Emperor Vastsea's worry was extraneous. Emperor Shura's hate-filled eyes signaled a fundamental unwillingness to give up attacking. The fires of vengeance burned ever brighter. He had zero intentions of abandoning the plan.
"Vastsea, this is when we make it or break it! Either we kill that brat and take back Veluriyam Capital, or we're cut off from it forever!" Emperor Shura didn't quite declare the absolute alternative of 'death' outright. He was still retaining some consideration for Emperor Vastsea's feelings.
"We'll have the chance for sure, fellow daoist," said Vastsea.
Suddenly, Emperor Shura's consciousness detected something. A look of deranged glee appeared on his face. "Good! What a stroke of fortune, Vastsea! That brat is finally showing himself. He's escorting the wandering great emperors out right now and they're on their way down Sacred Peafowl Mountain. He only has Mo Wushuang beside him. Void and Coiling Dragon are absent!"
Emperor Vastsea's heart trembled. His eyes radiated glee. "Truly?"
The emperor was a very good actor. Behind his cheerful expression was detached indifference. What a fool. He's at the brink of a precipice, but doesn't know he's being intentionally baited in. How could I have been so blind to follow such a brainless and incompetent man for so many years?
"Come, Vastsea. Let's go to them. The others have locked on to the kid. We're in charge of cutting off his escape. We simply need to prevent him from returning to his residence. He won't get away even if he sprouts wings!" Emperor Shura gnashed his teeth.
"Yes, let's go!" concurred Emperor Vastsea.
Emperor Shura didn't detect anything out of the ordinary with his compatriot. His excitement had gone to his head. In his mind, victory was already assured.
The two emperors hid themselves near Sacred Peafowl Mountain's entrance, along the return path.
Emperor Shura gazed intently into the distance. "He's just sent off the wandering cultivators," he muttered. "The brat will be back very shortly. The hour of reckoning will soon be upon us. You'll be in charge of stalling Mo Wushuang. I'll lead the attack, and the other three will back me up. Use our domains to block the kid's escape!"
"Alright. Congratulations, fellow daoist. Surely nothing will go wrong this time," nodded Emperor Vastsea.
"Heh heh heh," Emperor Shura cackled ominously. He focused his eyes upon the road further down, not blinking even for a second. He would spring into action the second any hint of Jiang Chen appeared in the periphery.
Time passed moment by moment. It didn't take long for two hazy figures to appear in the distance. Another second was enough for Emperor Shura to differentiate their identities. "It's him! It's the brat!" The desperate emperor felt a surge of happiness. "He thinks he's so good, Vastsea. He thinks he's right outside his home. He only brought one person with him! It is fate that decrees his death!"
Emperor Vastsea echoed hollow laughter. "If the heavens wants someone to die, they will first drive him to madness."
Emperor Shura completely missed the undertones to those words. His only reaction was a vicious nod. He awaited Jiang Chen to reach his domain's zone of control before he would launch his attack.
Jiang Chen was very cheerful with a spring in his step. He was laughing and chatting with Mo Wushuang, not having the slightest inclination of sensing any impending danger.
Emperor Shura was pleased by the sight. The kid was so full of himself that he'd tossed all caution to the wind. Excellent news for what he was about to do. The more relaxed the kid was, the better of a chance he had on the offense. An alert target would only hamper his plan.
So very close!
Rubbing his fingers together, the emperor conjured a powerful talisman into his hand. Upon activation, it turned into an expanse of yellow radiance, rippling outward in a series of circular waves.
Thunder rumbled through the air. It was a very potent sealing talisman.
These talismans were designed to counter escape talismans. It locked down the general area so that would-be escapees couldn't slip through dimensional cracks. Emperor Shura had done so in order to block off every passage of escape. He wanted to trap Jiang Chen and torture him at leisure.
This talisman in particular was especially strong, and was one of Emperor Shura's most valuable possessions. He was willing to spend a pretty penny on the excursion.
Space in a ten-mile radius was thus closed off.
"Hahaha!" The talisman's success made Emperor Shura cackle in triumph. Now that the surrounding space was sealed off, neither Jiang Chen nor Mo Wushuang could flee.
There was no more reason for him to hide. He had three allies nearby that would arrive at any moment. Five great emperors against one, plus a mere emperor realm genius, was beyond superb odds! How could the emperor not feel vindicated?
Emperor Vastsea followed his companion's materialization from thin air, standing close by the other emperor.
Mo Wushuang's expression froze at the spatial enclosure. "Young lord," he called out to Jiang Chen, "this is a powerful sealing talisman. We can only exit on foot."
Jiang Chen nodded, but his expression was quite composed. He locked coolly onto Emperor Shura. The great emperor was halfway up the mountain, blocking the way.
Emperor Shura particularly despised the young man's intractable pride. The brat's death was nigh, but he was still putting on a noble, detached air. The emperor was particularly incensed by this kind of reaction.
"Brat Zhen, heaven has delivered justice this day by giving you to me! I'd like to hear any last words you might have, hahahaha…" The desperate emperor was exultant for a change. He even had the energy to utter a mocking comment.
Young lord Zhen was a mouse caught in a trap. No matter which way he looked at it, the young man should be descending into severe panic any moment now. Emperor Shura was quite unhappy that it hadn't happened yet.
"Shura, eh? Your actions are only bringing yourself to ruin. Homeless dogs should lick their wounds from the shadows, not run to their demise. You would've been fine if you hadn't come running to your destruction."
Emperor Shura barked a laugh out of extreme anger. "Do you really have time left to waste on idle bickering? In a way, I'm impressed. Do you think you have any chance left of turning the tables today?"
"What, you think you've won already?" Jiang Chen looked at his opponent through a half-smile.
"Hmph, enough talk. The airspace for miles around has been sealed off by my talisman. You won't be able to escape. Do you think that Mo Wushuang alone can guard you? Don't try to bluster. I've done my research already and know that the other emperors aren't at Sacred Peafowl Mountain!"
Emperor Shura spoke like a petty, argumentative brat. He seemed to be scared of losing a verbal debate to Jiang Chen and constantly emphasized his advantage. He wanted to overwhelm the youth on an emotional level.
However, his tirade seemed to have had the opposite effect. Rather than wiping away the smile on the young man's face, it seemed to have introduced a hint of ridicule instead. There was a very small bit of sympathy as well; the charitable kind that one might throw to a fool. For the second time that day, the youth's reaction deeply hurt the emperor.
"Vastsea, back me up. I'm going to take that kid's head right off. Let's see if he can keep running his mouth then," Emperor Shura instructed.
Emperor Vastsea maintained a blank expression. "Alright."
Shura cast his gaze into the distance. "Good. The three others are coming up now. A flanking maneuver will hasten that brat's death."
"As you wish," replied Vastsea woodenly.
With a bark of hideous laughter, Emperor Shura began to brew up the momentum needed to strike a lethal blow.
Suddenly, a flash of uneasy precognition flickered through his consciousness. He wanted to investigate exactly what was wrong, but a tremendous force was already rushing at him from the rear.
He responded with lightning speed, but the sheer abruptness of the attack allowed it to sneak in anyway. A nasty punch hit him in the small of his back. The punch dealt a heavy, hammering blow, almost sending his heart flying through the front of his chest.
Emperor Shura felt a warm sensation in his oral cavity. He spat out a mouthful of blood.
Pfft! Still, the desperate emperor was no slouch at combat. He reflexively scythed backward with his demonic saber in a fluid motion. If the assailant behind him delayed half a moment, he would've been cut cleanly in half.
Unfortunately, the attack landed on empty air. The assailant was already gone like a light breeze. A terrifying thought drifted into Emperor Shura's mind. Though he didn't turn his head, he could still who had attacked him from behind.
There was only one possible culprit: Emperor Vastsea!
My once loyal underling has betrayed me! Shura turned his head in indignation, but Emperor Vastsea had already drifted a few hundred meters out. The once follower ignored the murderous wrath of his former master.
"Vastsea, you… you dare betray me!?" Emperor Shura's rage couldn't be contained. He had never thought he would be backstabbed by the man he had trusted the most, and at the eleventh hour!
Emperor Vastsea was expressionless. "I am not the one that has betrayed you, Shura. You're trying to drag me into the abyss with you. I don't want to die, so I have to do something."
"Bullshit!" The desperate emperor let out a savage roar. "I'm on the verge of killing this kid. Are you blind? Don't you see we're on the cusp of winning?"
Emperor Vastsea shook his head. "No, I don't. I see you a witless clown dancing around. Shura, I followed you before because I thought you could inherit the throne. You proved me wrong through your ineptitude, and drove the point home in the face of adversity. You aren't worth my loyalty any longer."
Emperor Shura trembled like a leaf. Emperor Vastsea's attack had wounded him physically, but the man's words were crueler than his fist. He was on the verge of suffocation.