Chapter 1163: Forced Breakthrough

The Imperial army began retaliating fiercely after recovering from the initial chaos of the sudden attack. Under the combined efforts of the land and air forces, they managed to strike down several Evernight warships in a short period. Although the Empire had also lost two vessels to the ambush, they still held an advantage in the trade.

Seeing that things weren’t going well for them, Evernight increased their altitude and pulled back into the clouds. The Empire didn’t dare chase after the enemy without ample information, so they dispatched a single high-speed airship into the clouds to scout the area.

The corvette’s captain almost collapsed after breaking through the cloud layer as he came face-to-face with a tightly organized enemy fleet. There was an unfamiliar airship that was terrifyingly big—it had to be a duke-grade vessel, if not a grand-duke.

Duke-grade airships rarely accompanied the Evernight fleet after they had lost control of the void. Those that were still in the area would usually operate alone so that they would not be dragged down.

For such a large fleet to appear, could the Empire have lost control of the void?

Two warships from the Evernight fleet charged over after seeing the corvette rear its head. Fortunately, the Imperial vessel was cautious enough to maintain a safe distance. It immediately fled after seeing that things weren’t good.

The corvette flew back with the shocking information it had obtained. The young Fourteenth Prince didn’t know what to do, while Duke Wei remained silent with a gloomy expression.

The central army switched to a defensive formation with the fleet right above the ground forces. On one hand, it was to protect the forces below, and on the other, it was to borrow protection from the ground forces’ firepower.

A strong gale kicked up at this moment, sweeping away the layer of clouds and revealing a corner of that giant fleet. All those from the Empire were shaken.

Seeing that their bait didn’t work, the entire Evernight fleet descended slowly and spread out in front of the Imperial forces.

The Imperial flagship captain finally spoke, “We can’t win.”

The captain had come from the Imperial Guard and was a specialist in airship warfare. Duke Wei only frowned upon hearing these demoralizing words and didn’t act up. He eventually said, “Can we fight?”

“That we can, but we will still lose in the end. The difference in fighting power is too vast! That’s a complete void fleet we’re talking about!” The flagship captain wasn’t afraid to speak his mind even against Duke Wei.

Duke Wei pointed at the eye-catching duke-grade flagship. “Can we sink that thing?”

The captain shook his head. “That’ll be the last vessel standing after we’re done.”

Duke Wei said, “That means we can wipe out all the other warships?”

“We’ll be wiped out as well.”

Duke Wei’s expression slowly turned cold. “That much loss is acceptable. Issue the order to advance!”

The captain was shocked. “We must not!”

Duke Wei was displeased. “Why not!? Even if our fleet is wiped out, the Evernight side’s losses will be greater than ours. They’ve already lost two entire fleets in space, how many more mobile units can they have? This is the most strategic timing for a trade. We must not let that fleet get back into the void!”

The captain understood this logic—the Empire would face many times the pressure if they didn’t wipe out this fleet here. It might even affect the entire outcome of the battle. Yet, it was an uneasy feeling to sacrifice the warship he had driven for so many years.

Duke Wei glanced briefly at the Evernight fleet. “Maintain our position above the ground army and slowly advance into a winged formation. Hold that position and standby until I give the order. Also, send news back to Indomitable. If my guess isn’t wrong, the real showdown is about to begin. It’s about time those old fogeys get to work.”

A high-speed airship flew backward at top speed. The Evernight fleet made no movement, only blocking the Empire’s forward path.

Under Duke Wei’s command, the central army pushed forward again. The air and ground forces were consolidated into a cohesive unit that slowly rolled toward the enemy like a steel ball.

The Imperial forces looked like a hedgehog covered in spikes. The Evernight side had two choices now—fight to the death or watch as the enemy passes by. Fighting would result in heavy casualties regardless of victory or loss, but letting them pass would mean they would never get Whitetown back. Even the nearby airship port might fall into enemy hands, signing the death warrant of the Evernight army.

As the Imperial army pushed closer and closer, the Evernight fleet quickly edged backward in a battle formation. They also flashed a message regarding their response.

Soon, a strange whistle rang out in the air as one airship after another shot through the clouds and descended behind the Evernight fleet. Judging from their trajectory, they were actually landing!

Their doors opened up ten or so meters from the ground, and countless soldiers poured out like raindrops. They landed firmly from that height and were completely unaffected by the impact. Apparently, they were all elites.

Countless crates of supplies and armaments were unloaded. The dark race soldiers swarmed over and unpacked several pieces of armored plates, which they assembled into a short wall in front of the Imperial army. Out in the open, the presence or absence of such a wall made a significant difference.

The first row of dark race soldiers awaited in formation, while the transports at the back spat out an unending stream of soldiers and equipment. In the blink of an eye, a row of heavy cannons had been assembled. Although there were only a couple dozen of them, the ones that could fire giant ballista bolts posed a great threat to the Imperial fleet.

The Fourteenth Prince was finally moved. “What is the Imperial Guard doing? How could they let such a fleet pass through?” It wasn’t just warships. Now that even the transports had gotten through, it would seem the Empire was in a fairly perilous position in the void.

Duke Wei, who had been silent all along, looked up at the sky. There was a fiery hue in the clouds several kilometers away where, all of a sudden, some burning airship debris came crashing to the ground.

The remnants were already completely deformed, but one could still barely discern that a part of it was Imperial in origins. There were also some that belonged to Evernight.

Duke Wei sighed. “It seems the Imperial Guard has done its best.”

The Fourteenth Prince noticed the abnormality in the sky as well. He immediately realized that a battle was also taking place in the void, one so fierce that even main force wreckages were falling onto the continent.

The Fourteenth Prince looked up at the sky. “I don’t think the Imperial Guard will come down even if they win the battle. They’re more likely to set up a sealed perimeter outside. What do we do?”

Duke Wei laughed wryly. Judging from the current situation, perhaps the Imperial Guard hadn’t imagined that Evernight would invest so many troops here, and thus, their main forces were elsewhere. It could also be that they didn’t have enough strength left to stop the enemy forces from breaking through. The first probability was understandable, but things would be pretty bad if it was the second.

Besides, the Imperial Guard fleet was a pure void fleet, and reinforcing ground forces was never their forte. They just weren’t equipped for it—from the type of units to their equipment and weapons.

The most logical strategy was for them to bleed the Evernight forces as much as they could during the breakthrough, then seal off the void and wait for the enemy to reappear. Airships would need to adjust their formation when entering and leaving the void, so the party lying in wait would always have the advantage. They would be able to easily reap glorious accomplishments. As for what the Evernight fleet would do during their time inside, it was quite frankly not the Imperial Guard’s concern.

Duke Wei said slowly, “Even if I was the one commanding the Imperial Fleet, I would most likely seal off the void as well and wait for the Evernight fleet to emerge.” 

The Fourteenth Prince waited patiently for the Duke’s continuation.

The situation, at this point, wasn’t something he could handle. With the appearance of a large number of enemy ground forces, it was actually the Empire’s turn to be in a dilemma. They would suffer heavy losses if they were to attack, but if they remained in a deadlock here, it was easy to imagine what would happen to Whitetown.

The Evernight faction had invested steeply in stopping the central army, clearly stating their intention to wipe out the forces in Whitetown and remove the nail threatening their airship port.

Duke Wei didn’t attack immediately and only watched with a serious expression as the Evernight forces completed their defensive preparations. He raised his right hand moments later, upon which the aide moved closer to wait for the command.

“Issue the order…” Duke Wei paused for a good while. “All forces, advance! We will carve a path through them!”

The aide was startled, but not daring to say anything, he left to issue the command.

Duke Wei turned to the Fourteenth Prince. “Your Highness, please bring out Mortal Emperor!”

“Mortal Emperor? Now?” The Fourteenth Prince was a bit surprised.

Duke Wei said, “Mortal Emperor is a weapon best suited for army warfare. Our only hope of carving a path is to break their air-ground formation.”

“Why the rush?”

“If I’m not wrong, Whitetown is already at the juncture of life and death. We have no choice but to charge with our lives on the line. Even if we can’t arrive on time, we must find a way to restrain more enemy experts and reduce the pressure on the other side.”

The Fourteenth Prince noticed the meaning behind those words. “Isn’t this method too risky for the Evernight faction? They will suffer greatly if their strategy fails.”

Duke Wei’s expression was fierce. “That’s all the more reason for us to burn all bridges and attack the enemy with everything we have. We might be walking right into their trap if we act too slow.”

“I understand, please wait a while. I’ll go and retrieve the Mortal Emperor.”

“Good! We’ll be counting on you for the first strike.”

Moments later, the Empire’s unique bugle cry echoed through every part of the battlefield. All Imperial forces on the ground assumed an attack formation as they advanced together with the airship fleet.

Apparently not expecting the sudden advance, the rear lines of the Evernight forces fell into sudden chaos. Some of the transports that had unloaded their goods began to leave the area at full speed, but there were transport airships still arriving in quick succession. This caused a traffic disturbance in the small low-altitude area.

“Now!” Duke Wei issued the order, and the Imperial fleet charged straight for the Evernight airship formation.

The chaos in the rear had more or less affected the Evernight formation. They suffered significant losses in a single round, with some warships firing before they could leave the area of their own ground-forces. Soon, an Evernight corvette was struck, crashing into their own camp.

At this point, the Imperial flagship sped up and charged down toward the Evernight ground-forces. The Fourteenth Prince stood at the bow with the Mortal Emperor in hand. There was a faint glow around his body that would deflect all bullets and arrows coming for him. The prince was calm, collected, and focused as he fired at the dense formation of enemies below!

A streak of flames shot out in the blink of an eye, erasing all dark race formations in its wake!

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-Legion-'s Thoughts

TL: Legion   ED: Moxie


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