Nan Ruohuai knew his position quite well. He remained smiling without the slightest bit of embarrassment, nor did he take those words to heart.
Qianye asked, “Do you recognize this person? How is he related to your fifth brother?”
Nan Ruohuai said, “He doesn’t know me, but I know him. Fifth brother is one of the four most hopeful candidates for the throne. Changing the Seclusion city lord is probably related as well. This Lord Luo is the fifth brother’s paternal uncle, an actual uncle.”
Qianye understood when Nan Ruohuai stressed the word "actual uncle."
He sized-up City Lord Luo from head to toe before saying, “From now on, this island is the thirty-first prince’s territory, maybe he’ll even join the fight for the crown. Surrender or die.”
City Lord Luo was shocked and furious. “Y-You… this is a rebellion!”
“It seems convincing you to surrender is impossible. You can die now.” Qianye’s expression darkened as he swiped at the air with his index and middle fingers. In a flash of sanguine light, the city lord’s head flew high up into the air!
Nan Ruohuai went pale at the sight, his heart almost jumping out of his chest. He had seen murder and his hands weren’t entirely clean of blood, either. In that split second, however, he felt a tremendous pressure that immobilized him completely.
The prince sensed with great vividness that Qianye could kill him without lifting a single finger. City Lord Luo was a famous expert related to the royal family, someone with records of killing enemies above his level.
Such a celebrated person of great status and martial prowess couldn’t even react before Qianye’s attack, let alone retaliate. Even a butchered chicken might have more dignity.
Seclusion was in chaos.
To the folks on this remote island, City Lord Luo was already a god-like character. Now that someone like him had been killed, what should they do?”
Qianye pointed at Seclusion and said, “Ground forces, enter the city. Kill all who resist!”
The transports drove straight to the gates and dropped one elite warrior after the other onto the city walls. Many of the defending troops dropped their weapons immediately, and the remainder, who showed intentions to resist, were cut down like vegetables.
In less than an hour, Qianye was already sitting on the city lord’s throne. Standing to his left were the handful of mercenary generals he had brought. The right side, however, was full of people—well-known characters from every department and industry in the city.
The sound of cannons could be heard outside the windows—along with screams of extreme misery—making these so-called important characters uneasy.
Qianye waited for the room to quiet down. “This person is His Highness the Thirty-First Prince, I think everyone knows him.”
“Of course, of course!”
“Your fame is resounding!”
“I’ve long since heard of the name. Seeing His Highness for today, I realize you are indeed a dragon amongst men.”
A tide of flattery washed over the hall, puzzling Nan Ruohuai thoroughly until he had almost forgotten where he was. Fortunately, he had the final clarity to remember that these people had no way of knowing the thirty-first prince, and that their flattery was simply giving Qianye face.
But they weren’t wrong. With Qianye and his fleet around, Nan Ruohuai had jumped from a passer-by to a mighty candidate no one dared to approach. If it wasn’t for Qianye’s unknown background, he might just be in the top three contenders.
The cannon fire outside continued to echo. Qianye asked the group, “It looks like there are a lot of people who support civil unrest and rebellion. Ruohuai, what is Zheng’s current punishment for treason?”
Nan Ruohuai said, “Zheng imitated the Qin Empire, so the punishments are fairly similar. Once proven, the penalty is execution of the entire clan.”
It seemed this prince had done his homework quite well.
Qianye nodded. “We shan’t pass such a heavy penalty for the first offense. Since they dare rebel in your presence, this is treason. Kill their immediate families but don’t involve their relatives.”
“You are benevolent, Sire!” Nan Ruohuai praised.
The leaders in the room could no longer sit still, and some of them even began to sweat. Qianye noticed this but didn’t point it out, only saying in an amicable manner, “Everyone, you should take this time to make necessary arrangements. I plan to stroll around the city after half an hour.”
“Thank you, Sire! I do have some things to do at home, I’ll hurry off to make arrangements.”
The sentiment was echoed by numerous people, and in the blink of an eye, most of them were gone. Qianye was giving them half an hour’s time. Those who still dared to offer resistance after that time would be killed. Even City Lord Luo had been slaughtered like a dog. Who else could escape?
Those who remained in the hall exchanged guarded looks.
Qianye closed his eyes and looked like he had dozed off, getting up half an hour later. “Let’s go around the city.”
Seclusion was simple but beautiful, with its white stone roads and colorful decorations. There were a few signs of fighting inside the city, but the damage was minimal. After all, only a small number of people resisted, and they were quickly destroyed as the big clans helped to suppress them.
The most bustling business street in the city, next to the airship port. The stores here were currently in a hurry to display their wares once again. The sudden fight had forced them to close down, but they soon got wind that Qianye was going to make his rounds and feared a silent city would offend this terrifying bigshot.
Qianye strolled past, occasionally dropping into a store he found interesting and asking a couple of questions.
Seclusion was the island’s only outward-facing port, so the stores here mostly dealt in local produce, foreign luxury items, and industrial supplies. The island itself specialized in agriculture and ores, with the only industrial business being ore refinement. They would smelt the raw ores into basic ingots, which would then be shipped back to the mainland.
The island mainly produced basic materials. Although there were sure to be all kinds of rare strategic minerals, they remained hidden since the locals did not have the technical ability to extract them.
Qianye chatted with Song Lun and Nan Ruohuai as he observed the street. An ore with flickering green spots caught his attention in one of the stores, so he picked it up.
This ore was called Green Barium, a composite of many rare ores, and was used in high-grade engines and ballista cannons. Qianye had never imagined that he would find its raw form here, not to mention piled up so randomly among ordinary products.
Qianye asked Song Lun, “There’s actually something like this here. Don’t they use it themselves?”
Song Lun replied, “They probably don’t know how.”
Nan Ruohuai replied, “This Green Barium costs a lot to smelt and its uses are narrow. Truth be told, only the Empire possesses the necessary technology to build high-grade engines and ballistae. Our little Zheng doesn’t have this ability. Even if we excavate this ore, the only thing we can do is sell it to the Empire, and the price set by the Empire leaves us no profit in doing so.”
Weighing the ore in his hand, Qianye shook his head and tossed it at Song Lun. “Keep this and also buy everything they have.”
The store manager was delighted and offered repeated thanks.
He saw several other things along the way that satisfied him. Handled well, these ores would immediately prove useful. After all, there was already an established production line in the neutral lands.
The production chain there required materials, the resources in Zheng needed downstream exports, and the technology would be controlled by Ningyuan Heavy Industries. These three parties would strike a balance that could not be broken. With three important links in three different places, if there was any trouble in either place, Qianye and his Martyr’s Palace only needed to cut off the void passage to turn the industry into scrap metal.
After asking around for a bit, he simply couldn’t understand why Zheng didn’t develop well despite the ample resources. Nan Ruohuai gave him a simple explanation regarding this.
Zheng wasn’t actually lacking in learned people, but rather it was a vast country with a sparse population. Human living environments here weren’t stable as they were fighting with the surrounding dark races most of the time. To Zheng, the quickest way of obtaining high-grade equipment was to fight for the Empire and exchange contribution points.
It would take several decades for them to develop an entire armament production system themselves. Even if they could build the system, the equipment they could produce would be severely limited if they fell short in research and had to rely on the Empire for technology. The investment involved in core research and development was yet another astronomical number.
Qianye shook his head after listening to this explanation. “Zheng has been around for a couple hundred years. If you guys had put in the effort since the beginning, wouldn’t it be complete by now? You might not be able to cover everything in research and development, but it’s not impossible to screen local talents and find a niche to breakthrough. At the very least, you won’t be sitting on a pile of resources and selling them off at trash prices.”
Nan Ruohuai was stunned; he had never thought about it this way.
At dusk, after Qianye had finished eating dinner, a complete list of the island’s mineral resources arrived before him. The data was meticulously presented—not only did it include the type, production, and stock, but there were also introductions to the important mines, their environments, and relevant maps.
Nan Ruohuai’s ability was praiseworthy to have organized so much information in such a short time.
Looking at this list, Qianye came to a general understanding of the situation. The resources here were sufficient to cover the costs of early-stage operations, but it would be far from enough once the main forces arrived.
Qianye opened up the map of Zheng and asked, “What other islands are worth taking? Also, which city on the mainland has an established workshop system?”
Nan Ruohuai had already done his homework. He pointed to the map and said, “Here, the city of Expansive.”
Expansive was on the western side of Zheng, also close to the edge of the continent. This place boasted a flourishing metallurgy system, with blast furnaces throughout the city and workshops of all sizes along the streets. Most of the people in the city made a living from the metal industry.
Because of this, Expansive and the island formed a mutually reliant relationship. Most of the ingots shipped from the island would go there to be refined or made into crude metal products before being shipped further into the continent.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie