“You cannot support the entire Bai clan before becoming a divine champion! Even if you do, the Bai clan cannot escape us old fellows! So, you should think more about the clan even if you’re not interested in its affairs!” Bai Songhe said furiously.
Bai Aotu sat expressionlessly and in silence. However, anyone could see that she wasn’t really listening to the old man’s words at all.
Bai Songhe was helpless against her. He forced himself to suppress his anger and asked, “Did you tell Bai Kongzhao about those things?”
“Of course not.”
Bai Songhe nodded and his expression eased up a bit. “That is the foundation of our Bai clan’s continued existence. No one must know about it apart from a small number of people. Just let Kongzhao’s matter be. Since you say she has extraordinarily rare combat talents, then it won’t be a problem for her to escape Zhao Ruoxi’s hunt. A young miss like her will tire of the game after a couple of days.”
Bai Aotu replied indifferently, “Kongzhao doesn’t need my help to begin with.”
Bai Songhe said with a nod, “That’ll be for the best. This period is the most important since several major businesses have reached the critical juncture. Try to avoid trouble as much as you can. As for those who dare threaten our Bai family, we’ll show them sooner or later!”
Bai Aotu asked, “I heard the Zhao clan is allying with a group of aristocratic families to suppress us?”
Bai Songhe glared at her. “What a rare sight for you to care about the clan. The Zhao clan’s movements are faster than you think. Reportedly, they have already submitted this matter to the imperial court. They will band together to indict us. Humph!”
“Is it urgent?”
“This matter is neither big nor small. How can anything be trivial in court? But at least we can drag this out for several months before an outcome is reached.”
Bai Aotu nodded. Clearly, she wasn’t interested in further discussion. Bai Songhe sighed and, before leaving, reminded her several times to not cause trouble.
It was at this time that a follower rushed over with an urgent report for the two. Bai Songhe was astonished after opening the letter. “Zhao Jundu wishes to engage in a life and death battle with you in three years!? This… this is also because of Qianye!?”
Bai Aotu’s expression was solemn.
Bai Songhe remained speechless for a long time. Then, he left the tent with a long sigh. This matter was already out of his control. The fierce reactions of Zhao Ruoxi and Zhao Jundu meant that an all-out war between the Bai and Zhao clan was not far away. Especially Zhao Jundu’s challenge, it was meant to force himself and Bai Aotu into a corner. Regardless of the outcome of that battle, the two clans would most likely fall into an all-out conflict.
Bai Songhe said nothing because, at this point, the Bai clan wasn't yet prepared for this.
Meanwhile, Qianye was roused by a gentle bell within the cultivation room. He gradually stopped his Profound Combatant Formula and walked out. There, he found two soldiers waiting for him. “General Qianye, we will be arriving in ten minutes.”
Qianye nodded and duly returned to his room to collect his luggage and weapons. At this point, the ship trembled, and the roar of engines increased sharply as the rear cabin doors opened.
The transport ship at the moment was hovering several meters from the ground without landing. There was a gentle slope below leading to a fortress on the nearby hilltop, one of the three first-line strongholds of the Zhao clan.
Almost a hundred soldiers jumped down from the transport ship and began marching toward the fort. Qianye also leapt out and landed firmly on the ground. The vessel didn’t linger even for a moment. It took to the air with a loud whistle and had soon receded into the distance.
Song Zining followed Qianye from behind, towing a military backpack almost as tall as he was. Just how had he gotten so many things during this period? Qianye was somewhat curious because he remembered Song Zining was empty-handed when he boarded the ship.
“What are those?” Qianye couldn’t help but ask.
“Supplies for the fort defense, mostly ammunition and food.”
Qianye was astonished. “We have to prepare food?”
Song Zining rolled his eyes. “If only I wasn’t out of space, I even planned to take some water. Did you think the following battle will be that easy? Why else would the Zhao clan fellows build three defensive lines? They’re not idiots.”
Qianye nodded in agreement. It wasn’t that he had underestimated the difficulty of this battle, but because he had already stocked up on supplies within Andruil’s Realm. He wouldn’t skimp on this preparation even if he had to sacrifice space for spoils.
The two had just started toward the fortress when violent explosions rang out far in the distance. The transport ship that had just left burst into flames and suddenly lost some altitude. Several high-speed airships rushed out of the clouds at this point. Although they were only a tenth in size compared to the massive transport, their attacks were extremely powerful. Cannon shells and ballista bolts rained down on the transport—it was like a whale surrounded by a school of sharks.
Qianye was greatly alarmed. “Potian is still on the ship!”
Wei Potian’s recovery was far inferior to Qianye’s; he would need to rest for at least a week. As such, it was arranged for him to return to the rear lines with the transport. Who would’ve thought the dark race pursuers would arrive so quickly? They actually appeared before the imperial transport could leave.
Qianye started running toward the battlefield immediately, but Song Zining pulled him back. “That wild boar is very lucky, he won’t die that easily. Moreover, the Zhang clan isn’t completely unprepared. Don’t be rash, let’s wait and see first!”
Flames erupted continuously on the transport ship and its outer layer gradually came off. However, only half of it was due to the dark race attacks, while the other half was removed voluntarily. After shedding its shell, the transport’s speed increased by a level. Moreover, there were numerous cannons and giant ballistae hidden under the shell. In an instant, the transport turned into a fierce, spiked beast. Its surging firepower suppressed the enemy ships until they could hardly breathe, taking down two high-speed warships in the blink of an eye.
The remaining dark race vessels were like startled animals, quickly distancing themselves from the transport that had revealed its sinister side. The transport wasn’t too eager to battle, either. It simply left with a much greater speed than when it came.
Only then did Qianye feel relieved. Song Zining said, “See? Those major characters up there aren’t that easy to deal with. They have been waiting for this day. The Zhang clan army’s retreat was actually a bait to draw the dark race experts to their deaths.”
“But our casualties aren’t small at all.” Qianye felt that the death toll on both sides was more or less the same during this retreat. Of course, Qianye had no idea that the Zhang clan had destroyed a grand duke’s airship by using hidden battleships.
Song Zining replied, “Our casualties are mostly limited to ordinary soldiers with little future potential. The Evernight side has been losing elites with great future prospects. This trading of pieces is a gambit, and the advantage we win right now will only become evident after several years.”
Qianye was speechless and could only let out a sigh. This kind of exchange was simply too cruel. Too many soldiers had died in front of Qianye in this short, two-day period. All of them were people full of life, yet they were being played as chess pieces in the hands of the bigshots. The bitterness of the trade pieces was on full display along the Zhang clan’s bloody retreat path.
Song Zining said with a soft sigh, “I didn’t quite understand in the past, but I realized a bit after following Marshal Zhang for a while. In truth, this kind of trade has been going on since a thousand years ago. The reason the empire was able to get this far is due to the successive generations of trade-pieces constantly accumulating these small advantages for us. It is indeed cruel, but it is also necessary.”
The two chatted while walking. Just as they were about to enter the fortress, Qianye turned back suddenly as though he had sensed something. They saw, over the distant horizon, a massive dark cloud surging over in their direction. Qianye’s powerful eyesight had already discerned that it wasn’t a dark cloud but a horde of dark race airships.
The thousand Evernight airships blotted out the sun as they swarmed over. Even someone of Qianye’s calm couldn’t help but waver upon seeing a fleet of such scale. Song Zining also lost his calm and blurted out, “How come there are so many?!”
He had held back from the next sentence, but some insensitive person from among the soldiers cried out, “Has the imperial fleet been defeated?”
At that moment, terror washed over the imperial soldiers. If the imperial fleet had been defeated in the void, it meant that none of them would be able to return to the imperial mainland. All they could do was fight to the death on this void continent.
Qianye was just about to say something after seeing the chaos spread among the soldiers, but someone beat him to it. A man jumped onto a rock and roared, “What’s with the panicking!? If the fleet has really been defeated, all we need to think about is giving those black-blooded bastards a good beating!”
This was a burly man with a thick beard and several scars on his face. Apparently, he had gone to hell and back several times. He tore open his shirt to reveal a hairy chest and the crisscross of scars upon it.
“As long as those bastards dare come, we will just do them in! I welcome anyone who will stand with me. I speak no empty words, but I promise you this! If we can’t walk out of the battlefield alive, then I’ll be the one to die at the foremost!”
The burly man didn’t say much and half of his speech was occupied by war cries. However, every word struck the soldiers’ hearts. In a flash, morale took a turn for the better as an increasing number of soldiers started shouting together with him.
In Qianye’s eyes, this burly man was a new champion. His only origin vortex was dim and his origin power, sparse and impure. Apparently, there was no hope for him to ascend. It was already his life’s fortune to be able to form a single vortex.
But such people were the true warriors on the battlefield with combat strength far exceeding their cultivation. They were the pillars of the army capable of shouldering the most arduous of battlefields.
Qianye sighed in his heart. “Zining, are such people also chess pieces for trading?”
Song Zining revealed a bitter smile. “The best of its kind, in fact. If I were the commander-in-chief, I wouldn’t hesitate to push him out for a trade at the critical juncture.”
Qianye could only remain silent. He glanced over at the approaching Evernight fleet and hastened his steps toward the fortress.Previous Chapter Next Chapter