Fighting had never ceased around Blackflow City since the beginning of the bloody battle. Most of the small towns had been abandoned since the residents had moved to fortified cities. Those that were still inhabited had, in truth, become grey markets or bases for adventurers, mercenaries, and hunters.
The small town appearing before Qianye had been reduced to rubble. Most of the buildings therein had been burned down, and only a couple remained intact. There was a scarlet flag fluttering from a certain rooftop—it was decorated with a sinister-looking human head that was half flesh and half bones.
This flag was a sign of war, normally used by adventurers or mercenary groups to announce their territory and deter the approach of any other power. Those who dared raise such a flag under present circumstances were probably not easy to mess with.
Qianye frowned upon seeing the half-skull flag. He signaled an approach request with his headlamps and drove slowly into the town plaza.
The journey was fairly quiet. There wasn’t even a mouse in the rubble, and no sentries appeared to block their way, either. However, Qianye’s sniper senses caught many cautious eyes lurking in the shadows. He and Nighteye soon alighted and knocked on the door of a fairly unscathed building.
The doors opened and out walked Song Zining. The seventh young noble was dressed like an adventurer and looked surprisingly kick-ass with bullets, knives, and guns of all sizes strapped to his body. It was a stark contrast to his usual refined temperament. The first word he said after seeing Qianye was, “You’re late.”
Qianye looked at the origin sundial and said, “It’s only five minutes.”
“Late is late, even if it’s just one minute. Come in, everything’s been prepared.” Song Zining beckoned Qianye and Nighteye into the building, then locked the door behind them.
The interior was a decently-sized living room, complete with a fireplace and furniture. The original owner of this building must’ve lived a rather comfortable life. Nighteye and Qianye were both clad in hunter apparel. The former observed the surroundings after entering before removing her hood and protective goggles. She then flung her black hair back and tied it into a ponytail.
Song Zining stood to the side and watched Nighteye in silence. No one knew what he was thinking. After Qianye and Nighteye had removed their cloaks, he said, “Is this Her Majesty the Monroe Princess?”
Nighteye turned to gaze at him with deep, unfathomable eyes.
Song Zining’s line of sight was drawn in by the boundless depths therein, and his entire body felt as though it had fallen into a bottomless abyss. Trembling, he took a step back with hazy green origin power flickering around his body and leaves fluttering about like rain. Only then did he manage to extricate himself.
Nighteye’s complexion turned pale for a split second but quickly recovered.
Qianye noticed something was amiss. He took an immediate step forward and raised East Peak between the two of them, breaking the formless traction.
Both Song Zining and Nighteye’s abilities were ethereal, profound, and mysterious. No one knew whose aura had moved first, but it had quickly escalated to an unintended exchange of blows.
Song Zining’s expression was somewhat stern as he glanced at Nighteye, and he intentionally avoided meeting her gaze. Nighteye, on the other hand, lowered her eyes and no longer looked at Song Zining.
The latter shot Qianye a deep glance and said, “Go in, everything has been prepared. I believe it’ll help the two of you in the future.”
The room inside had been modified and the dining table at the center had been made into a worktable. It was filled with tools and drugs of all descriptions, the greater half of which Qianye didn’t recognize.
There was a comfortable chair near the window wherein sat an old man. He was fat, short, and fairly ugly. He was currently resting with his eyes closed and, at the same time, moving his fingers in a certain mysterious rhythm.
“This is Master Lu Ju, a true expert in the field of disguise. Being able to invite him here is our fortune.” Song Zining performed an introduction.
Lu Ju spoke after hearing Song Zining’s words, “It’s indeed your fortune! If it wasn’t for the fact that I have some use for the subject’s special status, how can a little fish like you be worth my time?”
Although most talented people were more or less eccentric, this master’s words seemed to specialize in making people unhappy.
Qianye’s brows twitched, but he said with a nod, “Many thanks, sir.”
Lu Ju snorted and said while rocking his crossed legs, “What a stiff thank you!” Qianye and Nighteye both frowned upon hearing this.
Song Zining walked up at this point and pulled Qianye behind him. “This brother of mine isn’t good with words, but he’s extremely powerful in battle. He recently slaughtered a dozen or so Evernight nobles, so the killing intent is rather thick around him. Sire, I hope you’ll undertake this task with full effort. I’ll surely compensate you well.”
Lu Ju snorted in a show of arrogance before standing up slowly. However, Qianye’s sharp eyes noticed how the man’s face had twitched slightly upon hearing of the dozen slaughtered Evernight nobles.
Lu Ju walked over to Nighteye and sized her up from head to toe. “Is this the one?”
“Indeed,” Song Zining replied.
“Very well, sit down here and don’t move.”
Nighteye took her seat as instructed. Lu Ju then took her hand and used a golden needle to pierce her finger. However, this prick actually failed to break her skin!
Lu Ju was visibly moved but soon recollected his thoughts and swapped out the needle for a finger-sized one. The point of the needle was actually a slanting edge—this was more of a chisel than a needle.
Qianye’s expression shifted, and he wanted to speak out. However, Song Zining seemed to have anticipated this and quickly pressed him back.
Lu Ju’s hands were trembling slightly from the exertion before he managed to cut open Nighteye’s skin with this tool and a drop of round blood appeared on the tip of the needle. He carefully placed the blood into a long test tube and watched the changes with bated breath.
The test tube was filled with a transparent fluid. A red hue immediately spread out as her blood fell in, growing more and more intense. In the end, the entire test tube turned into a garish red and then began to boil.
Some gold appeared gradually during the boiling process, and the entire fluid turned golden moments later.
Lu Ju was trembling in excitement as he gazed at the golden blood. “Primogenitor blood! True primogenitor’s blood!”
Qianye was somewhat puzzled at the man’s excitement. At this time, Song Zining explained from the side, “Master Lu Ju’s ancestors once possessed a vampire bloodline, but it has more or less been diluted at his generation.”
Qianye came to a realization. It turned out that Lu Ju was a mix breed. But judging from how the vampire bloodline had been swallowed up by his human lineage, one could conclude that his ancestor wasn’t of a particularly powerful stock. Whether it was in Evernight or in the empire, mixed breeds belonged to the lowest tier in society.
Lu Ju poured the contents of the test tube into a metallic vat on the ground. He then picked off a dozen or so medicines from the rack and poured them in. Finally, the fluid turned transparent like water, its contents completely obliterated.
After everything was done Lu Ju walked over to a different basin of liquid, soaked his hands into it, and started washing them with the utmost care. He wore an expression of great concentration as he scrubbed even the fingernail gaps. It was as though he were performing a certain ceremony.
Lu Ju raised his hands only after a good while. No one knew what liquid he was washing in, but after leaving the basin, his hands more or less dried off without having to wipe them.
He bowed toward Nighteye and said, “Your Majesty please close your eyes, I’ll be offending you slightly.” The man’s former rudeness and arrogance were nowhere to be seen, and he was as reverent as an ordinary vampire serving a superior.
Startled, Qianye glanced at Song Zining, but the latter was acting as if he had predicted everything beforehand.
Nighteye closed her eyes. Lu Ju’s hands flitted across her face and head like the wind. Those coarse fingers were abnormally agile as they pressed over her skull bone positions.
Lu Ju produced a drawing board after withdrawing his hands and began drawing a portrait with loud strokes. He presented the image to Nighteye and said respectfully, “This is the appearance I can change you into, are you satisfied?”
Qianye also saw the portrait. The person in it possessed a similar facial outline but looked like a completely different person. Even Qianye could hardly recognize her.
Lu Ju had used just a couple of strokes to draw something so vivid, graceful, and lifelike. He wasn’t the least inferior to Song Zining in this regard.
Nighteye looked at the picture attentively and made a fair number of suggestions. Lu Ju complied with all of them and produced a dozen or so drafts before he received Nighteye’s nod of approval. It would seem that any woman would split hairs when it came to appearance, regardless of status and situation.
Afterward, Lu Ju explained to Qianye and Nighteye what he was about to do. It turned out that Lu Ju would produce a mask in accordance with the portrait. The special part about it was that this mask was actually alive, operated by origin power, and would last for several years. This kind of mask could hardly be described with the words realistic.
As long as one didn’t run into an expert above the divine champion level, ordinary secret arts and probes simply couldn’t see through Lu Ju’s mask. The mask would be sensed as living flesh and a part of Nighteye’s body.
This method qualified him as a master of disguise.
Qianye had no idea where Song Zining had found this Lu Ju, but he knew that the price probably wasn’t small. Moreover, the compensations involved were usually special.
“Your Majesty, please lie down on the worktable. You’ll feel some pain in a while, do you need anesthetics?”
“No need,” Nighteye replied.
Nighteye soon lay down on the worktable, beside which Lu Ju had arranged hundreds of small knives in neat rows. The latter opened his icebox, carefully produced a thin flap of skin, and placed it on Nighteye’s face.
Seeing that Lu Ju was beginning to work his craft, Song Zining dragged Qianye outside so as to not disturb the process.
The two stood in front of the fireplace. There, Song Zining passed Qianye a cigarette and lit one himself.
Qianye had rarely seen him smoke and couldn’t help but ask, “Something worrying you?”
“A bit.” Song Zining exhaled deeply.
“What about? Is it related to me?”
Song Zining laughed wryly. “What else? Don’t you know how much trouble you’ve stirred up?”
Qianye replied after a moment of silence, “I know.”
“You clearly do not!” Song Zining resumed his silence after roaring at Qianye. The latter didn’t speak and only gazed at the burning cigarette in his hand.
Song Zining finished smoking the entire cigarette before saying, “I’ve investigated that Monroe princess and received a lot of alarming information. Being conferred the title of princess meant that she’s awakened Andruil’s bloodline. The Black-Winged Monarch and the Queen of the Night, Lilith, didn’t have a good relationship in the past. Moreover, it’s said that the Perth clan Holy Son, Edward, is hell-bent on having her as his partner. He certainly won't let this matter rest now that she’s run away with you. And this isn’t even the most terrible part. The crux of the matter is that the Queen of the Night is awake.
Qianye sighed. “I know.”
Song Zining grabbed Qianye’s collar and said in furious but suppressed voice, “You know?! And you still brought her back?! Do you think you can hide from the Holy Son and the Queen of the Night just because you’re on Evernight Continent? What do you want to do now? Head into the imperial hinterlands?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter