The heated argument came to a halt when the powerful factions began speaking.
"Old Zhang, your virtuous and upright reputation commands great respect from us. Forgive us for our ignorance, but we never knew that you're a royal representative?"
"Yeah! The royals are surnamed Yan, but you are a Zhang! How do you expect us to believe that you represent royalty?"
The three great sects took turns to speak their mind. Their fear for the royal family was evident, but that didn't mean they feared any random royal representative. They would never willingly forego such a valuable treasure unless the Great Yan emperor was present.
Old Zhang smiled blandly. The response from the three great sects was within his calculations. He looked leisurely at the side, his eyes gleaming meaningfully.
"It seems the three great sects only acknowledge royalty! Very well. Imperial Prince Zhao , the representatives of the great sects have asked for you. It's time to reveal yourself!"
What? The crowd was dumbfounded.
An ordinary looking, middle-aged man beside Old Zhang suddenly burst into laughter. "I never knew that the great sects held so much respect for royalty! It'd be incredibly rude if I continued to conceal my identity!"
He turned into an entirely different person with a swipe of his hands across his face. A shake of his arms tore his outer garb apart to reveal his royal attire. His long hair made him seem extremely dignified. The air of royalty emanated naturally from within.
Imperial Prince Zhao was the royal emperor's younger brother. He held enormous authority in Great Scarlet and was the third most powerful royal personage. His authority was second only to the emperor's and the patriarch of the royal family. He was greatly revered by Great Scarlet citizens and was often put in charge of jianghu matters. He was quite renowned among the great sects as a result of that.
Moreover, he was also extremely talented in martial dao. He was just as strong, if not stronger than the emperor in both cultivation and martial dao knowledge. However, Imperial Prince Zhao's passion in martial dao far exceeded his interest in the throne. His frightening talent paired with the royal family's limitless resources made him a force to reckoned with in the martial dao world. Even the emperor paled a little in comparison.
Because of this, the prince was almost always in charge of matters related to war and conquest. This only served to further heighten his fame and prominence, making his reputation eclipse even the heads of great sects.
In the hunt for Jiang Chen, Imperial Prince Zhao surely would've led the mission if he hadn't been in closed cultivation. It was his responsibility, given his position and duties. The representatives of the three sects were completely dumbfounded when Imperial Prince Zhao revealed himself. They were mere senior executives of their own respective sects. Without the presence of their heads, they didn't have the courage to speak against Imperial Prince Zhao. They exchanged glances with each other that expressed their dejection.
"Everyone, this prince is here to acquire the treasure for our Great Scarlet Mid Region. The sects you represent are from our great region, so it's only right that you assist me in acquiring the treasure to bolster our great region's heritage."
"Imperial Prince Zhao, you've hid yourself well!" The representative of the Sky Eagle sect was extremely depressed and spoke with a slightly sour tone.
"If we'd known that Prince Zhao was here, we wouldn't have been so passionate about the treasure!"
"Obtaining valuable treasure is up to the fates themselves. If Prince Zhao is going to swallow it whole, shouldn't we be given a few mouthfuls of soup as compensation?" Only the three great sects had the right to open their mouths in a time like this, the remainder didn't even have the right to speak.
Prince Zhao burst into hearty laughter. "Fine! I can make the decision in this. If the treasure is turned over to the royal family, all gains derived from it will be shared with the three great sects. As for the others, depending on the situation, we may come to a…" He suddenly changed his tone mid-sentence. "But to those that are not from our region, I'm sorry to say that this no longer has anything to do with you! You can either do nothing and watch from the side, or leave."
Prince Zhao was extremely domineering. They were in Great Scarlet Mid Region's territory after all. As the prince of this region, he could act however he wanted. After he spoke, other powerful royal experts quickly ran to Prince Zhao's side to bolster the numbers and strengthen his presence. The air suddenly became incredibly tense.
The representatives of the great sects exchanged glances. They were still on the fence about it, but they didn't have the courage to revolt against Prince Zhao without their sect heads. They might have a chance if all three sects banded together and formed an alliance, but the authoritative figure of royalty was right in front of them! They didn't dare openly oppose their liege.
There would be a complete fallout in which only one side would survive. Working together, the three sects might actually have a small advantage over the royal party. But after an intense fight with heavy losses on both sides, they'd have to slaughter every single person in the chamber, including Imperial Prince Zhao! Unfortunately, there was no guarantee that they could actually kill him. And even if they could, they probably didn't have the courage to do so!
It'd be incredibly disastrous if word got out that the three great sects had betrayed royalty. The royal family was so powerful that they'd never hesitate to crush the sects. The representatives of the great sects were incredibly dejected when they arrived at this conclusion. They realized that they didn't have the power to resist.
"Old Zhang, clean the place up a little. Kindly send away those that aren't Great Scarlet citizens. If they resist… treat them as an enemy."
Old Zhang immediately nodded. "Understood."
Old Zhang had always been an authoritative figure in the Great Scarlet Mid Region. Now with Prince Zhao behind him, nobody dared resist his orders.
Jiang Chen was struck with an idea when Old Zhang was counting heads. He quickly waved his hand at the old man. "Elder Zhang, I'm here! They're not letting me in!"
He hadn't been exposed for impersonating the person he'd captured yet. Thus, he decided to be a bit bolder.
Old Zhang frowned when he saw Jiang Chen. "Xiao Chen, hasn't it been a while since your arrival? Where did you run off to and what took you so long?"
The person Jiang Chen was impersonating went by the surname of Chen. He responded with a wry smile. "Old Zhang, let's not talk about it. I was ambushed on my way here and almost lost my life!"
Prince Zhao didn't mind having one more person by his side. Jiang Chen was a mere nobody whose sole purpose was to prop up the numbers anyways. However, he furrowed his brows when he heard that a member of royal party was ambushed. "Who ambushed you?"
Jiang Chen smiled wryly. "Who else can it be? Granny Goldneedle and Sir Miao! The Veranda master's men!"
He'd noticed that the crowd was more than happy to forget about the Veranda master's existence, so he decided to ring the alarm bells instead. He couldn't care less if these people lived or die. In fact, he'd rather they all died. But compared to the demon king, they weren't much of a threat.
Jiang Chen didn't want them to drop their guards against the Veranda master before catastrophe struck. He dropped them a hint so that they'd continue to be on the alert and let him profit from the impending battle.
As expected, Prince Zhao immediately furrowed his brows when he was reminded about the Veranda master. "The Veranda master? Did any of you see him while you were enroute?"
The crowd collectively shook their heads. They'd completely forgotten about him. Clearly, nobody thought that the Veranda master was much of a threat. With this reminder, the crowd came to a sudden realization that they were here to tail the Veranda master. But in the middle of everything, the Veranda master had suddenly disappeared into thin air.
Prince Zhao's face immediately darkened. "Xiao Chen, you said that you were ambushed by Granny Goldneedle and Sir Miao, but aren't they supposed to be elsewhere?"
"This subordinate finds it very strange too. The Veranda master must be planning something. Why else would he suddenly disappear?" Jiang Chen kept planting the idea inside their heads.
Prince Zhao nodded with a solemn expression. "Just what is the Veranda master up to? I've been told that he intends to betray Great Scarlet royalty! It looks like he definitely has an ulterior motive! He's definitely up to something if he suddenly disappears at a time like this!"
Old Zhang nodded in agreement. "Esteemed prince, shall we send someone to investigate?"
Prince Zhao thought about it for a moment and shook his head. "Forget it. He's a sixth level emperor only on the verge of breaking into the seventh. Our men will only be sent to their deaths. We needn't spread ourselves thin. I want to finish up matters here."
Jiang Chen cursed inwardly when he heard Prince Zhao's reply. He decided to add even more oil to the fire. "Imperial Prince Zhao, the formation that led us into this place is completely sealed. We no longer have a way out. This subordinate strongly believes that we've walked into his trap."
Since the prince was being extremely pig-headed, Jiang Chen had no choice but to break even more pressing news.
"What did you say?!" Color immediately drained from the prince face.
"Every word I say is true." Jiang Chen quickly replied.
The representatives of the three great sects were completely dumbfounded as well. They weren't idiots. The sealed entrance was a clear indication that they'd walked into a trap! Someone was trying to get them all in one fell swoop! However, was the Veranda master's appetite really that voracious? Was he truly planning on killing every single person from the three great sects, the royal family, and various other fourth ranked sects?
1. A specific title given to princes that are not the Heir Apparent