"Haha, but can you escape?" The assailant's voice was rough, but his movements were as quick as could be. Elder Qiu's warning only spurred him onwards.
Lu Yi had no time at all to react before his head received a resounding slap. A crunch was all that was heard before his neck was bent. He fell over dead on the spot.
Zhao Mang was scared witless by the viciousness of this new man. He used all the strength he had to deploy the three giant pythons, sweeping the beasts towards the pouncing man. He himself turned into a streak of light, darting to his master, Elder Qiu.
Dan Fei had personal experience with the strength of the pythons. "Careful!" she cried out upon the snakes' charge.
Glancing at Dan Fei for a moment, the man was a little surprised by the gesture. "No worries, leave it to me," he grinned. "But how kind of you."
A cackle and two outstretched hands heralded the man's Dragon-Slaying Hand technique. He waded into melee combat with the three pythons.
A vicious punch slammed into one of the reptiles' scalp.
The python's head was smashed to smithereens.
The man didn't stop there. He continuously pummeled the scaly mass until the two remaining pythons yielded to complete destruction as well.
Dan Fei braced herself at the terrifying sight. She respected the man's abilities a great deal. The three giant pythons had caused her no end of trouble, but the man had gutted them with the same ease as handling fish.
Even Elder Qiu watched the proceedings with mouth agape. For the moment, the elder almost forgot about his disciple's death. He shielded Zhao Mang behind him. "When we start fighting in a moment, escape immediately," he messaged. "Don't linger here!"
Zhao Mang was stunned. "Master, how can I abandon you?"
"Fool! I have my ways of leaving after you're gone. If you don't go, it makes it that much harder for me to." Elder Qiu placed a great deal of importance upon this disciple.
"Friends, we don't know each other. Haven't you been too brash in attempting to kill my disciples when we've just met? Identify yourselves. Let's see if you're worthy enough to stand up to the Empyrean River Palace." The elder was positively fuming.
"The Empyrean River Palace?" The two men cackled once more. "We've heard of it."
Elder Qiu's expression was darker than black. "If you know the name of our Palace, why did you murder our disciples without reason? Your crimes must be punished!"
"What crimes? By whom?"
"Old man Qiu, we're ending your life too. What're you going on about?"
These two men were the Geng brothers, here on Jiang Chen's orders. Upon reaching Regal Pill Palace, the first thing Jiang Chen did was to delegate the brothers to the Precious Tree Sect in order to see how they were doing.
One of the Geng brothers was peak of ninth level emperor realm, and the other simply ninth level. Their power was uncontestable within Myriad Domain.
Even Elder Qiu was merely ninth level emperor realm. Either one of the brothers more than matched him in fighting ability. The two brothers combined could easily squash him. Plus, the Geng brothers were backed by the vast Veluriyam Capital. They had nothing to fear. There was no need to show undue respect to the likes of the Empyrean River Palace.
At the Dragon and Tiger Meet, the brothers had observed the Palace to be a dog of Pillfire City. It was concrete confirmation of what had previously only been rumor. Since Pillfire was Veluriyam's mortal enemy, there was no need to treat the Empyrean River Palace nicely.
The Geng brothers would've weighed the pros and cons against any other sect, but the mention of that particular sect meant that they could dispense with pretense and niceties.
Elder Qiu was angry enough to cough up blood. In all his days traveling the world, very few people had ever dared speak to him this way. This was especially true given his status as an elder of the Empyrean River Palace.
Regardless of any public perceptions about that sect, the Palace was one of the agreed-upon first rank sects and prominent factions in the human domain. However, regardless of any negative emotions he was feeling at the moment, he estimated that he and Zhao Mang would be no match for the two men across from them.
Fighting today was out of the question.
"Brother, why waste time talking to them? If the old man is from the Empyrean River Palace, then he's a bad apple to be mucking around a place as insignificant as the Precious Tree Sect. Let's just kill him and present his head to the young lord."
"Heh, I was just worried that the young lord wouldn't be interested in the head of a bald guy like him. Shall we take him down then?"
The Geng brothers weren't exactly shining examples of kindhearted folk. They had come under instructions to exterminate anyone occupying the Precious Tree Sect's land. The two brothers streaked toward Elder Qiu in two surges of light, flanking the old man from the left and right in a two-pronged attack.
"Zhao Mang, go on ahead!" Elder Qiu called out.
Zhao Mang anxiously took out an escape glyph, preparing to activate it. As he was about to finish doing so, what had happened to Dan Fei was visited upon him in a very similar way. However, his was a much worse fate.
A flash was all that he saw before his entire hand was sliced off by an unknown force. The glyph, still clutched in his now-detached fingers, disappeared from his nonexistent grasp.
"Ah!" Zhao Mang screeched in pain, his left hand clutching at the bleeding stub of his right. Giant drops of sweat ran down his face.
A calm voice echoed through the air. "Baldy Qiu, you can't blame others for your foolishness in coming to Myriad Domain as an elder of the Empyrean River Palace. You ran into the jaws of death of your own volition."
There was a magnificence behind this voice, as relentless as the ocean tide. Elder Qiu felt an agitation in his entire body and could just barely stay standing. Cold sweat pooled on his entire body.
The two brothers were hard enough to deal with, yet the newcomer surpassed them in both cultivation and spirit. His aura alone was far more daunting.
"Could it be a great emperor?" Touching upon this possibility. Elder Qiu became white in the face. If it really was a great emperor, he was probably dead regardless of how crafty his methods were.
"Master, he… he cut off my hand!" Zhao Mang let out a maddened shriek at the sight of his palm-less stump.
There was a flicker before everyone's eyes. Another figure landed in their midst. The new arrival was none other than Emperor Vastsea, hot on the Geng brothers' tail.
As a loyal servant of Jiang Chen, the emperor respected the young lord's orders a great deal. If Jiang Chen said to turn to the left, he would not have veered a single degree to the right.
"Emperor Vastsea?" Dan Fei blinked upon seeing the man. She had followed Emperor Peafowl for many years, so the emperor's face was familiar to her. The sight of the man made her instinctively blurt out his name.
"Hmm?" Emperor Vastsea paused himself at the sound of Dan Fei's voice. "You… you're… Daoist Peafowl's foster daughter, Miss Dan'er?"
As a great emperor, Emperor Vastsea had a photographic memory. He instantly recalled the girl's identity when he saw her. Numerous disciples across multiple emperors' factions had attempted to court Dan Fei in Veluriyam Capital. He himself had done a few favors for his own disciples to that end.
The entire reason Dan Fei had entered closed door cultivation on pain of death was because of the mounting pressure on her romantic life. She had done so in order to alleviate Emperor Peafowl's potential difficulty.
Dan Fei's graceful face paled. "Emperor Vastsea, why are you here? I hear you've turned to the light and joined up with Sacred Peafowl Mountain. Is that true?"
Emperor Vastsea grinned. "That's right. I've turned back at the cliff's precipice, and now I fight for the side of good. But what are you doing here, Miss Dan'er? We haven't seen you for many years now… did you come out to look for Daoist Peafowl?"
Elder Qiu's scalp tingled as he listened to their conversation.
Emperor Vastsea, Daoist Peafowl…
These names connected many passageways inside his brain. Information began to gather together, revealing to him the full picture. It was a bone-chilling one: endless terror swelled up in his heart!
The elder wasn't particularly scared of any would-be fellow first rank sect members. He had reasonable clout within his own sect after all. Veluriyam Capital was what he was most afraid of. And yet - his deepest fear had materialized in front of him!
"Sacred Peafowl Mountain felt a bit stuffy, so I came out for a walk," Dan Fei sighed softly. "I thought I might look for a few people on the side and where His Majesty might be."
She didn't have a favorable opinion of Emperor Vastsea. Although he'd turned to the light and joined Sacred Peafowl Mountain, her previous impressions of his villainy weren't easily erased.
"Ah…" Emperor Vastsea didn't know how to follow up. Emperor Shura had been single handedly responsible for Emperor Peafowl's disappearance. Though Emperor Vastsea hadn't personally been involved in ambushing Emperor Peafowl, he had played an unpleasant supporting role.
"That's right, the young lord you were talking about. Is he the young lord Zhen that His Majesty ordained? Why is he here in Myriad Domain? Why did he send you two to the Precious Tree Sect?" Dan Fei couldn't help but ask when all this suddenly occurred to her.
The Precious Tree Sect was a tiny place. It was as insignificant to something as large as Veluriyam Capital as a grain of rice. She didn't know why the young lord would possibly be interested in a place like this.
Emperor Vastsea chuckled. "Miss Dan'er, how long have you been gone? Haven't you heard of the recent news and happenings?"
"What?" Dan Fei was completely blank. "I've been around only the sixteen kingdoms alliance recently. I haven't heard of anything from outside."
"Haha, what a funny coincidence. How come you're interested in the Precious Tree Sect too, Miss Dan'er? Just like the young lord. He used to be a disciple of this sect. Perhaps you were as well?"
His joking statement shook Dan'er to the core. Electricity coursed through her and her graceful visage blanched."What did you say? Young lord Zhen, he… he was a disciple of the Precious Tree Sect?" Dan'er suddenly found her head spinning. Her mind was completely blank, and she could no longer keep up with reality. She found it difficult to stand upright and had to lean on a small tree beside her for support.
"You really don't know, Miss Dan'er!" laughed Emperor Vastsea. "The young lord comes from the sixteen kingdoms alliance of this Myriad Domain. He stayed at the Precious Tree Sect, once upon a time. He always takes care of his past acquaintances, so that's why he sent us here as soon as possible."