That was a major quake. Not just the room, but the entire hotel and even Port City itself was shaking. Cracks spread all over the walls as dust sprinkled down from the ceiling.
Qianye rushed over to the wall and looked out. At the extremes of his vision, he could see the sheds in the slums starting to crumble. These crudely constructed shacks simply couldn’t withstand the might of the rocking earth.
Ding Shiheng wasn’t alarmed at all. He merely shook his head and said, “It’s not an earthquake, just the earth dragon turning over. It’ll be gone soon.”
As expected, the shaking lasted only a few minutes before gradually subsiding. Even so, the number of collapsed buildings in Port City weren’t few in number, and most of them were located in the slums.
In fact, the entire of Port City was fairly simple in decor. If it wasn’t clearly indicated, Qianye would find it difficult to tell the slums apart from the normal city area. Only the noble’s district around the city lord’s mansion looked like a proper major city. The demarcation became more evident after the quake because most of the collapses took place in the impoverished areas and rarely in the city districts.
After the large quake, people immediately became busy. Some began cleaning up the rubble, while others collected reusable materials and cared for the injured—everything was carried out in proper sequence. The order amidst the chaos went to show that such incidents were a common occurrence here. Even people at the lowest level were used to them and knew how to deal with the aftermath.
These shacks were so roughly built that they were nothing more than a couple of poles and a roof-frame. The walls and roofs were all made of thin wooden sheets, which reduced the damage if they were to collapse. It was also easier for others to rescue those buried under the rubble. Moreover, shacks like this would take less than a day to build.
The hotel Qianye was staying in and the much better-built courtyards nearby were all supported by steel frames. Such a quake would, at most, cause them to tilt slightly—someone with rank four cultivation could set them straight and fix them in place. As for the walls and ceilings, they were even easier to repair and even ordinary people could do it. Additionally, the furniture was also of the simplest type, so that there wouldn’t be much losses in case they were destroyed.
After the quake had passed, there was a knock on the door. The person said from outside the door, “Everyone, please don’t be alarmed. Someone will come to repair your walls very soon, everything will be done before dinnertime.”
After saying that, the attendant headed to the next room to inform the guests there.
The earth was still rocking gently at this point. Qianye, with his sharp senses, noticed that the exposed ground was rippling gently like water. Although barely discernible, it was clearly not something an earthquake should have.
“Earth dragon? What is that?” Qianye was more wary than interested in this existence capable of shaking the entire city.
This was no secret in Port City. Ding Shiheng replied without the slightest bit of hesitation, “That’s the legendary giant creature hiding in the depths of the earth. Some say it’s a void colossus, but no one has ever seen it before. It’ll turn over or get restless every once in a while. This time, it was only turning over gently. When it gets restless every few years, the quake will last several days and collapse half the city.”
Qianye finally understood why the architecture in Port City was so odd—they were specifically designed to avoid the need for reconstruction. Apparently, only the city lord manor and the buildings in the noble district were permanent. Even if the others were built with steel frames, they could hardly last through the yearly tremors.
Qianye’s eyes lit up with a blue tinge as he gazed back at the city lord’s manor. In his True Sight, there was a faint glow of origin power covering the buildings in the noble district—there was a protective force field protecting them. The radiance on the city lord’s manor was the strongest as there was a light barrier covering the entire structure. They actually had an origin net constructed htere, a significant expenditure even by empire standards.
Seeing these things gave Qianye a new impression of Port City’s strength. One would need sufficient power to support such wealth in the neutral lands.
At this moment, a large number of people converged onto the street and began pushing their way out of the city.
“What are they going to do?”
Ding Shiheng said, “They’re all off to hunt. Whenever the earth dragon flips over, some special lifeforms will be driven out from the depths of the ground. Rainbowfish and spiked rats, for instance, can only be caught during this period.”
Rainbowfish and spiked rats were the regional specialties of Port City. Not only did they taste great, but they could also strengthen one’s origin power perception and consequently improve cultivation speed. This delicacy was almost irresistible to the demonkin and thus became an important smuggling commodity.
Additionally, some other rare species would be driven from the depths of the earth to its shallow layer. This was their only opportunity at capturing them. At this point, Qianye understood why people were willing to stay in Port City despite needing to reconstruct their houses every few years.
Qianye inquired further about the power distribution in Port City, and then let Ding Shiheng leave after obtaining sufficient information.
As expected of a local bully, Ding Shiheng arrived at the hotel at noon the following day. His arrogance disappeared immediately after entering the room. The man stood respectfully in front of Qianye, his eyes never straying toward Nighteye and Zhuji.
The news he had brought caused Qianye to break into a frown. “You’re saying that an old man fitting this description did come to Port City but disappeared the next day after meeting the people from the Xue family?”
“Yes, I mobilized all my assets but still couldn’t find his whereabouts. Some of my sources are guessing…” Ding Shiheng stole a glance at Qianye. The Xue family was, after all, a massive entity to him and even simple matters would become complicated after getting involved with them.
“Reportedly, there were some abnormal movements among the Xue family guards that day. That’s why some think that they might’ve captured Elder Cui.”
Qianye said with a frown, “Did you confirm this with someone from the Xue family?”
Ding Shiheng said carefully, “Sire, the highest contact someone of my status can have is no more than the lowest-tier members of the Xue family. They know nothing about this matter. This means that either the Xue family has nothing to do with this, or it is a secret even within the family. If it is the latter, then this lowly one is powerless to do anything.”
Qianye nodded. “Very well, I understand. Tell me the location of the Xue family, and if possible, get me a map of the Xue family residence.”
Ding Shiheng stood up and said, “This lowly one will go immediately.”
By evening, Ding Shiheng had already delivered the residence’s map. One had to admit that this local tyrant was fairly adept at handling matters.
With the location and map in hand, the preparations were already sufficient. Qianye and Nighteye left the hotel in the dead of the night and vanished into the darkness.
The Xue family residence was naturally in the noble district, but it wasn’t very large, only three compounds in total from front to back. This so-called not large was only relative to other cities. It was still a bonafide mansion in Port City. In the noble district, every building was connected to a shock-protection array. Even if it was just for face, they couldn’t let their mansions suffer damage. Hence, large mansions would involve terrifying consumption rates.
Qianye had already learned beforehand that the ones living in this mansion belonged to a branch of the Xue family, with the main family dispatching people to assist them. The Xues owned a fair number of estates and industries in and around Port City, all of which were managed from this place.
Qianye stood not far away, sizing up this residence.
The mansion was tall, wide, and built in a fairly imperial fashion. It was just that the entire structure was a tenth in scale compared to true aristocratic families, nowhere near the Zhao clan’s half city-sized residences.
“Let’s go in and see.” Qianye beckoned to Nighteye as he leapt into the compound.
Qianye had learned from Ding Shiheng that the most powerful person in this Xue mansion was the branch family head Xue Haiyang. As a rank-thirteen champion, he was more than enough to protect the interests of the Xue family in Port City.
It was already late at night and many areas of the residence had gone dark. There were some guards patrolling the area in addition to two hidden sentries. This kind of defensive structure was loose but allowed for no gaps, denying evil mercenaries and adventurers any opportunity they could take advantage of. None of this could deter Qianye, however. He leapt soundlessly over a group of guards and entered the residence.
Nighteye landed beside him and, after scanning the courtyard, pointed toward the main building.
Qianye nodded. He arrived before the door, and following a flash of red light, the vampiric blade in his hand had sliced through the lock. Only the faintest of sounds was produced in this process, but it was enough to rouse the person inside from his sleep. “Who goes there!?”
Qianye pushed the door open while Nighteye flashed into the room like a bolt of lightning and held her vampiric blade against the man’s neck.
The person on the bed was a man in his forties. He had just propped himself up halfway when his entire body froze. The vampiric blade was so sharp that it had left faint red lines on his neck even before actually coming into contact.
There was a rather beautiful lady beside him who hadn’t woken up just yet. She merely turned around, revealing a fair, well-rounded body that was entirely unclothed.
The man remained calm and said in a deep voice, “I’m Xue Haiyang, the lord of this Xue family branch as well as an officer of the main family. May I ask what business the two of you have with me?”
Qianye locked the door behind him. “Mr. Xue, what composure, what courage! Since that’s the case, then I’ll not beat around the bush. I have a friend called Cui Yuanhai. He’s in your hands, right?”
At the mention of this name, Xue Haiyang’s expression shifted drastically. His composure was quickly replaced by shock as he exclaimed, “You’re the ones wanted by the Wolf King!”
“The Wolf King is rather generous. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t even know that my head was worth so much.” Qianye laughed.
Xue Haiyang’s heart sank. He glanced at the vampiric blade at his neck and said with a wry smile, “It turns out you two are vampires.”
Qianye said calmly, “She is, I am not, but that’s not important. Mr. Xue, are you trying to stall for time? You should know that it’s meaningless.”
Xue Haiyang laughed ruefully. “I know, you even dare to kill the Wolf King’s son. There’s no way you’ll put a small character like me in your eyes. Cui Yuanhai did pay me a visit, but this matter was too important, so I had to report it to the main family. The main family’s response was to seize the man and watch him strictly.”
“Where is he now?”
Xue Haiyang whispered helplessly, “Probably kidnapped.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
This old man's life is full of trouble...
TL: Legion ED: Moxie