By the time Song Zining and Zhao Jundu’s main force returned to the base, the Empire’s overall accomplishments were beyond glorious.
This round of attacks led to the capture of four groves—including one with two holy trees—and the death of more than fifty thousand demonkin forces.
One had to know that the soldiers transported into the new world were all elites. There was no cannon fodder here because every transported soldier would consume holy tree sap, a valuable resource they couldn’t afford to spend on inferior troops.
In the expert department, two of the demonkin dukes had suffered grievous injuries. One of them managed to survive but had no choice but to retreat from the new world. The damage wouldn’t heal without ten or more days of rest.
Wei Potian’s accomplishments were beyond splendid, having taken down two marquises, one of which was captured alive. His fame blew up so quickly that several aristocratic families began looking at the Wei clan closely.
While most people of his age were fighting for their inheritance, Wei Potian had already been dubbed heir. This was a clear indication of how much importance his family attached to him and a testament to his talents. Even so, every aristocratic family would always have one or two secret seed-characters. The Thousand Mountain was notorious as a turtle shell, and at a glance, it seemed inferior to the top-secret arts of the major clans.
Things were no longer the same now that he had proven himself capable of converting defensive advantage into fighting power.
Some proficient scholars sought out historical texts from the Empire’s inception and proved that the Wei family was one of the earliest clans to follow the founding emperor. Although they were but an unknown little household, their members were close guards who had accompanied the ancestor at his side. The Wei clan’s Thousand Mountains had to have received some pointers from him.
This would explain Wei Potian’s miraculous accomplishments. The family’s value was immediately re-examined, and the unmarried Wei Potian once again became a hot commodity. His popularity even overshadowed Song Zining’s for a short while.
Song Zining might not like Wei Potian that much, but he wouldn’t keep talking about it like the latter. After looking at Wei Potian’s reports, the seventh young master simply transferred the Wei clan heir to his unit to fight alongside himself and Zhao Jundu.
Wei Potian spoke as though he wasn’t willing, but his smiling face betrayed the secret in his heart. This fellow was thinking, “You guys didn’t want me in the beginning, huh. Now you know my value, don’t you?”
Zhao Jundu made no comment. As someone tempering himself in fire, he wasn’t afraid of battles but wouldn’t mind having a meat shield, either. Individual cultivation was one thing, while the ability to kill more enemies was a different matter. The latter was more beneficial to the Empire.
After a period of rest and with the troops having replenished their dose of holy-tree-sap medicine, Song Zining set out with the army once again. He didn’t split the Imperial forces this time, opting to focus all troops in a single unit and leaving only small scouting parties along the flanks. This grand army marched straight for the demonkin’s main stronghold.
There was a forest with three holy trees in this direction, one that had long since fallen into demonkin hands. According to Song Zining’s judgment, the enemy would surely build a fortress here and install a powerful defensive garrison.
The expansion efforts in the new world had reached mid-game, and every faction understood how important the forests were. Each grove was like an island in the ocean—one had to hop between them to expand continuously.
After subduing the core of the lair, Zhao Jundu came to understand the importance of its reinforcement effect. It could be said that the holy tree was a protective talisman on the surface of the new world—the more one possessed, the less obstruction they would face. From every angle of consideration, the demonkin would have to fortify themselves in this forest.
The Empire held the advantage at the moment. After subduing the core, Zhao Jundu became aware of the surrounding region and the distribution of beast lairs. There was no longer a need to scout ahead and risk alerting the enemy.
Hence, Song Zining decided to deal a heavy blow to the enemy before they could regain their footing and complete their troop mobilization. If they could uproot this forest with three holy trees, it would be equal to reducing the demonkin forces by the tens of thousands.
Under Zhao Jundu’s directions, Song Zining accumulated all of the Empire’s main forces. The four dukes were also in the formation, bolstering their lineup to six divine champions and close to a hundred thousand soldiers. It could be said that they had moved out in full force.
The Imperial army did not rest along the way. If a truck broke down, the soldiers would be moved to a different vehicle. In this matter, the demonkin fortress finally appeared before them after one day and night.
The fortress was rather impressive and almost like a small city. The forest behind it stretched endlessly, and there was even an airship floating above it. This was a fairly big investment.
Airships from both factions wouldn’t last long after entering the new world. Ordinary airships would only last a week at most before breaking down. Hence, this airship above the fortress was a desperate measure on the demonkin’s part, an attempt to bolster their forces by burning money.
Song Zining hadn’t expected the airship, but that didn’t affect the situation all that much. He simply ordered the troops to set up the airship cannons they had brought and shoot it down with homing ballistae.
These anti-air equipment were there to deal with flying beasts. Song Zining gave it some thought before they had set out and finally decided to bring them along on this march. They actually proved useful after all! Even Wei Potian had to admit that Song Zining’s luck was rather uncanny.
After a couple of rounds, the experts in the fortress tried to intercept the ballista bolts but were duly blocked by the Imperial side. Without covering fire from long-distance city defenses, the airship—whose speed and evasion capabilities had been reduced in the new world—became an easy target.
The fortress had discovered the Imperial forces in advance, but that didn’t affect Song Zining’s plan to launch a concentrated attack. The Imperial army soon spread out into an orderly formation, setting up all kinds of heavy weaponry to attack the demonkin fortress.
The Empire held the absolute advantage in both troop and expert strength for this battle. The defenses on this newly-constructed fortress weren't that strong, either. They were mostly laid out to defend against the beast army, focusing heavily on aerial defense and short-range networks of defensive fire. This lineup was completely useless against their old enemies, the humans, and even became their weak point.
Blanketed by the Empire’s long-range firepower, the fortress walls soon collapsed, and some cannon turrets were taken out by the four dukes.
As for the experts garrisoned in the fortress, Zhao Jundu and Song Zining worked together to suppress them. After half a day of fierce combat, the thirty-thousand strong defensive force was completely wiped out. One of the two defending marquises was injured, and the other was killed. Only two cowardly counts managed to flee. The empire lost a couple of thousand men, and their experts only sustained light injuries; they would be back on their feet after some rest.
It was a clean victory. After uprooting the demonkin’s most important stronghold in the periphery, the only big target remaining was the one outside of the door.
Song Zining immediately dispatched scouts to explore the area, drawing things repeatedly on the map as the information came in. Before long, he said to Zhao Jundu, “The demonkin ‘door’ is probably in this area.”
Zhao Jundu frowned in contemplation after a glance.
Wei Potian said in a carefree manner, “Let’s charge at them since you know where they are!”
The four dukes only looked at Song Zining. They were entirely convinced of the latter’s skills during the recent battles, so none of them had any complaints.
“The location is only my guess,” Song Zining said to Wei Potian.
Wei Potian’s mouth opened but nothing came out.
Song Zining ordered one of the men to bring a new map of the new world. He made several markings on it while writing down a row of formulas. “I’m sure everyone here has noticed that the space here is a bit warped, right?”
The dukes nodded one after another. As top experts, they were highly sensitive to even the smallest changes in space.
Song Zining pointed at the formula he had just written. “I’ve been calculating this problem recently and found that the degree of distortion is different for each forest. Groves with more holy trees produce a stronger warp. This current forest, for instance, is producing a fairly strong distortion. The exact calculation is as follows.”
Song Zining wrote down a long string of formulas, saying, “This is it.”
Wei Potian’s puzzled eyes went wide. He could recognize every word Song Zining had written, but he simply couldn’t understand what they meant when placed together. These numbers made zero sense to him.
Three of the four dukes wore the same expression; only one of them seemed to be lost in thought.
Song Zining continued, “The ground we’re standing on looks flat, but it’s actually curved. It’s just that our senses are distorted as well, making us think that it’s flat.”
Wei Potian was even more baffled. He glanced at the others and only calmed down after seeing that many were just as confused. He was fine as long as he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t comprehend it.
Song Zining drew several lines on the map that connected the forests, but none of them was a straight line. They were all curved.
He then drew a dotted line toward a certain region and drew a circle there. “The distortion in every area follows a fixed pattern. Calculating from this pattern, the distortion in this area is similar to the area around our door. That means, the demonkin’s door is probably in that area!”
The only duke among the four who understood Song Zining’s formula said, “Since that’s the case, what are we waiting for? If we charge over right now, we might be able to catch them off-guard.”
Song Zining didn’t reply. He pointed to a different area, saying, “If the door really is where I guessed, then I have a different theory.”
He wrote down several formulas, plotting one or more lines from each of them. He ended up drawing an arc connecting the two doors, the focus of which was far in the distance and well beyond the coverage of this map.
Song Zining drew a line through the midpoint of the arc. “This is the most important location. If I’m correct, all the distortions in the new world are pointing to this focal point. The space there is entirely and perpetually warped, which means there might be a giant door leading to an unknown world. That door is the ultimate objective of the dark races!”
Duke Mu was a divination expert himself. He stood up and walked over to the map, observing the formulas one by one. After a long while, he said, “There really might be a door there, or perhaps the word door isn’t suitable to describe it. If there’s indeed a passage there, it’s likely a gigantic portal, the likes of which we have never seen before. The doors that have appeared in our world are like tiny nails used as a support to open the true door!”
Song Zining nodded. “The question at hand is whether to charge at the central door or to capture the little demonkin door?”
Everyone at the scene, including Zhao Jundu, frowned in silence. The choice was so important that no one could come to a decision.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie