"The Eternal Celestial Capital is your friend and you're afraid of the Heavenly Dragon Sect. Fine then. The Empyrean River Palace and the Sublime Chord Temple, I'll let you pick either one." Jiang Chen sensed Pillzenith's hesitation and continued making fun of the great emperor.
Everytime Jiang Chen named a sect, its great emperors twitched and their hearts pounded. Although Pillzenith couldn't possibly agree in public, they all knew how much he loved this son. What if the two parties reached a secret agreement?
Their fear was well founded. For Pillzenith, Tian Lin was worth the destruction of any sect. Why did the damn kid have to ask in front of everyone? The humiliation of today was greater than the shame he'd suffered in his entire life. If not for his son and the palace restriction, he'd have attacked the damn brat long ago.
He took a deep breath and nailed the young lord with a look. "Jiang Chen, I have many sons. It's impossible for me to abandon a cultivator's righteousness for even one of them. Enough with trying to sow dissension. I won't agree to a single demand."
Jiang Chen clapped with a bark of laughter. "Haha, if I didn't know you any better, I'd admire your uprightness. Oh well, I'll raise your son for you in that case. Don't you have many of them? Just pretend you never had this one."
Pillzenith almost spat blood at Jiang Chen's casualness, but he could do nothing but scowl.
"Your Majesty, the kid is clearly afraid of all-out conflict. He won't dare kill Sir Tian Lin. We might as well retreat for now. We can capture one of his people in the future and make a trade," Tallpeak offered.
It's the only option left to rescue Tian Lin. It's impossible to take him back with me today. Pillzenith eased up a little when he came to terms with the idea.
However, he still didn't dare be too rude. He arched his hands. "Jiang Chen, I've lived for several thousand years, but you're the greatest opponent I've ever met, even more so than Emperor Peafowl. The student indeed has surpassed the master. I admit defeat today. However, if you harm a single of my son's hair, I vow to slaughter all million of Veluriyam's citizens. If you endanger his life, I won't spare a single soul in your territory!
"Let's go." He left with a wave of his hand, his great emperors following behind.
Long Baxian shot a cold, conflicted glare at Jiang Chen, his tone treacherous. "Quite a good trump card you've got today. I hope you can hold onto it tight!"
Jiang Chen glanced back, unconcerned. "Just remember, I'm one to hold a grudge."
Long Baxiang left with a snort.
A little fretful, the holy emperor didn't even have the courage to make eye contact before leaving.
The young lord fixed his departing figure with narrowed eyes but made no move to stop him. He naturally couldn't cope with the Eternal Celestial Capital all by himself.
When all of his enemies had left, he sat down cross-legged, meditated, sorted his thoughts, then finally took a peek outside. He was in no hurry to leave. Pillzenith might not have given up hope and could've set up additional traps.
He observed the surroundings carefully, only retracting the palace after being certan that Pillfire's men had truly left. Why hadn't they tried to ambush him? This was a bit odd. Pillzenith he could understand, but what of the Eternal Celestial Capital? Why weren't they trying to steal a march on him?
They shouldn't have let him off so easily, given the depth of their enmity. But Jiang Chen soon understood. Pillzenith must have stopped them.
Indeed, the holy emperor was incomparably depressed. He'd wanted to rally all his sect's powerhouses and kill Jiang Chen while the latter was still in his domain, no matter the risks or losses. Letting this tiger return to his den would spell his sect's future doom.
Alas, Pillzenith had harshly forbidden the plan. The latter hadn't wanted to interfere in the grudge between Veluriyam and the Eternal Celestial Capital, but what if Jiang Chen used his son as a shield? It'd be too late for regrets then.
He'd likewise warned the Heavenly Dragon Sect, but their two great emperors hadn't been confident they could kill Jiang Chen on foreign soil in the first place. Pillzenith's warning extinguished their ambitions completely.
Still, that didn't stop them from resenting Pillfire's master. He'd been the one to suggest killing the kid, but was also the reason why they'd retreated with their tails between their legs.
Jiang Chen had a smooth trip back to Veluriyam.
The city stood as one, ready for war. After he'd dismissed the great emperors, they'd brought word back to the city. From top to bottom, the entire place was on tenterhooks because of the young lord's predicament. Quite a few people wanted to dispatch troops to his rescue.
However, none were ever sent in the end. The young lord certainly had his own plan, or else he wouldn't have sent the great emperors back. The most important was to protect the city well and wait for him to come back.
And come back he did.
The entire city sighed in relief at his safe return. Unknowingly, he'd become Veluriyam's backbone.
Jiang Feng and Xu Meng had returned to the young lord residence quite some time ago. Even their escort had returned to the Moon God Sect. As to Xu Qingxuan, she'd taken up residence with her parents a few days ago.
Her arrival had reassured the city's force. So Jiang Chen hadn't been trapped. Instead, he'd snuck to Pillfire and captured Pillzenith's son!
The young lord hadn't been afraid of these great emperors at all! He'd slipped away despite their siege! No wonder he'd been confident enough to send his men away.
"Father, mother, forgive your unfilial son for causing you worry." Affection welled in Jiang Chen when he saw his parents' concern. His past memories were merged with his current life. For him, these parents were genuine blood kin.
"Chen'er, for our safe return, you've assumed all the risks by yourself. Your mother has been worried sick. Now that you're safe and sound, she'll finally have a good night's sleep." Jiang Feng sighed.
Xu Meng stroked her son's head. "It's my fault. You grew up without your mother's love, yet I made you toil for my sake and brave untold dangers…"
"Mother, it's nothing more than proper filial piety. Stinky brother, don't you think so?" Xu Qingxuan winked at him, making him smile.
"She's right. As a son, how could I face the heavens if I didn't rescue my parents? Mother, don't worry. Few in Upper Eight Regions can corner me."
His mother nodded. "Right, right. To think my beloved son would be so formidable! You bring me so many surprises. But you should thank your father properly. He's spared no effort raising you by himself during all these years..."
Jiang Feng blushed. In truth, he'd play little part in his son's success. In fact, his son's success was just as much a surprise to him. He would have been content to let his son stay a wastrel, as long as he lived ignorant and worry-free.
However, things didn't always turn out as one might expect. To this day, he was bewildered by the young man's transformation. Sometimes, he even wondered whether someone had replaced his child.
However, no one could fake the intimacy between blood relations. Perhaps, when his son had been beaten by Eastern Kingdom's king, the heavens had taken pity on him and enlightened Jiang Chen?
"That reminds me. Father, mother, Qingxuan, you better stay in the residence for now. I've captured Pillzenith's son, so he might send experts to strike at those close to me."
Xu Qingxuan fumed, "Hmph, let them come. I'm not afraid!"
Aware of his sister's aggressive nature, Jiang Chen merely smiled. A curfew or grounding was out of the question. He could only stay vigilant around the city. Fortunately, he could deploy the Goldbiter Rats and detect anyone suspicious within several hundred miles.