Song Zining’s expression was incomparably solemn after all the people had left and he alone remained. He was very clear that Xu Lang was a highly ambitious person, not the kind the Nangong family could easily put to work. There might be someone behind him, or perhaps some other reason—none of them was a good sign under the present circumstances.
Song Zining pondered for quite a while before he managed to discard the distracting thoughts and start preparing for the bitter war. Leading troops wasn’t Qianye’s forte, so Song Zining was prepared to shoulder this burden alone.
But it had been so long since there was any news of that troublemaker. Could he really have encountered some misfortune? Song Zining’s brows knitted together involuntarily as he recalled the fuzzy vision he had seen via the Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art—a golden spark flickering weakly in a boundless world of darkness—holding on, steadfast, and unyielding.
Qianye was traversing the Black Forest at this moment. Every leap took him over ten meters forward as he leaped from tree to tree, his feet never touching the ground. It was unknown just how many times faster he had become, but his movements were completely silent.
The Black Forest couldn’t be considered too large and was only a few hundred kilometers in radius. Qianye was able to arrive swiftly at the forest’s borders since the powers of spatial distortion were no longer active after its death.
Before him was a continuous stretch of rising hills leading up to a majestic mountain range far in the distance which pierced into the clouds. The geography was incomparably complicated with its weaving rivers and deep ravines. But in Qianye’s Eye of Truth, he saw that the origin power of this land was much denser than the others and also superior in its purity and liveliness.
The dense and vivacious origin power inevitably signified an easier success in cultivation. It also implied that there were even more resources hidden underneath the earth. Add to that the incomparably complicated landscape, this place was a natural battleground.
Qianye had no idea at all what this place was. Neither did this place correspond to any place on the war-zone map which he had memorized. It was highly possible that he was deep in the hinterlands of the Dark Nation.
He looked up at the sky and found that the Iron Curtain was still there. This proved that he was still within the range of the bloody battle, but that didn’t explain much because the Iron Curtain was simply too big. Moreover, it was reportedly expanding little by little in a certain direction.
Qianye chose a random direction and walked along the forest’s edge. Although he had no idea where he was, a deduction from the previous bearing hinted that he was very likely in the Dark Nation territory. It wasn’t wrong to be cautious.
But this area appeared rather calm. Qianye only saw a small number of conflicts after walking for half a day, a stark contrast from the flaming battle situation around the Blackflow City region.
The battles here were all internal battles among dark race members. Qianye had no intention to participate and only circled around them before continuing his journey in silence. Before long, a small, crude town appeared in the extremes of his line of sight.
The town wasn’t big, and the buildings therein were small and simple, almost like a large settlement. However, the town was thriving despite its small scale with people shuttling through its streets and large clusters of tents pitched outside of its walls. Apparently, there were too many people visiting this place and not enough accommodations. Hence, many of them simply decided to camp outdoors.
It was mostly dark race members going in and out of the small town, but, quite unexpectedly, there were many humans too. At this moment, a group of human warriors had appeared from the distant mountain range and were walking toward the little town. The men were strong, well-equipped, and clad in uniform apparel—it was quite apparent that they were part of a major family.
According to reason, such a group of people appearing in the sights of dark race members signaled the start of a dreadful battle. However, the battle Qianye was expecting did not come to pass. The dark race members only cast them brief glances—some were indifferent, some were cautious, and others were even quite cordial.
In the end, that squad entered the small town without the slightest bit of harm. Later on, Qianye saw several more humans leave the place with excitement written all over their faces. It was as though they had just gained huge benefits.
Such a scene immediately made Qianye recall the Tulip Bazaar he had visited together with William. It seemed this was also a similar place. Not only had the bloody battle not destroyed this grey area, but had, instead, made it thrive even more. It could only be said that the profits to be gained here were much greater compared to military contributions.
After understanding what was going on, Qianye adjusted his clothes and headed toward the small town. He decided to enter the small town as a vampire and take a look around. Trading was only secondary—his main objective was to find out where he was at the moment.
Both humans and dark race members near and far shot Qianye peculiar glances since a loner like him was fairly rare. The so-called safety in the grey zone was only relative. Everyone entering and leaving this place had many valuable things on them—true safety was dependent on one’s own strength.
But Qianye would glare back without showing the slightest bit of weakness whenever he sensed someone’s attention. He was now a newly advanced viscount, and even across the entire Evernight Faction, he could be considered to have stepped into the upper echelons. It would be strange if he were to act meek with such power and status.
There were indeed all kinds of people in this little town. There were only two viscount level champions overseeing the Tulip Bazaar back then, but there were more than two viscounts active in this area. Most of them would release their aura after locking eyes with Qianye and leave after a mutual display of might. It could be considered a fairly common way of greeting among strangers in the Dark Nation.
Two werewolf guards came up to Qianye as he approached the town gates. Qianye said nothing in response to their interrogation and only released some of his aura—the two werewolf guards were immediately intimidated.
The werewolves were full of fear as they took a step back in a gesture of respect. Afterward, they explained the rules of the town quite briefly, mostly pertaining to how private battles were forbidden inside the town and must be taken outside.
Qianye decided to take a good look around the grey market since he had already arrived. He had managed to exchange killer weapons like Black Titanium Bullets of Annihilation during his last visit to a grey bazaar. The ammunition proved decisively useful in the many battles that followed.
It should be even safer than his last excursion with William now that Qianye had condensed a blood core and could hide his human identity perfectly. What did he have to fear?
The clamor rushed at him as he entered the main gates.
The little town was exceptionally lively with people everywhere on the streets. The crowd here was comparable to the most flourishing trade street at the imperial capital. The rooms on each side of the street had been modified into shops, the owners of which included both humans and dark race members. Moreover, there seemed to be very few instances of newcomers being cheated or conflicts on the verge of erupting. Everyone was busy—people would arrive hurriedly, quickly strike a deal, and then leave in due haste.
Both in the small alleyways and on the big streets, there were people doing business and carrying out transactions everywhere. There was no lack of humans and werewolves walking with their arms around each other’s shoulder. The scene here was even more exaggerated than at the Tulip Bazaar.
Qianye followed the stream of people for a while and arrived before a certain store. The shop was clearly the former home of an aboriginal, the front wall of which had been torn down and the room turned into a storefront.
What made Qianye excited was the bizarre insignia upon its signboard which resembled a serpiginous dragon. The empire’s symbol was a flying serpent, and all family insignias resembling one were somehow related to the imperial family. Qianye couldn’t discern whether the picture here was related to the flying serpent, but it did look somewhat similar.
When Qianye walked into the store, a middle-aged man behind the counter asked without looking up, “Race?”
“A new third-rank viscount.” Qianye had never encountered such an odd way of doing business and thus decided to speak honestly.
The middle-aged man finally glanced up at Qianye after hearing his rank and gave him a respectful nod. That was all the etiquette he had to offer.
He then lowered his head once again and said in a cold tone, “Are you looking to deal with humans or other sacred-blood races?”
Qianye hesitated for a moment before saying, “I have a feud with another vampire.”
“Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang are ten blood crystals a pop. One bullet should suffice to kill a third-rank viscount. I have some fine goods from the Song clan if you feel that it’s still not enough. But I only have one, and it sells for fifteen blood crystals. No haggling.”
Qianye drew in a breath of cold air. He hadn’t expected this unassuming little store would actually have Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang for sale and even be able to bring out the Song clan’s special model. His amazing feats back at the Song clan examination had only earned him three Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang which later on proved to be life-saving.
Seeing Qianye’s lack of response, the middle-aged man shot him another glance and said in an apathetic tone, “If you don’t have the money, we also have mass produced Mithril Bullets of Exorcism at two blood crystals each. We have an ample supply of those, but five is the minimum order. Move along if you can’t afford even that much. This store doesn’t do small deals.”
Qianye was already out of supplies and ammunition at the moment. He had exhausted all of his defensive weaponry but had picked up a fair amount of blood crystals and black crystals in the Black Forest. He placed twenty blood crystals on the counter without further hesitation and said, “Two Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang.”
The middle-aged man was somewhat surprised and gazed deeply at Qianye before heading into the back of the store. He emerged moments later with an unremarkable wooden box which he duly placed on the counter. He then proceeded to sweep the blood crystals into a cloth bag and put them away.
Qianye opened the wooden box and found two Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang inside. This unassuming box even contained an isolation array used to retard the bullet’s attenuation.
Qianye was greatly satisfied. He wanted even more, but unfortunately, he didn’t have that many blood crystals. Meanwhile, the middle-aged man had already started to drive him out. “Move along if you have no money. This daddy’s time is precious!”
Even after leaving the store, Qianye still couldn’t quite believe that he was able to buy two Refined Silver Bullets of Extreme Yang. He browsed around the streets and exchanged the remaining blood crystals for a number of vampire origin grenades before he was finally satisfied.
Qianye was now even more interested in this grey market and decided he might as well take some time here. He looked around and eventually squeezed his way into a rundown but crowded bar—alehouses were the best place to gather intel regardless of the nation.
The bar was so crowded that there was hardly any place to stand. The air was thick with the smell of tobacco, ale, and perfume. Most of the people here were already half drunk when Qianye entered.
The bar was a place to indulge oneself, and this one at the grey market was no exception. Many women here was scantily clad, and there were even some who seemed to be wrapped with only strips of cloth, revealing things they should and shouldn’t. Three of the four biggest dark races were humanoid in form and thus possessed similar aesthetic standards—only the arachne were the odd ones out.
But there was no way an arachne could squeeze into such a packed bar either, except the one behind the bar counter. Correct, the owner of this small bar named Apocalypse Nightfall was an arachne.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sounds like a nice town :P
TL: Legion ED: Moxie