Forefather Goldenbell instantly felt an indescribable pressure. It transformed into an intense sense of danger, as if he straddling the border between life and death.
An expert’s instincts were very sharp. As soon as the forefather saw the Vermilion Bird cut in suddenly, he realized that there might be a trap involved. Rather than attempting to catch the dragon, he tried to retract his enormous golden bell with hand seals to shore up his defenses.
However, Long Xiaoxuan reappeared once more as he tried to do so. This time, the dragon’s body was several times bigger. He encircled the golden bell relentlessly, trapping it with his coiling ability.
Forefather Goldenbell’s summons were met with dull thuds. Though the bell tried to move in the direction of its master, it did so at a snail’s pace. It would be of zero help in defending him.
The Vermilion Bird wouldn’t pass up such a golden opportunity. It blasted a firestorm of feathers in Goldenbell’s direction, blanketing the space several miles around the human in a meteoric shower.
The bird’s feathers burned with a heat that threatened to set the very air afire, and moved with a sharpness that could cut the fabric of space itself.
Without the golden bell, Forefather Goldenbell’s defenses were lowered by at least two-thirds. He didn’t expect the Vermilion Bird to mobilize such a lightning-fast offense.
He had only barely fended off the bird’s talons with his physical defenses before. The feathers were several degrees of magnitude more dangerous.
His rhythm having been interrupted, the forefather began to feel out of his element. In his haste, he tossed several defensive talismans into the air to fend off the vermilion feathers’ crazed onslaught.
However, the Vermilion Bird wouldn’t give him a chance to come back. Before the talismans could even activate, the bird swept them away with a flap of its wings.
Forefather Goldenbell paled in fear. He finally moved himself to try to evade the attack, but it was already too late. He was swept into the vortex of fiery feathers in the blink of an eye.
The forefather clearly had no intention of giving up. Despite his predicament, he tried his best to avoid certain death. What surprised him was that despite the feathers’ density, he could just barely stay alive within the vortex.
Are these vermilion feathers just for show? A hint of joy crept into his heart.
He had been ready to succumb to despair. The blanket bombardment of the feathers made it look like he was a goner for sure. Survival was unexpected! Truly, a stroke of fortune. He felt the barest glimmer of hope.
“I have to live! I want to live!” The desire to survive hardened Forefather Goldenbell’s resolve. He continued dodging the razor-sharp feathers within the firestorm. At the same time, he called for his seven companions to assist him.
“You lot, hurry up!” he demanded out angrily.
The cultivators behind him had been speeding up as they approached. When they saw the heart-stopping intervention of the Vermilion Bird though, a natural fear slowed their pace.
The forefather’s shout eliminated any excuses they might have had for delaying. What they had encountered far exceeded their imaginations.
If they hesitated out of fear and Forefather Goldenbell died, they would be indirectly held responsible. If they hadn’t been nearby, that wouldn’t be the case, but they couldn’t use such a reason now.
“Friends, that Vermilion Bird is a terrifying fowl. We must fight and retreat as a unit. If we act selfishly, we’ll be easily defeated!”
“You’re right. Let’s help Forefather Goldenbell out of his bind first. Then, we’ll have a real chance!”
“What should we do? Shall we attack it together?”
“Are you confident you’ll be able to withstand those feathers?”
The seven weren’t in consensus. In particular, they were quite wary of the Vermilion Bird’s devastating attacks.
“Friends, hear me out,” a man in white spoke.
“Do you have an idea?”
“Look, the forefather’s golden bell is a powerful defensive treasure. That dragon is coiled around it to prevent it from returning. If we send two people to attack it so the bell can return, the forefather will be in a much better spot. Isn’t that a better plan than attacking the Vermilion Bird?”
Evidently, there was serious wariness of facing a powerful divine spirit creature. Thus, this suggestion was met with unanimous approval.
“You’re right. It’s decided then. That dragon is far weaker than the Vermilion Bird. It seems its strength is not yet perfected. We can take it out with no problems!”
“I mean to say that only two should take on the true dragon. The remaining five can distract the Vermilion Bird and take the pressure off of Forefather Goldenbell.”
“Who would like to volunteer for that?”
“I think we should focus our efforts on the dragon. The Vermilion Bird will hesitate to take further action against us once we capture it.”
“Hmm, if the true dragon and the Vermilion Bird are in cahoots with each other, that will be a good strategy.”
“We should move together. Let’s take down that dragon!”
The seven cultivators had decided their plan of action. They avoided confronting the Vermilion Bird head on, transforming into seven streaks of light toward the true dragon instead.
They’d underestimated the bird’s capabilities, however.
The maw of the Vermilion Bird opened to unleash a crimson ball of energy. It blasted across the air, scorching a long trail behind it that blocked the seven’s path. The sea of flames was a barricade that prevented them from crossing. They were caught between a fire and a hard place.
Forefather Goldenbell was furious. “You lot, what’re you standing around for?” he yelled. “Hurry up and attack the Vermilion Bird! Hurry!”
The seven cultivators had wanted to pick on an easier target. But alas, the Vermilion Bird didn’t give them that chance. Their way forward was completely cut off. The only option left was to face the bird.
Suddenly, the sacred fowl uttered a piercing cry. The feathers on its wings and tail bristled into full blooms of fire, becoming blindingly radiant before suddenly vanishing into thin air.
Forefather Goldenbell hadn’t yet fully recovered when the fabric of reality nearby began to ripple slightly.
The patch of space opened to reveal the wave-riding Vermilion Bird, now in close proximity. In fact, it was so close that the forefather could see the runes and patterns all over the bird’s feathers.
Goldenbell felt his wits leave him. He instinctively wanted to flee, but his fate was already sealed. The gigantic fowl picked him up by the torso like an eagle would a small rabbit.
The forefather could no longer move. His body was locked into place, and no amount of struggling would get him free again.
The Vermilion Bird shrieked once more before consuming the forefather in a single gulp.
There was a snap; the bird’s beak clamping together.
Blood gushed from the cracks between its teeth. The forefather didn’t even have a chance to make a noise before disappearing into the abyss of death.
The Vermilion Bird unfurled its wings in another fluid motion. Another wave of feathers assaulted the group that remained.
The cultivators in question were far weaker than Forefather Goldenbell. They were horrified enough after witnessing the forefather being eaten. The sight of new feathers in the sky prompted them to make a break for it.
Was it really possible for them to get away now, though?
The answer was a decisive no. They were trapped within the sea of flames from before. Countless vermilion feathers rained down from the sky like comets, heralding their demise.
For another moment or so, howls of pain preceded the seven cultivators’ consumption.
After Goldenbell’s death, his eponymous treasure had lost its light. It now descended to the ground with a muffled honk.
Someone darted out from the side, then shoved the bell into his sleeves.
“This golden bell is pretty remarkable. I’ll take it!”
It was none other than Jiang Chen. He had lain in wait to lend a hand at a potentially crucial moment, but his presence had clearly been unnecessary. The ambush had been basically perfect. All the rebel leaders had been slain in one fell swoop, and treasure had literally fallen into his lap!
But Long Xiaoxuan was a bit upset. “Old Brother Vermilion, why didn’t you leave one or two for me?”
The Vermilion Bird chuckled. “Sorry, sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Don’t worry, I’ll leave the rest for you. I won’t intervene there unless you specifically ask for it, alright?”
The bird was quite friendly to the young dragon. It didn’t use its seniority as a cudgel. The four sacred beasts generally didn’t differentiate their associations based on age.
Long Xiaoxuan nodded without much fuss. “Young master Chen,” he glanced over to the young man, “the leaders are dead. We can rampage through the rest of the rebels now, right?”
Indeed, the Martial Divine Nation rebels around here were now leaderless. It was time for a slaughter!