Chapter 454: A Conflict of Martial Dao
The worldly phenomena only dispersed at twilight. Meanwhile, a pillar of water half the height of a man suddenly shot out from the Marrow Cleansing Pond—Zhao Jundu was actually about to leave isolation! The three dukes and supreme elders of the Zhao clan were moved yet again. Was he about to complete his advancement in just half a day?
Duke You Zhao Xuanji’s brows twitched. He was planning to perform a voice transmission—telling Zhao Jundu to stay calm and that consolidating his realm was important—when his eyes froze and his voice vanished.
An ancient-style robe hanging on the nearby sago palm tree flew up and went into the pillar of surging water. Soon afterward, Zhao Jundu slowly walked up along the jade stairs, the three origin vortices in his body shining alternately. He had actually crossed over rank-ten and rank-eleven in half a day to stand as a rank-twelve champion!
This legendary advancement wasn’t forced in the least. The power of Zhao Jundu’s three origin vortices was pure to the extreme, and his qi had condensed into liquid. But that wasn’t all; true experts like Zhao Xuanji could see that the circulating origin distillate was extremely viscous—much like an emulsion—and suffused with a faint trace of azure.
This time, the Zhao clan elders were shaken once more. Such a quality of daybreak origin power would hardly appear in several hundred years, even for a millennia-old clan like the Zhao. Before reaching the champion rank, Zhao Jundu could only be treated as a young genius no matter how accomplished he was—he couldn’t be considered a true expert. Geniuses were common, while true experts were rare. This was the same for both factions across the twenty-seven continents.
After crossing this step, Zhao Jundu would join the ranks of the true experts and even has hopes of challenging the heavenly monarch rank. It could be considered a complete metamorphosis.
The expressions of the various elders and Zhao Weihuang became complicated. Before, they had Zhao Ruoxi, and now they had Zhao Jundu. Even if Zhao Weihuang wasn’t talented, his branch would still enjoy at least hundreds of glorious years and subsequently transform the Duke Chengen title into a hereditary one. It would seem the Zhao clan’s three-duke structure was now set in stone.
Even if Zhao Jundu would never cross the heavenly monarch threshold in the future, he could easily gain another title as long as he was a superior divine champion. The Zhao clan, then, would have four dukes and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Green Sun Zhang clan in terms of power.
Zhao Jundu didn’t stay long after his ascension. He left for the front lines on Evernight Continent the very next day. In response to the elders urging him to stay, he only replied that the bloody flames of battle make for the best training grounds, and that the heads of his enemies were the best congratulatory gifts.
Even Zhao Weihuang was at an immediate loss for words. All he could do was assign more elite generals to fight on Evernight.
Zhao Jundu’s ascension naturally couldn’t be kept a secret. The news was spread throughout the empire in the blink of an eye and became the focus of recent discussions. It was just that the Zhao clan’s situation under the Iron Curtain didn’t change immediately—they were still standing alone against one major clan and various families.
This one clan referred to the Zhang clan, and the various houses were the aristocratic families. The latter’s composition was complicated—there were clans among them, and there was no shortage of imperial party members either.
The Zhang clan was fairly low-key throughout the entire bloody battle, but they encountered the least resistance all this time since everyone knew Zhang Boqian had come to Evernight Continent. They only focused on fighting the dark races within their war zone. However, the Zhang and Bai clans had shared a good relationship over many generations, so it was inevitable that the former would help out in battle. No one knew how or why, but in the end, the Zhang clan was also dragged into the great maelstrom of civil war.
The Green Sun Zhang Clan was the accepted number one clan in terms of strength. Now that they were clashing with the Zhao clan, the situation largely became focused around them. Presently, the two clans were in a deadlock with each side occasionally “misfiring”.
Originally, the four clans, with their entangled relationships, kept one another in check. At the moment, the Zhang and Bai clans shared a close relationship, while the Song and Zhao clans had always had dealings with one another. The Song clan, however, seemed to care only for itself at the moment with their wanton mercenary squads focusing solely on contribution points. Meanwhile, the prideful Zhao clan wasn’t willing to lower itself to ask the weakest Song clan for help either.
The Song clan was still in the lead at this point in the bloody battle, but that was because they had gone all out at the very beginning and gained too much of an advantage. It was extremely difficult to score contributions at this point—a month of bitter fighting now could hardly match a week’s yield of the past—and with the various clans and families confronting one another, it wasn’t easy to make up for the gap.
But discerning people could see that the Song clan’s fall from first place was only a matter of time. Moreover, they would never be able to come back once they had yielded the position.
Actually, there was more ridicule than praise for the Song clan’s first-place rank throughout the empire. It was fine for a middle or lower rank aristocratic family to utilize such tricks, but for a stately major clan to do so was an inevitable invitation of contempt and even revealed their internal weakness in the process.
Moreover, it was the Song clan playing a series of odd moves. For instance, during the battle of Blackflow City, they had actually allowed the Nangong family to block off Trinity River County and left the highly talented Song Zining to defend the dangerous city alone. There was no way for them to explain themselves no matter the argument.
With discussions were taking place throughout the empire, the suggestion of breaking one’s own fence was inevitably brought up. Zhang Boqian had only one comment: “Merchants are all scoundrels.”
On the contrary, the Zhao clan fought on bravely despite the disadvantageous position and was slowly climbing in rank, a clear indication of the thousand-year-old clan’s fighting spirit.
The other clans had more or less revealed their hidden aces in the bloody battle. Some among them were able to awe the masses with a single feat, while others were proven weak despite their powerful appearance. The most discussed household, in truth, was still the Nangong family.
The Yishui Nangong Family had been growing in strength over the recent years—they suppressed the middle and lower ranking aristocratic families, and hardly backed down even against the major clans. In the eyes of outsiders, they had even suppressed the Song clan in this bloody battle so much so that the latter didn’t dare retaliate. It could be said that they were highly impressive.
But that wasn’t the case on the contribution rankings. The Nangong was still among the top-ranks at the outset and their position was quite high, however, they began to slide down over time and had contributed almost nothing in the last two months. This reached a point where they were kicked out of the top-ten, inciting countless debates and discussions—all types of mockery and derision were a given.
The Nangong family was incomparably stifled from top to bottom. The clan lord and elders were stomping in fury, but they couldn’t think of a way out despite their anger. The most disastrous losses were all related to hunting Qianye down, involving their true elites and a number of young experts with bright futures. Moreover, the casualties came at the beginning of the bloody battle when it was the easiest to gain contributions. With that, the difference grew by quite a wide margin.
Nangong Yuanwang’s main objective in leading the army into Trinity River County was naturally not the tiny Blackflow City. It was a taboo to slaughter a human city during the bloody battle, and the Nangong clan, no matter how arrogant they were, wouldn’t take real action.
Their real target was the fifty thousand strong army the other side had thrown out. Unexpectedly, Song Zining had made a sudden appearance to lead Dark Flame in defense of that isolated city. He had fought the most classical of battles since the beginning of the bloody battle and actually deprived Nangong Yuanwang of all benefits.
An entire division of elites was thus held back at Trinity River county without gaining a single contribution. Later on, Qianye returned with great momentum, heavily injured Nangong Zhen, and pushed back Nangong Yuanwang along with the entire private army. With so much of the Nangong family’s strength exhausted on a single Qianye, it was only natural that they would be kicked off the rankings.
This matter wasn’t clear to outsiders, but the bloody battle, like all wars, was only judged by the outcome and not by the process. In the end, it was naturally the Nangong clan lord who was considered incompetent.
The crime of not fighting was still a crime.
Several days passed by in a flash, and it was time for a new rankings announcement when Qianye returned from the Dark Nation.
The current rankings shocked all parties as the Zhao clan’s position took a big leap forward from seventh to fourth. This kind of progression was rarely seen even during the outset of the bloody battle.
Some people quickly attributed this progress to Zhao Jundu’s advancement, but even that wasn’t enough to explain things. That was because, considering the traveling times, Zhao Jundu had only returned to the Iron Curtain for a couple of days. How many could he have killed during this time? That was unless the dark races had gathered another big army for him to kill.
Moreover, some well-informed people revealed that the Zhao clan’s forces had taken heavy casualties during this time. Upon his arrival, Zhao Jundu had pulled the greater half of the men out of the Iron Curtain to reorganize, while he himself entered with a small unit.
In the end, inquiries from many sources revealed a shocking piece of news—nine parts of the Zhao clan’s contribution growth had come from the Trinity River County. This also meant that Song Zining had actually registered all of the Blackflow City contributions under Zhao Yuying’s name!
The various aristocratic families were discussing this matter spiritedly. Great waves similarly rose within the Song clan—many elders were bitter and rebuked Song Zining as an ungrateful traitor. Some were so furious that they suggested striking Song Zining’s name from the register and expelling him from the clan.
This instigation naturally couldn’t get pass Song Zhongnian. The clan lord’s group immediately questioned what the Song clan units stationed nearby were doing when Song Zining was defending the city alone. If there was to be a discussion about punishments, the clan descendants in charge of those groups should also be severely penalized.
Moreover, due to the intentional delay at a certain elder assembly, Song Zining was never included in the bloody battle name list. He didn’t have a Song clan token and naturally couldn’t submit contributions in their name. Who was to take responsibility for that?
As such, the elders quarreled incessantly until their faces were red and their necks were swollen, but no conclusion was reached. But such a situation could be considered quite common in the Song clan elder assembly. It was already quite good if two out of ten quarrels yielded any results.
Qianye, also puzzled by Song Zining’s actions, went to see him immediately after returning to Blackflow City. He had originally thought that recording Luther’s death under Zhao Yuying’s name was the limit and never expected that Song Zining would deliver everything in one go.
Song Zining was drawing in the study when Qianye found him. There were inky mountains and rivers beneath his brush, with misty rain flowing through the air in countless forms. Even someone who knew so little about art could sense how extraordinary this piece of creative work was.
Seeing Qianye walk through the threshold, Song Zining withdrew his brush without the slightest bit of a pause. It was as though he had drawn that final stroke just as Qianye took that last step. He pointed toward the half-finished painting with a smile and said, “What do you see from this painting of mine?”
Qianye had already sensed some profound mysteries from the movements of Song Zining’s brush during his entry. He duly walked over to the painting and began to analyze it in detail.
But Song Zining’s Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art was famous for being unfathomable and was known to contain the mysteries of the great dao. After his ascension to the champion rank, the realm of this art had reached a new level and actually contained a faint trace of the great dao. It was still an extraordinary feat despite it being the most superficial of superficial knowledge—the great dao was unique to divine champions, and not something just anyone could utilize.
Qianye, being inept in arts, was already at a disadvantage. Moreover, he wasn’t a big fan of too many variations, and this pushed him away even more. As such, Song Zining’s half-finished Empty Mountains Spiritual Rain painting brought him only headache upon headache. Even with the Eye of Truth, his vision was only filled with confusing origin power lines akin to cotton wads.
However, Qianye’s martial dao was poised to break formations and behead generals with the suppressive tyranny of the mountains and seas—there was no need for him to spend time on these empty tricks. Failing to see anything even with his True Sight, Qianye grabbed the paper and ripped Song Zining’s proud work to shreds, turning whatever great dao mysteries within into dust.
Song Zining was flabbergasted and couldn’t help but become angered. He cried out in exasperation, “You! You barbarian! You’re no different from that wild boar!”
Qianye blinked innocently as the azure in his eyes receded, and their obsidian-like clarity returned. His father’s branch in the Zhao clan had always produced handsome children, while he had also gained many vampire characteristics from his blood energy—calling him a barbarian wasn’t fitting at all, and a boar was even further from the truth.
Song Zining gradually calmed down after glaring at Qianye for a while and eventually let out a sigh.
He was, in truth, proposing a problem by questioning Qianye about the painting.
The subject was a difference in martial dao between two people.
Qianye probably wasn’t quite clear regarding Song Zining’s intentions and simply destroyed the setting. Song Zining had clearly lost this round.
Naturally, if they were to trade actual blows, Song Zining could hardly take Qianye head-on. The latter had awakened auric gold blood and could circulate the incomparably tyrannical Profound Combatant Formula. Any number of fallen leaves would only be swept into nothingness under that great vortex. Song Zining’s only opportunity then would be to use the unfathomable Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art to avoid the brunt of the damage and take on a defensive stance. He would have to protect himself and make sure he wasn’t defeated before seeking another opportunity to strike back.
Qianye then asked about the matter of military contributions. Song Zining only replied with a mysterious smile, “Let’s talk about that later. Now, accompany me to meet a guest first. I’ve made this person wait for nearly two hours.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter