The wandering great emperors were all smiles after receiving their Pinecrane Pills.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, you have gained my eternal friendship!" Emperor Inferno was elated.
Emperor Reliance giggled. "Young lord Jiang Chen, sometimes I'm truly convinced that Old Brother Peerless made the right choice. One can truly reach great heights if they follow you. I heard that Old Brother Peerless has achieved another breakthrough while in Myriad Domain? He's surpassed the advanced realm into the supreme realm, and is only one step away from the very pinnacle."
The crowd was taken aback.
The realm of great emperor was different from other cultivation levels and consisted of only six levels: half-step, initial, mid, advanced, supreme, and the peak.
Emperor Peerless was at the very boundary of advanced realm and one step away from supreme. It was why he was ranked fourth amongst the great titans of the wandering world and placed with the likes of Emperors Inferno and Reliance.
But after his breakthrough, the rankings were due for a reshuffling. The top three amongst the great titans were supreme great emperors, including Emperors Wellspring, Sabledeep, and Everviolet.
Emperor Pillzenith had convinced Emperor Everviolet to join the operation this time, but the latter had become a lot more reserved after entering the palace. He positioned himself at the very back of Emperor Pillzenith's camp and rarely expressed anything. In fact, he didn't show a hint of strength even when the group left.
However, Jiang Chen knew full well that Everviolet wasn't to be underestimated.
This wandering great emperor was widely regarded as the strongest amongst the six titans and Jiang Chen had personally witnessed his strength as well. Everviolet wasn't as strong as Emperor Pillzenith, but he was extremely close.
Jiang Chen was extremely glad when he heard that Old Brother Mo had achieved a breakthrough. But he also knew that Mo Wushuang no longer pursued breakthroughs just within the confines of the great emperor realm. As a recipient of the Kunpeng bloodline, he aimed for far higher pursuits.
Wellspring laughed. "Daoist Peerless strives to better himself in spite of his already impressive success. The rankings between us six titans will only become a lot more complicated. For all we know, I might no longer have the upper hand against Daoist Peerless the next time we spar. Come to think of it, it's been a while since any of us titans have sparred. I really wanted to exchange a few moves with Emperor Everviolet during our previous encounter… but it hadn't exactly been an opportune moment for such things."
Jiang Chen laughed. "Emperor Wellspring, don't sell yourself short. You're just as strong as Emperor Everviolet."
Wellspring sighed. "It's not that simple. Emperor Everviolet cultivates eye and martial techniques that are both vicious and dominating. My techniques are tame and gentle in comparison. In a direct clash, my winning chances are significantly lower."
"Not necessarily." Jiang Chen shook his head. "The martial dao path you've chosen isn't a problem. In the martial dao world, there are plenty of cases in which hard and unyielding techniques are defeated by soft and gentle techniques."
The crowd nodded in agreement. They were quite supportive of Jiang Chen after everything they've been through. The young lord had always treated them with utmost sincerity and straightforwardness. When previously ambushed, he'd generously allowed them to leave and didn't involve them in the conflict with Pillfire City.
This action had earned him a great amount of respect. They became even more convinced that he was someone worth befriending. Moreover, now that they'd received their Pinecrane Pills, they naturally became even more biased towards him and Veluriyam Capital.
Wellspring roared with laughter. "Since young lord Jiang Chen has given me such encouragement, I have to exchange a few moves with Emperor Everviolet next time we meet!"
"Haha! That'll be a sight to behold!" Jiang Chen exclaimed.
"Young lord Jiang Chen, my stay in Veluriyam Capital has been quite enjoyable. I'm thinking about extending my stay for a little longer. Will this be an inconvenience to you?"Emperor Wellspring grew serious with his earnest question.
Jiang Chen was mildly taken aback, but he quickly regained his composure and smiled. "An esteemed senior like you is more than welcome here. In fact, it'd be even better if you can make your stay permanent!"
"I have thought about it." Emperor Wellspring answered truthfully.
"Oh?" Jiang Chen was taken by surprise yet again. "I'm immensely flattered. Your fondness of my city has come quite unexpected."
"Young lord Jiang Chen, I've arrived at this decision after much deliberation." Emperor Wellspring declared earnestly with a look at the other wandering cultivators. "Everyone, I've been a recluse with very few worldly desires in my life, but that doesn't mean that I'm a heartless and uncaring person. For the past few days, I've put much thought into the Upper Eight Regions' current state of affairs and I've realized that we are in much greater danger than I'd initially thought."
This startled the crowd. Bewilderment was written all over their face as they stared at Emperor Wellspring.
"Everyone must think that I'm being an alarmist. How can there be danger when the Upper Eight Regions are so prosperous? But I'd recommend that you don't treat my warning as false tales. A great danger is lurks beneath, one possibly aimed at the entire human domain."
"One example of said danger is Pillfire City. Their control over the Upper Eight Regions grows more apparent with each passing day. The Empyrean River Palace and Sublime Chord Temple, both neighboring first rank sects to the city, have been reduced to puppet factions. The Moon God Sect has stubbornly resisted their influence, but their geographical location means they will never escape Pillfire's grasp. Even the Eternal Celestial Capital is on the verge of falling to their influence. The Heavenly Dragon Sect still possesses independence, but they won't be spared from the same fate once Pillfire City decides to stretch their tentacles west. Of the remaining, the Ninesuns Sky Sect is located in the center of the region and a distance away from Pillfire City, but they will most certainly be the next target after the Eternal Celestial Capital.
"With that, the Great Yu Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court are the only first rank sects spared from such a fate as they're located in Veluriyam Capital's vicinity. However, the balance of power in the Upper Eight Regions will be tipped once Pillfire conquers the Eternal Celestial Capital and the Ninesuns Sky Sect. Can anyone say for certain that the Skysword Sect and the Celestial Cicada Court will remain safe then? Will even Veluriyam be safe?"
Wellspring warned solemnly. "If you think that the conflict between these superpowers has nothing to do with us, and that our freedom isn't in jeopardy, then you're gravely mistaken.
"Emperor Pillzenith is an extremely ambitious man. His ultimate goal is to conquer the entire human domain and lay claim to every expert and resource. If he succeeds, the world will truly become a place where those who submit to him prosper, and those who oppose him die."
Wellspring sighed gently. "Perhaps I may be over exaggerating a little, but based on Emperor Pillzenith's actions over the past years, I can assure you that he's inching towards this direction. His attempt on Emperor Peafowl's life is an indication that his ambitions have crawled into the light from the shadows."
The room filled with silence.
"Old Brother Wellspring, is Emperor Pillzenith's appetite really that big?" A great emperor couldn't resist asking.
"Indeed. It's far larger than any of our imaginations." Wellspring stared meaningfully at Jiang Chen. "Young lord Zhen, before you appeared, I really didn't believe that anyone could go up against Emperor Pillzenith's ambition. On several occasions, I've even thought that his ambitions might not be a such a bad thing for the human domain."
"We need a great ruler who'll spur us into motion in the face of great danger." Wellspring sighed gently. "However, after careful consideration, I realized that Emperor Pillzenith isn't the right person for the task."
"Oh? Why is that?" Emperor Inferno broke his silence.
"The reason is simple. Emperor Pillzenith is a man with a capability for such things, but he doesn't possess the heart to rule. Unlike Emperor Peafowl, he lacks compassion. The human domain will be a cruel and harsh place under his rule. Unfortunately, Emperor Peafowl possesses the heart, but lacks the ambition."
Jiang Chen nodded in agreement with Wellspring's analysis. "Emperor Wellspring speaks wisely. Emperor Peafowl is a compassionate and caring person, but conquering the human domain has never crossed his mind..
"Old Brother Wellspring, what do you mean by danger? We'll face some adversity if Emperor Pillzenith conquers the human domain, yes, but calling it great danger is surely an exaggeration?" a wandering great emperor inquired.
"Ai. Do you really believe that Emperor Pillzenith will be able to smoothly realize his ambitions, that the various great sects won't fight to the bitter end? Do you think young lord Jiang Chen will let him swallow Veluriyam Capital whole? Oppression will always be met with resistance. Once the conflict begins, the human domain will fall into endless war and slaughter. It'll be a true calamity. Once the cogs have been set into motion, nothing will stop the conflict."
A grim and forbidding atmosphere descended onto the crowd as they digested Emperor Wellspring's words.
"Of course, this is merely conjecture. The true source of danger doesn't lie here." Emperor Wellspring sighed. "The dangers of internal conflict, no matter how convoluted and chaotic, will dissipate with the passage of time. But the same cannot be said if the source of the danger comes from a foreign entity. The ancient demons have begun to grow restless. The races beyond the Boundary Stele are already watching intently. If the status quo breaks, can the human race really survive the plight, especially when the human domain is a pile of loose sand? I'm extremely worried." This was Emperor Wellspring's greatest concern.
Jiang Chen was rather surprised. As expected of a great titan of the wandering world, his concerns and views have a greater depth than normal.