Chapter 268: Ahead [Volume 4 – Perpetual Conflict]
Qianye gestured towards Lu Yalan and said, “Let’s go.”
Somewhat stupefied, Lu Yalan followed Qianye out and got into the driver’s seat.
Lu Yalan trembled slightly as she turned to glance at Qianye with eyes full of anxiety and uneasiness. “We’re going back to Serenity?”
“I have some business there. Why? Does Lone Ghost have more agents there?”
“Only some external informers. You’ve killed most of Lone Ghost’s main characters in this region, but they’ll soon discover that something has happened here. At that time, they’ll dispatch some elders over.” Lu Yalan’s voice trembled slightly. Apparently, those Lone Ghost elders weren’t easy to deal with.
Qianye had already familiarized himself with the distribution of Lone Ghost’s force on the Western Continent. He thus replied indifferently, “It’ll take them a couple of days at least. We still have enough time. You’ll be free once I leave Serenity.”
Lu Yalan couldn’t help but shiver after hearing these words.
Qianye realized what had happened and said with a smile, “Relax, you did well along the way, so I won’t kill you. And I believe you’re clever enough not to do something foolish like returning to Lone Ghost.”
Lu Yalan nodded and started the engine in silence.
After arriving in Serenity, Qianye collected his luggage at the small inn and moved to a more centrally located establishment owned by the Zhao clan. He, himself, didn’t linger there and rushed towards the auction house despite the time being close to nightfall.
Zhao Runshui was from a side branch of the Zhao clan. His bloodline was so thin that he could barely be called a member of the clan. Even so, the Zhao surname had played an essential part in allowing him to obtain this lucrative post at the Serenity auction house.
The place had already closed for the evening, but Zhao Runshui was still taking inventory of the day’s income and hadn’t yet left.
He welcomed Qianye inside with great enthusiasm once the guards passed him the token that Qianye had presented. He even dispatched some men to call back the appraiser and trader who had already left and proceeded to evaluate Qianye’s guns one by one.
Qianye suddenly realized something while looking at Zhao Runshui’s appearance. Song Zining’s original instructions had stated that the recipient was a champion from the Zhao clan. Although this was just a disguise, it probably wasn’t without reason. Perhaps Song Zining did have similar connections within the Zhao clan. It was just that this incident had stemmed from the Song clan’s internal competition for the successor’s position—not even the core members of the Zhao clan would interfere in this, to say nothing of a mere champion.
Qianye sighed in his mind. This whole excursion to the Western Continent had been full of battle and murder. His emotions became extremely complicated whenever he thought of the stories hidden behind all the bloodshed.
Zhao Runshui completed his evaluation and brought over a thick resource catalog. Qianye casually flipped through it and requested some rare materials that could be easily carried with him. He also expressed a desire to obtain some weapons used specifically to target the dark races.
Zhao Runshui didn’t ask anything and brought out five Mithril Bullets of Exorcism as well as a special jade box.
The origin bullets within the box were a pleasant surprise to Qianye. He had never expected to see a Refined Silver Bullet of Extreme Yang in an auction house. This was a type of bullet whose firepower was comparable to that of the Black Titanium Bullet of Annihilation. That was, of course, when used against the dark races.
Comparatively, even “the bullet” made by the “great master” was a grade inferior. If Zalen had been shot in the chest by a Refined Silver Bullet of Extreme Yang, he would have likely turned into a charred corpse in an instant, without any chance to recover or treat his wounds.
After completing the deal, Qianye returned to the hotel and found Lu Yalan asleep on the sofa, curled up in an extremely uncomfortable position. Too many things had happened these days, and it seemed that she was exhausted, both physically and mentally.
Qianye patted her awake and said, “We should leave now.”
Lu Yalan opened her eyes in a daze. “Leave? Where are we going?”
A single word had jolted her awake. Huddled up into a ball, she stared fixedly at Qianye with a pale countenance. She wasn’t that timid in the past, but it had become increasingly difficult to maintain her courage after that first time she flinched on the fine line between life and death.
“Don’t worry, I won’t kill you. But I’m leaving now, so you’re free to go wherever you want.”
Lu Yalan’s eyes flickered as she suddenly said, “Can you arrange something for me?”
Qianye was startled. “What kind of arrangement?”
Lu Yalan sat up straight. In addition to fear, there was also a strand of hope within her eyes. “I’ve received comprehensive training in assassination. It’s just that my field experience isn’t sufficient. My specialties are gambling, management, and information gathering.”
Qianye had already packed. He threw his backpack over the shoulder and said after some hesitation, “I’m currently on another mission and can’t bring you along.”
Lu Yalan’s expression fell a bit.
After some thought, Qianye said, “If you’re willing to go to Evernight Continent, you can head to Blackflow City in Trinity River County and claim a position in the Dark Flame Mercenary Corps.”
After that, Qianye tossed her a pouch of money. “Lone Ghost won’t dare cause a big ruckus in Zhao clan territory, so the public airships might be safer.”
Lu Yalan hesitated for a moment but finally nodded.
Qianye thus drove his jeep onto the First Sun Highway under the gradually darkening twilight. At first, he would still pass by travelers who were hurrying towards the city, but after a while, only the wilderness remained in every direction.
A segment of the starry night sky was occupied by a gigantic moon, and one could clearly see the mountain ridges rising and falling upon its surface.
The city of Serenity soon vanished on the other side of the horizon. There was only boundless night wherever Qianye glanced—it was as if the sky and the wilderness had merged together into one.
It felt as if he were the only one left on this whole continent. An unfamiliar star atlas hung upon the firmament—the sky of each continent in this world was unique, and the stars and moons appeared different to people on different continents.
At this moment, many faces appeared in Qianye’s mind. He suddenly began to miss his friends, acquaintances, and even those whom he had only met for a couple of times. Countless images flashed before his eyes: Song Zining passing over the green tea, Wei Potian as he constantly lost his fights, Nighteye’s figure as she turned towards the airship cemetery, Zhao Ruoxi’s smile as she glanced at him from beside the creek, and even that of William as he drooled while gazing at the meat roasting over the bonfire.
With this, Qianye knew he was feeling lonely. It seemed the older he grew, the more afraid he was of loneliness. But he also knew that this feeling was different from when he was escaping Darkblood City. Presently, every bit of longing was born of concern and every bit of loneliness was born of the expectation of a reunion.
After crossing over two provinces, the Fallen Star Mountain Range, which extended for thousands of kilometers, came into view in the distance. Hidden there was another piece of the Black-Winged Monarch’s legacy, the Eye of Truth.
Qianye had already guessed, after merging the Twin Flowers twice, that the pair of wings which had suddenly appeared on the dark golden blood energy was very likely the Wings of Inception. But even if he had no intention to obtain more power by combining it with the Eye of Truth, he still couldn’t sit by and watch as such an important item fell into the hands of the dark races.
The jeep drove farther along the road, day in and day out, toward the boundless mountain and his boundless destiny.
Western Swallow Province was one of the Zhao clan’s four provinces, and it was also a territory the clan had opened up and constructed from scratch.
The Zhao clan’s ancestors, as the meritorious ministers during the founding of the empire, were entitled to a single county. Later on, by virtue of the skill and wisdom of successive clan lords, they had exchanged the county for half a province on the Western Continent. Back then, the empire had just extended its reach here and it was a charred land enveloped by the flames of war, completely incomparable to the fertile lands at the empire’s belly.
However, the Zhao clan produced experts in every generation. With this as a foundation, they were able to seize territories one after another from the hands of the dark races and finally became a great clan whose influence spanned four provinces.
In truth, it wasn’t just the Zhao clan—the other clans had also made contributions as pioneers—even the Song clan, known for its trade and less so for its military might, had gained its core fiefdoms by developing them from the ground up. That was also the reason why their lands were hereditary.
No foundation was conjured out of thin air. Every inch of territory was exchanged for an inch of blood and buried beneath them were the heroic spirits of warriors from each generation.
The jeep had only gone past half of the Western Swallow Province when there was no longer any road in front of Qianye. The Western Swallow Continent was quite odd—half of it was flourishing while the other half was incomparably desolate with numerous traces of having been deserted after the war. The boundaries between the flourishing and desolate regions were also the border regions where the dark races would frequently attack.
After seeing no more road ahead, Qianye knew he had left the safe zone. Following the markings on the map, he found a small border city wherein he sold off the jeep and bought a short-legged horse famous for its endurance. The road ahead was a boundless desert and was impossible to traverse without specialized vehicles. The horse was an easy-to-purchase means of transportation with the best price to quality ratio.
On the evening of the second day, Qianye discovered an isolated stone table which read: Great Qin Border.
He would officially exit the imperial territory after passing this boundary tablet.
At this time, a gust of wind blew past and kicked up a large cloud of yellow sand. Even the sun in the sky became somewhat distorted, but the sandstorm couldn’t affect the boundless light and warmth projected onto this uninhabited area.
The horse under Qianye was already somewhat listless, and his water pouch was already half empty. It would be dangerous if he couldn't’ exit the desert before he used up his water supply. An expert’s strength could only help so much in such a vast and uninhabited region.
But this naturally adverse environment was especially silent. After one more night, Qianye could already see the mountain range far in the distance. The winds blowing in his face had also become less scorching.
He should reach the dark race territory after entering the Fallen Star Mountain Range. Originally, this was an extremely desolate and sparsely populated mountain region, populated a multitude of wild beasts. However, Qianye had seen numerous dark race squads roaming this area. Apparently, it was no longer as tranquil as it was in the past.
After walking out of the desert, Qianye set the horse free and walked into the vast mountains alone. He was fairly cautious and avoided advancing rashly. He took a rest after finding a proper hiding place despite it still being light outside, planning to restore his stamina to its peak before going deeper into the mountain.
Afterwards, Qianye fell into a deep sleep while leaning on the cliffside.
In his dream, he seemed to hear a voice call out to him continuously. It sounded very familiar, but he couldn’t recall where he had heard it before.
The voice repeated the words at a uniform frequency for an unknown length of time before Qianye was able to hear it clearly. “Approach me. Bring me my head and I shall help you become the king of this world!”
Qianye was suddenly jolted awake!
The voice in his dream had been extremely vivid, and it seemed to echo in his ears even after waking up. He finally recalled where he had heard this voice before; it was just after he had obtained the crystal disk fragment from Baron Deryl.
From his experience interacting with Andruil’s consciousness, Qianye realized that this voice was most likely not a hallucination, but a summons from a certain entity. It was just that he couldn't confirm whether the voice was calling out just to him or if other people could also hear it.
But why was this related to a crystal fragment which Andruil had left for his servant? Could it also be a remnant of the Black-Winged Monarch’s consciousness?
Qianye inhaled deeply. He felt rather uneasy—perhaps he would encounter more than just the Eye of Truth in this endeavor.
The next day, Qianye finally discovered traces of dark race activity when he arrived at a vampire castle which stood towering over a certain valley.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
6/6 of the week. ^_^ I think, at this rate, we'll be progressing to 7/week next month.