Jiang Chen's intrusion in the midst of their spoils discussion was a bucket of icy water doused on their heads.
According to him, Big Horn and Old Ma had both fallen at his hand. Moreover, Emperor Heartcloud was also dead. Most of those present had come to those conclusions already, but Emperor Heartcloud's death nevertheless created a sliver of caution. So, Jiang Chen did have the ability to easily kill great emperors!
And yet he was so young! Was it really wise to become a mortal enemy of a genius such as him?
"Pillzenith, you say that I killed Pillfire's great emperors. Why don't you talk about your collusion with Shura against Emperor Peafowl? Why don't you talk about how those emperors' presence in Myriad Domain made them necessary targets? Why don't you understand that your ambush was what led to Emperor Heartcloud's death?" Jiang Chen spoke at a slow but rhythmic pace.
His body flickered, then reappeared only a hundred or so yards away from the great emperors. Alas, it was difficult to make him out across that short distance. His form was indistinguishable, almost as if he wasn't entirely there. Was it really possible to reach him? He almost seemed a world away.
Emperor Pillzenith was on the brink of exploding. "You rascal!" he huffed, "the feud between Veluriyam Capital and Pillfire City is irreconcilable, no matter how sharp your tongue is!"
"That's what I wanted to say," sneered Jiang Chen.
"What are you going on about, you scoundrel? You're faced with countless great emperors here! Pillfire City has allied itself with four first rank sects of the Upper Eight Regions in a coalition against Veluriyam. When our army arrives, Veluriyam will be reduced to smithereens. Let's see how stuck-up you are then!" One of the great emperors behind Emperor Pillzenith crowed.
Jiang Chen was perfectly serene. "I've always been 'stuck-up', as you put it. What's Pillfire going to do about it? You don't need to make everything sound so grand, Pillzenith. If Pillfire wants my Pinecrane Pill and Emperor Supremacy Pill, you should just say so. Why hide your desires? Is your hypocrisy growing at the same rate as your age?"
"Bull!" Emperor Pillzenith snorted. "Veluriyam treasures those pills. Do you think that the entire world does the same?"
"What, you're not interested in the Pinecrane Pill?" Jiang Chen laughed.
"Not one bit," Emperor Pillzenith retorted proudly. "Veluriyam Capital won't catch up to Pillfire City in pill dao even in another three thousand years. You think that one or two miracle pills will close the vast gulf of difference between us? In your dreams!"
"Tsk tsk, Pillzenith, you're so very shameless in your old age." Jiang Chen couldn't help but chuckle. "Those who don't know better would actually believe you. But I wonder how the Pinecrane Pill that the Sublime Chord Temple won ended up in Pillfire hands?"
Emperor Pillzenith's heart tensed. This was a secret between only Pillfire City and the Sublime Chord Temple. How did the kid know about it?
The great emperor had used every available effort against the Sublime Chord Temple in order to obtain the pill, including a few veiled threats. The Temple had practically been forced to give it up.
Of course, Emperor Pillzenith hadn't gone overboard in the matter. He returned the same number of spirit stones as the Sublime Chord Temple had spent in the auction rather than forcing it to take a painful loss.
But still, the Temple was none too happy about the turn of events. After all, they had offended the Heavenly Dragon Sect during the auction for the sake of the pill.
Because of the underhanded way in which he'd procured the pill, Emperor Pillzenith was extremely surprised that Jiang Chen was able to point out his possession of it. The Sublime Chord Temple's great emperor was just as astonished.
The ruler of Pillfire turned his eyes to the Temple's expert. Clearly, he suspected that his sect was responsible for leaking the info.
The Temple's expert tasted bitterness in his mouth. "Your Majesty Pillzenith," he messaged hurriedly, "my Sublime Chord Temple definitely kept the secret!"
Emperor Pillzenith felt doubtful. "You're making things up, kid," he harrumphed. "I couldn't care less about a mere Pinecrane Pill." He was stubborn to the bitter end.
"What about the Pinecrane Pill that the Temple of Cleansing Fire's pill emperors are studying? Where'd that come from then, hmm?" Jiang Chen's tone became exaggerated. He clucked his tongue in mock disapproval.
What? Emperor Pillzenith was stunned. That the pill emperors from the Temple of Cleansing Fire were researching the Pinecrane Pill was a well-kept internal secret.
Aside from Emperor Pillzenith, very few of the city's great emperors knew about it. The emperor had especially put his youngest son in charge to give the boy some credentials and momentum, preparing for the day that he might inherit his father's position.
Originally, Emperor Pillzenith's pill dao heir was Pill King Ji Lang. Martial dao went to his young son, young master Tian Lin.
But Pill King Ji Lang's perfect performance pre-Jiang Chen had turned into loss after loss after meeting the young man. He'd disappointed the great emperor's expectations time and again. Therefore, Emperor Pillzenith decided to pin his hopes for both pill and martial dao upon young master Tian Lin.
The Pinecrane Pill's research was the first step for his young son on his path to the throne. The revelation of the clandestine subject was like having one's secret found out by a huge crowd.
"Surely you won't deny this, will you, Pillzenith?" Jiang Chen smiled coolly.
Emperor Pillzenith was in a bad spot. He was both scared and astonished, and above all, completely confused. How did Jiang Chen know something so well-guarded? Did the Temple of Cleansing Fire have a traitor in its halls?
Everyone saw that Emperor Pillzenith was at a loss for words. Was the kid right this time? Was Emperor Pillzenith researching the Pinecrane Pill behind everyone's backs?
"No need to waste words on the brat, Your Majesty. The more we talk, the deeper we fall into his trap. We just need to attack Veluriyam Capital as planned," advised Emperor Tallpeak.
Emperor Pillzenith inclined his head slightly, struggling to choke down his fury. "I have no interest in wasting words on you, petty thief!" He raised an eyebrow. "When my conquering force arrives, Veluriyam Capital will be utterly crushed. Let's see you escape from my grasp then!"
He was content to admit defeat in a war of words. That didn't mean he had given up!
Jiang Chen roared with laughter when he heard the threat.
"I'd like to know when you're setting off, Pillzenith." Jiang Chen's grinning expression showed that he was unafraid of the great emperor's coercion.
Emperor Pillzenith sneered. "You think your fake calm will make me change my mind, kid? All four of these first rank sects here hate Veluriyam Capital to the bone. Your city has incited mass outrage against it across the human domain. You shall become dust under this natural course!"
"That's right, you crook. You'll pay for your crimes as Veluriyam's young lord, Jiang Chen!" The lord of the Eternal Celestial Capital screamed.
Jiang Chen tossed him a dispassionate glance. "You're right, crimes must be paid for. Payment will be collected from the Eternal Celestial Capital soon enough."
As the head of a sect, the emperor of the Capital was disturbed by the frigidity of Jiang Chen's words. He felt an irritating tug on his heartstrings. Swiftly, he turned his thoughts to the fact that there was no reason Pillfire and the four first rank sects couldn't take down Veluriyam.
"Young lord Jiang Chen," Long Baxiang cackled. "I remember when I asked you for your true dragon the easy way. You wouldn't give it up for your life, eh? Well, that'll show you not to snub me. The Heavenly Dragon Sect won't give Veluriyam an inch, either!"
"If you're stupid enough to plot alongside a tiger like Pillzenith, I'm too lazy to encourage your repentance. Forget about the true dragon. The Heavenly Dragon Sect will never get its grubby hands on it. If your sect is so set on opposing me, perhaps it's time for a re-shuffling of the eight first rank sects in the human domain. I guarantee the Heavenly Dragon Sect will disappear, at any rate!"
"Hmph. Ignorant child! You sure talk big." Long Baxiang was incensed. "I'd like to see whether Veluriyam or the Heavenly Dragon Sect disappears first."
"Don't you see, brat?" Emperor Pillzenith stated icily. "This is the will of the people. When the army gets here, both you and Veluriyam will be history!"
Jiang Chen roared with laughter. "I see, I see. Let me know when you decide to depart, eh? I'll give you a human sacrifice as a present."
"Hmm?" Emperor Pillzenith furrowed his brow, uncertain of what Jiang Chen meant.
A human sacrifice? As a present?
Jiang Chen smiled with some indifference at the perplexed emperor. "Didn't you send people to the Moon God Sect to try to capture the holy maiden Xu Qingxuan?"
Emperor Pillzenith's eyes widened. That kid knew about that too? Then he remembered that they'd decided it within the residence. It was quite reasonable for the brat to have overheard it given the location.
"Hmph, she can't run forever. One day, I'll capture your entire family and and cut their flesh off strip by strip. They'll taste all of the tortures known to mankind. Your collective destination is the grave. Hahaha!" The emperor spat all of this out through gritted teeth. He had been provoked to utter irascibility by his young nemesis.
His state of displeasure amused Jiang Chen to no end.
"Excellent, Pillzenith, excellent. I was wondering how I should get rid of the guy. You gave me some great ideas." Saying so, Jiang Chen hoisted young master Tian Lin in his hand and smiled superciliously. "Shall I torture him right now by cutting his flesh off strip by strip? Or shall I pick another day? The day your army departs perhaps, as a superb sacrifice?"
A closer look rendered Emperor Pillzenith on the verge of collapse. The person Jiang Chen had in his hand was his dearest son!
Young master Tian Lin hung lifelessly in Jiang Chen's hand like a ragged robe. The great emperor was about to cough up blood.