"Pillzenith, what was it you said before? One should take responsibility for his actions?" Jiang Chen's indifferent voice echoed from thin air, shaking the crowd's souls.
He whistled softly. As if under a sudden petrification spell, the Goldbiter Rats ceased all movement and stayed obediently in place.
The young lord looked at Pillzenith with a faint smile. "I can't be bothered wasting time with you either. I'll give you a choice. Surrender here and now, or else everyone here will be buried to pay for your ambitions."
He'd almost mirrored Pillzenith's previous words.
The latter's face shifted between green and purple.As he looked at the young man smiling cheerfully not far away, an intense desire to kill flashed in his eyes, as well as anger, dismay, dejection, a hint of helplessness, frustration, and irrepressible envy.
How could he accept such a young brat looking down on him and talking to him like an authority passing judgment?
But there was nothing he could do.
Jiang Chen's cold eyes swept across everyone present.
"Someone please tell me, should I order you be put down or should I give you a chance to live?" He didn't bother hiding the naked derision in his voice. These fellows had hooted at him, eager to skin him alive, but none now dared look in his eyes.
"How unsightly. What would our human forebearers think if they could see you now? You bully the virtuous, yet cower in front of strength. What are you, if not the scum of humanity?" He continued to fling their words back in their faces.
Under his forceful stare, everyone looked down, afraid they might be misunderstood if they met his gaze. Even Pillzenith stood petrified, still shocked by the rat tide.
"I told you I'd teach you a lesson. Now, who will live and who will die? Let's see what the heavens have in store for you. Remember, it's not your first time offending me or plotting against Veluriyam. Every action comes with its price!"
Judgment? He'd show them true judgment!
The crowd kept its peace, shivering in fear. No one had the gall to retort. Their hearts had trembled when Jiang Chen had mentioned prices to pay. Would they be sentenced to death?
Pillzenith finally came back to his senses. He roared, "Little bastard, aren't you acting high and mighty for someone relying on stinky mice!?
"True, you're great at underhanded tricks! But do you think you can destroy the whole of humanity with just these mice?
"Jiang Chen, you've colluded with alien races and betrayed mankind. And now, you use beasts against your fellow humans. I was right, you ARE scum!"
The northern alliance blanched in shock. Quite a few almost blew their top off. Was Emperor Pillzenith courting death? Even if he was, why did he have to drag them down with him?
But the young lord merely smiled leisurely, showing no anger. "Pillfire's truly unrivaled when it comes to dirtying someone's name. Betray mankind?" His tone suddenly turned frosty. "Pillzenith, what gives you the right to say that?"
His stone-cold eyes moved to Cloudbillow beside Pillzenith. He continued, tone sharp as a sword, "Tell me, what kind of man is this Cloudbillow of yours?"
Pillzenith blinked. "What do you mean?"
Jiang Chen laughed out loud. "What do I mean? He publicly surrendered to an ancient celestial demon lord in Agarwood Valley! As well as the Empyrean River Palace's vice head, Eternal Celestial Capital's Emperor Castveil, and that bullshit Sublime Chord master… Too bad you didn't see these proud Upper Eight elites fawning over the demon."
Pillzenith shook in anger. "Jiang Chen, stop your nonsense!"
"Nonsense?" Jiang Chen snickered with contempt. "Your Pillfire isn't worth the effort. Do you think your so-called Cloudbillow is the same man you once knew? What about the Agarwood returnees? Do you all think they're still the same?"
Despite his indifferent tone, everyone's skin prickled with horror. What did he mean? Not the same? The northern alliance couldn't make heads or tails of his words.
"You slander me and say that I collude with other races or destroyed the Boundary Stele? Correct, it's been broken, but that was the Southern Celestial Tribe's doing. Hmph, if not for me, their empyrean powerhouses would be here by now, invading our territory. The demon lord would be raining destruction on you all. If not for me, those demon slaves would be luring you all into the demons' trap. Idiots, are you so blind you can't recognize the impostors standing right next to you? Have you got so little to do that you spend your days scheming against me?"
Jiang Chen hadn't explained any of it before because no one would have believed him. He had to resort to a show of strength first. Only a total thrashing could make them more receptive.
Indeed, humans were this despicable. Previously, they had had no interest whatsoever and didn't believe anything he had to say. But now, no one dared utter a word, afraid they'd disturb him.
"Impostors? What do you mean?" someone quietly queried.
Some people glanced at the Agarwood returnees, intense doubt in their eyes.
"What does that mean? Have we been fooled?"
"Surrendered to a celestial demon lord? Did these people really become demon slaves? Have they come back to be moles?"
"It can't be! That would be too frightening!"
"Hmph, what do you know?" Most people remained skeptical. After all, it was difficult to blindly take the young lord's words at face value.
Cloudbillow shouted, "Little bastard, kill us if you must! Why use these contemptible means to turn us against each other? You should be disgusted with yourself!"
Jiang Chen's indifferent gaze latched onto the man. "Tsk tsk, you impostor, where does your confidence come from? Who are you anyways? I'm genuinely curious. You're even craftier than the celestial demons!"
The northern alliance's men looked at each other. What now?
Didn't he say they'd submitted to the demons? How'd they become even smarter than demons all of a sudden? He made no sense at all.
Cloudbillow calmly said, "Jiang Chen, spare yourself the effort. Sowing dissension doesn't become you!"
Jiang Chen laughed heartily. "Sowing dissension? Do I need to? I could massacre you all with a finger snap. I just want to know who's the mastermind behind all this. I personally killed all of you demon minions, so who's resurrected you?"
Rather than true resurrection, he meant borrowing these men's names as a cheap trick.
Killed? The shocked cultivators took a deep breath. Was he implying all the top elites sent to Agarwood Valley were died?
And not only so, they'd also surrendered to a demon lord, only to be killed by Jiang Chen?
For some reason, many had become more clear-headed after Jiang Chen's lecture and were now more willing to believe him. They became pensive. Has the young lord truly been wrongly accused?
The thought flashed in some minds.
Cloudbillow cupped his fist at Pillzenith. "Daoist Pillzenith, the brat's gone insane. Please don't let his sinister nonsense poison your heart! He needs to be put to death for his malicious intentions!"
"That's right. What surrendering to a demon lord? What kind of claptrap is that?! There's no demon in Agarwood to begin with!"
"Jiang Chen, how about we go to Agarwood Valley and see who's right?"
"There is no demon lord. Why are you lying? What's your hidden agenda?"
These impostors were the picture of righteous indignation. If he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, they might have fooled even him. But he'd personally led the golems to kill them all. How could he be mistaken?
He chuckled calmly. "True or false, it's of no importance to me. The way I see it, whether you're real or fake, you were dead the moment you surrendered to the demon. You impostors want to sully my reputation and disrupt the human domain? If I'm not mistaken, you're not human descendants either. Whatever you are, I'll expose your true nature today!"
He beckoned with his hand. A scarlet, sky-blotting cloud suddenly appeared over their heads, casting vast shadows upon them.
"Senior Vermillion, please grace us with your presence!"
Instead of the ancient beast language, he'd used human language, but it wasn't simply an intimidation tactic.
Thanks to the wood spirit spring, the ancient bird had recovered some lifeforce. It was no longer in immediate danger. Even at twenty to thirty percent of its full strength, the ancient bird was a legendary existence compared to the current human domain.
That blazing body exuded an immense aura that took one's breath away! Hearts raced the moment the divine bird appeared.