Chapter 431: Return Journey
Song Zining’s accomplishments could be considered glorious. He had beheaded numerous dark race viscounts throughout this campaign. However, such accomplishments weren't normal because Evernight wasn’t an upper continent—there was little sense in capturing a city here. How could a small city like Blackflow with its scarce resources attract such a large army?
The dark race’s intentions were easy to read. Luther’s meticulous tactics made clear his intentions to capture the general alive. That was because there was no absolute advantage on the battlefield, and capturing a champion was even more difficult than killing him. Meanwhile, in the eyes of the dark race upper echelons, anyone not an expert was cannon fodder. They wouldn’t flinch no matter the casualty.
That which had stirred the most enthusiastic discussions in his latest battle was his guard squad. Despite consisting entirely of ladies, its combat strength wasn’t at all inferior to those of imperial generals. But what Qianye saw behind these alluring rumors was an incomparable danger because this meant that Song Zining’s hidden aces were being flipped one after another.
Luther was currently receiving a constant stream of reinforcements. His forces after the series of major battles were growing stronger instead of weakening. On the contrary, there was neither reinforcement nor replenishment for Song Zining no matter how many dark race experts he killed. Both supply and manpower would decrease after each battle. He would surely lose after a certain period no matter how skilled he was in military operations.
Qianye was more astonished than he was angry at this point. As an important vanguard of Trinity River County in this bloody battle, Blackflow City should’ve received reinforcements unless it was taken down in one go.
Ignoring the faraway forces, there were still several divisions in Trinity River County, and it was impossible for them to not know the consequences of Blackflow City’s demise. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have offered up a fully equipped battalion each beforehand. So, why were they holding back their troops now that Blackflow was in dire straits?
Most of the expeditionary army divisions were local tyrants. They might be somewhat inferior in fighting power, but they weren’t fools. It was impossible for them to not understand the principles of mutual dependency. Moreover, Song Zining’s combat strength was so powerful—as long as there were reinforcements, the dark race army would have no choice but to weigh the consequences of being attacked on two sides. There was no way they could calmly maintain a siege for over ten days.
Taking a step back, the Song clan also had combat squads entering the Iron Curtain. There was no way they would ignore him under such circumstances since Song Zining was the second heir in name. If by some chance he were to be captured by the dark races, the Song clan’s prestige would take a huge hit regardless of the reason.
However, Blackflow City simply had no reinforcements.
The apprentice returned with a large tactical backpack which the middle-aged man placed beside Qianye. “This is the best set of wilderness gear we have, replete with supplies, tools, and ammunition. Do you want to exchange something else with the remaining quota?”
Qianye looked up from the paper and said, “This news. I want more details on it.”
The middle-aged man’s expression changed after a glance.
“Whatever is left of the quota will go to you,” Qianye said. “I want to know why Blackflow City didn’t get reinforcements.”
The middle-aged man wrote something on the exchange ledger and said with a smile, “This news is quite well-known in private channels. In truth, you could’ve obtained the information quite easily over there. Despite that, I can’t return the items to you.” The remaining quota was still an extraordinary amount, an unexpected fortune for the man.
After that, the middle-aged man told Qianye everything he knew and even offered his personal opinion.
It turned out that the Nangong family’s regular division was already quite close to Blackflow City. Moreover, they had completely locked down all passages there and had spread word that anyone who dared to reinforce Blackflow would be considered an enemy.
The expeditionary army divisions didn’t dare move under the Nangong family’s threat. But in truth, it was useless even if they did mobilize because the Nangong family’s regular division contained countless experts. Several expeditionary army divisions working together might not even be able to beat them, not to mention the fact that the old monster, Nangong Yuanwang, was overseeing this operation.
Although an expert so close to the level of divine-champion couldn’t take action under the Iron Curtain, his fame was enough to deter everyone from stroking the proverbial tiger’s whiskers. Even if the generals from the expeditionary headquarters were to arrive personally, they would still have to weigh the pros and cons.
Qianye’s expression was devoid of joy after listening to the news. However, his blood core began to pulse slowly.
Everyone in the tavern heard the sound akin to a desolate war drum and felt as though a giant stone were pressing down on their hearts—even their breathing halted for a second.
A hunter’s wine glass exploded violently and drenched him in alcohol. However, he simply sat there without the slightest of movements—the entire Home of Hunters became deathly still for a moment.
Qianye took a deep breath and calmed down his blood core’s pulsation, gradually dispersing the invisible pressure inside the tavern. All the hunters soon recovered mobility but none of them dared move. Their hands were trembling lightly but uncontrollably.
It was Qianye who broke the stillness. “Does the Song clan not know about the Nangong family’s conducts?”
“Song clan?” The middle-aged man was the first to recover. He revealed a disdainful expression after hearing the name. “Those cowards only know how to hire people like us to form combat squads and help them earn contributions. Their first place is supplemented by risking people’s lives. It’s already been some time since the Nangong family started doing this, but there’s been no movement at all from the Song clan’s side.”
At this point, a hunter couldn’t help but cut in, “I’ve never heard about the Song clan producing any outstanding men throughout the years. Only this seventh young master is a true hero. Now, he’s fighting a bitter battle in Blackflow City and cut off from the rear by the Nangong family, but the Song clan isn’t even farting. How is that fitting of a major clan?”
Another hunter chimed in, “Agreed! I heard this seventh young master just became a champion a while ago, but he has already beheaded several viscounts from the other side. He’s sure to become at least a supreme champion in the future, right?”
The hunters began speaking up one after another. They discussed their disdain of the Song clan without any pretense.
Qianye listened in silence for a while before placing the stack of papers in his hand onto the counter. He then thanked the middle-aged man and left with the tactical backpack in tow.
His movements as he put down the paper was exceptionally gentle. It was as though he were touching a tender flower petal and afraid he would destroy it. A number of keen people who were paying attention to his movements immediately stoppered up, their eyes full of puzzlement.
Qianye pushed open the doors and left. A gust of wind blew in from the half-open entrance, drowning the lounge in a grave chill and causing everyone to shiver. The counter suddenly disintegrated into countless fine dust granules as the gale blew past and the papers fluttered gently to the floor.
The tavern fell into a lapse of momentary silence as sweat poured out from the hunters’ foreheads.
“T-This… how did such a fierce man appear in such a small place?” One of the hunters forced a laugh.
The middle-aged man saw, in his ledger, that a machine gun had been checked out. He muttered softly with a complicated expression, “It looks like the Nangong family is in trouble.”
There was a three-storied building beside the gates to the Sky River County Capital. The place was incomparably bustling with a steady stream of people going in and out. Most people who wished to take an airship to other places had to buy tickets and register here.
Qianye walked briskly through the stream of people, using some force to part the crowd and clear the path. Some impatient people wanted to curse out loud. For some reason, however, they felt a chill in their hearts at the sight of Qianye’s frail figure which forced the profanities back down their throats.
Qianye quickly made his way to the front and scanned the counters. He found an empty little table at the innermost part with several small airships listed above. He walked over and knocked on the counter. “I want an airship capable of leaving immediately.”
A thin, shrewd-looking man behind the counter raised his brows. “Reserving an airship? That won’t be cheap! Where are you going?”
The thin man was shocked out of his wits and replied hurriedly, “No! Definitely not going there!”
Qianye frowned slightly. “Why?”
“Not only is that place under the Iron Curtain, but it’s also a war zone! Won’t we be courting death? Moreover, the Nangong family has issued a notice that all airships heading to Blackflow must land at their base. Otherwise, they’ll attack immediately upon entry.”
“I’ll add more money.”
These words held a different weight and immediately turned the thin man’s expression into one of hesitation. His gaze darted toward the surroundings as he asked in a hushed tone, “How much?”
“Not enough. I need at least seven times the price to find someone brave enough for this endeavor.”
The thin man moved closer and told him an address. “Go there at midnight with enough money. Someone will be there to make arrangements for you.”
Qianye nodded and was prepared to leave. At this moment, a small person covered in a cloak from head to toe asked hurriedly, “Are there any airships to Blackflow City?”
Qianye was somewhat astonished. He hadn’t expected anyone would want to go to Blackflow City at such a time. But he paid no heed and simply walked out on his own. He could vaguely hear the two bickering behind him, their voices growing louder and louder.
Midnight quickly arrived, and Qianye headed toward the appointed location. The streets were silent, deserted, and became progressively narrower as he walked on. The buildings on each side grew more dilapidated, and the streets were covered in sewage and trash. He had apparently reached the borders of the city slums, a place where crooks and honest folk were almost indifferentiable.
After walking past two lanes, the street gradually turned into a small alley. Qianye came to a sudden stop as a petite figure rushed out from the side to stop his way.
“Are you going to Blackflow City? Can you bring me along?”
Qianye frowned. “Who are you? And I’m not going to Blackflow either.”
The backside of this person’s thick cloak was bulging out—he was clearly hiding a rather big gun inside. Hearing Qianye’s immediate denial, the person was somewhat anxious and cried out, “I clearly heard you reserving an airship to Blackflow.”
Qianye’s expression sank, and his eyes were now suffused with killing intent. “The more you know about certain things, the more likely you are to lose your life.”
“No, I wasn’t intending to eavesdrop on your secrets! I only wanted to go to Blackflow.”
Qianye suddenly leaned backward at this moment as a flying knife whizzed past him and shot straight into the wall of the opposite house. This blade was thrown with a fair bit of force, and might even pierce through regular army armor.
Qianye glanced toward the source of this projectile and found several sinister-looking men walking out of the shadows. “Brat, are you the one looking to join the liveliness in Blackflow City?”
“Who are you?” Qianye’s voice was cold.Previous Chapter Next Chapter