The Vermilion Bird listened to Jiang Chen’s every order. It strengthened its aura and rained down even more relentless attacks on Forefather Calmdew.
The pressure on the forefather grew significantly. The bird’s might could rival a god, and its attacks could shake heaven and earth. The forefather could barely keep himself upright in the face of its unrestrained assault.
An endless sea of fire enveloped him, broiling his body and tearing apart his soul. He knew he couldn’t win this fight, but he didn’t even have the chance to escape under the bird’s suppression.
Finally, an agonized scream rang through the flames as the bird devoured him whole, leaving neither his body nor soul behind.
The alliance immediately fell apart. All of the rebels lost their will after witnessing the forefather’s death.
Jiang Chen leaped into the air with his Holy Dragon Bow raised and declared, “Kneel and surrender, or die on your feet!”
The Vermilion Bird flapped its wings, sending waves of flame towards the army.
One by one, cultivators dropped down to their knees with their hands up in the air, submitting to the bird’s awesome might. Its oppressive and absolute power had destroyed their will to fight.
Xiahou Zhen was dead. House Xiahou’s troops had been eliminated. Now, even Forefather Calmdew had been slaughtered. Without a leader, the thought of resisting didn’t cross their minds.
“Take them all!” ordered the first prime. She led her cohort of experts to the battlefield to clean up the mess.
Things had been turned around completely.
The main battlefield had been rid of all possible threats, leaving the other defense posts to be dealt with. Those fighting against the sacred land couldn’t make much of a difference.
In less than an hour, the sacred land had reclaimed their territory.
News about Forefather Calmdew’s death and the Xiahou troops’ destruction spread to every part of the capital like the plague. Shock rippled through the city. No one had foreseen this conclusion of the assault.
Almost all alliance cultivators had become the sacred land’s captives overnight. Although the alliance still stood, it was as good as destroyed.
The imperial family was stunned, as was House Xiahou, and the remaining members of the alliance! The already fractured group fell further apart.
Within the inner court of the palace, the emperor, Duke Xiaoyao, and various figureheads from different factions held an emergency meeting to come up with a solution. The alliance might seem bigger in number, but the last battle had rendered their morale at a record low.
The emperor read through the intel brought back from the sacred land with a grave expression, his hands trembling slightly in his sleeves. Things had gone in an entirely unexpected direction.
They’d taken all factors into consideration, including the sacred land’s total firepower. Almost everyone had been convinced that even if they couldn’t conquer the sacred land, they’d at least be able to damage it to the point where it couldn’t resist anymore.
Instead, all expectations had been subverted.
“How can this be? How??” muttered the emperor to himself. “Someone tell me what happened! Forefather Calmdew was a demigod. How could anyone from the sacred land kill him? This can’t be true!”
“Your Majesty, there’s a detailed description of the fight in the report. Forefather Calmdew was killed by a ferocious ancient beast. It was a vermilion bird of the Four Divine Beasts!”
“What? The Four Divine Beasts?” The emperor’s eyes twitched. “There haven’t ever been any descendents of the Four Divine Beasts in the nation. Where did this vermilion bird come from?”
“The information is accurate, Your Majesty. No one knows where the divine beast is from, but according to the witnesses, it’s related to one of the sacred land’s members.”
“Shao Yuan, the genius who killed Xiahou Zong in the sword competition.”
The brooding Duke Xiaoyao scowled and asked, “What did you say? The vermilion bird’s appearance is related to Shao Yuan?”
Duke Xiaoyao slammed his fist into the table. “That bastard again! He’s disrupted our plans more times than I care to count. How does he possibly deserve a divine spirit creature’s help?”
“Shao Yuan is a wild card. No one can say for sure how he got involved with the bird. Your Majesty, Duke Xiaoyao, our army has been eliminated and our elites fallen. The alliance is in great danger of breaking up. We must act now, or we’ll die a terrible death once the sacred land recovers!”
“Nonsense! The sacred land just got lucky and won this round. They can barely defend themselves, let alone launch a counterattack.”
“Don’t panic. The sacred land has suffered a great loss in the battle as well. They can’t afford to fight back for the time being!”
The emperor and Duke Xiaoyao were more in agreement now than they’d ever been. Originally, they’d been fighting for their own interests, and they sometimes clashed under the table. Losing to the sacred land had alleviated the tension between them. It was once again their biggest enemy.
“His Majesty, Duke Xiaoyao, the three primes are still able to fight and the sacred land has the vermilion bird on their side. They still retain their most elite forces. Perhaps it’s time we summon the two divine forefathers to protect the alliance.”
“That’s right. Only they can help maintain our upper hand.”
The factions within the alliance were panicking as well. Both Forefather Calmdew and Xiahou Zhen were out of the picture. The Vermilion Bird’s power was evident. No one in attendance would be able to rival it. Their only hope for defeating the bird were the gods.
Tension built up in the air.
“Hmph, the two forefathers are keeping the sacred land’s venerated forefather subdued. If they return, and the seal falters, we’ll essentially be letting a dragon back into the sea. Then we’re truly doomed!”
That was no exaggeration. As a divine realm cultivator, the venerated forefather could easily wipe the floor with the alliance once he was freed.
He was unequivocally the strongest in Eternal Divine Nation, a living model for everyone within the country. Even the imperial family and House Xiahou’s forefathers fell short before him. They wouldn’t necessarily be able to rival him even if they fought together. They’d only been able to subdue the venerated forefather through trickery.
They therefore had to keep a close eye on the seal to prevent the venerated forefather from escaping. Otherwise, he’d become a major threat to the imperial family and House Xiahou.
Therefore, the emperor and Duke Xiaoyao were the first to disagree with summoning the two forefathers back. That would only end very badly.
No matter how formidable a foe the sacred land was, they had to face the threat alone and not distract the two forefathers.
The success of the uprising was built upon the success of the two forefathers. If the sacred land’s forefather was let free, the uprising would be nothing but a pipe dream.
“His Majesty, I don’t want to diminish our morale, but what if that vermilion bird attacks us? Who among us would be able to fight it?”
“That’s right, Your Majesty! You claimed that victory was right within our grasp when you convinced us to join the alliance, and yet House Beigong has suffered great casualties and loss without any of the benefits you promised. If this goes on, we have no choice but to withdraw.”
Seeing that someone had cast the first stone, the head of the Starlight Sect spoke up. “If we’re talking about loss, our sect has suffered the most among all factions. Your Majesty, we’ve about depleted all our resources. If we are to keep fighting, isn’t it time for the imperial family and House Xiahou to deploy your elites?”
Duke XIaoyao frowned. “What do you mean? Are you accusing us for not sending out our best? Xiahou Zhen was our venerated elder, and the group he led was composed of our elites. We’ve lost our people as well.”
“Ha, so what? You were the ones who started the whole thing. Naturally you should be the ones to lead the charge. The sacred land was only able to make a comeback because you’d been conserving your strength instead of giving the battle your all. What do you propose we do now?!”
“What do we do? The others can complain about the turn of events, but not the Starlight Sect. I hear that Shao Yuan was only able to infiltrate our army because one of your own colluded with him.”
“That’s right. We heard that as well.”
The sect head fumed. “So? Shao Yuan is powerful. He could’ve easily killed a few of our members and assume their identities. Do you expect me to just see through their disguises? Yes, he and his friends are imposters, but they were in the battlefield for a long time. Why didn’t their supervisor notice anything? If we’re casting blame, it shouldn’t all fall on the Starlight Sect.”
The alliance was in engulfed chaos. Each faction had their own agenda. All the existing conflicts were brought to the table due to the loss. No one was willing to take a step back, and arguments escalated into a verbal brawl.
Seeing the mess the meeting had fallen into, the emperor slammed his hand on the table, hard. “Shut up! It’s unbecoming of you to argue amongst yourselves!”
Everyone fell silent, but it was clear from their expressions that they were dissatisfied and frustrated.
“Gentlemen, there’s no use for us to argue now. We’re all on the same boat, and our interests are closely intertwined. Either the sacred land falls, or we do. This infighting isn’t going to turn things around.” The emperor spoke earnestly, trying to convince everyone.