“What can we do when they’re so strong?” A different ancestor said: “Hidden Gold Grotto might act all that, but it isn’t necessarily as powerful as the federation. The geezers in that alliance have a dozen systems or so behind them.”
“That’s true, they would be ruling right now if it wasn’t for the three behemoths.” The first ancestor sighed and admitted the federation’s power.
This federation was considered the biggest alliance in Imperial Lineage. Funnily enough, their slogan and creed during their foundation focused on justice and fairness.
Their goal was to avoid total hegemony by the three behemoths. That’s why some old Eternals agreed to form this alliance.
The leader and faciliator was the oldest and strongest Eternal - Venerable Deer Merchant. 
Later on, more Eternals joined the mix. Outside of their leader, there were five deputy leaders as well with the title of Heavenly Merchant. They were quite mighty and famous, far stronger than the ten Vajras of Hidden Gold Grotto, at least in a one-on-one scenario.
This alliance lacked institutional consolidation and the members only joined on a personal level. However, behind them were their respective systems.
Thus, the actual power of the federation was quite considerable. Provoking any member was the same as messing with a beehive.
Though Hidden Gold Grotto seemed to be on a meteoric rise recently judging by their attitude, it might not actually be stronger than the federation.
After all, the grotto only represented one system while the federation had a dozen. They were outmatched in terms of military strength and resources.
That’s why people usually refrained from provoking the federation, the three behemoths not included.
No one dared to say anything to stop this blood offering. They disliked this extreme measure and wanted to stand up for justice. Alas, the disparity was too great.
Standing up for strangers and antagonizing the federation would be unwise.
On the next day, the sealed gate of the city slowly opened.
“It’s happening.” The spectators came out of the city in order to watch the development.
They saw platforms erected with grooves on the ground to lead blood everywhere as bait for the corpses.
The entrance and walls were filled with visiting experts. They saw the federation pushing a few dozen natives, both mortals and cultivators alike. They were bound and couldn’t move at all.
The federation’s experts took them on top of the platforms with executioners at the ready.
“What happened to not involving the commoners…” One master shook his head with displeasure.
No law in the cultivation world prevented one from bullying ordinary people. However, this was an unspoken agreement for the most part.
Killing one or two commoners was nothing. On the other hand, blood offering on a bigger scale was a big deal.
Wars between sects and systems were cultivators’ business. They rarely targeted the territories of ordinary people. Even during a massacre, the winner would only kill the disciples of their enemy. They wouldn’t bother with the mortals. Even fewer people dragged them into the flames of war.
After all, they lived in two different worlds. Mortals had nothing to do with the conflicts between cultivators. Thus, they were usually spared.
Not involving the commoners became an unspoken law of the cultivation world - a rule broken by the Trade Federation today.
Many felt that this act would ruin the reputation of other cultivators.
Finally, one older ancestor couldn’t stand this any longer. He stepped out and uttered coldly: “What are you doing?! Throwing away the reputation of cultivators!”
“Don’t make the mistake of interfering with our federation’s business.” A disciple responded in an aggressive manner.
“Even the federation can’t do whatever it wants!” The ancestor waved his hand and blew this disciple flying.
“Yes, he’s right.” The spectators agreed with this old ancestor.
“Cloud Crane Ancestor is right. Even the federation can’t do this.” Another expert added.
This particular ancestor was both powerful and renowned - a big shot in Imperial Lineage.
“Brother Cloud Crane, please calm down.” An old voice resounded. The disciples of the federation carried a palanquin over with an ancestor inside.
He wore a green robe, brimming with life energy.
“Green-robed Heavenly Merchant, one of the five deputy leaders.” Someone recognized him.
People made way for the palanquin with a scared expression on their face.
The five deputy leaders were even more influential than the ten Vajras. They were invincible ancestors during their generation with ample resources and backing.
Venerable Deer Merchant was the strongest in the federation, then these five deputy leaders.
Cloud Crane Ancestor’s expression darkened after seeing this old man. He said: “Green-robed Heavenly Merchant, you, a world-renowned master, should know that using commoners for a blood offering is crossing the line.”
The crowd became quiet after this merchant showed up. The supporters no longer voiced their disagreement because this ancestor was very strong.
“Brother Cloud Crane, you are overstating the gravity of the issue.” The merchant disagreed: “As you can see, Stone Harmony is heading towards destruction, they won’t be able to escape death anyway. We’re only speeding it up so that they can painlessly leave this world.” 
“Bullshit!” Cloud Crane snorted: “Destruction or not, that’s Stone Harmony’s business. Don’t speak as if you’re saving them with this move.”
“Brother Cloud Crane, I do not wish to debate the rights and wrongs in this world with you. I have made this decision after a meeting with the other four merchants. They’re all here right now too and will be more than happy to speak with you.”
This surprised the crowd. One person quietly whispered: “All five Heavenly Merchants are here, what about Venerable Deer Merchant?”
They didn’t expect all five merchants to be here in Mingluo already.
Green-robed Heavenly Merchant hid a threat beneath the guise of civility, telling him to go speak with his peers.
This ancestor was strong but not enough to deal with four merchants at the same time. In fact, few in Imperial actually had this ability. Plus, Green-robed Heavenly Merchant was here too.
“Fine, your mercilessness wins today, but don’t forget, your action today will invoke retribution and judgment for it is against the will of the heaven!” Cloud Crane stomped his foot and said.
“Will of the heaven?” Green-robed Heavenly Merchant started laughing: “Such a thing has never existed. This is a world of the strong, the will of the heaven is only a lie weak people tell themselves to feel better. So what if we perform the blood offering right now, you think this will of the heaven is going to stop me?”
Cloud Crane turned and left with an ugly expression. There was nothing he could do.
1. Lu Keweng could be a title, but I need more context to change it
2. An interesting way to justify decapitation
“I do agree that the Trade Federation is out of line for doing this.” One ancestor stated his disapproval.