Qianye raised his brows. “You’re not keeping this stronghold?”
Bai Longjia replied while shaking his head, “We can’t hold it. That expert in the central warship is unfathomable. He might even be a glorious marquis. The only reason he didn’t join the battle was because he couldn’t ascertain the real situation. My sister had remained hidden and countered his probes with her suppressive might. But this won’t work a second time.”
He added, “The dark race army is now regrouping after a steep loss of their elites in the first assault. It’s precisely the best time for a retreat. Otherwise, there’s no telling how many of the current survivors will get back alive.”
It turned out that none of the Bai clan’s experts apart from Bai Aotu and another elder were in the vicinity. The current disparity in forces was too great. If the one in the airship was a duke, even Bai Aotu and the elder together wouldn’t be able to win.
Moreover, most of the Bai clan’s garrisoned troops had fallen and the sub-fleet stationed here had been practically wiped out. Such a loss could be considered grave even for the Bai clan. It would no longer be limited to a single warzone if this went on—even the empire’s foundations might be shaken.
Bai Longjia didn’t mince words in front of Qianye. He said bluntly, “We’ll lose this territory if the Zhao clan suddenly attacks us at this time and we can’t stop their airships.”
Qianye only smiled without commenting on this matter since he had little interest in the civil conflicts on the empire. The Bai clan should’ve expected themselves to be in equal peril one day when they took action against the younger generation of the beleaguered Zhao clan.
Bai Longjia sighed in his heart as he changed the topic of conversation, asking Qianye if he was willing to fight alongside the Bai clan. If the latter were to agree, he would double the normal recruitment terms.
Qianye was startled. “General Bai, that’s four times the military contributions. Aren’t you afraid I’ll empty your coffers?”
Bai Longjia replied without any hesitation, “You’re worth the price.” Qianye’s combat strength was far above his rank and capable of supporting an entire battlefront. His contribution to the battle as a whole couldn’t be calculated just by kill count.
Qianye became briefly absent-minded as he recalled a long-forgotten matter. When he had first met Bai Longjia was during the recruitment in Xiangyang City. Their disparity in status back then was so great that Qianye only managed to glance at that elite-corps bigshot from afar. He could hardly even remember what Bai Longjia looked like. The only thing he remembered was the comment the man had written on his file. But those things were no longer important.
But regardless of how he viewed the Bai clan, his agreement with the Li clan came first. He had no intentions of breaching the contract and thus wouldn’t stay behind.
Bai Longjia noticed that Qianye wasn’t quite interested in the terms he had offered and also realized that it wasn’t an issue of money. “It’s best you leave with us when we retreat. The dark race army this time is composed of mixed races. And judging from the scale, there should be at least six or seven experts above the count level. It’ll be dangerous for you to travel alone.”
Everyone knew that a mixed dark race alliance would usually contain more experts. Qianye hesitated for a while but didn’t refuse immediately. Bai Longjia was speaking of normal circumstances, but Qianye could mix into the dark race army with Bloodline Concealment. It wasn’t too hard for him to break out of the siege.
Bai Longjia didn’t push the matter after seeing that Qianye was weighing his options. He summoned an officer and made some brief inquiries before turning back to Qianye. “How about we convert your contributions to this defensive battle first? We’ll refer to the Bai clan’s current recruitment terms for independent experts and sum up the contributions as a virtuous count. Tell us whatever you need—weapons, medicines, or other resources.”
“Virtuous count?” That was a first-rank count. The rewards somewhat exceeded Qianye’s expectations.
Qianye had no plans to decline, though. He pointed at the tattered Iron Wall on his body and said, “I heard the Bai clan’s armor craftsmanship is the best in the empire. If possible, please get me a new set of armor.”
“No problem. If I’m not wrong, the one you’re wearing is the empire’s standard Iron Wall armor, right? But that’s a heavy armor.”
Qianye stretched out his hands and flipped it over to reveal an arm full of scratches and bite marks. The most eye-catching were the deep fang-marks near his elbow that had almost pierced through the armor.
“It would’ve gone through if not for the heavy armor,” Qianye replied.
Even Bai Longjia couldn’t help but inhale deeply upon seeing the state of this armor. He turned to an officer and said, “Bring the set of armor in my tent.”
The officer was startled. “General, but that’s your spare armor!”
Bai Longjia shot the man a cold glare. The officer left immediately, without daring to say anything.
Only then did he turn back to Qianye and said, “Our builds are more or less the same. You should be able to wear my armor. That one is so heavy that I can’t last long in battle wearing it. It should be a better fit for you since you can fight for so long wearing Iron Wall.”
Moments later, the officer returned with a box and opened it to reveal a set of silvery-white armor.
This battle armor appeared rather light, tight-fitting and resembled a light armor through and through. It could even be worn underneath one’s robes. The armor was made up of countless tiny leaflets akin to dragon scales, each filled with intricate veined patterns and faint golden speckles amidst the silver.
Qianye could tell from a glance that the armor had silken essence gold incorporated into it.
There was a beast-head relief on the front of the armor and a dazzling pair of folded wings at the back. Add to that its bright silver color, one would see the bearer even amidst an army of ten thousand.
Qianye picked the armor up from the box and weighed it in his hand. It was heavier than Iron Wall, and this was only a chestguard. Wouldn’t the entire set reach a thousand kilograms?
Only then did Qianye realize why Bai Longjia wasn’t quite willing to don it. Every movement made in this armor would drain one’s strength. It would only prove cumbersome except in perilous situations like charging the enemy lines.
Bai Longjia said from the side, “This armor is called Young Dragon, and it was custom-made for me at first. Certain materials were added in the pursuit of better defense which unexpectedly caused it to weigh too much. Although it includes a weight-reducing array, activating it also requires one to spend origin power.”
“Isn’t this too valuable?” Qianye frowned. Young Dragon was a grade-six masterpiece whose performance wasn’t that far off from a grade-seven standard armor—some of its functions and effects were even superior. This set of armor could already trade for a standard grade-eight origin gun. In terms of value, it had far surpassed Qianye’s contribution points.
Bai Longjia waved his hands. “I’ll need to break through to rank-fifteen at least in order to wear this armor. My recent cultivation is too slow because of the miscellaneous responsibilities in my hands. It’ll just be a waste in my hands. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can take it as a favor you owe to the Bai clan. I hope you can lend us a hand in times of peril.” This was asking Qianye to fight for them again.
Qianye broke into a laugh. “The Bai clan is the Bai clan, you are you. These things are two different matters. I’ll definitely do my best if you ever need help. I can also help the Bai clan if the enemies involved are from the dark races.”
Bai Longjia couldn’t help but laugh wryly.
Time was of the essence at this moment since the Bai clan was about to retreat, so Qianye didn’t delay the matter and simply changed into Young Dragon. The sparkling silver colors gave him a feeling of inexplicable awkwardness. How was he to hunt with such a shiny get up? Everyone would be able to see him from far away, and no amount of Bloodline Concealment would help. Qianye immediately asked the quartermaster for some paint and dyed the armor an unassuming grey. Only then was he barely satisfied.
The Bai clan stronghold was busy but orderly. Within just a couple of hours, all preparations to clear out had been made. From this, one could see the quality of the Bai clan units and Bai Longjia’s management.
In the end, Qianye decided to retreat along with the Bai clan private army. He owed Bai Longjia a small favor after taking his Young Dragon.
At dusk, what remained of the Bai clan army finally began to retreat, leaving the ruined stronghold behind along with a large batch of unnecessary supplies. Most of their ten thousand soldiers had fallen or suffered injuries—only over a thousand were left when they left the stronghold.
Some of the commanders were dissatisfied at first. They wanted to defend the stronghold and wait for the Bai clan to send troops over. However, they received news, during their retreat, of another sizeable landing party heading toward them at full speed.
No one voiced their opinion after hearing this. If they were to cling onto the stronghold, not to mention a single Bai Aotu, even all the elders of the Bai clan working together would only result in death.
That Bai clan elder, called Bai Tianfeng, revealed an unsightly expression upon seeing this piece of intelligence. “What is that imperial fleet doing?! They even let two landing parties descend intact. What’s the use of having them around?”
Qianye also had the same doubts. Glancing around, he saw most of those nearby were also quite discontent. Even Bai Longjia had a gloomy expression.
Their anger was more or less justified. The combination of two landing parties meant that a dark race force ten thousand strong would amass in Desert Valley. Moreover, there were at least two glorious marquises leading them. If unfortunate, it might be two dukes instead.
The war had just begun, but the dark races had already mobilized such a large force. This proved that they were determined to obtain the Desert Valley. These two landing parties were likely just the vanguards, and a stream of armies would follow for sure. Whether it was by strategic planning or sheer luck, Bai Longjia’s decision to retreat was the correct one.
Under these circumstances, the Bai clan had fallen into an awkward state. There was no way they could reclaim Desert Valley with their own strength. As such, they would surely be at a disadvantage during the distribution of territories later on.
The atmosphere around the retreating army became stifling. Qianye sat silently within the central force. His mood was somewhat better since he saw neither Bai Kongzhao nor Bai Aotu.
They finally encountered the Bai clan reception party after half a day’s travel. The Bai clan’s warzone was close to the Song clan’s, and there was a common forward base at their border. However, the base was within Song clan territory, so it brought the Bai clan a lot of inconveniences.
Qianye had no good impression of the latter. Neither did he want to know why these two clans were sharing a base despite their friction in the bloody battle. Since they had arrived in a safe area, Qianye bade farewell to Bai Longjia without even entering the base to resupply.
Bai Longjia understood that he couldn’t stop Qianye, so he sent him off personally. Just as Qianye was about the leave, the former asked, “Did you see Potian recently? He’s also come to join the battle this time.”
Qianye smiled. “I traveled with the Wei clan fleet during the landing phase.”
Bai Longjia nodded but said nothing else.
Qianye headed toward the southwest after leaving the Bai clan squad. The Desert Valley area was vast. It would seem that the dark race army had confirmed their attack target well beforehand because there weren’t any patrols or scouts at all except around strategic points. Qianye then ran back into the Misty Woods without encountering any obstructions.
Surprisingly, Qianye felt a sense of safety after his senses were restricted to within a couple hundred meters. This forest was a natural battleground for him.
Qianye found a random tree to sit beneath and brought out a map. He looked through it for a moment before his brows became knitted together.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Expect another chapter tonight or early tomorrow morning. (GMT+8)
TL: Legion ED: Moxie
Teaser Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOajBnUsR5Y