Having realized this, Jiang Chen walked up, staring at the leader of the opposing group with indifference. "Pillzenith, there's no need for pointless pretense any more. You want to kill me, but you don't even have the courage to show your own face. It seems that you're just rotten trash at your core.
"All of you over there, do you think I can't guess who you are with masks on? Everyone from Pillfire City is here. We also have the Sublime Chord Temple, the Empyrean River Palace, and the Eternal Celestial Capital… hmm, maybe there's a few from the Heavenly Dragon Sect too?"
Jiang Chen smiled faintly. "We've so many great emperors here, but I I think you're all eunuchs. That certainly explains your lack of fortitude. How scared of me do you have to be to resort to this?" The young lord cackled relentlessly.
His words chafed enough for one in the opposing group to tear away and toss his mask onto the ground.
"Your Majesty Pillzenith, there's no need for this charade. What's the point of wearing these masks if he's already guessed who we are? We should bring the fight into the open." The speaker was none other than the Heavenly Dragon Sect's Emperor Dragontyrant.
Some of the others were embarrassed when they saw the emperor remove his mask. They looked expectantly at the person in their lead — Emperor Pillzenith himself, of course.
The ruler of Pillfire City was deeply displeased at Emperor Dragontyrant's actions. Though both parties knew who the belligerents on the opposite side were, Pillfire's disguises should not have been removed regardless.
Yet Long Baxiang had both admitted who he was and called out Emperor Pillzenith's name. This was extremely disruptive to the original plan.
Still, it wasn't a good idea for Emperor Pillzenith to lash out. It was easy enough to guess that the Long Baxiang hadn't done so because he was brash, but rather had done so deliberately.
As for why he'd done so, that much was obvious with the most cursory of examinations.
The Heavenly Dragon Sect is malicious alright. I invited them here, but they're intentionally disrupting my plan. Clearly they want to sink me into a pit of injustice and fully set Pillfire against Veluriyam in all-out conflict. Hmph. As long as I kill this kid, Veluriyam will have no one to lead it. I'll have nothing to fear from them. The Heavenly Dragon Sect thinks itself clever, but I'll soon mop them up!
Emperor Pillzenith showed no hint of his fury toward Long Baxiang's revelation. He glared impassively toward Jiang Chen, then tore off his mask unceremoniously. Now that his identity had been revealed, there was no point to the mask.
They had worn masks in order to take advantage of plausible deniability later on. However, Long Baxiang's thoughtless made that a moot point.
"Spineless trash, just as I thought," Jiang Chen sneered at Emperor Pillzenith. "I thought you would deny who you were to the last, though."
Emperor Pillzenith wasn't interested in arguing with Jiang Chen. He understood that he was no match in a war of words.
"Jiang Chen, you killed two of Pillfire's great emperors, Old Ma and Big Horn. Our differences are absolutely irreconcilable. I called these other factions together solely to act upon the mandate of heaven. You pose too large a threat to the human domain! Look at the immoral things you've done lately! In addition to killing Pillfire's great emperors, you annihilated Great Scarlet's imperial family and took over the region yourself. And just now, you brought a group of experts to intimidate the Moon God Sect…"
"His Majesty Pillzenith is right. Jiang Chen has done everything bad beneath the heavens. We move only to bring justice and restore peace, and thus are naturally blessed!"
"If you know what's good for you, Jiang Chen, surrender now!"
Those clamoring on Pillfire's behalf were largely the city's great emperors. As for the representatives from other factions, those from the Heavenly Dragon Sect observed with sneers on their faces.
On the other hand, those from the Empyrean River Palace and the Sublime Chord Temple kept a lower profile.
The lord of the Eternal Celestial Capital, Luo Jue, bored a dark expression upon his face. He gazed at Jiang Chen with a deadly vehemence. Evidently, his hatred wasn't much weaker than Emperor Pillzenith's own for the youth. He hadn't officially joined the fight, but was also waiting for the emperor's orders.
"Give it up, Jiang Chen!" Emperor Pillzenith sounded emotionless. "You have a lot of great emperor realms with you, but we have almost double that number in a straight-up fight. Look at them. None of them belong to your actual faction. Do you think they'll fight to the death just for you?"
He attacked his enemies through their hearts in an attempt to destroy their morale.
"The Jiao brothers are only my discarded pawns. I don't know how you got them to follow you, but only you would treat mercenary trash like them as treasure." Emperor Pillzenith glanced derisively at the Jiao brothers.
"The heads of the Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court have their own factions to worry about. Do you honestly expect them to put in full effort?
"As for the other wandering great emperors, do you think your charisma is great enough that they'll lay down their lives?" The leader of Pillfire City snickered incessantly.
Emperor Pillzenith's strategy was evil indeed. Jiang Chen's side sank into a bit of turmoil when he finished.
"Emperor Pillzenith," Han Qianzhan snickered. "If you've planned to act against young lord Jiang Chen for so long, why make up all those nice-sounding excuses? Don't you think that's rather hypocritical and tiring?"
Emperor Pillzenith's brow furrowed. "Han Qianzhan, do you want me to kill you along with that kid?"
Han Qianzhan roared with laughter. "I'd like to see you try!"
The heads of first rank sects were masters of their craft. As the head of one of the top three first rank sects, Han Qianzhan wasn't much weaker than either Emperor Peafowl or Emperor Pillzenith.
"Su Huanzhen, what do you think?" Emperor Pillzenith smirked scornfully, turning to the head of the Celestial Cicada Court. "If you realize your misstep, I can consider letting you leave. As long as the Celestial Cicada Court breaks away from Veluriyam Capital, I won't hold anything against you."
Su Huanzhen smiled smoothly, tossing a look of contempt in Pillzenith's direction. "Pillzenith, you think too highly of yourself. What do you mean by 'hold nothing against me'? Are my actions somehow subject to your approval?"
"Good, good, good. It seems that you intend to resist to the bitter end. Very good! As expected of a first rank sect's leader. I'd like to see whether you'll retain that fire when you fall into my hands!" Emperor Pillzenith turned once more, this time to Emperor Wellspring. "Your name is known far and wide, Emperor Wellspring. One of the six titans of the wandering cultivator world. Do you want to bury yourself with this kid?"
Smiling slightly, he pointed to another by his side. "I requested the aid of another of the six titans specifically for you."
A cultivator in violet robe and cloak stood aloft beside the emperor. His face was completely obscured; a cloud of purple haze hung around it, its cosmic tint deep and terrifying. It was Emperor Everviolet himself. First amongst the six titans of the wandering cultivator world.
Though the top three were evenly matched, there was nevertheless a ranking. Emperor Everviolet was the holder of first place.
"Pillzenith, I didn't want to intervene in the affair between Pillfire and Veluriyam," smiled Emperor Wellspring. "However, now that you've said that, I would look like a coward by backing out now. So count me in."
Emperor Wellspring's tone was cool. He was clearly extremely irritated by Emperor Pillzenith's actions. His attitude represented that of multiple wandering great emperors present.
Alas, there were two or three wandering great emperors who were somewhat hesitant. They hadn't gotten their Pinecrane Pills yet, but here they were, caught between Pillfire and Veluriyam. Deep down, they were a bit unhappy about the development. They were knee-deep in a swamp they hadn't signed up for.
"Friends." Jiang Chen smiled faintly once more. "The enmity between Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City has nothing to do with you." Having said this, he raised an eyebrow toward Emperor Pillzenith. "This is related to the disagreement between the two of us, Pillzenith. Why have you dragged so many others into our feud?"
"What're you going to do about it?" Emperor Pillzenith smiled faintly back, in mimicry of the young lord.
Jiang Chen pointed toward the others. "These people have nothing to do with us. Let them go. Since your target is me, I'll stay behind."
Emperor Pillzenith chuckled. "Still trying to buy people's hearts at this time?"
"A scoundrel will only think the worst of people," Jiang Chen smirked with disdain.
"What if I don't let them go?" Emperor Pillzenith sneered.
"When the fight breaks out, even if the dozen or so great emperors by my side are all vanquished, how many of yours can possibly remain?" Jiang Chen snickered at the great emperors beside Emperor Pillzenith. "Are all of you ready to sacrifice your lives in order to further Pillfire's cause? Are you willing to abandon your own sects for the sake of Pillzenith's ambition?"
"Long Baxiang, eh?" He locked onto Emperor Dragontyrant. "The Heavenly Dragon Sect is top three among the eight first rank sects. Your assistance of a villain here today… do you think that will cement a good relationship with Pillfire City in the future, hmm?"
"Don't you know that tigers are solitary hunters? Does the Heavenly Dragon Sect really think Pillfire City will keep a wolf around?"
Long Baxiang sneered back, but stayed quiet.
"Kid, stop trying to push your delusions onto others." Someone beside Pillzenith spoke up. "We gathered together to cut down a common enemy with the mandate of heaven!"
"The mandate of heaven?" Jiang Chen raised both eyebrows. "Who do you think you are? You think yourself fit to carry the mandate of heaven? Do you know what the heavenly dao is? The truth and grandeur of the world beneath? You aren't fit to mention heaven at all!"
Emperor Pillzenith waved to cease the argument. He squinted at Jiang Chen coldly. "No matter how much you talk today, you won't escape. You want fewer people to die? Sure. Give yourself up and I guarantee that I won't harm anyone else here."
His words carried great malice. He intended to push Jiang Chen into an untenable position. Why wasn't Jiang Chen giving up to save his guests?
Why wasn't he surrendering on the others' behalf?
Jiang Chen smiled. "That's a pretty trivial demand. First, open a way out for my guests."
"Don't fall for it, young lord," Han Qianzhan hurriedly interjected. "Pillzenith is an ambitious villain. Without you, the human domain will have no one to stop him."
"Young lord, Sect Head Han is right. Pillzenith's promises are as good as wind. They're worth about as much as they weigh," the Jiao brothers chimed in.