After three more days of tense preparations, Dark Flame finally completed the initial phase of mobilization and issued the order to fight. The entirety of Southern Blue was aboil as fully-armed soldiers poured out of their barracks and assembled at the airship port.
A seemingly endless motorcade blocked the streets, each loaded to the brim with resources. Temporary inspection camps were set up along important intersections, where logistics officers flipped rapidly through their lists as they did the final checks on the supplies.
The inspection process was extremely strict—the car number, destination, and goods had to match perfectly before they were allowed to pass. This caused considerable delay, as well as a congestion of countless trucks outside of these checkpoints.
There were people who complained secretly, but military discipline had been established by Dark Flame and Song Zining. As such, no one dared to complain openly.
The scene was different from a bird’s eye view. The entire city seemed to be in an absolute mess, but after a period of observation, one would see that the vehicles and people were still moving slowly after a certain point. There was no single place where the congestion was unsolvable. This orderly rush was, in fact, the work of a master.
The strict procedures on each route actually ensured that the trucks would arrive at the correct place via the correct route. The delay was much better than trucks going to the wrong place, and the process made it very difficult for spies to cause disruption.
Song Zining was fairly satisfied because even the regular Imperial army couldn’t do better. Dark Flame’s logistic officers were vastly inferior to the Empire’s, so much so that many of them never understood the intention behind Song Zining’s orders. However, they were sufficiently obedient and precise in their execution. Hence, their efficiency was not at all inferior to the Imperial corps who shared all kinds of subtle restraints between one another.
This also meant that most people were just small cogs in this massive machine. All they could do was move according to their preset trajectories, unable to affect the bigger picture.
At this point, almost all eyes were on Southern Blue. Be it within the city or outside, many were observing the details without fail.
There were several workshops on the plateau outside of Southern Blue. These factories worked on metallurgy and ore sorting, the type that occupied a lot of space but wasn’t worth much. That was why they were built outside of the defensive perimeter. However, these workshops were high enough to provide a good view of the entire city, and currently, there were a number of people atop a high tower enjoying just that.
It was impossible for such a location to be undefended. There was a sentry post just below the tower and occasional patrols coming by. However, for some reason, these soldiers were completely ignoring the people on the tower.
The two old men atop the tower looked rather elegant with their long beards swaying in the wind.
One of them stroked his beard while gazing at Southern Blue. “Rushed but orderly, this Song Zining’s fame as the future god strategist is well-deserved.”
“We can’t underestimate that Qianye, either. Even the Wolf King would rather offend us than provoke him,” a different elder commented.
A young man asked curiously, “Who’s more powerful between the two?”
One of the elders replied, “That’s a good question! That Song Zining is known as the future god strategist. He’s reportedly proficient in divination arts, allowing him to maximize his advantages and avoid calamity. Since he’s also capable of leading tens of thousands of men in battle, I would say he’s the stronger one.”
“That’s not correct. What can an army of ten thousand do before a true expert? He’s strong enough to strike fear into the Wolf King’s heart at such a young age, can you imagine what will happen once he matures? No matter how much Song Zining schemes, Qianye can kill him in the midst of ten thousand soldiers.”
The two elders were of different opinions. Their voices loud and their faces red, it looked like they were about to quarrel. A middle-aged man nearby said hurriedly, “Sires, there’s something you need to decide.”
“What is it?” The man quickly caught the duo’s attention.
“Dark Flame’s fleet is about to take off. We need to decide whether we should intercept them midway and teach them a lesson.”
That was indeed an important matter, but the two elders remained silent.
With such obvious activity in Southern Blue, the heavenly monarch’s residence had already taken necessary steps. They had even hidden an airship fleet in the void to set up an ambush. Their expansive spy network gave them knowledge of Dark Flame’s flight path and allowed them to move into position earlier.
It was just that no one knew how powerful Dark Flame’s fleet was. Their assets were only able to look from afar since the airship port was one of the most heavily guarded areas in Southern Blue, not to mention the current blockade had even extended to the nearby street blocks. The spies were only able to record the new airship’s size and shape; its performance and stats were still unknown.
The heavenly monarch’s residence didn’t have a mature plan when they assembled their fleet. Their initial objective was to attack Southern Blue with great military power. Everyone knew Dark Flame was going on an expedition, but the residence didn’t dare skimp on precautions. Qianye’s actions in Tidehark were full of malicious intent; who knew whether this was a diversion for attacking the heavenly monarch’s residence?
That was why people from the heavenly monarch’s residence had to discuss whether they wanted to attack or not.
It would be best if they could destroy Dark Flame’s fleet in one go. Even Qianye and Song Zining would not be able to withstand such a loss, setting them back several years of progress at the very least. This would also prove to Qianye how powerful the heavenly monarch’s residence was and, at the same time, serve as a warning to other people with disloyal intentions, the Wolf King for instance.
A successful assault would be killing three birds with one stone, but what if it wasn’t successful?
The two elders noticed the apprehension in each other’s eyes as they exchanged glances. Even though the residence had mobilized a large number of warships and formed a massive fleet, the elders were still hesitant about the decision. What if they were defeated? The heavenly monarch’s residence couldn’t withstand such losses, either.
The bystanders were anxious, but they didn’t dare to rush the two elders. Their side had assembled several dozen warships, while Dark Flame had only over a dozen. What was there to fear?
After a good while of deliberation, one of the elders finally stomped down. “Brother Ji, what do you say we just let it be?”
The other elder raised his brows. “Brother Lu, you must have your reasons for suggesting this. Can you explain?”
“Brother Ji, many people saw Dark Flame’s giant ship, but no one could tell its model. We couldn’t find it in our documents, either. That’s quite strange.”
A young man nearby interrupted, “Maybe it’s some sort of antique…”
Elder Lu glared hard at him, stopping whatever he had to say. “Have you ever seen an old ship that looks like that?” The spies couldn’t provide a lot of details, but they could still see whatever was visible on the surface, the mechanical origin cannons for instance.
Elder Ji’s frown locked tighter. “Could it be the Great Qin’s newest warship? T-This can’t be…”
“What if? What other explanation is there?”
“T-This…” Elder Ji’s hands started to tremble as he thought about it.
“Of course, the Empire also has some core battleships that they would only bring out in a battle against the Evernight Council’s vessels. There’s no data on them, either.” Elder Lu’s tone was icy. “Not to mention a new model, do you think a couple dozen of our scrap-metal warships can defeat the current models?”
Elder Ji started to sweat.
Warships in the neutral lands were too old to be a match for the Empire and Evernight. Their only reliance was the special environment here, which made it difficult for the two major factions to remain for very long. Going head-on against an Imperial battleship, even if it was a current model in the regular army, would be courting death.
Elder Ji finally came to a conclusion. “We can’t take this risk! Order our fleet to retreat, don’t bump into them.”
A subordinate vanished from atop the tower after receiving these orders. The others remained in place to continue observing the mobilization in Southern Blue.
Half a day went by in a flash—troop movements in the city continued in a slow but orderly fashion, with small patches of confusion being sorted out immediately.
Even those with great enmity against Dark Flame couldn’t help but admire Song Zining’s planning abilities. Seeing how he had managed this large-scale movement so well, one could imagine how efficient the logistics would be during war. They would be in an invincible position as long as the frontliners did their part.
At the thought of this, everyone felt more or less uneasy. Was it worth fighting against such an opponent?
Unfortunately, the seeds of enmity had been sown, and there was no taking them back.
The lingering echo of bells from Southern Blue reached the tower as well—this was a signal for the airships to take off. The group opened their eyes wide and observed the process seriously.
Two warships rose from the airship ports. It was obvious that these small vessels were just corvettes, but their smooth, elegant outlines proved, mercilessly, the difference between them and the airships of the neutral lands.
Their takeoff procedure was quick and stable. In the blink of an eye, they were patrolling the area from hundreds of meters above ground.
The two elders and their attendants started to sweat. They knew clearly what this kind of speed meant. In the case of a surprise attack, these corvettes would be airborne before the neutral-land warships could charge within firing range. A head-on battle would then ensue.
The corvettes took off in pairs until there were six of them guarding the skies. Then, everyone’s eyes blurred as a massive entity rose quietly into the air.
This airship was extremely elegant despite its size. Like a hunter at the top of the food chain, all of its killing intent was hidden under its beautiful exterior.
The vessel rose rapidly and quietly, even more so than the corvettes just now. The main cannons at its bow and stern, along with the cannons on either side, made it clear that there were no blind angles to its fire. The top and bottom parts might be weak, but the warship would’ve circled around the enemy before they could find a blind angle.
Even its take-off speed was much faster than most of the so-called warships in the neutral lands. However, the entire process was too stable to say that it was going at maximum speed.
Only after personally seeing this massive airship did the group realize what kind of enemy they were up against.
Even a divine champion would find it hard to assail such a warship alone. They would be hard-pressed to catch up to its speed in the void, to speak nothing of a surprise assault.
At this moment, Song Zining and Qianye weren’t aboard that ship. The two stood side-by-side in Southern Blue, watching as the most-advanced battlecruiser disappeared over the horizon.
“Say, will anyone be dumb enough?” Qianye’s tone was full of expectation.
Song Zining broke into a laugh. “Those from the heavenly monarch’s residence aren’t idiots. Why would they court death?”
“What a pity.”
“That’s nothing important, really. The real problem is can we hold out once Zhang Buzhou comes out?”
Qianye said after some contemplation, “I can at least keep him at bay if I become a divine champion.”
Song Zining sighed softly. “Divine champion, huh… all we need is time.”
Qianye sighed secretly as his thoughts went to Nighteye.
The times were akin to the rolling tides—they come and go without warning, and would never wait for anyone. Geniuses and mediocre people were all equal before the passage of time.
Qianye couldn’t help but wish he was born ten years earlier. Those powerful characters like Zhang Boqian and Lin Xitang, who was to say they didn’t have such thoughts, either?
Those wading through these tides, more often than not, had little choice regarding such things.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Legion ED: Moxie