Chapter 174: Responsibility
Within Perpetual Daylight Palace’s Heart-Inquiring Pavilion.
This was where Eternal Night thought in silence. Under normal circumstances, this was not a place where he handled political matters, so no guests were typically allowed to be present.
Today, however, an outsider had appeared.
A true outside.
The human, Su Chen!
Eternal Night and Su Chen had finally met.
Right inside Eternal Night’s Heart-Inquiring Pavilion.
For this reason, only Su Chen and Eternal Night were present here. Even Serene Dream Lotus Crown wasn’t present.
Serene Dream Lotus Crown had indicated her displeasure, but Eternal Night had refuted her immediately.
He said, “You are not good at negotiating.”
Even though she didn’t like his evaluation of her, Serene Dream Lotus Crown had to admit that he had a point. Eternal Night was eventually able to keep Serene Dream Lotus Crown out of the room as well, due to his influence as the emperor of the kingdom.
Unlike what most people might have expected, however, Su Chen was not displaying an attitude of open hostility.
He stood in front of a bookshelf and flipped through one of the books as he said, “I have experienced many things in this life of mine, and I have encountered many opponents. Some were weak, and some were strong, but I have never feared them. Even though they were strong, they were only strong in body and not in mind. The Intelligent Races are named precisely because we are known for our intellect, not our strength. I have never once lost to anyone in my lifetime, but now I realize that there is always someone smarter than you out there......"
He put down the book, then turned to face Eternal Night and said, "I have heard of your great name before, but only after we have exchanged blows did I realize that this reputation is not fake."
Eternal Night's expression remained unchanged. Obviously, he was not affected by Su Chen's praises.
He only said faintly, "It wasn't easy to invite you to come out into the open."
"You're right, it wasn't easy. But you were still able to do it. I admire your decisiveness...... Actually, I should have guessed that, if your prison warden was able to discover the truth, how could it have escaped your notice? The only difference was that you found out slightly later."
"You destroyed the evidence collected by the Sky-Catching Prison. Halcyon Wing Streak and Su Chen being the same person was merely a guess of mine," Eternal Night replied.
“Can you tell me how you managed to guess?” Su Chen asked.
Eternal Night replied, “Zhu Xianyao’s subordinate.”
Even though, after killing Divine Feather Weave, Su Chen had purposefully headed for the Skycatching Prison to destroy the records there, he could not prevent new information from reaching the eats of Eternal Night. That information came from Zhu Xianyao's subordinates.
Zhu Xianyao's subordinates didn't know that Halcyon Wing Streak was Su Chen, but that didn't mean they didn't know about Su Chen's relationship with the Zhu Clan. After all, accounts of Su Chen's actions in Flat Sky City when he was dealing with the Rong Clan had spread far and wide.
The first thing that Eternal Night did after capturing Zhu Xianyao was to try and find a way to get information about people who were close to the Zhu Clan. Given their tactics, it was only natural that the Harpies were able to glean something from so many mouths.
This was how Su Chen entered the periphery of Eternal Night's vision.
The young Worldly Sage, full of intelligence and incredibly powerful.
Most importantly, records of what he had accomplished in Ravager territory preceded him.
His exploitation of the Ravagers was not a secret. His illusion techniques, his relations with the Zhu Clan, and his sudden disappearance during this time all allowed Eternal Night to link him and Halcyon Wing Streak.
Su Chen didn't appear to mind when he found out. All he said was, "Emperor's brilliance and wisdom is worthy of praise. I feel extremely apologetic about what I have done to the Harpies. Now that I am here, my punishment is entirely up to you to decide."
Eternal Night remained silent. He waved his hand and pointed at the table in front of him.
Su Chen put down the book and sat.
He sat facing Eternal Night, appearing completely without fear.
After some time, Eternal Night said, "To be honest, I really want to kill you right here and right now. The Harpies have lost hundreds of lives because if you. This grudge is one that cannot be wiped clean between me and you!"
Su Chen chuckled. "The number of humans and Harpies that have been killed in the past tens of millenia number not in the hundreds of thousands but in the hundred of billions. Two hundred thousand is as significant as a single hair. As a human, it is my responsibility to eradicate any threats to my race and destroy their enemies. Even if my hands become drenched in blood, I have no regrets!"
Eternal Night's aura suddenly surged, and a wave of intense pressure enveloped the surroundings. Not a single bit leaked out of the room, clearly demonstrating his precise control over his strength.
Su Chen, however, continued to stare at Eternal Night levelly.
As the current representative of the human race, he refused to shrink back in the face of this Harpy emperor.
The aura gradually dispersed.
Eternal Night sighed, "I'm getting old. The younger generation is always more daring and willing to take responsibility."
"I cannot claim to be equal with Emperor when it comes to taking responsibility. If there is any person on this continent worthy of my respect, or even to concede defeat to, it is you," Su Chen replied sincerely.
"Oh? You know that I want to discuss something with you?" Eternal Night asked.
“Isn’t that why you are so insistent on meeting me?” Su Chen countered.
Eternal Night nodded with a slight smile. “That’s correct. It’s better for the doer to undo what they have done!”
There was no need for either side to say anymore. Everything went unsaid.
Why was Eternal Night so insistent on killing Zhu Xianyao regardless of whether or not Su Chen actually appeared?
Because Eternal Night had managed to see one thing clearly - even if he released Zhu Xianyao, he would not be able to stop the conflict from occurring!
Yes, he could not stop it from occurring!
Starting a war was quite easy, but defusing one was not.
The three human kingdoms had allied together under the pretext of Zhu Xianyao being unfairly captured, but the actual reason was because the Harpies were currently in a weakened state.
Would the humans pull back their troops just because Zhu Xianyao was released?
What a joke.
Zhu Xianyao was just an excuse.
If a bandit wanted to rob you, they might find an excuse, such as “This mountain belongs to me!” But if you were to prove to the bandit that the mountain was his, would he give up on trying to rob you?
Of course not!
Throughout the course of human history, there had been plenty of examples of a large country invading a small country under the pretext of discovering the presence of illegal weapons there. After that country was conquered, it was then discovered that there were actually no such illegal weapons found there.
In other words, the reason for mobilizing troops in the first place was not actually a valid one.
What happened then?
Well, it didn’t matter, because they won. The leader of the large country could just declare that the other country was committing wicked acts and needed to be eliminated.
See, it really was that easy.
Excuses were only meant to save face.
What, you won’t give me face? Doesn’t matter to me.
If you wanted to do it badly enough, you would find a way to do it with or without an excuse.
Zhu Xianyao was merely an excuse. Releasing her would never stop the human invasion. That was even more useless against the Beasts. What did Zhu Xianyao have anything to do with them?
As such, Zhu Xianyao also couldn’t stop the battle.
Both Eternal Night and Su Chen were clear about this. Even Zhu Xianyao knew, which was why she had said as much to Iron Cliff. Iron Cliff’s response was that Su Chen had no intention of calling off the conflict anyways.
He tossed out the fishing basket with no intention of repairing it later.
But Eternal Night was going to force him to repair it!
Su Chen hadn’t anticipated this.
He hadn’t expected Eternal Night to be so ruthless.
Just because Eternal Night had seen through
It was impossible for anyone to not think wishfully.
When faced with such powerful pressure, and the enemy saying that they would stop the conflict as long as the hostage was released, most people would become much more amenable to persuasion. After all, a hostage was just a hostage; they had no particular intrinsic value, and nothing would be lost if they were released. On the other hand, if the other party went back on their word and continued to move in by force, that would affect their reputation somewhat.
What if the enemy was also aware of this and would call off the battle as a result?
That was a possibility, after all.
This ray of hope was more than enough to force roughly 70 percent of rulers to acquiesce.
Even if their enemies still insisted on attacking, they would at least be able to explain things to their citizens.
See, it wasn’t me forcibly seizing the hostage that resulted in this situation - our enemies are just greedy and were using this as an excuse. The battle is not my fault.
The ability to explain the situation to their subjects would cause a remaining 29 percent to acquiesce.
However, there were always a few people who could endure the pressure from both without and within, maintaining their ability to choose.
Eternal Night belonged to this one percent.
He clearly saw that only by not releasing the hostage would he have even the slightest chance of avoiding battle.
That chance came in the form of Su Chen!
Su Chen was the one who had incited this conflict in the first place.
He was also the most likely to be able to quell it as well.
So how would he get Su Chen to defuse the conflict?
She was the only bargaining chip.
For this reason, Eternal Night had been intent on killing Zhu Xianyao from the beginning.
He was really going to kill her!
The reason for this was very simple. If he was only intending on pretending to kill her, it was very likely that Su Chen would be able to see through his plot. Only by truly intending to kill Zhu Xianyao would he be able to force Su Chen out into the open.
What if Zhu Xianyao died and Su Chen never showed himself?
Hadn't this already been discussed?
The human race would attack regardless of whether Zhu Xianyao was killed or not.
If that was the case, it was better just to kill her.
As long as Su Chen didn't appear, there was only one distinction between the two choices. If Eternal Night let Zhu Xianyao go, he would have been able to avoid taking responsibility for the impending battle, but he would also have lost the chance at stopping the battle from unfolding and meeting Su Chen. If he killed Zhu Xianyao, Eternal Night would have become a criminal in the eyes of the Harpies, because they would believe he was responsible for this disastrous battle. This would become a humiliating stain on his legacy in the books of history.
Most rulers would have chosen the former in order to preserve their reputation.
However, Eternal Night had chosen the latter.
He was willing to take this chance to force out Su Chen and resolve the conflict.
This was taking responsibility!
No matter how the Harpy civilians viewed him, no matter how his reputation would be tarnished, Eternal Night forever only cared for the future of the Harpies.
In that sense, Eternal Night's boldness surpassed Su Chen's. Even though Su Chen had quite a bit of ⁴skill, robbing places and assassinating high-profile targets was not something that a royal leader would do.
Of course, Su Chen was not an emperor.
He was a sage, the human's Worldly Sage.
This limitation was unfortunate for him, but it turned out to be the good fortune of the human race.
As such, Su Chen and Eternal Night could both be considered great persons in their respective situations.
And Eternal Night’s gamble had paid off.
He had managed to force Su Chen out into the open.
Now, it was time for Su Chen to sell out.
For the sake of Zhu Xianyao’s life.