Chapter 392: Shade [V5C99 - A Distance Within Reach]
Qianye, who had just experienced the forty-ninth cycle of the Combatant Formula, had come to a deeper understanding of power. His heart was burdened by some other matters as he gazed at the almost eternal night sky, namely the rules of the Iron Curtain.
It was, in truth, quite understandable why the curtain prevented people above the level of count from entering.
Take Qianye himself, for instance. He wouldn’t bother to spare a second glance at a group ants passing near his feet whether they were fighting or moving food. Even stomping them to death would only happen if the ants were to appear where his foot would land. But if a number of giant bugs were strutting around or if dogs, cats, or mice were to appear, he would be annoyed and kill them off in passing.
This understanding made Qianye uncomfortable. He thought in self-mockery that no one would be happy about being an ignored ant.
A special guest arrived in Blackflow City soon after Qianye had exited isolated cultivation. It was an imperial envoy.
The envoy, a colonel from the imperial military, came with only a handful of attendants and requested a meeting with the Blackflow City Lord. The envoy didn’t say anything else after seeing Qianye and immediately passed him an official document envelope and a bestowment order. After asking briefly about Blackflow’s defensive matters, he soon excused himself and hurried toward his next destination.
There was nothing special about Blackflow City in the eyes of the envoy, so much so that there was even some pity in his gaze. This small city was at the border frontline and located beneath the Iron Curtain—its downfall was only a matter of time once the bloody battle began.
Qianye opened the documents after the envoy had left. The contents were similar to the previous rallying order from the expeditionary army. This document was a call for all powers to mobilize for this bloody battle. It stated that the rewards would be twice as high compared to normal standards, and that there were no limitations to identity. Everyone, regardless of social status, may obtain rewards.
Additionally, the empire had constructed many temporary bases in Evernight Continent. Participants could visit them anytime with proof of contribution to receive the rewards. This spared potential participants the complicated procedures usually involved in applying for rewards. Among them, the closest base was at the county capital of Trinity River County.
There was a map accompanying the document, and on it was the range within the Iron Curtain that was currently under imperial control. That was also the scope of the upcoming battlefield. Of course, there were no rules forbidding one from leaving the Iron Curtain to fight the dark races, but there was a risk of running into true experts.
Encountering experts under the Iron Curtain wasn’t impossible, either. Some with special abilities that could hide their auras or experts who had suppressed their rank could still move about under the Iron Curtain. For instance, Zhao clan’s Count Yuyang was able to directly enter Blackflow City.
It was just that they couldn’t drag too long once they had entered combat, lest they draw Sky Demon’s attention. At that point, they wouldn’t just be suppressed by the Iron Curtain—the higher their level, the greater the chance of being attacked by Sky Demon.
Qianye unfurled the map to observe in detail. The markings on the map this time were even more detailed compared to the military intelligence he had received last week. He was greatly astonished after seeing the borders of the Iron Curtain—it had surpassed a quarter of human territory, and judging from the curvature of the external borders, most of the unmapped parts should be within dark race territory.
There was no information from the dark race side. However, an extrapolation of the known borders, assuming that the curtain was round, showed that over 20% of Evernight Continent’s surface area had been shrouded by the Iron Curtain.
Just from the size of this Iron Curtain, it was obvious that Sky Demon’s power had exceeded the limits of imagination.
After seeing his map, Qianye ventured a guess regarding the imperial upper echelon’s intentions. It was the perfect timing to attack the dark race territory under the Iron Curtain’s protection.
Qianye put down the documents and proceeded to open the rewards list at the back. Listed upon it were different rewards corresponding to different levels of dark race soldiers.
Among them, the baseline was viscount—the reward for killing a third-rank viscount was a grade-five origin gun or other military supplies of equal value. Taking firm control of a viscount’s territory and incorporating it into human-controlled territory would raise the reward to a custom-made grade-five firearm.
Just from this list, it was obvious that the empire had invested a great deal for this battle. One had to know that there were only so many technicians in the empire capable of producing armaments above grade five. That was why, in general, only a set number of grade-five weapons were produced each year. Previous military rewards came in the form of gold coins—strategic supplies could be exchanged only under special situations. Ordinary people couldn’t afford even standard high-grade firearms, to speak nothing of the custom made ones.
Qianye was inevitably moved as he flipped through the entire two pages of firearms. He currently possessed the Wings of Inception and the Twin Flowers, so even grade-six firearms weren’t of any use to him. But there were many high-ranking officers in Dark Flame. In due time, the number of soldiers capable of using grade-four or even grade-five weapons would only increase. Their combat strength would undoubtedly soar if he could swap out all of their equipment.
There was only a short sentence on the last page, but it managed to firmly draw Qianye’s gaze. It was actually the highest purity black crystal!
Black crystal was a tightly controlled strategic resource. Both the low-purity, kinetic-grade black crystals that were used as fuel and the medium-purity, industrial-grade black crystals that served as the primary material in building origin guns were in short supply all year round. Additionally, the energy-grade black crystals that were usually converted to daybreak origin power for use in cultivation only had a price tag but no set market for it. For instance, the cultivation chambers in the Song clan used such high-purity black crystals.
The empire actually allowed for the exchange of energy-grade black crystals this time. It was clear that the importance they had attached to the bloody battle on Evernight Continent was on par with the large-scale wars of the upper continents.
Qianye had just put down the rewards list when Zhao Yuying approached in a hurry.
“How went your isolated cultivation?”
“No bad. At least, I’ve come to understand my future path.”
“That’s good. How long until you break through to champion?”
Qianye laughed wryly, “At least two months. It’ll take even longer after factoring the time in battle.”
Zhao Yuying breathed a sigh of relief instead. “Don’t rush with the breakthrough so as to avoid an unstable foundation. It’s best to advance at the Marrow Cleansing Pond. You don’t have to worry about the resources involved. I’ll find a way to settle it. At worst, this mommy won’t withdraw money from the clan anymore!”
An indescribable sensation emerged in Qianye’s heart. Zhao Yuying had lightly spoken of it, but this meant that she would have to exchange all her future resources from the clan for a chance to enter the Marrow Cleansing Pond. But, he only nodded without saying anything.
At this day and time, there was no longer a need for any polite conventions between Qianye and Zhao Yuying. Even though he had no intention to accept such a costly gift, he appreciated her kind intentions.
Zhao Yuying picked up and briefly looked through the official documents, map, and rewards list before putting them down. The contents therein weren’t too different from the dispatch they had received from the expeditionary army. It seemed as though she had something on her mind, but had no idea how to say it.
Zhao Yuying was rarely so hesitant. Qianye only waited in silence and didn’t rush her. This valiant beauty took a deep breath and said amidst a series of vulgarities, “This mommy still wants to take part in the bloody battle!”
“Why?” Qianye inquired.
With Zhao Yuying’s identity in the Zhao clan, she should have no shortage of military contributions to exchange for resources. Meanwhile, that previous matter with Zhao Fenglei had blown up to disagreeable proportions. As a result, the squad that was supposed to be assigned to her hadn’t even arrived. In truth, the state of Zhao Yuying’s injuries would require her to avoid intense battles for several months. It was only rational for her to make use of this fact to withdraw from this battle.
“For the Zhao clan.”
This reply surprised Qianye somewhat.
Zhao Yuying felt unburdened after speaking her mind. “Correct, it’s for the Zhao clan. Even in my current state, I’m still a Zhao clan member at heart. Descendants like us are afforded its cool shade only because the great tree, that is the Zhao clan, remains tall. Although there are many people in the family I don’t see eye to eye with, I’m still surnamed Zhao with regards to important matters like this.”
“The Imperial Party’s intentions in this bloody battle are clear. They’re forcing all the major clans to lay their cards on the table. It can be said that they’re using everything at their disposal to centralize power. The empire had been established for thousands of years, and the clans had also existed for just as long. Which centralization did not involve a storm of blood?”
Qianye was a bit confused since he wasn’t very knowledgeable about imperial politics. He said with a frown, “Centralization? What does it have to do with the Zhao clan? Even if the four clans were involved, shouldn’t the Song clan should be first?”
Zhao Yuying shook her head. “Our Zhao clan is closely related to the imperial family and our bloodlines are quite close. Many empresses of generations past were surnamed Zhao. The present emperor’s situation is… relatively special. The empresses’ family is the Jingtang Li Clan, but the imperial family married Princess Gaoyi to Duke Chengen. As such, the other clans see the Zhao as a part of the Imperial Party, but in the eyes of the Imperial Party, the Zhao clan is one hundred percent a clan.”
Qianye was enlightened. “So, the Zhao clan will be weakened or suppressed no matter which side ends up winning? This…”
“My grandfather and a number of great-uncles share the same view. Most of the clan elders also believe this to be so. Hence, their attitude toward this bloody battle is very different.”
“Mm, raise the bounty?”
Zhao Yuying was originally in a solemn mood, but she broke into an angry laughter after hearing this. She reached out to knock Qianye’s head and said, “You only know about rewards. Song Seven must’ve led you astray!”
Afterward, she resumed a serious expression and said, “The clan has received news that someone from the Imperial Party wants to single out the Zhao clan. It’s possible that they’ll secretly attack the Zhao clan descendants during this bloody battle. The elders wish to end violence using violence and use this to establish our might. We must not only gain military contributions but also kill anyone with hostility toward the Zhao clan, regardless of party and allegiance.”
With that, Zhao Yuying reverted to her carefree personality. She landed a powerful slap on Qianye’s shoulder and said, “That’s why this sister has to return to the Western Continent to recuperate as quickly as possible before returning for battle. I’m still much stronger than ordinary people despite some inevitable reduction in combat strength. Little Qianye, you have to take care of yourself!”
Qianye smiled and extended his hand. “Give it to me.”
“Give what?” Zhao Yuying was startled.
“Your war token. How else will I put my dark race kills on your head?” Qianye said a matter of factly.
“What did you say?” Zhao Yuying couldn’t believe her ears.
“I said, I’ll fight in your name. But the rewards from both the Zhao clan and the empire will go to me.”
“That’s impossible. Half-half!” Zhao Yuying retorted mercilessly.
Zhao Yuying appeared much more relaxed after the flurry of ferocious haggling. She and Qianye looked at each other and broke into a hearty laughter.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
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TL: Legion ED: Moxie