Chapter 339: The Final Sprint (1)

There was one thing that Qin Ye was thankful for.

And that was the fact all Cathayans refused to air their dirty linen in public. Therefore, news of the great stir among feudal officials leading up to the imperial court meeting at the end of the year remained completely sealed within the boundaries of all feudal states of Hell.

Internal affairs should be resolved internally after all.

Within the following month, the vassal states situated around Cathay began to assemble their armies around Cathay’s borders like a surging tide that was ready to rush to the center. Tensions abounded, not just with the new Hell, but even with the three daolords as well.

The City of Salvation was located some distance away from the borders, and Qin Ye naturally wasn’t bothered by the assembly of troops. It was 10 November right now, merely twenty days before the anticipated imperial court meeting!

Hell was still bustling as it had always been. Only the upper echelons of Hell’s present management knew exactly what was happening at the end of the year.

An air of sobriety filled the left annex hall at Hell’s Gate as an incessant stream of orders continued to flow through and from its gates like a never-ending conduit of information. On the other hand, the right annex hall was heated with an atmosphere of great passion.

Oda Nobunaga, Arthis and Qin Ye were all situated here. In particular, they were located within a sequestered corner of the right annex hall, scrutinizing every part of a set of beautiful black armor that had just been manufactured by Hell.

The battle armor was entirely formed out of blight vermin carapace, and it looked almost exactly the same as the Tigerform Battle Armor. The only differences were the changes proposed by Oda Nobunaga, coupled with the integration of modern forging technology in the production process.

For instance, they had added fine scales to the originally smooth surface of the armor, primarily to strengthen its defenses to arrows and slash attacks. The irregularity in the surface of the armor was intended to reduce the effectiveness of the attack. Although the effects weren’t substantial, even the slightest edge might still mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield.

Qin Ye had also personally tested out the strength of the materials. The blight vermin carapace was so strong that it would only crack to a serious strike from an Anitya Hellguard. In other words, the purchase of each set of armor effectively meant adding a quasi-Hellguard to one’s army! It was definitely going to be the pillar of the feudal officials’ forces in the future! If not for the fact that the situation called for it, Qin Ye would never have willingly sold these to external forces!

Click… Arthis’ hair wrapped tightly around a small blade, imbuing it with Yin energy as she added the finishing touches on the designs which were to be etched onto the surface of the armor. Finally, she stood up and heaved a sigh of relief, “It’s done. Notwithstanding that I’m an Infernal Judge, this entire process has still taken me an entire month. Our production efficacy is still far too low without the Hall of Tremors.”

“The Hall of Tremors is something that we’ll be constructing over the course of the imperial court meeting. It’s to let the feudal officials realize that we’ll have the capacity to develop more armaments, and better armaments in the future. Thanks for your hard work thus far.” Ignoring the scattered fragments of the blight vermin carapace on the ground, Qin Ye stepped forward and touched the pitch-black armor excitedly.

It looked almost similar to the Tigerform Battle Armor, but was most definitely an improved version of that.

The tiger’s head on the shoulders and chest pieces had been done away with and replaced with pure, unadulterated protective guard plates. These guard plates were forged from Yin spirit stones that were ground down into a thin sheet. Furthermore, Arthis had personally etched the outline of Yin talismans onto each plate in order to strengthen the overall defense it proffered. The heart of the breast plate hid a small groove within, where one could insert a piece of Yin spirit stone no larger than the size of a baby’s fist. Likewise, if one opened up the guard plates around the pectorals, they would also see two hidden grooves stretching out towards the shoulder pieces.

The shoulder pieces were pure black shoulder plates that similarly also hid two grooves that could be boosted by the insertion of Yin spirit stones. It was precisely the synergistic effects of these Yin spirit stone grooves that imbued this entire set of battle armor with the effect of reducing the number of Yin spirits required to constitute a battle formation altogether. In other words, this was the crux to all of its effects.

Aside from that, the New Tigerform Battle Armor, or New Tigerform in short, was covered with fine scales all over its surface. Furthermore, it adopted a streamlined design which was intended to minimize the effects of air resistance as a Yin spirit’s speed increased. In fact, it even took into consideration the prospects of underwater combat and reduced water resistance as well. Finally, the icing on the cake meant that even if its wearer rode a Yin spirit beast mount, his presence wouldn’t slow down the Yin beast substantially.

“This is as good as it gets.” Qin Ye sighed, and suppressed his emotions as he lifted it with a single hand, before placing it onto the electronic scale to assess the weight of the entire battle armor.

Ten pounds!

It was only ten pounds!

Its lightweight was one of the other benefits to using the blight vermin carapace in the production of this armor!

Since time immemorial, it had always been understood that the heavier the armor, the stronger the defense. Such a heaven-defying outlier to the well-accepted rule had only been possible because of the emergence of the blight vermin, a magical beast that only appears upon the destruction of the old Hell. Otherwise, one could never attain such an unbelievable effect, even with regular magical beasts in the various underworlds. After all, a commensurately high defense would naturally require a comparatively dense material.

Qin Ye pressed gently on the bracers, and a gleaming blade shot out from each of the deep grooves on the bracers. Just like humans bled when they were stabbed, Yin spirits leaked netherflames when they were stabbed by the right tools.

This is a spirit-slaying armament… Qin Ye finally removed his hand from the battle armor and drew a deep breath “Zhao Seven.”

A burly man standing tall at about 1.85m stepped into the room as soon as he was summoned, and promptly knelt onto the ground, “Your humble servant is here.”

“Meet us at the back of Hell’s Gate. Be in your best condition.”

“Yes!”

Within several minutes, everyone assembled at the back of Hell’s Gate. Zhao Seven was already standing erect at the back like a javelin. As soon as he saw the New Tigerform, his eyes immediately lit up.

However, Qin Ye didn’t hand him the armor straight away. Instead, he placed his hand behind his back and asked, “I heard that you’re a thousand-men commander of the Black Armored Troops, and your martial valor precedes your name. Unfortunately, the Black Armored Troops disallows the use of full names, and you’re therefore referred to by your surname and registration number.”

“Your humble servant doesn’t deserve such praise.” Zhao Seven responded humbly, yet his eyes were simply staring transfixed at the suit of armor in front of him.

It was only natural for all valiant soldiers to covet the strongest armors and weapons. Thus, his heart had already begun to thump wildly as soon as he saw the New Tigerform.

This armor… is stronger than the Black Armor of the Black Armored Troops… If I only had these back then, then I… would’ve been able to dominate the battlefield with ease!

“We’ll know whether you deserve such high praise in a moment or two.” Qin Ye smiled faintly, “Put it on and give it a shot. I’ve already prepared your opponents. Mr Oda, bring in your men.”

Oda Nobunaga nodded and clapped his hand. At once, a warrior wearing ancient Cathayan armor but wielding a long katana walked right over like a towering rock.

“This is one of my personal guards, Owari. Well then… Lord Qin, shall we begin?”

Qin Ye nodded, and Zhao Seven promptly changed into the new armor. As soon as he picked up the New Tigerform, his eyes gleamed brightly, and he gasped in shock.

How light…

How incredibly light!

It had to be said that Zhao Seven was incredibly strong. Yet even when he pressed down on the armor with all of his might, the armor didn’t even show the slightest trace of deformation.

What the hell is this thing?!

It’s practically… born to be used on the battlefield. If only the Tang Dynasty had access to such incredible armor back then… we would never have suffered so hard against the enemy forces.

He put on the armor with mixed feelings in his heart. Then, with two loud clangs, two gleaming blades emerged from his bracers. He closed his eyes and drew his attention to every part of the armor that his body was slowly getting accustomed to. Then, three minutes later, he swung his fists about with a majestic floudish.

Whoosh! The air trembled slightly, and his eyes gleamed brilliantly for the third time straight.

He could finally move at ease. One of the greatest drawbacks to the Black Armored Troops was the fact that their armor was incredibly heavy and bulky. In pursuit of an impenetrable defense, all of them had put on a suit of armor that was almost half an inch thick. Naturally, they acted like mobile meat grinders on the battlefield, hacking and chopping clumsily at their foes. Unfortunately, the armor was too heavy, and it was difficult for them to move about nimbly. On the other hand, this set of battle armor… allowed him to unleash strength for the very first time.

Speed was the only absolute advantage in the display of all martial arts. And he was now light on his feet, and swift in his movements.

He took a deep breath, and then nodded solemnly to Oda Nobunaga. The warrior standing opposite ambled towards him, tightening his grip around the hilt of his katana. Yin energy flourished in an instant.

“Owari is adept in the arts of Yagyu-Shinkage-Ryu, and he particularly specializes in iaijutsu, otherwise known as sword-drawing. Everyone, I don’t want any injuries. Zhao Seven, please be careful.” Oda Nobunaga took a step back, and then swung his hand down mightily, “Begin!”

As soon as the duel began, the netherflame in Owari’s eyes immediately flickered wildly. His grip tightened around the hilt of his katana once more, and a fountain of Yin energy erupted from his body, enveloping the entire blade as he promptly struck out at Zhao Seven across the waist.

Zhao Seven desired to know the extent of the defensive capabilities of the armor more than anything. Furthermore, he knew that Owari was holding back on the first, probative strike. Thus, he didn’t move at all.

Iaijutsu capitalized on the momentary burst of energy when the blade was drawn from the scabbard, allowing the sword to reach a new level of speed and power which wouldn’t otherwise have been possible. However, Owari had clearly intentionally reduced his speed as soon as the blade was unleashed.

Clang!

There was a muffled sound. Qin Ye and Oda Nobunaga stared at the aftermath with widened eyes. There was a bright flash and a flurry of sparks as the katana struck the armor cleanly across its waist. However… it didn’t even leave a single trace on the armor, much less breach its incredible defense!

How tough… Owari whistled in awe as he sheathed his sword. He finally understood what he was up against. Thus, a split second later, his blade surged out of his scabbard like a roaring dragon, leaving innumerable afterimages in its wake. He was now striking at the armor with all of his might.

It had to be said that he was truly worthy of being Oda Nobunaga’s personal guard. This attack of his was so powerful that it even created a domain of blades around him, cutting up the Paramnesia Flowers on the ground and reducing them to nothing but fine dust.

Fast. Incredibly fast. It was so fast that the attack was nearly invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, Zhao Seven was even quicker.

As soon as the blade appeared, Zhao Seven’s body had already vanished from the ground. The domain of blades appeared for three full seconds, before it suddenly ceased abruptly.

When the dust settled, Zhao Seven’s blade was already lying horizontally across Owari’s neck. Owari chuckled bitterly, “Lord Qin, I’ve lost.”

Clap, clap, clap. Qin Ye applauded, “Great. Excellent!”

“Mr Owari, why do you think you’ve lost?”

Owari looked at Zhao Seven with great envy and responded without hesitation, “Equipment.”

“My weapon can’t even leave a mark on his armor, much less breach his defenses. Furthermore…” He smiled bitterly as he raised his hand and shook it with much clattering, “My armor weighs approximately fifty pounds. It’s impossible to move any quicker than I have with the current limitations. It’s difficult to change stances or react to exigencies as well… That said, I can’t even begin to fathom what kind of material proffers that much defense, and yet weighs no more than a feather.”

Qin Ye sighed with great emotion, and then turned to Zhao Seven, “And how do you feel?”

“My lord! It’s a divine set of armor!” Zhao Seven’s voice trembled with excitement, “It’s astonishingly light… The black armor we wore used to weigh 47 kilograms. Every part of the armor is dense and solid, but we can wear it for an hour at best. This set of armor is simply liberating to use! Furthermore, its defense is simply unbelievable!”

Oda Nobunaga nodded deeply, “Soul Hunter versus Soul Hunter. Owari is one of the strongest subordinates under my charge, and it’s astonishing that he can’t even leave a mark on the armor. Furthermore, its weight is its greatest advantage. According to historical records, Song Dynasty armors generally weigh 29 kilograms, while its regular soldiers wear armor that weigh 15 kilograms in total. On the other hand, the New Tigerform Battle Armor only weighs no more than 5 kilograms in all. It’s basically god-tiered. Anyone who buys this will have an absolute edge over the other feudal officials who don’t!”

He sighed wistfully, “Unfortunately, if not for the present situation at hand, I truly wouldn’t have wanted such a divine armor to be circulated among other factions who could potentially turn against us.”

Qin Ye nodded. After several seconds of deep deliberation, he turned to the audience once more and asked curiously, “Then, everyone, if these were to be sold as armaments to foreign factions, do you think they would be willing to purchase it?”

The first to respond wasn’t Oda Nobunaga. Rather, it was Zhao Seven, who cupped his hands at Qin Ye with great emotion, “Absolutely!! If this were the Tang Dynasty, even the emperor wouldn’t have any hesitation emptying half of his treasury in order to obtain such a powerful artifact as this! Equip five thousand to ten thousand troops with this set of armor, and the Tigerform division would most certainly be able to stand toe to toe against all enemy forces, even if they were outnumbered five to one, against mounted soldiers!”

“‘Willing’ would be an understatement. They would practically be vying desperately for it.” Oda Nobunaga added, “Especially since… its lightness can truly bring out the advantages of mounted troops altogether. Whether impact, offensive capabilities or defensive capabilities, not even the renowned Song Dynasty spear formation can stand toe to toe against the possibilities offered by this set of battle armor!”

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