Long Baxiang's words represented the opinions of most. Pillfire's Cloudbillow had with him the experts of the Empyrean River Palace, Sublime Chord Temple, and Eternal Celestial Capital. They represented a much more potent force than the rest. The absence of an agreement beforehand would inevitably lead to much bickering later, which meant that Pillfire would likely win out in the end as the strongest coalition.
The Ninesuns Sky Sect's representative spoke up. "Emperor Dragontyrant spoke crudely but correctly. We should come to an agreement right now. Otherwise, it will be hard to deal with poor division of the spoils."
If Emperor Cloudbillow didn't make a showing of some sort at this point, no one else would lend him their strength. Any notion of cooperation would go out the window.
The emperor fell briefly silent before speaking coolly. "We can divide the profits into ten portions. Pillfire and its allied factions will take seventy percent of the total. The Ninesuns Sky Sect and Heavenly Dragon Sect can take ten percent each. The remainder will go to the rest of the factions."
In Cloudbillow's opinion, this arrangement was more than reasonable enough for the others. He hadn't taken all of the spoils in his great generosity, no? As for the fact that the Upper Eight Regions was taking home the majority, that was set in stone from the outset.
The second and third-rate factions were a bit upset by Emperor Cloudbillow's words, but they didn't dare voice any opposition. Ten percent was grace enough. They couldn't do anything to the emperor if he gave them nothing. Perhaps the ten percent had only been allotted in order to make use of their strength!
However, the Heavenly Dragon Sect and Ninesuns Sky Sect weren't about to agree so readily. Emperor Dragontyrant turned blue in the face as soon as he heard this.
"Cloudbillow, you're nothing short of insatiable! Your appetite is too unreasonably large! If that's how Pillfire is going to be, we're never going to reach an agreement!"
The Ninesuns Sky Sect's great emperor shook his head as well. "Ridiculous! Absurd! You can't claim that your lion's share is because you have multiple factions under your wing. Your alliance means that you're the same faction. How come you're so intent on taking seventy percent, and we're only allowed ten?"
The two sects had reason to be upset. They were the strongest amongst their peers even in the Upper Eight Regions. They deserved more than a tenth each!
The absurdity of Emperor Cloudbillow's division had been partially intentional. How else was he going to get the other parties to settle at an actual middle price?
Negotiations had to begin with unreasonable requests until a compromise was reached. If one began by naming what their expectation was, then there was no further room to maneuver.
"Long Baxiang, you call our appetite big? I think the Heavenly Dragon Sect is exactly the same. Are you telling me that you want the biggest piece?"
"Of the ninety percent allocated to us three, the Heavenly Dragon Sect must receive at least a third. Otherwise, you can forget about any cooperation!" declared Long Baxiang angrily.
"The Ninesuns Sky Sect similarly expects a third," the great emperor from that sect smiled. "Count us out for anything less as well."
The demands of these two were no less bizarre than Emperor Cloudbillow's. Thirty percent was far too much.
Since negotiations were underway though, this was actually a reasonable counter. There was no need to be reserved or shy. It was better to raise the terms as high as could be and see where they ended up eventually.
"You two gentlemen are the real jokers around here," an expert from the Empyrean River Palace smirked. "You want two-thirds of ninety percent between the two of you? We're composed of many factions. Thirty percent isn't nearly enough. Are you talking in your sleep?"
"That's right, be sincere for once! You can't just make up numbers as you like."
"I think that we have a pretty good shot at the restriction even without you two."
"Just because the Heavenly Dragon Sect can't do it doesn't mean the others can't!"
Long Baxiang sneered at what he was hearing. "You think the Empyrean River Palace is fit to be called a faction?" he glared at the expert from the Palace. "You can say that when you stop being Pillfire's lackey. Right now? You have no right!
"The Sublime Chord Temple should shut up too! A puppet faction wants to call itself equal to the Heavenly Dragon Sect? Don't make me laugh!
"As for the Eternal Celestial Capital, heh… has the holy emperor of the Capital been scared witless by Veluriyam already? I suppose that's the best explanation for your status as Pillfire City's newest follower!"
Long Baxiang's tongue was painfully barbed, and a verbal lashing from it was too painful for most.
Because Ninesuns was on perpetually bad terms with the Eternal Celestial Capital, its representative was quick to mock the other sect. "The Eternal Celestial Capital is growing backwards. It used to have a spine in the past, however crooked it was. But now it's become the stooge of another? In light of that, equality with the other first rank sects elsewhere is patently ridiculous. You don't have the right to count yourself our peer in dividing the spoils!"
The Ninesuns Sky Sect and the Heavenly Dragon Sect were very proud existences amongst the first rank sects of the Upper Eight Regions. They hadn't been on good terms before, but their current positions overlapped. This made a temporary alliance of convenience quite useful. The situation was otherwise very much against them.
Emperor Cloudbillow was quite put out. "Friends, I advise you to give up on trying to provoke conflict between Pillfire and its friendly factions. We are comrades-in-arms. We invited them here to explore and they are entitled to a share of the loot. You can't hope to devour all the goods."
What the two first rank sects were demanding was frankly impossible.
Emperor Cloudbillow would be working for free, according to their demands. His large entourage required considerable expenditure in terms of logistics. Furthermore, dividing part of his spoils amongst his allied factions was inevitable. However, he had to sweeten the deal for these two uncooperative sects in order to hasten the compromise.
Emperor Cloudbillow spoke once more. "Friends, I'm happy to take a step back. As a four-faction coalition, we will take sixty percent. You two can have fifteen percent each. The remainder will obviously keep their ten percent. That's as far as I'm willing to go!"
If one considered Pillfire and its allies as four separate factions, then the ninety percent was divided perfectly equally. Each faction would receive fifteen percent. It looked very fair.
"I know you want to name a few more exorbitant sums, but this is my final offer. I'm not going to increase it further."
Fifteen percent was a quite sizable share for the Heavenly Dragon Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect. They might call the Eternal Celestial Capital, Empyrean River Palace, and Sublime Chord Temple puppet factions, but lackeys still needed a cut.
If fifteen percent went to the Heavenly Dragon Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect, that was reasonably worth their while. Emperor Cloudbillow appeared unwilling to maintain the standstill, which was why he'd suddenly given way so much.
Long Baxiang was still not satisfied and wanted to bargain further. However, Cloudbillow was very resolute and wouldn't budge an inch.
In the end, Ninesuns and Heavenly Dragon were the ones to concede. They accepted fifteen percent of the spoils. Truthfully, neither sect particularly wanted to leave the secret realm. It had been difficult enough for them to come this far; it would be an absolute shame if they had to depart now.
Their threats of non-participation had been made out of spite alone, tokens to be used on the bargaining table. Purely oral promises had little effect. Everyone involved swore oaths to heaven and earth that they would not renege on their agreement.
From beginning to end, the only participants were the Upper Eight Regions' largest factions. The less prominent factions could do little more than follow in their wake.
At the back of the crowd, Jiang Chen snickered internally as he watched the disgusting way in which the Upper Eight Regions' factions divided up their portions.
These fools thought that there was treasure behind the restriction! He didn't think that it would be remotely that simple.
After the factions came to an agreement, Emperor Cloudbillow spoke once more. "My friends, it's impossible to satisfy everyone when it comes to splitting up valuables. However, that's always been the law of the martial dao world. The weak must obey the strong, and the strong set the laws. My blueprint for wealth distribution has taken care of the rest of you to an extent as well. Don't underestimate how much ten percent means! But you'll have to spend some effort to earn it, of course. There's no such thing as a free lunch."
Having said this, he looked thoughtfully at the giant pillar. The mysterious sealing force rippled with indescribable power.
"Prepare yourselves, everyone. After we break through this seal, an ancient, sacred land will be open to us! I'm going to repeat this one more time: everyone must put in some effort. When the seal is broken, you can't simply swarm inside. The Upper Eight Regions is in charge now. You must behave according to our rules!"
Emperor Cloudbillow was reasonably principled in his own way. He was in a rush, but there were certain rules that had to be laid down. He didn't want everyone to jam themselves into a throng. If that happened, then the agreement between the Upper Eight Regions' forces would be difficult to enforce.
"Anyone who dares run ahead after the seal is broken will be struck down on the spot!" Pillfire finally bared its vicious fangs.
Jiang Chen had no reaction but a prolonged sneer. He was curious even now; hadn't Long Baxiang tossed two emperor realm cultivators inside? Where were they now?
He couldn't sense their presences anywhere with a cursory scan.
The two men had seemingly vanished into thin air. Because of this, Jiang Chen kept an eye out and his mind alert. After all, the inexplicable disappearance of two souls was quite alarming. Hadn't those two passed through the restriction? Why weren't they here?