Chapter 434: The Oriole Scheme
Lin Xitang’s indifferent expression finally changed into one of distinct astonishment. “Empress Li? How can she have the authority to do so?”
Heavenly monarchs were characters at the top of the empire. Even the emperor himself didn’t have much control over them, not to mention an intermediary from the imperial harem—the status was honorable but held little actual power.
But Lin Xitang was extremely sharp. After some thought, he associated this matter with recent developments and soon figured out the entire process.
Zhang Boqian’s first wife passed away early without any children, and his life as a soldier left him with only a bastard son of mediocre talents. He himself was also quite indifferent to producing offspring. The Zhang clan was already prepared to choose a successor from among his nephews from the Duke Dan lineage, as was conventional for nobility.
The Li family had their eyes on this point—they planned to split the number one clan and rope in this newly ascended heavenly monarch while the imperial court and the aristocratic clans were engaged in a power struggle. Their ambitions weren’t small, and their expenditure was just as steep. If the empress’s family managed to form an alliance with the new heavenly monarch on top of their operations throughout the years, the Li family might actually gain the most out of this imperial storm.
Things were already quite clear at this point; a dissected Song clan might not be enough to win the heavenly monarch’s favor, so they resorted to proving their determination by attacking his political rival. And that was how the recent attempts at impeachment came about at the imperial court.
Perhaps that wasn’t the full extent of it, either. Lin Xitang lowered his gaze and fiddled with the memorials in his hand. He had naturally noticed that Zhang Boqian wasn’t referring to a mere Li family, but instead that revered person up above. Both of them belonged to the imperial party under present circumstances—but was it Empress Li trying to seize authority from his hands or was the emperor planning to change the minister in power after shifting the structure of the imperial court?
Thinking up to this point, Lin Xitang glanced at Zhang Boqian’s expression and chuckled. “The Li family… is a pretty good move.”
A harshness flashed through Zhang Boqian’s eyes.
Lin Xitang merely said, “I originally thought the Song clan was engaging in an internal purge. So it was actually the Li family’s proof of allegiance to you.”
“Lin Xitang, I don’t want to know what kind of chess board you’re setting up with this bloody battle, but even if you can calculate the heaven’s mysteries, you can’t surmise people’s hearts. Be careful or you’ll become the proverbial mantis that stalks the cicada or the hunting dog stewed before the rabbit dies.”
“There’s always a winner and a loser in chess, and the derivation of heaven’s mysteries is but choosing the one closest to reality among the countless variations. Who can set the outcome in stone right at the opening move? If I really encounter some mishap...” at this point, Lin Xitang chuckled carelessly as he glanced up at Zhang Boqian, “... We can be considered comrades of many years. Can I entrust my wife and children to you?”
Thump! The entire world seemed to pulse for a moment. It was as though an invisible object had suddenly precipitated in the air, filling the entire room with an oppressive chill.
Zhang Boqian’s voice turned extremely frosty and was accompanied by a biting murderous intent. “If you die, I’ll slaughter every member of the Lin family with my own hands.”
“That’s also fine. They enjoyed the glory born of my success, so it’s only natural that they suffer the consequences of my failure.” Lin Xitang’s expression was calm.
This was the difference between ordinary aristocratic families and a major clan. The Lin family’s prosperity was linked to Lin Xitang alone. There were no sufficiently outstanding talents among his nephews and relatives to inherit his influence. Moreover, the Lin family had only ascended from count to marquis for one generation and didn’t have sufficient alliances in terms of friends or in-laws. The entire family would immediately fall into decline once Lin Xitang was gone.
Meanwhile, the major clans had thousands of years of inheritance, deep accumulations, and flourishing branches. Even if one of their branches were to be uprooted entirely, it wouldn’t damage the main trunk. Even if the main trunk was chopped down, the deeply entrenched side-branches would grow back into a giant tree once the time was right.
Zhang Boqian’s eyes were profound as he left in large strides. The moment he turned around and brushed his sleeves, it was as though thunder had emerged from a clear sky—the sound shook everything within fifty kilometers!
This was the heaven and earth echoing the heavenly monarch’s wrath.
Lin Xitang stood silently for a moment before walking toward his desk. There, he found a circular stone the size of two fists. It was flat on the top and bottom with little holes on its surface in addition to the stony patterns—it seemed to have been washed by an irregular flow of water for many years.
His gaze became focused. He sat down slowly and proceeded to observe the stone for quite a while before putting it down.
The stony patterns suddenly flickered as countless beautiful lines emerged upon it, and the stone opened up from the side with a crisp click. It was actually a cleverly designed box. There was a mass of clear, white radiance within, rippling like mist and emitting a weak but unmistakable aura of void origin power.
The azure lotus at its center was slowly unfolding its petals as though it had woken up from a deep slumber.
This was a plant found only within the great vortex. Dark race records stated that this flower had miraculous effects in composing the spirit and condensing the soul. It was said that when the flower was in bloom, it could repair the damaged souls of nearby living beings. Although the topic of souls was too fleeting for humans, it was still an extremely rare main ingredient used to produce superior medicines capable of aiding the champion advancement process. It was also a necessary ingredient for restorative medicines used by those above the champion level.
This beautiful and treasured plant grew in the perilous depths where even experts daren’t venture. Its bloom and withering would only last a split second before completing its entire life-cycle.
As such, the Marine Lotuses people collected were all wilted petals and stems that had condensed into jade. Even though some people were fortunate enough to personally witness the flower blooming, it was impossible to take away without heaven-defying methods.
Only Zhang Boqian, who possessed the ability to traverse entire continents in a single rush, was capable of bringing back a live Marine Lotus.
Numerous wisps of white mist rose from the lotus petals and curled around Lin Xitang’s fingers, entering through his skin and traveling along his blood vessels. An indistinct fragrance assaulted the senses as the origin power in the surroundings seemingly came alive. It almost blurred out the demarcation between darkness and daybreak, causing the entire world to come together as one.
The azure lotus had blossomed to its fullest extent at this moment. Afterward, its colors faded into translucency, and inch by inch, it became frozen at its most beautiful moment.
Lin Xitang leaned back into his chair, his hand pressing on his eyes and covering up his expression.
Actually, Zhang Boqian had gotten one thing wrong—the heavenly dao had its own rules and the choice was to either go along with it or go against it. Hence, the only thing that could be calculated in this world was the human heart.
At another unremarkable corner of Evernight Continent, there was an airship jolting through the skies and heading due west.
Long-distance flights were fairly dull. Having visited every corner of the airship, Blackmoon had nothing more to do than return to Qianye’s side and accompany him in his daze.
Qianye finally spoke after an unknown length of time, “I might have to engage in a battle before heading to Blackflow City. You should wait for me on the periphery.”
“A battle? With whom?” Blackmoon’s eyes twinkled at the mention of a battle, much like a cat spying a fish.
Qianye laughed. “That battle won’t be easy. The enemy is the Nangong family’s private army.”
“The Nangong family? The people trying to intercept you?”
“To be precise, a couple of bastards and their backers. They’re a high-ranking aristocratic family of the Qin Empire.”
“Sounds powerful.” Blackmoon’s eyes twinkled continuously.
“They are indeed very powerful.”
“Pay 500 gold coins in advance. If I fall in battle, you’ll have to pay 500 more. Moreover, 200 for every rank-nine warrior, 100 for every rank-eight, so on and so forth, reduce by half for every rank. We can make a deal now if you agree.” Blackmoon’s words were spoken with utmost familiarity. She must’ve said them countless times. “I’m speaking of imperial gold coins!”
Qianye replied quite decisively. Now, it was Blackmoon’s turn to be astonished. “You agreed just like that?”
“Aren’t you going to haggle? Don’t you think I might be bluffing?”
It seemed Blackmoon was already prepared for a negotiation. The misjudgment almost caused her face to wrinkle up with inexplicable awkwardness.
“I think the price is reasonable. Wait, you come and control the airship. I need to go out to meet a guest.”
With that, Qianye lifted Blackmoon up, placed her in front of the control desk, and left the bridge. Through the window, one could see an airship flying swiftly toward them, its signal lamp flickering as it sent out messages continuously.
With a gasp, Blackmoon quickly picked up the communications handbook beside the control desk and flipped to the page she had an impression of. Only then did she understand the meaning of the signals—land and accept inspection.
The distant airship wasn’t big, but it was much faster than their antique airship, and the insignia on the airship’s body was especially eye-catching. Blackmoon fished out a stained sheet of paper from her clothes. Dozens of clans insignias were recorded upon it, marked with peculiar Highbeard characters.
“Nangong family?” Blackmoon cried out softly. Her dark eyes showed no signs of nervousness. On the contrary, she seemed to be full of excitement.
It was at this time that Qianye’s figure flashed past the cabin windows carrying a sniper rifle on his back which could only be described as enormous. He was climbing along the outer walls onto the roof of the airship.
Blackmoon’s thoughts couldn’t help but freeze for a moment after seeing this. Even though she had also climbed onto the roof before, it was only an exploratory excursion. The airship was currently flying thousands of meters above the ground—the airflow was ferocious, and the chill cut deep into the bones—even she was nearly blown away despite the mechanical assistance. What was Qianye trying to do? Could he be planning to shoot from up there?
Even as a Highbeard, Blackmoon felt Qianye’s current notion was crazy.
The other airship was obviously a military model. Apparently, they could no longer hold back after failing to receive any response to the lamp signals. Their gun muzzles flickered as a volley of shots swept toward the old airship. But the incoming barrage missed by miles since the distance between them was considerable and both ships were swaying violently through the fierce winds.
Spewing obscenities, Blackmoon moved a heavy machine gun from the cabin, set it up through the cabin windows, and began firing at the other ship. Her feet seemed to be nailed on the cabin floor without the slightest bit of movement—even the powerful recoil from the machine gun was negated by her mechanical power. The muzzle was locked firmly onto the opposite airship.
The young girl’s firing skills were clearly better than the other side. After emptying a box of ammo, at least a dozen or so shots had found their mark over the distance of a thousand meters. However, only a series of sparks appeared on the airship’s surface as the bullets were deflected by the ship’s armor. None of them were able to penetrate it.
Even though the other party was only a small military patrol ship, it was outfitted with protective armor and not something a heavy machine gun could handle.
It was at this time that a loud rumble erupted right above Blackmoon’s head, jolting the entire airship. A fiery streak traversed the night sky and struck the other airship amidst a small ball of dazzling flames. Immediately afterward, she saw a large chunk of the propeller fly off, and the airship began spinning uncontrollably.
Blackmoon’s mouth fell wide open; she was so astonished that she couldn’t say anything.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
That giant tsundere...
TL: Legion ED: Moxie