Sabledeep's internal obstacle was dissolved by Jiang Chen's sincerity. "I was foolish one when I joined the Order," he sighed softly. "And I may be again, if I refuse Veluriyam today. Young lord Jiang Chen, I am willing to be an ordinary soldier in your service - if you'll have me."
"Haha, that's the Sabledeep I know!" Wellspring roared with laughter, delivering a resounding clap onto his fellow emperor's shoulder. "Brother Sabledeep. You, Brother Peerless, and I - we're birds of a feather. Why should we be separate in the first place?"
Peerless nodded as well, becoming emotional. "Let us all follow behind young lord Jiang Chen and accomplish something truly amazing! The human domain is on the verge of total collapse. We are in chaotic times. It would be pathetic for us to be concerned only with our own lives. We should be looking to accomplish great things and strive for something on a larger scale! Not for the sake of being recorded in history, but for being true to our own hearts, no?"
The three old friends traded glances, then collectively chuckled.
Now that the internal demons hindering these cultivators had been dispersed, what came next was much easier.
Jiang Chen avoided disturbing their reunion. Once they'd largely finished catching up, he turned to Wellspring. "Old Brother Hui, shall we take a walk while Old Brother Mo remains here with Emperor Sabledeep?"
Wellspring knew what he had in mind. They walked out side by side. The treatment for Everviolet was much worse than for Sabledeep.
Jiang Chen's subordinates were strict when it came to discipline. Sabledeep had a pristine record and the care of Peerless and Wellspring, which meant that he had been treated as an honored guest.
Everviolet had been taken down by the stone golem brothers. If not for Jiang Chen's instructions, he might have lost his life then and there. Therefore, he was treated as a high-profile prisoner.
Right now, Veluriyam Capital's forces were still at the Order's former base. They planned to head back to the city after two days of rest. Thus, Everviolet was being kept in the Order's dungeons.
"Young lord, Emperor Wellspring." The expert guarding the prison hurriedly saluted when he saw Jiang Chen and Wellspring visit.
The great emperor smiled slightly, nodding in reply. "How is he feeling? Is his mood stable?"
"Yes. He seems normal enough just sitting there. He hasn't troubled us, nor has he shouted or screamed," the guard replied.
"Open the door," Jiang Chen smiled. The dungeons had powerful restrictions over each cell door.
The cell's occupant didn't lift a finger despite hearing the commotion. His only movement was a slight lift of an eyelid. A surprised flicker flashed across his eyes when he saw Jiang Chen and Wellspring walk in together. However, his eyelids then drooped without much of a reaction. It was as if the only thing he looked forward to was death.
"Daoist Everviolet," Wellspring greeted.
Everviolet's voice was hoarse. "Old Man Hui, are you here to laugh at me?" His violet eyes radiated rays of pride. "Kill me if you like," he glared coldly at Jiang Chen. "I am in your hands, but that doesn't mean you can shame or torture me."
Jiang Chen laughed, but his only direct response was to look coolly back at the great emperor.
Wellspring smiled wryly. "Daoist Everviolet, your temper is as fiery and explosive as always. Who said that the young lord is here to shame or torture you? Is there a point for him in doing that right now?"
Everviolet harrumphed. "What do you intend then? Do you want me to kneel and beg for mercy? Impossible! Give me death instead!"
Jiang Chen sighed softly. Truthfully, Everviolet should have been killed by the standards for an ordinary person. This wasn't the first time he had been the enemy.
It was just, Jiang Chen's loftiness meant that he'd never treated Everviolet as an equal opponent in any capacity.
"If I were to execute you, no one would think that an injustice. What say you, Everviolet?"
Everviolet's face darkened, wanting to utter a retort or three, but nothing came out from his mouth. Sadly, he had no ammunition to fire back with.
"What did your former master, Emperor Pillzenith, do?
"What about the Order of Wind and Cloud's supreme lord, hmm?"
Everviolet's expression was agitated. After calming down, he'd been able to realize that he'd supported rather questionable individuals in the past.
Jiang Chen didn't care to embarrass him further. He waved. "Alright. I'm not interested in killing you or making you any more uncomfortable than you already are. The door's open, so you can leave anytime. You do have to make an oath before that though. Remember, this isn't for my sake, but for humanity and all who live in the realm!"
Jiang Chen's tone was deadly serious. "Old Brother Hui, you tell him," he turned to his trusted advisor.
Wellspring inclined his head, sighing in lamentation. "Daoist Everviolet, I would still like to call you fellow daoist for the same reason as the young lord. A man of your talent is rare. Do you know why the young lord doesn't want to kill you? He admires your arts of the eyes because of their similarities to his. You didn't come by your cultivation easily, and you were never the root of evil in any encounter. There's not much point in killing you, and the point of this oath is quite simple. I believe you know that the young lord wishes only to avoid your abilities being used for evil in the future, whether that villain is human or alien. The human race can't bear much more of this!"
The color had drained from Everviolet's face, his eyes bloodshot. He smashed both hands viciously into the wall.
"Old Man Hui, I've cultivated my arts all my life, but it seems I wasn't able to identity the right people in the end. Thus my life ends in ignominy. We used to be called equals many years ago, but you've risen far beyond my reach.
"Never mind. What good are my abilities of the eye?" As he said this, Everviolet raised his arm, jabbing his index and middle finger into his eye sockets.
"Huh? Fellow daoist, you…" Wellspring hadn't expected Everviolet to choose such an extreme method of self-mutilation.
He didn't quite know how to console or convince the emperor with bloodied eyes. Wellspring knew of Everviolet's uncompromising nature, but not that it was to this degree.
Two streams of blood trickled down from Everviolet's eyes. The man intoned in a low voice, "Young lord Jiang Chen, Old Man Hui. I have never been forced into anything my entire life. I will not make any such oath. Whether to kill me or not is entirely up to you. There is no point keeping these foolish eyes around since I can't even see through who I deal with. From now on, I am totally useless, so you don't need to worry about anything resembling your so-called betrayal to an alien race… haha, another race, another race…"
The emperor howled. "That bastard Pillzenith described a blueprint of a united human domain to me. The Order's supreme lord did the same. How laughable for me to fall down in the same place twice! Even so, Pillzenith and Xiahou Jing were humans, not aliens!"
Wellspring was about to say something more, but Jiang Chen waved. "You can go," he said coolly. "I doubt you'll make the same mistake again."
Everviolet raised his head. "Will you really rest easy, letting me go?"
"You were blind before to the incompetence of others," Jiang Chen said smoothly. "If you stumble any more, then your heart will prove to be blind as well. What can a chronically sightless person do? Not much, I wager."
Everviolet barked a humorless laugh, then nodded, raising a cupped fist. "I see. As expected of Jiang Chen."
He was determined enough not to express any pain despite his self-inflicted wounds. Biting back agony, he strode out the door.
Jiang Chen flared his consciousness.
"All guards and checkpoints, let Emperor Everviolet go free. Don't stop him." His orders allowed the man to regain his freedom without a single obstruction.
Wellspring tasted bitterness in his mouth. Everviolet's actions could have been considered as a kind of atonement, but he regretted the man's particular method of doing so.
Deep down, he had hoped for Everviolet to soften and Jiang Chen to take the genius in. Their enmity could've been resolved into friendship then. What a shame that Everviolet's proud nature meant that he would feel too embarrassed to join Veluriyam Capital.
"Young lord, this…"
Jiang Chen sighed softly. "Don't worry, Old Brother Hui. I'm not angry. I thought Everviolet would intentionally provoke me into killing him."
"Ah. I'm sure he won't blindly use his abilities for evil any more."
"I hope so, too." Truthfully, Jiang Chen regretted the loss of the great emperor's arts in the end. His self-inflicted blindness meant that the arts he'd practiced for the better half of his life were completely useless.
But Jiang Chen wasn't fundamentally vexed by what had taken place.
After most of the affairs at the Order's former headquarters were settled, he gave the order. "Let the army prepare to return to Veluriyam tomorrow morning. We must prepare for a decisive battle with the Embittered Savages."
Now that the biggest problem was gone, the slightly smaller one was next.
"Come with me, Jiao Yun and Jiao Feng." Jiang Chen planned to have a private chat with the Jiao brothers.
Ever since they'd joined up, the Jiao brothers had been very active in winning Jiang Chen's trust and support. Their time with the Order hadn't shifted their loyalties. Instead, they had colluded with Emperor Peerless to come back to Veluriyam at any time.
"What did you want to tell us, young lord?"
Jiang Chen smiled as he looked over the two brothers. "Sit down first."
The Jiao brothers had nothing but the utmost respect for Jiang Chen, now. In fact, they were somewhat awed by his accomplishments as well. The young lord had proven himself more extraordinary than met the eye in countless battles.
To view young lord Jiang Chen as a typical high rank emperor realm cultivator would be a fatal error. A thousand experts the same level as the young lord wouldn't have been enough to match him.
"I asked you to come here today because I have an important issue that I want your opinion on."
"Not at all, young lord. Please, do tell." The brothers were the image of humility.
"Perhaps you already know that I have four empyrean decrees on hand. Each decree has a large probability of producing an empyrean expert. I want to make good use of these decrees, and you two are within my scope of observation for them."
The Jiao brothers couldn't contain their delight. "Y-young lord…" Jiao Yun stuttered. "Y-you… you want to give those to us?"