At dinnertime, a tall, slender man in his middle-age walked into the city lord’s manor.
Ji Rui had already prepared wine and food at the side hall. The guest ordered his guards to keep watch outside while he himself sat down across the city lord. “City Lord Ji, long time no see.”
Ji Rui was full of smiles. “General Lu, how have you been?”
The general moved the corners of his lips ever so slightly to form somewhat of a smile. “How can I be well when Qianye has visited your manor under plain sight?”
Ji Rui sighed. “I have no choice in this matter! Just think about it, he burned our lumber mills and killed more than half out of the thousands of people we sent out. How am I to persist under such circumstances? I could only admit defeat! The children and elderly of Southern Blue need to eat!”
Ji Rui spoke from the bottom of his heart and almost looked like he was about to cry. General Lu, on the other hand, wasn’t moved in the slightest. “Is the logging business over?”
Ji Rui immediately retracted his somber expression. “Of course not! Qianye came over to discuss terms. He has no association with the natives and just happened to work together momentarily. He won’t be interfering with the Black Grove business from now on, so we can immediately reconstruct our lumber mill. The goods you want will definitely be ready! It’s just that… we need some time.”
General Lu tapped the table with his fingers. “City Lord, there’s one more thing we want now: Qianye.”
Ji Rui laughed heartily. “General Lu, money is the most important thing in the neutral lands, and friendship brings more money, wouldn’t you agree? Besides, this Qianye…”
He leaned forward and glanced left and right before speaking in a whisper, “I heard the military failed to seize Qianye despite putting in great effort, and that’s on imperial land. We’re both weak and isolated in this place, why must you stir up more trouble?”
General Lu said coldly with a somber expression, “There’s something you don’t quite know, City Lord. Back then, there were numerous limitations because he was in the Zhao clan warzone. He managed to escape only because the military was apprehensive of turning hostile with the Zhao clan. We might be few in numbers, but he is alone. Unless… the City Lord wishes to help him?”
Ji Rui’s expression changed drastically. He waved his hands about, saying, “Of course not! No matter how dumb I am, there’s no way I would choose a foundationless brat over a powerful master like the empire. It’s just that, forgive me for asking, how many experts did you bring? How certain are you of taking him down? That Qianye’s combat strength is far above his cultivation. As I see it, he might be the cultivator of some kind of secret art. All in all, we definitely cannot underestimate him.”
General Lu said confidently, “It’s both easy and hard to take him down. It’s not exactly necessary to fight him head-on, and in that regard, I’ll need the City Lord’s help.”
“Pray, tell. I won’t refuse as long as it’s within my power.”
“Good! I was waiting for your word. This time, this unlucky Qianye is destined to fall in Lu Saobei’s hands! This is my plan. Qianye has no choice but to use a large airship to ship away these kinetic sails. I have brought along three new imperial airships with me this time. When the time comes, I’ll set up an ambush in the void, wait for his airship to ascend, and then shoot him down! Even if he doesn’t die with the airship, he won’t be able to survive in the void, either.
Ji Rui was surprised, and he felt conflicted after some thought because the plan sounded rather feasible.
Lu Saobei glanced at him with a spurious smile and said, “City Lord Ji, I’ve told you my plans and news of Qianye’s appearance here has been transmitted to the empire. You won’t be able to escape implications if this information leaks.”
“Of course it won’t. I’ve always been the most tight-lipped person!” Ji Rui promised while patting his chest. He then said with a radiant smile, “General Lu will definitely rise like the sun once this matter succeeds. When the time comes, our logging business…”
“As long as Qianye dies, all lumber business in the southern wilderness will be yours.”
Greatly delighted, Ji Rui immediately instructed his servants to prepare dancers, musicians, and the most beautiful singers. However, Lu Saobei wasn’t interested in all this. He got up and said his goodbyes, arguing that it wouldn’t be too late to celebrate after killing Qianye.
Seeing that his attempts to detain the general weren’t effective, the city lord had no choice but to see the guest out. Ji Rui’s smile vanished after Lu Saobei’s vehicle had gone far off into the distance. He snorted softly and muttered to himself, “A mere rank-fifteen bastard dares to act so arrogant!”
He pondered for a moment before returning to his manor, seemingly lost in thought along the way. As to what he was thinking, that was a mystery no one knew.
Lu Saobei’s off-road vehicle sped along the road and stopped in front of a small guesthouse on the borders of Southern Blue. The inn looked fairly run-down and dilapidated on the outside, but there was a different world behind its doors. Numerous valiant-looking warriors were guarding the threshold with all due seriousness.
The inn had been altered drastically—there were resources piling up like mountains and alarm systems installed in every corner and hiding place. It was actually a secret base of operations.
Lu Saobei issued immediate orders after entering the guest house, “Dispatch news of Qianye’s appearance in Southern Blue as a highest-grade secret intelligence, ask for reinforcements.”
“Yes, General!” His assistant lieutenant colonel made to leave immediately.
“Wait!” Lu Saobei called him back and said after some contemplation, “This matter is important. Send three people in different batches, one to the empire and one each to Transcendent Continent and the Void Continent.”
Noticing the seriousness of such an arrangement, the lieutenant colonel bowed and left in a hurry.
Lu Saobei felt calmer at this moment. He summoned a brigadier general and said, “Prepare my airship and wait for my orders, be ready to set out on a moment’s notice.”
After leaving the city lord’s manor, Qianye arrived back at Nightcloud Pavilion and found Bluemoon sitting restlessly in the main hall.
Qianye glanced about before entering the pavilion, and found numerous ferocious-looking characters, acting as though they were on a leisurely stroll.
These were all Highbeard soldiers. As capable as they were in disguising themselves, the traces of modification couldn’t escape Qianye’s keen eyes.
Bluemoon, both surprised and delighted, stepped forward to welcome him as he stepped into the hall. “You’re back so soon?”
“What, afraid that I won’t come back?”
“... A bit. But I’m sure you can break out at least.”
“That’s a given, Ji Rui can’t detain me. Are your tribesmen here to rescue me?”
Bluemoon nodded. “I didn’t have time for ample preparations, so this is all I could muster. They have no hope of raiding the city lord’s manor, but they’re good enough to help us kill our way out together after your escape.”
Qianye smiled faintly. “You know you’ll be free after my death.”
Bluemoon straightened her chest and looked into Qianye’s eyes. “What I want is not freedom but a stable life for my tribesmen. Only with your power can I beat my opponent in the tribe and unify them all. Only your Northern Continent can afford my tribe a place to thrive. Our ancestral lands are so small and barren that it cannot sustain that many Highbeards. That’s why most adult warriors would leave the ancestral lands to wander the world as mercenaries. We were forced into our roles, we never liked being homeless sellswords!”
Qianye smiled meaningfully. “It looks like we need to renegotiate some terms. Speak, what do you want and what can you give me?”
“I want a piece of land on which to build a new ancestral home for the tribe. This land has to be enough to accommodate five hundred thousand people. As repayment, all Highbeards will become your citizens and we will fight for your future nation without fear of sacrifice. Additionally, I’m willing to do anything for you without question or restrictions, anything!”
“Wait, calm down first.” Qianye had to stop Bluemoon, or who knows what she might blurt out. “I remember there aren’t a lot of Highbeards, there should be less than a hundred thousand of you, no?”
“We have about eighty thousand people. Those whom we have lost contact with for over a year are considered dead.” Bluemoon’s expression was dark. As mercenaries who might not live to see the next day, a period of silence meant that they had passed.
“But you’re asking enough land for five hundred thousand.”
Bluemoon looked up with a pained, sorrowful expression. “We Highbeards raise a lot of children. Young men and women would complete their reproductive mission before heading out to work as mercenaries. Otherwise, a race like ours would’ve been wiped out long ago without the protection of a divine champion.”
Qianye was sent into a speechless daze.
It was just that little Zhuji was too simple-minded. She immediately asked, “Has Sister Bluemoon given birth to many kids?”
Bluemoon’s face turned bright red. She whispered, “I… haven’t. I was raised as a Shieldmaiden since a young age and nurtured as an expert who would protect the tribe. My life’s mission is to raise my fighting power, while producing offspring is left to ordinary members. If you need me to, I… I have no problem with it.”
Qianye coughed twice in a hurry. Who would’ve thought the topic of conversation would arrive in this direction? But he wasn’t about to be led astray that easily. “You haven’t explained the issue regarding the five hundred thousand people.”
“Highbeards reach adulthood at ten and start reproducing at a very young age. With enough food, water, and minerals, we’ll be hundreds of thousands strong within twenty years. At that time, you’ll have a massive army of elites to fight for you.”
Qianye wasn’t quite moved. “What about after that? What will you do when this land is no longer sufficient?”
“We’ll fight for you and exchange contributions for new land. Our numbers will also fall during war.”
“Fine, I promise you.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
You have 80k now, but your valuation is at 500k? That's just crazy. For that reason, I'm out. (Anyone watch that show?)
8th Chapter of the week.
NOTE: A potentially controversial part of the novel was slightly modified by the translator in this chapter.
The original --> Highbeards start reproducing at the age of five and reach adulthood at ten.
The modified version --> Highbeards reach adulthood at ten and start reproducing at a very young age.
TL: Legion ED: Moxie