Helian Kuang bitterly cried as tears fell down his face like a rainstorm. At this moment, his stomach was so filled with regret that it had turned completely green. The other families and forces, especially the ones who had been named by Duke Huai, were not just sitting there sedately either. They scrambled over themselves only to fall to the ground and begin swearing venomous oaths, declaring their loyalty, repenting, and begging for their lives in front of the Little Demon Empress amidst their shock and terror.
The Little Demon Empress’ power and might were indeed incomparably terrifying, but the crimes committed by Duke Huai Palace were far more shocking than that. Perhaps they need not fear death, but who would not fear being a hallmark of shame and rebuke, with their name being trodden on and despised for countless generations hereafter…
“Little Demon Empress, the things that Duke Huai Palace committed, we truly did not know of them… we did not know of them in the slightest…”
“If we really knew… even if we had ten thousand more guts, we still would never have associated with Duke Huai Palace whatsoever… and even that Duke Ming, I have never even seen him before…”
“Duke Huai… You… You… How could the lot of you actually be so utterly perverse and lacking in morals?! Not only did you assassinate the Demon Emperor, you also brought calamity to the entirety of the Illusory Demon Realm… These crimes, even if all of you received the condemnation of both heaven and earth and your roots were completely plucked out and burned, these punishments would still not offset your heinous deeds! If we had known… our Jiufang Family would have personally ripped you to shreds, no matter the cost…”
“Little Demon Empress, although both of us… prioritized our benefits, we… are truly ignorant regarding the matters of Duke Huai Palace. Otherwise, even if we were going to be killed, we would definitely not interact with Duke Huai Palace one bit… If any of what we have said is false, we are willing to be struck by lightning… We plead Little Demon Empress to forgive us for our ignorance… From now onwards, both of us are willing to die for the Little Demon Empress…” The ones who spoke were the two that had attacked Yun Qinghong previously, the two brothers, Bai Guihun and Bai Guiming. After they had heard Duke Huai coming out and confessing his crimes, their souls nearly dispersed in shock.
“This humble subject has always been devoted to the Demon Emperor’s clan and the Little Demon Empress… So the only reason that I threw in with Duke Huai Palace is because I thought that the Little Demon Empress had met with calamity, and I was only protecting myself… the crimes of Duke Huai Palace, this humble subject was completely unaware of them… the words of this humble subject and this humble subject’s loyalty, the sun and moon, and even the heaven and earth can attest to it…” A general who was dressed in golden armor had completely prostrated himself on the ground and was going to soon bash his head open against it.
The great hall was a field of grieving sobs, and none of those crawling on the ground were not unrivaled experts or part of prideful families. Just a mere two hours ago, they were all excessively arrogant beyond limits, but now, they wailed like the lowliest of convicts, desperately begging for forgiveness in their terror and remorse…
As for the members of Duke Huai Palace, they had all sunk to the ground, and their eyes were either filled with shock and horror or they were completely hollow. No one was able to utter even a single sound. They knew, that from today onwards, Duke Huai Palace would have no hope of reprieve. As members of Duke Huai Palace, they had been shocked and scared witless by the crimes that had been revealed.
One could still die a good death.
But, if a lifetime of prestige were to change into infamy overnight, whether they lived or died, from today onwards, they would be cursed by countless people. Even their descendants and all who were related to them would receive the contempt and rejection of the public… their ancestors too would be shamed forever because of this. This was many times more humiliating and terrifying than a simple death.
And they were currently right on the border to this hell. The crimes that Duke Huai Palace had committed were things that the Illusory Demon Realm had never witnessed before, crimes that were heinous enough to infuriate both god and man. They had indeed forsaken the Demon Emperor’s clan and sworn their loyalty to Duke Huai Palace. Once the Little Demon Empress had presided over their crimes, all their glory and honor would sink into the filthiest sludge.
Even if they had truly not known of the crimes committed by Duke Huai Palace… and even if they had never seen the long-disappeared Duke Ming.
The Little Demon Empress slowly lifted her eyes and coldly declared, “This empress is willing to believe that all of you had no knowledge whatsoever regarding the crimes committed by Duke Huai Palace.”
The words of the Little Demon Empress caused them to break out into joy immediately, but her following words were like a basin of ice-cold water thrown over their heads, piercing them to the bone. “But Duke Huai has been both openly and covertly defiant towards this empress countless of times. He has unscrupulously suppressed the powers that are loyal to this empress. So his ambition has long ago been made clear! Even if all of you were blind, you should still have been exceedingly clear on that! But all of you would rather abandon this empress and throw your lots in with Duke Huai Palace! So what you have done has been no different from open rebellion for the longest time… so do the lot of you have no sense of shame, that you are begging for mercy from this empress right now!!”
The words of the Little Demon Empress had undoubtedly fiercely pierced the weak spot of every single person here. They were exceedingly clear regarding what their actions meant and what intentions they had harbored in the depths of their heart. The Seven Families, the various Duke Palaces, and all those people who had defected to Duke Huai Palace, every single one of them was shivering uncontrollably. The only thing left for them to do was to desperately beg for mercy, declare their loyalty, and swear the most vicious of oaths.
The Little Demon Empress slowly extended her hand, her movement immediately causing everyone to hold their breaths… that tender and delicate hand which was as white as driven snow was, in their eyes, undoubtedly the hand of a death god that could instantly steal away all life.
Following a flip of the Little Demon Empress’ hand, a short blade which radiated cold light flew out from Bai Guiming and fell in front of Duke Huai with half of the blade burying itself into the ground. The Little Demon Empress’ low voice swelled up following that, “Since you want to express loyalty… very good. Whoever amongst you personally kills Duke Huai, this empress will pardon his crimes!”
A dead silence engulfed the great hall for an instant, but following that, a surging of wave of energy exploded outwards, and it was as if the Demon Imperial Hall was being shaken by an earthquake. The people who had originally been kneeling on the ground all frantically rushed at Duke Huai, their speed and their panic surging profound energy nearly exceeding the limits of their life.
Helian Kuang was the closest, and his reaction speed was the fastest as well. He scooped up the knife that had been thrust into the ground, and with scarlet eyes, he rushed towards Duke Huai while howling with evident hatred, “Duke Huai… die!!”
His hate was without a doubt the real deal. He would naturally not blame himself for the situation he found himself in right now; rather than blaming himself for betraying the righteousness of his ancestors, he would rather push the blame entirely onto Duke Huai… All of his strength was concentrated in the short blade within his hand, and it directly lunged towards Duke Huai’s vitals. Helian Kuang resented that he could not directly cleave his body in two.
At this time, an explosion rang out in the air above them, and the rooftop of the Imperial Demon Hall had largely collapsed. A crimson black conflagration, which covered the sky and the earth, brought a scorching and tyrannically sinister energy wave along with it as it exploded downwards… before the flames had even arrived, that incomparably berserk energy wave had already caused all those who rushed towards Duke Huai to collapse to the ground, and the floor of the great hall swiftly sank before everyone’s eyes.
“It’s Duke Ming… Be careful!” Yun Che yelled in a low voice as he grabbed the Heaven Smiting Sword and rushed in front of Yun Qinghong and Mu Yurou.
The Little Demon Empress swung a long sleeve. Golden Crow flames surged towards the sky, and in the blink of an eye, the devilish fire that filled the sky was blown apart by the impact. Following the dissipation of the Fallen Devil flames, a figure clothed in silver robes could be seen floating in the sky far above.
“Duke… Ming!!” The people who had seen Duke Ming before let out startled cries. Even though Duke Ming had disappeared for more than one hundred years, his appearance remained completely the same as before. It was only that the “smiling appearance” that he used to display, that warmth and courtesy and that lack of princely airs, had all dissolved into thin air. At this moment, only a devilish smile was displayed on his face.
The Little Demon Empress floated in the air and came face to face with Duke Ming, her eyes giving off a bone-piercingly cold killing intent. “Duke Ming, this empress was beginning to think that you would not have the guts to show up.”
“Sigh.” Duke Ming observed the dreadful state of Duke Huai Palace below and let out a short sigh. “The victors rule the world while the losers become bandits. When this duke had initially thought of my day of victory, I had also naturally thought of the consequences of failure… It is only that this duke did not lose to any man, but has lost to the Golden Crow Divine Spirit… The strength of man, in the end, cannot compete with the strength of gods. If not, this Illusory Demon Realm would belong to this duke’s clan.”
“Duke Ming… So it really was you!!” Mu Feiyan pointed a finger at Duke Ming, and he was furious that his entire body was trembling. “The previous Demon Emperor placed such great trust in you, and all those years ago, when you desired to leave Demon Imperial City, the previous Demon Emperor and I had done our utmost to dissuade you… In those days, the Demon King told me to be wary of you, but from the beginning to the very end, I disapproved of what he had said… However, who would have thought that you were really such an ungrateful, despicable, and poisonous villain!”
“Hehe…” Duke Ming gave an apathetic bark, “The lifespan of a man, if it is short, it will last decades; if it is long, it will last millennia. But in the end, all becomes dust and is scattered to the heavens and earth; all is transient. In this short life, if one is ambitious, why would one be willing to be beneath another and become another person’s servant. If the Demon Emperor’s clan could establish themselves as the emperors of the entire realm, then why couldn’t this duke’s clan do so as well?! This duke has merely done what many average people have desired to do but had not the nerve to. I have done things that these plebeians have never even dared to dream of! So what wrong did this duke commit?! Even though I have suffered defeat today, this duke only feels dissatisfied. I have absolutely no regrets!”
“The words of Duke Ming are absolutely wrong.” Yun Che gave a dull laugh as he replied languorously.
“Oh?” Duke Ming inclined his eyes to look at Yun Che. “Why don’t you tell me exactly what this duke said that was wrong.”
“It was not anything you said explicitly. Your entire premise is wrong to being with.” Yun Che shook his head as he smiled faintly but contemptuously. “What is a human? Humans can afford to not be invincible, can afford to not have any glorious achievements, and can afford to live a life of complete mediocrity. What makes someone human is not their shape or their independent will. The most important defining and most basic characteristic of what defines humanity is our human nature, our intrinsic sense of honor and our innate sense of what is right and wrong. Duke Ming, these characteristics, do you possess them? Oh… it seems like you are nearly completely void of them. If that is the case, then what qualifications do you have to call yourself a man? In the end, you are merely a malicious beast at best.
“Since even your premise that you were a human being is completely wrong, then whatever you have said after that is merely a big pile of rubbish.
“Furthermore, you compared yourself to the clan of the Demon Emperor, that is simply the biggest joke that I’ve ever heard. Why could the Demon Emperor’s clan reign supreme for ten thousand years? It had nothing to do with the fact that they inherited the bloodline of the Golden Crow! In those years, it was the first Demon Emperor who pacified the chaos within the Illusory Demon Realm, ended the strife between humans and demons, and unified the entire Illusory Demon Realm, bringing ten thousand years of peace, prosperity, and lack of strife to the entire realm! So the Demon Emperor’s clan does possess the qualifications to rule all under heaven and to receive the obeisance of all the citizens of the realm. But you, Duke Ming … What qualifications do you have?!
“As a member of the Illusory Demon Royal Family, you have received the favor of the Demon Emperor’s clan. From birth, you had a noble status, and you enjoyed the best that the Illusory Demon Realm could offer. But not only did you not feel grateful and loyal, you actually harbored such evil intentions in your heart! You even invited wolves into the very heart of the realm and caused the Illusory Demon Realm to suffer a great crisis. You caused Demon Imperial City to descend into chaos, and even despicably and maliciously murdered the previous Demon Emperor and the Little Demon Emperor. The Little Demon Empress had very nearly been consigned to death by you in Golden Crow Lightning Flame Valley as well… Not only did you not render a single service to the Illusory Demon Realm, you actually created crisis after crisis! While the Demon Emperor’s clan has the great merit of uniting the realm, you, Duke Ming, only have heinous and malevolent acts left to your name! So on what basis can you compare yourself to the Demon Emperor’s clan? How do you even possess the shamelessness to attempt to make that comparison in the first place?!
“The Demon Emperor’s clan could rule over ten thousand years and all under heaven was at peace. But you, even if your nefarious plot had succeeded, on the day where all truths come to light, you will also be destroyed under the hatred of all the people of the realm, and you will definitely not last!
“Moreover, your royal father, your grandfather, all the ancestors of your clan, what view do you think they will take towards your so-called ‘ambition?’ Do you think they will feel gratified and proud?! No! What they will feel is only pain, sadness, disgust, and anger! Yes, anger! That they could not descend from the heavens to personally throttle you to death! Because you have turned all their glory into shame, causing your clan to forever become a black stain upon history…”
Duke Ming, who still carried a calm expression on his face despite his utter defeat, at this moment, could not help but to let out a hoarse cry filled with anger and hatred. His face distorted, and intense emotions started to ripple in those previously calm eyes. In this world, the sharpest blades were words which cut to the heart! Every sentence Yun Che uttered, every word he said, was like the sharpest of needles which fiercely drove into his most vulnerable points. This caused his originally unyielding and resolute demeanor, which allowed him to disregard everything, to be completely perforated.
He had finally personally tasted the sharpness of Yun Che’s words… and he finally understood why his own son, Duke Huai, would not only be angered to distraction by this person but would even have the shadow of this person lingering in his heart.
“Oh! Has your shame driven you to anger?” The aura that Duke Ming released in his rage was incomparably shocking, but how could Yun Che be scared because of that? He gave a gleeful smile and continued, “The victors as kings and the losers as bandits? No, no, no. That is something that can be appended to ambitious and ruthless people, it completely doesn’t suit you. Because the current you is at the very best someone who is about to endure universal scorn and abuse. A mere stray dog!”
Duke Ming’s body started to tremble, “This duke… will kill you!!”