Li Fang ultimately couldn’t submit. “Qianye, don’t think you can do whatever you want just because you’re in the neutral lands. Someone will teach you a lesson sooner or later.”
“Is that so? I’m waiting,” Qianye replied indifferently. He had heard his fair share of such warnings and was already numb to them.
Li Fang swung his sleeve and left. His departing steps were rather hurried and no longer as calm as when he had arrived.
Qianye became serious after he was gone. “What is he here for? How did he show up here?”
Song Zining replied, “This Li Fang is actually quite capable. Although his post in the imperial court is an idle one, he’s highly proficient in establishing a complete military economy. This person is from a side-branch of the Li family, but he achieved his current rank by relying on his own skills. Now that the Li family is planning to establish their presence in the neutral lands, he wanted to come over and put his skills to use.”
“But he didn’t look like he was here to work.”
Song Zining smiled. “Qianye, you don’t understand. The more power these small officials gain, the more they posture, lest others look down on them. It’s the more important officials who are the most approachable.”
“Fine, what is the Li family here for?”
“Because Li Kuanglan is here, the family dispatched a guard force… at least nominally. The truth is that over three hundred people have arrived.”
Qianye frowned. “Three hundred, that’s a fair number of people. Who are they?”
“All of them are Li Family elites, led by two elders. More people from the imperial palace will arrive as well in the near future.”
“So many people coming to the neutral lands? Aren’t they afraid of retaliation from the Throne of Blood?” Qianye’s question was reasonable. Everyone knew that the Throne of Blood was highly sensitive to interference from Evernight and the Empire. Equipped with the Shattered Moment and enjoying a home ground advantage, he could be the downfall of even great dark monarchs and heavenly monarchs.
Dispatching close to a thousand elites into the neutral lands was already a big breach of the rules. If the Throne of Blood were to take action, these people might never leave the neutral lands.
Song Zining wasn’t worried, though. “Don’t worry, this matter is related to Empress Li. Those old fogies from the empire are so cowardly. They wouldn’t dare do such a thing without being absolutely sure. Now that they have people coming over, it means that they’ve already discussed terms. These people might not be good at anything else, but they’re masters at negotiation and infighting.”
“Why the Li family?” Back in the Misty Wood, Qianye and the Li family had gotten into a bit of conflict. It was ultimately the Zhao family who forced them to cough up the Storm Pearl.
Song Zining said, “It’s because of Kuanglan. Of course, they have to come!”
Imperial politics have always been complicated, and it was doubly so for people related to the imperial court. Song Zining wasn’t willing to explain more, and Qianye felt that it was a headache as well. He simply decided to forget about them and began explaining the matter of that young demonkin.
Song Zining’s expression was serious as he listened on. “That means the demonkin has produced another genius on par with the Demoness. No, he should’ve existed since long ago but was hidden from public sight. With him around, things will be quite troublesome, what do you plan to do?”
“Enter the wilderness again and look for opportunities. The demonkin suffers significant restrictions in the neutral lands. There must be a way to deal with him.”
Song Zining nodded. This was the best way for Qianye to maximize his potential. His combat strength would surge in places like the wilderness and the Misty Wood. Even a marquis would die on the spot if he were ambushed by Qianye.
But he soon thought about something else, and his expression changed drastically. “Wait! If that demonkin arrived with the vanguard…”
Song Zining whipped out a map of the neutral lands and drew several lines on it, his expression growing more and more unsightly. He glanced about before asking Qianye, “Can your Martyr’s Palace travel through the void right now?”
“Of course. It’s just that the outer shell isn’t done yet, so weaker people won’t be able to survive long onboard. Only about half of the people on it right now are up to the task.”
Song Zining frowned. “I’ll give you fifteen men, that’s all I can spare. But half of them are craftsmen and engineers, so you have to protect them if a fight breaks out.”
“A fight in the void?”
Song Zining nodded and pointed at the map. “The last batch of kinetic sails and ballistae from Ningyuan Heavy Industries are already on the way. No one knows this secret flight path, but it’s a bit too close to the route between the demonkin continent and the neutral lands. If the Evernight squad is already on their way here, they might bump into our fleet three days later. This airship fleet is carrying a batch of high-performance alloys that cannot be lost.”
Qianye observed the route map. “You mean I should go out and escort the fleet with Martyr’s Palace?”
Song Zinin nodded. “That’s the only way right now. We can’t let the Li family know about Martyr’s Palace and my fleet. Transfer the goods immediately after you meet the fleet and have them turn back. Let the craftsmen and sailors on those airships work on the Martyr’s Palace. Those people are highly reliable; I’ve been nurturing them for many years.”
With that, Song Zining patted Qianye’s shoulder. “I’m handing everything I have to you, there’s nothing left.”
Only at this point did Qianye figure out Song Zining’s net worth. The seventh young master could already see the shadow of the term, “a nation’s worth of wealth”, at such a young age. After digesting the new alloy formula in a couple of years, he would have the foundations for a high-ranking aristocratic family.
The Song clan people were indeed very eager to dig their fingers in the honeypot that was the Ningyuan Heavy Industries. Unfortunately, they encountered Qianye who had managed to turn the situation around on his own. Otherwise, there was no telling what would happen if Song Zining was taken away by Song Zian.
Now, Song Zining had moved the majority of his wealth over to the neutral lands, investing most of his accumulations into the Martyr’s Palace. The airship was an extraordinary void warship built from the remains of the earth dragon and controlled by the colossus’ remnant will. There was almost no way to wrest control of the vessel except by killing Qianye.
Song Zining’s description wasn’t exaggerated. Things invested in the Martyr’s Palace could hardly be reclaimed. Even Qianye himself had no idea why Song Zining was so attached to it.
Qianye was still a bit worried. “Will you be fine with me gone?”
Song Zining replied calmly, “I have Kuanglan and Tianqing here. I can’t let them go out and take risks, but it’s not my business if the demonkin comes knocking on our doors.”
Qianye was speechless. He felt that making haste was the safest bet. He simply returned to the wilderness without even going into the city and ran half a day in a deserted direction. Seeing no one on his tail, he leapt up and flew into the sky.
The massive body of the Martyr’s Palace was faintly discernible through the clouds, gliding along in utter silence. Qianye flew into the ship through its side doors. Soon afterward, the vessel started flying upward, almost as though it had come to life, traveling higher and higher into the boundless void.
There were dozens of staff within the Martyr’s Palace. Most of them were busy pushing an engine to its designated location. After the engine was in place, numerous technicians arrived to inspect and adjust the machine.
A third of the people in the Martyr’s Palace were Highbeards, most of them born being talented machinists. The others were Song Zining’s trusted men from Ningyuan Heavy Industries. There were numerous craftsmen among them, as well as ten strong, experienced warriors. These soldiers could be used for high-performance labor during normal times. They also served as the core power protecting the airship facilities during critical times. In truth, they were there to guard against the Highbeards because Song Zining didn’t trust anyone.
“Sire.” All the sailors greeted Qianye respectfully as he entered the ship. The Martyr’s Palace was simply too big, requiring dozens of kinetic sails and hundreds of engines big and small. Hence the significant workload had piled up into a mountain and would take this small group decades to complete.
Qianye clapped his hands and said in a raised voice, “We’ll be heading into the void soon. Those under rank-five must stop working and head into the cabin to rest. Those above rank-five will remain on standby at their posts.”
The staff had been assigned their own roles. Craftsmen under normal circumstances might have to serve as lookouts and gunmen during battle. There were also people in charge of controlling the engines and kinetic sails. Due to the lack of manpower at the moment, they could only activate two engines and one kinetic sail. As for the ballistae installed inside the mouth of the Earth Dragon, Qianye had to control it himself.
Under Qianye’s orders, the weaker sailors returned to the partially constructed cabin and closed the doors.
After they had gone indoors, Qianye steered the Martyr’s palace into a jump and rushed out of the Eastern Sea Continent’s protective layer, heading straight into the void.
At this moment, the Martyr’s Palace looked like the skeleton of a giant void colossus. It was just that there were some muscular structures enclosing its heart. According to Bluemoon and Song Zining, these muscles were the best building materials for the vessel. The void colossus’ strength wasn’t something imperial warships could compare to.
However, these muscles relied on the energy provided by the Earth Dragon’s heart, so their growth rate was particularly slow. That was why they had to build man-made structures to supplement the airship body. It was just that the Earth Dragon was so big that building the outer shell would cost more than building several motherships.
Once in the void, the Martyr’s Palace flickered with an eerie glow as it flew toward the designated location.
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TL: Legion ED: Moxie