Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach, Chapter 50: A Difficult Choice
There were hundreds of components to this law array, and some of them were composed of rare metals. Just the recycled materials alone were worth a small fortune even if one were to ignore the origin array at the top. The baron watched the components vanish one by one in Qianye’s hands and was, at first, astonished. But then his expression became progressively dismal—his fate was sealed now that he already knew of Qianye’s secret.
The origin grenade and sniper fire had already alarmed the Sharp Fang tribe at the base of the mountain, but they weren’t able to proceed after arriving at the boundary of the forbidden zone with the servspiders eyeing them as a tiger would its prey. After Qianye killed the arachne in command with a single shot, the less intelligent servspiders could only obstruct the werewolves according to previous orders.
Qianye naturally wouldn’t let go of such a good opportunity. He finished off the baron in one slash, quietly cleaned up the scene, and left stealthily from the back of the mountain.
Qianye’s resolute attack on these vampires and arachne was meant to also add more pressure on these werewolves. Otherwise, it was hard to make sure whether Sharp Fang tribe would stand with Qianye in the future or if they would choose to stay neutral.
After such a long period deep in dark race territory, Qianye had already heard a fair bit about the count’s brutality and his actions to curry favor with the upper continents. These vampires were clearly related to major characters from the upper continents. Now that they had died in his territory, Count Stuka would likely take it out on the Sharp Fang tribe, and the best way for them to avoid annihilation was to choose to stand on Qianye’s side.
Qianye wasn’t in a hurry to contact Sharp Fang just yet. These obstinate werewolves needed some time to recognize their situation and likely not a short while either.
After descending Green Peak Mountain, Qianye headed toward his final destination: Count Stuka’s underground castle. He had long since wanted to see how this dark race lair looked like. The time would be just right to secretly contact the nearly disabled old chief of the Sharp Fang tribe when he returned from the count’s castle.
Someone like him was bound to have many stories to tell, and it might even bring Qianye some pleasant surprises.
Qianye arrived at Count Stuka’s castle after traveling cautiously for several days.
As an arachne count, Stuka’s castle had retained the unique characteristics of the arachne race while also conforming to his status as a count.
That which appeared before Qianye was an earthen mountain with a majestic castle built on top, and a wide path stretching down along its slope. The weird part was that there were many caves distributed throughout the entire body of this earthen mountain with an especially large one at its base. It was dozens of meters wide, enough to allow pa.s.sage to ma.s.sive war beasts.
There were members of various evernight races entering and leaving through each cave. On the contrary, there was no one pa.s.sing through the castle gates at the summit.
There was a wide road running through the biggest cave at the base of the mountain and seemed to be a path designed for races other than the arachne. The ground on each side of the road was filled with spider webs and was only suitable for the arachne and servspiders to move through. These creatures would be able to move at least twice as fast on the webs, and every small vibration on it could be sensed by the distant servspiders, notifying them of intruders. Some arachne and servspiders could lay down spiderwebs laced with intense poison to form a natural defense line.
Even Qianye would have a hard time pa.s.sing through such a large area of spiderweb coverage.
He observed for a while and realized that the entire earth mountain was hollow inside. One could directly enter the belly of the mountain via a secret path from the castle above. The underground portion of this mountain was likely a large s.p.a.ce since, after all, arachne were experts at digging and building.
Stuka’s castle atop the earthen mountain was built according to a conventional arachne layout, and it was unknown just how many warriors and servspiders he had hidden underground. The structure was easy to defend and difficult to a.s.sault. One would have to pay a steep price to seize the stronghold with only troops.
Qianye frowned and abandoned the impractical notion. It would be too difficult to conquer Stuka’s castle with what little strength he had.
He circled around the entire castle and observed for a good while. He then headed back in the direction he had come from after confirming the patterns of activity in and around the castle. Qianye felt a tinge of regret just as he was about to leave—all those different dark race members entering and leaving the castle were living ma.s.ses of essence blood and darkness origin power—being unable to attack at the moment was too much a suffering.
Qianye visited the Sharp Fang tribe again on his way back.
This time, Qianye hid near the tribe and waited patiently. The werewolves’ sense of smell was quite troublesome and made it difficult for him to get close. But he didn’t need to wait too long; the Sharp Fang chief emerged from the cave shortly after dinner time and began to patrol the area and console his tribesmen.
He finished his rounds only when the moon was high in the sky. This matter alone had worn him down quite a bit—his back was bent deeply, and the worry on his face couldn’t be wiped away.
Qianye understood where the chief’s worries stemmed from. It was definitely the dead vampires and Count Stuka’s servspiders.
“You all go back first. I want to take a walk.” The chief glanced at his two werewolf guards and ordered them to leave. Afterward, he slowly walked out of the village on his own.
This area was Sharp Fang tribe’s territory and could be considered fairly safe and tranquil. There were numerous high-yield mines in the domain, and each of them was guarded by a significant number of werewolf soldiers, serving as garrisons. As such, those of the Sharp Fang tribe weren’t particularly worried about the old chief’s safety.
The old chief strolled along with heavy steps, all too familiar with the mountains and streams along the way. He arrived beside a clear pond and knelt down to wash his hands. He had maintained this habit for dozens of years and had almost become a ceremony of sorts.
The old chief glanced down at the pond and suddenly discovered the figure of another person standing beside him.
His old hands trembled ever so slightly, raising numerous ripples and shattering the reflection on the water surface. He collected himself and turned back slowly toward Qianye. “Young human, you’re quite bold.”
Qianye replied indifferently, “You’re the one who’s truly courageous. You look so calm. Don’t tell me you’ve found a way to deal with Count Stuka’s wrath?”
The old chief stood up in an instant and his vigor rose all of a sudden. An ardent flame began to burn brightly in his originally turbid eyes as he stared fixedly at Qianye. Qianye, however, just stood there without the slightest bit of movement and looked on as though the chief’s imposing manner was nothing to him.
A wisp of shock and admiration flashed through the chief’s eyes. “You’re likely not an obscure character in the human race. You’re so young and possess such potential, so why would you take the risk to enter our country? Great geniuses are nothing if they become corpses.”
Qianye smiled and said, “This area will become my country very soon.”
The old chief’s eyes immediately turned sharp and replied with a cold voice, “You humans want to invade? Humph! Your soldiers will be met head-on, and your warriors will be torn to shreds by our sharp claws! No human soldiers have stepped through this land in hundreds of years.”
Qianye laughed loudly and said, “Even if I fail, it won’t be in the hands of a tiny Sharp Fang tribe. Moreover, it’s not certain whether you’ll survive until my army arrives. I heard the count isn’t very patient and maybe Sharp Fang would’ve become history even before my forces arrive. And he probably won’t let you off even if, by any chance, I was forced to withdraw.”
The chief’s eyes flickered as he pondered for a moment and said, “Is there a difference between dying to the count and dying to human bullets? Stuka might not destroy Sharp Fang completely, but the humans definitely will!”
“That might not necessarily be the case.” Qianye brought out Schiller’s necklace and pa.s.sed it to the chief.
The old werewolf received the item, brought it to his nose, and sniffed a couple of times. His eyes became somewhat more gentle as he said, “This is Schiller’s blood oath. He has used his ancestor’s spirit to vouch for you. But it’ll still take time for me to trust you since, after all, Schiller is only a youngster. And the youth are always impulsive.”
The chief hadn’t even finished speaking when Qianye pa.s.sed him yet another metallic token. “The youth are impetuous. Then how about this?”
The old chief observed the token and began to tremble all over. “T-This is the token of the Summit of Peaks! How did you get this?”
“According to the friend who gave it to me, this token should possess considerable prestige among the werewolves. Why don’t I see any from you?”
After hearing Qianye’s implicit criticism, the old chief smiled wryly and said, “A token from the Summit of Peaks is like a holy object for those like us living in the lowest rungs of society. It’s just that your demands are too… too inconsistent with our traditions and beliefs. I fear no werewolf is willing to live a life under human rule, to speak nothing of fighting alongside them. You’ll be disappointed if you want to borrow Sharp Fang’s strength to fight against Count Stuka.”
Qianye laughed out loud. “You’re overthinking things. I’ve never hoped to borrow Sharp Fang’s strength. In truth, your meager forces are insignificant in my eyes. It’s just that my friend from the Summit of Peaks had once asked me to take care of his race and I’m also impressed by Schiller. That’s the only reason why I’m willing to appear here and talk with you.”
Qianye drew the Scarlet Edge and flicked the blade lightly with his finger, whereupon a whistle akin to a dragon’s cry rang out. He then glanced at the old chief and said, “I have no demands for the Sharp Fang. It’s fine whether you wish to join the fight or stay out of this, but that choice will affect the treatment the tribe receives after I take this entire region into my territorial map. You should be very clear that the two treatments will be entirely different. Naturally, you can also choose a third option, which is to join Stuka’s army. However, I will definitely slaughter all those who oppose me! Think about it carefully.”
With that, Qianye turned around and left without waiting for the old chief’s reply.
The old werewolf cried out while gazing at Qianye’s back. “How should I address you? Were you the one who killed Viscount Duras and Baron Wendu?”
Qianye didn’t reply. His figure disappeared into the distance, leaving behind a trailing laughter.
The return journey was much simpler. Qianye left the dark race territory safely and arrived at the grey border territory. Here, he brought out the motorcycle and sped toward Blackflow City. Upon approaching, he brought all of the weapons and law array components he had gained from Green Peak Mountain out from Andruil’s Mysterious Realm and stored them on the motorcycle rack. Only then did he continue toward Blackflow City.
Upon his return, Qianye immediately handed the origin array components to Dark Flame’s array specialist for deciphering. At the same time, he summoned all of the high ranking Dark Flame officers along with the trio, Song Zining, Zhao Yuying, and Wei Potian, for a strategy meeting.