Dragonbone Mountain Range, Sky Ridge.
I jumped off the Ancient Divine Dragon’s back after arriving at Sky Ridge. I had planned to meet up with Karinshan and the thousands of NPCs of Sky City, but to my shock they were nowhere to be seen at all. Where had they gone to? Although the Nation War was over, a ton of enemy players were still lurking within our borders. Once in a while, Cyan Earth City and the Northern Alliance would show up and test our reactions so to speak. Karinshan might be powerful, but anyone could be pushed down given sufficient numbers.
Anxiety spiking, I made the Ancient Divine Dragon glide down Sky Ridge only to discover a large group of people somewhere at the halfway point of Dragonbone Mountain Range. It was none other than the NPCs of Sky City. There was a problem, however. A group of undead had them completely surrounded. The dragon knights could fly and so could escape if necessary, but everyone else was bound to the ground. Karinshan was brandishing the Guardian Blade threateningly and staring at the undead around her with hostility. "What is the meaning of this?"
The undead legion belonged to none other than Sophie, the current lord and master of Purple Grape City. An undead general riding a bone horse said in an unnaturally harsh voice, "You are aware that Purple Grape City is currently under Lady Sophie’s rule, right, Princess Karinshan? Please return to your domain as soon as possible. A guest like you is too much even for our undead hearts!"
Karinshan retorted angrily, "It’s bad enough Sophie didn’t send aid when Sky City was in peril, but for her to send you to pour salt on our wound as well? You don’t seriously think that you lowly undead will be able to stop me, do you?"
The undead general looked slightly taken aback. "Calm down, princess. We don’t wish to harm a flesh of nobility like you if possible!"
On the sky, the Dragon Knight Tia pointed her sword at the undead general and yelled angrily, "We’ve been stuck in Sky Ridge for four days and nights  without a single grain of food or a drop of water, so we just wanted to procure some supplies from Purple Grape City! We weren’t planning on harassing you people, but if you insist on stopping us from surviving, we will do the same to you!"
The undead general clenched his teeth. "Pooh! Is that a threat?"
A beam of light at least ten meters long erupted from Tia’s blade. "So what if it is?!"
It was at this moment a deep voice resounded from the sky—
"This is not how you treat guests who visit our undead castle, Orlis! Stand down. I’ll handle this!"
A black shadow descended gracefully from the sky. Her pale white skin painted a stark contrast against her black armor. She was of course Sophie the Snow Minstrel.
Sophie smiled at Karinshan and said, "Who would’ve thought that you would fall this low, Karinshan? You were the supreme commander of the Silver Moon Alliance, but not only were you attacked by your former allies, you nearly lost Sky City to them. At the very least, Vanished God City has fallen into the hands of Coldblade. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Karinshan clenched her teeth. "I… I…"
I chose this moment to step out and say, "Enough, Sophie. You know well that Karinshan has nothing to do with the fall of Sky City, so quit mocking her already."
"Oh? Long time no see, boy…" Sophie giggled as a trace of lust flashed across her eyes. "Yo, you’re a lot stronger than I remembered. Will you perhaps consider working in my undead castle? You can be a Huntsman, a Netherworld Knight, a Shadow God General, or even my personal guard…"
I caught Sophie’s arm before she could wrap it around my shoulders. "Sophie, please, I belong to Xinran…"
"Er…" that snapped her out of her teasing mood enough to sulk a little. "Fine, I’m not a person who’d steal my sister’s man. Why are you here anyway, boy?"
I spoke frankly, "For Karinshan, of course. I plan to protect Karinshan until she can reclaim Sky City. It would be bad if it became a masterless city."
Sophie giggled. "That’s perfect for me though. I can take Sky City for myself and convert it into my second undead city…"
I stared at her. "Your joke isn’t funny. That’s my home you’re talking about!"
"Oh right, I almost forgot about that."
After that, Sophie looked at Karinshan and said half-jokingly, "The boy adores you, Wind Singer Xinran adores him, and I, unfortunately, adore Wind Singer Xinran. That is the only reason I’m staying my hand, understand? The next time you lose Sky City, I will take it from you!"
The smile of the Goddess of Death caused Karinshan to shudder from head to toe. The woman secretly swore she would never allow Sky City to fall into danger again.
Sophie was just about to leave when I called out to her, "Sophie, wait!"
"What’s wrong?" She turned back to face me.
I shot her a smile before starting, "Aren’t you angry that Coldblade has occupied Vanished God City at all? You didn’t forget that he is your sworn enemy, right? He was the one who fabricated lies and instigated Ovia the Bloody Finger to massacre your empire. If I were you, I would’ve done everything in my power to kill him already!"
A devious smile crossed Sophie’s face at that moment. She slowly walked up to me before snaking her arm around my neck with a giggle. "Don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to do, boy. You don’t really care if Coldblade lives or dies. You just want me to mobilize my forces to retake Vanished God City. Am I right?"
I did my best to remain calm before replying, "I’m sorry? I would be very happy to see Coldblade dead. For starters, his weapon looks like something I can use..."
"Hmph. Forget it. For now at least, I have no plans to attack Coldblade!" Sophie declared without hesitation.
Her answer confused me. "But why?"
"It’s simple. I simply don’t have the troops to take it." Sophie sucked in a deep breath and turned serious. "Coldblade has his own undead legion, and he has reinforcements from Lin Na himself. In fact, there is an extremely high chance Lin Na will once again appear on this continent soon. Coldblade may be a threat, but the other devil is the one I don’t want to ever see in my life, do you understand? Also, my newly summoned undead have no armors or weapons at all. You don’t seriously expect my skellies to fight against Coldblade’s iron cavalry naked, do you?"
I clenched my teeth and tried to think of something that would convince Sophie to make the leap of fate. Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with anything.
"So? You can’t think of anything that will convince me, can you boy?" Sophie chuckled.
Karinshan bit her lips and stared at me hopefully. Ziyan and Stark looked high strung and were one step away from attacking Sophie.
Half a minute later, I suddenly recalled something and pointed at Sky Ridge. "I have the perfect plan, Sophie! Just this once, you must listen to me…"
"Oh? Tell me…"
"You’re saying that you’re desperately in need of resources to equip your army, right? In that case, you should build a fortress in Sky Ridge—let’s call it Sky Ridge Fortress—and have Princess Karinshan defend it with her men."
"What?!" Sophie’s eyes widened. "Why on earth would I do that? Bad enough that I’m gifting her a fortress for free, how does this benefit me in any way?"
I explained smilingly, "Like you won’t even believe. As the builder of the fortress, you get the right to send your men and post quests to collect all the materials you need to forge armor and siege weapons such as Stone, Iron and more. Sky City is a resourceful country, so I’m sure you’ll have more than enough to equip your undead legion to the teeth. Surely you’ll be able to defeat Coldblade then?"
Sophie smiled. "Aren’t you afraid that I’ll take Vanished God City for myself?"
I replied without hesitation, "Not at all. The former master of Vanished God City is the Dragonheart Knight, Cloudway. You remember him? That’s right. He’s one of Xinran’s trusted aides. If you steal his home from him, you’ll be slapping my Xinran in the face. Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing to your sister?"
Sophie fumed. "I see you’ve plotted out every step, boy!"
Karinshan couldn’t suppress a giggle when she heard this.
I added, "Seriously, please consider my suggestion, Sophie. With my plan, You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. You will be using Sky City to help you forge an invincible army. Forget harming Karinshan, you should be thanking her for lending you her aid—if you agree to the plan that is."
Sophie thought for a very long time, but in the end she nodded and said, "Very well, I’ll do as you say. I will deliver the necessary resources to Sky Ridge. Lady Karinshan, please forgive me for my earlier transgressions. Perhaps I do need the Silver Moon Alliance’s help to survive in the human world after all!"
Karinshan nodded smilingly. "Thank you, Lady Sophie. By the way, I’ve informed Queen Sophia of the Violet Empire to send her undead troops to protect me, so you may focus all your efforts on building this fortress. Sky City promises to do their utmost to fulfill your needs."
Sophie turned away, but she shot me a slightly resentful look before leaving. "I hate that Xinran has a cunning brother like you…"
I simply chuckled and said nothing in return.
The next moment, a system announcement resounded across the sky—
System Announcement: All Sky City players, Sophie the Snow Minstrel will be building Sky Ridge Fortress at Sky City. It will be finished in 10 hours, and the Sky Ridge map will go into maintenance for five minutes. After the fortress construction is complete, players may resupply at Sky Ridge and receive faction quests!
Hell yeah! That was one major issue out of the way!
I was extremely pleased especially because I hadn’t expected things to go this smoothly. Breeze and Rain had exploited a quest to make Coldblade attack Vanished God City, and now I was going to do it right back at him by making the super boss Sophie retake Vanished God City for us. Of course, we would still involve ourselves in the retake, but it would cost us a lot less than it would have otherwise. For starters, our players would be able to spend more time grinding. Two, we wouldn’t lose nearly as many players. This was Coldblade’s legion we were talking about. Without help, things could go south in the blink of an eye.
After that, I went to greet Hickey, Warscar, Bloodthirsty Demon and the rest of Protective Umbrella at Black Cavalry Scout Camp. They were still grinding dutifully around the camp. Despite the service they had done to the China server, they were still unaffiliated players. The China server couldn’t just let them cross into our domain whenever they liked, so they maintained the usual arrangements instead.
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