Chapter 206: Lobbyist (Part 2) [Volume 3 – The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]
Wei Baininan gently and cautiously removed the black lacquer box and placed it on a piece of brocade. A light yellow glow surged from his palms and gradually spread out to form a one square meter light shield which enclosed the box within.
Wei Bainian explained, “One mustn’t allow the item inside contact with moisture or light in order to preserve it well. That’s why an origin power barrier is necessary when appreciating it. I hope the young master will excuse my behavior.”
Qianye momentarily scanned the barrier and found that it had indeed isolated the interior from outside influences. He couldn’t help but feel slightly shaken—a champion level expert’s attacks were more or less able to affect an area. Wei Bainian being able to conjure such a barrier obviously meant that he was able to control origin power at will.
Wei Bainian’s full attention was concentrated on the little box before him and didn’t mind Qianye’s observations at all. It seemed, from the former’s solemn expression, that he was conducting an extremely important business as he gently pushed the lid open.
There was a jade frame within the box with faint origin power lights flickering occasionally at each corner. This was evidently an origin power array. A bright yellow piece of brocade sat upon the jade frame, and properly placed at its center was a small half-used block of ink. Three slim words were visible on the remaining half: “Handmade by Ji”.
Wei Bainian leant over with bated breath and approached the ink block. His eyes didn’t deviate in the slightest as he observed the item detail.
Qianye had long since known that it was a block of ink and that it had extraordinary origins and value. However, he felt rather odd after seeing the actual goods—it was actually a half-used item? But after seeing Wei Bainian’s seriousness and excitement, Qianye intelligently swallowed any doubts he had back into the depths of his heart.
Wei Bainian straightened his back only after a long time. He only dared exhale a long sigh of relief after properly closing the lid. “A smoky ink of the highest quality! It’s actually an item used by King Ji back in the day! I have never expected such a treasure to appear before my eyes! Do you know the merits of this piece of ink?”
Qianye only smiled without replying. He had already read the item’s introduction but decided that it was unwise to make a display before an expert such as Wei Bainian.
Wei Bainian himself didn’t seem to have the intention to wait for Qianye’s reply. His question was only to act as an introduction for the lengthy and unceasing discussion that was to follow. “The patterns on this smoky ink form the thousand miles mountains and rivers pattern. It should be one of the thirty pieces handmade by King Ji himself. Its benefits lie in…”
Wei Bonian spoke for the greater half of an hour from which Qianye only understood that this King Ji belonged to the imperial lineage. He was a great expert from the previous dynasty widely known for his painting and calligraphy. The handcrafted ink and pen were only things he produced for funã—a minor path. However, even this half-used piece of ink was worth tens of thousands of gold coins. Disregarding the price, the important thing was that one might not necessarily be able to buy it even if he had the money. All of King Ji’s equipment and ink had long since been collected by the imperial family and nobility. How could it have the opportunity to appear in the outside world?
Qianye listened quietly and attentively despite being puzzled at heart. Even if it was a rare item belonging to a great expert from the previous dynasty, how was it able to make a person like Wei Bainian change so uncharacteristically?
To Qianye, ink was still ink. The numerous patterns were showy, but they were not substantial. It would prove no use whatsoever on the battlefield. Urgent military reports could be written in a few lines as simple and concise messages were the most effective. As for the yin-yang balance, the color and flourish of the strokes—none of these had any significance.
Such items could only be enjoyed by those born of distinguished families like Wei Bainian.
Wei Bainian only let the matter drop after he had talked to his heart’s content. At this time, his gaze toward Qianye was no longer the same. He said with a smile, “Young Master Qian is indeed a kindred spirit.”
Qianye felt sweat dripping down his back. “I’m actually not very knowledgeable…”
Wei Bainian waved his hands and said, “Young Master Qian, why the need for such modesty? Taking this item out is already a sufficient display of your thoughtfulness! Many young men have probably never even heard of this unique treasure.”
Qianye felt extremely guilty after being praised like this and felt his facial expression turn somewhat rigid. Wei Bainian, on the other hand, could no longer be controlled as he started talking in great delight—he began to discuss his opinions and preferences regarding the various painting and calligraphy experts throughout the history of the Great Qin Empire. This time, the conversation wasn’t just limited to King Ji and involved commenting on almost every expert of various dynasties.
It was obvious that this Wei Bainian was an arts and calligraphy nut. He was actually able to talk until lunchtime even without Qianye talking actively. Even then, his spirits hadn’t diminished—he personally prepared a meal consisting of four dishes and a bottle of good wine, inviting Qianye to drink with him.
Fortunately, Wei Bainian didn’t continue discussing art during lunch but instead talked about past battles with the dark races. The topic of discussion had finally returned to Qianye’s field of expertise. The experiences of a champion were naturally extremely valuable, but Qianye also possessed a degree of unconventional knowledge, allowing the two to hold an enjoyable conversation.
However, Qianye’s heart sank slightly as he noticed a small detail. The wooden box was still placed on the tea table and Wei Bainian didn’t seem to have the intention of putting it away.
Wei Bainian followed Qianye’s gaze and suddenly asked with a faint smile, “What do you intend to do from now on if I don’t accept this division commander’s position?”
Qianye sighed inwardly. He had correctly implemented the strategy of “catering to one’s interests”, but as a champion, Wei Bainian wasn’t one to be moved by material objects. From this, it could be seen that Wei Bainian had only followed Marquis Wei for a visit to Evernight Continent. He was likely here only to posture for a bit and bring Wei Potian back. As for this third-rate defensive region, the Wei clan didn’t care that much.
Wei Bainian hadn’t blocked off the possibility, but being unproficient in persuasion, Qianye no longer knew how to move Wei Bainian. He could only continue guessing the outcome and cater to the other party’s interests, waiting for that slim chance which might or might not come.
Qianye suddenly felt this wasn’t his nature. He had nothing much to contribute to a conversation related to art and calligraphy nor did he possess the authority to comment on the man’s hobby. Wei Bainian, on the other hand, had his own answer and standpoint. Qianye raised his head, his gaze clear and calm. “I’ll still establish a mercenary band and strive to guard Blackflow City.”
Wei Bainian smiled faintly. “What are you going to guard it with? With just a few hundred seedlings?” His voice contained a hint of ridicule but with no evil intentions, like an old veteran confronting a rookie who didn’t know the immensity of the heaven and earth.
Qianye didn’t mind Wei Beinian’s tone at all and only replied, “I’ll know whether it’s possible only after I try. This is a city with tens of thousands of people. Regardless of whether it’s easy to defend, I can’t let the dark races easily obtain it. I don’t believe I can change the ending of this battle, but I'll at least properly fulfill my responsibility since this matter originated from me.”
Wei Bainian’s eyes flickered. “You… plan to die together with Blackflow City?”
Qianye shook his head. “Ah, of course not. I’ll fight until it’s no longer possible to do so and then break through the encirclement. Only by living can I kill more enemies. Only by living will I continue to grow stronger. Then one day, I’ll return and take back everything I lost from the hands of the dark races.”
“Uninfluenced by the honor, disgrace, gains or losses of a single city, land or moment while possessing a broad view of the distant mountains and rivers. Fighting when one should and retreating as the situation demands—this is the true way of a general!” Qianye was shocked as Wei Bainian broke into praises.
Wei Bainian patted Qianye’s shoulder and said, “Then let’s see what kind of ending this battle will bring!”
Qianye was only able to react after a while. “Has General Wei decided to stay?”
“In any case, there are battlefields everywhere. It makes little difference whether I fight here or there. It’s said that the situation here is no small matter and has already alarmed many major characters. I do want to see what kind of surprises there will be.”
After that, Wei Bainian picked up the wooden box containing the half-used cloud ink and put it away carefully. “Although this little thing alone isn’t enough to make me change my mind, things certainly wouldn’t have worked out without it. Since you were so considerate as to find such a thing, I’ll not forego the modesty and accept it!”
“Of course.” Qianye finally heaved a sigh of relief. Accepting the item meant that Wei Bainian had officially agreed to the matter.
Qianye walked slowly along the streets of Blackflow City after coming out of Wei Bainian’s residence. He didn’t enter the alleyways but instead followed the main street of that block, observing everything along the way.
This place was similar to Darkblood City—the population had obviously risen as the situation in the wilderness became increasingly tense. The recent effects of Wu Zhengnan’s matter hadn’t completely faded and the atmosphere was still somewhat tense whenever armed warriors passed by. However, the ordinary citizens were forgetful—to them, the city administration was just an abstraction—it mattered little who was in power as long order was kept and the taxes remained the same.
The tension in the wilderness had more or less affected the city. The shoddy taverns had become even more crowded. There were already drunkards staggering on the roads even though it was only two o’clock and the sun hadn’t completely set.
In Qianye’s eyes, however, such clamor still didn’t feel like the ambiance before a true battle. The civilians all knew that the Trinity River County where Blackflow City was located and Boulder Region wherein lies the nearby Darkblood City were all likely to be embroiled in battle. However, the majority had no experience with true battle.
Bloody conflicts were happening all the time in Evernight Continent, but this land abandoned by the Qin Empire was also a barren place to the dark races of the upper continents. Here, resources were scarce and life was hard—those so-called battles were merely offensive campaigns. The gains from fighting an all-out war on Evernight Continent might not even cover the costs involved. Therefore, the true frontlines between the dark races and the empire were still located in other continents.
What was a true battle?
Qianye had only indirectly experienced such a battle once during his short military career. Back then, he was a rookie who didn’t even have the qualifications to step into a true battle. He was assigned as a guard to a military base close to the front lines. That base was used as a final stop for the major characters joining the battle to reorganize their troops. Leaving it meant they had truly entered the van of the battlefield.
During a short week, Qianye had seen three whole batches of 17 champions assemble there and enter the battlefield. In the end, less than one-third of them returned. And that base was only one of the many such locations.
Through such means, Qianye was first acquainted with the cruelty of the war against the dark races. This was a process every rookie had to go through.
In truth, Qianye had also sensed that both Wei Potian and Song Zining’s true attitudes toward the imminent battle were grave and serious. He had also sensed a similar feeling from Wei Bainian’s words just now.
Qianye was lost in thought as he gazed at the stream of people shuttling back and forth. How much of this lively yet orderly street scene would remain after the chaos has passed?
If war was a furnace, then geniuses were ores. Countless ores would be tossed into it but only a few of them would be refined into true gold—most others would become dregs to be discarded and eventually forgotten.
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