Chapter 582 - Cornered
“Yes! You seven families need to apologize to your senior, the Demon King!”
“Even Region Lord Qin, this venerated senior, has taken the initiative to step forward and apologize before all those present. So as the main perpetrators, in addition to the matter concerning the Demon Emperor’s Seal… what reason do you have to refuse?! Aren’t you afraid of becoming the laughingstocks of the realm?!”
“Patriarch Chiyang, back in the day, your Chiyang Family sent people to our Southern Sea Region to proclaim the sins of the Demon King… But now that the truth is out, it would not be seen as excessive if your entire clan were to kneel in front of the Yun Family and apologize. Could it be that right now, you are not even willing to acknowledge your mistakes to the remains of the Demon King?”
“Do you not feel the least bit ashamed or guilty when you are faced with the corpse of the Demon King?! If that is truly so, even though all of you are part of the Guardian Families, we will still look down on you!”
Not a single person who was able to gain admittance into this Demon Imperial Hall was a fool. What they had seen and heard today were two clearly divided factions, Duke Huai, who was deliberately trying to provoke dissent, and the exaggerated arrogance of the seven Patriarchs and their suffocatingly obvious allegiance to him. Furthermore, all of this was painstakingly exposed by Yun Che, piece by piece, so how was it possible that the crowd would not smell anything fishy by now?
The thing that stood out the most was that… the seven families had ganged up to fiercely oppose the Yun Family. This was coupled with the fact that the same seven families had also instigated and pushed for the Demon King and the Yun Family to be found guilty. It was definitely premeditated and it might even hide some kind of scheme that they did not dare think too deeply about.
Under the driving impetus of the seven families one hundred years ago, all the hegemons here became accomplices and chess pieces, even to the extent of becoming sinners who defiled the name loyalty and devotion. These hegemons had failed the descendants of the Demon King, so how could their hearts not be filled with anger and regret? However, the other party still consisted of the seven great Guardian Families, so they could not afford to offend them… But when someone raised his head, the rest corresponded as well, and the situation had naturally become completely different from before.
Qin Zheng’s words were just like a drop in the ocean, yet they generated a tsunami of waves. All the region lords, city lords, and hegemons stared at the seven families with undisguised outrage as they exchanged heated words with each other. For a period of time, the entire Demon Imperial Hall was filled with voices denouncing the seven families; the sound of this criticism grew more and more deafening and more and more ferocious.
The faces of all the seven Patriarchs twitched violently, a sheen of cold sweat appeared on their foreheads; their hearts felt like they were being weighed down by a thirty thousand kilogram boulder. Even if they were to be severely reprimanded and scolded by the Demon Emperor himself, they would not feel as much pressure as they were feeling now. If they were to pick any random person out of all of the people who were criticizing them right now, that person would have no choice but to bend his head to them. But if all the people whom they originally regarded as lesser mortals banded together, they represented the will of the entire Illusory Demon Realm and all the people in it!
“Duke Huai… What… What should we do right now?” The seven Patriarchs hurriedly sent sound transmissions to Duke Huai while each and every one of their bodies became matted with sweat. They were incomparably clear that given the current situation, making a single misstep today would cause the prestigious reputations that they had held for ten thousand years to drop like a rock. The situation was so severe that it was possible that they would be targeted by the entire Illusory Demon Realm if they made a mistake.
Duke Huai had practically ground two of his teeth into fragments. All these years of scheming had resulted in Duke Huai possessing a greater power base than that of the Little Demon Empress, but his movements had always been slow and restricted, mainly because the will of the people was something that he could only dream of having over the past few years.
Today’s Demon Empress Reign Ceremony, when all the heroes of the realm were gathered, was the excellent opportunity he had always been waiting for! He had genuinely staked all his ambitions on today, but who would have thought that before he could make a single move, Yun Che would smash his plan into the ground… But it did not stop here. In the instant that he was caught unawares, the will of the people had shifted to the Yun Family, and the seven Guardian Families that he had acquired at great expense had become the enemy of all those around them in the blink of an eye...
Regarding the Yun Family’s hundred years of vilification; not only were they unable to expel the Yun Family from the ranks of the Guardian Families, they had even evoked the guilt, remorse, and wrath of all the heroes of the realm. And not only did the hearts of the people, the one thing he wanted to grasp the most, not sway towards him, instead, they sided completely with the parties opposed to him.
His plan had just begun, but it had been completely ruined and even made him look extremely miserable and wretched. This was a result that he had not even dreamed would happen. He ground his teeth together and exclaimed in an incomparably deep voice, “What else can we do?! Hurry up and apologize to that corpse… or are you waiting to drown to death under the curses of everyone under heaven?!!”
Now that things have come this far, apologizing to Yun Canghai’s corpse was something they had to do no matter what. If not, the consequences would be so severe that even as a Guardian Family, they might not be able to bear it. So at this moment, the seven Patriarchs simultaneously gnashed their teeth and made their way through the multitudinous crowd as they flew towards Yun Canghai’s body… after which, they knelt down with incomparable difficulty.
The Demon Imperial Hall fell into a hush and the gazes of all the people were concentrated on the figures of these seven people. For Helian Kuang and his six compatriots, these gazes were akin to the looks given to criminals who were being judged, and it was extremely unbearable for them. The seven of them had never dreamed that they, as Patriarchs of Guardian Families, would actually fall into such a predicament one day.
Helian Kuang gnashed his teeth fiercely and after that, he gave a violent exhale, putting all his effort into portraying a calm and serene facade. He bent his head towards the body of Yun Canghai and declared, “Most revered Demon King, this junior was initially unable to see the forest for the trees, and in a moment of folly, this junior presumptuously thought that he was acting on behalf of the entire Illusory Demon Realm. But this junior would never have imagined that he would commit such a grave mistake instead, so this junior humbly seeks forgiveness from the most revered Demon King.”
Even though Helian Kuang had sought forgiveness, he had made his ‘sin’ sound extremely trivial. The words from his mouth muddled it to become something that was done for the sake of Illusory Demon Realm. Yun Che gave a cold, silent laugh but he did not speak. Chiyang Bailie, Jiufang Kui, Bai Yi, Nangong Yan, Xiao Xifeng and Lin Guiyan all followed suit and strode forward to seek forgiveness. The words that they shouted out were exactly the same as the words uttered by Helian Kuang.
When the seven Patriarchs had risen to their feet, their faces were so black that it looked like they had climbed out of the bottom of a pot. They shot glances at Yun Che through the corners of their eyes, as they all wished to tear him apart with their bare teeth.
Even though it was clear that the ‘admittance of guilt’ on the part of the seven Patriarchs lacked conviction, because they had bowed their heads towards the body of Yun Canghai for all to see despite their status as the Patriarchs of the Guardian Families, no one could utter any further condemnation against them. Yun Che silently looked at Yun Canghai’s peaceful corpse as a sour feeling invaded his calm heart… Grandfather, the rehabilitation of the Yun Family cannot be accredited to me. If not for the fact that you stubbornly defended the Demon Emperor’s Seal to your dying breath for a hundred years... if not for your loyalty and righteousness that is reflected by the sun and the moon, even though I have immense ability, I would still not be able to cause the Yun Family to gain the hearts of the people. It was Grandfather who used his own life to allow me to see the light of day again… yet what I can do for Grandfather is only this much… It is not even a fraction of the affection that Grandfather had showed to me.
“Haha, the seven Patriarchs have personally gone down on their knees to acknowledge their sin against the Demon King. Even though it was something that had to be done, it has clearly demonstrated the broadness of the hearts of these seven Patriarchs, as well as their noble bearing!” Duke Huai said as he stood up with a serene expression. He calmly praised the seven people who had clearly committed a grave mistake and who were blatantly despised by all those who were present here and his demeanor was like that of a person who was completely uninvolved in the current messy state of affairs. He looked towards Yun Che and said in a steady voice, “Yun Che, the seven Patriarchs have disregarded their own dignity and have gone down on their knees to acknowledge their sins against the Demon King. This has been in complete compliance of your wishes! So now, it is time for you to return the Demon Emperor’s Seal to the Little Demon Empress.”
“It looks like Duke Huai’s memory is not that good!” Yun Che blandly said as he slanted his eyes, “I had said it before very clearly. If you want me to return the Demon Emperor’s Seal, these seven people must first kneel in repentance in front of my grandfather, and after they have done so, they still need to swear loyalty to the Little Demon Empress once more! I certainly did not see any of them swearing loyalty towards the Little Demon Empress!”
Duke Huai’s brows were pinched together as he declared in a low voice, “Yun Che, on the account that you are not only our junior but also the descendant of the Demon King, this duke and the seven Patriarchs have tried to be patient and accommodating with you in every possible way, so do not presume, lest you be too overbearing…”
Duke Huai and the seven Patriarchs were definitely being patient, accommodating and willing to compromise, but as long as one was not blind, you could tell that they were doing so under duress. It was only after Yun Che’s methodical coercion that they had no choice but to be accommodating and willing to compromise. In the eyes of everyone else, it was a small matter indeed to make the seven Patriarchs swear allegiance to the Little Demon Empress for all to see… Because as members of the Guardian Families, being loyal to the Little Demon Empress was their duty in the first place.
But Duke Huai was extremely aware of Yun Che’s true motive!
Yun Che wanted them to swear their loyalty once more… Furthermore the oath he wanted them to swear was the venomous oath, ‘If we were to rebel, then our descendants will be slaves and prostitutes for ten thousand generations’! If they swore such a venomous oath, it would undoubtedly pierce a poisoned needle through the heart of these seven Patriarchs, and if they continued to follow Duke Huai’s uprising, they would undoubtedly curse themselves and their descendents. And because all the heroes of the realm were present to bear witness, the entire Illusory Demon Realm would remember the venomous oath made by these seven Patriarchs.
This not only sickened the seven Patriarchs, it also sickened Duke Huai!
If the seven Patriarchs refused, then it undoubtedly announced to all the heroes of the realm that they had something to hide… At that point, it would not even have to be Yun Che, anybody who had a glib tongue could take the opportunity to smash an indestructible basin of shit on top of the heads of all the seven Patriarchs.
Yun Che’s move had put them in a position where if they advanced, it was sickening and if they retreated it was still sickening… It was even more malicious than the curse of a devil.
“I am being too overbearing?” Just as expected, the moment that Duke Huai opened his mouth, Yun Che’s counterstroke promptly followed, “May I venture to ask Duke Huai, in what way have I been too overbearing? As the Patriarchs who lead their respective Guardian Families, for them to swear loyalty to the Little Demon Empress is originally the only right and proper thing to do! They have been loyal to the Demon Emperor’s clan for ten thousand years, and right now I am only asking them to swear an oath to reaffirm their loyalty! It is not only giving them an opportunity to once again express their loyalty to the Little Demon Empress, but it is also to allow the Demon Emperor’s Seal to return to its rightful owner. This is simply the most simple thing to do under heaven, it is not the least bit excessive or disagreeable!! So how can you say that I am being too overbearing?”
Duke Huai’s chest rose and fell violently. He was aware that Yun Che was going to say such a thing and he was also aware that in front of all the heroes of the realm, he could not refute a single word that he had said… The Guardian Families’ existence revolved around their loyalty to the Demon Emperor’s clan; this was common knowledge for all the people within the Illusory Demon Realm. If any of the Guardian Families betrayed the Demon Emperor’s clan, they would undoubtedly earn the condemnation and enmity of the entire Illusory Demon Realm. Duke Huai’s mind whirled and he reluctantly said, “All the Guardian Families have been loyal to the Demon Emperor for a whole ten thousand years and the whole world knows that none of them have wavered! Yet you would force these seven Patriarchs to swear such a venomous oath! It is evident that you are slighting them and calling their loyalty into question! Hmph, all the so-called oaths that are sworn in this world will forever only be empty words. If they were truly perfidious, even if the oath they swore was one hundred times more venomous, what effect would it have?!”
“Duke Huai has indeed hit the nail on the head!” Yun Che said as he nodded his head and gave a dry laugh, “Since this venomous oath is only a string of empty words, then if just casually shouting out these empty words would not only profess one’s loyalty, but also cause the Demon Emperor’s Seal to return to the hands of the Little Demon Empress, I think that not a single person would have reason to reject, am I wrong? So why did Duke Huai just accuse me of being too overbearing then?”
“...” Duke Huai was left completely speechless.
“Hah…” Yun Che gave a cold laugh, “If I requested for them to represent their entire clan when they swore this oath, it would indeed have been rather forceful. After all, even though they are the Patriarchs of their families, they would be unable to represent and decide the will of every person within their clan. However, my request was merely that they themselves swore that oath! If these seven Patriarchs were truly loyal to the Little Demon Empress, even if this oath was ten thousand times more venomous, they would still remain calm and not a hint of hesitation or alarm would creep into their hearts! Instead, they would cheerfully use this as a pretext to express their undying loyalty towards the Little Demon Empress in front of all the heroes of the realm!”
“If even this simple request causes conflict and bewilderment… Hah, then isn’t it telling all of us present that you have something to hide?! Because if you swear such an oath, you would actually be cursing yourself!!”
“Not only that!” Without waiting for Duke Huai or the seven Patriarchs to respond, Yun Che suddenly extended his hand and pointed his finger towards Duke Huai as he said with tightly furrowed eyebrows, “Duke Huai, I simply cannot understand why you would speak out against this. An act which is not only mind-numbingly simple but also beneficial towards the Illusory Demon Royal Family. As an Illusory Demon Royal Duke, you should be rejoicing in such an act. Yet you keep speaking out against it, could it be that Duke Huai, you…”
Yun Che’s word stopped right there, but anyone who heard it would understand the meaning of his words. After a short pause, Yun Che’s expression and tone changed and he said, “Duke Huai, I may only be a lowly junior but there is something that I need to warn Duke Huai about… In Illusory Demon Realm, if anyone betrays the Demon Emperor, even if it is a member of the Guardian Families, he would at most be despised by all. But Duke Huai, you… and all of the members of the Royal Family who are present, if you have harbor any rebellious thoughts in your heart, even the heavens would not be able to overlook it!”
The expressions of all the members of the Royal Family seated in the east wing turned ashen, and Duke Zhong exclaimed in a deep voice, “Yun Che… what do you mean when you say such a thing?!”
“Duke Zhong, is it truly so hard to understand?!” Yun Che’s eyes narrowed slightly and he replied in an incomparably solemn tone, “Everyone here knows that in the beginning, the first Demon Emperor conquered the whole Illusory Demon Realm and brought it out of an era of endless chaos and ushered in an era of peace and calm that has lasted for ten thousand years! In the beginning, the ones who accompanied the first Demon Emperor though all his battles as he united the Illusory Demon Realm were the Twelve Guardian Families! Ten thousand years ago, the Twelve Guardian Families were the arms of the original Demon Emperor. In the ten thousand years that have passed, they have always been the protective walls surrounding the Demon Emperor. So it could indeed be said that they have covered themselves in glory. The position and prestige that the Twelve Guardian Families have today is indeed something that they deserve.”
“But all of you members of the Royal Family, it is only because you have inherited a portion of the Demon Emperor’s bloodline that you have been treated as the highest nobility since your birth. Possessing the grandest positions, having access to the best resources, and living in a lap of luxury that the common man would never hope to enjoy even once in his lifetime. Furthermore, none of you needed to contribute anything, and neither did you leave behind any legacy of blood and glory on the field of battle! All that you have is due to the fact that you have inherited the bloodline of the Demon Emperor’s clan! Therefore, all that you have is due to the favor of the Demon Emperor’s clan!!
“You can enjoy all of this with a clear conscience, but none of you must ever forget who was the one that gave this to you! Furthermore, there cannot even be the slightest hint of treachery in your hearts. If not, you will simply be ungrateful and treacherous as you try to bite that hand that fed you! Even the heavens and earth will not be able to tolerate your actions!”
“Right now, the Demon Emperor’s clan is going through the greatest crisis it has faced in the last ten thousand years. The previous Demon Emperor has died, the Little Demon Emperor has died and now only the Little Demon Empress is left to prop up everything by herself… But because she is a woman, she was ceaselessly questioned. All of you who belong to the Illusory Demon Royal Family have enjoyed ten thousand years of favor from the line of the Demon Emperor, and now when the line of the Demon Emperor has sunk into an unprecedented predicament, isn’t it the best time for your to repay the line of the Demon Emperor?!”
“If at this time, any member of the Royal Family harbors treachery in his heart instead of committing his all to protect and assist the Little Demon Empress, then they truly have no conscience left in their hearts and they are even lower than dogs and pigs! Ugly and shameless wretches who will surely be struck by heavenly lightning!”
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