These words caused a sizable commotion.
“What’s the meaning of this?”
“You think we’re not qualified to speak regarding this important matter?” Some elders were furious.
Others said calmly, “Looks like we’re indeed getting old.”
“This Xue family no longer needs old fogeys like us.”
Some people lashed out directly, “How dare a youngster like you say such things? Do you still recognize the family rules?”
“I knew it, the Xue family will fall in the hands of you traitors!”
Apparently, they weren’t afraid of this junior. At the very least, not as much as they were of Qianye.
The Xue Clan Lord spoke, “All elders and executives will remain, we shall decide this matter together. That’s final.”
Since the clan lord has spoken, there was no longer a reason for Xue Wu to insist. He lowered his head with a livid expression; his words just now had angered many people and brought about numerous curses.
Being privy to classified information was a part of status and authority. None of the old men here were willing to be left out.
Ji Tianqing waited silently. Only after the elders’ bickering had calmed down did she say calmly, “Since the clan lord can’t recognize it, let me just tell you straight. This is the emblem of a demonkin family.”
Few among the elders were moved. The insignia was cast in characteristic demonkin style, and most experienced people would be able to figure it out. It was just that not all people could tell which demonkin family it belonged to.
The Xue clan lord’s expression was somewhat unsightly. “Forgive my clumsy eyesight, I wasn’t about to figure out which family it comes from.”
“Do you really not know?” Ji Tianqing did nothing to hide her mockery.
A couple of elders in the crowd glanced at the clan lord.
The Xue family lord could no longer muddle through regardless of his calm. “This seems to be a Masefield family insignia.” As a major demonkin family, their emblem wasn’t as rare as the smaller ones.
Ji Tianqing smiled. “Your eyesight is keener this time, it seems. Correct, this is a Masefield insignia, it’s just that this one is a bit special.”
The clan lord picked up the insignia and observed it for a good while. “If I’m not wrong, this insignia belongs to a certain… marquis?”
A commotion broke out among the Xue family elders. A demonkin marquis, to them, was an awesome major character. Had Qianye done someone like that in?
The ridicule in Ji Tianqing’s eyes was obvious. “Surely, you jest. How can this be a marquis’? Since you’re not willing to say it, then I won’t hold back anymore. This emblem belongs to Vice-Duke Linken.”
“What!?” The insignia fell from the clan lord’s hands onto the table.
“Do you still want to ask if it’s real?”
The Xue clan lord’s face reddened somewhat, but he remained headstrong. “This insignia indeed possesses signs of a Masefield higher-up, but there’s no personal mark. I wonder how you decided that it’s from Linken?”
Ji Tianqing replied, “Only a duke can possess such an emblem, this is undeniable. As for why it belongs to Linken, that’s because it was snatched from her hands.”
The elders looked at one another. Many of them had never even heard of Linken’s name because the world beyond the neutral lands was just too far away for them.
It was clear, however, that the Xue clan lord knew who she was. He barely managed to suppress his shock and say, “You brought out Linken’s insignia, what are your intentions?”
Ji Tianqing replied objectively, “Very simple. Linken was the leader of the demonkin reinforcements heading here. I can tell you right now that these reinforcements are no more.”
The clan lord remained silent for a while. “What do you want our Xue family to do?”
Before Ji Tianqing could reply, an elder shot to his feet and roared, “Why must we believe that their reinforcements have been lost? Don’t tell me we have to trust whatever you say? Do you think we’re brainless? Even if what you say is true, a gigantic entity like Evernight only needs to dispatch another fleet. The situation will turn around once the demonkin army arrives!”
Qianye jumped up before the Xue family lord could say anything, and a red light flickered in his hand.
That elder was still talking with great confidence when his expression changed drastically. He looked down just in time to see a couple of red spots slowly spreading outward. The spots were fairly small and merely the size of a pea even toward the end. However, the elder lost all strength and collapsed before he could say anything.
An uproar commenced in the room as everyone rushed over to check the elder’s surroundings. They were also guarded against Qianye, but none dared to attack him.
The most frightening thing about an enemy like Qianye was that he had no fear of a group attack. Additionally, he was simply too fast and fierce. Even in a group melee, the enemy he chose to face head-on would find it hard to escape death. As people who valued their lives, none of the Xue family elders were willing to take the initiative.
Only a handful of people like the Xue clan lord and Xue Wu were able to see that Qianye had shot out several red threads. They had no idea what special effects were involved, but it was so powerful that the elder immediately lost all signs of life.
“Why!?” The clan lord was both shocked and furious.
Ji Tianqing sat down calmly. “This elder seems to have made up his mind to stand with the demonkin. There’s no other way but to send him to his death.”
“You’re killing people in the Xue family! Do you still have us in your eyes?” an elder rebuked.
Ji Tianqing said, “Do you still not understand? We’re determined to win this war, there’s no space for discussion. Whoever stands with the demonkin will be killed immediately, no matter who they are.”
Another elder stood up angrily. “Preposterous! You’re forcing us to lean toward the demonkin!”
“We will wipe your family out if that happens.” Ji Tianqing spoke so nonchalantly, almost as though wiping out an entire family was a small matter.
The Xue family lord could no longer remain calm at this point. “It seems your side didn’t come here to discuss trade.”
Ji Tianqing hadn’t spoken when Xue Wu said with a wry smile, “Clan Lord, do you still not understand? They’re not here to discuss trade, they’re here to tell us to pick a side.”
An uncomfortable silence bore down upon the hall.
Another elder tried asking, “Then, what if our Xue family doesn’t cooperate?”
Ji Tianqing replied coldly, “We’re on the verge of a great war, how can we allow an unknown factor to ruin the bigger picture? Before the next wave of demonkin reinforcements arrives, we will uproot those who do not support the empire.”
These words were quite unceremonious. The Xue clan lord’s expression shifted drastically, not having expected such a lack of leeway. He said with a frown, “Aren’t you afraid of losing loyalty by doing such a thing?”
“At this point, do you think the empire requires the loyalty of fence-sitters? Please make a decision as to your future path. We will leave immediately if you do not stand with the empire.”
The Xue clan lord smiled wryly. “T-This is too much of a rush. Can you give us some time to discuss this?”
Ji Tianqing nodded. “Fine, half an hour it is.” With that, she sat down again, fully displaying the stance of a guest bullying his host.
The Xue family lord smiled ruefully as he got up and left the room. The elders glanced at one another, and then at the corpse of the elder on the ground, before leaving in a single file.
Qianye arrived before the window and gazed silently at the expansive array of Xue family buildings.
Ji Tianqing said with a shrug, “All of this is Song Zining’s idea. I’m only acting as his mouthpiece. If you want to blame someone, go blame him! Here, take a look at this.”
With that, Ji Tianqing passed Qianye a small booklet.
Qianye opened it up and saw it densely packed with written dialogue, most of which had been spoken by Ji Tianqing. “What’s this?”
In the courtyard next to the conference room, the Xue family elders were currently in a heated argument. There were still a couple of headstrong people who were adamant about their decisions. They didn’t dare speak up in front of Qianye, but now that they were on their own, there was no longer any holding back.
Most elders just wanted more favorable terms and fish for more benefits. As for how to split the gains, there were different opinions. It was as though raising their voices would gain them a bigger share.
The Xue clan lord’s brows knitted tightly. He said to Xue Wu, “Little Wu, what do you think?”
Xue Wu, who had remained silent all this time, replied, “Do you still not understand, Clan Lord? Our value is minuscule.”
“You and Qianye know each other, can you try talking to him?”
Xue Wu sighed lightly. “With such a great power difference, how much do you think I can get him to accommodate us? Besides, there are no old sentiments between him and our family.”
The elders were silent. Thinking back to things, the Xue family had attacked Qianye many times—both openly and in secret—suffering greatly in the process. This so-called friendship was actually them being beaten into submission.
Yet, the conditions put forth by Ji Tianqing were simply too poor, almost nonexistent really.
It was at this time that Xue Wu suddenly stepped sideways and arrived behind two stubborn elders. A cold gleam flickered in his hand as two daggers stabbed into their backs.
Xue Wu’s sudden attack shocked everyone. The clan lord yelled, “Little Wu, what are you doing!?”
Xue Wu allowed the two corpses to fall before tossing the bloody daggers away. “All of this is for the survival of the Xue family. These two have received great benefits from the demonkin. It’s only natural that they won’t agree. We can’t doom the family for their personal profits, can we? Clan Lord, please make a decision.”
An elder sighed. “Why go so far, why go so far? No matter how fierce that Qianye is, he’s just a single person. He can’t kill all of us!”
“He can, though,” Xue Wu said, looking down. His expression and tone were calm.
Everyone fell into a deep silence. No one dared to question the decision.
“Then it’s settled, our Xue family will side with the empire!” The Xue clan lord came to a painful decision.
Moments later, Ji Tianqing stood straight as she listened to the Xue clan lord’s decision. Her flippant attitude was nowhere to be seen, now replaced by the momentum of a peerless expert as she said, “Congratulations, Clan Lord.”
These calm congratulatory words shocked the elders into cold sweat.
Xue Wu arrived before Qianye with an austere expression. “Sire Qianye, we are your subordinates from now on, nothing more!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie