“Yes, it’s that Eden.” Qianye nodded.
Song Zining deactivated his illusory domain and said seriously, “Before I came to the neutral lands, I heard Eden’s position in the clan had risen meteorically due to his accomplishments. Now he’s seen as a strong contender for the clan lord position. A genius like this wouldn’t be here alone. We might be facing the mobile units of the Dark Abyss in the future.”
Qianye nodded. After fighting Eden for so long, he understood full well about the other party’s potential and how difficult he was to deal with.
Song Zining muttered to himself, “ The Dark Abyss’ mobile units will probably suffer a significant decrease in strength after coming here, perhaps they won’t be as difficult to handle.”
At this point, he shook his head. “No, the Dark Abyss took part in the previous neutral lands expedition, so they must understand the land quite well. They will come equipped with special equipment in order to minimize the effect on their combat strength. We can’t be careless.”
Qianye nodded. In the battles big and small of the past, every battle involving the demonkin had been difficult.
Song Zining closed his folding fan. “But what is Eden doing here instead of heading into the Great Maelstrom? Don’t tell me something’s happened there?”
Qianye was oblivious about the situation. “Has the Great Maelstrom opened?”
Song Zining nodded. “Yes, the passage has already opened. Normally, the earlier phase passage isn’t quite stable and will always lead to the peripheral regions. That’s why people who considered themselves geniuses would usually wait until the passage shifts to the depths of the maelstrom. They would focus on the resources at the center, foregoing the benefits from the border region. Additionally, the secret resource grounds of certain families will start shipping out their products, and that requires powerful escort units.”
Qianye found this fairly odd. Although Eden was outstanding, it was a stretch to call him a rare genius in either camp. His growth mostly relied on his untiring efforts and willpower instead of talents. It was indeed strange that he would arrive in the neutral lands at such a time.
After some thought, Song Zining seemed to have come to a decision. “It seems great things are about to happen in the Eastern Sea in the near future. What we need to do is retract our defensive lines. We’ll clear out the area around Southern Blue and Seagaze, driving away all disloyal powers and allowing us to make full use of the resources. After the region is secured, I’ll ship over the six engines and four main cannons Ningyuan Heavy Industries has in store and install them on the Martyr’s Palace. These are great quality products meant for the newest batch of imperial airships.”
“Your Ningyuan Heavy Industries has developed to this degree?” Qianye was rather surprised. Being able to construct main cannons and engines meant that they were only one step away from being able to build complete airships. After all, these were the most difficult key-components. Not to mention the few years Ningyuan had to develop, it would normally be difficult to reach this stage even after thirty years.
Song Zining smiled. “I helped a major character do some work and he gave me some small rewards.”
Qianye was speechless. This “small reward” was already twenty percent of the empire’s airship construction technology. Even the emperor would be hard-pressed to bring this onto the table, to speak nothing of ordinary bigshots.
Qianye wasn’t going to ask about things Song Zining didn’t want to speak of. He spread out the map and confirmed several places that needed cleaning as their next step in the plan.
After mapping out the details, Qianye produced the case of rare-metal from Andruil’s space and placed it in the courtyard. This case was extremely heavy—Qianye set up a layer of supportive origin power before carefully placing it on the ground. Otherwise, it might actually cause the ground to cave in.
Song Zining opened the case. He observed the ingots momentarily, and then flicked the metallic support structures inside the case. “Not bad, there’s a fair amount of black gold here. Although less than I’d anticipated, it’s already a sufficient amount. This should allow us to manufacture at full capacity for three years. Haha, that seller would never have imagined that we would possess the most cutting-edge airship technology in the empire or that our utilization of black gold has increased exponentially.”
“Take a look at this. I’ve never seen an engine like this.” With that, Qianye released the engine.
Qianye said, “It’s indeed not simple. I can feel the aura of a void colossus coming from it.”
“Void colossus? That’s weird.” Song Zining examined the object in detail, going so far as to reach into the engine’s opening, but couldn’t find any traces of a void colossus.
He stood up and muttered, “It looks like we can only open it up to find out the truth, but let’s wait for the master engineer to arrive. With him around, we’ll be less likely to damage the engine structure during disassembly. At first, I thought this engine was a trap meant to bring harm to us, but the gains wouldn’t cover the losses if they had really used void colossus remains.”
Qianye agreed. Any part of a void colossus was priceless, not to mention a part containing its living vitality and aura. It could be said that the value of this void colossus part would trump a brand new engine. Paying such a steep price to trap someone else was more of a gift than anything.
Song Zining laid down an aura isolation array around the engine, saying, “We’ll know once the master engineer arrives tomorrow. No matter what this is, we have nothing to lose since we didn’t spend any money.”
Qianye snorted. “It’s my reputation that suffered.”
Song Zining broke into a laugh. “You have no reputation left since the day you killed your way out of the empire. Reputation isn’t worth crap in the neutral lands anyway.”
Qianye shrugged. There was indeed some truth to his words since this was a trap, to begin with. The other party had arranged for Eden to ambush Qianye, hoping to kill him inside Seagaze. No one had imagined, however, that Qianye’s advancement would be even faster than Eden’s, nor did anyone anticipate the presence of Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan behind Qianye. In the end, Eden had to flee with injuries and the bait was taken by Qianye.
Qianye had no qualms about taking things from the enemy.
He left the crate and engine in the room, and went back to cultivate. The battle with Eden had lasted but a moment, yet there were enough things there for him to slowly digest.
At noon the second day, Qianye was roused from his cultivation by a gentle voice.
“Qianye, come and see. This thing is a bit odd.”
Qianye retracted his origin power, put on his clothes, and arrived in Song Zining’s courtyard. Several white-robed technicians were working around the engine. The machine had been largely disassembled and parts of various sizes had been sorted out nearby. A designated person would mark each removed component and add relevant markups on the blueprint.
At this moment, the mysterious engine had been mostly taken apart to reveal the internal walls. A white-haired elder was knocking lightly on it, listening carefully to the echo within. “Seventh Young Master, the inner walls are quite special. If I’m not wrong, its composition is not inferior to that formula in your hands. It also seems to contain some other special characteristics. We’ll need to wait until the laboratory is constructed in order to perform an analysis.”
Song Zining bowed. “I’ll trouble Elder Hu for that.”
In addition to the Ningyuan engineers, Li Kuanglan was standing in a corner of the courtyard and watching the scene unfold. Ji Tianqing, on the other hand, was leaning against a tree and gazing idly at the sky—there was no telling what this lady was thinking. Their presence was also to prevent accidents. The demonkin were similar to the vampires in that they produced a fair number of assassins.
The master engineer continued knocking along the inner-wall but came to a sudden stop at the other end. There, he tapped the metal repeatedly, alternating between different levels of force, eyes closed as he focused on the echo.
This was a special method to probe the insides of a metal, relying on the strength of the knock and the composition of the material. Grasping the profundity of such a technique didn’t require powerful origin power, and it was also useful to check the internal situation of large structural components.
Qianye closed his eyes, his ears moving ever so slightly as he tried to grasp the echoing oscillation. Gradually, the imagery grew clear as the engine’s internal wall appeared in his head. But Qianye gradually frowned as he listened on. He felt that the internal structure was quite odd—it was thick around the rear exit port, but the insides were fairly loose. Additionally, it felt like the density was shifting slowly.
Qianye’s senses were extremely sharp. He knew that it wasn’t an illusion. The density around the forepart of the internal wall was changing.
It would seem the master engineer had also sensed this abnormality. He finally found a barely discernible slit, along which he continued his investigation, and realized that this was actually a covering plate. It only looked like a single piece due to the compression of oil and dust between the walls.
This cover plate contained no locking or clipping mechanism on it, and no one knew how to open it. The master engineer deliberated for a long while before sighing. “The craftsmanship leaves me sighing in admiration. This engine is at least several hundred years old, and it’s truly impressive that they were able to achieve such precision back in the day. If my judgment is correct, there’s no mechanism on this plate. It was installed based on precision and locked in place by the natural attractive force. Opening it should follow the same means.”
With that, the master engineer placed a hand on the plate and channeled his origin power. He pulled back after adhering his hand to the plate.
However, the cover plate didn’t even budge.
The engineer’s face turned red as he channeled his origin power several times, squeezing out whatever power he possessed. Yet, the cover remained unmoved, almost as though it had been nailed in place.
He had no choice but to give up. “This old man is too weak for this task. Young Master should invite another expert to open it up. The secret of this engine should be hidden underneath.”
Song Zining looked around him. In the end, he bowed toward Ji Tianqing with a smile. “Young Miss, I hope you can help us with this.”
Ji Tianqing chuckled. “No problem, I really like well-mannered people like you.”
Enjoy! More action incoming.
TL: Legion ED: Moxie