Chapter 229: The Shadow Behind the Reception

 Chapter 229: The Shadow Behind the Reception [Volume 4 – Perpetual Conflict]   

Despite the lingering doubts in his heart, he couldn’t let such a battle opportunity to slip by. He immediately started to charge. Dark red radiance lingered around his shoulders as his hammer, once again, whistled through the air. The arachne captain lay smashed on the ground after the tempestuous onslaught. 

Qianye stepped on the arachne’s chest, drew the Radiant Edge and pierced it deep into the latter’s heart. Surging blood energy flowed through the Radiant Edge and into his body. His mind was immediately shaken. 

The blood energy in Qianye’s body was nearing its maximum capacity after killing two more arachne and a werewolf.

The final battle, just as before, involved numerous high ranking warriors supporting Wei Bainian in killing Sades. However, drawing from the previous lesson, Qianye no longer used the Radiant Edge to deliver the honorary finishing blow but instead used a war hammer to smash the werewolf general’s spine.

This battle left Black Clay Town completely leveled. Wei Bainian seemed to be in a great mood despite being wounded again. He only left a token guard force and a small scouting party before returning to Blackflow City with the bulk of the army. Qianye and the Dark Flame Mercenary Corps were also brought along with him.

The first thing Wei Bainian did upon arrival in Blackflow City was neither a bolstering of defenses nor an examination of the situation in the other lines of defense. Instead, he instructed his men to prepare a grand celebratory wine reception and invited everyone possessing a certain level of fame and prestige within the defensive region.

The heads of Brahms and Sades Soulsplitter were preserved with a secret art and displayed at the wine reception. Reports of the battle had already been delivered to the expeditionary army headquarters. These two trophies will later be sent back to the empire as a display of military accomplishments.

Qianye was naturally also an honored guest at the reception. Additionally, his mercenary band also received a quota to attend the reception. This could be considered a rare honor. But Qianye was still unaccustomed to such occasions—after chatting with some of the expeditionary army officers, he brought his food to an inconspicuous corner table behind the pillar. Wei clan was indeed worthy of being an aristocratic family. With only a single day of preparation and even during wartime, every detail of this reception was arranged perfectly. 

Song Hu followed Qianye around and naturally noticed the latter’s expression. He only spoke after the two had almost cleaned their plates, “Is young master wondering why General Wei is holding a celebration with great fanfare instead of managing urgent military matters?”

Qianye raised his head and glanced around. He said after seeing no one had taken notice of them, “Although we won two battles, the officer casualty rate is almost one-third and troop casualties are more or less the same. That was only a dark race squad from a single direction.” What he didn’t say was that the battle situation hadn’t yet relaxed and, on the contrary, was about to get even more strained. It was a bit too early to be celebrating.

Song Hu understood his implication and replied with a smile, “Young master, you’ll start to see many other aspects to matters when you get to General Wei’s position. This time, for instance, the Wei clan suddenly arrived to suppress the 7th expeditionary army division and even killed the division commander. Although Xiao Lingshi’s side was silent, there are other generals within the expeditionary army headquarters. Even though they’re not showing it on the surface, how can they not have other secret designs? Even if they can’t do anything publicly, there are no shortage of things they can do behind our backs.”

“Behind our backs?” Qianye seemed to have grasped the outline.

Song Hu replied, “Supplies, funds, and provisions for instance. The empire’s supply allocations for the expeditionary army are already insufficient. Now it’ll grow even less after passing through the headquarters’ hands. In any case, delays are a common occurrence—the sequence is from top to bottom—as for whether the 7th division is receiving especially fewer provisions, no one will show any interest.” 

“Isn’t Wei clan channeling resources over here?”

Song Hu laughed out loud, “Wei clan? They’re located in the remote Far East Province, more than thousands kilometers away. If they have to ship resources from their continent, the transportation will probably cost several times more than the resources themselves. However, there is no way to get past the expeditionary army headquarters if they were to collect supplies locally. In truth, this applies not only to resources but also to military accomplishments.” 

Qianye’s eyes turned cold as he replied coldly, “Could it be that they dare to embezzle military accomplishments?”

“Why wouldn’t they dare?” Song Hu questioned.

Qianye was somewhat startled because Red Scorpion didn’t have such an atmosphere. However, he had heard about unfair resource distributions even within the regular army. It was just that he had never expected that military accomplishments could be embezzled from an established unit fighting an honest battle. 

“They even dare touch the Wei clan’s military accomplishments?” Qianye couldn’t help but frown. Besides, Wei Bainian wasn’t a nobody within the Wei clan.

Song Hu laughed coldly. “The Wei clan means nothing. The Marquis is a top character in imperial court with monopoly over the military and governmental affairs of the whole Far East Province. Comparatively, his voice holds little sway over the imperial military. The expeditionary army might even be stronger in terms of comprehensive strength. But this gigantic entity lacks internal unity, much like a tray of loose sand, while Xiao Lingshi himself lacks a proper background. That’s the main reason for their lack of prominence in the empire.” 

At this point, Song Hu said with some pride, “If it’s the Song clan here, I’d like to see if they dare make odd moves!” 

Qianye glanced at Song Hu. He then lowered his eyes to ponder for a moment before saying, “Did General Wei want to deter certain people from the expeditionary army headquarters from going too far by holding this celebration and spreading the news first?”

“It is exactly so.”

Qianye felt a certain discomfort within his heart. “If they’re even embezzling the accomplishments obtained by the front line soldiers in life-and-death struggles, who will be willing to fight for the empire in the future?”

Song Hu’s expression was calm as usual without any signs of indignation. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “This is a land abandoned by the empire, is it not? Some people neither plan nor look that far ahead. Besides, Wu Zhengnan’s incident is a thorn in their flesh. Some people want nothing more than for the 7th division to be wiped out.”

Qianye inhaled deeply. Momentarily, he was at a loss whether to be angry or depressed.

It was at this moment that a Wei clan personal guard came to see him. “Young Master Qian, General Wei invites you over to the study.”

Qianye nodded towards Song Hu and followed the personal guard.

Song Hu glanced at Qianye’s figure from the back and laughed soundlessly. The seventh young master’s friend was an expert in solo combat but was like a blank sheet of paper in other matters—the classical outcome of elite military training since childhood. If there were no accidents, he would definitely become an extremely sharp blade. However, overly firm items tend to break easier.

As things stood, perhaps there wasn’t much to worry about. Although inconsistent with his character, Qianye possessed a certain sharpness regarding strategy which allowed him to deduce many things from a single case. Even if he wasn’t one to scheme against other people, he likely wouldn’t fall for others’ ploys that easily.

Within the study, Wei Bainian was standing in front of a war zone map which occupied a whole wall. His brows were locked together and his expression was solemn, a stark contrast from his spirited and cheerful demeanor back at the wine reception. 

“General, you called for me?” Qianye knocked on the half-open door and entered.

Wei Bainian passed him a few papers saying, “This is the report I received just now. Take a look at it!”

Qianye received the papers and was immediately shocked after looking through them. “West Cliff Town was lost? So was Midcurrent and Three Cypress?”

“The defending troops were obliterated and only a few escaped.” Wei Bainian’s tone was serious.

The three small towns were located on the borders of the defensive region, directly facing the dark race frontier. Now that all three of them had been lost, it was apparent that dark race armies had also appeared from those directions.

“How come there are so many units joining the battle this time?” Qianye suddenly recalled something and asked, “General, how are your injuries?”  

Wei Bainian inhaled deeply and let out a wry laugh, “The accumulated injuries from two continuous battles will need at least a couple of weeks to heal. It’ll be extremely dangerous if another battle arrives.” This was attributed to the extraordinary qualities of Wei Bainian’s inherited arts—the Thousand Mountains was top-grade in defense—how otherwise could one not pay a steep price to kill a champion of comparable strength? Wei Bainian hadn’t received any grave injuries, only those accumulated over the course of continuous battles. This was an excellent outcome.

Qianye shivered involuntarily after going through the report.  The three border towns had collapsed almost immediately after the battle began and didn’t even have time to ask for reinforcements. The dark race armies were inevitably led by champions.

The situation would be extremely dire if Wei Bainian couldn’t hold them back. Qianye could severely wound an ordinary champion with a successful ambush, but killing them just wasn’t possible for him. Furthermore, he definitely wouldn’t be able to escape from the other party’s desperate counterattack.

Wei Bainian said with a sigh, “Although these developments are unexpected, it wasn’t completely without clues. I’ve already made some preparations. This is also the meaning behind this wine reception.”

“To avoid military accomplishments being discounted?” Qianye asked hesitantly.

Wei Bainian shook his head. “Military accomplishments are minor. Everyone, barring the descendants of those generals from the headquarters, will suffer some deductions more or less. I held this wine reception to let people know that we gained two absolute victories. With such accomplishments made known, whatever I do next won’t be criticized.”

Qianye was startled as he waited for Wei Bainian’s continuation.

As expected, Wei Bainian slapped his extended hand hard on the map and said, “I’ve already issued the order for all troops to retreat to Blackflow City. The surrounding cities and towns will be abandoned without exception, including the Four Rivers Military Base.

This strategy shocked Qianye momentarily—withdrawing the whole army to defend a single city was a great military taboo. Wouldn’t it become an isolated city without the deep battle lines? Besides, the defensive fortifications in Blackflow City weren’t as strong as those of Darkblood City.

Wei Bainian continued, “The forces mobilized by the dark races this time has far surpassed anyone’s imagination. We have no idea what they’re after, but it certainly isn’t the 7th division’s desolate and barren territory. After concentrating all our strength in Blackflow City, anyone hoping to take us down will have to pay a certain price. If that price is steep enough, I would circle around and avoid being entangled here if I were the other side’s leader.”

At this point, Wei Bainian recovered his usual leisurely attitude and said with a smile, “It’s time we let our expeditionary army colleagues taste how sharp the edge of the dark race’s army really is. Let’s see how many waves of attacks they can withstand and how many champions they can kill.”

Qianye was dumbfounded—Wei Bainian’s method of withdrawal and leaving the main road open was an obvious move to divert the source of calamity. Not to mention the combined dark race forces from various directions, defending Blackflow city would be a problem even against the joined force of Brahms’ and Sades’ armies.   

Wei Bainian patted Qianye’s shoulder and said meaningfully, “Maybe Blackflow City will fall to you after this war ends.”

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-Legion-'s Thoughts

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TL: Legion, ED: Moxie

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