After a period of silence, the Li family elder said, “I think the commanding post is fairly secondary, we can discuss this later. Rather, I’m hoping Seventh Young Noble will explain why we must attack in such a hurry.”
The imperial family elder nodded. Attacking Tidehark at this point involved risks that didn’t need further elaboration. Even if they could score a victory, it would still come at a hefty price.
Song Zining nodded. “Naturally.”
He got up and hung a large map on the wall, a panoramic diagram encompassing the twenty-seven continents of the Evernight world. The neutral lands was at the very edge of the map. “The fight for the Great Maelstrom passage is highly important, but it’s definitely not the most important thing. Hence, we are to act as the vanguard and confirm the situation first, whereafter the four major clans can form a primary force to serve as reinforcements. The imperial family will participate throughout the entire process.”
Everyone nodded. This was the overall arrangement of the empire. Although the seventh young noble was in the neutral lands, as a key character with special status, it was only natural that he would know of it.
“The problem lies therein. What do you think are the odds of the reinforcements from the four major clans being able to defeat those from Evernight?” Song Zining asked.
Everyone went silent; even Yan Ding couldn’t open his mouth. In the end, the elder from the imperial family said, “We have no idea how many of them will come, or who. How do we guess?”
“We can, actually,” said Song Zining.
Everyone was silent. There were no idiots among the people here—everyone had their own thoughts, but they were reluctant to express them. Song Zining wasn’t as reserved, though. “As I see it, the chances of our victory aren’t that great.”
“Why? Have you already divined it?” The one speaking was a serious-looking Yan Ding. He might have been at odds with Qianye, but he still understood that there was no escaping calamity if the war was lost.
Song Zining shook his head. “There’s no way I can divine such a big matter.”
This was common knowledge. The more experts involved in a certain matter, the more difficult it was to divine. With Linken as the vanguard, the main forces would only be more powerful. Perhaps only the Li clan lord and Lin Xitang might be able to deduce the fate around this battle.
Song Zining pointed at Twilight Continent, saying, “According to the latest intelligence, there have been some large scale movements on the Twilight Continent. The Lightless Monarch is amassing a gigantic fleet and countless vampire experts. Even some of the elders slumbering in the blood pond have been awakened. That might be Evernight’s reinforcements, perhaps just a fraction of it.”
“The vampires are building a fleet?” Yan Ding interjected. Only after his question did he realize that the elders from both the Li family and imperial court were unsurprised. Apparently, they were privy to this information. The military must’ve received this news as well, but he was still completely ignorant of it. Now, this was something to ponder on.
This meant that, at least from an intelligence point of view, Yan Ding wasn’t on par with the people here.
His blood churned momentarily, and his face became beet red.
The elder from the imperial family muttered, “How can you be so sure that this fleet is bound for the neutral lands? The Lightless Monarch’s identity is special, I fear he won’t be able to enter the neutral lands either.”
“He can’t enter, but his subordinates can. No matter how strong the one on the Throne of Blood is, he’s still not a great dark monarch. He might not be Medanzo’s match if he leaves the neutral lands.”
The Li family elder said with a frown, “How sure are you?”
“Only half without involvement from the Lightless Monarch, eighty percent now that he’s made an appearance.”
The imperial elder said, “We have to respond even if it’s fifty percent, let alone eighty, but how did you come to those numbers?”
Song Zining only smiled. Clearly, he wasn’t willing to explain things.
The imperial elder didn’t push him, either. “If that’s the case, and we have little chance of winning even with the four-clan coalition, we can only take the initiative to strike.”
Song Zining opened his fan and waved it lightly. Although he didn’t say anything, his intentions were clear—a fight against the Evernight reinforcements wasn’t just low on odds.
As clever people, everyone had formed a good idea of the situation. They might still be able to claim victory fighting against Tidehark now, but there would be no chance at all once the Evernight reinforcements arrived. Their only choice right now was to fight Tidehark forcibly and look at the outcome.
After a moment of contemplation, the Li family elder asked, “Then, what are our chances of victory with Tidehark? What is the expected casualty rate?”
“Forty percent if I’m in command, fifty percent casualty rate, provided that everyone gives it their all. If it’s any other person at the helm, heh… haha!"
The Li family elder felt his brows twitching. “Why is the casualty rate so high?”
“Tidehark is no easy place.”
The two elders exchanged glances. “Such great casualties will harm us to the core. Dark Flame has claimed a sizable territory and probably recruited some experts. Why don’t we have them take point and restrain Luo Bingfeng?”
Song zining laughed coldly. “What you want isn’t Dark Flame but Qianye, am I wrong?”
The elders from the Li family and the imperial court were experienced men. Their expressions remained constant despite having been seen through, expressing silent agreement. Seeing this, Song Zining said coldly, “Ignoring Qianye’s change in status, for now, even if he was the same person from before, those who want to sacrifice him will have to step over my body! I’ll say this again, if any of you so much as harbor such a thought, I’ll just ignore everything and watch from the sidelines. Whoever wants to can step up! I do want to see if they can produce a miracle!”
No one had imagined that Song Zining would be so decisive, leaving zero leeway in this matter. In truth, everyone understood that this battle wasn’t easy. They had sat down to negotiate here because they knew they couldn’t orchestrate such a fight. For instance, someone like Yan Ding would’ve jumped out to snatch the right to command if he was confident. People knew that Song Zining was the best candidate, yet they also wanted someone else to be the sacrifice while reaping the benefits themselves. Now that Song Zining had called them out, the situation fell into a deadlock.
The Li family elder asked, “How has Qianye’s status changed?”
Song Zining cupped his hands. “Elder Li should go back and ask around.”
The old man’s eyes twitched. Wouldn’t he be courting death if someone big in the palace had their eyes on Qianye, just as Song Zining had hinted? Each family had brought their elites, the future building blocks of the clan. Hence, each death would be an unbearably painful loss. As for Qianye, he was a fairly strong vampire—the best candidate to be sacrificed.
Naturally, there were exquisitely clever ways to send people to their deaths. Everyone had a hundred ways to let the Dark Flame mercenaries die, but unfortunately, they couldn’t quite hide it from Song Zining.
As the deadlock went on, Song Zining said, “Actually, we don’t necessarily need to occupy the passage this time, there’s another way.”
Everyone became spirited. “Pray tell.”
Song Zining continued, “The purpose of occupying the passage is just to send people into the Great Maelstrom. What I think is that we should restrain Luo Bingfeng and push back the city guard. After confirming the status of the tunnel, we should send our selected candidates into the portal, and then retreat.”
Everyone was startled. After some consideration, they felt that the plan was indeed feasible. Yan Ding said, “Sounds reasonable, it’ll take several years to get back out anyway. There’s really no rush.”
The elder from the imperial family nodded. “This plan is feasible. The quota for entering the Great Maelstrom will be decided by how much manpower each family contributes to the fight. Those who want to send more people should put in more effort. Our eyesights aren’t that bad yet, we can see quite clearly.”
The Li family elder had no objections.
In truth, there was still another problem—the candidates arriving with the main four-clan coalition might or might not be able to enter. The three parties came to a tacit understanding regarding this matter, and no one made mention of it.
Later on, the group went on to discuss the details. The imperial family would be the main force restraining Luo Bingfeng, hence they would get the greatest quota. The elite warriors from every family would form a separate unit under Song Zining’s command. They would renegotiate the quota according to the actual contributions and losses after the passage had been captured. There were some twists and turns regarding the military candidates. It was only after a long while of consideration that Yan Ding decided to enter the Great Maelstrom himself.
The losers in this plan were the four major clans. However, they had taken up more than half of the quotas during the last Great Maelstrom entry. This was an expression of their power, but it also invoked a lot of hatred.
With the planning settled, everyone went back to their camps to prepare. The sound of rumbling engines arrived from the windows just as they were leaving the conference room. Numerous cargo ships shot through the sky at unbelievable speeds and went toward the airship port.
Yan Ding’s expression was unsightly. These were his warships at first, the newest imperial vessels disguised as old cargo ships. Who would’ve thought Song Zining would snatch them away? Up until this point, he still had no idea why his aides would suddenly turn into traitors.
Song Zining greeted everyone before dashing toward the airship port. By the time he arrived, the warships had already landed while the soldiers were busy moving ammunition, materials and a new round of supplies.
Qianye and Ji Tianqing were standing together, seemingly discussing something. Song Zining asked as he arrived, “Did it go well?”
Ji Tianqing said, “Seagaze has been purged, they will form a new unit tomorrow and operate alongside us.”
Song Zining nodded. “Very good! Oh right, Qianye, how confident are you in wounding Luo Bingfeng?”
Qianye said after some thought, “I can’t say, there’s not enough information.”
“Fine, the intelligence should arrive tonight.”
Qianye felt curious. Luo Bingfeng was extremely powerful and rarely made any appearance. How could it be easy to gain information about him? This was no ordinary military intelligence—it was a secret report related to the man’s cultivation arts and proficient techniques. Only those extremely close to Luo Bingfeng would be able to provide such data.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie