“The empire? That’s impossible! I’m a scion of sacred blood.” Nighteye’s pupils went wide.
Qianye was already quite clear. He said slowly, “Evernight isn’t the empire proper. We won’t go to the core, human-controlled areas and instead live in the border regions. There are a lot of hybrids there, as well as humans who possess darkness origin power. No one will know you’re a vampire as long as you hide your blood energy and not go all out.”
“What will I do every day if I don’t fight?”
Qianye looked into Nighteye’s pupils and said with a smile, “I’ll go and fight, you wait for me at home.”
“But...” Nighteye wanted to argue, but after seeing Qianye’s gaze and hearing such words, she felt herself melting and at a loss for words.
She buried her face in Qianye’s chest and said softly, “Have you thought this through? No secret can be kept forever. We’ll surely be discovered one day, and you’ll be dragged into this mess when that time comes.”
“If we’re found out, then I’ll take you even further away. The world is so big, and there are twenty-seven continents in total. There must be a place for us to live.”
Nighteye was silent for a long while. Then, she said longingly, “What kind of life will it be?”
Qianye asked with a laugh, “Can you cook and wash?”
Nighteye gave it some thought and said with some uncertainty, “I’m guessing our food preferences should be more or less the same?”
Qianye broke into a laugh, and Nighteye jabbed at Qianye after she came to.
Qianye tightened his arms around her and kissed her forehead lightly. “I’ll definitely protect you.”
“I believe you.”
The two remained in each other’s arms for a moment before setting out on their search for a path upward. They were prepared to leave this underground cavern world.
Intense origin fluctuations would come through occasionally from the depths of the cavern, sometimes shaking the entire tunnel. Apparently, the true experts were going all out in battle. There was one thing in common about the places where these intense fluctuations had come from—there was a mysterious will beckoning all life toward it. Qianye knew clearly that it was the aura of the ancient essence fragment, especially after having seen it shatter during that great battle.
He was drenched in cold sweat upon realizing how lucky they had been just now.
For some reason, the ancient essence fragment they had encountered was never truly activated and its aura didn’t spread very far. As such, it didn’t quite alarm anyone except for Xu Lang who happened to be nearby. Otherwise, their chances of victory would be slim at best even if they were to work together at their peak states.
Qianye and Nighteye both had the ability to conceal their bloodlines. They retracted their auras and passed through several wild beast territories without encountering any danger. They did encounter experts from Evernight and the empire from time to time, however, these people were eager to participate in the battles deeper in. Add to that the fact that they couldn’t sense anything special on the duo, most of them would simply pass by without incident.
The journey back was much faster than the journey in. They started encountering some straggling beasts after reaching the surface, but dealing with them was a cakewalk for Qianye and Nighteye. Finally, on a certain moonlit night, they left the mountain range formed by the void colossus’ skeleton.
That odd forest was just as silent as before. The dark purple substance on the ground was no different, either—it was soft when stepped upon, but that was the extent of it. There weren’t any abnormal signs to be found.
However, Qianye and Nighteye both knew that it was only a facade. Countless corpses had turned into nutrients under this purple substance and ultimately become a part of it.
Qianye and Nighteye maintained a hundred meters distance between them and took point in turns. At this distance, they could keep each other in sight and also discover enemies through the dense suppression of this forest. Meanwhile, the enemies would likely only find one of them, allowing the other to deal a fatal blow from the flank.
Qianye was walking ahead when he looked up at a distant tree. The spherical treetop was broken in many areas. Some had already grown back, but many of the honeycomb-like structures were open, and whatever was growing inside them, gone.
The two glanced at one another as they recalled the wave of fierce beasts and aboriginals that had caught up to them halfway into the cavern. A strange, sinister feeling came over them when they looked back at this forest.
Despite the stifling sensation, their journey through this misty forest was fairly peaceful as they no longer encountered any beasts or aboriginals. Furthermore, with their visual range, the two were able to circle around the occasional low-level scouting party they came across. Qianye even recognized a couple of descendants from one of the Zhao clan’s vassal families, with whom he had interacted before and obtained some new information regarding the two factions.
Days later, they passed through the woods and walked out of the stone forest. Qianye climbed onto high ground and observed the surroundings. Three flags immediately appeared in his vision—two of them belonging to the Evernight Council, and the third, to the empire—with a base of operations below each flag. Although Qianye had already received news of this, he was still astonished by how these long stretches of defensive structures had appeared in such a short time.
It turned out that there were void tunnels in the depths of Giant’s Repose on Evernight Continent, but because this was a floating continent, these tunnels were more or less one way. Experts apart from heavenly monarchs and great dark monarchs had no way to return on their own.
As such, the two factions began constructing bases after figuring out the spatial characteristics, the Evernight faction constantly maintaining a 2:1 advantage over the empire.
Qianye checked the surroundings and found a fairly concealed area. There, he produced some clothes for Nighteye to change into. She was now clad in a hooded cape and warrior’s attire common among aristocratic family attendants—even her sword and guns were swapped out for imperial made armaments.
Bloody bandages covered her arm, legs, and two areas of her face. After pulling the hood over her head, only her dark hair and eyes could be seen. And it just so happened that these features were fairly common among the people of the empire.
The fully-constructed base of operations, with its flying flag, was somewhat calm and cheerless compared to the large-scale constructions going on around it. There were dozens of imperial soldiers standing guard in front of the main gates and numerous high-speed airships parked in the airship port behind them.
The lazy soldiers around the gates became vigilant as Qianye and Nighteye approached. Weapons were quickly aimed at the two while the multi-barreled auto-cannons on the walls also turned toward them.
“Halt! Who goes there?” the guard shouted from afar.
Qianye produced the identity token provided by the military upon his departure. He then pointed toward the Swallow Cloud Cavalry insignia on his shoulder and said, “Zhao clan, Qianye.”
In the recent days, the base had taken in a fair number of experts scattered within the bewildering forest—some were too injured to continue fighting, while others had retreated soon after entering the cavern.
As such, the guard didn’t find their arrival very strange. He asked casually while receiving the identity token and Zhao clan insignia for inspection, “Does Young Noble Qianye intend to go back immediately or wait for the Zhao clan combat squad’s return?”
Qianye replied, “I’ve accomplished my mission and I’m also wounded. So I’ll be returning immediately.”
The soldiers were astonished after hearing Qianye’s words, but no one inquired further into it. That word, “mission accomplished”, wasn’t something that could be spoken so casually. To experts like Qianye who had been recruited to enter Giant’s Repose, this so-called mission accomplished meant that he had either obtained an ancient essence fragment or killed a Sky Demon avatar. Either one of them was a great military contribution and involved highly classified information.
The guards here had naturally received strict orders regarding this. The guard finished his inspections quickly and said, “General Hu is in charge of these matters, you can go and meet him directly.” With that, he looked at Nighteye and asked, “Is this your attendant?”
“Yes.” Qianye nodded. Then, he asked without batting an eyelid, “Has anyone else from the Zhao clan returned?”
The guard replied, “The eldest young noble and his attendants came to resupply a couple of days ago but left soon afterward.”
The Zhao clan eldest young noble was Zhao Junyi, the eldest of the four siblings. Before coming here, Qianye had heard Duke You mention that Zhao Junyi and Zhao Jundu had entered Giant’s Repose together.
Qianye was slightly relieved to discover that the Zhao clan people weren't all aggressive warmongers and that their movements were strategically planned. Although he hadn’t heard any news of Zhao Jundu along the way, he knew that the latter should be safe from how the clan had divided the roles.
The guard returned Qianye’s identity token with both hands and had one of the guards bring Qianye and Nighteye to meet the person in charge of the base.
He was a Brigadier General of the imperial regular army surnamed Hu. The man was fairly mild in his manners and handled all the necessary procedures rather quickly. He, of course, understood that a character on the recruitment list like Qianye was an outstanding genius of the generation. Since the latter had walked out alive, it meant that his future was boundless—the general naturally didn’t want to leave a bad impression.
An hour later, a high-speed airship was ready for take-off, and the brigadier general personally saw them onto the airship.
The airship rose into the air and shot into a massive vortex, vanishing therein. That was the void tunnel leading to Giant’s Repose on Evernight Continent.
Qianye’s perceptions were restored after a brief wave of dizziness. The airship rushed out of Giant’s Repose and landed at the border of the ravine. It then turned back after Qianye and Nighteye had disembarked.
After the airship disappeared into the ravine, Qianye asked Nighteye, “Have you memorized the place?”
Nighteye nodded. They had agreed to rendezvous in a secluded valley outside of Blackflow City.
“Very well, wait for me there. I’ll arrange everything.” With that, Qianye hugged her tightly and let her go. He watched until her figure vanished into the wilderness before heading toward the imperial camp.
Qianye couldn’t help but feel astonished as he gazed at the endless battlefront before him. The empire hadn’t finished assembling their forces when he entered Giant’s Repose. He had more or less guessed the scale of this war from how big the Zhao clan forward base was, but seeing it personally allowed him to feel the empire’s determination to take action.
It was just that the battle for the ancient essence fragments was near its end. So when was this “battle of national fate” Duke You had been talking about going to take place?
The imperial base stretched along a series of hills, replete with layer upon layer of ramparts, cannon towers, watchtowers, and plated walls. It was just like a fortified city. Qianye submitted his proof of identity at the gates and was duly led toward the Zhao clan camp.
The Zhao clan had mobilized a large batch of their private army, overseen by Duke You Zhao Xuanji himself. As an army that was both strong and revered, their camp was located close to Zhang Boqian’s command barracks, a testament to their celebrated status.Previous Chapter Next Chapter