“Your Grace, a large group of experts have gathered at the southwestern formation nexus. It seems they are going to mount a full-scale assault. Please send reinforcements.”
“Your Grace, House Beigong and House Feng’s experts are attacking the formation in the northwest. We’ve never seen such numbers before!”
“Your Grace, the northeastern corner…”
Bad news fluttered in from all over. Everyone in House Xiahou’s headquarters was ashen with despair, the Cloudwave Sect head and Tian patriarch included. They had the extremely bad feeling that the incoming wave was only the beginning of the sacred land’s comprehensive counterattack. The most frenzied battles were yet to come.
When one formation nexus was broken, the entire formation that protected the fortress would be affected. This was a serious problem that would quickly lead to cascading effects.
It was impossible for House Xiahou to defend every corner for the formation by itself. Even with the additional manpower from House Tian and the Cloudwave Sect, it was a bit of a stretch.
Duke Xiaoyao was beleaguered with problems all over.
It was at this time that a cultivator in charge of the communication formation ran over, anxiety written all over his face.
“Your Grace, Your Grace! Just now, the forefather returned the message to ask how we were doing. He knows about our circumstances and has left the sealing formation. He asks us to keep faith and defend our fort until his return.”
“The forefather is returning?” Duke Xiaoyao’s eyes lit up. “What about the imperial forefather? Is he coming back as well?”
The cultivator shook his head in ignorance. “The forefather didn't mention his imperial colleague. Maybe he’s coming back while the other forefather watches over the formation?”
That explanation made sense enough. Duke Xiaoyao was most interested in what House Xiahou’s forefather was up to.
“Good, good! The divine forefather is about to return to us. What are you worried about, friends? Things may be a bit tough now, but the forefather’s return will turn it all around!” The duke was overjoyed.
“My two brothers, you’ve been so good as to stay loyal to House Xiahou all this time. When the forefather returns, House Xiahou will have the upper hand once again.”
“The forefather is coming back? Wonderful!” The Cloudwave Sect head exhaled in relief. He wasn’t sure how long he would be able to last without that himself. Was he really supposed to die alongside House Xiahou?
Obviously, he wanted to avoid that at any cost. He didn’t want to betray House Xiahou, but neither did he want to throw his life away. The return of the Xiahou forefather was a ray of sunshine in these troubled times.
A divine forefather was one of the most convincing tools in the nation. The warfare of these factions had been changed by the appearance the Vermilion Bird, which was as strong as a god, had it not?
Couldn’t the Xiahou forefather counteract the Vermilion Bird’s effects, turning things back in House Xiahou’s favor?
Of course he could!
The news of the Xiahou forefather’s return very quickly spread through the entire house into every corner.
Even a small tidbit of positivity was a booster shot that served to unconditionally raise the morale of everyone in the fortress. The low fighting spirit of the combatants was quickly remedied.
Everyone had thought their situation hopeless, hence the prior despair. The return of the Xiahou forefather gave them renewed confidence.
The Eternal Sacred Land had its spies within House Xiahou as well, of course. It heard about the Xiahou forefather’s return shortly afterward. The first prime was supremely astonished.
“House Xiahou’s divine forefather is about to return?”
“What’s up with that? Wasn’t he locked in a standstill with our venerated forefather? Why is he coming back ahead of time? Does he know that House Xiahou is on the brink of collapse, and is trying his best to rescue it from the jaws of death?”
“This is a difficult situation. A divine master without an appropriate opponent can’t be fended off by empyrean experts alone.”
The sacred land felt the fallout from this new development. A shadow was cast over its current momentum. Was the war of attrition between the sacred land and House Xiahou going to continue? A tug-of-war that was fated to swing back and forth?
Ziju Min’s eyes involuntarily turned toward Jiang Chen. When a problem arose that was too complicated to solve, he had formed the habit of looking to the miracle worker of a youth for a better answer.
Jiang Chen could feel the anticipation in everyone else’s gazes on him.
The first prime’s tone became very serious. “Shao Yuan, the sacred land has no problem taking down House Xiahou. However, if their divine forefather returns, we will find it difficult to fight him head on. Can you ask the Vermilion Bird if that senior has a way to deal with the problem?”
Everyone had witnessed the incredible combat ability of the divine spirit creature.
If even the bird couldn’t take on a divine realm expert, the first prime and the rest of the empyrean experts added up would definitely be unable to.
Jiang Chen smiled. “No need to ask. Old Brother Vermilion has told me already that he can take on most divine experts, no problem. Whether he can kill his opponent is another matter – that’s down to luck and opportunity. After all, it is hard to kill a god in general, especially if he’s determined to escape. I doubt that will be the case for House Xiahou’s forefather, however.”
“Excellent!” the first prime slammed the table in excitement. “If the Xiahou forefather can be stalled, even he will be powerless after we take down House Xiahou’s fortress.”
“Don’t worry, first prime. Old Brother Vermilion will have no issues fighting the Xiahou forefather. That means it will have to withdraw from the general fighting though.”
The Vermilion Bird couldn’t be in two places at the same time.
“Acceptable. The divine forefather is key.”
“Alright. I will accompany Old Brother Vermilion in confronting this Xiahou forefather. How come the imperial family’s forefather isn’t with him?”
“There’s no news at all from the imperial family’s forefather. Perhaps he’s there to maintain the sealing formation, and only the Xiahou forefather has returned.”
“Hmph, if they’re not together, their strength is divided. All that’s left for us to do is conquer them!”
If the two forefathers fought side by side, even the Vermilion Bird couldn’t guarantee victory. Apart, it was a perfect opportunity for the bird to strike.
It was on the verge of reaching divine realm. As such, it desired intense battles like these most of all. Jiang Chen related the task to the Vermilion Bird in a straightforward fashion, then left the capital astride its back.
According to reports, the Xiahou forefather would return from the southeast. It was the route the sacred land’s venerated forefather was accustomed to taking toward the offworld battlefield.
Jiang Chen guessed that the Xiahou forefather had caught onto that habit, hence the sealing formation’s location. The venerated forefather was far too strong for just the Xiahou forefather to deal with otherwise.
As man and bird flew, Jiang Chen sought inspiration for the coming battle. Both were veterans of more than a hundred battles, although Jiang Chen’s current cultivation level meant he could barely participate in the coming fight.
However, that didn't dampen his enthusiasm. He knew that even if he couldn’t take part, simply observing and taking in the atmosphere of the conflict would be a wonderful experience.
It would certainly be very conducive to increasing his martial cultivation.
He set up a few tricks and traps based on the terrain along the way as well. They weren’t particularly threatening to a divine realm cultivator, but they would serve to momentarily disrupt his tempo.
In a bout between two gods, the smallest detail might very well decide the outcome of the battle.
“When the fighting begins, young master Chen, you should keep your distance. The powers of divine experts are beyond your imagining.” The Vermilion Bird uttered a helpful reminder.
Jiang Chen smiled faintly, laughing helplessly internally to himself. He had been the son of the Celestial Emperor in his past life, honored by countless gods. How would he be ignorant about their abilities?
Still, he wanted to witness the strength of the divine experts in this world. He had never seen real gods duke it out before.
Of course, the Vermilion Bird wasn’t yet a god in theory: its proof of divinity was yet unformed. The intense battle heat might well be the catalyst to do so.
Suddenly, Jiang Chen sensed the approach of a boundlessly powerful aura approaching from the southeast.
“Is he here?” His eyes brightened with anticipation.
The Vermilion Bird chuckled. “Young master Chen, you just stay far away in the audience. I don’t want to be distracted by a need to protect you.”
Jiang Chen chuckled as well. “I don’t need your protection. Do your best to get rid of this eyesore of a divine forefather, alright?”
“Killing a god isn’t an easy thing. I will do my best!”