Chapter 323: A Brother in Need [Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach]
Those who were quick to react immediately recalled that although champions were all heroes of a region in Evernight, they weren’t all that rare on the upper continents. The high-ranking nobility would have quite a few guest warriors at that level.
There still wasn’t any expression on Xiao Lingshi’s countenance, however, he quietly observed the reactions of everyone in the conference room. The greater part of those sitting here were his trusted aides, but there were a few of them who had closer ties to the other generals. Hence, he refrained from carelessly expressing his stance.
However, Wen Ruocheng words could be considered his own, and the news he had revealed just now included sufficient information for people to make certain connections. The direction of this meeting quietly changed right before their eyes.
Xiao Lingshi simply closed his eyes to rest while everyone was in discussion. He was thinking about the private discussion he had with Song Zining a while ago. Xiao Lingshi was quite satisfied with this ally—not only had they cooperated delightfully numerous times, but the latter himself had also jumped up to the second rank as a successor in the recent examination. It could be said that his future was limitless.
However, what Xiao Lingshi cared most about was that Song Zining was extremely low-profile in the outside world and rarely used the Song clan’s name to finish his business. This made it easy for him to conceal traces of his involvement with a clan descendant during their cooperation and maintain his image of never working together with the influential powers.
Xiao Lingshi favored looking at the long-term, and a person like Song Zining was someone he could work with for many years to come. As such, a temporary loss or gain wasn’t that important.
The sounds in the room gradually softened as the officers concluded their discussions. Xiao Lingshi raised his eyes and glanced at a certain colonel sitting in a corner who hadn’t spoken at all since the beginning. He was one of General Yang Shuo’s men. The Sishui family’s appointment to the seventh division had also come via the Highfence Yang family.
Xiao Lingshi quietly laughed in his heart. Song Zining had visited him this time to pave the way for Dark Flame. However, what he brought out wasn’t the Highland Song Clan’s name but, instead, the Cloud Swallow Zhao Clan’s. The military might perhaps be able to play dumb in the face of the merchant Song clan, but they would have no choice but to act impartially when facing the Zhao clan with its three dukes.
Most of the people in the room were Xiao Lingshi’s long-term confidants, and they should already have understood his intentions.
At this moment, a strong young general with a valiant countenance stood up to speak, “According to the expeditionary army’s rules, the territory belongs to whoever conquers it. The seventh division can be considered an ownerless force after Wei Bainian left office. Since Qianye is capable of seizing it, it’s only reasonable that we give it to him. As for the independent division designation, it’s not something a few light words can settle. Apart from shouldering the corresponding responsibilities, he must be able to pay a sufficient price!”
The audience nodded in succession after these words were spoken. Even those big shots who had received benefits from the Dong family were no exception—the nature of this matter had undergone some subtle changes at the mention of a price.
“What kind of price?” someone asked.
That valiant general glared and said, “Of course it’s an expedition! Otherwise, how will we preserve our expeditionary army’s prestige? If that brat can win this battle, it’ll have proved that his strength is sufficient, and it won’t be excessive to give him a designation. As for the independent division designation, we can discuss that later on.”
Wen Ruocheng said indifferently, “The problem is, who will fight him?”
“This…well…” The valiant general glanced at Xiao Lingshi and was at a loss for words. He couldn’t give a definite answer.
This was originally a fairly simple problem—campaigning against rebels and restoring peace was already within Xiao Lingshi’s scope of authority. That was why this meeting was hosted by him after the expeditionary army headquarters received news from Blackflow City. But for some reason, Xiao Lingshi seemed to have no intention to continue on this topic, and this placed the valiant general at a loss.
Xiao Lingshi was a lieutenant general who had the fourth corps under his command. He was far above everyone else here both in terms of military force and authority, while that general was only a major general. He didn’t dare to ask directly after seeing Xiao Lingshi keep his silence.
The other generals couldn’t help but make some guesses since Xiao Lingshi obviously had no intention to mobilize his army. Those with aspirations quickly recalled how a new deputy commander-in-chief had recently appeared out of nowhere in the expeditionary army. Although this person’s individual rank and office were equal to Xiao Lingshi’s, his military rank was, in fact, a general. Under normal circumstances, there was only one reason for such a difference—family background.
Moreover, Wen Ruocheng had come only one step away from directly stating that Dark Flame also had an aristocratic background. As such, many people suddenly felt enlightened and formed secret notions of watching a good show. No one could blame Xiao Lingshi if he didn’t want to get involved in a conflict between the aristocracy.
At this point, the only way was to mobilize the other three divisions stationed in the Trinity River County. Although two out of these three divisions had experienced some minor conflicts with the seventh division during the Wei clan’s administration, it wouldn’t be easy to convince them to mobilize their troops against Blackflow City.
It went without saying that a city siege wasn’t easy. A punitive expedition of this nature wouldn’t allow them occupation, and they would have to hand the city back to Dong Qifeng after a victory, to speak nothing of a defeat. Nobody was willing to undertake such an arduous and thankless task without sufficient compensation. Even the valiant general who had brought up this matter would never stick his head out despite having two divisions under his control.
The meeting room was overcome by a prolonged silence.
The awkward quietness was finally broken by Wen Ruocheng who was apparently prepared for this. “Since it was Dong Qifeng’s seventh division that Dark Flame has devoured, the responsibility for this incident should naturally fall on the general himself. As I see it, we should dispatch him to campaign against Qianye. What does everyone think of this?”
Everyone immediately voiced their agreement after these words were spoken. Xiao Lingshi’s eyes flashed with a wisp of delight but, soon afterward, reverted to the calmness of an ancient well.
Very soon, the two men waiting outside of the conference room were informed of the final decision. They were so overwhelmed that their jaws almost fell to the floor.
Dong Qifeng was here to take over the seventh division. How could he have any troops in his hands? Was he expected to muster the few dozen guards he has to attack Blackflow City? There was no need to use such an idiotic method even if one wished to court death.
Dong Qifeng was so furious that his face was ashen and the fat on his chubby body was trembling. But he also knew that he couldn’t flip out at such a place. Wen Ruocheng clearly explained everything clause by clause. Additionally, all of them were annotated with reference to the expeditionary army’s rules. If they were to compete in looking for loopholes in the army regulations, the Dong family was definitely not a match for this old general who had served in the expeditionary army his entire life.
Dong Qifeng forcefully swallowed his anger and walked out of the conference room with great difficulty. He understood that the huge sum of gold coins and the ten-odd beauties he had invested were all gone with the wind.
Those expeditionary army big shots were incomparably greedy and would never cough up things they had already swallowed. On the other hand, there was no telling how many gold coins he would have to fork out if he wanted to raise an objection to Xiao Lingshi’s decision. The difficulty involved was on a completely different level.
“General, what shall we do now?” Du Yuanze asked meekly, feeling quite bitter in his heart. A lieutenant colonel like him with mediocre combat strength wasn’t worth a fart without the army’s participation. In the Dong clan, he had relied on his past achievement as a rank-seven fighter to obtain a middle-grade steward’s status.
Dong Qifeng’s countenance was as gloomy as water. “What do we do? We must muster our clan’s troops and finish off that son of a b*tch Qianye! To actually dare rob this daddy’s seventh division, I must kill this group of lowlifes! We won’t leave a single one of them alive!”
Du Yuanze shrunk his neck but didn’t dare say anything. He had personally witnessed the entire process where Dark Flame took down the seventh division. Especially, that young commander—the feeling he had given Du Yuanze was even more terrifying than a champion.
Dong Qifeng was planning to mobilize family forces to launch a punitive expedition, and the expenditure involved was colossal. Even if they could seize Blackflow City, the profits wouldn’t make up for the loss if they could only regain a patch of rubble—it might be more efficient to build a new city in an uninhabited land.
However, Dong Qifeng was currently in a fit of temper. Du Yuanze felt that it was already quite fortunate that the man wasn’t blaming him for his incompetence—how would he dare say anything else?
At this time, Qianye was sitting in an office on the top floor of the seventh division headquarters, observing a map of the entire trinity river county.
That map was different from the ordinary versions. Not only did it include the geography of the land 500 kilometers into the dark race territory, but also had the distribution of dark race forces in the region marked upon it. This was the result of the effort Song Hu had exerted for the greater half of the year.
Qianye drew lines upon the map with his finger while contemplating. Some led straight toward dark race territory, while others passed through the hinterlands of the Trinity River County. He was forming a plan for his westward campaign, but at the same time, he had to be prepared for the cold spears behind his back.
Dong Qifeng definitely wouldn’t let this matter be. Meanwhile, the divisions neighboring the seventh division’s defensive region had more or less taken part in Wu Zhengnan’s business back then, and it hadn’t been that long since the incident.
Qianye put down the map and pulled over the stack of documents from the table. Those were reports of corps affairs he needed to know or comment on, now with the addition of matters related to Blackflow City’s defense.
After Dark Flame took over the seventh division, Song Hu alone could no longer handle everything. Those talented bloodline seedlings along with Lil’ Seven and Lil’ Nine were maturing quickly, but there was no way for them to catch up to the speed of Dark Flame’s expansion. A handful of men from Song Zining’s special company could be used, but they were far from sufficient to cover the would-be Dark Flame Independent Division. Qianye felt that he needed a number of deputy commanders.
There were two personal letters on top of the stack of documents. The first came from Song Zining, and its contents weren’t that long.
The correspondence began with a message telling Qianye not to worry, hinting that he had always enjoyed a happy working relationship with certain major characters from the expeditionary army and that this time was not an exception. The letter stated that the matter regarding the designation would be handled soon, and that although he had paid a certain price, it could be considered reasonable. Song Zining also mentioned that he would come to Blackflow City after concluding the business at hand to help Qianye handle upcoming matters.
Qianye’s mood was quite good up to this point, but Song Zining’s letter made an unexpected sharp turn. It proceeded to discuss how Hidden Springs had launched a new batch of goods, and that their quality was the best they had ever offered. He claimed that such a good opportunity couldn’t be missed, and that he was prepared to drag along Qianye to visit the place.
Song Zining mentioned, with great cheer, that Qianye already had Lil’ Seven and Nine. With just a couple more, he could form a guard squad made up of beauties. Such a scene would truly fill one with delight!
Qianye could only laugh wryly and decided that he wouldn’t go to Hidden Springs with Song Zining no matter what. This Song seventh young master was good in every aspect—the only thing Qianye couldn’t endure was how he liked to gift women. If this kept going on, the money he earned from fighting everywhere would probably be insufficient to provide for all of them.
However, Qianye soon recalled how Song Zining had once explained that the ladies from Hidden Springs didn’t need to be provided for. Not only were they all beautiful, but they were also extremely capable and could easily provide for themselves.
Perhaps only Song Zining would have such an original way of seeing things.
The second letter made Qianye feel quite surprised because it was actually from Wei Potian. Calculating the time of its dispatch, Wei Bainian likely hadn’t arrived back at the Far East Province.
From the contents of the letter, Wei Potian indeed had no idea about Blackflow City’s recent developments. The contents were quite short and only took up half a page. The greater half of the letter explained how much he was enjoying the fighting.
It was mentioned, only at the end of the letter, that this successor of Marquis Bowang had encountered some trouble. It couldn’t be considered a major problem, but it was something he couldn’t handle himself. He stated that, since brothers had to share each other's troubles, he was prepared to let Qianye deal with a part of this problem.
Seeing these brainless words, a sudden sense of foreboding came over Qianye for some reason.Previous Chapter Next Chapter