“Does the Evernight side know?” Qianye inquired.
“Since we’ve managed to calculate the location, it’s only a matter of time before the other side does the same. With the empire making such noticeable movements, how can we ever hide it? Linken was probably here for it, but fortunately, you managed to beat her back. This gives us the initiative.”
Qianye frowned. “A useless one at that.”
Whoever had the initiative would have to fight against Tidehark first. With the forces the Empire and Evernight could afford to dispatch, it was difficult to tell who would win. If the losses in Tidehark were too heavy, it would only give the opposing faction a free ticket into the passage. So, claiming the initiative wasn’t always a good thing. A three-party conflict was the most difficult kind to handle.
“This opportunity isn’t that useful, but it’s better than nothing.” Song Zining pointed at the map, saying, “For instance, if the demonkin in this area are cut off from reinforcements, we can use this timeframe to uproot all of the families supporting them. We’ll let them know that whoever supports Evernight will meet ugly fates.”
Seeing Song Zining pointing at Seagaze, Qianye said, “There are some families there who support us, the Xue for instance.”
“Then we should have them exert effort. Have them take the initiative to destroy the demonkin-supporting families.”
Qianye frowned. Song Zining’s plan would leave the Xue family with no room to maneuver, but it was a fact that the seventh young master was the better strategist. No matter how difficult to execute his decisions seemed, they would always result in an advantage later on.
Song Zining shot Qianye a glance. “We’ll go ahead with this plan if you have no objections. I’ll send someone to inform the Xue family.”
Seeing a nod from Qianye, Song Zining said, “Then let’s talk about something, this Yan Ding…”
He frowned with a difficult expression. “Qianye, if you meet Lu Junyi again, how sure are you of defeating him?”
“Lu Junyi? The man who tried to stop me at Indomitable?”
“Yes, that’s the man.”
Qianye said after a moment of pondering, “If he hasn’t made any improvements, I might have a good chance of killing him in the wilderness. The chances will be even higher with the help of Zhuji and the others. It’ll be difficult to say if he has broken through.”
Song Zining broke into a laugh. “It hasn’t been long since we last met him. Do you think everyone’s a monster like you who can level up when they’re bored?”
Qianye felt a bit embarrassed.
Song Zining’s smile disappeared as he continued, “No matter how weak Lu Junyi is, he’s still a divine champion. Are you confident about dealing with him?”
Qianye said in a serious manner, “His attacks are nothing to write home about, even Zhuji could block it back then. I can surely withstand it at my current level. As for his defenses, I’ve never heard of him possessing any special skills that can withstand my Shot of Inception. The odds will be even better if it’s a wilderness battle. After all, my blood energy is at the marquis level.”
Song Zining nodded. “That’s good then. This kind of battle isn’t my forte, you’re on your own.”
“You’re planning to do Lu Junyi in? Is it appropriate at such a time?”
Song Zining sighed. “It’s best if we don’t need to do it. Unfortunately…”
He didn’t say what was unfortunate, and neither did Qianye ask.
Next up, Song Zining explained to Qianye the details of the current situation. The vanguard fleet from the empire, made up of three squadrons, had already arrived in the neutral lands, with the main force coming in from behind. Apart from this squadron led by Yan Ding, the other two were made up of forces from the aristocracy and the imperial family. The clans were led by the Li family this time, mainly because their divination powers were necessary to pinpoint and enter the passage. It was only natural that they would oversee the situation while the four major clans put forth the manpower.
Qianye was a bit surprised about the direct involvement of the imperial family. Their direct forces would rarely be mobilized under normal circumstances—it would usually be the military or some aristocratic forces being sent in their name. The imperial family of this generation usually kept themselves well hidden and rarely showed off their martial prowess. They were basically in hibernation mode compared to the previous generations. They had only begun showing off their power along with the increased activity of the imperial party.
The Li family and the imperial family also made camp around Southern Blue. They had each found a place to set up a supply base and camouflage themselves among some major local trade companies. As for the many airships flying in and out, there was really no telling how many of them were real cargo ships.
The three vanguard fleets together might be a bit less powerful than Linken’s fleet, but they were enough to hold their own in battle. The demonkin’s presence in the neutral lands was evidently weakened, giving the humans a distinct advantage.
With Linken heavily injured, Qianye knew how much of an edge they held. Having lost the support of their fleet, the demonkin who had arrived earlier would be destroyed if they so much as dared to poke their heads out.
“Then what are you waiting for? Concentrate all available military power and explore the location of the passage.” As Qianye saw it, the situation at present was already quite clear.
“How can it be that easy?” Song Zining laughed ruefully. “Disregarding whether or not we can take down City Lord Luo Bingfeng, must we really fight him? None of the three vanguard squadrons will listen to me, except perhaps the imperial family’s.”
Qianye was startled. “You’re not the commander for this battle?”
“Of course not.”
This seemed inconceivable. Song Zining and Qianye had been operating in the neutral lands for some time, and had already gained a stable footing. As Qianye saw it, Song Zining was far above those so-called clan big-shots in terms of strategy and accomplishments. Not many in the Song clan could compete with him in military contributions. Many members of the elder assembly had never even killed a count, yet they were always blabbering about war and government.
The importance of this expedition to seize the Great Maelstrom passage was only second to the void continent war. It was only natural that Song Zining should be leading this war. The Evernight Faction understood full well just how terrifying the seventh young master could be with a hand of good cards.
However, the leading general wasn’t Song Zining.
Qianye said, “Please don’t tell me it’s Yan Ding.”
“That trash? Impossible. The higher-ups won’t do such a thing, no matter how muddled they are.” Song Zining calmed himself, and then sighed. “In the end, it’s all because we’re too young. How can those people at our grandparents’ age be content obeying our commands? There was a meeting after the three vanguard squadrons were assembled. I recommended myself for the commander role, but some people opposed the notion fiercely, so it was rejected.”
Qianye frowned. “Who opposed? I’ll go discuss things with them. This is an important matter involving the army and the country, how can we let a bunch of old fogeys do as they wish?
“Discuss? How do you plan to do that?” Song Zining broke into a laugh.
Qianye raised his fist, saying, “Nicely, of course. There are few among the guests who I cannot convince.”
“Let it be, let’s just play along. I’m also a bit tired.”
“How can we just let things be? Fighting for the position is fine and all, but these are imperial soldiers at risk. How can we let them all die for personal reasons?”
Song Zining laughed. “They aren’t that useless.”
Qianye snorted. “It’s Eden on the demonkin’s side. If those old fellows really have the ability, why were they beaten up so badly in the Misty Wood?”
Song Zining didn’t retort. “Eden isn’t just powerful in combat, from the fight in the Misty Wood, it’s obvious that he’s a master in strategy as well. If the demonkin are under his leadership, these people… might not be able to defeat him. This is why I wanted to take the helm. It’s just that these old men think they’ve been leading wars for decades and that they won’t lose to a greenhorn demonkin. What can I say?”
Qianye replied, “Eden’s true strength might be a marquis, he’s just keeping himself hidden. How can a famed-clan marquis be considered a greenhorn? Can those old men even defeat him?”
“To them, war and personal fights are two different matters.”
“People who say that are probably mediocre in strength. Are they even rank fifteen? Their origin powers were probably cultivated with drugs.”
Song Zining laughed. “What are you being so agitated for? It’s not like you’re being discriminated against. But come to think of it, you’ve really become bad. The old man who said these words is only rank fourteen, ha!”
“Rank-fourteen, is it? I’ll go find him for a discussion.”
Song Zining dragged Qianye back while shaking his head. “You’re looking down on people again. We’re both rank-fourteen, so they feel that they’re not so inferior to us.”
Qianye sneered. “How is that even possible? These old fogeys can’t even last three moves against us.”
“That’s you, I’m not a fan of violence.” Song Zining rolled his eyes.
Qianye was a master of peerless techniques. Be it his Sweeping Calm, Life Plunder, or Shot of Inception, all of them were powerful moves that could kill in one blow. Weaker opponents would find it hard to last half a move against Qianye. On the other hand, Song Zining saying he didn’t like violence was clearly a false advertisement—this fellow with his mask and spear wasn’t any less fierce than Qianye.
Seeing Qianye’s lingering anger, Song Zining discarded his flippant demeanor and sighed. “They fear not just me, but they’re cautious of you as well. Our relationship is too close, and you had fully offended the military at one point. These people also want to leave a good impression with the military.”
Qianye laughed coldly. “I offended the military?”
Song Zining said unhurriedly, “Qianye, did you think about it? With Nighteye’s condition, her awakening is only a matter of time, even without the Chaos Millstone.”
"Are you telling me to make up with the empire?”
“Of course not. I just hope you won’t make the wrong decisions because of your anger. The military is still a massive entity, and it will take patience to topple it. There’s also another pathway in addition to tearing them down.”
Song Zining wasn’t willing to tell him, however. “It’s a bit too early, let’s discuss that later. We should first talk about the matter at hand. Can you head over to Seagaze once?”
Song Zining nodded. “This strategy is different, there’s no need to fight or kill. I will dispatch someone with you, and he will handle everything. Don’t attack if there’s no need to.”
“Then what’s the point of me going?”
“On one hand, it’s to guard against the demonkin, while on the other, it’s to subdue those families. With you around, both Eden and those families would have to think thrice before doing anything. They’re quite scared of you now.”
“I still don’t see the point.”
“It’s highly important.” Song Zining opened the doors before Qianye could say anything. “Men, invite the commander in!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie