The voice belonged to Jiang Chen, of course. Using the dragon roar art, his voice was a clap of thunder and bolt of lightning, heralding the dignity of a god descending amongst mortals, the presence of a sovereign who ruled over life and death.
He wasn't boasting in the slightest. A single command from him could drown the capital in an ocean of blood and a pile of corpses as tall as a mountain. He could have every single living soul put to the sword.
Jiao Yun added at the end of Jiang Chen's declaration, "The young lord of Veluriyam is benevolent, but he holds your lives in the palm of his hand. If you give aid to the tyrant, your capital will suffer the same fate as Myriad Domain's six great sects!"
Though the commoners had been largely ignored when Great Scarlet invaded Myriad Domain, almost all of the higher level cultivators were slaughtered. Those lucky enough to live were sold as slaves. Most of the six great sects were massacred to the last, with only a few being enslaved. The remaining fifth and sixth rank sects didn't escape grim fates either. Great Scarlet had even killed many wandering cultivators in their bloodlust, uprooting sects and factions entirely while leaving the completely mundane kingdoms alone.
"Palace Head, please say a few words." Jiang Chen had brought the survivors from the Regal Pill Palace with him on this campaign.
Palace Head Dan Chi nodded. "Emperor of Great Scarlet, if you're a man, atone for your crimes and don't drag your people down with you! You were happy to be the Eternal Celestial Capital's dog for the sake of your ambitions. You repeatedly invaded Myriad Domain, ending up destroying my sect and murdering my disciples. Today is the day when the remnants of Myriad Domain strike back!"
Roaring his words into the sky above the capital eased some of Dan Chi's depression, though they couldn't erase all of the suffering he'd gone through during these years.
And after that declaration...
The world of cultivators had its own rules, the most primitive of rules. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!
The blood that Myriad Domain once shed, Great Scarlet had to repay tenfold!
Almost all of the elites of the imperial family and important ministers were gathered within the imperial palace.
"My dear subjects, the enemy is at our door, so don't hesitate to volunteer any plans. If we survive this, each of you will have a share of the empire's lands." The emperor started making promises he wouldn't honor.
Apart from some military officials, the rest of the ashen scholars and advisors were so scared they had trouble remaining on their feet. How would any of them have any stratagems?
"Your Majesty, fighting to the bitter end is the only choice left. I'm willing to personally lead eight thousand men of the Valiant Tigers and charge out. We've trained our troops for so long for an occasion like this!"
This was Captain He of the imperial guards. At seventh level emperor realm, his cultivation ranked amongst the top ten in the Great Scarlet Empire. On top of that, his personally trained imperial guards were adept in military tactics, especially frontal assaults. This was one of the reasons for Captain He's hard-line stance.
Some military officials agreed with him. "Your Majesty, I'm willing to lead a group of deathsworn and fight with Captain He. How many men has Veluriyam Capital brought? A few thousand at most. Our city is home to at least two million cultivators. Emperor realm experts number more than a thousand, to say nothing of the sage realm ones. Don't tell me they won't be intimidated when they see this kind of army charging at them!"
"Your Majesty, this is everything we shouldn't do!" Someone immediately refuted the idea. "Veluriyam's young lord comes fully prepared. The palace's defense formations are the only reason why he hasn't ordered an assault yet. He wants us to lose our composure and rush outside. But if we do so, we'll lose our main force and there'll be no one left to defend the palace."
"Indeed. Your Majesty, our advantage lies with the defense formations. Why should we go out looking for a death match? We don't need to hold on for too long, just until reinforcements arrive."
"Reinforcements? From where?" Captain He shouted angrily. "The weak are fodder in this world. Who would dare send reinforcements against Veluriyam's army?"
"Your Majesty, the Eternal Celestial Capital is the sole reason for the enmity between us and Myriad Domain. Given our close relationship with the Eternal Celestial Capital, how can they not intervene when we're facing annihilation?"
"Yes, Your Majesty, how can they not send help? Are they simply going to wash their hands of this matter?"
"Also, Great Scarlet has the three great sects, a dozen fourth rank sects, and countless powerhouses. Your Majesty should give immediate orders for them to aid the capital. Great Scarlet lives as long as the capital stands. If the capital falls, so does the entire region."
"I agree. Why have we sheltered them for millennia? It's precisely so they will bring some effort to bear at crucial moments. The empire is under attack, so now it's time for them to risk everything for the empire!"
"Your Majesty, we can defuse the crisis if everyone acts together!" The officials weren't yet aware of the three sects' desertion and so created a rowdy atmosphere throwing out a variety of suggestions.
The emperor was livid. Nothing much could be gleaned about these people during peaceful times, but they exposed their true colors in times of real danger. The empire had raised a group of trash!
Jiang Chen's voice sounded again above the capital.
"Emperor of Great Scarlet, the heavens are delivering retribution for your sins. You were so mighty and glorious when you invaded Myriad Domain, so why do you only know to turtle in your palace now? Do you think I won't be able to do anything to you if you remain inside?
"Men, bring them in."
With a mischievous laugh, the Jiao brothers waved their hands to bring forward eight imperial scions in chains. None of them had slipped through the net. They'd either fled back or been captured at the border.
"Your Majesty, please save us, save us!" These imperial descendants wailed as soon their acupuncture points were unsealed.
Only the crown prince remained proud and staunch. His body covered in bruises, his expression dark, he wordlessly watched the princes make disgraces of themselves. Grief welled up in his heart when he saw how worthless these imperial sons were in moments of life and death. These were scions that the imperial family was depending on!
"Heh, Your Highness, you look quite the tough character." Jiang Chen smiled faintly.
The crown prince arched his neck proudly. "Jiang Chen, cease your arrogance! If only the Eternal Celestial Capital hadn't let a dog like you slink away, you wouldn't be barking here today!"
Jiao Yun sent a slap right to the face. "Still running your mouth when you're at death's door?"
A mouthful of blood mixed with broken teeth seeped out from the corners of the crown prince's lips, lending him a hideous appearance.
Jiang Chen glanced at the prince with contempt. "Stop acting like you're the one with a death feud. Whether you beg or continue putting up a front, Great Scarlet needs to pay for what was done to Myriad Domain, and pay with her own blood and lives. As the crown prince, you bear the sins of your entire empire. Who knows, maybe you were among those leading the invasion. You've absolutely committed your share of crimes. Today, you'll be the first sacrifice!"
"Who wants to be the executioner?" Jiang Chen glanced at the Regal Pill Palace's survivors. The Great Scarlet Empire was laden with crimes. Her crown prince had surely committed many as well.
"I will!" Palace Head Dan Chi offered.
The crown prince flicked a glance at Dan Chi. "Are you that survivor from the Regal Pill Palace, the one who hid like a coward during all these years, the so-called palace head?"
Dan Chi felt no anger at the crown prince's haughtiness. He merely fixed the captive with a cold stare. "Who I am matters not. Even if I were a peasant of Myriad Domain, you're ordained to die beneath my blade today!" Dan Chi drew his weapon without further ado.
"Emperor of Great Scarlet, I'll use the blood of your crown prince as the first sacrifice to Myriad Domain's departed!" Dan Chi declared with magnificent confidence.
The crown prince? The emperor blinked, then suddenly shook as the words registered.
The crown prince was the most important piece of his contingency plan. Has he also failed? The emperor could no longer sit still after this enormous blow. "I'm going out!"
Old Guo immediately knelt in front of the emperor. "Your Majesty, you can't, it's too dangerous!"
The emperor seethed with rage. "My son is in enemy hands, I'm going to save him!"
"Your Majesty, you can't! You can't go out no matter what!" Old Guo kowtowed repeatedly. "They want you to leave the palace. Your Majesty, you're the backbone to us all. We can't be certain the one outside is the crown prince, and even if he is, how can he compare to Your Majesty?"
"Don't stop me! No one is to stop me!" The emperor made to walk around Old Guo, but the latter clung to his liege's right leg, imploring, "Your Majesty, please think of the empire, please think of your subjects!"
A miserable shriek came from the sky. "Ah!"
Something snapped in the emperor's mind. How would he not recognize the voice of his own son?
"The crown prince! Where's the crown prince? Give me my son back!" Fueled by anger, he kicked away Old Guo, ready to charge out of the palace.
A thump sounded from outside the hall.
Something had landed — a headless corpse belonging to the crown prince.
Another item fell from the sky.
"Emperor of Great Scarlet, how many sects did you destroy and how many families did you ruin when you invaded Myriad Domain? Did you ever think of their pain? Today, this young lord will teach you a slow lesson in what pain feels like!"
The second item was the crown prince's bloody head. The eyes remained wide-open with disbelief even in death, filled with fear and anguish. Looking into those lifeless eyes, the emperor's vision blurred. Blood suddenly sprayed out from his mouth.