Jiao Feng's strength wasn't any lower than Jiao Yun's, so he was keen for a piece of action when he saw his brother slaughter to a heart's content.
A formidable aura suddenly assaulted Old Guo, locking him tightly in place.
Apart from House Yan's forefather, no other imperial expert would dare say they could be assured of victory against Old Guo. In fact, he might be a little stronger than both Commander He and the emperor. But even so, the minister's entire body was spasming uncontrollably like a rabbit caught in a hunter's trap.
The formidable aura of a great emperor imprisoned him like an invisible cage, leaving him powerless to resist. He couldn't break free no matter how hard he tried.
"Jiao Feng, keep this old man alive!" Jiang Chen suddenly transmitted from far away.
Old Guo's head was moments away from being squeezed into paste, but Jiao Feng immediately stopped at Jiang Chen's order. He lifted Old Guo like an eagle grasping a chick.
At Jiang Chen's side, Emperor Vastsea rubbed his hands together, eagerness written all over his face.
"Young lord, let this subordinate charge in and kill them all. What do you say?" He was a little jealous of the Jiao brothers showing off their might. He was confident neither of the two could match him in strength, so he wanted to use this opportunity and score some merit before the young lord.
"Don't be anxious." Jiang Chen surveyed the situation with keen eyes, his mind alert.
How many wars between planes had he seen in his previous life? No one could question his level of discernment. Judging by the clear layering of the palace's defense formations, he could see they weren't as weak as he'd imagined. Hence, he was in no hurry to show his hand.
Emperor Vastsea had trouble holding back his impatience, but since Jiang Chen told him not to be anxious, he dared not be rash.
"Young lord, I've brought the old man. How do you want to deal with him?" Jiao Feng dragged Old Guo in front of Jiang Chen, a wide grin eating his face.
Despair flashed through the minister's face. He shook his head with helplessness and closed his eyes to wait for death.
"Old man, why are you playing dead? Do you think it will protect you from the young lord?" Jiao Feng shouted.
Old Guo sighed dejectedly. "The victor is king. Now that I've fallen into your hands, what's there for me to say? Simply keep in mind that while you might extinguish Great Scarlet's imperial family today, someone stronger than you will extinguish your Veluriyam Capital in the future. The heavens are fair, they will deliver just retribution for your sins."
"Tsk tsk, you have quite a tough mouth on you, old dog!" Jiao Feng sent a small amount of force inside Old Guo's body, making the minister feel the pain of a million bugs gnawing at him. Old Guo couldn't help but groan with pain.
"Jiao Feng, don't bother. There's no need to torture him," Jiang Chen calmly said.
Jiao Feng gave an uncanny chortle. "Hehe, young lord, he's one of those self-conceited types who think they can look down on others just because they've lived longer. He'll keep on babbling if we don't smack him some."
Old Guo shouted in pain. "Kill me if you must. Don't think for an instant you'll make me kneel or beg for mercy!"
Jiang Chen applauded with a smile. "Not bad. Who knew I'd find someone with a backbone in Great Scarlet? I thought everyone in your empire was a coward who can't face his responsibilities, just like your emperor. Old man, you have some mettle."
Old Guo snorted.
"What was it you said earlier? The heavens will deliver just retribution? Brilliant words. Sadly, you're a frog in a well and know nothing about the laws of the heavens." Jiang Chen's tone was cool and detached. "So-called retribution is punishment against those who have sinned. Destroying Myriad Domain, slaughtering countless cultivators, ruining their legacies... all those are things that go against the heavenly principles. Just retribution is what's happening right now to your empire. This campaign of mine is a righteous one to exact revenge, eliminate evil, and administer justice. Everything is in accordance with the ways of the heavens. Not only I won't incur their wrath, they will even bless my undertaking!"
On Divine Abyss Continent, no one was more qualified to remark on the heavens than Jiang Chen.
"So start talking, what trump cards are your emperor hiding?" the young lord calmly asked.
Old Guo laughed like a madman. "Jiang, you're too naive. Do you think I'd be afraid of you at a time like this? Want to pry information from this old man's mouth? Keep dreaming!"
Jiang Chen couldn't help but laugh when he saw the old man's earnest appearance. He threw a leisurely glance at the palace, a lazy smile on his lips. "Old man, do you think I'm powerless against this insignificant imperial palace of yours?"
Old Guo stayed silent as if he hadn't heard anything, his face unyielding, his eyes tightly shut.
"Jiao Feng, pass on my command. Have Emperor Peerless make haste and come here. Emperor Coiling Dragon is to personally handle the borders in his stead."
"Understood." Jiao Feng immediately left to handle the business.
Hearing the two words "Emperor Peerless," Old Guo's hunched body shuddered in spite of himself. He knew that Emperor Peerless, one of the six titans among wandering cultivators, was a formidable cultivator in his own right.
"Young lord, this old man's temperament is like a stone in a latrine, hard and stinky. Why don't we just kill him?" Emperor Vastsea suggested.
"There's no rush." Jiang Chen chuckled leisurely. "This old man must be one of the emperor's confidantes. I'll give him an opportunity to witness firsthand how insignificant their formations are in front of me."
"Hehe, how could these trivial Great Scarlet formations be an obstacle for a wise formation master like the young lord? Is Great Scarlet relying on these formations to safeguard their miserable lives? What wishful thinking!" Emperor Vastsea laughed out loud. "A mere formation can never shoulder the fate of an empire!"
Most of the experts Commander He and Old Guo had brought out of the palace had already fallen to the siege and Jiao Yun's rampage. Surrounded on all sides, the surviving force was in a dire predicament, their demise imminent.
Jiao Yun was staying out of the fight now and had his hands together behind his back. As a great emperor, it was beneath his dignity to participate in a chaotic melee like this.
The shrieks of pain gradually receded. Troops from the three sects gnawed away at the remaining pockets of resistance, wiping them almost to the last.
Inside the palace, the court was caught up in utter chaos. A simple slap had sent Commander He's head flying. Old Guo couldn't withstand a single bout and was now captured. One blow had been all it took to break the outer formation. Most of the officials were scared stiff.
"Your Majesty, Commander He died in combat while Old Guo has fallen into enemy hands. Your Majesty, the imperial guards and palace experts we sent out have been almost entirely exterminated by the three sects!"
"Your Majesty, the enemy is on the verge of attacking the inner formation. Please issue your orders!"
The emperor swayed on his feet at the barrage of bad news. Both Commander He and Old Guo were amongst the most powerful cultivators in the empire, but they'd stood no chance whatsoever against the Veluriyam powerhouses. Such a wide disparity frightened the emperor greatly.
He hurried to the rear yard and stopped in front of a door. "Forefather, Commander He and Old Guo have been killed in combat and the outer formation is broken. The enemy is unstoppable!"
The forefather's voice filtered through from the secret chamber. "Keep your composure! I'm almost done with my preparations. I've already taken a look at Jiang Chen. His cultivation might be high, but it's only emperor realm. The genuine threat isn't that kid, but the great emperors at his side."
The forefather's voice was cold. "I must make certain I can capture him before acting. Any failure would spell doom for the Great Scarlet Empire and House Yan."
The emperor was on tenterhooks, a cat on a hot tin roof. The outer formation had crumpled easily like a sheet of paper. How long could the inner formation resist? Could it really withstand the enemy's assault? These questions were too frightening for the emperor to contemplate.
"What are you panicking about? I really wonder how you've stayed on the imperial throne for so long given how easily you lose your composure." The forefather's tone carried a hint of dissatisfaction.
"Yes." The emperor didn't dare say anything. The forefather was the only remaining hope.
Just then, the stone doors to the secret chamber opened. The forefather walked outside.
"Come with me, we'll go to the edge of the formation and take a look at how the battle is going." Worthy of a man who'd accumulated sharp wisdom throughout his long years, the forefather's impassive face was a picture of serenity. It was impossible to guess from his expression the imminent peril they were under.
Standing close to the formation's border, the ancestor gazed at the situation at large. It was one of the advantages of the formation. One could observe what happened outside, while those on the outside couldn't distinguish the circumstances inside. The emperor stood beside his senior, looking like a stooge.
"Forefather, these three sects are turncoats. The food they ate, the resources they used, everything came from us. How dare they help outsiders against the imperial family!" the emperor complained, his teeth clenched with anger.
"Hmph, most sects are ungrateful and disloyal things, they can't be relied on. It's one of the reasons that we of House Yan have always looked to consolidate our own power. Strength is the only thing that matters in this world." The forefather quietly snorted.
"Forefather, these two men over there are incredibly strong. When the outer formation fell, Commander He and Old Guo died in their hands."
"Hmph, the Jiao brothers." The elder sneered. "This Jiang Chen is quite something. What trick did he use that wandering great emperors like the Jiao brothers and Mo Wushuang show such unfaltering obedience?"
"The enemy brought a bunch of great emperors, isn't that bad for us?" It seemed near impossible to ambush Jiang Chen with so many masters present.
"Hmph, what are you worried for? I have my own plans. The only thing you need to worry about is how to delay these people. Leave the rest to me."
The emperor's face burned hot at the admonishment, yet he didn't dare show any temper in front of the forefather.
"Go, increase the inner formation to its highest level," the old man ordered.
"Understood." The emperor could only obey.
"Other than that, did you find anything good when you invaded Myriad Domain? Maybe keepsakes? Keepsakes belonging to the dead would be best. Use them to provoke that Jiang Chen and disturb his mentality," the ancestor ordered again.