Stepping forward, Su Huanzhen uttered a soft plea. "Young lord Jiang Chen, you were chosen by Emperor Peafowl. You bear his hopes and dreams and shouldn't simply throw yourself to the wolves. We can fight them. They have a lot of people, but a battle between great emperors isn't necessarily desirable for either party."
A battle between great emperors was usually fierce and brutal. The only way the other side could win was through a pyrrhic victory. A war of attrition wasn't desirable for the other factions, even if it might have been for Pillzenith.
Emperor Wellspring chuckled. "Pillzenith, you should've used only Pillfire's own to fight Jiang Chen. Bringing the others to take the brunt of the assault with you is a wonderful plan. If all of these sect elites die, you can go take over their factions afterward. Half the Upper Eight Regions will be yours! Wonderful, truly wonderful."
The emperor was clever enough to do the same as Emperor Pillzenith had done: psychological warfare to divide and conquer the other side. The coalition of Pillfire and the first rank sects wasn't ironclad. They had divergent interests.
Emperor Wellspring's words rang a cautionary bell in the other sect heads' hearts. If there was a bloody battle, they shouldn't be at the front. If they died, their sects would be left without its strongest pillar. Once that happened, assimilation by Pillfire City was assured.
Even without the threat of Pillfire City, the sect would weaken drastically by losing even one of its great emperors. It was quite likely that it would lose its first rank status to another.
"Your Majesty Pillzenith, if that kid wants to play hero, we should fulfill his wishes."
"That's right, Your Majesty. Our goal is just that kid. It doesn't matter much whether the others leave or stay."
"Your Majesty, there's sure to be accidental deaths in a full-out brawl. I don't think we should suffer casualties for nothing. As long as we take out Jiang Chen now, we have plenty of future opportunities to take care of the others." Several people spoke up with words of advice.
Emperor Pillzenith personally wanted to cut everyone down in one swift stroke, but he knew how difficult actually accomplishing that was. Pillfire's great emperors were unquestionably loyal, but the other sects - the Eternal Celestial Capital aside - had questionable allegiances.
Even so, the Eternal Celestial Capital cared only about Jiang Chen. The lord of the Capital wasn't necessarily willing to fight anyone else tooth and nail.
Emperor Pillzenith considered the proposal for a moment. "I can let them go, kid," he glared at Jiang Chen. "But what if you pull some trick after?"
"What can I do if you're this scared of me?" Jiang Chen smiled serenely.
Emperor Pillzenith was at a loss for words.
"No need to waste time talking, kid. Your errant ways have angered many factions in the Upper Eight Regions and you're public enemy number one. Regardless of how flowery your language today might be, you won't escape death!" The lord of the Eternal Celestial Capital finally spoke up.
Emperor Pillzenith nodded in agreement. "Daoist Luo is right. Today, we kill only Jiang Chen. The others have merely been beguiled by him. If you depart now, I promise I won't stop you. However, if you insist on helping the tyrant, I don't mind taking out some extras as collateral damage."
On Jiang Chen's side, Han Qianzhan and the others wanted to speak, but were stopped by a wave of his hand.
"Don't try to convince me of anything, my friends. This is a private matter and should be dealt with privately by myself alone. I don't want to drag you into it. Don't worry. As long as I manage to leave this place, our agreement earlier will remain in effect. Today's events will have no impact on that whatsoever." Jiang Chen knew that a majority of the reason the wandering great emperors hadn't left yet was because of the Pinecrane Pill.
No matter how valuable the pill was though, it wasn't more valuable than one's own life. Several of the great emperors were already planning to excuse themselves out of timidity.
Han Qianzhan wanted to interrupt, but Jiang Chen put a stop to it once again. "Sect Head Han, I appreciate the gesture. But if we do fight here today, the human domain would suffer a heavy blow. Many of our great emperors will die and the Upper Eight Regions will be broken. I don't want to see that happen."
Jiang Chen's words were close to the truth.
Aside from the Moon God Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect, every other first rank sect was present. Out of the wandering cultivator's six titans, four stood at today's battle - all save for Emperors Peerless and Sabledeep.
If a fight like this was allowed to play out, a great many great emperors were sure to fall.
Jiang Chen was wholly intent on preventing such a thing. With the demonic invasion about to break out at any moment, the human domain couldn't bear the potential damage to its first rank sects.
He wasn't a man that abused the public good for the sake of private vengeance. He didn't care much about the great emperors on the other side since they deserved to die for causing him trouble. But it was tremendously painful to lose even one of his own helpers. They had come to help him, after all.
Emperor Pillzenith's patience was at an end. Jiang Chen's muttering was a waste of time. "Last call, kid. Those who want to go should do so now. Anyone who doesn't, I'll consider them willing to stay!"
The only ones who particularly wanted to stay were the Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court's two sect heads, the Jiao brothers, and a few select wandering great emperors like Emperor Wellspring. The remainder of the wandering great emperors didn't have such steely resolution.
Emperor Pillzenith's warning elicited many of them to salute Jiang Chen with cupped fists. "If that's the case, young lord Jiang Chen, then we shall go on ahead. Hopefully, we'll see each other again at Veluriyam Capital."
"Good fortune, young lord Jiang Chen. I hope you can return home safely." The wandering great emperors uninterested in fighting left one by one.
Emperor Wellspring sighed softly. "Young lord Jiang Chen, I respect and pale in comparison to your honor and integrity. Principled young men like you are rare nowadays, and I haven't seen another in a very long time. Without your request for me to leave, I would certainly have stayed to party."
Jiang Chen smiled slightly. "Thank you very much for the high praise. But I do assure you sir, that we'll get another chance like this."
"Truly?" Emperor Wellspring was moved.
"Definitely. I promise!" Jiang Chen's tone was serious.
Emperor Wellspring sighed softly. "Alright, I'll put my trust in you. Time for me to be off."
Emperors Wellspring, Inferno, and Reliance left the battlefield in succession.
Emperor Pillzenith's group made no gesture to block their departure. They disliked the great emperors as much as anyone else, but their priority was Jiang Chen. They had no interest in creating unwanted developments.
The Jiao brothers, Han Qianzhan, and Su Huanzhen were still present.
"Sect Head Han, Sect Head Su, it's time for you to go." Jiang Chen sighed quietly. "I appreciate the sentiment, but you should escape now to fight another day."
"There was no need for us to be afraid." Han Qianzhan lamented the three wandering cultivator titans' exit. "As long as we take a few more risks, a dozen against twenty-something is quite winnable. But I suppose it's too late now."
"Han Qianzhan, Su Huanzhen, it seems that neither of you is leaving?" Emperor Pillzenith's frigid voice echoed across the space once more.
Neither sect head was pretentiously emotional. Given how resolute Jiang Chen's attitude was toward sending them off, it was safe to assume Jiang Chen had a plan of his own. They tossed an icy look at Emperor Pillzenith before darting away on two streams of light.
The leader of Pillfire City was irritated by the perceived slight towards him. He harrumphed internally. How dare they be so condescending to me! Sooner or later, I'll crush the Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court under my heel.
With Han Qianzhan and Su Huanzhen gone, only the Jiao brothers remained. Though they hadn't been with Jiang Chen long, they had long been won over by his knowledge, methods, and charisma. Strangely, they were the last ones to leave in this hour of danger.
"Jiao Yun, Jiao Feng, you should go back to Veluriyam Capital as well. Tell the great emperors there to guard the city zealously until my return. Don't be concerned for my safety. Keeping our city safe should be your first priority. Return to the young lord residence and defend it with the Nine Sparks Petalstorm Formation. I'll have further instructions when we see each other again." Jiang Chen messaged the brothers.
"Young lord, you…"
"Don't worry. A scoundrel like Pillzenith won't be able to do anything to me." Jiang Chen sounded supremely confident.
The young lord's determination was infectious. The two brothers traded a look, then followed Han Qianzhan and Su Huanzhen without further ceremony.
Emperor Pillzenith glared after them with killing intent in his eyes. The Jiao brothers had been sent as Shura's helpers in Jiang Chen's assassination! Their switch of allegiances to Veluriyam was a slap to his face. He felt hurt, betrayed, and murderous.
"I thought your target was me, Pillzenith? Those so-called discarded pawns seem to matter a lot more than you said they do." Jiang Chen mocked the hostile emperor derisively.
Emperor Pillzenith grinned in fury. "If you wanted to provoke me, Jiang Chen, then congratulations. You pulled that off a long time ago!"
"Provoke you?" Jiang Chen roared with laughter. "You're thinking too much. Someone like you is unfit of my specific attention. Alright, now that everyone's gone, we can dispense with the niceties. You ambushed me because you both fear me and want my goodies. Let's see what tricks you have up your sleeve, hmm?"
"Ah, and the lord of the Eternal Celestial Capital, was it? Clever enough to borrow Pillfire City's strength. Do you think that that will protect your sect from being destroyed, however? How naïve of you.
"Long Baxiang, why is the Heavenly Dragon Sect participating in this dastardly plot? Let me guess, a true dragon bloodline? Or is it something else?
"Empyrean River Palace, Sublime Chord Temple. It seems that pretending to be Pillfire City's dogs is a hobby of yours. If you distinguish yourself today, how much dog food will your owner reward you with?"