"Your Majesty, Your Majesty!"
An advance emperor cultivator coughing out blood before trading blows with the enemy?! At this rate, wouldn't they collapse before the first sword was drawn? The meeting dissolved into shambles.
"My condolences, Your Majesty, please take care of your august self!"
"Your Majesty, the fate of the empire rests on your shoulders!"
The officials were panicking. They normally enjoyed the greatest wealth and most eminent status thanks to the imperial system. The imperial family was the core of that system, and the emperor the pillar of the imperial family. Without the emperor, they would lose everything.
But now, thoughts of self-gain were flying out of heads. The enemy was at the gate, and if the emperor toppled over, all would fall with him like dominoes, leaving the ministers helpless wheat to be reaped by the enemy's scythe.
They didn't mind invading someone else and plundering riches for their own selfish desires, but they absolutely couldn't accept the same thing happening to them.
Old Guo scrambled over to the emperor, almost tripping. "Your Majesty…"
The emperor kicked him away again, shouting, "What the hell are you all doing?! I'm not dead yet and I won't die!"
He was pale, but a murderous light glinted in his eyes. That mouthful of blood had actually cleared his mind. The anguish of losing a son had only caused a brief loss of self-control.
"Hear my orders. Activate the defense formations, guard the palace with your lives! We can rise again as long as we weather this crisis!" He stared at the empty sky, his eyes shining venomously into the sky like a viper.
"Little bastard, I'll make you pay a hundred times for the death of my son!" The flames of hatred burned hot in his chest.
Now that he was lucid again, he realized charging out would be suicide. The defense formation and his superiority in manpower were his only advantages.
He could only gamble on House Yan's forefather successfully ambushing Jiang Chen and a rescue from Pillfire and the Eternal Celestial Capital when they received the news.
The Eternal Celestial Capital must have gotten word for quite some time already, but a resounding silence seemed to be their only reply. Thus obviously, no matter how strong they were, they still cowered in front of Veluriyam Capital. Therefore, as long as he could live through this, the emperor was determined to switch allegiances to Pillfire City. Even being their dog would be better than having a weak backer.
"Old fart of a emperor…" Jiao Yun's irreverent voice came from the sky. "They say rulers have hearts of stone. Maybe you can sit still even after watching your own son die in front of you, but I have eight other scions of your imperial family here. Let's kill them one by one and see just how hard-hearted you are, hehe!"
He flourished his blade with a devilish grin.
Another body fell from the clouds, its head landing inside the palace's inner yard. Then another. Each of these imperial sons were of noble birth, so seeing them tumble ignobly down from the clouds, their heads separated from their bodies, made the imperial family restless.
"Your Majesty, those are House Yan's cream of the crop. You can't sit here and do nothing!"
"We have to attack now, or House Yan will face extinction!"
"Your Majesty…" Inside the palace, members of House Yan resorted to any and all sentiments in order to sway their liege. Even the emperor found the emotional pressure from his own kinsmen difficult to bear.
"Silence, all of you! My crown prince and two other princes have already died for the sake of the empire. As members of the imperial clan, don't you have any sense of sacrifice?" the emperor angrily shot back. "What do you want me to do? Trade my life for theirs? Do you want me to die?"
The emperor's anger cowed his clansmen into silence, but they clearly remained recalcitrant.
In the sky above, Jiao Yun could only speechlessly report back to Jiang Chen. He'd killed eight princes by now, but hadn't received a flicker of reaction from Great Scarlet royalty.
"Young lord, this Great Scarlet emperor seems determined to cower and hide. It seems we need to storm the palace." Jiao Yun felt that the easiest way was to just crush the enemy with brute force. He was someone who never failed to avenge a wrong. As a wandering great emperor, he'd always favored the most blunt and straightforward method.
"Jiao Yun, don't look down on them. Great Scarlet is nothing to speak of, but you can tell the palace has a long history and a rich legacy. It has two formations, one inner and one outer. If we rush in blindly, we'll fall prey to them and be forced into a difficult, bloody clash that'll cost us countless lives."
Jiang Chen shook his head after momentary thought, responding after he noted the heavy guard around the palace. "Each one of the Peafowl guardsmen is a brother of mine. Since I brought them here with me, I must bring them back. I would never casually sacrifice my men."
In war, the best strategy was to unravel the enemy's plan. Lives were too heavy a price to pay against a trivial Great Scarlet Mid Region.
Above the clouds, Jiang Chen studied the two formations of the palace. Both were well hidden, crafted with skill and cunning.
"These formations show a clear ancient design. They're too complex for a current formation master to etch. However, simply relying on them won't be enough, and it looks like later descendants haven't maintained them well. Judging from the structures, these formidable formations more than meet the standard for sky rank, but how much of their power these later generations can deploy is another story," Jiang Chen said as he simulated battle outcomes.
"Young lord, why don't you summon the other great emperors in Veluriyam Capital? If they bring their own troops, it'll be easy enough to steamroll them together with Emperor Peerless and Emperor Coiling Dragon," Jiao Yun proposed. He'd also realized they wouldn't be guaranteed of victory it they charged in headfirst.
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. "No need. These formations are good, but they have many holes. I can unravel them, I just need to make some calculations. Does the imperial family think they can escape from my palm with mere formations? Don't worry. I'll let them experience the dread and despair of someone helplessly waiting for death first."
Jiang Chen sent a secret order to the Goldbiter Rat King. "Ole Gold, have your kin launch a full assault on the city gates. Slaughter anyone who resists!"
He was finally displaying some of his loftiness.
A subordinate reported in, "Young lord, people calling themselves representatives of the Great Scarlet three great sects are requesting an audience."
"The three great sects?" Jiang Chen frowned. He wasn't unfamiliar with them. Those were the three sects he'd run into back on Cloudshatter Mountain.
The three sects were Great Scarlet Mid Region's main pillars. Jiang Chen had already sent Emperor Vastsea and his men to pin them down.
"Let them come." Jiang Chen was about to refuse but changed his mind in the end.
The three great sects hadn't sent their leaders this time, but an elder each instead. These were three crafty persons. Their attitude was exceedingly humble and they offered a grand gesture of greeting at once, kowtowing to the young man. "Young lord Jiang Chen, these unworthy sinners pay their respect."
Jiang Chen nonchalantly sized them up, secretly surprised. All three of them were emperor realm cultivators, albeit initial stage ones. With their age and cultivation, why were they behaving like meek juniors in front of him?
"Have the three of you must have come to sue for peace? Go back and tell the Great Scarlet emperor that only his own life can atone for the destruction of my sect, the death of my sect's disciples, and the ruin of my homeland. Tell him to forget about peace!" Jiang Chen didn't plan on wasting time with them and straightaway rejected their overtures.
"Young lord, you're mistaken. We don't represent the Great Scarlet emperor, only our own sects. We sent no soldiers in the invasion of Myriad Domain. Today, young lord Jiang comes for just retribution in accordance with heavens' laws, so we naturally wouldn't overreach ourselves and try to stand in your way. Our three sects decided a few days ago to seal off our gates, break all ties with the imperial family, and stay out of this dispute. We merely came to beg the young lord not to spread the flames of war to our innocent sects and to spare the common folk."
Beneath the veneer of their dignified words lay nothing more than an appeal to spare them, to not vent his anger on their sects. As to the common people, it was a casual remark that cost them nothing.
"You sealed off your gates?" Jiang Chen suddenly smiled. "Are you burying your heads in the sand?"
The three elders froze. "Young lord Jiang Chen, our sects had nothing to do with the invasion. My lord, please show leniency. We have no other wish but to cultivate in seclusion. We wouldn't dream of biding our time and taking revenge on you in the future."
"You didn't participate directly, but you still bear some of the imperial family's sins. How dare you say you had nothing to do with it?! However, since you want to turn over a new leaf, I can give you a chance. Go back and tell your sect heads to send out all of your elites and attack the palace. This is the only way for you to demonstrate your sincere determination to cut ties with Great Scarlet's imperial house!"