Chapter 34: Expeditionary Forces [Volume 2 - Bloom of the Other Shore Flower]
A squad of black clad soldiers walked in, coming from the same direction as the town’s outskirts. They numbered only a dozen or so, but every last one of them reeked of the thick stench of blood. Their armbands were emblazoned with the image of a firearm crossed with a bloodstained bayonet. It was the insignia of the imperial expeditionary army!
The little town’s main gate was entirely destroyed. Outside, broken pipes futily spewed steam into the air. The few buildings around the gate were also blasted apart by the explosion’s shockwave. Meanwhile, the bald sheriff softly moaned, half his body buried under the debris.
It was exactly because the town gate stood in the way of the imperial expeditionary army that they decided to blow it away altogether.
There were also dozens of people following unsteadily behind the soldiers of the expeditionary army. They were a mass of bruises, with their hands tied with iron wires and chained together into a single line. The rusty iron dug deep into their flesh even as they bled. The moment they showed any sign of slowing, they would be immediately whipped by the expeditionary soldiers beside them.
In the darkness, the Red Spider Lily’s glowing signboard and broken windows were extraordinarily striking in the dim light. Due to that, this squad of imperial soldiers switched directions and approached the bar.
Two tall soldiers entered the bar first and surveyed their surroundings.
Their gazes were as sharp as eagles, and no one in the entire bar dared match eyes with them. With the firepower of their automatic rifles they held, it wouldn’t even take them more than a minute to turn everyone inside the bar into corpses.
One soldier pointed at Qianye and said coldly, “Prepare food for twenty men. Quickly!”
“You dirty pigs, clean the tables and get your asses outside! Now!” yelled the other soldier as he pointed his rifle at the scavengers.
With placating smiles, the scavengers wiped the tables clean with lightning speed before escaping the bar. Another group of people consciously moved away from the best tables inside the bar and hid in a corner. The imperial forces didn’t tell them to leave, so none of them dared to step outside.
A tall officer slowly walked into the bar. When he passed through the doorframe, he even lowered his head.
He had a pair of thick, straight eyebrows, and his eyes were like the Evernight Domain’s most savage and devious nighthawks while his predatory gaze swept across every man and woman inside the bar. Then, he chose a table at the center and sat down.
Sounds of scolding and beating came from outside. Then, dozens of people were driven in by the expeditionary forces and forced to pack themselves into a corner.
The officer glanced at the people inside the bar before announcing in a deep and raspy voice, “Look at them! These are the people who were tainted by the blood of darkness. The only fate that awaits them is that of the lightless black mines! They will mine until their deaths, until the black blood awakens and turns them into monsters who thirst only for fresh meat and blood before they are executed by the guards. Open your eyes and look well! All who fall to Evernight shall face this exact fate!”
Fear appeared in everyone’s eyes.
These captured people all shared a common title: blood thrall. Anyone who was bitten by a bloodsucker would be corrupted by the blood of darkness and transformed into a beast without sanity. They would thirst for blood and flesh when it was time to eat, and they would madly attack any targets under a superior’s order until they perished in combat.
Most blood thralls were executed if found anywhere under the Empire’s rule. A small number of people who hadn’t yet transformed would be sent to the black mines to work until their deaths.
Pure blooded vampires were very rarely seen, but blood thralls were also highly dangerous lifeforms. There was an extremely high chance that anyone who got bitten or scratched by a blood thrall—or even got just a little too close to them—would be tainted by the blood of darkness. The original guests and women of the bar pressed into each other and shivered together, doing their very best to stay as far away as possible from those blood thralls.
It was at this moment a middle-aged man suddenly charged out of the captured group of blood thralls, falling to his knees and crying loudly, “I am not a blood thrall. I am not tainted by the blood of darkness!”
A slightly twisted, grim smile appeared on the officer’s face. He said, “I know.”
The middle-aged man froze and lifted his head in shock, unable to believe his ears. But what greeted him was a actually pitch black muzzle!
There was a loud bang. Every bottle and glass in the bar vibrated. The middle-aged man continued to kneel, but his head had already been completely blown away. Blood and brain matter sprayed all over the floor.
The officer blew the blue smoke off his muzzle and said to the headless corpse, “I know that you’re not a blood thrall, but harboring blood thralls is just the same.”
A soldier took a step forward and asked, “Lieutenant Colonel Liu, should we deal with both his sons as well?”
The officer swept a glance at the group of blood thralls. The two pale-faced young men standing there were the middle-aged man’s sons. They shrank backward, trying to hide behind another person’s back.
The officer called Liu pointed at them and said, “Come on you two. Take this corpse outside and toss it to the dogs, then come back and wash the floor! I hate the stench of blood.”
Trembling in fear, the two young men obediently lifted their father’s corpse and carried it outside. Everyone knew that if they resisted, the imperial expeditionary army had hundreds of ways to make them wish they were dead.
Just as the officer surnamed Liu and the imperial soldiers’ eyes were attracted to this side, someone among the blood thralls suddenly made a bid to escape. He charged toward the bar’s back door, screaming, “I don’t want to go to the black mines!”
The officer let out yet another grim smile before unholstering an odd-shaped rifle from his back and aiming at the back of the running blood thrall. His movements might appear slow, but was it was in fact pretty quick. When the blue patterns on the rifle lit up, the blood thrall had just managed to run halfway down the hall.
It was at this moment Qianye walked out from the back door while carrying a food tray.
In this instant, Qianye, the blood thrall, and the officer’s muzzle joined to form a straight line!
The officer saw Qianye, but he still pulled the trigger as the corner of his lips pulled a bit!
Out of the rifle’s muzzle shot not a bullet, but a ball of red light!
Suddenly, a gaping hole was blasted through the center of the blood thrall’s body. Amid the foaming blood and scattered bits of flesh, the red light’s unspent energy continued to travel forward and pierced through two more walls before it finally exhausted itself and disappeared. The red light was unusually powerful and was easily a match for a large caliber cannon!
Qianye’s body was not blasted to pieces. He wasn’t even hurt. Right now, his body was weirdly arched forty five degrees sideways, and both his legs were stuck to the ground as if nailed down. He simply avoided the officer’s firing trajectory.
Tak. With a soft splash, a drop of blood fell from the sky onto Qianye’s face, blooming into a small flower of blood. It was unusually striking on the background of his pale white skin.
Qianye’s breathing suddenly grew heavier, and a glint of dark red flashed deep behind his pupils. However, the abnormality lasted only an instant, and as if pulled by invisible strings, Qianye’s body stood up straight once more. Not a drop of alcohol even spilled on the tray.
Thump. It was only then that the blood thrall’s body crashed onto the ground. A hand stretching forward with everything it had fell with a plop mere centimeters away from Qianye’s feet.
The pupils of the officer surnamed Liu shrunk, and he suddenly smiled, saying, “I didn’t think I would meet a true expert with awakened origin energy in such a tiny place! This is certainly a surprise!”
Qianye said in a low tone, “Just scraping about.”
The officer’s eyes were as sharp as blades. He stared closely at Qianye and asked, “You’re not eighteen yet, are you?”
“A little over seventeen,” Qianye answered.
The officer circled Qianye a few times and said, “You ignited an origin node at just the age of seventeen. Your talent is pretty impressive! You have origin energy, and at such a young age. You should have a bright future ahead of you, and yet you’ve hid yourself at such a small place. Things ain’t as simple as they seem, are they?”
QIanye kept quiet and did not answer.
The officer took out a metallic nameplate imprinted with the expeditionary army’s logo and tossed it into Qianye’s tray. “My name is Liu Jiang,” he said. “I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. If you’re willing, you can take this nameplate and seek out Lieutenant Colonel Chu Xiong at the expeditionary army’s fortress. He’s been lacking some manpower there lately. As long as you’ve joined the imperial expeditionary army, no matter what you did in the past, even if it’s something like killing a noble in the upper continents, it is nothing. Do you understand?”
Qianye bowed slightly and said, “Thank you!” For many people, this was a recruitment opportunity that they could only dream of, but Qianye barely reacted to it.
Liu Jiang could see that Qianye wasn’t too interested in joining the expeditionary army. He was not of the mind to force the issue either, so he returned to his seat and sat down. Qianye put a large glass of spirit and a plate of bacon and potatoes in front of him.
The officer lifted the glass, sniffed, and his eyes lit up. “Good liquor! I seriously didn’t think I would run into such an amazing drink in this small place. If Chu Xiong knew about your culinary skills he would accept you for sure.” However, he then put down his glass and said, “Alright, now give me a glass of water. I never drink on a mission.”
And so, Qianye withdrew the glass of spirit and gave Liu Jiang a glass of water instead.
These were the Empire’s expeditionary forces stationed on the Evernight Continent. On one hand, they were cruel and tyrannical, fierce and overbearing, slaughtering people like flies. On the other, the several million strong expeditionary forces were the central pillar that stood against the dark races. It was because of their existence that human collectives such as Lighthouse Town were not attacked by huge swarms of dark races.
Qianye put out all the trays of food, and the imperial soldiers chowed down without saying a single word. The entire bar suddenly turned quiet. Everyone felt that the atmosphere was oppressive and unbearable, but no one dared to move, much less leave the place.
The imperial soldiers were just halfway through their meals when the bar’s entrance suddenly opened without a sound. Two men clad in black windbreakers walked in.
There was not a speck of dust to be seen on their bodies, and they were so clean and tidy that they appeared incredibly jarring with the wilderness around them. Even more bizarre was that no one noticed their arrival when they appeared.
The moment they entered the bar, the duo swept their gazes everywhere. Every time they saw something their eyebrows would wrinkle just a little tighter. It was as if there was nothing in the place that could satisfy them, including the imperial forces inside.
When Liu Jiang saw the symbol on the corner of the windbreakers, his expression changed as he stood up immediately. But just as he was about to say something, one of the black clad man said coldly, “Did I tell you to stand up?”
Liu Jiang turned furious, but the instant their eyes met, he let out a dull snort and fell back into his seat as if dealt a heavy blow. His face immediately turned pale white, evident that he had suffered quite the injury.
The man snorted and said with contempt, “Bunch of trash. No wonder you could only stand guard at this godforsaken place. If the Empire really had to rely on you to deal with the dark races, we would’ve been destroyed a long time ago.”
Liu Jiang’s mouth twitched as he wiped away the blood seeping out of his mouth and raised a hand to stop his soldiers from moving. With a raspy voice, he asked, “Why have you come to this forsaken land, sir?”
The other person said coldly, “You are not qualified to know! Another word and I’ll have you all slaughtered!”
The blue vein on Liu Jiang’s neck throbbed non-stop, and his hand edged a little closer to the origin rifle behind his back. But still he stopped himself wisely.
When they saw this, the two men wrapped in black windbreakers grew even more disdainful.
It was at this moment when an old voice rang from outside the door, “Miss, this place is unclean. Not only are there blood thralls inside, there are also some dregs of the expeditionary forces. Maybe it's better if you don't go in?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter