Chapter 497: Ascension Stairway

Chapter 497: Ascension Stairway [V6C27 – Sorrow of a Silent Parting]

The winds of change blew across Evernight Continent in the days that followed.

The short-lived balance around “Giant’s Repose” was thoroughly shattered as the Evernight Council issued a mobilization notice. The great dark race army marched toward the surrounding regions and started driving away the humans. Naturally, the empire wouldn’t sit still—troops were transferred from the surrounding areas as numerous battles broke out against the dark race alliance army. After a number of victories and defeats on both sides, the situation gradually fell into a stalemate.

The experts from each side fought continuously within a thousand-kilometer area, some seeking to drive the enemy away, while others looking to impede them. The two factions secretly dispatched small elite squads into the Giant’s Repose while, at the same time, trying to kill the other faction’s units.

Meanwhile, Sky Demon was apparently unwilling to let go of the last fragments of ancient essence. It came back even stronger while the two factions were locked in battle and covered the “Giant’s Repose” with the Iron Curtain. At the same time, it released avatars and launched attacks against experts from both sides. In the end, it became a melee between three parties.

It was at this time that something happened at the Evernight Council. The attempted prophecy they had actuated with great momentum encountered a severe setback. It turned out that the power below the “Giant’s Repose” capable of dispersing the experts’ origin power wasn’t a wind tunnel at all—it was actually the chaos void colossus’ remnant will!

That tremendous existence had fallen millions of years ago, however, it not only formed an immortal essence, but even its will remained perpetual and unextinguished. The master prophets of Evernight all suffered badly after coming into contact with the void colossus’ will. Grandmaster Weber was grievously injured and would require decades to recover. Nearly half of the experts were directly killed by the backlash, while the remainder were also greatly harmed.

The Evernight faction’s scrying power had suffered a heavy blow, allowing the empire to quickly overtake them. This wasn’t a trivial matter because it meant that, in future comprehensive operations, the empire could easily interfere with the dark faction’s scrying. Meanwhile, the latter would need to pay a higher price in order to interfere with the empire’s.

But the Evernight Council wasn’t completely without gains.

They obtained two important pieces of information. The first was that the prismatic turbulence above Giant’s Repose was indeed of some other origin. There was a passage in the unknown depths of the stone forest and valleys. Although the world beyond this channel was dangerous, it might not necessarily be lethal. The second was that the effects of the void colossus’ will on experts indeed followed the wind tunnel’s principles. It would form a suppression on experts according to their standard rank. This meant that high-ranking experts had a greater chance of dying, while those whose ranks were too low would be completely devoured by the colossus’ will.

The Evernight Council immediately fell into a dilemma. The ancient essence was indeed a desirable commodity, but there was no telling what kind of dangerous land awaited them beyond the channel. They might have to recalculate their losses and gains should the expedition lose too great a number of high-ranking experts.

The results of this calculation quickly spread among the higher echelons of the Evernight world, and naturally, also to the empire’s side. There was no shortage of people in the Evernight Faction looking to make deals with the empire.

At the same time, countless eyes from the Evernight side were on the empire’s movements. At this point, some were already suspecting whether Lin Xitang’s secret return to the empire was a scheme to damage Evernight’s scrying powers.

However, some abnormal clues had also surfaced on the empire’s side. The 108 diviners all entered the Heaven’s Mystery Pavilion after arriving at the imperial capital, never to appear again. Afterward, all kinds of rare birds, ferocious beasts, and the transferred death row prisoners were sent into the pavilion. None of them returned.

The Heaven’s Mystery Pavilion, located on the mountain behind the imperial capital, was like a gigantic beast with its bloody maw opened wide. It devoured all flesh and life without rest.

The Heaven’s Mystery Pavilion opened its doors only after seven days. A plainly dressed Lin Xitang walked out with a jade scroll in his hand and passed it to an inner attendant who had been standing in wait for a full seven days.

That inner attendant was old beyond recognition. His eyelids were dropping down as though he would fall asleep at any given moment. But when he saw Lin Xitang, a spiritual gleam flashed through this eyes, seemingly lighting up the entire pavilion for a split second.

Seeing Lin Xitang pass the jade scroll to him, the old attendant patted away the dust on his body. He then stretched out a pair of aged, spot-covered hands and received the item with great caution. “How should I handle it?”

Lin Xitang appeared completely transcendent at this moment. Even his voice was ephemeral as though it had fluttered down from the clouds. “Merely present it to His Majesty without fail.”

The attendant replied, “Rest assured, Marshal Lin, this old servant understands. You should take a rest first.”

Lin Xitang added, “This road may be dangerous. Attendant Zhao should be careful.”

Attendant Zhao replied slowly, “Rest assured, Marshal Lin, this servant has been traveling this road for several decades. There shouldn’t be a problem.”

Lin Xitang nodded and walked down the stairs on his own. His figure seemed rather ephemeral as the wind swept through his silver hair. It felt as though he would be gone with the wind at the very next moment.

Attendant Zhao also descended the stairs after Lin Xitang had left and boarded a black sedan. The vehicle drove off with a squad of imperial guards leading the way.

The car entered the imperial capital main road then took two more turns into a fairly narrow street. Attendant Zhao was seated in the middle of the rear seat with both hands still on the jade scroll and his eyes closed.

Attendant Zhao’s ears twitched slightly as soon as the vehicle entered the street. He slowly raised his head and opened his eyes.

A guard captain on the jeep taking point was visibly shaken. He suddenly drew his gun and shouted, “Something’s wrong! It’s too quiet! Sound the alarm and charge over!”

His words hadn’t even ended when his entire body froze, and a bloody hole appeared on his forehead. The bullet shot through his skull and the throat of the guard behind him. Apparently, the assailant was an expert sniper. The driver turned the steering wheel in shock, causing the jeep to skid into a horizontal position.

Another shot flew over, pierced the vehicle armor, and went right through the driver’s head.

The imperial guards alighted one after the other amidst the ear-piercing alarm and, with the car as cover, began firing back at the dark-robed assailants on the rooftops. These guards were all elites, but apparently, there were experts among the assassins. That sniper rifle also possessed terrifying firepower, killing most targets with a single shot and taking out the officers one by one.

It was at this time that Attendant Zhao lowered the glass windows. The car he was riding on was first-rate, and the glass could withstand blasts from grade-five firearms. Opening the window at this moment was undoubtedly a suicidal endeavor.

As expected, a sniper round whistled over just as Attendant Zhao’s forehead was revealed over the half-lowered window.

The old attendant raised his hand. His movements were fairly slow, but a pinch of his fingers actually caught the bullet right in front of his forehead.

This sniper round was quite different from the ones normally seen. The palm-length bullet head was slender but sufficiently heavy, almost like a crossbow bolt, and its piercing ability was extremely powerful. The vehicle armor on the jeep at the front was pierced through like a sheet of paper.

The bullet was just like heated cheese in the attendant’s hand. It was kneaded into a ball with a rub of his fingers and fell onto the ground outside of the car.

The dozen or so black-robed men glanced at one another as they erupted with powerful auras—it turned out that they were experts of medium noble rank at the very least! They charged toward Attendant Zhao’s car in quick succession. The other black-robed soldiers were fighting in a suicidal fashion. They fired with all their might without bothering to take cover and kept the imperial guards firmly suppressed.

Attendant Zhao calmly opened the doors and arranged his sleeves before walking out of the car. He had the jade scroll in one hand and drew a short, jade-hilted dagger with the other as he confronted the charging black-robed men.

Attendant Zhao took short steps amidst the siege, weaving back and forth abruptly within inches. The dagger in his hand would draw a splash of blood whenever it flashed past. Even the count-ranked leader fell at the attendant’s feet after suffering three more blows.

The jade scroll was still firmly held in his hand. He sneered, “A group of black-blooded bastards dare behave so atrociously at the imperial capital!”

With their leader dead, the remaining assassins weren’t much of a threat and were quickly killed off by the city guards who had just arrived. The initial assessment of their bodies revealed that there were dark race members and rebels among them. This was the standard lineup in the countless assassinations that had happened at the imperial capital.

Attendant Zhao only laughed coldly at this outcome. If it weren’t for Lin Xitang’s preemptive warning, he would have hardly believed anyone would be brave or foolish enough to perform an ambush at the imperial capital and attempt to seize the prophecy. Immediately afterward, Attendant Zhao entered the imperial palace and immediately sought an audience at the Qiantian Hall.

The Heaven Hall was where the present emperor handled governmental affairs outside of the imperial assembly. At this moment, the high platform within the hall was enshrouded with lingering dark-green vapors, and the platform, desk, and throne were all hidden behind it. Everything was hazy and barely discernible.

There was a man sitting upon the throne. His facial features were similarly obscured by the mist.

Attendant Zhao arrived swiftly below the platform, where he raised the jade scroll in both hands, saying, “Your Majesty, the item sent by Marshal Lin is here.”

There were no movements from the man on the platform. The green mist almost seemed sentient. A strand of it split off and spiraled out in the shape of a hand which took away the jade scroll.

The man didn’t open it up immediately. He only asked, “How is Marshal Lin doing?”

“The Marshal is fine. He’s gone back to rest now,” Attendant Zhao replied with a bow. “This old servant, on the other hand, encountered a small disturbance on my way back to the palace.”

The man listened to the recount before calmly instructing, “Order the imperial guard to kill everyone living on that street. There’s no need for a trial.”

Attendant Zhao pondered for a moment. “This old servant saw a house with the Fenyang family crest on it.” Marquis Fenyang naturally wouldn’t live in that area. It was likely a side family or a concubine’s house.

That man said nothing.

Attendant Zhao understood his meaning. He bowed once again and said on his own, “None of the residents came out to help us back then. This old servant understands. I’ll issue your orders immediately.”

The battle back then had involved heavy origin firearms. It wouldn’t have been possible to set up such a quiet ambush without the residents facilitating them.

Slaughtering everyone living on that street would involve almost a thousand lives, but a lack of trial meant that the scope of investigation wouldn’t increase. Imperial laws were strict, but they had never passed collective punishments before. After investigations had yielded the perpetrator, that person would be fully responsible for the crime. The Fenyang family would probably not interfere even if that branch was innocent.

Attendant Zhao withdrew quietly after seeing that the emperor had nothing else to instruct.

Only then did the man atop the platform slowly unfurl the jade scroll. Eight words gradually appeared on the smooth jade surface: “Land of seven provinces, a stairway to ascension.”

Even the supreme Great Qin Emperor felt his hands tremble after seeing these words.

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-Legion-'s Thoughts

8th chapter of the week is coming tonight. There will also be bonus chapters for Chinese New Year.

TL: Legion   ED: Moxie


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