Taking Starfate, it took roughly three days for Jiang Chen to arrive at Martial Divine Nation. According to the venerated forefather, Martial Divine Nation was on friendly terms with Eternal Divine Nation. The two sacred lands often held exchanges or even arranged marriages with each other.
Martial Divine Nation respected Eternal Divine Nation like an older brother. That was why the forefather had suggested Jiang Chen pick it as his destination.
The political order in Martial Divine Nation was similar to that of Eternal Divine Nation. The sacred land held the reigns of power, and there were many subordinate sects and aristocratic families.
There was a divine realm forefather in the Martial Sacred Land, but the same went for the rebellion. The two forefathers were neck and neck, and their duel was gridlocked.
However, things were different on the lower levels. The rebellion army was quite formidable and dominated the sacred land, putting them in a more difficult place than the Eternal Sacred Land had been in.
Jiang Chen didn’t announce his arrival upon entering a completely foreign land. Tens of thousands of miles from Martial territory, he and his companions alighted from the airboat and flew on their own.
The forefather had said his first mission was to aid the sacred land’s spirit herb mountain, their secret base for cultivating spirit herbs.
They’d excavated a spirit vein, which enabled them to cultivate a great variety of herbs and make the mountain a general garden. Its development was the sacred land’s greatest achievement over the past few decades and crucial to the sacred land. Its loss would be a serious blow to them.
For the time being, the rebels hadn’t seem to have discovered the base yet and therefore hadn’t sent their most powerful force to it. But information had somehow been leaked. No one knew if that was because the rebels were adept at gathering intel, or if there was a mole inside the sacred land.
Whatever the truth was, the spirit herb base was close to being exposed. Fortunately, the sacred land had set up a great number of disorienting, trapping, and defensive formations around the base. When activated, they were enough to keep the place safe.
Jiang Chen’s first mission was to help the base overcome its current challenges. It was even better if he could destroy the rebel army that aimed to take the mountain.
The base was led by the only female prime of the sacred land - Prime Purplestar, a prominent cultivator in the Ten Divine Nations. Other than the divine forefather, she was one of the most important leading figures of the sacred land.
“What do you plan to do, young master Chen?” asked the Vermilion Bird.
Jiang Chen thought for a moment. “This is Martial Divine Nation. We can’t do much of what we did in Eternal Divine Nation.”
“Naturally. I’ll follow your lead.” The Vermilion Bird had spent some time thinking on their way here, which gave it a newfound respect for Jiang Chen. Over the past couple of days, it’d suppressed its inner demons and all intrusive thoughts, which calmed its mind and slowly eliminated its obsession.
With the knot in its heart resolved, the bird recovered its noble spirit as well. Moreover, the recent series of battles and breakthroughs had pushed its strength further. It’d made great progress since its fight with the Xiahou forefather.
“First, we need a map of the area. Then we can figure out how much defense the base has relative to the rebels. Only then do we formulate strategies and come up with a battle plan. Again, patience is a virtue. We either vanquish the enemies in one attempt, or we stay put, waiting for the opportunity to present itself.”
He didn’t have a concrete plan yet, but he had a general idea of what he’d do. In a fight at such a level and scale, a swift, fatal strike was the only solution. Prolonging the battle would only made things worse since the rebels greatly outnumbered the sacred land.
The sacred land couldn’t afford the toll that would take, while the rebels simply numbered too many. They could keep replenishing their forces, making it seem as if the rebels had an unlimited number of supporters. If they all came to the same conclusion, they’d become much more strong-willed and hit harder.
A soldier’s will and power was often determined by the impetus driving their side.
That was what happened at the beginning of the uprising in Eternal Divine Nation. The rebels had been in high spirits and managed to keep the sacred land pinned down, making it a difficult fight.
In the final assault, the alliance had fallen apart and never recovered their original momentum. The Vermilion Bird’s attack was the last straw that broke them. Their failure could be partly attributed to their infighting, but also to the general trend of the war.
Therefore, Jiang Chen didn’t think it’d be worthwhile to just kill a few enemies or launch a few ambushes. Instead, the sacred land had to make a move that would determine the direction of the war, or even straight-up turn things around.
Such opportunities didn’t come by often, but he believed that was the right path to pursue.
Skirmishes raged near the spirit herbs base, taking him back to the days of war ravaging the Eternal Sacred Land. The fight in the Martial Sacred Land was much more intense by comparison.
The uprising against the Eternal Sacred Land had been kept a secret in the beginning. Thus, the rebels had been the only force surrounding the sacred land. The war in Martial Divine Nation was much more devastating and covered a significantly larger area.
Scouting wouldn’t pose much of a challenge to Jiang Chen since he had the Goldbiter Rats. Nonetheless, in order to keep them safe, he didn’t send a big group and deployed a smaller team of the most clever that were adept at gathering information.
The operation was risky, but the higher the risk, the greater the return.
Many intense conflicts had broken out around the base. Since the battlefield hadn’t been cleaned up yet, the rats would be able to acquire some loot.
Through observing the rebels on the outskirts, Jiang Chen came to some deductions.
The rebels were gathering their troops, but their elites hadn’t found the right way to break into the base. Therefore, attacks hadn’t been launched in recent days.
The rebellion was led by a demigod forefather, under whom were a group of ninth level empyrean figureheads from major sects and aristocratic families.
The importance they placed on the base after its exposure was evident. They clearly had decided to conquer and gain control of the spirit herb base. They would then be essentially holding the sacred land’s lifeline in their grip, severely undermining the sacred land’s war effort.
“Young master Chen, the sacred land’s defense army is less than one fifth of the rebels,” reported the Goldbiter Kingrat. “They wouldn’t have been able to defend the base if not for the terrain and their formations and restrictions. My estimation is a conservative one. The ratio of their number may even be as high as one to six.”
The rat didn’t give an accurate figure, but he was confident in his estimate.
Jiang Chen frowned. “Which means it’s only a matter of time before the rebels break in.”
“That’s right,” the Goldbiter King agreed without hesitation. “The sacred land is even secretly planning on destroying the base if they fail to deter the rebels. They’d rather do that than to let the spirit herbs fall into rebel hands.”
“They have backbone,” Jiang Chen praised. “How about the rebels? Any recent movement?”
“They’ve been studying and trying to break the formations outside the base. Once they succeed, they’ll be able to enter without much resistance. Without the formations, the sacred land can only rely on the terrain, but that won’t be of much help. After all, this is a battle between cultivators, not mortals.”
In the mortal world, terrain gave army a significant advantage. In a fight between cultivators who could soar into the sky and go underground though, it was all too easy to destroy such advantages.
In other words, the only thing keeping the base safe was the formations outside, which were also the sacred land’s strong suit.
“Brother Chen, there’s a simple enough solution,” said Long Xiaoxuan. “The three of us can just charge into the rebellion army and kill the demigod forefather. Then the enemies will fall apart. Why make things so complicated?”
The Vermilion Bird shook its head. “Xiaolong, there will always be someone better than you somewhere. Your solution may work once, but it can end up making things worse in the long term.”
Without the obsession plaguing its mind, the bird was much more clear-headed than it’d been. Once it had a good grasp of the situation, it recognized that they’d be vulnerable to ambushes if they launched a frontal attack.
The rebels had a demigod and a group of peak ninth level empyrean experts after all. If they formed a battle formation and lured the bird in, it was possible for them to trap the bird, or even kill it.
Hubris would be a cultivator’s downfall. There were plenty of such examples in the martial dao world.