Han Qianzhan of the Great Yu Skysword Sect and Su Huanzhen of the Celestial Cicada Court had witnessed Jiang Chen's remarkable methods many times before. That still didn't lessen their awe at the magnificence before them.
They were veterans of the world, and it was precisely their experience that made them aware of how remarkable this sight was. It was astounding that the endless tide of rats was being controlled by young lord Jiang Chen!
The human domain had experienced bestial tides since ancient times. Historically, they'd been long and bloody affairs. However, such tides typically had their roots in the clashes between races - usually the breaking point of long built-up tensions. Other external factors could cause them from time to time as well.
Yet this tide of rats had clearly been started by Jiang Chen. This was the most surprising. Was the young lord truly capable of commanding so many beasts on his own?
This tide was completely different from the one seen in Great Scarlet. Not necessarily in size alone, but in the rats' bearing. The animals seemed tenfold fiercer than they had been previously.
The Goldbiter Rats were euphoric. Their eyes were red with killing intent and bloodlust. When every rat was in the same state, the resulting momentum was immensely fearsome and impactful.
It was akin to countless deathsworn charging at their target in a frenzy, a change of direction not even possible in their minds -
These rats were behaving very much the same way. This behavior alone was enough to crush some of the cultivators' spirits.
The tide of vermin pushed forward with unstoppable speed. They were already only a few hundred meters away. The golden torrent ate away more and more at the space before the creatures, filling their targets with depressed hopelessness.
The legs of a few of the weakest cultivators had already turned to jelly.
Rumble, rumble, rumble!
The rats in the very front turned into aureate arrows, plunging madly into the northern coalition's forces. When the Goldbiter Rats' bloodthirst was riled up, they could achieve a sufficiently bone-chilling level of mania.
One, two, three…
One by one, rats swarmed into the temporary line of defense set up by the northern coalition.
Coming from the largest of factions, none of these cultivators were inept. When they realized that confronting the tide of rats was unavoidable, they steeled themselves in order to weather the storm.
"All great emperors should rally the defenses! Don't worry. What is there to worry about when I'm with you?" Pillzenith scolded his men when he saw his own camp start to panic. He clapped once as he did so, creating a stream of intangible, silver blades of air. They rolled about like flying carps.
In terms of cultivation, Pillzenith was definitely one of the best that the human domain could offer. His air blades rent all the Goldbiter Rats within thirty meters of himself to shreds of flesh.
"Wake up, you lot! These rats aren't individually strong. They're only relying on strength of numbers!" The emperor called out even as he mowed them down in swathes, attempting to raise his troops' morale.
Just as he said, these rats were weak by themselves. Weak enough to not even a threat, in fact. When they were amassed however, these useless rats showed their true advantage. No matter how strong Pillzenith was, could he kill a hundred thousand rats? What about a million?
There was no end to the teeming tide. More rats welled up as soon as their predecessors were cut down, resulting in an unbroken line once more within seconds. No matter how much Pillzenith prevailed, he couldn't make a dent in the Goldbiter Rats' numbers, much less stem their advance altogether.
The normally arrogant great emperor was in a panic now.
He'd seen bestial tides before, but one of this size was the first. More importantly, there were no signs of it stopping anytime soon.
The more he killed, the crazier the replacements were. The Goldbiter Rats were completely fearless in their reckless charge.
"Damn it, is there no end to this rat tide? When is this going to be over?" Someone couldn't help complain.
"We were too rash! Are we going to die here?"
"I said this before already. If Veluriyam wants to parade about, then let them. The southern part of the Upper Eight Regions needs a ruler of some sort. They…" He'd yet to finish when Pillzenith's figure suddenly alighted near him, the great emperor's palm pressing down on the man with great imperial force.
The man didn't even have a chance to scream before being reduced to dust.
Everyone else looked at each other askance when they saw this. Why was Pillzenith killing so mercilessly on the basis of a stray comment?
"Daoist Pillzenith, what… what do you mean by this?!" It was an expert from the Heavenly Dragon Sect who'd just died. The sect's executives were instantly put out at the loss of one of their own.
"Hmph, he was confessing his own evil by speaking ill of us and well of our enemies. How will the army remain steadfast if he's not killed?" The emperor had a good explanation for what he did, or so he thought.
He glared coldly at the rest, proclaiming loudly. "Stand your ground, everyone. The rat tide is vicious, but we great emperors will see you through. Anyone who creates any more fear, uncertainty, and doubt will personally be given a ticket to the afterlife by me."
Emperor Pillzenith knew that now was not the time to ease up. Once the army lost their will to fight, catastrophic loss was sure to follow. When defeatism was in full swing, his personal skills would no longer matter.
Therefore, he preferred to commit murder at this stage rather than risk his troops' morale.
His swift response was effective to a degree. The encroaching uncertainty was wiped completely clean.
"Kill, kill all of these animals!" One of the cultivators screeched.
"Yes, we must kill them all! Restore a bright future to humanity!" The cultivators clamored one after another to pump themselves up.
Jiang Chen was completely relaxed. He was enjoying the despicable state being revealed when the northern coalition struggled. It was a superb feeling indeed!
Pillzenith's powerlessness and anxiety, coupled with the infighting, had helped Jiang Chen finally complete a picture of the man.
The emperor was ambitious, but also utterly useless.
The threat of death was an effective morale boost in the short term though. The continual approach of the rat tide meant that the battle raged on. Because the northern coalition's defenses were still relatively intact, loss of life was mostly restricted to the rats.
Each charge meant the death of tens of thousands of the critters. However, that was nothing when one considered the race as a whole. The situation never seemed to change despite the theoretically diminishing number of rats.
In fact, the Goldbiter Rats became fiercer by the minute. Any gap in the tide was filled up almost instantly on instinct.
"Your Majesty, there's no end to this rat tide. I think we need to plan a route of retreat. I spot more powerful rats at the end of the tide, readying themselves to charge!"
"Your Majesty, we should flee to fight another day."
The speakers had learned proper behavior this time. They messaged Pillzenith privately rather than publicly shout about it. In this way, they were able to express their attitude without affecting the others and creating a panic.
Pillzenith was bothered and disconcerted. He hadn't expected men from his own faction to want to abandon ship, even if it was only mentally speaking at present.
"Ole Gold, what's up? Are you still warming up after all this time?" Jiang Chen frowned when he saw what was happening. The Goldbiter Rat offensive didn't seem ferocious enough.
"Heh heh, don't be in such a rush, young master Chen! These dolts have killed at least a hundred thousand of my children, but that was an only initial investment. I'll make them pay it back now, with interest!" Cackling, the Goldbiter Rat King suddenly stood up. Its large, auric body howled into the heavens with incredible energy.
The howl called its children to mount a full-on offense according to its will. When the other rats received the command, they piled forth with increased ferocity. Their bloodlust was amplified multiple times over!
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh...
Goldbiter Rats rammed themselves into the line of defense one after another. No fear of death could be seen in the attack. Their lack of raw power was made up in blood sacrifice.
The rats were typically a cowardly race. Trading blood for blood was extremely uncommon for them. Yet in this moment, no rat recoiled from its orders.
Having received their liege's secret order, the rat king's word was life and law. The only thing they had to do was obey!
Emboldened once more, the Goldbiter Rats attacked the northern coalition's defenses with renewed vigor.
The great emperors manning the defenses were quite remarkable. They refrained from crumbling in the face of adversity and struggled against inevitability. But even so, the defense teetered on the brink of disintegration from the repeated impacts. It was going to do so any minute now.
At this point, the battle wasn't something a few great emperors alone could easily decide. Moreover, a natural fear of death had kicked in for most of the participants here.