You’re smart to cut your losses, Lu Che. However, people like you will betray me just as easily. How do I know I can trust you?”
“I’m willing to do anything to gain your trust!”
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. “There is something. I can brand you with my consciousness and make you my slaves, which will allow me to control you utterly. What say you?”
Lu Che exchanged a glance with his companions. They were a little hesitant.
Boss Luo laughed maniacally. “You’ve disappointed me, Lu Che. I didn’t know you were such a coward! I’m not going to play this game with you!”
He knew he wouldn’t be spared after surrendering even if Lu Chen and the other elders were. The Silversword Gang was the one that’d started everything. Someone had to take the fall. The young man might take the elders in as slaves, but he was bound to kill the boss.
The gang leader flew away in a flash of light. He was smart enough to recognize that he couldn’t turn things around, and so the best option was to flee.
Jiang Chen looked at him calmly, unfazed by his attempt to flee.
The Vermilion Bird smiled derisively and flapped its wings. Feathers turned into sharp blades and inflicted powerful slashes at the gang leader. The destructive hit caught up with him and blocked his escape route, forcing him to come back.