Dan Fei secretly admired Vastsea's power. Apart from the even mightier arts she'd once seen from Emperor Peafowl, Vastsea's prowess was as great as anything she'd ever witnessed.
The Geng brothers also shared a look tinged with respect. Great emperors were something else alright. Elder Qiu hadn't had the slightest chance for escape or resistance. The brothers couldn't match the great emperor even if they tried their hardest.
Just like the Jiao brothers, the Geng brothers used to think of Vastsea as nothing more than Emperor Shura's lackey, forced by the circumstances to surrender to Jiang Chen. They thought his character despicable, hence they subconsciously looked down on him.
Now that they'd witnessed his impressive power, they finally realized that flattery wasn't the only thing he was proficient in. His mastery at fighting was nothing to sneeze at.
Elder Qiu drooped like a defeated rooster in Vastsea's hand. After sealing his prisoners' vital points, the great emperor tossed them on the ground.
"Brothers, bring these two guys back to the Regal Pill Palace and tell the young lord everything that's happened here. In particular, don't forget to mention we found a friend of his from the sixteen kingdoms alliance, Miss Dan Fei. Ah, remember to tell the young lord that Miss Dan Fei and Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter Dan'er are one and the same."
The Geng brothers nodded without hesitation. "Alright, we'll leave the rest to you, Emperor Vastsea."
Watching the Geng brothers take away Elder Qiu and Zhao Mang, Dan Fei still had a hazy, persistent feeling that she was in a dream. She'd almost given up all hope before those from Veluriyam Capital had showed up. Zhao Mang had been thorny enough by himself, to say nothing of another Elder Qiu, especially when the elder's strength was so overwhelming.
Although Dan Fei had many escape items, she wasn't certain she could slip away alive from under the elder's nose.
However, the situation suddenly underwent an enormous reversal at her most desperate hour. The appearance of the Geng brothers, followed by Emperor Vastsea, had turned the tide of the battle. Not only that, they even brought with them earth-shattering news she still had trouble comprehending.
"Miss Dan'er, should we depart now? Or should we stay here first?" Vastsea had conjectured that the relationship between Dan Fei and young lord Jiang Chen was anything but ordinary. She was also Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter.
Either of these two identities was more than enough for Vastsea to treat her with patience and respect. After all, his own position was in an awkward spot at present. He was no longer one of the mighty and exalted great emperors of Veluriyam as he'd once been.
Meanwhile, Dan Fei was a little embarrassed at Vastsea's courtesy. He was, after all, a great emperor.
"Senior Vastsea…" Dan Fei decided on this form of address after some thought.
However, Vastsea turned green at her address. He waved his big, leaf-like hands forcefully. "Miss Dan'er, I dare not assume this mantle. Please, don't. You and the young lord are peers of the same generation. I'm presently in the young lord's service. At best, we should address each other as equals. How would I dare be Miss Dan'er's senior?" Vastsea was truly afraid to.
Dan Fei was taken aback by how scared he was at the mere mention of it. However, she came to some conjectures of her own after a moment of thought.
"I'll still call you Emperor Vastsea then. A band of wandering cultivators has seized this Precious Tree Sect. Their leader was Elder Qiu's distant nephew. I killed him, but I didn't think they would come here one after another. The Precious Tree Sect is a mere sixth or seventh rank sect, why is it so important for them?"
This question quite baffled her. The sect wasn't without its own inheritance. The Precious Tree of the Rosy Dawn, for example. However, the tree was a commonplace spirit tree. It was sect-defining at the level of a Precious Tree Sect. But for a first rank sect like the Empyrean River Palace? She found it hard to believe. However, if not for that, what else had attracted their attention here?
Dan Fei searched for clues, but she couldn't find the beginning of one no matter how she looked.
The Precious Tree Sect had vacated the premises many moons ago. The mountains had been home to wandering cultivators for long years, so there were no traces left of the original sect any longer. The mountains and the rivers were still the same, but everything had changed.
She searched but came back empty-handed, so her interest slowly waned, distracted as she was by the ever present thoughts of Jiang Chen. After all, she held no feelings for the sect. She came purely to look for Jiang Chen and Ye Chonglou.
Early next morning, Dan Fei summoned the women and brought them out of the Precious Tree Sect's grounds, taking them back to Skylaurel Kingdom. She'd thought these women would be delighted after being freed from their hell. However, she noticed they didn't manifest any visible excitement or happiness.
This left Dan Fei perplexed. As for Vastsea, he didn't say anything. The only thing he was responsible for was Dan Fei's safety.
"Alright, we're back in Skylaurel Kingdom. Return to where you came from. If you find yourself lost, you can ask someone for the way." Dan Fei was satisfied now that she'd completed her good deed.
Seeing the stupefaction on these women's faces as they disappeared from sight, Dan Fei heaved a heartfelt sigh. "These wandering cultivators were beasts. They ruined these women's lives solely for their own amusement. I hope these poor creatures can spend the rest of their lives in peace, now that they've escaped from their nightmare."
Dan Fei had acted out of compassion, but Vastsea smiled wryly. "I admire Miss Dan'er's benevolence. However, if you will forgive my bluntness, these women are like the walking dead. I fear they won't ever be able to find happiness again in this life. Even how long they can survive is an issue."
"Why so?" Dan Fei's heart fell at his words. She naturally hoped the women could survive after she went through the trouble of saving them.
"The mundane world holds its own prejudices. Dying of hunger is a small matter, but not the loss of chastity. Why do so many people long to cultivate and grow in strength? Precisely so they can break away from mundane conventions and free themselves from the shackles of dogma. These are ordinary women. The mundane world can't tolerate their loss of virginity. I fear difficult days lie ahead of them back home. More importantly, did you notice their dazed faces? None of them have any drive left. Those without drive have very little desire for survival." Vastsea smiled. "Miss Dan'er, you've already done what you could. Everyone has their own fate, you need not be too sad."
Her heart aching, Dan Fei sighed and murmured in disappointment, "Their only crime was weakness. Is there truth in these words?"
Vastsea heaved a sigh. "The mighty is king, such is nature's order. Otherwise, the world of cultivators wouldn't flourish so. Anyone qualified to cultivate yearns to climb on top of the world. Why? Is it not because they want to shed their weakness? Because they don't want to be an ant, to be meat on someone else's chopping block? Sometimes, weakness is truly an original sin."
They reached Skylaurel's capital as they conversed. High above in the sky, Vastsea barely released one percent of his consciousness, but it was enough to cover the whole of this tiny capital.
"Listen up, all foreign cultivators of Skylaurel Kingdom. I am Veluriyam Capital's Emperor Vastsea. On the orders of young lord Jiang Chen, I'm here to wipe out all foreign invaders in Myriad Domain. You have one day to scram from Skylaurel and leave Myriad Domain. Those who fail to do so will be deemed enemies of Veluriyam and killed without quarter!" Vastsea wasted no time with diplomacy, preferring an aggressive approach instead.
His voice resounding like the clap of thunder, he released a fraction of his aura. All of the wandering cultivators residing in the capital felt a strange panic, as if the end days were upon them.
The aura of a great emperor was extremely invasive. If not for Vastsea purposefully restraining himself, it would've been powerful enough to shatter the consciousness of every wandering cultivator in the capital, killing them in the process.
This was no exaggeration. Only emperor realm or stronger could face a great emperor's aura head-on, but no truly powerful cultivators would be in Skylaurel.
"This emperor will only say it once. You have one day. Whether you leave or not depends on you."
As soon as Vastsea's voice fell, countless wandering cultivators squeezed out from every corner of the capital and gushed out of the city gates in a frantic chaos, like anxious rats fleeing judgment day.
Traveling at top speed, the Geng brothers rushed back to the Regal Pill Palace the second day.
There were a hundred things to do in the sect. A simple ceremony had been organized for the sect's reopening. Jiang Chen was in the middle of discussing plans for the reopening when he heard about the Geng brothers' return.
He'd just sent these two brothers out only a few days ago. Why had they returned so fast? The time was barely enough for a round trip even if they were at top speed. Had something happened in the sixteen kingdoms alliance?
The brothers picked up Elder Qiu and Zhao Mang and quickly strode into the Regal Pill Hall when they were summoned.
"Young lord, us brothers ran into many things at the Precious Tree Sect. Emperor Vastsea's entrusted us with coming back first and relaying important news."
"What news?" Happiness shone on Jiang Chen's face. "Did you hear something about my old friends?"
Just as he had feelings for the Regal Pill Palace, he held the same feelings for the Precious Tree Sect. Jiang Chen wasn't one to forget his roots. He would always remember Ye Chonglou's care for him back then, or being sworn brothers with Tang Hong during the trial.
"We rushed there and found some fellows from the Empyrean River Palace attacking a woman. We killed one of them and Emperor Vastsea captured these two. He had us come back with an important report."
"What is it?"
"It's about the woman they besieged. She seems to be an old friend of yours. Emperor Vastsea also knows her. It's Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter, Miss Dan'er."
"Miss Dan'er?" Jiang Chen blinked. "She's from Sacred Peafowl Mountain, but I've never had the chance of meeting her all this time. What was she doing at the Precious Tree Sect? Was she looking for Emperor Peafowl?"
"Nonono. Young lord, what we meant to say is, although Miss Dan'er is Emperor Peafowl's adopted daughter, it seems she already knew you before that."
"She already knew me?" Jiang Chen's face suddenly froze. The beautiful silhouette of a woman appeared his mind. He blurted out, "Dan Fei?"