Emperor Void was a very scrupulous and thorough man, in contrast to the more impulsive Emperor Coiling Dragon. The morality of the issue was the first thing that came to the former's mind. As expected, the crowd's collective gaze turned extremely solemn after the question was asked.
Emperor Vastsea had already sworn a vow of innocence to the Goldbiter Rat King, but he understood young lord Zhen's pardon alone wasn't enough if he wanted to return to Veluriyam Capital. He needed everyone's forgiveness and support.
"Everyone, you might think that I'm just trying to avoid responsibility not matter what I say. Yes, I used to be on Emperor Shura's side, and yes, I did possess a fair share of complaints towards Emperor Peafowl, but I swear Emperor Peafowl's disappearance has nothing to do with me! Emperor Shura single handedly planned all of it! May the heavens smite me if I lie!" He pointed up at the heavens as he swore a solemn vow.
Emperor Coiling Dragon's expression turned ugly. "And were you the ones who spread rumors about Emperor Peafowl's death in order to usurp the throne?"
Emperor Vastsea nodded, clearly ashen with guilt. Indeed, he was the mastermind behind the rumors and he'd once been extremely happy about Emperor Peafowl's disappearance. However, he quickly realized that Emperor Shura had picked a fight that couldn't be won. Regret and dejection flooded in then. The crowd's hostility wouldn't be easy to diffuse, but he had no other choice. He'd have to bear the shame and burden until he could finally earn acceptance again.
"Vastsea, since you're not directly responsible for Emperor Peafowl's disappearance, we'll give you a chance to earn back our trust, however difficult that may be. It's up to you to cherish this opportunity. For now, cough up everything you know about Emperor Peafowl's disappearance. Don't exaggerate or hide anything."
The crowd nodded in agreement with Jiang Chen's words. Having been pardoned, Emperor Vastsea bobbed his head up and down rapidly and spilled the beans. "Here's what I know…"
Emperor Coiling Dragon flew into a rage. "That bastard Shura! Emperor Peafowl gave him so much guidance during his formative years. Instead of paying it back, he conspired with the enemy to harm his benefactor?! What an insatiable ingrate!"
Emperor Void sighed. "It's fortunate that Veluriyam didn't fall into the hands of a villain like him. Our legacy and traditions from the ancient times would've been ruined in an instant."
Emperor Petalpluck and Mountaincrush exchanged glances, their eyes filled with relief. They'd supported Emperor Shura calling the Vassal Meeting and had actually been leaning towards supporting him.
They shuddered at that thought. If young lord Zhen hadn't immensely exceeded expectations and won the thirteen round competition, Veluriyam would've fallen into Emperor Shura's hands. To think that Pillfire City was supporting Emperor Shura all along! Veluriyam Capital had nearly fallen to Pillfire City by proxy. They would've been condemned through the ages if they'd allowed that to happen.
"Pillfire City!" Emperor Coiling Dragon gnashed his teeth. "They've gone too far! Shura is already dead, but we can't put matters to rest yet! The true mastermind is Pillfire City and Emperor Pillzenith! Shura is merely their hound!"
"Yes. While we don't know if Emperor Peafowl is still alive or not, we'll make them pay in blood!" The crowd boiled with fury. There'd been no proof of the legitimacy of the rumors before this. People had been a little worried, but not overly so. After realizing the truth, it was only natural that they'd fly into a rage.
Veluriyam Capital had always been on equal footing with Pillfire City. But to think that Emperor Pillzenith would have such a voracious appetite. He'd made a move against Emperor Peafowl and attempted to gain control of Veluriyam Capital!
The powerful Veluriyam titans weren't going to take this lying down. Even the normally aloof emperor, Petalpluck, was ruffled by what had conspired. "Young lord Zhen, I'm ashamed. I was blind and thoughtless for letting that bastard fool me! If it wasn't for your insistence and gallantry, we would've been sold to the enemy and we would be none the wiser! From tonight onwards, the Petalpluck faction vows unyielding support to the young lord!"
"The Mountaincrush faction agrees. We offer unyielding fealty to young lord Zhen if anything major occurs again in Veluriyam Capital! Anything the young lord says, we will follow!"
"We support young lord Zhen!" The crowd also declared their position.
Emperor Vastsea's face was beet red. "Young lord Zhen, as a sinner, I have no right to swear fealty to you, but may the heavens smite me if I do anything to let Veluriyam Capital down in the future! My children and their descendants shall forever be slaves, never to be liberated again!"
Emperor Vastsea had prostrated himself greatly. The crowd's hatred of him slowly diminished with this humble display. He was a great emperor after all. Killing him would be momentarily fleeting, but he was more useful to the capital alive. Young lord Zhen definitely had his reasons for keeping him alive.
"Vastsea, it's good to see that you realize your own position. The Vastsea Retreat shall be returned to you, and you may keep your title. However, you will be last in the rankings. I don't like pretty words. I only want to see action. If you truly are repentant, prove it and show your worth with tangible action." Jiang Chen didn't deal too big of a punishment.
"Yes, definitely! I'll show my sincerity through my actions! If I ever let everyone down, feel free to spit in my face!" Emperor Vastsea was elated.
Emperor Void and Coiling Dragon began to understand Jiang Chen's actions as they calmed down. Because Sacred Peafowl Mountain's foundation hadn't solidified yet, letting Emperor Vastsea off the hook would mean gaining another diehard loyalist. He would shed tears of gratitude as long as he was capable of the slightest thought.
"Alright, now let me introduce two more of our fellow comrades." Jiang Chen pointed at the Jiao brothers with a faint smile. "These are great emperor experts of the wandering world, the Jiao brothers of Mt. Huai. I'm sure everyone has heard of them?"
The Jiao brothers of Mt. Huai?
Two of the greatest figures in the wandering world!
"Are they the same Jiao brothers that took the Upper Eight Regions by the storm and upended many a great faction back in the day, Jiao Yun and Jiao Feng?"
The Jiao brothers were elated that these great emperors had heard of their name. Even though wandering great emperors were by no means weaker than ones in a sect, they couldn't help but feel a little self-conscious and unconfident when faced with all these faction members.
"Precisely." Jiang Chen laughed. "The two brothers and Sacred Peafowl Mountain have become friends after a fight. They've officially sworn to join Sacred Peafowl Mountain as an esteemed guest elder, never to betray us."
The Jiao brothers naturally wouldn't go back on their words after swearing such a solemn vow.
"Greetings, fellow great emperors."
"I've long heard that Sacred Peafowl Mountain is filled with great talents and an immense gathering of great emperors. It seems that the rumors do not lie." The two brothers were very sociable. It only took them a short while to become well-acquainted with the circle, their speed of familiarity quite surprising Jiang Chen.
Emperor Void and Coiling Dragon were equally impressed with the young lord. They'd actually harbored doubts about the decision to host a wandering cultivator gathering, but somehow the young lord had recruited the two brothers before the Meet had officially started. And they also seemed incredibly loyal and fearfully respectful?
What kind of magic does young lord Zhen have? The Jiao brothers are famous savages of the four regions to the north east! How did the young lord earn their unfaltering loyalty? Emperor Petalpluck simply couldn't understand. However, having more great emperors in Veluriyam Capital would never be a bad thing.
Emperor Mountaincrush and Skysplitter were equally as bewildered. But seeing that even a great titan of the wandering world like Emperor Peerless had decided to join Sacred Peafowl Mountain, it wasn't all that incomprehensible to see the Jiao brothers do the same.
Emperor Shura's death was kept a temporary secret as Jiang Chen didn't want to raise any unnecessary commotion.
Inside the young lord residence, the night had grown old but Jiang Chen was still awake. He was writing scribbling something beneath the candlelight. He mused deeply as he recalled the afternoon's battle. After some long moments, he finally unearthed a martial technique from his memories and wrote it down.
Come dawn, he looked for Emperor Peerless and asked him to bring the Jiao brothers with him to the back mountains.
The two brothers were still adjusting to life in a faction. They've always lived in complete freedom so it was a little difficult to adapt to rules and customs. However, they understood that this was no longer something they could change. The brothers were incredibly anxious as Emperor Peerless led the way.
Why had the young lord summoned them? They were worried that Jiang Chen would send them on an impossible mission, such as assassinating Emperor Pillzenith.
Jiang Chen stood atop the mountain and greeted the oncoming group. The Jiao brothers dared not be rude and immediately made return greetings. "This subordinate greets the young lord."
Jiang Chen made a sweeping gesture. "You needn't be overly formal. Both of you are esteemed guest elders and needn't bother with those useless formalities with your great status. I haven't summoned you here to have you bow to me. Relax. What's done is done, let us leave the past behind. I'll not cause you unneeded trouble nor will I force unfair treatment upon you."
The Jiao brothers were ashamed. They'd been read like an open book. It felt like someone had torn away their clothes in broad daylight.
Emperor Peerless smiled. "I don't know how sincere you were when you joined Sacred Peafowl Mountain, but I can honestly say that fortune is favoring you you."
The two brothers nodded agreeingly, but it was obvious that their thoughts differed from their actions. They'd only joined Sacred Peafowl Mountain because the circumstances necessitated it. To say that fortune had favored them was a little difficult to believe.