The tea party became much more cheerful once the greatest benefit had been distributed. Holding a copy of the “Grand Ascension” as their most treasured possession, the empyrean guests were all smiles, praising Jiang Chen to the high heavens.
Some had been guarded against him, or even hostile, but such thoughts were now a distant memory. The young lord had completely won them over.
They sat down to discuss martial dao. Jiang Chen also participated, generously sprinkling a few ideas here and there, intoxicating them with his knowledge. Envious, they all shared the same thought: a strong teacher was truly a blessing!
The gathering lasted for a full three days in a festive mood.
Almost all the participants expressed their willingness to rejoin the fray and shoulder mankind’s cause.
Jiang Chen had no other stringent requirements. He simply said, “Seniors, you’ve lived in seclusion, yet haven’t forgotten righteousness. Please allow this junior to thank you in the name of the people.”
Most of the guests left, leaving only Old Crane behind. Jiang Chen wanted a private conversation with the elder and especially asked him to stay.
Full of admiration for the young lord, Old Crane gladly complied.
“Elder, it’s rude of me to have detained you so suddenly. Please forgive me.”
“Haha, what are you saying? At my advanced age, it’s a pleasure for me to become friends with an interesting young man.”
Jiang Chen smiled. “You flatter me. In fact, I have a matter I wanted to discuss with you. To be frank, many seniors have come to the tea party, but you’re the most reliable.”
Old Crane’s face sobered. “Young lord, what could be so urgent?”
“It concerns the demons,” the young lord admitted.
“Oh? Is there some trouble that you couldn’t mention in front of everyone?” The elder turned grave.
Jiang Chen nodded. “That’s correct. We must be on our toes against the demons. Though nothing will happen in the short term, we must exercise constant vigilance against these formidable enemies.
“To my knowledge, they’re divided into ten lineages, each of them possessing its own characteristics. For example, celestial demons are their royals, demons among demons. The one in Agarwood Valley was a celestial demon lord who survived despite being sealed in an ancient formation for several hundred thousands of years. I can’t overstate how fearsome they are!”
Despite his age, Old Crane wasn’t very knowledgeable about the ancient demon-sealing war since it’d happened eons ago.
History had since moved on. The human domain had changed beyond recognition.
Those who’d lived through the war had either fallen or departed afterward. Those left behind had been marginal players who hadn’t participated in the core of the war. Ultimately, their descendants had slowly shaped the current human domain.
For that reason, current humans had little resemblance with their ancient forebears. Many ancient legacies from before the war had been lost. Some had been taken to Myriad Abyss Island, but the vast majority remained in the human territories, simply buried under the dust of history. The Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect, for example.
Old Crane finally realized the gravity of the situation. After a moment of silence, he asked, “You said we stand little chance against them without a great change of fate. What change were you referring to?”
Jiang Chen replied, “In the ancient war, all of the leading sects pooled enormous strength and resources to lay down a formation called the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement. They activated it, but didn’t capture all of the demons because the first wave of attack was fielded by scapegoats — slaves captured from other planes. Our forefathers paid a bitter price to finally seal the demons away. Restarting this formation will give us a ray of hope.”
Old Crane was moved. “How feasible is it to do so?”
Jiang Chen shook his head. “Not very. Just think about it. The ancients sects had to invest so much to operate it, while our resources and manpower might not be even a tenth of theirs. So you can easily see the difficulties ahead of us. More importantly, we don’t know the activation method. I only know the formation’s location.”
“Oh? Where is it?”
“In my land of birth, Myriad Domain’s sixteen kingdoms alliance. Mostly within the borders of Eastern Kingdom and the surrounding kingdoms.”
“Eastern Kingdom, that must be your home?” Old Crane was somewhat familiar with the young man’s background.
“Correct.” Jiang Chen nodded.
Old Crane started fantasizing, “Your teacher must also be human. He must have taken note and was monitoring the formation. The reason he took you under his wing was because you had a shared destiny with him!”
Jiang Chen smiled. “Perhaps so. But the formation stumped him as well. He simply said that it must have been laid down by many ancient formation sects acting in concert. To reactivate it requires the correct method, or at least an understanding of its underlying principles.”
“Most ancient legacies have gone to Myriad Abyss Island. To find the underlying theory is easier said than done.” Old Crane was a little downcast.
But Jiang Chen retorted, “Not necessarily so. Only a part of the ancient inheritances is there. I’m guessing most is still in our territories. However, the ancient sects were determined to fight the demons or die trying. So on the eve of battle, many sealed their homeground with secret arts and hid their legacies, denying the enemy their treasures in case of defeat. Those who left for Myriad Abyss Island were lacking in resolve, or plainly put, deserters. They couldn’t have been the elites.”
The elder hadn’t considered this angle before, leaving him dumbstruck for a long while.
“Did the senior tell you all of this?” His tone was laced with sorrow.
“Yes, these were his speculations. He told me that activating the formation will be key against the demons. We will be in deep trouble otherwise.”
Old Crane nodded, fullying buying into the story. “In that case, it seems that finding the method is our greatest priority. Young lord, do you have any clues?”
“Some. I heard noise about the formation’s legacy being in Myriad Abyss Island. Either way, I have to go there.”
“Go to Myriad Abyss Island?” Old Crane started. The place was shrouded in a haze of mystery. He himself had never pinned down its location. He’d been fascinated with the island like many others, but had been forced to give up after several vain attempts. Ultimately, his interest had slowly faded with time. So the mention of a journey took him by surprise.
“Do you know the way there?”
“I have a few ideas.” Huang’er had given him a few hints before leaving, and Jiang Chen had squeezed some information out of Xiahou Jing’s aides after their capture. He had a rough idea where to start.
Of course, both Huang’er and his captives had mentioned that the road to the island was fraught with danger.
Seeing the young lord’s serene mien, Old Crane sighed again with admiration.
No, more than admiration, he felt true respect. The young man’s road to success must have been an arduous one. But he far exceeded his seniors when it came to insight, the ways he analyzed oncoming challenges, and his breadth of vision.
“Are you going there by yourself?”
Jiang Chen nodded. “Numbers won’t matter there. I can move more easily by myself. It’ll be more convenient.”
He didn’t conceal his intentions. He wouldn’t even take the golems with him. Of course, Senior Vermillion was another matter altogether. The ancient bird ultimately needed a suitable place for his rebirth, and Myriad Abyss Island might be the best location.
So the Vermillion Bird would accompany him.
Old Crane wholeheartedly yielded to the young man’s bearing. It was a long moment before he responded. “Heroes spring from the young. You are thus reliable and determined, so I wish you a smooth and victorious journey. As for the human domain, I make no guarantees, but as long as I’m here, I won’t let anyone run wild in Veluriyam!”
This was his way of expressing support.
I can’t go with you, but I can protect your home!
Jiang Chen beamed. “Old Crane, I was waiting for this declaration.”
As a man of virtue and prestige, the elder was publicly recognized as the leader among empyrean cultivators. The young lord couldn’t hold a candle to his rallying power. It was why he’d asked the elder to stay.
Old Crane blushed. “I can’t leave all the hard work to a young man while I sit back and reap the benefits, can I? I’ve distanced myself from mundane affairs, but I can still find a pretext to stick my nose back in. Since I’ve returned to the world, I won’t shirk my responsibilities! However, I’m worried whether we can redeploy the formation even with the right method. After all, even the ancient sects found it burdensome.”
“We don’t need to deploy it again. The foundations are still intact. We simply need to gather enough resources to activate it again.”
This was their greatest advantage. Setting up a formation of this magnitude from the ground up would be too large an undertaking. There were simply not enough outstanding formation grandmasters to be found.