Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach, Chapter 56: A Peculiar Ore Vein
The mines in Zhao Yuying’s charge produced black stone ore. This was a fairly common mineral found on Evernight Continent, but the vampire count’s mine boasted ma.s.sive reserves and easy extraction. Moreover, there was also a considerable yield of black crystal which was worth much more than black stone ore. Compared to Qianye’s little mine, however, its ability to convert produce into cash was somewhat inferior since it didn’t produce copper.
Qianye and Zhao Yuying stood on high ground, watching Dark Flame warriors escorting the mine guards toward the designated camp in a single file. In addition to the guards, there were also thousands of miners and a fair portion of them were humans. They weren’t blood thralls or raised “livestock”, but human slaves.
Zhao Yuying tossed an irregular piece of black crystal ore in her hand and said, “There are too many of them. It’ll be fairly troublesome. What do you plan to do with them?”
“What do you think we should do?” Qianye replied with a question. He liked to listen to Zhao Yuying’s idea recently. Although this unique and independent n.o.ble lady would sometimes say astonis.h.i.+ng things, they weren’t entirely unreasonable upon careful thought. Additionally, this was a good opportunity to understand more about her.
Qianye had originally thought that Zhao Yuying’s reply would be to put them all to death or seal them directly into the mines and leave them to their fate. It was a commonly used method in war, especially in territories where one couldn’t station troops mid-way. This would prevent the army from being dragged down by the prisoners of war and deny the other side any opportunity to take advantage of.
Unexpectedly, Zhao Yuying said, “Leave them here and have a company watch over them. Don’t stop the ore extraction routine.”
Now, it was Qianye’s turn to hesitate. “This will restrict a large part of our troops. Don’t tell me we’re going to do the same for all the other mines along the way? My troop strength isn’t at a level where we can scatter them in this manner.”
Zhao Yuying replied, “If worst comes to worst, I’ll put in more effort and fill in for the gap in fighting power.”
“This isn’t like you.”
“No, this is just like me. The ore vein here is different from the others. It might actually be hiding something, but I need to occupy even more mines to make sure. Look, this black crystal is proof of this.”
Zhao Yuying flicked her fingers and sent a black crystal rolling into Qianye’s hands. The latter observed in detail and switched to different perceptions. He even used darkness and daybreak origin powers to probe, but couldn’t find anything special about this piece of black crystal.
“You also know how to distinguish minerals and prospect mines?”
“This is a necessary skill for a money grubber, is it not?”
“You also know that you’re a money-grubber?”
“Qianye, if you keep treating your sister like this, I’ll double the battle reward!”
“You’re the most generous and magnanimous!”
“What horrible flattery! Go back and learn from Zining!”
Qianye gave the present issue some thought. He then summoned Dark Flame’s senior officers to discuss matters related to troop allocation and made arrangements accordingly after confirming that they could still afford to take out a company of soldiers.
Qianye walked into his own tent after he had finished handling military affairs. He opened the map and began to research the remainder of their journey.
There were two viscounts on their way forward—the werewolf Brudo and the arachne Musk. Their strengths were more or less equal to Thomas, but the fight against them would be much harder.
Daybreak star sh.e.l.ls were especially effective against vampires, and Qianye himself possessed an overwhelming advantage against vampires of the same level. The sh.e.l.ls weren’t as effective against the resilient werewolves and arachne, but the situation would be completely different if Zhao Yuying was willing to put in more effort.
At this time, the door flap to the tent was lifted up and in came Zhao Yuying. “Have you thought about how we’ll fight the upcoming battles.”
Qianye drew out two advancement routes and said, “If I were them, I’ll find a way to meet up at this point and hold the defensive position. After all, we just devoured Thomas and the two of them aren’t fools. How would they dare to fight us separately?”
Zhao Yuying muttered, “It seems we took down Thomas too quickly. It’ll be a bitter fight if the two of them join forces and that old spider dispatches his forces at the same time.”
“We will split up if they’re all gathered in one place. You and I will lead a unit each. As for the target, heh, heh, are you interested in robbing a viscount’s castle?”
“Little Five, you’re too kind!” Zhao Yuying’s eyes lit up in a scary manner as she latched right onto Qianye’s shoulder and kissed him. Moreover, this movement caused her chest to press completely against his shoulder without the slightest restraint. Qianye’s perception was extremely sharp and immediately sensed the surging fullness of Zhao Yuying’s bosom.
He immediately took a step back without batting an eyelid. Zhao Yuying also noticed something was odd and laughed loudly, “What’s the big deal? I even helped you bathe when you were a kid.”
Qianye was dumbfounded for a long while and replied helplessly, “Who knows if that’s real? You were only a small la.s.s back then… let’s get back to proper business!”
“Fine, let’s get back to business. I just interviewed the foreman of this mine and gained some interesting information. There are five more similar black stone mines in the count’s territory.”
With that, Zhao Yuying marked down the five mines on the map which Qianye observed repeatedly. However, he found nothing special about them apart from the fact that they all belonged to the same mountain range.
Zhao Yuying knew Qianye wasn’t proficient in prospecting mines and, as such, marked down several other areas on the long mountain range. “We should be able to find new black stone mining sites in these areas and they should be of similar or even greater yield than the present ones.”
Qianye raised his brows and said, “These mines are so abundant? Doesn’t this make this place a mineral-rich region?”
“How can it be as simple as a mere mineral-rich region?! Come, remember this place.”
Zhao Yuying pointed to a point on the map. Qianye’s expression s.h.i.+fted slightly because the place where she had pointed was precisely Green Peak Mountain. It was also the region where Sharp Fang Tribe was.
“Is there something special about this place?”
“If my judgement is correct, there is something hidden in this region affecting all the mineral deposits. This place should be a key point according to the path of the ore veins—it’s highly likely that we’ll be able to find some clues or even a completely new ore vein.”
Qianye only frowned in silence as he recalled the mysterious law array he had seen at the summit of Green Peak Mountain.
Zhao Yuying also recalled the matter at this point. “Didn’t you say there was abnormal dark race activity in this area? Maybe they have also found this abnormality. We’ll know after the array components you brought back have been cracked whether they’re searching for new ore veins or something else.”
Qianye nodded and said, “Very well! I’ll take control of this area as soon as possible.” He began thinking about how he should modify his own plans. A mere Sharp Fang Tribe wasn’t much of an obstruction.
It was at this time that an orderly entered the tent and said after performing his salutations, “Sire, this is the most recent intelligence, please take a look at it.”
Qianye’s expression turned rather odd after receiving the report and scanning it briefly. He then pa.s.sed it to Zhao Yuying.
Zhao Yuying looked over it and was momentarily startled. “Werewolf Viscount Brudo didn’t dispatch his troops and, instead, pulled back all of his warriors to hold the mountain pa.s.s outside of his castle? They… this…”
Brudo holding back his troops and a.s.suming a defensive position was naturally good news under normal circ.u.mstances, but now, it was a problem because Sharp Fang Tribe was beyond the mountain pa.s.s, and two of the mines Qianye and Zhao Yuying hoped to occupy were also on Brudo’s territory.
This fierce werewolf famed for his valiance has actually holed up? This was indeed surprising.
Qianye quickly collected his thoughts. In any case, this wasn’t bad news for the present battle situation because it meant that the arachne viscount Musk would be left alone without any help.
Qianye promptly made his decision. He summoned the orderly and issued commands while pointing to certain points on the map. “Immediately prepare the army to move out in one hour. Our destination is here, and we will set up camp on this mountain ridge. Send someone to find Duan Hao and have him lead a unit south to watch the werewolves. Instruct him not to hold the line in case of abnormal movements and merely retreat while fighting. Stalling them will suffice.”
The location Qianye had pointed to was a position suitable for cutting off Count Stuka’s potential reinforcements from the arachne viscount’s forces. This would prevent them from joining forces and the initiative would be in Qianye’s hand when the time came to attack any one side.
Qianye glanced at the map after the orderly had left and said, “There’s only one problem. What if Musk also holes up and doesn’t come out? At that time, we’ll probably have to face enemies on all three sides.”
“If that little spider decides to hide himself, then we’ll just overturn his lair!” Zhao Yuying’s eyes lit up at the mention of the word lair.
“It won’t be that easy, will it?”
Arachne castles were famous for being easy to defend but difficult to besiege. Anyone would encounter a fair bit of distress against them.
But Zhao Yuying let out a frosty smile. “Musk’s so-called castle is merely a small earth mound. What’s so difficult about that? We have such a large amount of extracted black stones. We can just move them all over, pile them up at the base of the earthen mound, and burn their stronghold for a couple of days. Whether it’s a viscount or a count, we’ll just incinerate them!”
Qianye felt a chill in his heart.
Zhao Yuying saw something queer in Qianye’s eyes and said with a charming smile, “What? Are you thinking about your sister’s brilliance and wisdom?”
“You could say that.” Qianye realized that he was speaking more and more things that were contrary to his thoughts.
Zhao Yuying immediately revealed her inherent character and let out three loud laughs. “Just follow this elder sister and learn in the future. I guarantee you’ll become really skilled in dealing with the dark races!”
Qianye laughed wryly since he had nothing to say. Yellow Springs and Red Scorpion had mainly focused on elite fighting ability. Although he had learned some strategy and military operations, that was merely for cooperating with large units in accomplis.h.i.+ng combat missions.
While commanding Dark Flame’s forces at present, Qianye had to consider and deduce things repeatedly, frequently convening with the high ranking officers for discussion. It was akin to a process of step-by-step learning and practice, and meeting Zhao Yuying widened his horizons greatly. Each and every one of her numerous suggestions were outrageously cruel and sinister. For instance, this method of burning the arachne’s lair with black stone was definitely not in the imperial military academy’s textbooks.
However, these cruel tactics were extremely effective. The arachne would have no choice but to charge out for a decisive battle after seeing the battle situation. Otherwise, his castle would be immolated for several days straight—even though it wasn’t enough to kill the high-ranking arachne, countless low-ranking warriors, servspiders, and civilians would be roasted alive. Their spider eggs wouldn’t escape this fate either.
Young Miss Yuying’s strategy, in summary, came down to two words, “Complete Annihilation”. Qianye couldn’t help but want to know what kind of experiences Zhao Yuying had gone through to have become such a terrifying G.o.d of murder.
The army marched straight toward its destination after completing the necessary preparations. It was like a sharp blade piercing straight into the belly of the count’s territory.
At this moment, the werewolf Brudo’s eyes were red. He only stared fixedly at the map in front of him while drinking one cup of wine after another.
A werewolf guard approached fearfully. “Sire Viscount, the messengers of the count and Viscount Musk can’t wait any longer.”
Brudo suddenly turned around, his bloodshot eyes radiating ferocity in all directions and the red fur behind his back standing on end. The guard was so scared that he took several steps back and almost fell to the floor.
White mist sprayed out continuously from Brudo’s nose as he ground his teeth, emitting sounds that would make one shudder. He spoke only moments later, “Let them wait!”
The werewolf guard asked once more despite his fear, “How long shall I have them wait?”
“Let them wait as long as they want and tell them to leave if they can’t wait!”
The guard no longer dared to say anymore and turned to leave.
A sigh suddenly echoed through the hall, followed by a gentle voice. “Does this mean you’re breaking off all ties with that spider? Have you thought about how you’ll deal with them in the future?”
Brudo turned toward a corner of the hall where, in the shadows, sat a female—a human female.