Chapter 31: Falling into Darkness [Volume 1 – Between Daybreak and Evernight]
But if that’s the case, didn’t that mean that all those veterans, those Red Scorpion squad leaders who detonated the bombs they carried, and Colonel Wei Lishi who brought him into the Red Scorpion, all died in vain?
No! They absolutely can’t be allowed to vanish without a trace like this!
Qianye tightly gritted his teeth.
If he wished to take vengeance for these Red Scorpions, there were only two options available. One was to rise to the upper echelons of the Empire, attain more power than the culprit behind the scenes, then reveal the truth and claim justice for the Red Scorpion soldiers who fell in battle. But Qianye had now become a blood thrall already; he didn’t even know if he could make it through the day, and it was not at all possible for him to return to human society.
However, there was still another way! Which was to try to survive and think of ways to gain powerful martial might. When he become strong enough, then he would be able to put the names of those culprits on a headhunting list!
Qianye hid the important equipment well and walked away from the mountainous region wearing a civilian’s jacket, carrying only a dagger. He wanted to find human settlements, ask about the situation around here, and see if he could gather any intel on the outside world.
The pre-set return flight coordinates of the escape vessel should have been Red Scorpion headquarters, but it might have been affected when the mothership was damaged and broke the star map. Right now the location of the current landing site was unknown. There was no way to tell the precise location just by looking at the surrounding primitive landscape that had not yet been developed.
However, a day later, Qianye once again returned to this place. Several gunshot wounds that weren’t there before had appeared on his body, and one of them was a large stretch of charred residue on his arm. That was the vestige from being scorched by a silver bullet, and even now it was still ceaselessly oozing with yellow colored pus.
Stupor and despondency were written all over Qianye’s face.
When he went to the city to gather information, he ended up smelling the never-experienced-before sweet scent of fresh blood the moment he saw crowds of people. The thirst for blood deep within his body flared up then and there, and Qianye, who was completely unprepared, immediately gave off a dense blood aura.
This place was on the border of the Empire, and dark races often roamed about around here. As a result, the city defense troops were also extremely vigilant. A patrolling squad immediately recognized the vampiric aura on Qianye.
In an instant, almost everyone in Qianye’s line of sight became his enemies.
By the time Qianye escaped from the crowd, he was already riddled with wounds. Even though he got away and returned to the mountains by using nighttime as cover, Qianye knew that he couldn’t remain in this place.
This was indeed the Qin Continent, the land where Red Scorpion headquarters and Yellow Springs Training Camp were situated. However, this was definitely not good news to the current Qianye.
A vast majority of the Qin Continent was under the Empire’s control, only a small portion of the area was still in the hands of dark races. As long as Qianye’s identity as a blood thrall was exposed, people wouldn’t give him any chance to explain or defend himself at all.
Thinking back, Qianye was also like that when he was still at Red Scorpion. The first reaction after seeing a blood thrall would be to immediately shoot it dead. Just like how the Red Scorpion squad leader taught him, no one could bear the consequences of treating it lightly.
These grievances accumulated between the two races over a thousand years of war. Now, only differences in standpoints were left, and it was no longer the question of right or wrong.
Qianye slowly slid down with his back against a tree, sitting down. His brain was completely blank. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain from the side of his ribs, as though it was licked by the tongue of a blazing fire.
Qianye jumped up, and a small object fell out of his inner clothing, tumbling down to the ground. A glint of silver light flickered. It was an empty bullet shell made of silver. He had forgotten long ago when he had tossed it into his pocket, carrying it till now. Only after it touched Qianye’s skin through the damaged part of the clothing was he reminded of its existence.
The craftsmanship of this little piece of work was actually very crude. The factory polished outer shell could still pass, but the origin array inside had many deficiencies and could only reach fifty percent energy compression efficacy. But it was precisely a mere silver bullet like this that gave Qianye searing pain when making contact with his body, reminding him of his current plight in such a fashion.
Qianye’s army boots suddenly stomped onto it, as he twisted his heels with force, deeply screwing it into the ground. Then he kicked up soil from the surroundings, flattening this small hole. Soon after, it had became indiscernible.
Qianye stood in silence for a while, taking one last look at the scenery of the mountains and land. Picking up his backpack, wrapping himself in a cloak, and pulling down the hood, he quietly left this mountainous region.
At this moment in time, a province in the Empire’s middle layer continent had just bade farewell to several days of rainy weather. The afternoon’s cloudy sky opened up a small crevice, as the light of the sun poured down.
The waves on the river’s surface gleamed in the sunlight while the wind chimes hanging from a waterside balcony jingled with sound. The chimes resembled a one-legged mystical bird that stood straight like a crane; it was the clan insignia of the Highland Song family, which stood in the last place of the Empire’s four Grand Households.
All the buildings in this area were built with wood and stone. The faint glimmer reflected by the high terraces, pavilions, upturned eaves, and glazed glass flowed as though it was blending into one with the jade colored water surface. Everything was filled with the nostalgic presence of bygone eras, entirely different from the architectural style of Empire’s major city buildings which consisted of limestone and metal.
The classical style was prevalent in the upper echelons of the Empire, while the enormous resources they possessed were also sufficient enough to keep these delicate, fine, and seemingly frail facilities in operation.
On the waterside, attached to the balcony was a spacious study room. There weren’t too many furnishings, and a desk was placed below the wide window. There, Song Zining sat upright; in front of him was a stack of documents that had already been processed. Only an unimportant postal newspaper of the Empire remained.
It was simply impossible to tell from Song Zining’s calm and gentle expression that the visitor he was waiting for was already late by five minutes. In his daily schedule, the time allotted for every assignment and business were timed in blocks of fifteen minutes, keeping the habit developed in the Yellow Springs Training Camp.
Song Zining glanced at the newspaper before him and finally flipped it open in slight boredom. He normally would never waste time reading something like this that almost everyone had a piece in hand.
A name jumped into his view, “Lin Qianye”.
Song Zining paused for a few seconds, then flipped back to the front page as the paper produced a light whooshing sound. There was a newsletter hidden in the inconspicuous corner; Red Scorpion Corps suffered defeat in a mission, losing one-third of their Red Scorpion ranked soldiers. While the inner page was the list of casualties, Lin Qianye’s name was also shockingly on the list.
At that moment, knocking sounds came from the door to the room, as the house servant outside announced the guest’s name in a small voice.
Song Zining quietly folded the newspaper, putting it on top of the pile of finished documents. He then stood up, revealing a smile that was impossible to nitpick at in terms of etiquette at the visiting madame.
Meanwhile, in Broken Winged Angel’s headquarters, Wei Potian was currently sleeping soundly on the dorm bed, his posture like a spread out octopus. The past seven days of special concentrated drilling had tormented him a great deal. But all that toil had value; he successfully rose above others in this round of new recruits and obtained the privilege to fight for the Broken Winged Angel in the great military competition.
As to the second letter he had mailed out before his confined training, it was silently waiting inside the return mail box at Red Scorpion headquarters. This letter that no longer had a recipient would be sent out together with the next batch of official documents, traverse through three continents and return to the sender’s hands.
A day later, in a remote corner of the Qin Continent, a team of the Empire’s soldiers discovered the crashed vessel and also discovered the place where Qianye had woken up.
The leading officer possessed keen eyes, as unswerving tenacity was written all over his weather-beaten face. He surveyed the scene closely, and only spoke after an hour had passed, “He is still sane. This isn’t a blood thrall, but a newly born vampire. Though his tracks are lost now.”
“A newborn vampire isn’t really that big of a deal, right?” said another officer..
“True that. Let’s report this matter to our superiors, our mission ends here. This airship belongs to the Military. I certainly don’t want to stick my nose into the Military’s business.”
The other officers also expressed their approval one after another. The Empire’s Ministry of Military Affairs was an incomparably massive beast of war. The number of factions under it were like the number of trees in a forest, the relationships between them tangled and messy. The regional guards and regular army were two entire different systems. Many regular army corps often liked to draft the regional guards as cannon fodder when going to battle. Thus, even though the relations between the two parties wasn’t to the point of being unable to co-exist, it wasn’t much better than that, either.
A crashed escape vessel and an escaped newborn vampire; this couldn’t even be considered as a tiny little bubble in the vast ocean called the Empire. No one was willing to bother spending effort on this matter. Thus, in an obscure, tacit coordination, this trivial matter vanished in the Empire’s enormous bureaucratic body just like that.
Several days later, a lonely figure appeared in a zone bordering the Empire and the dark races. He looked ahead and saw a small town emerging from the far horizon. Beside the town, there actually parked an old but considerably large airship.
This figure was Qianye. He was able to determine at first glance that this airship was an interplanetary airship that could traverse between continents.
Looks like this place was it.
This town wasn't annotated on the map, and there was no data about it anywhere in the Empire’s official records, either. However, it indeed existed. This was a gray zone, the boundary between the Evernight and Daybreak.
Within this small town, dark races and humans could coexist together, and the prerequisite was to have enough money and strength to protect themselves.
Qianye walked toward the small town in large strides, and a fatty with a massive body blocked him at the town’s gate.
“Little guy, what are you here for?”
Qianye glanced at the fatty. Even this gatekeeper fatty had the power of a third rank!
Qianye’s heart quivered as he changed his evaluation of this place, then said, “I’m looking for Grayfeather.”
“Grayfeather? That’s our boss you know! What do you need from him?” The fatty acted slightly more proper.
“I need a ticket.”
“The Evernight Continent.”
“Aha!” The fatty let out a weird yelp. “People who want to go there are all madmen, you know! You couldn’t have done something horribly major, right? Alright, you don’t need to answer my question, I was just curious. Boss Grayfeather had said before, we should be polite to anyone who wants to go to the Evernight Continent. Though, there really are people willing to buy such an expensive ticket, just to smuggle themselves into that hellish place?”
The fatty shifted his enormous body as he chattered on, walking toward the town’s interior. Qianye followed behind him, entering the town silently.
Half a day later, the enormous and ancient airship took off strenuously, and took an entire day before finally managing to exit the continent and enter the void. Qianye sat beside the window, looking at the Empire’s continent that was slowly becoming distant through the muddled glass. Few days later, a new continent appeared through the ship’s window.
That was the Evernight Continent, the place where Qianye grew up.
Evernight; in this abandoned land, all who lived here were creatures entirely forgotten by fate.
Qianye chose it to be his homestead. He would continue his battle against destiny here; perhaps he will suppress the dark blood’s erosion, or perhaps he would be devoured by the dark blood in the end. No matter the conclusion, the Evernight Continent would be the stage where the curtain fell.
The Evernight Continent was indeed a hellish place, but only this place could accommodate a blood thrall who retained his sanity.
The world beneath the airship was still a stretch of dull gray without any light from the skies. It was just like Qianye’s current frame of mind. He already could no longer choose Daybreak, but neither did he want to succumb to Evernight. He could only live and crawl amid the grayness between Evernight and Daybreak, awaiting the verdict of fate.
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