Chapter 713: Trembling Hands
The Kong family elder simply didn’t have the time to curse Song Zining for his shamelessness. He was frantically instructing the flagship to evade the next wave of attacks. His airship, albeit bigger than Song Zining’s, had already suffered serious damage and would certainly be destroyed if it were to take two more salvos.
With the flagship in motion, the battleships following it all did the same, opening up the flight path toward Blackflow City.
Song Zining didn’t entangle with them at all. Instead, he made a beeline for the city and, in turn, the assault fleet’s rear.
The third elder’s hands turned cold. Only now did he realize that Song Zining had no intention of negotiating and was intent on wiping out his forces. According to the normal rules of the aristocracy, the leaders of both parties would engage in a round of conversations and attempt to negotiate—attacking on sight was an inferior course of action. Yet it just so happened that Song Zining didn’t play by the rules. He launched a sneak attack upon arrival, heavily damaging the third elder’s airship and thereby removing the greatest threat.
The current operation was led by the Kong Family, consisting of a combined force of several allied aristocratic armies. Although they held the advantage in airship numbers, the vessels were all old models and some were just quickly-remodeled cargo ships. They knew that Dark Flame was somewhat of an elite force, but in the end, it was just part of the expeditionary army. In the eyes of the aristocracy, the expeditionary army was little more than trash—how could they compare to the private armies?
No one had ever expected Song Zining to suddenly appear with several cutting-edge battleships. Their mishmash of old airships was far inferior, to begin with, in terms of firepower. Now that they had also lost their formation, what lay before the seventh young master was a flock of sheep waiting to be slaughtered; they couldn’t even escape if they wanted to.
The only airship capable of suppressing Song Zining’s was the third elder’s flagship. Unfortunately, however, it had already lost the ability to fight.
A fleet battle immediately erupted above Blackflow City. Song Zining was like a wolf jumping into a flock of sheep, destroying three airships just in the first round of attacks and plunging the scene into chaos. Some members of the opposing force wanted to counterattack, while the others wanted to escape. There were even a few turning about in place, not knowing what to do.
The fleet belonged to several aristocratic families. This didn’t quite show in a smooth battle, but the disadvantages of having several leaders emerged in times of crisis—the fleet quickly fell into chaos since everyone had their own idea. It was also because Song Zining’s attack was too quick and fierce that they had no time at all to react. Additionally, the third elder was also isolated outside of the battlefield and helpless to provide instructions.
At the same time that changes took place in the sky, so did things develop on the ground. A hidden heavy cannon began to open fire all of a sudden, blasting those hovering airships with a barrage of special orange-red shells. The cannon was just as powerful as it was accurate, with virtually every shot finding its mark. A single shot could seriously damage an ordinary airship, and two would destroy it.
The tables turned in the blink of an eye as the airships on the third elder’s side suffered heavy casualties and finally began to disperse. Song Zining’s fleet also split up and began chasing down the fleeing airships. His own battleship gradually closed in on the third elder’s flagship as a measure of deterrence.
Knowing that the outcome of this battle had been determined, the elder felt greatly exasperated. He had more than once wanted to charge forth and fight to the death, but Song Zining stood there with his spear, without an ounce of fear on his face. In the end, the elder wasn’t certain whether or not there was an expert on board waiting to ambush him. After some contemplation, the man still couldn’t drum up his courage. All he could do was snort angrily and issue the order to retreat.
With the airships in retreat, the thousands of soldiers who had charged into Blackflow city were more or less abandoned, and there was no telling how many from Wolf City would be able to escape. Add to that the loss of half their airship fleet, the outcome was akin to cutting up the third elder’s heart.
Song Zining didn’t go after the third elder’s retreating airship and merely watched as it vanished over the horizon. Only afterward did he issue the order to return to Blackflow City.
Song Zining ordered the battleships to hover over the Dark Flame Headquarters as a deterrent while he himself jumped into the base. At this moment, Song Hu and Duan Hao came out to meet him. In addition, a young girl jumped out from behind a heavy cannon turret on the rooftop and landed in front of Song Zining.
Song Zining smiled. “I knew it would be you. Who else but a Highbeard can fire a cannon so accurately?”
The young girl was the Highbeard, Black Moon. Somewhat bashful after receiving such a praise to her face, she said, “It’s not all me, the main factor is how powerful Sister Xiaoniao’s modified cannons were. The others wouldn’t be that accurate or long-ranged.”
Smiling, Song Zining knocked her head with his folding fan. “Let’s go in first.”
At this moment, there were battles going on in every part of the city—some of those desperate private soldiers had already surrendered, while the others had been pushed to a corner. Song Zining paid them no heed because he considered these people dead.
Song Hu followed from the side and whispered, “Seventh Young Master, many of those private soldiers have revealed their identities in hopes of favorable treatment. Some others are arrogant and demanding to be ransomed. There are a number of mid-ranking aristocratic families among them, what do you think we should do with them?”
Song Zining stood still and opened up his folding fan, which produced a crisp yet distant sound. “So many mid-ranking aristocratic families, now that’s a rare sight. Do you think we can afford to make enemies out of them all?”
“Of course not,” Song Hu replied immediately. Song Zining’s forces at the moment were simply too small. Not to mention contending with a high-ranking aristocratic family, he wasn’t even a match for a random mid-ranking one.
Song Zining smiled faintly. “Since we know that we can’t make enemies out of them, we should just pretend we never saw them, understand?”
Song Hu’s expression turned serious. “Understood.” Then, he turned and left.
Moments later, Song Zining was standing in the command center, looking up at the city defense map—it was fairly different from how he knew it. The map was now full of symbols and rushed markings, a testament to the drawer’s mood. Every X indicated the destruction of a stronghold or cannon tower, and a straight line meant that a segment of the wall had been destroyed. Looking at this map, one could almost see just how intense the battle had been. Occasional gunshots could still be heard inside the city, along with explosions and miserable screams.
Song Zining turned to Duan Hao with a sigh. “You panicked. It would seem your temperament hasn’t improved during this time.”
Duan Hao’s face turned red. “The situation was urgent at the time. If not for the numerous special cannons Miss Nangong had set up, we might not have held out until your arrival.”
Song Zining nodded. “How about Xiaoniao? Is she okay?”
“Miss Nangong joined the battle and received light injuries when the turret came under attack. She’s now receiving treatment. but there should be no major issues.”
“That’s good then, where’s Nanhua? Bring me to her.”
“Yes.” Duan Hao led Song Zining out of the command center and down to the third basement floor. This was Dark Flame’s most heavily-guarded prison, located deep under the ground. Even Song Zining himself could hardly escape if he were locked here.
“Did she resist?”
“No,” Duan Hao replied.
Song Zining remained silent for a moment and then sighed. “What a pity.”
Song Zining spoke little along the way until he reached the solitary cell in the deepest parts of the structure. This cell was fairly wide, but all those who approached this place would feel discomfort. That was because the arrays therein had scattered all of the free origin power in the vicinity, preventing people from absorbing or drawing upon it. After being locked up like this for a long period, the captive’s origin power would gradually disperse and, along with it, any resistance.
Nanhua sat silently in the center of the room. There was nothing out of the ordinary apart from her loose hair, and it didn’t look like she had been tortured, either.
She looked up upon hearing footsteps. Her eyes lit up as she rushed toward the bars and said, “You’ve finally arrived.”
Song Zining sighed lightly as he gestured for Duan Hao to open the door. Duan Hao was apparently worried. “Seventh Young Master, please be careful,” he said while glaring at Nanhua. Then, he slowly withdrew and left the floor.
Song Zining was calm and unguarded as he stood in front of Nanhua. He merely gazed at her and asked, “Why didn’t you escape when Duan Hao came to capture you? He’s not your match at all.”
Nanhua smiled sadly, “I can escape from Duan Hao, but I can’t escape your assassins, can I? That way, you won’t have to see me when I die, am I right? I refuse to do that, I refuse to escape!”
Song Zining sighed. “Why do this? Things will be easier for both of us this way.”
Nanhua shook her head. “No, things will never be easy for me, so I won’t let you have it easy, either. I will die in front of you, in your hands. That way, you won’t forget me no matter how many women you have in the future.”
Song Zining remained silent for a while. Later on, he said, “Out of all the women, you’re the one who understands me the most. Perhaps, there might never be another person like you. With how smart you are, you should already know that I’m already moved. Why would you need to do all of these?”
Nanhua said through clenched teeth, “You’re only moved. In the future, you’ll, at most, have a place for me in your heart. What I want is your entire heart! If I can’t get everything, I’d rather not have it!”
Song Zining shook his head. “There is no one that can occupy my entire heart.”
“Yes, there is. Nighteye can.”
Song Zining was startled. He soon said with a faint smile, “Nighteye is Qianye’s lover and Qianye is my friend through life and death. I can risk my life to save Nighteye, but that’s for Qianye. I really have no other intention, and that’s final.”
“It might not be Nighteye in particular, but one on the same level. Your ambitions are grand, and only a unique woman can truly win your heart. No matter who that person is, it won’t ever be me!”
Song Zining sighed, tacitly agreeing to Nanhua’s words.
The latter walked over to Song Zining and said softly, “Hug me, then kill me.”
Song Zining’s hands trembled, but he didn’t respond.
Nanhua looked up into Song Zining’s eyes. “This is my last request.”
Nanhua covered the seventh young master’s mouth and said, “No perhaps! What I did caused Nighteye’s soul to be rent and compromised Qianye’s identity, forcing him to flee the empire. I am unredeemable. I don’t want to die in the hands of an unknown assassin without even seeing your face. Please do it.”
Song Zining brought Nanhua into his arms and gently caressed her long hair. A cold gleam appeared in his somewhat trembling hands, one of his folding fan’s spines. Then, he lightly patted the girl’s back, sending the frosty glint into her body and directly piercing her heart.
Nanhua’s body trembled. She broke into a frown at first, but her expression soon relaxed and turned into a sweet smile. “It hurt a bit because your hands were trembling, but that makes me so happy!”
Song Zining couldn’t say a single word and only hugged Nanhua tightly.
“If only your ambitions weren’t so high, and I wasn’t so greedy… how good would that be?” Nanhua’s voice grew softer and softer. With her head buried in Song Zining’s arms, the young lady fell into a deep, deep sleep… never to rise again.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Another chapter (8th chapter of the week) coming at night!
I know she triggered everything bad in this arc, but... I do feel a bit sorry for her. Sigh...
TL: Legion ED: Moxie