Li Tianyi was completely unaware of the terror that awaited them. As the three of them were discussing their plans, Tianming had heard everything, except for the secret conversation between Li Tianyi and the sun emperor. They wouldn't bother with a single invisible cockroach that was barely detectable in the forest around them, after all.
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Yin Chen's bodies could lay dormant, effectively no different from a piece of lifeless metal. And thanks to the divine ores provided by the many sects, its number was still growing. By now, Tianming already had the territories of the dreamless celestial nation, wargodeans, and Blueblood Starocean under supervision. Tianming, together with the Saintdragon Emperor, Long Wanying, and the rest were analyzing the orderians’ plans in the great hall.
"What we can be certain of is that the celestial orderians have sent thirty million troops to the Land of Three Skies. Secretly, they're also working with Blueblood Starocean and the wargodeans. The two first-rate sects probably have around thirty million troops to rival the defenders, so we might have a total force of sixty million. The defenders of the five second-rate sects, on the other hand, only have four million elites combined, all of whom are at least ascendants. They have another fifty million normal cultivators that will be capable of providing their defensive formations with energy. But that's far from enough to take on the enemy."
The enemy was going for overkill to swiftly settle things. Back then, the Xuanyang Army had almost taken over the Azuresoul Palace and Supracloud Sanctuary with only four million troops despite the sects ranking far higher than those of the Land of Three Skies. Li Tianyi had made sure he had even more troops this time to make up for the loss of their informants. He had also taken into account the fifty million enemy reinforcements that could be transported by the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb.
"It isn’t surprising that the wargodeans and Blueblood Starocean are part of this. What's weird is that the sun emperor still asked them to proceed even though we have reinforcements," Long Wanying said.
"Perhaps he's just that confident in his troops?" Long Xiqian said.
"Impossible. Having lost their informants and facing the looming threat of the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb, blind confidence will only lead to mistakes. They're still in an advantageous position, so there's little need for them to take risks. After their losses at the Azurecloud Continent, their morale might collapse if they suffer a similar loss."
"Aunt Ying, do you think the sun emperor finally had some kind of breakthrough after his seclusion? Will he have a move to play? While he failed back then, that was due to him not understanding the Primodragon Cave. He also didn't think my godfather would take away the Solar Wheel. As for what happened on the Azurecloud Continent, it had nothing to do with him. I'm sure he must have some kind of basis for insisting on continuing the attacks. He must have something that can turn the odds in his favor," Tianming said.
"That's right." Long Wanying had considered that. It was crucial to not treat the enemy as a fool. Even though the Myriad Solar Sects had the advantage when it came to surveillance, the enemy was also on high alert. Choosing to fight despite the clear presence of the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb was far from rational.
However, Tianming had wanted to properly unify the first-rate sects in the Myriad Solar Sects and wipe out the enemy's eyes at the same time, so it was a move he’d had to make. He would also watch for the sun emperor's response. Since he chose to fight anyway, that meant he had to have some way to win.
"Things are developing rather abnormally, so there must be a trick to it. If Li Tianyi and the rest insist on attacking despite the risks, that alone isn't much of an issue. However, Li Tianyi actually consulted with the sun emperor before attacking." Long Wanying furrowed her brows in thought, holding her cheeks tight. "Tianming, how are the enemy troops moving?"
"They're gathering on five fronts and their numbers are still increasing. I think there'll be three hundred million in total, but they're all near the north pole of the sun so it'll take time for them to arrive at the Land of Three Skies. I'll surely notice if they make any moves."
"Logically, with Yin Chen around, we'll be able to learn of the sun emperor's methods no matter what they are. Even if we can't counter them, we can prepare ourselves against them. However, it's still important to learn why he can be so confident." That was the main issue Long Wanying was still considering. She was always someone that scrutinized the details and would feel unwell if there was something she hadn't properly figured out.
The enemy had taken the initiative to attack this time around and were nearing the sea of magma. Tianming and the rest had to act immediately, so they didn't have much time. Letting the enemy attack first meant losing the initiative.
However, the truth wasn't what they had imagined. They had thought that the celestial orderians would bide their time for a little longer, but instead, not only did they attack, they did so with such swiftness and ferocity that there was barely any time to react. That took place before the ten billion troops of Myriaddragon Mountains had fully assembled. The thirty million celestial orderians and thirty million combined troops of the wargodeans and Blueblood Starocean cultivators mounted a pincer attack on them.
Tianming knew that the wargodeans and Blueblood Starocean were assembling their troops as Li Tianyi and the rest were conversing, so that much was clear. The question now was whether the sun emperor had made other moves that Yin Chen hadn't learned of yet. It wasn't able to infiltrate the Divine Sun Palace, after all.
Not to mention, Li Tianyi hadn’t acted without care. He had used a privacy formation while communicating with the sun emperor, so Yin Chen hadn't been able to listen in. It was a small formation, after all, so it would be quite easy to detect Yin Chen from within.
Long Wanying also knew that they were pressed for time. By now, they’d assembled a large army, mainly headed by the Ninedragon Army, and had prepared to send them as reinforcements using the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb. They would be sending a total of sixty million troops. Part of them would cut off the escape route of the wargodeans and Blueblood Starocean, and the rest would be normal reinforcements. At the same time, the Fushen Clan and Frostsoul Imperium would launch an ambush on the main camp of the wargodeans and Blueblood Starocean.
That plan had been in the works for quite some time. No matter what, rapidly sending reinforcements would devastate the traitors of the Myriad Solar Sects. The Fushen Clan and Frostsoul Imperium, in particular, were rather powerful and would easily be able to crush the hollowed remnants of the wargodeans and Blueblood Starocean. Tianming wanted to use this chance to deal a heavy blow to the traitors. With both sides now prepared, he waited to see how the enemy would lose.
"They're going to lose for sure, yet they pressed the attack. Where does the real problem lie, then?" He wouldn't have any peace until he figured out how, but he didn't have much time left.
"What if we try thinking about our own advantages and see if they really work well for us?" Long Wanying suggested.
"We have two main advantages. The first is Yin Chen, which allows us to react to any move the enemy troops make, even new reinforcements, though that doesn't seem likely at the moment," Tianming said.
"In other words, that advantage seems fine."
"The second is the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb. It's a clear advantage that they know we have, yet they seem to not care. Do they have a way to neutralize it?" That was a crucial part of their plans. If something happened to it, things would spiral out of control.
"What method could they possibly have to overcome the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb's speed?"
Tianming didn't give it much thought and said, "Only the Divine Sun Palace with its two miniature nova sources. It's really fast, and can even be used to attack, while the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb is just a troop transport. However, they already lost the Solar Wheel, so the Divine Sun Palace should be disabled. Even the Yin Chens nearby report that the nova sources aren't generating power, either."
"Where’d you hide the Solar Wheel?"
"We traveled for two months in the aether in a divine astralship before burying it on a dead planet. It isn’t something the sun emperor could retrieve by traveling there with his physical body."
"Then it doesn't seem like the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb would be countered either...." Long Wanying felt the frustration mounting.
"What if he has another Solar Wheel?" Qingyu asked, having remained silent the whole time. That seemed to be the breakthrough they were all waiting for.
"Tianming, we don't know much about divine astralships. Is that possible?" Long Wanying asked.
"I... I can't be certain either." All he’d learned about these ships had come from the Ninedragon Imperial Tomb, so his understanding was limited. Not to mention, nobody else but him had any experience with divine astralships.
"For such an important ship, there can't be more than one formation core, right? I've never heard of there being a spare formation core," the Saintdragon Emperor said.
"However, the sun emperor hasn’t shown up since the battle of the Myriaddragon Mountains. Maybe he was looking for another way to activate the Divine Sun Palace. While it's a bit of a stretch, we can't ignore the possibility and have to act as if such a thing exists," Long Wanying said. If it really did, it would be fatal for him. After all, the advantages Tianming had counted on the fact that the Divine Sun Palace couldn't be used.
"I'll ask someone about it. Give me half an hour," Tianming said.
"Be quick, we have little time," Long Wanying said.