"Seniors, this formation is very odd indeed. Terrifying attacks come from it from time to time. Please take care." These words were intended to curry favor with the Jiao brothers, but wandering great emperors such as they hated the most when others doubted their strength.
Harrumphing, Jiao Yun cackled. "You think we brothers are comparable to you wastes of space? Take notes on how we break through the formation."
Having received the secrets of the formation from Jiang Chen as well as a method to break it, the Jiao brothers didn't think much of the obstacle ahead of them. They were plenty strong enough to take care of the roadblock. Even without Jiang Chen's method, there was no question that they had more than enough strength to throw themselves at the formation and brute-force it.
"I'll take the right, brother. You take the left." Jiao Yun called out to Jiao Feng.
The duo transformed themselves into streaks of light, darting toward the formation's flanks. Two masses of burning light, akin to comets, disappeared into the depths of the formation.
Grabbing at the air, Jiao Yun materialized an enormous golden hammer in his hand. He waved the round-headed weapon around like it was a toy. As he turned the handle over in his palm, the weapon glowed with a vivid radiance. It caught the eye like a drift of luminous clouds, marvelous and divine.
"Out of my way!"
The glowing hammer crashed into a certain spot in the empty space with mountainous might.
At the same time, Jiao Feng brandished a similarly blossoming broadsword at another gap in space. The steel carried a light that was almost celestial in nature. He struck with heavenly strength.
The two brothers guided hammer and sword into the same direction. One was as ferocious as a tiger, the other vigorous as a dragon.
The weapons collided upon an invisible, gigantic wall. The impact resounded through the sphere.
In the next moment, reality began to tremble violently. The fabric of space seemed on the verge of collapsing. A powerful turbulence swept about aimlessly, having found an outlet of spreading release. The wind rampaged and howled. Remnants of runes hung in the air, as if rent from a tapestry. They scattered downwards before vanishing.
The runes belonged to the outer formation. The two brothers' robust destruction of the formation's core had demolished the structure entirely. Because of this, the formation was uprooted. Without the foundation, the formation collapsed instantly. The tadpole-like runes dimmed unto nothingness in great swathes.
When the spatial chaos cleared, everyone from the three sects outside the formation was amazed. From the sect heads to the ordinary disciples, everyone watched with mouth agape.
Was this the power of great emperor seniors?
The cultivators in Great Scarlet had heard of great emperor exploits before, but none of them had actually seen such an expert use a powerful method in person.
That was true even with these three sect heads. They'd met great emperors in person before, but they hadn't had the chance to see any in action. They were at a loss for words for very a long time.
"Is an attack from a great emperor truly this powerful?" The three sect heads traded uneasy glances, an indescribable fear creeping into their hearts.
All three men were emperor realm cultivators. Though they didn't seem far from great emperor, the small gap represented the insurmountable difference of a lifetime. Seeing great emperors in action was enough for them to realize that the discrepancy between their two realms was far greater than they'd thought.
Those within the outer formations were even more astonished. Old Guo and Commander He had just been about to launch a sortie against the three sect heads outside when the formations fell.
The offensive formation was attacked just as they were about to charge. They hadn't thought much of it, given the power behind the formation, but the results proved them dreadfully wrong.
The royal experts stood a short distance in from the border of the formation, completely revealed to the Jiao brothers' line of sight. It was an odd and hilarious sight.
The odd part was the discovery that the distance between the the two parties was so short. The hilarious part was that all of the martial experts were dumbstruck despite their prowess.
"What are you three sects waiting for? The formation is broken. It's time for you to fight!" Jiao Yun shouted.
The three sect heads snapped out of their reverie. They'd fought before solely out of compulsion from Jiang Chen. Now, the hatred from suffering casualties at the imperial family's hands was a much stronger motivator.
"Disciples of the three sects, listen up! Follow us in when the order is given. Let us slay the faithless emperor and restore justice to Great Scarlet! The tumor of House Yan must be removed!"
"Remove House Yan from Great Scarlet Mid Region! We must brighten the skies of our region once more!"
"House Yan is the puppet of the Eternal Celestial Capital. Utter fools, every last one of them! They were the criminals responsible for bringing such catastrophe upon Great Scarlet. Our troubles will persist if the house is allowed to live!"
The three sects had thought of these battle-cries long before. These words weren't intended for the imperial family, but rather Great Scarlet's populace. They didn't want to be branded as traitors after toppling the imperial family. Therefore, they had to raise reasonably upright banners to the public.
Commander He's eyes bulged. He brandished the weapon in his hand. "Brave warriors, His Majesty has fed us for many, many years. Today is the day to repay his kindness and defend our nation. Kill these traitors!" Confident in his own expertise, the commander led the charge toward the three sect heads. His cultivation was more than a match for any of the trio.
Old Guo and the royal experts shadowed them, keeping themselves in the proximity of the commander's spearhead to reinforce the charge. The easiest way to rout an army was to take out its generals.
The three sects were led by their three heads. Commander He and Old Guo knew exactly how strong those specific three men were. The commander and the minister had a slight edge over any individual man out of those three.
Though a brawl like this usually went by slightly different rules, they felt that the imperial family had a clear advantage nevertheless. The royal guards were all well-trained, disciplined troops. They were professional soldiers, loyal to the emperor unto death.
Sect experts were strong to be sure, but they lacked the same kind of military expertise. In a large-scale chaotic battle such as this, it put them at a disadvantage.
"Commander He, keep close tabs on the three sect heads. We must take out their leaders first," Old Guo reminded.
Commander He growled fiercely, his eyes radiating a killing aura. "Anyone who kills one of the three sect heads will be rewarded with thirty million spirit stones!"
The heads of the three sect heads were worth more than thirty million for sure. Still, the dangled prize was enough to incentivize the royal guards and experts.
The two swathes of men rammed into each other in pitched battle.
The airborne Jiao brothers crowed from above, trading a meaningful glance. They raised their weapons once more. The round-headed hammer fell like a trailing meteor, drawing a glittering path behind it. It smashed toward Commander He who was in the lead.
"Be careful, Commander He!"
This sudden attack from above panicked the commander. It was a testament to the man's resolve that he quickly realized he wasn't going to be able to evade the attack and so raised his blade to block it. He swiped several streaks of light as a barrier.
"Hmph, a rash attempt to stop the inevitable." Jiao Yun harrumphed, diving down like an arrow. His wraithlike form shot into the commander's close vicinity. With a single grab, he found the other man's chest.
"Piss off!" Commander He was as ignorant as a young ox. He swept his blade toward Jiao Yun.
Steel clashed against hammer, creating a shower of blinding sparks. It was like he'd slashed against solid rock. The other weapon would not budge. In the next instant, the blade shattered into a thousand pieces.
His hilt clattered to the ground. An unarmed Commander He was rendered helpless before Jiao Yun.
"Too weak." Jiao Yun smiled faintly, raising his hand in a casual swatting motion.
Commander He's head went flying from its former perch upon his neck. Like ripened fruit falling from a branch, so too did his head.
A ker-chunk sound was all it took to make the arrogant commander was no more.
All of this took place in the blink of an eye.
Both belligerent parties felt their hairs stand on end. Commander He was one of the top ten experts in the Great Scarlet Empire. How had he lost his head so easily?
"Commander, sir!" The royal guards under his command felt their hearts burst in pain. Their eyes were bloodshot and their lungs burned.
"Avenge the commander!"
"He's too strong. Let's attack him all at once and kill him together!"
"Come on, let's kill him!"
The several thousand royal guards were all proficient cultivators. Their grief at seeing Commander He's death ignited their fighting and killing spirit.
Jiao Yun's eyes were filled with scorn. He didn't bother with a serious response. An mighty backswing brought a mountain of pressure down upon the throng of guards. A smash from the hammer could shatter space itself. These weakling cultivators couldn't survive being clipped by even the edge of such an attack!
Thump. Within a twenty-meter radius of wherever the hammer swept, every royal guard was smashed to smithereens by the weapon's radiance. Blood and gore flew everywhere. They didn't have time to so much as scream before the hundred-odd cultivators at the front perished. No corpse was left intact.
"Leave some for me, brother!" Jiao Feng was not to be outdone. He swooped down as well, pouncing toward Old Guo's direction. His eyes were keen enough to tell him that the old man was the other leader.