Long Xiaoxuan was a bit upset to hear his idea struck down. His strength had increased again recently and he thirsted for battle. The heat of battle was the perfect environment for him to take in nutrition and insight to stimulate new breakthroughs.
Though Long Xiaoxuan was only sixth level empyrean realm, he could hold his own against even ninth level cultivators. The higher level a true dragon was, the more of an advantage in battle he gained over other experts.
The gradual awakening of his heritage only sped up that process. His understanding of martial dao deepened more and more. This was accompanied by an evolution of his physical body.
Since entering empyrean realm, Long Xiaoxuan could clearly feel the elements within his flesh changing with time. There was a new discovery almost every day; he wanted to tangibly test the exact amount of his advancement.
Jiang Chen noticed Long Xiaoxuan’s expression. “Brother Long.” He smiled suddenly. “I’ve come up with a different idea for your keenness to fight.”
“What is it? Hurry up and tell me. I don’t want to be held up.” Long Xiaoxuan was beyond curious.
“It involves you as bait. Because of that, it’s pretty dangerous.”
“What danger would I be scared of? True dragons like me aren’t easy to handle. You might think of something risky, but it’ll hardly threaten me.” The dragon sounded very proud.
“Old Brother Vermilion, I need your help for the plan, too. It’s pointless otherwise,” Jiang Chen flattered the sacred bird.
“Young master Chen, please lay out whatever new plan you have. I’m here to work with you as best I can.” The Vermilion Bird was easy to talk to.
“It’s like this…” Jiang Chen detailed. “The matter of the Eternal Sacred Land should be public knowledge now. You and I are no longer secret weapons, but only a few sacred land executives know about Brother Long. Just think—if a true dragon appears in the vicinity, would the rebel leaders be lured by the sighting?”
Long understood immediately. He was to be bait.
“True dragons are definitely the most desirable of the four sacred beasts,” the Vermilion Bird affirmed. “I think it’ll work.”
The sacred bird wasn’t unduly putting itself down. The sacred beasts’ bloodlines were unique to each other. However, the true dragon one was definitely the most potent and therefore attractive.
“Tell me what you’d like me to do, young master Chen. I’m in.” The Vermilion Bird’s interest was piqued as well; it wanted to fight as much as the dragon.
Improvement through battle was the most distinct kind. The Vermilion Bird was a sliver of progress from breaking through to divine realm. A thread of inspiration would be enough to trigger an eruption.
It awaited only natural progression from one realm to the other. How exactly it could trigger that was the bird’s foremost concern right now. Looking for the inspiration in battle was probably the most practical idea.
Jiang Chen became more animated upon joint support from the Vermilion Bird and Long Xiaoxuan. Man and the beasts engaged in heated conference.
In about an hour, an arrangement that all three parties were pleased with was formed.
“Let’s make it tomorrow. Whether it works or not is up to your acting, Brother Long,” Jiang Chen laughed.
That night, they set the trap. Jiang Chen’s job was to lay down the foundations and formations.
The plan was hardly the most clever, and generally wouldn’t work in normal situations.
However, the hearts of men were restless at the moment. That made it more likely the plan would succeed. As long as the rebel leaders were ensnared by the trap, Jiang Chen was sure he would strike them down in a single blow.
Once the leaders were gone, the rebels would collapse under the weight of their lost commanders. He and the two beasts would be able to slaughter almost everything they saw.
The rays of morning sunlight scattered into the quiet, secluded valley, brightening it ever so slightly. However, the normally peaceful locale was disturbed by a strong aura of murder.
The rebel army’s troops had gathered together to completely surround this place in a siege.
A demigod forefather was the highest on the rebels’ chain of command. His name was Goldenbell, an old man who garnered considerable respect.
He ran a tight ship that kept all the different factions in the army under his control. No dissent was permitted. As a result, the army was much better organized than the anti-sacred-land alliance back in Eternal Divine Nation.
Eternal’s alliance had been divided even in the best of times. Each faction refused to yield to the instructions of their peers. Though they feigned obeisance on the surface, their hands tended to be contrary and perverse. There had been nonstop conflict since day one.
The core reason was because no leader existed that commanded any modicum of respect or admiration. The man who led the anti-sacred-land alliance had been a self-interested man himself.
He had allowed politics to influence his delegation of tasks. Some factions incurred horrible losses, while others were kept largely unscathed. This kind of injustice meant that there was no basis for solidarity for the rebel alliance from the start.
Martial Divine Nation’s rebel army, however, had no such problem—at least on the surface.
Forefather Goldenbell had ample authority over his men. He gathered the leaders of the army’s various factions to discuss strategy and sound off ideas every day.
On the surface, the delegation of tasks was also candid and impartial. In a rebel army composed of so many factions, that was an amazing accomplishment.
This morning, the forefather was calling together the factions’ leaders as usual for the debriefing before the battle.
There were seven factions among the rebel army that had come to the Martial Sacred Land’s spirit herb base. Each was led by an important giant.
These giants were at minimum vice sect heads, venerated elders, or second-in-command of the houses. All in all, a remarkably high-profile lineup.
Forefather Goldenbell’s eyes glinted with a keen light. “Friends.” He swept his gaze across every man. “Our army has stagnated here for more than three days. That’s not a long time, and it might not even affect the grand scheme of things, but we must consider a serious problem.
“The fighting spirits of people are cyclical. When we lose the high we currently have, the result may be drastically different. We need to launch an attack within the next three days. We must break through the defensive formation. If we do that, we can do whatever we like!”
“Forefather Goldenbell, the Martial Sacred Land has always been extremely proficient with formations. How powerful is the formation around its spirit herb base, really? Can’t we launch a frontal assault and smash it open using brute force?”
“Quite so. From what I see, there’s barely any forces here from the sacred land. Their so-called formations and restrictions are an empty threat.”
“Forefather, why don’t we organize an attack to test the setup here?”
Forefather Goldenbell was silent. He had thought of that before himself, but was concerned about the hit to morale if it failed.
That wasn’t the biggest worry, though. If casualties were high, the participating factions would indubitably have second thoughts. The rebel army had never been a unified whole in the first place. It was quite possible it would crumble.
The forefather’s extended silence made some anxious. “Forefather, we can’t keep stalling like this. I don’t trust those formation masters. How much will they be able to understand about the Martial Sacred Land’s formation? If they had that ability, they would be inside already.”
“Yes. It will take them years to figure out anything.”
Forefather Goldenbell pushed down both hands when he saw the intense desire of those gathered to fight.
“I understand your feelings, my friends. Still, I must consider a great deal more as the commander. Any potential risks must be eliminated.”
“Ah right, has the scouting out there revealed any changes?” the forefather asked suddenly.
“Not much,” several of the leaders responsible for reconnaissance responded. “There’s very little going on out there. The sacred land’s own headquarters are being threatened right now. How could it have any reinforcements?”
Forefather Goldenbell shook his head coolly. “You will feel the pain of having thought that way sooner or later. The Martial Sacred Land doesn’t have any of its own men available, but classified sources tell me that it has sent out a request for help to the other sacred lands.”
“What? To the other sacred lands?”
“I thought the rebellions were started simultaneously in all ten divine nations? The other sacred lands should be busy themselves, shouldn’t they?”
“No, no, no. Three of the divine nations’ rebellions were quashed before they began. Two or three more have been quelled by now. Only a few of us are left in a slightly favorable position over our sacred lands. Martial Divine Nation is one such case. I should emphasize that we only have a slight edge.”
The simultaneous initiation of ten rebellions at once had been a calamitous event. The relative calm now belied how shortly in the past that momentous occurrence had been.
Some sacred lands had been dominant enough to nip their problems in the bud. Others had applied fortune and resource alike to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
“Forefather, even if some of the divine nations have put down their rebellions, civil strife like that does significant harm. They should be worrying about self-preservation rather than minding other people’s business.”
“Exactly. The ten sacred lands have all been injured to varying degrees. Why would they come to the support of an ally when their own house is on fire? Plus, the Martial Sacred Land doesn’t necessarily have strong allies in the first place.”