Chapter 717: The Final Hurdle
Ten guards stepped up and broke the seals on each box. The seals themselves posed no threat, so they were easily removed. When the guards were done, the box was slowly opened.
"What's this?!" When the boxes were opened, all ten guards had a drastic change in expression. They shuddered as if lightning had run through them.
Inside the boxes were neat rows of heads. Each box contained roughly thirty, all of them still marred with blood. It seemed they had been specially processed as they remained incredibly lifelike even after a month. There was not a sign of decay. But one thing they all had in common was an expression of terror and despair. Even at first glance, it was obvious. These men hadn't gone quietly!
As the ruler of a region, the Great Scarlet Emperor held immense authority and occupied a lofty position. His path to the throne had been paved by the blood and bones of all those he'd killed, so he was no stranger to bloodshed. The number of people he'd killed numbered in the millions, but at this moment, as hardened as he was and to his eternal shame, his body shuddered a single time.
It wasn't that he was a coward or afraid of seeing dead people, but that he was intimately familiar with each head. The first head in the first box was Gong Wuji! He was followed by the heads of the various sects, their elites, and the royal experts that he'd sent. He was undoubtedly familiar with each face twisted in fear. And now, only their heads remained, and this grisly spectacle had been meant for him!
What was this?
A show of power!
The emperor's expression immediately turned quite ugly, to the point where it seemed even blood would drip out from his eyes. His hands tucked away in his sleeves also trembled uncontrollably. He knew that Jiang Chen must've had these heads delivered, showing off his power to the emperor and giving a firm warning! Although the emperor had never seen Jiang Chen, a hint of fear suddenly flashed through the depths of his heart. Yes, fear!
He hadn't regretted invading the Myriad Domain, and had felt quite accomplished when he'd ordered the annihilation of all their sects. But now, he really did regret his actions. He had the premonition that the Great Scarlet Mid Region had played with fire this time, and the consequences were only coming. When he'd first heard of Jiang Chen, the emperor had only thought of him as a kid with a bit more skill to his name, a negligible character. But now, he'd finally realized that this was an unfathomable genius with a potential even he couldn't measure! This was a genius who absolutely had the power to make the Great Scarlet Mid Region pay a heavy price one day!
For some reason, the images of destroying the Myriad Empire six hundred years ago suddenly floated upward in the emperor's mind.
What if… what if one day Jiang Chen found his footing and started over again, then would the Myriad Empire's history become the Scarlet Empire's future? I absolutely can't allow that to happen!
Although the emperor put a seal on the news, visitors from the various Great Scarlet Mid Region sects came to visit him everyday and ask for updates. Rumors trickled down, each one more fantastic than the last. An atmosphere of fear and worry blanketed the entire Great Scarlet Mid Region for a time. The mounting grudge between Jiang Chen and the sects continued to fester. Yet no expense was spared as the rumor mill continued to grind out various pieces of intelligence on Jiang Chen. All of this made Jiang Chen and Huang’er’s trip a bit more difficult.
After a long time spent on the road, the two finally drew close to Veluriyam Capital. Looking at the map, they were but half a month away. But this last half month of travel held a final, difficult hurdle. It would be down to how they managed this hurdle that would determine if they could successfully make it into Veluriyam Capital.
On the map, the Capital stood to the north, and Jiang Chen and Huang’er directly south of it. Three main paths lead to the capital, and each required passage through a different city. Passing through any of those cities would place one in Veluriyam Capital territory, only ten day journey from the core of the capital. However, none of the three cities answered to the Veluriyam Capital. These three cities were, without a doubt, the last line of defense for the two sects who wanted to stop him. When he reached Veluriyam Capital territory past those cities, neither the Eternal Celestial Capital nor the Ninesuns Sky Sect would dare flout the Capital's authority.
As he examined the three paths, Jiang Chen frowned, "We have to enter one of these three cities, there's no way around it. If I were the Eternal Celestial Capital or the Sky Sect, I would concentrate a majority of my resources to these three cities."
Huang’er nodded, "Our journey's been rather calm recently. I'd guess that they're placing all their hopes on these three cities."
Although these cities weren't under the sway of the Ninesuns Sky Sect or Eternal Celestial Capital, the first rank sects could easily persuade the local authorities to give way. Of that there was no doubt.
Jiang Chen stared at the map for a second, his fingers moving from point to point without a word. But in the end, he couldn't come up with anything, and chose a city at random. "Let's take this path. No matter what, we have to make it past this final hurdle." His finger had landed on Myriad Peoples City.
Huang’er had no objections. She'd quite enjoyed Jiang Chen being in charge along the way, and time had proven that his decisions and plans had been very reasonable. They were sometimes a little risky or radical, but there were never any major sidesteps. Now that he'd decided on his direction, Jiang Chen was in no hurry to set out. He'd gained much inspiration from this long journey, born from his observations of the world. He'd read more than a million books in his past life, but his greatest regret had been that he couldn't travel the world with the identity of a cultivator. Although he'd traveled, he'd always done so on dragon or phoenix back, with countless experts by his side. That was a procession, not a training experience.
The journey this time had garnered the greatest gains of his current and past life. These gains had continuously manifested themselves in various ways, such as comprehension of martial dao, formations, and pill dao…
In terms of formations, he had made great strides in the legacy from the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect. In particular, The Heart of Formations had given him a deeper understanding of the foundations of formations. He'd also tried out some of the formations from the ancient sect, and noted the differences between setting up their formations and using the formation disks. A formation disk could be instantly deployed, whereas one set up by hand needed to be engraved on and controlled with a formation flag. All sorts of factors had to be considered. In comparison, a formation that had actually been set up would be more complete and lethal. A formation flag was also far more malleable, with many more variations available than a formation disk..
However, not everyone had the right to use a formation disk either. The costs to make one were simply astronomical, so not even a supreme formation master of a first rank sect would have the right to use a high level one. It was almost impossible to create a divine level formation disk given the current level of the Divine Abyss Continent in resources or formations. The strong formation disks floating around were all treasures passed down from ancient times.
Jiang Chen had improved even more rapidly in martial dao. He was now at peak third level sage realm, just one step away from fourth level and the ranks of earth sage realm! His God's Eye was at the twenty seventh level, only six levels away from the peak of thirty three. Zephyr's Ear was similar, and Buddha's Heart sat at the twenty fourth level, while Psychic's Head was at the twentieth level. The Cicada Wing art that he'd learned from the golden cicada had also continued to rise, granting Jiang Chen much more agility in flight.
However, the Cicada Wing was a delicate and exquisite art, and it didn't necessarily hold the advantage when it came to pure speed. This was where Jiang Chen's other choice kicked in, Emperor Featherflight's wings. The tool the Great Titled Emperor had used to dominate the world, along with his Featherflight Tactics, Jiang Chen would greatly outstrip all of his peers. And yet, Emperor Featherflight's legacy was too sensitive. Jiang Chen wanted to make them his own, but he still decided to put it aside for now after thinking for a while.
If these items and techniques were revealed, everyone would know that he had come into possession of Emperor Featherflight's legacy. Then, real trouble would come for him. The Titled Great Emperor's legacy wasn't earth shattering, but the legacy from empyrean cultivator Guo Ran was the true treasure. If anyone else knew that Jiang Chen had an empyrean cultivator's legacy, an empyrean decree, and a secret order to a fate realm, then there would be only one result.
He would be hunted throughout the entire Divine Abyss Continent. So after much thought, Jiang Chen still decided not to make use of the wings for now. Instead, he could use something else, Emperor Featherflight's mirror! This treasure could impact and slow down an opponent in battle. It actually had the same effect as the power from the magnetic golden mountain. It was just a lot more convenient to use. The mirror was also of the wind attribute instead of metal. It manipulated wind velocity, which directly controlled the speed of air currents. That could then create invisible restraints on the opponent, slowing them down. It was rather discreet and definitely within Jiang Chen's capabilities to refine for his own use.
Jiang Chen only set out after three days, after making all the necessary preparations. His goal, Myriad Peoples City! Although entering Veluriyam Capital territory didn't mean absolute safety, it did mean a check on the first rank sects' ability to brazenly kill people in broad daylight. The Capital wouldn't give any face to a first rank sect, and in fact had very cool relationship with many of them.
It'd been a long time since his peers and followers had been sold. Jiang Chen's heart was afire with anxiety. If it hadn't been for all the obstacles along the way, he would've discarded all caution and rushed to the Veluriyam Capital to rescue them.
"I hope that good people will be favored by the heavens." Jiang Chen slowly brought himself back to the calmness of still water. There was no point to worrying. Instead of spending time needlessly fretting, he should make it through Myriad Peoples City as fast as possible!