After the generals had looked over the report, some were furious, some were shocked, and others were puzzled. Qianye was filled with lingering doubts after reading it. The report stated that the central fortress lasted a mere half an hour before the defensive line was torn apart by the dark race army.
The loss of the central defensive line was so fast that the Zhao clan didn’t have sufficient time to dispatch airship support. When the battlefront collapsed, the airships that were supposed to provide support were still landing at the rear base with Qianye and the others on board.
The loss of the central fortress immediately caused the pressure on the two sides to increase sharply. They remained steadfast despite being surrounded on all sides, up until the Zhao clan’s urgently dispatched airships arrived to rescue them.
However, this hurried retreat operation wasn’t as safe as the last two. Four out of the six mobilized warships were actually shot down. Only two barely managed to make it back in one piece. In just a short while, casualty rates among the two side-fortresses had reached well over half the total with most survivors being heavily injured. Their valor was the only thing that had kept them hanging on until the end.
An intense smell of blood seemed to be gushing out of this short battle report.
After a brief moment of silence, Zhao Yuying inquired, “How many people came back from the central fortress?”
This question was like a giant rock that shattered the awkward silence, touching upon a topic no one wanted to discuss.
After experiencing two defense battles, Qianye was very clear that retreating from a crumbling defensive line without air support was merely a daydream. The central defense force had surely been wiped out.
It was just that Qianye couldn’t understand how such a large force could’ve been defeated so quickly.
Zhao Yuying, who was originally supposed to join the defense forces, was suddenly injured. However, she had assigned numerous champions of equal combat strength in order to supplement the fortress defenses, all of them valiant generals under the command of Duke You. Meanwhile, Zhao Fenglei was also being supported by several of Duke Yan’s powerful experts. At least on paper, the defense force led by Qianye and Song Zining paled in comparison to their lineup.
Zhao Junfang stood with his hands behind his back and no expression on his face. He waited for quite a while before replying, “Most of the defense forces have fallen.”
Zhao Yuying stood up. “Most? That means some of them managed to escape?”
She was concerned about this matter because most of the defense forces there were men from the Duke You Residence. Moreover, there was an elder who had taken care of her since she was a kid.
Zhao Junfang’s voice was solemn, and every word he spoke pounded upon the hearts of the audience. “A total of seven people escaped, Zhao Fenglei and six others from the Duke Yan Residence.”
Everyone with access to secret intelligence revealed different expressions. They all knew the central fortress’ defense force lineup. The Duke Yan Residence had dispatched a total of six champions, a total of seven together with Zhao Fenglei.
Zhao Yuying’s voice trembled. “How about people from our Duke You Residence?”
Zhao Junfang shook his head. “No news.”
Everyone knew that he was just being tactful because the absence of news here was the worst kind of news. How could a handful of champions escape from deep within the enemy army?
Zhao Yuying cried out, “How did those people from the Duke Yan Residence escape!?”
Zhao Junfang’s brows locked into a frown. “That, I don’t know either.”
One of the generals sneered, “It’s not hard to guess. They must’ve hidden a high-speed airship in the fortress and escaped quickly as soon as they saw the enemy troop strength.” The words escaped were stressed quite deeply.
Zhao Junfang roared, “This is a serious matter, do not make wild guesses.”
That general was from the Duke You lineage. He wasn’t afraid of Zhao Junfang and continued with a cold laugh, “If my guess is correct, then the origins of this airship and how it got into the fortress without any records… these things really need to be addressed.”
Conventionally, airships were a strategic weapon—any mobilization or transfer required the approval of the regional commander. At the very least, a report had to be submitted regarding its movements. With a small, high-speed airship in the fortress, anyone could tell that it was the commanding officer’s escape route. How could the soldiers have the morale to fight to the death?
The presence of such an unregistered airship proved that there was a slip-up among the higher echelons of the Zhao clan. To be precise, the Duke Chengen Lineage which Zhao Junfang represented couldn’t escape responsibility. Hence, that general from the Duke You Lineage wasn’t polite at all. After all, their branch had suffered the greatest losses.
After hearing this, Zhao Yuying calmed down and simply sat there in silence. Everyone familiar with her would know that she was the most dangerous in this state. Her temporary silence meant that an earth-shattering explosion would soon follow.
In the face of such a grave matter, Zhao Junfang had no choice but to suppress his anger and explain, “Whether or not there’s an unregistered airship remains to be investigated. However, I can guarantee with my forty years of military contributions that our Duke Chengen lineage wasn’t aware of this.”
Since Zhao Junfang had spoken thus, that general had nothing more to say. He simply returned to his seat with a snort.
Zhao Junfang scanned all the generals in the room. “We have an important matter at hand. We must not let the dark race army take one step past this fortress. This battle is related to the Zhao clan’s entire war strategy, so we must ask you to fight with everything you have.”
Most of the people here were lineal descendants. The only unrelated ones, Qianye and Song Zining, were also deeply related to the clan—they naturally wouldn’t shirk away at such a critical time.
Zhao Junfang appeared thankful after seeing no one object. He said with a wave of his hand, “It would seem many of you are still injured. I’ll open up our strategic resource storage and dispatch the reserve medicines. It should be of some help.”
Everyone became more spirited after hearing this. The Zhao clan’s secret medicines were naturally rare premium goods. A good part of them was obtained directly from the Li family and couldn’t be found on the market. With these medicines in hand, their survival rate would increase by thirty percent at the very least.
Now that morale was high, Zhao Junfang waved his large hands and shouted, “Since that’s the case, everyone should go back and rest. At dawn tomorrow, we shall fight to the death with the dark races!”
It was at this time that everyone felt the room tremble ever so slightly. The vibrations grew increasingly evident, and soon, even ordinary soldiers could feel it. What exactly was making the main building shake so hard?
The more impatient generals rushed over to the windows and saw a massive shadow fly past.
They looked up in astonishment to find a warship flying past the fortress, followed by a dozen or so large transports. Only at this point did the blaring alarm ring out in the fortress.
Some of the generals quickly confirmed that the vessels belonged to the Zhao clan, but this fleet had never appeared in the reports and no one knew where they were from.
Just as the generals were bewildered about what to do, the door to the conference room swung open and in walked Zhao Jundu. “No need to assemble.”
Zhao Junfang was surprised. “Why?”
Zhao Jundu replied indifferently, “Too slow, I’ll personally lead the army into battle and meet the dark race army at dusk. I’ll beat them into a retreat.”
Zhao Junfang was shocked even more. “Fourth Young Master, this… isn’t it too sudden? Your safety is more important than a temporary win or loss!”
Zhao Junfang spoke quite tactfully. One of the other generals from the Duke Chengen lineage was much more straightforward. “Fourth Young Master’s future is boundless. You’re a future pillar of the empire! Why would you take such a risk for the Zhang clan’s routed army? It’s not worth it!”
The other generals also spoke words of dissuasion. Even the generals from the Duke You lineage echoed their sentiments. Everyone was worried that Zhao Jundu wouldn’t be able to handle the numerous experts of the dark races. After all, Zhao Jundu was still young and his cultivation was far from having reached its peak.
Zhao Jundu’s eyes swept across the generals. “Are you worried that I won’t be a match for the enemies?”
“Well, of course not. It’s just that…” Zhao Junfang didn’t know how to word his concerns, but he was intent on stopping Zhao Jundu. The fourth young master wasn’t just the hope of the Duke Chengen lineage but also the entire Zhao clan—perhaps even the future pillar of the empire.
Zhao Jundu suddenly broke into a laugh. “You think I don’t dare fight just because I might not be a match?”
While the generals were looking at one another wondering what to say, Zhao Jundu pointed at Qianye and said, “Qianye, follow me into battle!”
Qianye replied without a thought, “Very well.”
Song Zining jumped up and said furiously, “Are you crazy!? Qianye has been wounded so badly, how can he enter the battlefield?”
Zhao Jundu shot Song Zining a glance and said, “You come too.”
Song Zining seemed quite unhappy. “This young master has his own plans, I don’t need you to give me instructions! Besides, we aren’t the same. This matter is…”
Zhao Jundu suddenly appeared beside Song Zining and placed a hand on his shoulder. Violet light flickered in his eyes as he suppressed Song Zining’s sentence halfway. “Then that’s settled.”
A serious Song Zining struggled with all his might, but he was still quite weak at the moment. How could he be a match for Zhao Jundu? Compared to when they had met at the Song clan many years ago, the present Zhao clan fourth young master’s actions no longer contained a trace of mortal aura. The Omniscient Seal revealed no visual phenomena as it suppressed Song Zining with a single thought. Most of the generals didn’t even notice that Zhao Jundu had used the seal.
No matter how Song Zining struggled, he couldn't escape Zhao Jundu’s grasp, nor could he speak a single word. Zhao Jundu didn’t allow him to explain anything, either, and simply dragged him away. Song Zining was furious because Zhao Jundu’s method was clearly aimed at destroying his elegant image. How could he possibly endure this?
Whether he could bear it or not, he had no other choice before the unreasonable Zhao Jundu.
Zhao Yuying suddenly stood up. “How about me?”
Zhao Jundu shot her a glance and said, “You rest here. You’ll be causing trouble even if you come with me.”
Zhao Yuying wasn’t afraid of Zhao Jundu at all. She broke out in sudden anger and said, “When has this mommy ever caused trouble?! Hey Lil’ Four, make things clear before you go!”
But Zhao Jundu had already stepped through the doors with Qianye and Song Zining in tow, only leaving behind a violet flame to seal the door.
No matter how agitated she was, it remained that Zhao Yuying was currently quite weak. How could she break Zhao Jundu’s Omniscient Seal? She was naturally sealed behind the door, stamping her feet and spewing threats—but what good would that ever do?
It was twilight in the blink of an eye. Zhao Jundu had finished organizing his troops, and the dark race army had appeared on the distant horizon.
Watching the black outline surging over like the tides, Zhao Jundu glanced at Qianye and asked, “Dare you fight this battle?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Spartans!!! Do you dare?!
TL: Legion ED: Moxie
Teaser Source: https://fortanon.dreamwidth.org/121312.html