Ji Rui looked deeply into Qianye’s eyes, and then said while shaking his head, “I really don’t know where you get all that confidence.”
Qianye replied with the same words, “You’ll know if you try.”
Ji Rui’s expression shifted, but in the end, he couldn’t make up his mind. This attempt wouldn’t just bring out Qianye’s hidden ace but also produce a powerful enemy. The latter had just proven that he was strong enough to escape, and if that were to happen, who else in Southern Blue would be his match apart from the city lord?
At that point, Southern Blue could forget about doing any more business. He could capture Qianye with the help of the Spider Emperor and Wolf King, but the problem was that it was easier to invite the devil in than to drive him away. Once these two powers had reached into Southern Blue, there was no telling whether the city lord would be surnamed Ji.
In the blink of an eye, Ji Rui collected his thoughts and kicked the courtyard gates flying.
The compound wasn’t big, but it was secluded and elegant. Once inside, a gust of comfortable warm wind rushed at their faces. It turned out that there was a weather adjustment array installed in this courtyard, a testament to just how doted this Madam He was.
The courtyard was split into front and back sections. There was a small patio in the rear courtyard and behind it was the main building. Four rooms in each of the side buildings served as the servant’s quarters.
Qianye could sense everything in such a small courtyard with a single sweep of his senses. There was no one else here apart from one woman and two servant girls. Red Lotus was nowhere to be found, either.
In truth, this result was within Qianye’s expectations. His clash with Ji Rui had caused too much of a ruckus, even collapsing a corner of the city lord’s residence. There was really no saving Red Lotus if she didn’t flee.
He had only suggested those conditions to allow Ji Rui a way out. He was quite confident that this city lord wouldn’t play any more tricks after the clash just now. Naturally, someone as experienced and crafty as Ji Rui would only make his move later, after ample preparations.
Qianye wasn’t afraid of that. There was no way the city lord would have guessed Qianye’s cultivation speed. One year was enough for Qianye’s daybreak origin power to ascend two levels and consequently allow for his Evernight side to reach the marquis rank.
Hearing the noise in the courtyard, Madam He looked out from the building. She was first startled upon seeing Qianye, and then she clenched her teeth furiously, looking as though she was going to come up and bite him. However, she knew it was useless to fight it out because Ji Rui had lectured her seriously on how powerful Qianye was.
“Where’s Red Lotus?”
Qianye asked casually without any hope of getting an answer. Who would’ve thought Madam He would break out into a laugh as though she had just recalled something? “You want to capture Red Lotus? Let me tell you, she’s gone, and you can forget about finding her, ever. After offending a Highbeard, you’ll have to live the remainder of your life in fear, destined to never make progress in the neutral lands! When you’re dead, your woman and daughters will become toys. I’ll send them to the arachne and they’ll eat them alive after having their way, haha!”
Qianye remained unfazed in the face of Madam He’s curses, and only gazed silently at Ji Rui.
The city lord was livid. He lost control in the end and gave the woman a slap, shouting, “Shut up!”
Madam He staggered to the floor. With a shocked expression, she glanced at Ji Rui and said in a trembling voice, “Y-You dare hit me? You actually dare to hit me? You’re who you are today because of my father’s mercenary corps. Now you actually hit me?”
Ji Rui’s expression was dark as he cursed her for her “idiocy” and turned to leave. Once out of the gates, Chief Steward Liu whispered, “Master, what do we do now?”
“Watch her, she’s not allowed to take a step out of the courtyard! And these maids are all quite bold to have poisoned their master, drag them out and beat them to death!”
“Eh… yes!” Head Steward Liu didn’t dare dissuade the angry city lord.
Qianye followed Ji Rui back o the study. “City Lord, how will you explain this?”
Ji Rui smiled wryly. “Why must you force me so?”
Qianye smiled. “These are the neutral lands. Discussions won’t get you what you want, you have to fight for it. I learned this from you, actually.”
Ji Rui sighed deeply. “Women ruin things, women always ruin things! You tell me how you want to solve this issue.”
“Three warship ballistae, high-quality goods made in the empire and above grade three.”
Ji Rui’s face was drenched in sweat. “Impossible!”
Warship ballistae were normally used as main cannons, and grade-three weapons were usually good enough to be installed on destroyers. This meant that Qianye wanted three destroyer main cannons.
“No less than three.” Qianye wasn’t willing to back down.
“T-This... This will empty out half my coffers. I’d rather declare war on you than pay so much. Besides, you wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for that woman.”
If it wasn’t for Madam He confessing that Red Lotus was indeed at her place, the situation wouldn’t have turned out like this. Qianye was prepared to apologize verbally and continue their usual trade. He had noticed that Ji Rui seemed to be unaware of the ambush, which was likely perpetrated secretly by Madam He and Red Lotus.
Qianye had made a significant demand once the matter of compensation was brought up. “What is your suggestion then?”
“A grade-four ballista, empire-made, and eighty-percent new. No more than that!” Ji Rui said in a pained tone.
Qianye had planned to use grade-four ballistae for the wing cannons of Martyr’s Palace. These weapons were frigate-grade ballistae, normally installed as their main cannons. Frigates would only have one of these or else their movements would be impeded.
Such a weapon was extremely difficult to procure in the neutral lands. Even as a city lord, Ji Rui didn’t have many in his hands. It was already quite painful for him to bring out one that was eighty-percent new.
Qianye didn’t push it, either. “Fine, it’s settled then.”
Next up, the two rediscussed their ballista business, finally concluding that the city lord would secure at least seven grade-four ballistae and two grade-three ones. Qianye would pay in black crystals as usual, and Ji Rui would deliver his compensation along with the other weaponry, a total of ten ballistae.
Ten ballistae, along with their accompanying ammunition, was another business worth nearly a million gold coins. But Ji Rui’s profits were no longer as impressive after gifting a ballista cannon, and the smile hanging on his fat face seemed rather forced.
Qianye also understood the man’s situation. A grade-four ballista was worth at least sixty to seventy thousand, a hefty sum regardless of location. Now, a small fortune had flown away just because of a few words from Madam He—anyone in his shoes would be in a bad mood.
But that wasn’t Qianye’s problem anymore. He simply said his goodbyes and left after sealing the deal.
This time, Qianye believed Ji Rui wouldn’t dare to play tricks anymore.
After Qianye’s departure, a gloomy Ji Rui went back and sat quietly in his study. The time he had been spending in his study was growing longer and longer in recent days.
Only at dusk did he order his men to light the lamps and picked out a scroll from his bookshelf to read. On it was detailed all of Qianye’s past data. The more the city lord read, the deeper his frown became.
Qianye moved into a hotel room in Southern Blue after leaving the city lord’s manor, and that cannoneer followed him with a pained expression. Now that he had betrayed Red Lotus, the only thing he could do was follow Qianye.
This person was indeed useful. In addition to being highly skilled in marksmanship, he was also a good laborer in daily life. At this moment, he was carrying three autocannons on his back, yet he didn’t utter a word of complaint.
At the hotel, Qianye began inquiring about the situation regarding Red Lotus.
It turned out that Red Lotus was of the same age and bloodline as Bluemoon, and they were cousins no less. Red Lotus was one year older, and both of them were Shieldmaiden candidates back in the year. Bluemoon gained the unanimous favor of the elders due to her perfect compatibility with stealth equipment. In the end, she won a narrow victory over Red Lotus and became the Shieldmaiden of the Highbeard tribe, granting her the right to wield spatial equipment.
As people famed for their mechanical modifications, any spatial equipment meant extra energy sources and ammunition for the Highbeards—this meant greater fighting power. After obtaining one of the few spatial gears in the tribe, Bluemoon’s combat strength increased sharply and caught up to Red Lotus.
The latter was unresigned regarding this matter, and her mother, a highly influential character in the tribe, pulled many strings in the dark. After the two tribe elders who supported Bluemoon fell in the Earth Dragon’s lair, a subtle change took place in the elder council’s power balance.
This time, Bluemoon had taken Qianye as her master and was preparing to construct a new ancestral land for the Highbeards. This news shook the entire Highbeard tribe and extinguished whatever dispute there was about her choice of a master. Although the migration would take a long time to complete, Bluemoon would definitely become the new chief once it was carried out. Red Lotus would never get another opportunity.
As a ruthless character, Red Lotus understood that Qianye was the key. Hence, she snuck into Southern Blue secretly in hopes of assassinating Qianye and seizing whatever secrets he held. She made use of her connections to work out a deal with Madam He, who helped her set up an ambush in the city and wait for Qianye’s arrival.
Red Lotus had indeed set up a lethal trap, an ambush that would injure even an expert like Ji Rui when caught unprepared. Human bodies were inherently weak and that was the undeniable truth.
However, she had never imagined that Qianye would be unharmed against three autocannons!
In the end, all three cannoneers and their entire support team were wiped out. This came as a terrible blow to Red Lotus since there were only four such gunmen in her mother’s branch. She had lost over half of her manpower in this exchange.
After narrating the entire matter, the cannoneer pointed at one of the autocannons. “Sire, this autocannon is different from the other two. It’s one of our tribe’s most prized treasures.”
Qianye glanced at that autocannon but found nothing different about it. Although a grade-five autocannon was rare, it really couldn’t be considered a treasure, so Qianye had paid it little attention.
“Oh? How so?” Qianye inquired.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie