With the Millionditch Stonenest as cover, the Goldbiter Rats didn’t have to go aboveground in large numbers to deploy the poison, preventing them from being discovered.
Everyone was in high spirits, their attention focused on the principals as they took in their orders and pep talk.
The imperial family had really gone all-out this time. The first wave of attackers was promised a great deal of rewards, which greatly incentivized many of them. At the same time the rewards were a statement that the sacred land was no more. The imperial family was the ruler of the nation, and the only one that could bring fortune to everyone.
The pep talk didn’t last long, but it was enough to motivate the vanguard. They were pumped and ready to strike.
“The time is now! The sun is setting on the sacred land. This assault will destroy the last of its fort. We will be the heroes that change the course of the history and be forever remembered by generations to come!”
The commander-in-chief’s order prompted the first group of designated attackers to raise their weapons of choice and flourish their most extraordinary moves to attack every weak point of the great formation.
The formation was incredibly sturdy. The constant barrage of attacks left only small cracks, which weren’t enough to destabilize it. This illustrated that even after all this time, the alliance still hadn’t struck a fatal blow on the sacred land.
Although a large swathes of territory had been conquered, the sacred land’s core regions and leading figures remained strong. It was a demonstration of the alliance’s failure. They fought with abandon as they intended to end the sacred land once and for all.
The large-scale assault applied great pressure on the formation. Fortunately, the sacred land had been informed beforehand, giving them ample time to reinforce it. As a result, the formation managed to held strong against the intense attack.
But this wasn’t the alliance’s only move.
While the first wave attacked the sacred land, the second group was deployed. Instead of joining the fight, they hurled insults at the enemy.
“There’s nothing sacred about this bunch of cowards!”
“What a shame for the nation to be ruled by these weaklings all this time!”
“Cowards! Come out and fight us!”
Fighters were often crude, but these men were especially obscene. It was curious where the alliance had found them. The name-calling may not be enough to provoke the sacred land into fighting back, but it was an immense blow on their pride.
If they refused to take a stand even when faced with verbal abuse from such base, crude characters, it would undermine their reputation greatly.
There were currently a myriad of different voices within the sacred land. Some argued they should charge out and knock the alliance down a peg. Others argued they should stay and defend the sacred land at this critical juncture and not let humiliation get to them.
Jiang Chen’s defense post was a hotspot for battles. He put on a front and made it seem as if he was devoting everything into attacking, but in reality he didn’t so much as harm the sacred land. His actions went unnoticed in the chaos.
He cared more about the Goldbiter Rats’ progress. If they could spread the Soulless Powder to every part of the battlefield, he was confident that he’d be able to turn the tide.
The damage that a force of three thousand could inflict was no joke. Under the alliance’s relentless attack, the formation cracked in many parts, compromising its defenses. Many sacred land’s cultivators were visible to the attackers for the first time and left vulnerable.
Increasing numbers of fights broke out.
The great formation could be likened to a bamboo shoot. There were many layers to it, each with a good number of experts defending the pillars of the formation. Each time a layer was peeled off, an inevitable fight broke out.
Jiang Chen was highly anxious. He knew the sacred land couldn’t afford a prolonged fight. If the great formation continued to remain under attack, it’d be weakened considerably even if it wasn’t broken.
If the imperial family and House Xiahou organized a couple more salvos like these, the formation would be in danger of breaking down. Then the alliance would charge into the sacred land and kill off most of its experts with sheer numbers.
Even if a few managed to escape, where could they possibly run to given the circumstances?
“Nicely done, warriors! Forefather Calmdew is pleased with your progress. Keep up the good work!”
Imperial Prince Shang called out loud motivation to the cultivators at the front lines, while he continued to deploy forces to join the fight. Every time someone died, he replaced them with new substitutions.
The alliance’s number gave them an edge. Ten deaths would be a heavy toll on the sacred land, while a hundred didn’t mean much to the alliance.
Imperial Prince Shang frowned and turned to Jiang Chen, his expression darkening when he did so. He motioned for his personal guards to follow him as he strode over to Jiang Chen.
“Are you bastards trying to trick me? Look at what others have done, then look at yourselves! You’re slacking off on purpose!!” The imperial prince couldn’t contain his anger. He felt cheated.
“Guards! Arrest these men and have them executed! Put their heads on display for all to see!” The imperial prince had been looking for a punching bag. These men had practically fallen into his lap.
Jiang Chen exclaimed defensively, “Your Highness, this is… this is a misunderstanding!”
“Misunderstanding? How so?” Imperial Prince Shang widened his eyes with a serious expression. “Do you think I’m a fool? You clearly haven’t been doing your job!”
Jiang Chen took a step closer to the prince and whispered, “Your Highness, this subordinate feels something fishy in the air.”
“In what way?” the imperial prince huffed.
“Something’s wrong.” Jiang Chen put on a grave expression. “There seems to be a conspiracy brewing. I can smell a strange presence in the air.”
“Presence? What presence?” The imperial prince’s nose twitched. He smelled nothing. He turned to ask his guards, “Do you smell anything?”
The guards shook their heads cluelessly and denied smelling anything.
Jiang Chen shrugged. “Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but you must be careful, Your Highness. This subordinate has wandered the jianghu for years. The experience has honed my instincts. Something is going to happen today. Your Highness must be on your guard.”
The imperial prince’s first reaction was to suspect the young man, but his earnest expression made the prince question his assumptions.
Their conversation was interrupted by a commotion from the outer circle. One after another, a large group of people exclaimed and screamed.
Jiang Chen perked up, delighted that the Soulless Powder of Wind and Cloud was finally in effect. He slapped the back of his own head. “Shoot, I’m getting lightheaded. Your Highness, there must be poison in the air. I’m losing my strength!”
The imperial prince’s face fell as he yelled, “What happened? You there, go check.”
The guards nodded. As soon as they took a step though, their legs went weak and they stumbled, almost collapsing to the ground.
Imperial Prince Shang panicked. Upon checking himself, he realized that his body was sore and heavy as well. He couldn’t muster any strength.
“Shit!” His chest tightened and his face contorted.
The cultivators around them had noticed their condition and cried out as well.
Forefather Calmdew raised an eyebrow, surprised. With a few bounds and leaps, he brought the three principals to his side and growled, “What’s going on?”
His cultivation had reached the point that the Soulless Powder of Wind and Cloud had no effect on him. The other two principles looked to be in a good enough condition as well. They were affected, but they could still move. Meanwhile, Imperial Prince Shang was weaker in cultivation and could barely move his legs.
“Forefather, we’ve been poisoned,” the imperial prince exclaimed, his face contorted in anger. “My limbs are weak and losing strength. Someone’s ambushed us!”
“Poison?” Surprised, the forefather gazed at his surrounding with frigid eyes and expanded his consciousness to search through the area.
“Who was it? Show yourself!”
The forefather exerted his tremendous might without restraint. The cultivators around him cowered under the power of a demigod, tasting blood in their throat.
Who’d poisoned them? The cultivators exchanged a glance, befuddled. Their confusion was clear in their expressions.
“Forefather, the poison is a familiar one. It seems to be House Xiahou’s Soulless Powder of Wind and Cloud. All the symptoms match.”
“The Soulless Powder of Wind and Cloud?” Forefather Calmdew’s face darkened as he shot his cold gaze to House Xiahou’s camp.
House Xiahou was currently stationed in the northern part with venerated elder Xiahou Zhen as their leader. They looked unharmed and didn’t seem to be poisoned at all.
That was deliberate on Jiang Chen’s part. He’d ordered the Goldbiter Rats to forgo the area when spreading the powder.
“Xiahou Zhen, explain to me what’s going on,” the forefather demanded coolly.
Xiahou Zhen was befuddled. “What do you mean, Forefather Calmdew? Do you think House Xiahou will poison our allies?”
Xiahou Zhen’s tone was irate. He didn’t like the imperial family’s condescending attitude.
The house staged the uprising because they didn’t want the Eternal Sacred Land to lord over them. If the imperial family was going to oppress them after the uprising, then what was all this for?