Chapter 186: Struggle Behind the Scenes [Volume 3 – The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace]
Assigned to each of the Far East Industries’ mines was a single squad consisting of over thirty guards. Wei Cheng had transferred an additional squad over after Qianye brought these seedlings to the village.
The two guard captains were both in their thirties and had the strength of a rank four veteran fighter. After arriving at Qianye’s small house, they entered the study which also served as the guest room. There, they encountered Qianye’s pondering figure as well as a table with a map before him.
The two glanced at each other as a vague sense of uneasiness came over them. As the people in charge of the mine’s defenses, they were much more familiar with the local situation in comparison to Qianye. Although they had long since discovered the unusual changes outside the village, they were still unsure of the enemy’s identity. This place, however, was the Evernight Continent, and fights could occur at any time or place—the enemy wouldn’t necessarily be limited to the dark races.
After asking them to sit, Qianye bluntly told the two about Wei Cheng’s visit as well as his discoveries after the latter was trailed.
The expressions of the two guard captains changed drastically.
Of the two, the guard captain who was similarly surnamed Wei began to curse on the spot, “Dammit! That traitorous bastard!”
The other, somewhat older captain was more composed. He pointed toward a few locations on the map and said, “Young Master Qian, if Wei Cheng has left Broken River City for the southwest, he’s most likely heading for the 15th division.”
The representatives of the aristocratic families usually maintained close relationships with the expeditionary army, but Wei Cheng’s actions this time indicated that he wasn’t quite innocent. The only thing worth rejoicing over was the fact that the Broken River City’s 10th division wasn’t involved. Perhaps they wouldn’t have to worry about a whole division attacking them in full strength. The 7th and 15th divisions would more or less have to exercise some restraint if they wanted to launch a cross-region assault.
Qianye warned, “From this point onwards, there’s a chance that we’ll encounter a fierce attack at any moment.”
The two guard captains wore somewhat bitter expressions. “Could it really be… the expeditionary army?” The Far East Heavy Industries naturally wasn’t an entity to be trifled with. All their guard squads were comprised of fighters and were definitely stronger than the expeditionary army’s reinforced combat units. However, it was still impossible for them to contend against a division within the expeditionary army’s territory.
Qianye nodded. “Such a large number of people would be vulnerable out in the wilderness—leaving here means certain death. However, a small group of people might have a chance. You’re all people from the Far East Heavy Industries. As long as you enter Broken River City, you should be safe from overt attacks.”
The captain surnamed Wei replied, “Young Master Qian, what are you saying? How can we face the heir in the future if we just abandon you and flee? This would be tantamount to betraying the clan!”
Although the two weren’t familiar with the inside story, as management grade guard captains, they were present when Wei Potian’s messenger transmitted his message. The messenger had already confirmed that Qianye’s business had to be considered a clan affair and had also stressed that the latter’s authority was equal to that of an inspection executive.
The other guard captain also spoke, “It’s certainly too late to leave now. Furthermore, since it’s the 15th division playing tricks behind the scenes, there’s no telling what stance the 10th division will take. Broken River City wouldn’t necessarily be safer. We can only do our best to defend until the heir arrives tomorrow evening.”
The captain surnamed Wei continued, “Even the expeditionary army can’t be allowed to bully the Wei clan like this! The Wei clan had fostered us for so many years! There will be people to take care of our matters even if we die here. Rest assured, young master, we’ll fight to the death!”
The captain surnamed He only nodded with silent resolution.
Qianye sighed somewhat emotionally. In the beginning, he didn’t plan to have the two guard captains stay because he was worried about the expeditionary army’s influence on them. He thought it would be better to have them leave rather than keep a potential threat nearby. Additionally, Qianye didn’t want his friend to suffer grievous losses in order to help him.
It was only on this day that Qianye was able to witness the true strength of the aristocratic families. Although traitors like Wei Cheng were present, there were even more loyal warriors such as the two guard captains before him—they were willing to lay down their lives for the clan’s honor and interests. This was only one of Wei clan’s lower ranking branches—just how powerful would they be as an entire clan?
The three proceeded to discuss defense strategies. They decided to immediately reinforce the defensive perimeter by dispatching scouts and sentries toward the exterior. Fortunately, there was an abundance of heavy machinery within the mine behind them that could be used to build roadblocks and barricades. Due to Wei Cheng’s betrayal, the situation of the surrounding mining zones had become unclear and their original channels of communication may have been compromised. The two guard captains thus selected a few quick-witted veterans and tasked them with finding a way to report their current situation via the Wei clan channels in adjacent regions.
At this time, Wei Potian had just come out of the expeditionary army’s administrative headquarters.
He was positively beaming. “Everyone said Xiao Lingshi is difficult to deal with and tends to protect his subordinates’ shortcomings, but today, I found that the rumors aren’t true at all!”
The people around him replied almost simultaneously, “This is, of course, due to the heir’s wisdom and might!”
Wei Potian laughed loudly and scolded them with a smile, “You lot should stop with the boot-licking! This daddy here clearly knows what he’s capable of. But, it seems my ability in handling affairs has indeed made some progress recently. With Xiao Lingshi’s matter proceeding smoothly, the old ancestor should be able to justify things on his end.”
Wei Potian was over the moon as the people around him continued to shower him with praises. “Let’s go fellas! This daddy wants to see what kind of shady business the expeditionary army is involved in! I’ll take you all along to broaden your horizons along the way and also let you meet my good brother whom I’d met back in the day! We’ll arrive there tomorrow evening.”
The retinue walked out of the administrative stronghold and headed toward the airship landing pad, where the Wei clan airship from the upper continent was already waiting.
Wei Potian had come to call upon Xiao Lingshi because a certain clan elder had told him that he would have to go past the latter if he wanted to touch anyone from the expeditionary army.The Wei clan heir didn’t have any strategy or plan before coming here—he was prepared to get into a huge argument and use force if necessary.
However, he found that this expeditionary army general was extremely amiable. After listening to what Wei Potian had to say, Xiao Lingshi immediately stated that forbidden deals with the dark races absolutely couldn’t be tolerated and that he wouldn’t help such a person even though he was protective of his subordinates. He told Wei Potian to investigate this matter without any hesitation, and that he would provide as much help as he could within his power.
Wei Potian, apart from being greatly surprised, was naturally quite satisfied. With that, he contentedly walked out from the administrative stronghold and headed toward the seventh division to trouble Wu Zhengnan.
Wei Potian was full of confidence this time but he wasn’t acting arbitrarily. Even if he wasn’t adept at military affairs, there were people in the Wei clan who were talented in such matters. After all, the Wei clan ruled over an entire province and possessed a certain amount of influence in the empire. The Wei clan had long since dispatched people to investigate Wu Zhengnan thoroughly. Only then did they set out on this task.
Even before Wei Potian had set out, someone had long since handed him a thick stack of charges against Wu Zhengnan. The Wei clan heir thus arrived confidently in the Evernight Continent with this evidence in hand. On one hand, he would be able to help Qianye a great deal, while on the other, he would be able to show off his abilities and prove that he was so much better than that useless Song Zining!
Song Zining’s figure appeared behind a certain window of the administrative stronghold. He stared at Wei Potian’s receding figure and said softly, “Idiot!”
A middle-aged man clad in a general’s uniform stood beside Song Zining. The two stars on his epaulet indicated that he was a Lieutenant General. He was of a strong build and possessed an incomparably sharp and imposing manner, almost like an unsheathed blade.
He was also following Wei Potian’s shadow when he heard Song Zining’s unceremonious evaluation. The general couldn’t help chuckling but ultimately didn’t comment. The Wei clan’s heir was quite interesting. With Xiao Lingshi’s background and experience, he looked down on these wild and arrogant aristocratic scions the most. But for some reason, he just couldn’t come to hate this Wei clan heir whose actions, words and bearing quite resembled a fool.
Xiao Lingshi turned toward Song Zining. This Song clan descendant who appeared extremely graceful and amiable at first glance was also wearing a meaningful expression at the moment. What made him somewhat upset was that the core descendants of two different aristocratic clans had set their eyes on one of his subordinate division commanders.
Song Zining replied, “General Xiao, you don’t need to pay that fool any attention. Let’s continue with our discussion.”
Xiao Lingshi nodded and returned to the sofa. Song Zining sat across from him and produced a certain document which he placed before the former. “Here’s half of the rights to all three of the Chen clan’s mines. Please check them.”
“Then I won’t hold back.” Xiao Lingshi received the contract and checked it in detail.
Song Zining sat calmly and patiently. People in a high position such as Xiao Lingshi normally wouldn’t need to personally attend to such matters as there would be relevant personnel to help him sort things out. Song Zineng was partially surprised to see the latter’s devotion and couldn’t help but raise his evaluation of this lieutenant general of humble origins.
This man worked with due diligence despite his high authority and was flexible enough to lower his stance at important junctures. These qualities probably allowed Xiao Lingshi to ascend from his humble origins to his current high position.
After reading through the whole contract twice, Xiao Lingshi put the document back onto the table and spoke with great satisfaction, “I’m greatly reassured by Seventh Young Master’s meticulousness in handling affairs. There’s no problem with this contract. Let us proceed accordingly. I’ll send someone to your residence with my insignia to sign the contract.”
Song Zining nodded in agreement. This was the right thing to do—Xiao Lingshi wouldn’t put too many properties under his direct name. These things didn’t pose a problem for those of aristocratic origins as they had various sources and channels at their disposal. However, for those of humble origins, such properties were potential evidence that could be used against them.
Song Zining said with a smile, “General Xiao, as I said before, this is just the beginning. There will be many profits to share in the Shanyin County or perhaps even in the whole Evernight Continent. After we unroot Wu Zhengnan, all of his trade channels will fall into my hands. At that time, you’ll see even greater returns from this trade route. Those divisions commanders colluding with Wu Zhengnan will also continue earning the same profits as long as they don’t cause intentional trouble for me. The amount of earnings definitely won’t decrease despite the inevitable reduction of their percent shares.”
Xiao Lingshi nodded. “This will be for the best. Otherwise, it’ll be hard for me to settle things if too many people are opposed.” He thought for a while and added, “Since seventh young master came prepared, you must know about the Huaiyang Wu Clan. Have you considered whether or not they’ll voice their opinion?”
Song Zining’s eyes flashed. Xiao Lingshi’s tone was calm and seemingly without any complicated meanings behind them. Everyone knew Wu Zhengnang’s surname Wu had nothing to do with the Huaiyang Wu Clan… at least on the surface.
The only person related to the Huaiyang Wu Clan in this whole business was the supplier, Chen Guangyu of the Chen clan, who could be considered a faraway in-law relative of the Huaiyang Wu Clan. However, Xiao Lingshi wouldn’t be so kind as to remind Song Zining about this just to facilitate the cleanup—the former definitely had other plans since he had mentioned this matter.
Song Zining laughed. “If General Xiao has other ideas, we can consider them regardless of whether the Wu clan voices their opinion or not.”
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This is 1/6 chapter of the week. Enjoy!
TL: Legion, ED: Moxie
Previous teaser. Image source: http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/news/features/behind-scenes-shah-rukh-khan-gives-sneak-peek-film-set/