Chapter 184: Suspicions

Chapter 184: Suspicions [Volume 3 – The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]  

Song Zining arrived in a certain courtyard in the southern part of the city after leaving the Chen mansion. This was his temporary residence. Its original owner was from a distant branch of one of Song’s subsidiary clans. The house wasn’t very large but quite functional and was built in the classical style of Evernight architecture. The building’s well-planned defenses, in case of emergencies, could compare to those of a small castle.

The two champions were already waiting inside by the time Song Zining walked into the side hall. He had someone bring out two boxes sealed with origin power and gifted one to each of them. “This matter wouldn’t have gone so smoothly without the two of you. This is just a small token of my appreciation. Please give my regards to ninth uncle upon your return.”

The two experts hurriedly stood up and the older person said, “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to help the seventh young master. Lord Nine has already reminded us to do our utmost in this matter. We’re all from the Song clan. There’s no need for the young master to be so courteous.”

The two wanted to refuse the gifts.

But Song Zining said resolutely, “It’s merely a small gift. I’m only paying due respect and it has nothing to do with identities. This is a necessary gesture to maintain the prestige of our guest officers. Even though I’m from the direct line, how can I casually order about true experts like yourselves? Ninth Uncle thinks highly of and is willing to look after me. He also wishes for the two of you to treat me as a friend. Only then can we manage matters well.”

The two experts felt at ease after hearing such words and stopped trying to refuse the gifts. They opened the sealed boxes upon returning to their rooms and found, to their great satisfaction, a piece of origin energy black crystal within. 

The two had their duties in the Evernight Continent. Coming to Shanyang County was just a small detour. A mere three days’ delay netted them a piece of black crystal. Such a quick and easy bonus wasn’t a common occurrence even at the champion level. They rarely had any contact with Song Zining in the past, but they found, in their few days of interaction, that the seventh young master was amiable, courteous, and sincere. The other young masters and mistresses seemed relatively narrow-minded compared to him.

These days, Qianye was busy training the seedlings. These meticulously selected people possessed good talent, constitution, and comprehension. Things almost seemed quite presentable after only a few days of training. Additionally, there were quite a few among the children with the potential to become fighters.

He was quite surprised after witnessing their progress even though he had expected as much. They would be able to form a squad 500 strong if they could maintain this training intensity. Their numbers were almost equivalent to a battalion and might not be at all inferior to the Imperial Army if they were properly equipped. If in time, more of them were to ignite their origin nodes to become fighters, their collective strength would even surpass the regular army.

The training in the drill grounds had begun even before dawn. Groups of young boys and girls were running under the dusky illumination of a few origin lamps, undergoing their basic endurance training. The group of fighters was gathered on the other side of the drill grounds training their strength with various equipment.

It was at this time that Wei Cheng’s hurried figure appeared. Qianye’s expression changed involuntarily after seeing the former’s unusually early arrival.

Wei Cheng approached Qianye and whispered, “Young Master Qian, several suspicious figures were recently spotted in the vicinity. We just captured one of them last night.”

Qianye frowned slightly. “Have you found out his origin?”

“The problem lies therein. He’s someone from the seventh division; the type with official records.” 

Qianye glanced at the seemingly worried Wei Cheng—he had told the latter that these people were seedlings and also entrusted the handling of red crystal ores to him but he had never exposed the precise origin of these goods. But Qianye didn’t intend to hide anything because he felt that, with Wei Cheng’s perceptiveness, he should’ve long since found out. That being said, his current worried expression seemed to be somewhat late.

Qianye didn’t intend to beat around the bush and asked directly, “Will they attack the Far East Heavy Industries?”

Wei Cheng’s expression changed slightly and replied, “They certainly wouldn’t attack openly but there are indeed many ways to do things in secret. A group of convicts ‘coincidentally’ attacking the Wei clan mines for instance. No one can blame them for such a thing.”

Qianye nodded. “I need weapons; a large number of them.”

Wei Cheng’s expression momentarily turned ugly. “Although the seventh division’s defensive region is some distance away from Broken River City, the expeditionary divisions from the same theatre have good relationships with each other. In truth, before there’s any enemy movement, we should take this opportunity to…”

Qianye squinted his eyes as he glanced at Wei Cheng. He understood what the latter was implying—he wasn’t willing to thoroughly offend the expeditionary army for Qianye. Although quite powerful, the Wei clan’s strength was still concentrated in the upper continent. The strength of this tiny Broken River City branch is far from being comparable to the expeditionary army. Once conflict breaks out, the ones to suffer first would surely be the Far East Heavy Industries.

If Wei Cheng hadn’t accepted the red crystal ores without hesitation or if Wei Potian hadn’t dispatched a messenger, Qianye could understand that this manager didn’t dare make such a big decision on his own. But for someone who dared take in stolen goods and already knew Wei Potian would be arriving soon, his attitude was rather odd. 

Qianye was now quite suspicious and had no intention of giving this old fox the opportunity to evade his end of the bargain. “Please deliver the equipment you owe me right away. Don’t tell me you have insufficient reserves in the warehouse!”

Wei Cheng’s smile grew increasingly helpless. “Young master, isn’t this making things difficult for me?”

“Even if I don’t, you’ll be blamed all the same when the Wei clan heir arrives. I can’t take all of these people out into the wilderness—that’ll be no different than sending them to their deaths. I want to see the equipment tonight. You must deliver the things I’ve already paid for!” Qianye stopped paying attention to Wei Cheng after saying these cold words and went back to training the young warriors.

Wei Cheng left helplessly after wishing the young master to take care.

Gazing at Wei Cheng’s receding figure, Qianye called one of the warriors over and gave him some instructions. This person used to be a hunter and was proficient in tailing people. Qianye told him to follow Wei Cheng from a distance and see whether he returned to the city or went somewhere else.

Thinking back, Wei Cheng’s attitude was quite zealous after receiving the red crystal ore but had later stalled on delivering the full amount of equipment until this very day. Now, he even wanted to drive Qianye and the seedlings out of this stronghold-like village. This was rather unjustified.

At this moment, the seventh division headquarters was covered in proverbial dark clouds that could turn into a downpour any minute. Wu Zhengnan stood with his hands behind his back, staring at the map on the wall without saying a word. There were half a dozen people within the meeting room, all of them were Wu Zhengnan’s trusted aides. All the core members of the seventh division had gathered here.

No one spoke. It almost seemed as if one could hear people’s heartbeats amidst the deathly silence.

Finally, Wu Zhengnan slowly asked, “Any news from the mines?”

A colonel replied, “Yes, sir. They refused to deliver the latest batch of goods using numerous doubtful excuses no matter how we urge them. The old bastard Chen Guangyu has hidden himself somewhere and hasn’t been heard of since.”   

Wu Zhengnan suddenly asked, “Where are his family members? Have you seen them?”

The colonel was momentarily startled; following which, his expression turned quite ugly. “We haven’t seen them either. Not even one of them. An adjacent mine is being managed by his cousin, but he doesn’t know where they went either.”

Wu Zhengnan nodded. “This means something has happened to the Chen clan mines. Either Chen Guangyu has been captured or he has escaped.” 

The person in charge of this matter, Qi Sicheng, said, “This shouldn’t be possible. That old man has some background and also has some relationship with General Lu of the expeditionary army. Otherwise, how could he get his hands on three whole mines in Shanyang County?”

Wu Zhengnan said gloomily, “That’s why I’m saying this matter isn’t simple. Someone has their eyes on us.”

Qi Sicheng was quite puzzled. “This is the Evernight Continent. Who would dare suppress our expeditionary army directly?”

Wu Zhangnan laughed and pointed upwards which caused Qi Sicheng to immediately stop talking.

Another colonel was dissatisfied. “So what if it’s an aristocratic family from above? It’s probably not that easy to touch the expeditionary army, right? How could the dignitaries of the military department allow them to do as they please? If that really is the case, who will be willing to risk their lives for the empire in the future?

Wu Zhengnan replied calmly, “It’s too late to be talking about these things. What do you make of the news delivered by the 15th division?”

The 15th division was a field division—their position and defensive line were located between Blackflow City and Broken River City. The seventh division naturally couldn’t march its army into the neighboring division’s area and wantonly conduct an open search. The officer in charge had already dispatched a small number of scouts while secretly contacting the divisions they had good relations with. Now, it was precisely the 15th division that had sent a reply.

“We’ve received confirmation that the seedlings are hiding in one of Far East Heavy Industries’ mining sites. The young man who robbed our goods is surnamed Qian and is also at the mine. The 15th division received this news from within the Far East Heavy Industries. Division Commander Zhang stated that he can dispatch a regiment but he wants a 10% share increase in all future transactions. Not only does he have to pay a ‘toll’ because the mine lies within the 10th division’s defensive region, but also because this matter involves the Far East Wei Clan.” 

Wu Zhengnan’s expression became quite ugly at this point as 10% was naturally not a small number.

Wu Zhengnan gloomily paced around before saying, “Agree to it! But you have to tell the man surnamed Zhang that he has to settle this efficiently within a single day. Additionally… tell him not to leave any survivors!”

Qi Sicheng was shocked and said hurriedly, “General, those seedlings are worth quite a lot of money!”

“Losing all investment is better than giving others something they can use against us, sending us to our miserable deaths. Let’s just do it like this!”

Qi Sicheng didn’t dare dissuade but his expression was visibly pained. 50 of those seedlings could be considered his personal investment. He had thrown in quite a bit of the Qi family’s wealth into this.

There were also quite a few people with similar expressions within the meeting room.

Wu Zhengnan muttered to himself for a moment before adding, “The way that man surnamed Zhang does things isn’t quite reassuring. Let’s send one of our own regiments over—send the first regiment!” 

The first regiment was the strongest among Wu Zhengnan’s troops. It consisted of over 2000 soldiers despite being called a regiment in practice. They were well outfitted and wasn’t at all inferior to the imperial army regiments. Dispatching this combat unit proved that Wu Zhengnan was determined to erase these seedlings along with anyone related to this transaction. 

Qi Sicheng was also a meticulous person. After the pain from his loss had subsided, he recalled the abrupt and coincidental disappearance of Cheng Guangyu and his family. Suddenly, he felt a dense shadow fall upon his heart.

The officer in charge of mobilizing the first regiment came running back almost as soon as he left. “General, things don’t look good! A group of people has arrived outside the city claiming to be from the Wei clan. They’ve locked down the city gates, forbidding anyone from leaving the city. Our brethren have gotten into a conflict with them and a dozen or so were wounded.”

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