Chapter 459: Return Journey [V5C166 – A Distance Within Reach]
Song Zining glanced over and instantly gasped in astonishment. “A void crystal! And such a big one at that!”
“Void crystal?” Qianye recalled that the item was indeed generating a continuous stream of void energy when he picked it up.
Song Zining took the item for a look. His gaze paused upon the filled defect and said, “What is this? An inlay?”
Qianye gave him a brief summary of how he had found a small piece of crystal in Viscount Porter’s castle and then an entire piece in the Black Forest.
Song Zining nodded. “I’m not too sure either. It’s best we call Nangong Xiaoniao over to take a look. She’s the real expert.”
Song Zining tidied up the room somewhat and cleared away some of the traces that needed to be concealed. He then summoned his aides and maids, instructing them to settle the sleeping little girl and summon Nangong Xiaoniao.
Song Zining and Qianye’s version of the story depicted Zhuji as an orphan from a wiped-out human settlement whom Qianye had picked up on his hunting expedition. However, Song Zining couldn’t help but feel depressed after seeing the expressions of his followers and maids. The reason was a rather clumsy one, but why did no one guess that it was Qianye’s misdeed? What was with those “we-understand-you-don't-need-to-explain” looks?!
Qianye was naturally about to split his sides in laughter.
Nangong Xiaoniao entered hastily moments later, blushing hard upon seeing Qianye again after so long. They hadn’t even exchanged greetings when her eyes fell upon the item on the table, which caused her to immediately cry out, “A void-crystal! And one of premium quality too!”
Nangong Xiaoniao pounced over, grabbed the dim crystal, and studied it in great detail before putting it back down unwillingly.
“What is this thing used for?” Qianye inquired.
“This is the highest grade kinetic energy source currently known to man!” Nangong Xiaoniao replied.
Only after a round of detailed explanation from her did Qianye understand that a void-crystal was like an item connected to a natural node in the void—actuated by a suitable array, it was capable of providing an unending stream of void origin power. However, this material wasn’t produced in mines or in fixed regions. It would only appear under extreme conditions and was thus exceedingly rare. One could only chance upon it and not seek it.
The most important use for void crystal in the empire was the construction of battleship kinetic furnaces. A small, finger-sized void crystal was enough to drive an entire destroyer. The one Qianye had obtained was inconceivably large and easily capable of powering the empire’s largest Skyfire-grade carriers.
Up to this point, the empire had a very limited fleet of super battleships, only a dozen or so of them. Such rarity wasn’t because they didn’t have the technology or wealth, but because they didn’t have enough void crystals to build origin furnaces.
With such a large piece of void crystal, the empire would be able to add another battleship to their arsenal. Qianye had seen a battleship of the imperial regular army back then when the noble ladies followed Wei Potian to Blackflow City—it was as though an entire street block was floating in the air, and that wasn’t even a Skyfire-Grade battleship.
But after receiving confirmation from Nangong Xiaoniao, Qianye felt a bit distressed in addition to the joy of picking up a treasure. One had to know that it was one of the most important strategic resources and would be quite difficult to handle. It wasn’t something just anyone could possess.
Song Zining glanced at Qianye and understood what he was thinking. “I’ll think of a way to deal with this thing.”
What followed was a period of great peace. The bloody battle raged on under the Iron Curtain and one could glimpse at its intensity and bloodiness via the information obtained from Lone Ghost and the expeditionary army headquarters. However, the recuperating Blackflow City was like a haven with a multitude of people shuttling in and out in perfect order.
Qianye was still quite hesitant about the Zhao clan. He wasn’t afraid of danger, but it was likely an instinctive rejection of the truth regarding his past. Song Zining didn’t persuade him again and instead focused his attention on preparing Dark Flame for war. He was planning to take advantage of this Iron Curtain to sweep past Dark Nation borders, at least flattening the regions adjacent to Blackflow. This would also serve to consolidate the fruits of Qianye’s western expedition.
Zhuji began her life of eating and sleeping like a normal human child—no one could find anything abnormal about her. But her habit of clinging onto Song Zining and calling him mama still remained—this distressed the seventh young master to no end. Only when facing Qianye would she act differently from other children, seemingly afraid and obedient.
Three to four o’clock that day. The grey firmament above remained the very same as lights lit up in the city as usual.
Qianye was walking through the streets of Blackflow and observing the city that belonged to him. In front of him was a construction site located across two street blocks. Large steam pipes rumbled as they transmitted kinetic energy to power the machines even bigger than the nearby buildings. Countless workers were working on the scaffolding.
Whether it was the repair of the walls or the reconstruction work, all projects were already nearing their end. Before long, all damage Blackflow had suffered would become a flipped page in its local history.
This was Evernight, a dark and barren land with an incomparably tenacious will to live.
Qianye stood atop the web of interweaving steam pipes as he looked down at the lights in the greater half of the city. He then turned around to gaze at the boundless wilderness outside of the city walls.
Suddenly alarmed, he looked down at a certain section of the street. There amidst the bustling crowd was a young man looking up at him.
Qianye watched the familiar face and suddenly fell into a daze. The Profound Heavenly Spring Hunt that had taken place one continent away seemed just like yesterday—but it also felt as though a century had passed.
The person flew into the air and walked over to Qianye step by step. His light-colored hair had been blown forward and was hanging on his handsome countenance. “Qianye, long time no see.”
Qianye replied after a moment of silence, “Zhao Second Young Noble.”
Zhao Junhong’s temperament had transformed greatly compared to during the Profound Heaven Spring Hunt—his unbridled arrogance was now completely hidden beneath a calm expression. He was clad in an ordinary warrior’s attire, and the Silver Winged Fantasy behind him was hidden beneath his hooded cloak. Apart from his straight and elegant figure, he was no different from the busy soldiers walking along the streets.
Zhao Junhong sized Qianye up from head to toe and said with a laugh, “The appointment for our rematch has passed, but it seems I’m only falling farther and farther behind you.”
Qianye’s tense body suddenly relaxed as he revealed a faint smile. “If Second Young Noble is interested, I can keep you company.”
Zhao Junhong’s dark, somewhat-purple eyes lit up with an eager glint. But soon afterward, he said with some regret, “The Iron Curtain’s bloody battle was supposed to be a good opportunity for us to fight side by side and compare, but unfortunately, Yuying is waiting for you on Western Continent. She has long since sent word that if you don’t go, she’ll come over personally to catch you.”
“Yuying? Has her injury healed?”
“Not yet, would she be staying at home so obediently otherwise?” Zhao Junhong hesitated slightly before saying warmly, “Fourth Brother is leading all the combat squads in this bloody battle and can’t leave. So, I’ll be guiding you to the Western Continent instead.”
Qianye was silent once again.
“Isn’t it windy up there?” A voice rang out from the side, accompanied by the cute babbling voice of a child. Song Zining was standing on the street and gazing at them with a smile. The little girl, Zhuji, was clinging tightly onto his right arm like a koala.
Qianye only learnt on their way to Dark Flame headquarters that Zhao Junhong had come alone without any followers or guards. The Zhao clan’s situation in the bloody battle was quite tense. Zhao Junhong arriving alone and under disguise was in order to not alarm certain people and cause unnecessary trouble.
Additionally, it turned out that Zhao Yuying wasn’t at the West Pole Manor but had already arrived at an airship transit town on the edge of the Western Continent. Qianye understood that Zhao Yuying had interrupted her treatment to welcome him. If he kept on delaying this matter, she might really come over to Evernight and drag him back to the Zhao clan.
Some matters were still unavoidable in the end.
Qianye started packing his luggage as soon as he got back to Dark Flame headquarters. In truth, there wasn’t much that he needed. Zhao Junhong wanted to keep his arrival a secret, so he stayed in Qianye’s room the entire time. The two didn’t chat much—in truth, they were tactfully avoiding a certain topic.
Qianye suddenly spoke after he had finished cleaning the Twin Flowers. “Zhao Fourth Young Noble said he has a piece of crystal left behind by my mother.”
“Jundu has told Father everything about this matter when he returned to the clan for his advancement. So, when you go back this time, Father will be there to hand you that item.”
The father Zhao Junhong spoke of was naturally Duke Chengen, Zhao Weihuang—who was also Qianye’s father.
Qianye turned silent.
Zhao Junhong said softly, “Back then, Eldest Brother, Third Brother, and I were all in school. Only Jundu was left at home, so he was especially close to you, but perhaps you no longer remember. He didn’t witness that incident personally when it happened, but the impact it had on him was great. The knot in his heart was never resolved through all these years.
“However, the actual situation is fairly complicated. We failed to find out all the ins and outs despite trying for many years. At this point, many of those who had taken part in this matter are already gone. I’ll let Father tell you about the actual details, but what he can tell you is also quite limited.”
“Why is that?” Qianye finally spoke.
“That’s because Father was fighting the rebel army tens of thousands of miles away when the matter happened. When he rushed back after receiving the news, everything was already too late.”
Listening up to this point, Qianye’s heart relaxed inexplicably, and the room once again fell into silence. Qianye’s voice finally emerged after a while. “Let’s set out tomorrow if that’s fine with you.”
The journey was set for dawn the next day. Very few people in Dark Flame knew of Qianye’s journey, but Nangong Xiaoniao was one of them. She walked Qianye all the way to the airship’s door, and many a time she wanted to speak but hesitated. Even as the doors to the airship were closed, she still hadn’t managed to speak whatever it was that she wanted to convey.
The engine rumbled as the aged airship rose into the air and flew into the vast skies. Nangong Xiaoniao stood in place and only turned away slowly after the airship had disappeared entirely. No one knew when, but a considerable amount of sadness had crept up on her child-like face.
Song Zining invited Nangong Xiaoniao to the study soon after Qianye had left.
“Sit.“ This time, Song Zining was quite amiable and not as cold as before.
“I’ll just stand here.” Nangong Xiaoniao, on the other hand, was quite indifferent. Apparently, she couldn’t easily forget how Song Zining had persuaded her to leave last time.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Country roads... take me home~~~
TL: Legion ED: Moxie