With a casual sweep, Jiang Chen gathered the pearl into his hand. In the next moment, it was as if the underground world had its soul pulled out. The stone pillars became like paper, collapsing into heaps one by one. Cursing quietly, Jiang Chen immediately called to the Goldbiter Rat King.
"Ole Gold, we have to get out of here."
The Rat King was unconcerned about this layer's loss of structural integrity. "Don't worry about it, Master Chen," he slowly trotted. "Even if the sky falls, I can bring you out with no problem."
The Rat King was scared of a great number of things, but the ground collapsing was not one of them. His race's foremost talent was digging holes. No matter how deep a Goldbiter Rat was underground, a tunnel could be dug out for sure.
Jiang Chen didn't treat it with the same levity. Though he wasn't afraid of losing a clear way out, this underground was a strange and ominous place. It was a literal demon lair. If he unwisely attracted the demon emperor's premature attention, it would be disastrous. He ascended to a layer above, which was also crumbling to dust with the same speed as everywhere else.
Cries of pain could be heard incessantly from Prince Zhao's direction. They had been utterly consumed by the power of the bloody fog, and couldn't lift a finger to resist their fate. Enormous boulders crashed down from above with alarming frequency, creating more splats of cultivator gore on the ground. Jiang Chen's reappearance elicited relief from the remaining few, as if their savior had finally arrived.
"Save us, save us!" They called out in unison. "Friend, I am willing to pay you thirty million spirit stones if you take me with you!"
"Sir, we don't have a life-and-death grudge between us. All of us can reward your kindness well!"
Imperial Prince Zhao harrumphed. He was unwilling to ask for help. He wasn't going to get it anyways. After all, he had issued a kill command on the young man just moments prior. That alone was grounds for a deep grudge between them. How could he expect the other to save us?
Ole Zhang was far more practical. "Friend, I can speak for both of us. If you save the two of us, the royal family will reward you with one billion spirit stones as thanks."
For the Great Scarlet Mid Region, one billion spirit stones was an insurmountable amount of wealth. But no matter how large that sum was, it was still less than what their lives was worth.
The prince didn't blame the old man for deciding for him. In fact, he secretly felt that Ole Zhang should've named two or three instead. The prince wasn't shameless enough to make the request, but he didn't entirely oppose others doing so on his behalf. Deep down in his heart, he wanted very badly to live. As for the money, the royal family always had ways to make that up.
Jiang Chen harrumphed. The only one that he felt the slightest bit of empathy towards was Ole Zhang. He didn't have any compassion for anyone else here.
"I thought you were the Great Scarlet Mid Region's hotshots? Why are you afraid now? Giving up so soon?" He sauntered over, smiling, his voice filled with contempt.
"Friend, now isn't the time to squabble," Ole Zhang couldn't resist interjecting. "We are in the wrong, yes. We can pay an additional billion on top of the previous promised, as a token of apology."
Prince Zhao couldn't resist his approval of the old man's clever addition. Unfortunately for him, Jiang Chen didn't seem to care. "Whether you want to pay one or two billion, I'm afraid that you'll meet the same fate here today. Death!"
Without saying another word, he used the Supernova Point in quick succession. Each point reaped a life, their owners popping like balloons under the pressure. Jiang Chen was exceptionally cruel with his attacks. He left no room for mercy. Nothing remained in the wake of his fingers' passing. There wasn't even a mote of dust left behind after his total eradication. This was the most fearsome thing about this technique. Anyone hit by it would explode like a supernova, becoming one with nothing in the process.
Jiang Chen's incredible speed at killing off most of the group in an instant made Ole Zhang gasp. He couldn't believe it. "You… you sold out to the demons as well?"
"Ole Zhang, you let me in," Jiang Chen smiled coolly. "When the prince gave that order against me, you at least tried to do something. I can make an exception for you and let you go. Everyone else has to die."
His hands did not lie idle as he said this. By now, essentially all of the Great Scarlet Mid Region's experts were gone.
Imperial Prince Zhao watched Jiang Chen kill with the ease of butchering fowl. His absolute lack of sympathy was the last straw, cementing the thought that he wasn't going to live today.
"The Great Scarlet Mid Region won't let you off for this, kid!" Vengeful words, spoken with one's dying breath, were the weakest of all.
Jiang Chen smiled coolly again. "Don't worry. I'll exact the same vengeance upon everyone else deserving in that region, too. I won't act as the Veranda master against your women, of course, but your experts… well, they'll join you before long."
"You…" Prince Zhao was flabbergasted. The young man before him suddenly seemed foreign. Who was he, and why was he so bitter against Great Scarlet Mid Region?
Jiang Chen summoned the Goldbiter Rat King forthwith. "Ole Gold, you go on ahead. Take Old Zhang out of here."
Without another word, the Goldbiter Rat King did as he was told.
The prince's face was ashen. He glared at Jiang Chen defiantly. "I can understand the Resplendent Emerald Veranda master's enmity towards our house. But who are you? What did Great Scarlet ever do to you?"
"The Veranda master's grudge is small fry compared to mine. When your region invaded Myriad Domain all those years ago, you were certainly more than happy to kill with smooth, steadfast strokes. With much more pleasure than I today, I'm sure. " Jiang Chen's tone was derisive.
"What?" Prince Zhao's own voice froze. His eyes betrayed his incredulity. "You… are a remnant of Myriad Domain? Who… who could you…"
Jiang Chen's smile was unchanging. "There's no need for you to be concerned about that. Don't worry, the royal family will join you on the path to oblivion quite soon. I won't make you wait long for a family reunion."
With another two points, he killed two of the last three people. Prince Zhao was the only one that remained now. His expression looked absolutely ghastly. "The Myriad Domain… Myriad Domain… who could've expected that a remnant of Myriad Domain would stir up… so much trouble…"
Snorting, Jiang Chen pointed at the prince to blow him up as well.
The antique Skyclearer Talisman fluttered into his hand. He put it, along with the storage rings of the dead, with his belongings. After scavenging the battlefield, he lazily began to depart upwards.
As he did so, a majestic voice mentally confronted him from within the chaos. "Who? Who is it that's meddled in my business?"
Jiang Chen's heart skipped a beat when he heard it. The will of the voice was filled with power and resentment.
"Has the demon emperor awakened?" A scary thought popped into his head. He felt cold sweat bead all over his body, and hurried in his escape. He broke out of the earth not long after and was met by a very anxious rodent.
"Master Chen, it seems… that the demon emperor awakened?"
The Rat King was cowardly by nature. Just being exposed to the will of the demon emperor caused him to shiver uncontrollably.
Jiang Chen looked serious. "Put yourself away, Ole Gold. Don't worry. I have a plan to get out of here."
Having plundered the orb at the source of the earth pulses, Jiang Chen had effectively disabled the outside formation. After making sure the Rat King was safely tucked in, he turned to Ole Zhang. "Go on ahead. If you see the Silversand Cavalier and others, you can leave with them."
Ole Zhang was almost as white as the prince had been. "I've served the imperial family all my life, but you killed an imperial prince. Even if you let me go, how can I possibly live?"
"I spared you solely because of your previous attitude," Jiang Chen waved a hand. "I'm not responsible for any suicidal tendencies you may have because of my other actions."
The old man shook his head. After a long while, he began to drag his feet away with some difficulty. Jiang Chen hadn't personally killed him, but it was impossible for him to leave alive like this. The young man was in no rush to leave himself, though. The demon emperor's presence was terrifying, but he refused to be cowed by it.
The first step of the blood sacrifice had been completed when the demon emperor feasted upon those female cultivators, but the process had also been imperfect without Wei Xing'er. The demon emperor wasn't at the peak of his strength right now. He probably only had a third of his power available at most. In this state, the demon emperor was unlikely to be stronger than a human great emperor.
Therefore, Jiang Chen decided to stay for an opportunity to kill the demon emperor as well. It seemed futile to attempt to stop the demon race's renaissance. But he didn't want the demonic invasion to occur immediately.
Even though it was unlikely that a demon emperor at his peak would be able to destroy the entire human domain, the blood demons' bloodline was exceptionally infectious. If this demon emperor had just a bit of breathing room, he could grow an entire cult of blood demon loyalists in less than a decade.
There were countless human cultivators like the Veranda master or Sir Miao. The best solution was to nip the threat in the bud. Of course, Jiang Chen was aware of the difficulty of killing an ancient demon emperor even in a state of weakness. But he had plenty of aces up his sleeve.
Emperor Peafowl had given him the Imperial Advent Defense and Onslaught Talismans. Each was equivalent to borrowing a great emperor's defensive or offensive strength, respectively. Though one use lasted only about two hours, that was more than enough to do what he needed to do.
Both talismans had three uses before they were used up. Continuous usage demanded immense physical condition and exertion. The slightest indiscretion could lead to tremendous backlash. Typically, talismans like these weren't used consecutively.
Demon Emperor Bloodmalva, emperor of the blood demons, had finally struggled free of his seal. Though the ritual to wake him had been somewhat flawed-notably, the crucial component Wei Xing'er had been missing-the demon emperor had successfully awakened nevertheless. However, he was surprised to find that the one who'd organized the sacrifice had disappeared. There was no response to his attempts at bloodline resonance. Where was the Veranda master?