Jiang Chen was absolutely sure that their sects, friends, and all they knew had disappeared entirely. They were orphaned by heaven and earth, without goals or anywhere they could call home.
Even if they were veritable gods, they would be consumed by a terrifying loneliness that would intensify with time.
When it grew too much for them to bear, they would remember Jiang Chen – remember that there was still a place for them here. They would come back without hesitation.
Jiang Chen laughed when he noted Xia Tianze’s unrelenting suspicion. “Shall I send you out for a bit yourself, Old Brother Xia? So you can feel how the world is yourself?”
“Should you?” Xia Tianze blinked with some confusion.
Jiang Chen shrugged. “Why not? I have grasped all there is to grasp about the Veluriyam Palace, and learned all there is to learn. I await now only manpower to rebuild it.”
Xia Tianze was overjoyed. “Have you truly been so successful?”
Jiang Chen knew that he likely didn’t know too much in depth about the Veluriyam Palace’s heritage.
After all, Xia Tianze had only been Great Divine Veluriyam’s subordinate, not his true second-in-command. The great divine wouldn’t have divulged every secret to him.
There was no reason to entrust one’s heritage to a single follower.
Not that Xia Tianze was at risk of letting the great divine down. He worshiped Great Divine Veluriyam in a heartfelt way, and lacked the ambition that would drive him to steal his master’s things for his own.
“Don’t worry. Everything is under control. If you like, Old Brother Xia, why not go take a look yourself in the outside world? Perhaps the critical eye of an ancient expert can pick up a few geniuses for the Veluriyam Palace, hmm?”
Xia Tianze chuckled, evidently excited by the prospect.
No one under the sun could wholeheartedly embrace loneliness. The endless years had worn away at Xia Tianze’s will, too, allowing despair to seep into his heart.
If not for his firm belief in the great divine’s judgment – the prediction that there would be a successor – he sometimes wondered whether anyone after them would come to the six palaces at all.
Thanks to all that lay in the heavens, Jiang Chen had appeared.
“Please, if it strikes your fancy, go right ahead. As the new lord of the Veluriyam Palace, I’m putting you on vacation. Oh, yes, I have a few gods and promising upstarts around already, take a look at them for me if you have time. If you’re interested, why not teach them for me?”
As the guardian of the sixth palace, Xia Tianze had been the strongest among his fellows. He was probably mid divine realm in cultivation, considerably stronger than any other god he knew so far. Even An Kasyapa was likely far inferior.
After all, Xia Tianze was an ancient cultivator. His unique aura alone was enough to awe An Kasyapa.
The great divine’s old servant chuckled politely, not taking the young lord’s words very seriously. If the human domain’s spirit veins had been sealed away, how many geniuses could it possibly have?
Still, it was rude to refuse Jiang Chen’s suggestion. “I’ll do as you recommend,” Xia Tianze laughed. “Maybe I’ll spot some real finds.”
“I wouldn’t get my hopes unrealistically high,” Jiang Chen replied seriously, “but I think there are many geniuses all around us who need only a little time and opportunity to match those in the ancient times – and the restoration of the spirit veins, of course.”
Xia Tianze shrugged with doubtful nonchalance.
“You don’t believe me, hmm?” Jiang Chen laughed.
Xia Tianze chuckled. “Young lord, you haven’t seen the countless splendid geniuses competing against each other among the ancient factions. If you had, you wouldn’t think that later geniuses would ever measure up to the same.”
“What about me, then?” the young lord poked back with a smile.
His divine servant blinked, unable to come up with a response. Yes, wasn’t young lord Jiang Chen an exception himself?
“Alright, I’ll give you that,” Xia Tianze agreed readily. No ancient genius came to memory that could outshine the young lord.
Considering his current age, he would tower among his peers even as an ancient contemporary.
“You know, Old Brother Xia, the current human domain has its own advantage. The geniuses here have had a worse environment, sparser knowledge, and fewer resources. However, it’s precisely because of these handicaps that they’re more determined and resolute than ever. If they’re put into an environment that allows them to thrive, then thrive they will! Please, think on that. The young people nowadays… they really aren’t missing much.”
Xia Tianze hadn’t given the topic so much thought. “I suppose I’ve misspoken, young lord,” his face reddened. “I shall come and survey the outside world with you.”
The duo left the Veluriyam Pagoda and set out for Sacred Peafowl Mountain.
A year later, the mountain was considerably stronger yet again. Oddly though, the atmosphere seemed tenser than usual.
Sacred Peafowl Mountain immediately regained its vigor when its young lord returned.
“Young lord, Lord Coiling Dragon was gravely injured on patrol a few days back. He is in critical condition right now. Immediately after, many of our other factions were attacked, as well as other places in the Upper Eight Regions. We’ve tightened security and sent out investigators, but we haven’t been able to find anything.”
Lan Tianhao and Yu Gong presided over Sacred Peafowl Mountain as of late. They and their divine peers had become the mountain’s backbone in Jiang Chen’s absence.
In particular, they had the responsibility and duty of issuing orders on the young lord’s behalf.
The older members of Sacred Peafowl Mountain were quite content with this arrangement. The young lord’s new divine followers were both stronger and more qualified than they to represent the faction. It was a good thing overall for them to be in charge.
“Whom have you sent out to investigate?” asked Jiang Chen.
“Some of us gods have gone out ourselves, and various demigods and empyrean experts have been sent out as well. Unfortunately, none of our efforts have yielded much result.”
Jiang Chen nodded slightly. “The waters in the human domain are getting murkier. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to keep ourselves completely safe anymore. It may be a demonic remnant, or alien invaders who’ve stepped across a boundary stele. Regardless, it is time to reactivate the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement!”
Time waits for no man.
The demonic invasion proper wasn’t going to begin just yet, but it really wasn’t far off.