The door was pushed open at this time, and in came Noxus. Eyes narrowed, he stared at the silhouette of Medanzo’s tall back and sneered, “This war is going badly, to say the least. I really must see how you’re planning to explain this to the council.”
Medanzo snorted and replied coldly, “Why would I need to explain anything to a group of trash? Don’t forget that you also have half the commanding authority here.”
Noxus let out a sinister laugh. “But you hold the highest commanding authority in name. After all, one simply cannot sully the honor of the Queen of the Night. This battle result will probably make Her Majesty Lilith rather... unhappy, don’t you think? If I were you, I might head over and pit myself against that Zhang Boqian and see just how capable that newly promoted heavenly monarch is.”
Medanzo’s expression was gloomy, but he refused to comment. How could he not see the instigation in Noxus’ words? But there was hardly any way for him to retort. He really might’ve fought it out with Zhang Boqian if it wasn’t for Noxus eyeing him. However, Medanzo knew that if he were to become gravely injured at this point, Noxus wouldn’t mind sending him into a long hibernation in the blood pond.
In the eyes of these experts who had lived for millennia, the so-called bigger picture wasn’t a balance in power or a contest of heroism. To these dark monarchs, the biggest aim was to stay alive and deal a fatal blow to the other at the slightest opportunity.
Medanzo and Noxus had clashed countless times since the beginning of the battle at Giant’s Repose, but neither could do anything to the other.
Meanwhile in the imperial camp, Zhang Boqian, who was resting on the couch, suddenly opened his eyes. “Those little fellows have done pretty well!” He got up to dress and disappeared outside of the quiet room.
The courtyard of the main tent was different from when Song Zining had visited back then. The dense leaves of the eucalyptus seemed to have grown even more luxuriant within a short ten days, its numerous aerial root standing out oddly in the dry climate of Evernight Continent. From afar, it looked like a hanging curtain was hiding the tents from view until only the hatchways were visible on the domed roofs.
However, after stepping through it, one would find a completely different scene. The hundred-meter open space was actually filled with a pool of rippling blue water and lingering curls of milky-white steam. This area was clearly warmer and more humid than the outside, forming an inexplicable scene of elegance. Apparently, this was a large origin array.
There was a small pavilion at the center big enough for only a table and four lamps. Lin Xitang was sitting on one side of it and pondering deeply with a chess piece in his hand, his hair—a mixture of grey and silver—hanging loose behind him.
Across him was a kind-looking man in his fifties with a square face, big ears, and a chubby build. From the outside, this person looked more like a merchant from the continent than a soldier. Gu Tuohai was two years Lin Xitang’s senior, but the traces of age on his facial features were much deeper.
Zhang Boqian appeared in the pavilion with a flicker. He shot a glance at the chessboard before picking up a black piece from Gu Tuohai’s chess box and slamming it into a large, white-dominant area of the board. The placement of this piece would produce a fierce melee clash no matter how Lin Xitang were to respond.
The latter let out a long sigh and returned his white piece to the box. “This again… You were never my match yet you always have to disrupt the game... not to mention never by the rules, either. So what if you get an extra turn? You’ll still lose in the end.”
Zhang Boqian replied indifferently, “An extra turn might not turn the tables, but it’ll eventually come after snatching two or three. Your strategies are admittedly quite excellent, but not everyone will play by your rules. Now you’ve grown so bold that you’re getting involved with Lilith. Are you looking to die?”
Zhang Boqian was talking to Lin Xitang, but Gu Tuohai was the one feeling most awkward at this moment. He said with a cough, “Prince Greensun, I have naturally attempted to dissuade this matter, but how can Xitang be willing to listen to me?”
Zhang Boqian shot a glance at Gu Tuohai. “Doctor Gu, the reason His Majesty had you move the entire Reed Formation over here is to heal his injuries, correct? Not to kill him. Patients should recuperate quietly and not get involved in other things. You’re a doctor. Must I remind you about such common knowledge?”
Gu Tuohai’s face turned red but said nothing. Zhang Boqian’s tone was calm but suffused with killing intent. This Prince Greensun wasn’t one to listen to reason. Arguing with him was akin to courting death—a meaningless death. No matter how strong this Gu Tuohai character was, he certainly didn’t want to die. Moreover, he didn’t really approve of Lin Xitang’s risky move, either.
Lin Xitang sighed. “Boqian, I was the one who suggested this plan, so it’s only natural that I execute it. This battle is related to our nation’s fate, so it’s fine for one to do a bit more.”
Zhang Boqian said coldly, “You’re not the only one who knows divination in this empire. Since it’s related to the national fate, you should let those bastards sharing your authority come to the front lines. Don’t tell me you want to take all the credit on your own?”
Lin Xitang could only laugh wryly at Zhang Boqian’s sarcastic words. He then diverted the topic and said, “You must have something to say when you came over.”
Zhang Boqian’s expression relaxed a bit at the mention of proper business. “Those young fellows have done pretty well this time.”
Lin Xitang stood up with a smile and said, “That’s great news! How many moldable talents did you find?”
“Bai Aotu has paved a straight path to the divine champion level, it’ll only be a matter of time afterward. Zhao Jundu indeed lives up to his name. My nephew, Munian, is a bit inferior to those two, but still managed not to sully the family name.” Zhang Boqian listed the names of a few more from other aristocratic families, then said, “Additionally, Li Kuanglan also gave me a delightful surprise.”
Lin Xitang’s expression was somewhat complicated. “That person is definitely not bad. How about Song Zining? He’s fought several fierce battles under your banner.”
Zhang Boqian said indifferently, “He’s smart but too scheming, always looking to make use of others to succeed. Just like you, he’ll encounter great obstructions along the path to the top.”
“You’re wrong about this. Song Zining and I are completely different.” Lin Xitang shook his head. “Boqian, sooner or later, you’ll suffer for underestimating the power of divination.”
Zhang Boqian sneered. “It’ll be a small loss at most. My retaliation at that time will be that person’s demise.”
Their debates regarding this matter had never yielded any results. Lin Xitang spoke no more about this and only said, “This matter will be much easier since the young ones have performed beyond expectation, so the opportunity to mobilize is right before us. I’ll make the necessary preparations first. Then, I’ll have to trouble Brother Tuohai to send me back to the imperial capital.”
“Not a problem.” Gu Tuohai couldn’t help but sigh upon seeing how half of Lin Xitang’s silver hair had lost their luster.
The latter didn’t mind, however, and simply returned to his room after exchanging farewells. Gu Tuohai was also about to leave, but his body was suddenly frozen, bound by a powerful, formless force.
Zhang Boqian’s eyes were on the blue water and curling mist as he asked flatly, “Any changes at the imperial capital that I should know of?”
Gu Tuohai’s expression shifted slightly, and he couldn’t help but look in the direction where Lin Xitang had left. He knew not how Zhang Boqian had figured out that Lin Xitang was hiding some things from him. Gu Tuohai hesitated for a moment, then said, “Three of Lin Xitang’s body doubles have died at the capital.”
Zhang Boqian was unexpectedly calm. “Does His Majesty not care?”
Gu Tuohai laughed wryly. “No one can dissuade Xitang on something he’s decided. When has His Majesty ever managed to outtalk him?”
Zhang Boqian snorted coldly. “What is the actual situation with his injury? Is there really no way to recover from the darkness origin flames of the flaming crown?”
“The darkness origin flame can chill one to the bone when it acts up, but in truth, its existence has always been canceling out a part of the backlash from the reverse divination.”
“Reverse?!” Zhang Boqian seemed to have understood Gu Tuohai’s unspoken implication. “Is there any other method to remedy it?”
Gu Tuohai hesitated for a long while before whispering, “That there is, but all of them are forbidden techniques.”
Zhang Boqian stood silently with his arms behind him. “The so-called forbidden is a rule laid down by humans. If others can create rules, so can I!”
Gu Tuohai said after a moment of silence, “Prince Greensun, please consider it carefully.”
Zhang Boqian, with a wave of his hand, released Gu Tuohai from his bindings. The pale man immediately turned to leave but turned back after taking a couple of steps. “Xitang won’t be willing.”
Zhang Boqian’s tone caused one to tremble. “He might not have a choice in this matter.”
Qianye was driving rapidly through the wildness and toward Blackflow City. The journey was fairly peaceful, and oftentimes, there wasn’t a single person around. The occasional hunters and dark race stragglers would avoid him after seeing the imperial regular army insignia on his car.
The empire and Evernight Council were confronting one another at this moment. Experts were as abundant as the clouds and champions as numerous as the rain. No one—no matter how greedy or ruthless—would dare to make a move against the regular armies of the two factions.
As such, Qianye arrived at the rendezvous point after several days. It was a desolate valley surrounded by complex geography and several tunnels weaving in and out, all of which made for an extremely suitable hiding place.
Qianye parked the jeep at the entrance and walked into the valley on foot. At the center of the valley was a small stream which snaked dozens of kilometers before merging into a larger river.
Nighteye was sitting on its bank and fishing with some makeshift equipment. However, her thoughts clearly weren’t on the line. She didn’t move at all despite large fish biting several times, allowing the creatures to escape the hook and swim toward freedom.
Qianye sat down beside her. “What are you thinking about?”
“This place is very similar to where I lived when I was young. There was a similar valley near my father’s castle where I loved to play. After I grew up, most of my combat training was also done in that valley,” Nighteye spoke calmly.
Qianye reached out and pulled Nighteye into his arms. “Past is past, we should be thinking about living a new life. In the near future, we’ll definitely make that so-called Holy Son pay a steep price!”
Nighteye nodded, but her expression betrayed her skepticism. Qianye didn’t continue either because such things were better executed once one was strong enough. There was no practical meaning in spouting fierce words.
Nighteye leaned her head in Qianye’s arms and closed her eyes. “Say, do you think I can live in the empire?”
“You definitely can.”
“Okay, I’ll try. But… will you get tired after seeing me every day?”
“Impossible,” Qianye said with a smile.
Nighteye spoke no more, and the valley regained its silence.
After a long while, Qianye patted Nighteye lightly and said, “Time to go, I have a friend waiting for us! That’s my good brother, you can look for him if you’re in trouble and I’m not around.”
Nighteye said with a smile, “I’ll follow you from now on. What trouble can there be?”
The two walked out of the valley and, after half a day’s drive, arrived at a small town outside of Blackflow City.Previous Chapter Next Chapter