A cry of astonishment rang out at this moment. “Ancient essence!”
Qianye and Nighteye both glanced over, stunned, as Xu Lang walked out from the shadows and appeared at the entrance to the cave.
Xu Lang could hardly avert his gaze from the ancient essence fragment in Qianye’s hands, nor could he disguise the longing and greed any longer.
The two didn’t move at all, but Nighteye’s sniper rifle shifted ever so slightly. Now, it looked like she was aiming at Qianye.
Xu Lang retracted his gaze with great difficulty and scanned the situation within the cave. The messy cave and lingering embers were proof that a fierce battle had taken place here. Glancing at Qianye’s injuries, he could see an aura of black titanium from two of his wounds, and the bandage around his abdomen was seeping blood.
Xu Lang drew his combat knife and said in a deep voice, “So, you’re Zhao Qianye of the Zhao clan? From now on, you’re under my command. Bring that ancient essence fragment over and work with me to kill that Monroe Princess. I’ll report your contributions when we return to the empire.”
Qianye also sized up this young man in imperial uniform from head to toe. He had seen his fair share of the expression on the other party’s face—from the street gangs of Darkblood City to the aristocratic clans near the bloody battle contribution exchange point. Avarice, in the face of great fortune, had devoured all intelligence and bottom lines. They were willing to try any method of reasoning.
He couldn’t help but laugh. “Why does this superior’s command sound so different from the ones I received before coming down here?
Xu Lang’s expression sank as he said coldly, “As an imperial general, I’m naturally authorized to command on site. Are you refusing orders?”
Qianye simply didn’t believe the ancient essence fragment would enter the imperial storehouse after landing in Xu Lang’s hands. That was quite the clumsy excuse. He stood up slowly with one hand on the essence and the other on East Peak. “The strong reign in this place. The thing you want is here, come and take it if you want.”
Xu Lang narrowed his eyes. “Zhao Qianye, you’re betraying the empire!”
Qianye broke into a laugh. “Empire? Do you dare say that outside? There were quite a few people looking to snatch things from the Zhao clan. It looks like you’re one of them. I’ll remember you.”
Xu Lang’s expression grew even gloomier, and his aura rose continuously as he walked over to Qianye. “All the more reason to not let you go, not that I had that intention, to begin with.”
“Who are you?” Qianye was somewhat curious as he scanned the Red Scorpion insignia on the man’s uniform.
“A dying man doesn’t need to know my name,” Xu Lang replied. He glanced at Nighteye midway and said, “Monroe Princess, you’re quite badly wounded too, it seems? There’s still time to leave now, else the next to die will be you.”
Nighteye’s gaze flickered. The wound on her thigh was emitting a smell of fresh blood and seemed to be recovering at a very slow pace. She shot Qianye a glance, gauged Xu Lang’s dense, almost-tangible origin power, then slowly retreated to the side.
Xu Lang laughed loudly as he walked toward Qianye in large strides. The dagger in his hand trembled continuously, emitting a frosty drone. But his next step hadn’t even fallen when an excruciating pain emerged in his chest, almost causing him to stumble and fall.
Xu Lang’s reaction wasn’t slow, either. He managed to barely stabilize himself by erupting with full origin power and stabbing his blade into the ground. Even so, his mouth was already filled with the stench of blood.
The man reacted instantly—the combat instincts he had honed over the years allowed him to leap away and evade the follow-up attack. However, his heart spasmed inexplicably just as he was exerting strength to jump into the air. This pain wasn’t as bad as the previous episode, but it caused his movements to deviate and his strength to fall short.
An odd whistling sound echoed within the cavern. Qianye stepped forward after activating his eye ability and swept East Peak across Xu Lang’s waist.
The latter cried loudly and attempted to block with his military knife, but since he was in the air at the moment, he had nowhere to exert his strength. A large chunk of Xu Lang’s dagger was chipped off while he himself was sent flying away.
Qianye didn’t have much origin power left after the fierce battle with Nighteye, but no ordinary person could take a combination of East Peak’s power and his own.
Xu Lang straightened himself mid-air, fell abruptly, and landed on his feet. However, his soul almost flew away when he glanced back and saw Qianye and Nighteye with their twin guns aimed at him. The gun muzzles flashed as they released a fierce barrage at him!
Dodging bullets was a mandatory skill learnt by all imperial soldiers. Xu Lang immediately judged the bullet trajectories and took a step sideways, prepared to take one shot in order to evade the rest. But an odd pain appeared again in his heart just as he was taking the step. He still failed to suppress his body’s reflexes despite having experienced this once, and his footstep slowed down ever so slightly.
This minute difference caused Xu Lang to take an extra hit. Meanwhile, that origin bullet suffused with black energy made a sharp turn through the air and blasted into Xu Lang’s body. That was an origin bullet instilled with black titanium!
In truth, Xu Lang’s judgment when he showed himself wasn’t wrong. Qianye and Nighteye were both something of a spent force, and the bullets they had shot out were ordinary in firepower. But Xu Lang’s defenses were instantly shattered after taking three successive hits—especially the bullet infused with black titanium, which caused him to feel a chill all over his body. He made a prompt decision to dive into a tunnel and escape.
The gunshots continued to rumble. Qianye and Nighteye stood side by side as they fired a second barrage into the tunnel. Soon, a roar of pain emerged from the other end of the tunnel—apparently, Xu Lang had been struck.
“Zhao Qianye! You’re colluding with the vampires, the empire will not let you go!” Xu Lang cried out hatefully, his voice trailing off into the distance.
Nighteye glanced at Qianye. “Will it be any trouble?”
Qianye holstered the Twin Flowers and said, “No matter, it’s uncertain which one of us will be causing trouble for the other after returning to the empire.”
The two glanced at one another. That feeling of mutual understanding as they fought side by side was indeed fascinating.
Qianye had also discovered the differences between their eye abilities. Nighteye’s eye ability possessed great destructive power and could shoot through defenses—its power, however, would gradually weaken after the penetration. Moreover, its activation consumed a significant amount of energy and required time to activate.
Meanwhile, Qianye’s Eye Ability: Control was much weaker in terms of attack power. However, its origin penetration was above Nighteye’s, its energy consumption was small, and its activation, fast. Qianye had used the ability two times within the few seconds of their battle with Xu Lang. Both of them affected his movements at the most critical junctures and led to his quick defeat.
Perhaps that was the true usage of the Eye Ability: Control.
Qianye no longer delayed after this matter had passed and, under Nighteye’s protection, began absorbing the ancient essence fragment. The process was fairly smooth this time, perhaps due to his experience in absorbing Sky Demon’s remnant crystal. A fair portion of the void colossus’ impact was canceled out by Sky Demon’s memories.
When Qianye came to, he discovered that his external injuries had disappeared, and the greater part of his blood core injury had healed. A finger-sized crystal had grown out of the wound and sealed it.
This crystal was integrated into the blood core. However, its nature was different from the blood core and crystalline granules within—it was, however, similar to the ancient essence fragment. Qianye observed it for quite a while but still couldn’t figure out if it was a part of his blood core.
Only at the prince rank would vampire blood cores crystallize and turn into amber. Qianye had never seen a blood amber, but he knew, from the memories he had obtained from the River of Blood, that this didn’t look like one.
Qianye put this matter to rest and began inspecting the state of origin power within his body. The ancient essence fragment contained vast amounts of void origin power. It split into two after entering his body and began replenishing both daybreak origin power and blood energy at the same time.
The energy contained within the fragment was tremendous. A single cycle of meditation had brought Qianye’s origin power and blood energy back to their peak states, while the remainder were absorbed by the Book of Darkness. This mysterious book was like a bottomless abyss, capable of accommodating any amount of energy. The ancient runes upon it appeared once again after the ancient essence fragment was completely absorbed.
Qianye opened his eyes and saw Nighteye sitting nearby with her sniper rifle in her arms, her expression calm, relaxed, and even looked somewhat happy. Qianye finally inquired about the issue that had been lingering in his heart, “Why were you seeking death at first? Is this related to the Perth clan?”
“Then how about you? Why didn’t you attack?” Nighteye replied.
Qianye sat in a kneeling position and pulled Nighteye until she was facing him—their eyes locked and no longer running away from one another. “You’re very clear why I did that, now answer my question.”
Nighteye sighed lightly and said, “It’s indeed related to the Perth clan.”
Afterward, she recounted everything. Qianye’s eyes were filled with sharp killing intent as he listened to how the Holy Son Edward had used various methods to pressure Nighteye. His hand on Nighteye’s shoulder gripped tighter.
Nighteye caressed Qianye’s face with a sigh. “Don’t be rash. Neither of us is a match for Edward at the moment, not to mention he has the Perth clan behind him and… Her Majesty Lilith.”
Qianye nodded. “How about the Monroe? They can’t ignore this, can they?”
“Such a thing wouldn’t happen if the Black-Winged Monarch was still here. But things are different since everyone knows Lilith hates Andruil with a passion. Now that she’s awakened from her long slumber, the entire vampire race will submit to her will, and the Monroe clan is no exception. The only one who could go against her in the past several thousand years was the Black-Winged Monarch.”
“So, they’ll hand you over?”
Nighteye nodded in silence.
“What are your plans now?”
A lost expression appeared on Nighteye’s face. “I… don’t know. Father has also… returning is no longer an option. Perhaps I’ll go to the neutral region.”
Qianye recalled Nighteye’s words and caught a certain key point. “There might be a chance if you hand the council an ancient essence fragment, right?”
Finally, Nighteye couldn’t hold back under Qianye’s brilliant gaze. “You could say that. Lilith promised to return my freedom if I can bring back an ancient essence fragment.”
“Then why did you give it to me?!” Qianye was upset.
“Don’t you understand? Lilith only said she won’t interfere, she won’t care whatever Edward does.” At this point, bitterness appeared in Nighteye’s pupils. “I don’t plan to return even if the Monroe clan can protect me. There’s really no one who cares about me apart from my father. Those relatives of mine, all they want is to make use of my status to scheme for profits.”
Qianye drew Nighteye into his arms and stroked her soft, black hair. He said only after a while, “Come with me!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter