Chapter 329: Challenge [Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach]
This order was somewhat forceful, but no one was foolish enough to anger him after seeing his gloomy expression. All the officers scattered like birds and beasts, each tending to their own duties.
Blackflow City, on the other hand, had already finished its first wave of troop assembly after the first alarm was sounded.
After a simple negotiation, Qianye and Zhang Zixing each agreed to dispatch half of their forces to reinforce the city defenses.
The time it took for the two parties’ troops and weapons to reach their designated areas was more or less the same. However, there was a significant difference between the reorganized seventh division and the imperial third army corps. Whether in terms of quantity or quality, Dark Flame was a ways from being a match for that division of tigers and wolves.
Qianye stood atop the wall and gazed at the big airships in the distance slowly descending one after another. Squads of soldiers rushed out from them and moved toward their respective assembly points in an orderly fashion.
It was obvious that the unit had landed quite suddenly, but despite the hurry, they weren’t disorderly at all. Apparently, they were part of an elite division.
Qianye observed for a few minutes and deduced that there were over ten thousand soldiers in this unit—an entire division! The cost for transporting such a force by air was astronomical. Such an operation would be carried out only for certain important battles on the upper continents.
Just which family’s emblem was it on those airships?
Zhang Zixing, Wei Potian, and Song Zining were standing around Qianye. Zhang Zixing appeared quite pensive but chose to remain silent without making any comment. Wei Potian lowered the binoculars and broke into a frown. Neither he nor Qianye could recall which family that emblem belonged to.
Song Zining raised his brows in surprise, “Judging from the emblem, it’s the Sishui Dong Family’s private army. It’s just that the Count of Sishui’s fiefdom is far in the Eastern Continent, and it’s quite odd for them to concentrate such a large force on Evernight Continent. Judging from this line-up, they’re determined to win this battle.”
“The Sishui Dong Family?” Qianye reacted immediately. It seemed the news Song Zining had gotten wasn’t wrong at all. Dong Qifeng hadn’t given up on Blackflow City and had even mobilized the family’s private army. However, Qianye had truly underestimated this General Dong. He really hadn’t expected the man to have the courage the lay siege to Blackflow at such a time.
“The Sishui Dong Family!” Wei Potian suddenly understood. He tossed the binoculars to a follower, cracked his knuckles in a series of pitter-patter, and let out a nasty laughed. “Just in time! Let this daddy see what kind of person dares bully my brother.” He had been feeling incomparably sullen these days. What aristocratic family? He would fight first and talk later even if it were a major clan at their gates.
Song Zining shot him a sidelong glance and his expression was as if he were looking at an idiot.
Zhang Zixing’s gaze swept over the three and then silently turned toward the distance. A battle flag had been raised over the opposing army—a cross formed of a flintlock and a bloody bayonet—that was the emblem of the expeditionary army.
However, Qianye was somewhat speechless at how they had so brazenly landed just a couple of kilometers from Blackflow City. Weren’t they afraid that the troops in the city would charge out and attack while they were still unorganized?
The three small gunships in the air weren’t very useful at all. Without even needing Qianye to do anything, Zhu Wuya could use a large-caliber sniper to shoot one of them down.
Finally, Qianye frowned.
At this moment, the Dong family’s armaments were being deployed on the ground one after another. However, it was obvious that they were lacking in equipment—there were no heavy combat vehicles at all, and only a number of heavy trucks, armed jeeps, and a couple of heavy cannons. It seemed the Dong family was already at their limits.
Such a lightly armed force might succeed if they were to attack other cities at the same level, but Blackflow City’s defensive structures had become as sturdy as a turtle shell during Wei Bainian’s reign. Even the dark race army could only take a detour around it. Additionally, Dark Flame’s heavy weaponry had grown much more powerful compared to that time. Even though the Dong family had brought three champions, it wouldn’t be that easy to fight a siege battle.
At this time, Wei Potian could no longer endure. “These grandsons are assembling their troops right under our noses. Do they think the people in the city are dead? Qianye, I’ll lead the soldiers out to kill those f*ckers. Three champions? Ha! Who do they think they’re trying to scare?”
Qianye paid no attention to Wei Potian and, instead, shot Zhang Zixing a glance. “Let them come to us.”
At this moment, Song Zining sneered, “Blackflow’s walls are sturdy and its cannons are fierce. Meanwhile, the other party has no heavy firepower. Why do we have to go and fight it out with them? We can think about what to do after they exhaust themselves at our walls.”
Zhang Zixing only smiled faintly. Song Zining’s tactics were admittedly reasonable. Qianye, on the other hand, seemed as though he wanted to drag the third corps into the waters, but the general didn’t really mind.
The Vast North Zhang Family could be traced back thousands of years to the same roots as the Green Sun Zhang Clan at the foremost of the empire. However, they had already been independent for ten generations. There was no way they could’ve maintained their position if they were weak. Moreover, he was representing the third army corps this time—even if the Sishui Dong Family decided to look into this matter, they wouldn’t dare cause a ruckus at the third corps.
Qianye issued a series of orders in rapid succession. At which point, the orderlies waiting quietly nearby left instantly as if they were flying.
Wei Potian glared at Song Zining but gave up in the end.
At this time, a clamor arose from the city as the pleasant and mellow sound of feminine chatter boiled over.
“Is there going to be a battle?”
“I heard there are enemies outside the city! Can it be the dark races?”
“Definitely! Didn’t we come here to see the dark races? Let’s guess who the opponents are? Werewolves or arachne?”
“I like vampires! They're cool and handsome! I must capture a few and take them back this time!”
“It’ll be great if there are demonkin!”
“Indeed! I’m feeling excited just at the thought! Make way, make way! This young lady can’t wait any longer!”
Qianye suddenly felt a headache coming over him and even Zhang Zixing’s wooden countenance seemed to be twitching. Wei Potian, on the other hand, had suddenly transformed into a statue. Only Song Zining was still calm and didn’t even raise a single brow. Apparently, he was extremely familiar with such situations.
The city walls were flooded within moments as the group of noble ladies rushed up the city walls and began pushing toward the front for a good view into the distance. Their arrival squeezed the third corps and Dark Flame soldiers out of their formations.
The noble ladies looked out in high spirits and found that the incoming force was actually a human army. The most eye-catching fact was that the enemy flag appeared rather similar to the expeditionary army flag on the walls. Immediately, everyone was greatly disappointed.
The reason they had run over to a remote area like Evernight continent, apart from chasing after Wei Potian, was to see the dark races. The handsome vampires and demonkin were especially popular among the nobility who took to them like exquisite human dolls.
A certain noble lady was immediately displeased. “Whose unit is that out there? So ugly! They’re like beggars.”
A lineal daughter of a certain feudal lord replied, “Judging from the emblem, it seems to be the Sishui Dong Family.”
“Sishui Dong Family? It sounds somewhat familiar, but who exactly are they?” Most of the noble ladies were at a loss. Dong Qifeng might actually vomit blood and faint if he saw their reactions right now.
These noble ladies were barely past twenty years old, and most of them were daughters of dukes and marquis. Their social circles consisted mostly of the high-ranking aristocracy, and it was rare to see even middle-ranked ones. On the other hand, the Sishui Dong Family was positioned so low among the middle-ranks that they were already at risk of being demoted. The ladies rarely had any opportunity to come into contact with such a family, and it wasn’t surprising that they couldn’t recall the name.
Finally, someone reacted appropriately and asked, “What are they trying to do? Are they going to attack us?”
“It seems so!”
Not only were these ladies not frightened, but their eyes were even glowing. They were lineal daughters of aristocratic families—they, of course, cultivated, and their origin power ranks weren’t low either. But they had nearly zero experience in actual combat, to speak nothing of a battle.
At this moment, Dong Qifeng’s forces had finally completed their reorganization and were beginning to move toward Blackflow City.
However, the large fleet of airships didn’t provide cover fire for them according to their original plan. The main reason was the light corvette hovering in the sky above Blackflow City. In front of an actual military battleship, these unarmored transport airships were nothing more than giant shooting targets.
“General, we’re at a sufficient distance. Shall we press the attack?”
The colonel’s helpful reminder roused General Dong from his reverie. He rubbed his hands anxiously and said, “Demand their surrender first!”
People on the airship became busy. Technicians moved to erect giant megaphones, filled them with black crystals, and activated the origin arrays. Moments later, an extremely clear voice echoed across the air above Blackflow City.
“Those in Blackflow City, listen up! The expeditionary army seventh division commander Dong Qifeng demands your immediate surrender! I repeat, surrender immediately! You have three minutes to consider. If the defiance continues, all who resist shall be put to death immediately after the city is breached. The citizens will be sold as slaves, and the women shall be forced to become prostitutes for the army!”
It wasn’t rare to punish a subdued city in such a manner—even internal conflicts within the empire weren’t resolved with much benevolence. It would be even crueler for opposing factions. However, Dong Qifeng had never expected that his announcement would cause a huge commotion within Blackflow City.
Wei Potian was still wearing that sharp, stern expression, while Song Zining’s smile became as warm and gentle as jade. Zhang Zixing, on the other hand, couldn’t help but sigh. “This fool!”
Qianye only smiled faintly and made no comment.
Things had exploded on the noble ladies’ side. The actual young misses themselves didn’t react that strongly since they had to maintain their image before the Wei clan heir. Their maids, however, didn’t have a lot to care about. All of them were as red as a beet and began to curse while stomping their feet. Judging from their fierce attitudes, it seemed as though insulting their young misses was ten times more serious than being humiliated themselves.
In truth, those noble ladies couldn’t keep very calm either. From childhood up until now, when had they ever been threatened to be made into prostitutes?
“How dare he?!”
“Sishui? What noble rank is Sishui?! A mere regional count dares to act so arrogantly?! I’ll ask my father to annihilate him!”
“General Zhang, where is general Zhang? Where're the imperial corps? Why aren’t they mobilizing?”
Amidst the clamor, Zhang Zixing suddenly moved close to Qianye and whispered, “It’s not that easy to make use of the third army corps. Be careful not to burn your hands if you want to play with fire.”
Qianye replied indifferently, “Not moving your forces even at this point, it seems to me that you’re the one playing with fire.”
The clamor on the wall grew louder and louder. The noble ladies only mentioned it verbally, but their maids had already drawn their weapons and some were already prepared to go down and assemble their guard units.
The corners of Zhang Zixing’s eyes twitched slightly. “Well done. This is the first time I’ve met a mercenary who dares talk to me like this. I won’t bully you either. Come find me for a match after you’ve broken through to the champion rank.”
“If general is interested, we can do it right after the battle. There’s no need to wait.”
Zhang Zixing broke into a laughter instead of getting angry. “The young truly don’t know the immensity of the heaven and earth!”
He was able to wear the rank of a major general as a rank-eleven champion not because of his background but because of his solid military achievements. Even ordinary champions couldn’t last very long under his attacks, not to mention a rank-nine mercenary like Qianye who specialized in sniping.
Qianye also laughed softly, his crystal clear eyes overflowing with spirit. “People like us who constantly walk on the blade’s edge aren’t always lucky enough to meet weak enemies.” In truth, Qianye was was truly interested in fighting against Zhang Zixing. He wanted to know the disparity between himself and those champions who had walked out from a sea of flames and swords.
Unfortunately, this young general didn’t seem to understand Qianye’s thoughts. The veins on Zhang Zixing’s neck began to pulsate and he was so angry that he couldn’t speak. He turned away rapidly and shouted at this aide, “Issue the order! The third army corps will immediately spread out in formation and prepare the heavy cannons. All airships scramble!”
Apparently, Zhang Zixing’s anger had been transferred directly to Dong Qifeng.
Song Zining listened from the side, exchanged a glance with Qianye, and shrugged. It seemed there was nothing else for them to do since Zhang Zixing had actually given the order for all of his airships to scramble.
The three minutes were up at this moment. Hence, Dong Qifeng issued the order, “Army advance! Heavy cannons prepare to fire!”
Along with an impassioned cry of the bugle, the Dong family private army assumed a scattered formation and charged toward the Blackflow City walls like a tidal wave. After approaching the city walls, the fighter-rank experts mixed in with the ordinary foot soldiers would launch a sudden attack and occupy the highest vantage point on the city walls.
Dong Qifeng hovered in the air and glanced coldly toward Blackflow City in front of him. There was a crowd of black human heads on the city wall—their formations were extremely chaotic and could hardly be called a formation at all.
Dong Qifeng suddenly felt that his previous anxiety wasn’t necessary at all. So what if Dark Flame had a corvette? A rabble was still a rabble. Even if they had superior equipment, they would never be able to make full use of them. At this time, the two champion-rank elders were standing to his left and right. The appearance of three champions would surely affect the morale of the forces defending the city.
A division’s worth of troops and three champions—he refused to believe he couldn’t take down a small Blackflow City with such a lineup.
That which drew the curtains over the battlefield was the Dong family’s artillery. Numerous heavy cannons aimed at the city wall, and with a loud rumble, their shells smashed toward the gate towers.
A voice suddenly rang out in the ears of everyone on the battlefield, “You dare fire your cannons at your mother? You’re courting death!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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