Li Tianquan’s expression sank as he shouted, “What’s with the ruckus!”
The female clerk who had come in replied fearfully, “Young Master Jingzhan has just returned to base. He’s badly wounded and unconscious.”
Li Tianquan shot to his feet in great alarm. “How did that happen? Didn’t he bring an entire unit of elites? What were they doing?”
“Young Master Jingzhan’s troops have been wiped out entirely. General Hong suffered grave injuries in order to bring him back.”
“Where is he? Take me to him!” Li Tianquan said urgently.
“Elder, there’s another news…” The clerk was hesitant.
“Speak quickly!” Li Tianquan shouted impatiently.
“We just received news that the squad transporting resources to the Song clan have encountered an accident, only a few people managed to escape.”
“What?!” Li Tianquan was shocked out of his wits. He grabbed the clerk’s hand and said, “That squad was being overseen by Li Ke, wasn’t it? Where is he? Take me to him!”
“According to the survivors, he’s already fallen in battle.”
Li Tianquan’s vision darkened and his body swayed unsteadily. He supported himself on the table and collected his thoughts before asking, “He fell in battle?”
“Yes, the escapees witnessed Sire Li Ke being beheaded.”
Li Tianquan’s expression went pale and he could even smell some blood in his throat.
Li Ke was one of the few core powers of the Li family. He was both strong and clever, a true general who could shoulder great responsibility. He would have already reached an important position if only he weren’t born from a side branch. Most importantly, Li Ke was an important fighting force for Li Tianquan’s branch. The man’s death was a huge loss to the latter.
Li Tianquan forced himself to remain calm. “How could someone of Li Ke’s strength be slaughtered so easily? Who is the enemy? How many of them were there?”
The clerk lowered her voice. “The enemy only consisted of ten or so men. They rushed straight for the commander and won the battle in one stroke. The leader is a demonkin, and it was him who had injured the general first before beheading him. This demonkin calls himself Eden of the Dark Abyss.”
“Demonkin count... Eden…” Li Tianquan recited the familiar name. He suddenly recalled Qianye’s recount about fighting a demonkin count for the greater part of the last month. What was that count’s name again?
Li Tianquan tried hard to remember, but he just couldn’t recall it in his frustration. Back then, he simply didn’t believe Qianye would be able to keep a demonkin count occupied. He was even less inclined to believe that the area had been free of passing dark race squads due to the fight between Qianye and the demonkin.
His heart burned in rage as he thought about how Li Ke had died yet half of his subordinates had run back. “Issue my order! Seize the escapees and put them to death on account of desertion and harming the general!”
The clerk was shocked out of her wits upon hearing this order. No longer caring about the rebuke she might receive, she said hurriedly, “Elder, shouldn’t we investigate clearly before convicting them?”
She spoke rather tactfully, but Li Tianquan quickly realized his mistake. Putting hundreds of soldiers to death—even if they really were deserters—was a huge matter. Even the second elder didn’t have this authority. It would have to go through the elder assembly or be approved by the clan lord.
That was true in principle, but without any place to vent, the flames in Li Tianquan’s heart burned even more violently. In the end, he diverted all of his anger onto Qianye. “Little animal, you must’ve set the demonkin on us! Otherwise, Li Ke wouldn’t die such a miserable death!”
However, he could only keep these thoughts to himself. Li Tianquan took a deep breath and recovered an elder’s dignity. “Where are the escapees? Bring me to them. Additionally, bring all of that demonkin’s information to my office, don’t miss a single thing!”
Li Tianquan left in a hurry, stirring up quite a lot of waves in the base. The Li family had never suffered such severe casualties before since the beginning of this war. They had lost a great general and hundreds of private soldiers in a single day. Although the death of mercenaries wasn’t a big issue, the Li family would still have to fork out considerable compensation to their families. Otherwise, who would be willing to risk their lives for the Li family?
Li Tianquan’s hatred for Qianye grew along with the casualties. He knew full well that he was merely taking it out on the latter, but he couldn’t control himself. What Li Tianquan didn’t know was that his theory was, for once, correct.
These losses were only the beginning. Bad news rolled in almost every day in the period that followed. The weaker squads were destroyed immediately, while even the stronger ones were occasionally attacked. Most of the casualties were related to a single name: Eden.
Only at this point did the people truly understand how terrifying this demonkin count was. Especially within the Misty Wood, there was virtually no way to deal with him.
As the person in charge, Li Tianquan convened several meetings to analyze the battle reports and research strategies to counter Eden. The reports regarding the latter were fairly complete, but the more they analyzed him, the more they felt that only experts at rank fifteen, sixteen, or perhaps even higher, would be a match for this demonkin.
But in the Misty Wood, a pure increase in origin power rank didn’t equate to an extension in perception range unless they possessed special sensory talents. According to current reports, Eden’s visual range was over four hundred meters, a number which only gave rise to more despair.
The meeting inevitably fell into an impasse. Could it be that the only way to deal with this demonkin count was to invite a divine champion to take action? This wasn’t a good idea at all because if a human divine-champion were to oversee the Misty Wood, the Evernight side would dispatch dukes in response. The battle would then escalate prematurely with neither side being well-prepared.
While the Li family’s base was in utter chaos, Qianye had completely yet another hunting session.
Unlike Eden, the squads that encountered Qianye rarely had any survivors. He only attacked squads with a hundred or so people, harvesting nutrients both for himself and the purple substance.
His current expedition had lasted half a month and Andruil’s realm was now full to the brim. After doing some math, he reckoned that his current contributions were enough to exchange for a standard second-rate merit, which should be equal to killing a mighty count.
It was definitely time to go back. He finished his last cigarette in silence and tossed the butt onto the body of a werewolf at his feet. Then, he began walking in the direction of the base.
Back on Evernight Continent, outside of Blackflow City. A convoy was approaching from the distance. There were only five cargo trucks in this motorcade surrounded by over twenty escort vehicles. The guard officer at the city gates had long since noticed the Dark Flame insignia on the vehicles but still performed a strict inspection process nonetheless.
It just so happened that the gate captain was familiar with one of the captains on the convoy. He couldn’t help but point at the cargo trucks and ask, “What’s in there is so important that we need an entire regiment to escort it?”
The captain waved his hand and said in a hushed tone, “Quiet! It was sent over from Wolf City. I don’t know what’s in the car, either. The higherups won’t allow anyone to discuss these goods. Reportedly, only Chief Duan knows what’s in there apart from the werewolves.”
The guard was alarmed. “Is Chief Duan in the convoy?”
“Of course! The chief himself is overseeing this. Do you understand now?”
Duan Hao was a veteran whom Song Zining had brought over from the Ningyuan Group and could be considered the most direct of subordinates. He had also received a great deal of resources and grooming from Song Zining.
Duan Hao had also gained much from the continuous fights during the Bloody Battle. The life and death situations back then allowed him to break through several successive bottlenecks and become a champion. This almost made him the number one expert in Dark Flame below Song Zining and Qianye. Duan Hao’s talents were fairly limited, and the farthest he could reach might be rank eleven or twelve. However, champions born from the battlefield usually possessed combat strength far greater than their ranks.
The convoy this time was actually being escorted by Duan Hao personally. From this, one could see just how important it was.
The gate captain didn’t dare ask more. He completed the inspection in due haste and let the motorcade in. The convoy only remained in the city for half an hour before heading toward the airship port. Moments later, a high-speed airship took to the skies and left rapidly.
An officer in the guard tower put down his binoculars and gazed pensively at the fading airship. Then he recorded something on a piece of paper which he then hid away carefully.
It was soon night and the end of this officer’s duty. He didn’t return to the barracks after the change of guards and, instead, headed toward the bustling business district. Lone low-ranking officers like him weren’t rare in Dark Flame. When they weren’t on duty, most of them would go out to find some entertainment instead of staying in the dorms
This officer hesitated for a while before heading into a small bar. There he sat down in a corner, ordered a bottle of wine, and began drinking slowly.
Before long, a charming lady came to sit across in front of him. She shot a glance at the brand of wine and said, “Won’t you buy a round for me? I like this wine.”
The officer sighed as he held the lady’s hand, which she pulled back with a frown. This unassuming action left a small sheet of paper in her hands. Moments later, the two parted unhappily after failing to negotiate a price.
The lady lingered in the bar for a while but soon left in boredom. She observed the surroundings carefully before heading to a small inn nearby. There she entered a small room on the second floor and passed the paper to a man in his thirties.
The man possessed clean facial features and an elegant temperament which seemed rather out of place in the clamorous, crude but lively Evernight Continent.
He opened the paper under the lamplight and read every word in great detail.
Not daring to disturb him, the lady just sat nearby without anything to do. The sound of rumbling machinery outside the window was constant, and the air was suffused with the smell of rust and steam. There was no way to keep that disgusting smell out even with the window tightly closed. The woman’s brows knitted tightly as she wrinkled her nose with an unhappy expression.
The man glanced over after reading the paper. “There’s no helping it. Now that we’re here, all we can do is endure the inconveniences.”
“Can’t we switch to another place? This place is too close to the kinetic tower,” the woman complained.
Blackflow City’s kinetic tower utilized black stone as fuel, a model that had been discontinued on the mainland since over a hundred years ago. A report about its loud noise, constant steam leakage, and low energy conversion efficiency could fill an entire document.
But the good thing about it was that it wasn’t a picky eater. Even the lowest quality of black stones would make it move, and it was also very durable. For instance, this big machine less than a hundred meters away from the inn had exceeded its lifespan for god knows how many years. But it was still running, and from the looks of things, it should keep running for many more years to come—the only things required were frequent repairs and maintenance.
This kinetic tower was responsible for powering the old city section. The one Song Zining had built with his own money was naturally safe within Dark Flame walls. Its kinetic output was used solely to power the base and city defenses.
The area around the kinetic tower naturally became a slum. The lowest rung of Blackflow’s commoner society and the inferior mercenaries didn’t quite mind this environment. Only here would they be able to afford the food and rent. In truth, most of the cities in third or fourth-rate defensive regions were at the level of Blackflow City’s kinetic tower area. That was the true living standards of the abandoned land.
The man burned the paper and pondered for a moment. “This is the second batch this month. Hmm... Wolf City…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I smell schemes...
TL: Legion ED: Moxie
Teaser Source: https://hearthstone.gamepedia.com/Overload