Chapter 451: Echoes of Tumult
Deep that night, flames suddenly surged into the sky from the airship port, and the explosions therein awoke the garrisoned troops in the entire city. Raging flame pillars soared toward the firmament and, from a distance, looked as though blazing tongues were lapping at the low-lying Iron Curtain.
Nangong Yuanwang hadn’t yet fallen asleep. He was quietly reading a book in his study when the flames rushed up from the airship port. At this moment, the greater half of the airship port had been engulfed in flames, and the ignited airships were exploding one after another.
Nangong Yuanwang’s vision grew dark upon witnessing this scene—he realized that the airship fuel storage had been ignited. Even he could do nothing to save this kind of conflagration—the airship port was sure to be destroyed, and along with it the greater half of the Nangong family’s airship fleet.
But the fuel chamber was one of the most important and heavily-guarded areas. Moreover, there were numerous fire protection mechanisms. How could it be so easily ignited? Although the flames were raging wildly at the moment, it hadn’t been very long since their eruption—the arsonist couldn’t have gone very far.
Nangong Yuanwang’s eyes were like lightning as he scanned the entire area, quickly locking onto a certain figure heading into the wilderness.
It was Qianye!
Nangong Yuanwang was overcome by a certain urge. He shot out and managed to intercept Qianye in the blink of an eye.
The latter wasn’t anxious at all. He gazed straight at Nangong Yuanwang with a substantial little vortex of origin power condensing in his left hand. “What? Has Elder Nangong decided to engage in a proper battle with me?”
Nangong Yuanwang’s expression fluctuated wildly as his eyes landed on the vortex in Qianye’s left hand, but he remained in complete silence. He had clearly sensed from that little maelstrom an aura capable of drawing Sky Demon’s attention.
Qianye waited momentarily, but after receiving no response from the elder, he said with a chuckle, “I’ll be leaving now if Elder Nangong doesn’t want to fight. I’ll visit you again after a while.”
Nangong Yuanwang didn’t move at all even after Qianye had gone far away.
Nangong Yuanwang was born with great status, power, and even had a thread of hope for assailing the divine champion rank. He was one of those characters at the very top. The death of his only son was the greatest setback he had suffered in recent years. But he had long since laid down his bloodline—his grandsons and daughters were still young, but they were much more talented than their father and were sure to accomplish much within the decade.
Meanwhile, Qianye was a poor little brat born on Evernight Continent. He had only obtained this little city—worth even less than an upper continent village—by relying on the younger generation of the Song and Zhao clans. Qianye was no different from an impoverished beggar in Nangong Yuanwang’s eyes. How could he be willing to die together with such a person?
But the situation had reached a stalemate. Qianye’s words made it clear that he was going to return and launch repeated sneak attacks just like this one. Without an effective way to stop him, the Nangong family’s entire division would be devoured piece by piece, not to mention the other Nangong family units under the Iron Curtain in addition to this private army.
Much like a statue, Nangong Yuanwang remained silent and immobile under the Iron Curtain.
Qianye arrived safely in Blackflow City as dawn broke, just in time to have breakfast with Song Zining.
Song Zining offered a definite assertion after listening to how Qianye had destroyed most of the Nangong family division’s airships. “Nangong Yuanwang will withdraw within three days!”
“Let’s hope that is the case. It’s meaningless to deal with these ordinary people.” Qianye rapidly destroyed the big pile of food as he spoke.
Song Zining shook his head. “That’s not the right attitude. Disaster will follow if we allow this private army to retreat safely or shift to other war zones.”
At this point, Song Zining halted his actions and fell into silence. Judging from his demeanor, Qianye understood that Song Zining was plotting something to prevent the entire Nangong division from leaving Evernight Continent.
Qianye was no expert in such matters, so he just left it to Song Zining and continued eating.
“Qianye, what are you going to do next?” Song Zining asked after some thought.
Qianye had already made plans for this. “The Combat Formula requires nurturing in war, so I’m going to continue with the bloody battle. I can stabilize my realm while bringing back some contributions. Oh right, if you have no special use for those contributions, register a portion of it under the Zhao clan’s name. I promised to help Yuying procure some contributions. Naturally, the benefits from the Zhao clan will be yours.”
“Yuying? That’s no problem!” Song Zining agreed readily.
As Song Zining had expected, the Nangong family division uprooted their camp and retreated before three days had passed, opening up the passage to the depths of the Trinity River County.
Nangong Yuanwang retreated all the way outside of the Iron Curtain before reorganizing his troops since only there would they be free of Qianye’s sneak attacks. As for Nangong Zhen who had escaped with grave injuries, he would probably need a fairly long period to recover.
Nangong Yuanwang didn’t plot anything against Qianye after pulling out of the Iron Curtain. This surprised many people, but it was well within Song Zining’s expectations.
The confrontation between Qianye, Nangong Zhen, and Nangong Yuanwang proved to them that Qianye’s combat strength was sufficient for him to move unhindered throughout the Iron Curtain. The private army was able to retreat in peace with Nangong Yuanwang holding the fort, but there were many other Nangong squads and youngsters fighting on the battlefields.
It would surely turn into a one-sided slaughter if a cornered Qianye specifically went after those units. If such a scenario played out—even though the Iron Curtain would inevitably disperse one day—the Nangong family could very well forget about accomplishing anything in this bloody battle. More importantly, the loss of young descendants would stunt the next twenty years of their clan’s development.
In truth, the Nangong family was already showing signs of weariness on the bloody battle rankings due to the heavy casualties they had suffered while hunting down Qianye. This was truly unbearable for the powerful Nangong family. Moreover, there were rumors about them spreading throughout the upper echelons of the empire. Even those from the Imperial Party were starting to criticize them, questioning their strength and denouncing their previous conducts against the Song clan.
Increasing pressure thus fell upon the clan lord, Nangong Yuanbo. The frontline commander, Nangong Yuanwang, also suffered quite a bit of criticism as people believed him incapable of holding things together.
In the end, the enmity between Qianye and the Nangong family was actually due to a girl who had been expelled from the clan; this reason felt unacceptable to most of the elder assembly members. Between killing Qianye to preserve a bit of their prestige and stabilizing their bloody battle accomplishments while safeguarding their younger generation’s growth—the priorities were obvious.
Moreover, there were great changes recently in the general situation between Daybreak and Evernight. Things were vastly different compared to the outset.
More and more dark races from various major continents had arrived to take part in the bloody battle, sending a continuous stream of their young geniuses into the Iron Curtain. The pressure on the empire had thus risen sharply, and the dark races had already begun to occupy the high ground in most of the regions. They even managed to expel the imperial squads completely from certain war zones.
These changes could be directly observed from certain publicized numbers.
Since the periodic publication of the military contribution rankings, people noticed that the total contribution growth was slowing down at each interval. Meanwhile, away from public eyes, the casualty numbers in each family were on a steady rise—some familiar names had started to appear on the list of the fallen.
The role of the hunter and the hunted was gradually shifting.
Not long after the Nangong private army had withdrawn, Qianye left Blackflow City and headed toward the Dark Nation to continue his own hunting expedition. This time, however, his hit-list contained the Nangong family and Bai Kongzhao in addition to the dark races.
The latest edition of the military contribution rankings was published just as Qianye vanished beyond the dark race borders. The Zhao clan’s rankings had finally changed, jumping with great difficulty from rank nine to rank seven.
This could be considered humiliating for an entity like the Zhao clan. At the outset, they could still use the excuse of preparation and the late dispatch of elites to explain the rankings. However, they had no way to explain this meager rank at this point since even Zhao Jundu had gone into battle for quite some time.
At this moment, the atmosphere was more than gloomy in the Zhao Manor of West Pole City, and no one even dared take a deep breath—it was as though a storm was just around the corner. The arrival of two clan warriors broke the silence. They ran at full speed, completely disregarding the rules about how they should travel inside the manor. They later split up to deliver the urgent reports to the studies of Duke You and Duke Yan respectively.
Duke Yan scanned the letter hurriedly, and his countenance soon turned ashen as he slapped the document onto the table. Duke You, on the other hand, read repeatedly and in great detail before crushing the urgent report into fine powder. His expression was so somber that it might very well start dripping water.
The two reports actually contained the same content, the casualty list of clan descendants. However, this list was long—so long that the two dukes immediately lost their composure.
On the border of the Western Continent, a heaven-shaking roar suddenly rang out from the main camp of the Fire Beacon Corps!
Duke Chengen, Zhao Weihuang, the current Zhao clan lord, banged violently on the table, turning the paper to shreds along with the sturdy steel wood table beneath.
But his anger hadn’t yet subsided at this point, and he started throwing whatever he saw. Everything in the study was shattered in the blink of an eye, and even that jade bottle he had been playing with for thirty years didn’t survive.
All of the generals and staff officers of the corps were alarmed by this development and rushed over in a hurry. But how would they dare enter after hearing the thunderous ruckus within? They didn’t even dare whisper and only shot meaningful glances amongst themselves.
Zhao Weihuang’s roars echoed within the study, “Four main branch combat squads all wiped out! Seventeen lineal descendants and fifteen side branch descendants all dead in battle! They’ve gone too far! Do they really think I don’t dare to kill?!”
The generals remained silent and dared not make a sound. All of Zhao Weihuang’s subordinates were fierce generals who lived on the battlefield, but even they could figure out that the meaning behind those words wasn’t simple. Such political struggles directly involved the imperial court—not something they could just take part in.
The door made of starry-sky wood was kicked flying with a bang. It drew a whistling arc through the air and fell onto the barracks on the other side of the drill grounds.
Zhao Weihuang walked out in large strides and shouted, “Issue my command. Follow me back to Qin Continent! This duke wants to see if our battle-hardened Fire Beacon Corps is stronger or if their private armies can fight better!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter