Chapter 169: Persuasion
After understanding Su Chen's plan, the rest became much easier to take care of.
Iron Cliff provided her with a way to stay in contact, and then Zhu Xianyao returned to the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion.
In comparison to trying to escape, trying to go back was much easier.
Once Zhu Xianyao returned to the Heavenly Fragrance Pavilion, the clone could find a time when no one was paying attention to disperse.
The sudden disappearance of Zhu Xianyao might cause a momentary panic, but that was acceptable, because then Zhu Xianyao's actual body would enter from outside. It would be as if they had merely lost track for a moment of a target they were supposed to keep an eye on, but that target hadn't actually escaped. The panic would very quickly be replaced with relief.
However, the Harpies never would have imagined that the truly shocking development would take place shortly thereafter.
While Sky City was still in an uproar trying to find Su Chen, Liaoye Country was also beginning to be stirred up.
"Sky City was attacked by a Desolate Beast. Losses include over two hundred thousand casualties and countless resources critical for battle."
"Harpy General Night Violence was killed in battle. At this moment, he is the most influential casualty that we know of.”
“The Midnight Corps suffered serious losses.”
“Seven of the Mother Goddess Sect’s bishops were killed in action.”
“Legendary Arcana Master Heavenly Suncatcher was killed in action.”
“The Lightning God Cannon was damaged due to repeated use.”
“Submerged Camp was totally annihilated. Six out of twelve Titan-class puppets and nearly a hundred Battalion-class puppets were destroyed.”
“They have suffered the loss of countless resources, including those used to construct Sun-Shattering Cannons and Annihilation Bolts, as well as a few billion Origin Stones.”
“The Origin Energy Demonic Tower was partially destroyed by the attack, and its ability to fly is seriously limited.”
“They sustained relatively fewer losses of their floating boats, but one of their imperial flagships was downed and apparently cannot be repaired.”
Report after report concerning the situation in Sky City fell onto Li Wuyi’s desk like snowflakes in a violent storm.
This wouldn’t have been such a big deal. After all, the Harpies’ attack didn’t really affect Liaoye Country much.
However, some people were proposing that Liaoye Country should take advantage of the opportunity to attack the Harpies and seize their territory.
The thought of declaring war also entered Li Wuyi’s mind.
The reports continued to pile on.
“......‘So, we should take advantage of the opportunity to mobilize our troops and demonstrate the might of our country’...... Hmph, he makes it sound so easy.”
Li Wuyi harrumphed and tossed the scroll aside.
The political hall was where Li Wuyi and his imperial subjects discussed political matters. There were a total of twenty-seven subjects, but there were only three people who really participated - Head of Political Affairs Wang Rang, Head of Ceremonies Chang Rong, and Head of Military Affairs Li Ruyun.
The Head of Political Affairs typically had more authority in this setting.
At this moment, Wang Rang was sitting just below Li Wuyi. He said with a slight smile, “An army becomes outdated if it is never used. It’s quite normal that they are pushing so hard to fight; there would be something wrong if they were afraid of battle. But for so many strategically important pieces of information to surface all at once is quite rare.”
Li Wuyi chuckled. “So you noticed it too. It seems that Zhu Chenhuan has been quite busy these past few days.”
A young man standing to the side said with some surprise, “Hasn’t the Zhu Clan already entered into an agreement with Sky Country and obtained the right to do business there? They should be against the conflict, shouldn’t they? Why would they be so proactive?”
The young man’s name was Li Daoqian, and he was Li Wuyi’s son, as well as Liaoye Country’s Crown Prince.
Wang Rang replied, “Apparently, Zhu Chenhuan’s daughter, Zhu Xianyao, has been confined within Harpy territory.”
Li Daoqiang hurriedly asked, “Zhu Xianyao? It’s her? Why would the Harpies want to capture her?”
Li Daoqian had seen Zhu Xianyao a few times before. Both he and Li Daohong had been mesmerized by her beauty and had tried to pursue her in the past. Unfortunately, Zhu Xianyao wasn’t interested in either of them. Even so, Li Daoqian found it impossible to forget about her, just like his little brother Li Daohong.
When he heard that Zhu Xianyao had been confined within Harpy Territory, he immediately went on high alert.
Li Wuyi was very displeased with this reaction and glared fiercely at his son.
Li Daoqian knew that he had stepped out of line and lowered his head, returning to his position.
Wang Rang, however, seemed not to care at all. He shook his head and replied, “Zhu Chenhuan came looking for me earlier. Based on what he told me, they were doing this on purpose to try and find a way to mobilize the troops. But I can’t help but feel like this old man isn’t being totally sincere about the situation. Unfortunately, the rift between us humans and the Harpies is simply too great, and it’s very difficult for my men to get more information. I really don’t know what is going on over there. As such, I can only believe old Zhu temporarily that he was willing to sacrifice his granddaughter as bait for the sake of the country.”
Li Wuyi harrumphed, “Old Zhu is like an incredibly sly fox. You can’t trust what he says. I think there’s a very high chance that Zhu Xianyao has gotten herself into some trouble, and that he needs our help to get her out.”
When Li Daoqian heard this, he grew agitated. “Father……”
Li Wuyi said indifferently, “If you dare ask me about saving her, I’ll break your legs.”
Li Daoqian fell silent immediately.
Wang Rang chuckled. “Zhu Chenhuan is quite sly, but we have already confirmed that Sky City was indeed attacked by a Desolate Beast. Marching on the Harpies is quite a rare opportunity. And Zhu Xianyao is indeed a good excuse to start a war with; Zhu Chenhuan wasn’t lying about that, at least.”
Even though they were suspicious that they were being used, the truth was the truth.
An experienced diplomat like Wang Rang wouldn’t mind being used by someone as long as he received enough benefits during the process.
In comparison to Wang Rang, Li Wuyi obviously had more reservations.
“Mobilizing an army is not hard, but what should we do after that?” Li Wuyi drummed his finger on the table as he muttered. “First of all, are we sure that we can be victorious? Is it possible we can wipe out their country? Also, what will we obtain, and what price will we pay? If the battle doesn’t go our way, what effect will it have on Liaoye Country? Finally, what response will the other races and countries have if we do attack?”
These questions fully demonstrated the foresight and thoughtful consideration that was necessary for any ruler of a country.
Even Wang Rang was taken aback by these questions. After a moment, he replied, “If the reports we are receiving are true, the Harpies’ military strength is much weaker. Purely in terms of combat strength, we have a very high chance of winning. But wiping them out completely will be impossible.”
Sky City was simply too powerful. If it could even destroy a Desolate Beast, there was no way Liaoye Country alone would be powerful enough to take it on, even if the city was badly damaged and incapacitated.
If they couldn’t wipe out Sky City, then they would need to consider things a little more carefully, particularly how the other party would respond.
In addition, once Liaoye mobilized their troops, how would the other countries respond? That was a necessary consideration as well. How would the enemy races react?
If they mishandled this situation, it was entirely possible that Liaoye Country would find themselves stabbed in the back by the other countries or races. What would they do then?
That would be quite the joke.
In any case, it was necessary to be both prudent and cautious when it came to declaring war on an enemy.
Su Chen wanted to provoke Liaoye Country into putting pressure on Eternal Night, but that was still a bit too idealistic. Actually making this happen would not be easy - after all, Su Chen was only one person. He didn’t have the final say in starting this war.
Thankfully, Su Chen hadn’t only relied on a momentary weakness of the Harpies to convince Li Wuyi.
Political matters carried great weight, but they were often carried out with underhanded tactics.
Sometimes, a few simple maneuvers would resolve an immense problem.
Sometimes, bribing someone would be quite effective.
Li Wuyi was incredibly strategical, but no matter how smart he was, it was impossible for him to anticipate that Zhu Chenhuan had bribed Wang Rang. And even if he had noticed, he could only pretend not to have noticed.
Wang Rang was also no idiot. He clearly understood that to convince Li Wuyi to make a move, he would need to come up with a persuasive reason.
This reason could not be a lie or an exaggeration. It needed to actually be true. It was for this reason that he had openly admitted that Zhu Chenhuan was likely not telling the truth from the very beginning.
Only by getting his emperor to believe that he had no private motives would it become easier to carry out the plan.
After confirming that Liaoye Country could never destroy Sky City, Wang Rang thought for a moment before saying calmly, “I understand Your Majesty’s worries, but Liaoye Country and the Harpies have never been friends. We have been at odds for tens of thousands of years, and we have fought countless battles both small and large. The enmity has been around for thousands of years. This problem will not grow out of hand because of one or two fights. Even if we can’t destroy the Harpies completely, whether or not we attack them won’t stop them from attacking us.”
Wang Rang made it clear that the Harpies and humans had never been friends. Any peace was only temporary. As such, there was no need to worry about offending the Harpies, because the Harpies would definitely take advantage of such an opportunity if it were to present itself to them.
Li Wuyi nodded when he heard this. “That’s true. Whether we fight or not, we will never be friends. Only by kicking them when they’re down will we be able to make things easier on ourselves.”
Wang Rang continued, “I’m not too worried about the other countries either. We humans are relatively unified due to the common threat. There shouldn’t be any internal conflict.”
“I fear that there may still be ambitious, duplicitous individuals out there,” Li Wuyi said.
Of course he was very clear about the internal condition. The human race was relatively unified, but there were always some people with unquenchable ambition. If those people tried to take advantage of the opportunity to spring into action, it was entirely possible that Liaoye Country would suffer an incredible blow.
It was never wise to place your hopes on someone’s integrity.
“So we still need to ally with others. The seven human countries are no strangers to allying with one another when the situation demands it. Now that the Harpies are much weaker due to the Desolate Beast’s might, it’s the perfect opportunity for us to strike.”
Li Wuyi frowned. “I’m just afraid that none of the other countries will agree.”
Wang Rang chuckled. “Not if you ask them to mobilize their armies. But if you invite them to share in the spoils, they would be delighted.”
“Share in the spoils?” Li Wuyi was stunned.
“Yes, share in the spoils. Apart from the Harpies’ territory, their resources, and the treasures of the larger clans, has Your Majesty heard about the new hidden treasure that was just discovered in Harpy territory?”
“New hidden treasure?”
“Yes. It’s called something like the Halcyon Wing treasure. Apparently, this Harpy was one of the captives that we let go in an exchange. After returning to the Harpies’ territory, he stirred up quite the commotion, looting Jade Clearmist’s secret treasure realm, Fate’s Hands, and the Mother Goddess Sect in rapid succession before burying them in a hole outside of Sky City,” Wang Rong chuckled.
After a moment, he added on, “Based on preliminary estimates, that treasure is worth no less than three billion Origin Stones.”
Li Wuyi felt his heart lurch uncontrollably when he heard this number.
“Three billion!” He sucked in a breath of cold air.
“Yes, just outside of Sky City.”
“Is the information accurate?”
“It’s already spread throughout all of Sky City, and they have been constantly sending out soldiers to scout the area. It’s almost certain that this information is true,” Wang Rang replied. “A sum of three billion is more than enough to pique Empty Mountain’s and Water Sheen’s interests.”
Just like Su Chen had used Sky City’s weakness to lure Liaoye Country into sending out troops, Wang Rang had chosen to use a similar method. He first tossed out the bait, then let Li Wuyi make his own decision about the situation.
Su Chen had created a rumor about the Halcyon Wing secret treasure to bait Liaoye Country into sending out troops and giving them a reason to mobilize. Unexpectedly, Wang Rang used it to drag Empty Mountain and Water Sheen into the mix.
In some sense, the two of them were quite similar. They were willing to use any method to carry out their goal and weren’t afraid of making the situation larger.
Su Chen had no qualms about starting a war to save Zhu Xianyao.
And Wang Rang had no qualms about making the conflict bigger for the sake of obtaining Zhu Chenhuan’s promised benefits.
Political figures were typically not idiots, but they were usually greedy, and their greed would result in them making stupid decisions.
Of course, whether or not their decisions were stupid depended on the outcome of the battle.
If you succeeded, you were smart, and if you failed, you were stupid. No one would care about what had transpired behind the scenes.