Emperor Shura smiled apathetically. "The fence-sitter is truly easily swayed. History is written by the victors. Say whatever you want, I'll not participate in your nonsense." He brandished his sleeves and headed back to his own camp.
"I am cutting ties with Veluriyam Capital from henceforth! Those who wish to follow me are free to do so. As for those who are unwilling… heh. Let's just say that Veluriyam Capital will not take your betrayal kindly." Emperor Shura was extremely persuasive.
The factions directly under Shura Retreat were quick to show their loyalty. "Your Majesty, we shall follow you!"
"We will remain loyal unto death!"
The unwavering loyalists consisted of mostly factions directly under Shura Retreat and a few clans and vassals that had close relationships. The vassals that'd recently been persuaded to side with Emperor Shura were desperately trying to draw a clear line between them and the emperor. They naturally weren't going to leave.
Emperor Petalpluck frowned when he saw how influential Emperor Shura was. Emperor Coiling Dragon immediately warned Jiang Chen. "Young lord Zhen, Veluriyam Capital will be torn apart if this continues!"
Jiang Chen smiled nonchalantly. "Those who decide to follow him are either loyalists or people who can't think clearly. Veluriyam Capital has little use for them. I'd rather have them leave."
Emperor Void nodded in agreement. "Young lord Zhen makes a good point. If their hearts are not with Veluriyam Capital, their departure might actually benefit both sides. It's a good opportunity for us to clean house."
Emperor Petalpluck was about to voice his concerns, but ultimately chose not to as Jiang Chen already seemed to have his own plans. In the end, Emperor Shura convinced roughly twenty vassals to leave with him.
While twenty might seem like a lot, but there were a total of nine hundred vassals in Veluriyam Capital. This number wasn't really something to write home about. But though they'd made their decision to follow Emperor Shura, they were worried that a certain someone wouldn't let them go.
"I won't stop anyone who wishes to leave with Emperor Shura. However, once you step out of the capital gates, you will be a traitor who has cut all ties with the capital! You are not allowed to use Veluriyam Capital's name from this day forth, nor will you ever be allowed back into these walls!" Jiang Chen announced sternly after a majority of them had made up their minds. "We will also launch a thorough investigation into Emperor Peafowl's disappearance. If we find out that any of you are withholding any information, you'll be marked a public enemy and hunted down!"
Other than Emperor Shura and Emperor Vastsea, it was unlikely that anyone else would know about the details of Emperor Peafowl's disappearance. Jiang Chen's words instilled some fear into them, but it was too late for any hesitation. They'd always maintained a close relationship with Emperor Shura and were practically sworn to Shura Retreat. There would be no future for them if they stayed at Veluriyam Capital.
Jiang Chen glared menacingly at Emperor Shura. "You may take your people and leave. Mark my words, if I ever find out that you had something to do with Emperor Peafowl's disappearance, you'll not be able to escape my wrath even if you hide nine thousand meters underground."
He spoke with sway and dominance, his influence multitudes greater than Emperor Shura's after he'd gained the public's trust.
Emperor Shura was proud and arrogant, but even he dared not fire anything back. He snickered coldly and gestured. "Let's go!"
Emperor Shura's loyalists followed and disappeared into the horizon in a blink of an eye.
"Young lord Zhen, you're letting them go just like that?" Emperor Coiling Dragon was a little dissatisfied.
Jiang Chen responded with a faint smile. "No matter. One day, I'll make them pay for all that they've done."
He hadn't let them off willingly. It was just that Veluriyam Capital simply couldn't handle any conflict right now. An enormous internal conflict would be detrimental to the well-being of the capital. There'd be a huge price to pay if Emperors Shura and Vastsea joined hands during a brawl.
Even though Emperors Skysplitter, Petalpluck, and Mountaincrush had acknowledged his status as young lord Zhen, it was unknown how much they'd actually contribute to a fight. If they abstained, Sacred Peafowl Mountain would be the only ones to suffer tremendous losses in the fight.
So for sake of the greater good, Jiang Chen had no choice but to be patient. What Veluriyam Capital needed was stability, not slaughter. Moreover, he had no evidence to prove that Emperor Shura was behind Emperor Peafowl's disappearance. He was dead certain that Emperor Shura was guilty, but he couldn't convince the public with only a public interrogation.
The citizens were distraught. In order to calm the vassals and stifle speculations, he had to stabilize the situation first before he could proceed further.
Emperor Petalpluck nodded reassuringly when he saw how Jiang Chen had handled the matter. His opinion of the young lord grew even higher. It wasn't easy for a young man to not be consumed by victory.
Jiang Chen swept a tranquil, yet stern glance at the remaining vassals. "I don't care which faction you used to be with, nor do I care what plans you have in store. Since you've decided to stay, I only wish to remind you that as one of us, you must always focus on the betterment of our capital. I'll not forgive anyone who intends to betray or harm our capital! Our unity and trust in each other is the only reason why we have always been the strongest in the Upper Eight Regions!"
Emperor Petalpluck nodded. "Young lord Zhen has shown great magnanimity and chosen to leave matters in the past. You needn't worry about the consequences for your actions today. Your position will not be threatened if you set your mind on the correct path and show complete loyalty to our capital!"
"That's correct. Dear vassals, you'd best keep these words firmly in mind."
"Understood!" The vassals shouted in response.
Jiang Chen made a sweeping gesture. "It's not everyday that we assemble a Vassal Gathering. Since you've already come all the way the capital, do stay a few more days. I'll personally give some lectures to share some pill dao insights. Also, I've decided to establish a school in the capital to foster and train those highly talented in pill dao. If there are any such geniuses among your children, do consider signing up."
It was only natural to offer a carrot after a smack with the stick. After beating fear into the vassals, it was time to offer some incentives and rope them in. Indeed, everyone was elated to hear this. There was at least one pill dao genius in every vassal household.
"T-that's wonderful! Long live young lord Zhen!"
"As expected of young lord Zhen! From now on, I'll only support the young lord! I'll oppose anyone who tries to oppose him!"
"That's right! Young lord Zhen is truly a capable person. He may be young, but he's contributed so much to our capital already!"
"The pill dao school will be an enduring accomplishment that will benefit thousands of generations! Veluriyam Capital has some pill dao heritage, but there was never a systematic way to pass it down! The pill dao school will surely reignite the capital's passion for pill dao!"
"Mm! This is definitely something to look forward to!" The vassals were all smiles.
Emperor Petalpluck and Emperor Mountaincrush exchanged glances. Their admiration for the young lord was growing by the minute.
"As expected of young lord Zhen! You've gained the loyalty of the vassals just from one simple decision!" Emperor Void praised with a smile.
Emperor Coiling Dragon laughed heartily. "I've said it once and I'll say it again! Young lord Zhen is the bearer of great fortune! Why would Emperor Peafowl make him heir if otherwise?"
"Everyone, I trust that everyone has already seen how great young lord Zhen is in pill dao! I've travelled all over the world and met countless titans of the pill dao world, but I've yet to come across anyone as talented in pill dao as him! I don't know who's the best pill dao master in the world, but young lord Zhen is definitely the best in my heart!" Emperor Peerless yelled.
"That's right! I can attest to the fact that young lord Zhen is number one in pill dao!" Emperor Coiling Dragon flashed a grin. "When I was still the clan lord of the Coiling Dragon faction, my lifespan had nearly reached its end. Almost everyone was certain of my death, me included. But why didn't I die?"
This was the second time that Emperor Coiling Dragon had brought up the matter. He'd previously only told the story to a small group of people and felt a need to reiterate the story now.
"I wasn't in a position to say this before, but now I can finally let the truth out! That's right, it's all thanks to young lord Zhen! If he hadn't extended my lifespan by a few more years and refined the Pinecrane Pill for me, there'd be no Emperor Coiling Dragon today!"
Emperor Coiling Dragon grew increasingly agitated, and his story was very persuasive since he was telling it himself.
"Remember when faction fought over the Longevity Pill, the pill that can extend lifespans for sage realm cultivators? The Pinecrane Pill can do the same for emperor realm cultivators! I'd like to ask you all, had any of you ever heard of life-extending pills before young lord Zhen appeared on the scene?"
"No!" came the unanimous answer.
"I had, but an increase of three to five years was the limit for these supposed miracle pills. One that could extend life by eight hundred to a thousand years was unheard of in the Divine Abyss continent! This is a milestone for pill dao! I am filled with conviction that young lord Zhen's appearance will cause great changes in pill dao. Veluriyam Capital will certainly be the hub of pill dao for the Upper Eight Regions in the future, a sanctuary for pill dao!"
Emperor Coiling Dragon's words weren't just to boost morale. They were also a pointed jab at Emperor Pillzenith in the guest section.