Volume 5 – A Distance Within Reach, Chapter 58: The Wei Clan Heir’s Coordinated Scheme
After discussing the war-map with the Dark Flame officers, Qianye selected a mine in the count’s territory as his target and began to mobilize his forces. He planned to have his main force stationed on Black Ridge, leaving Zhao Yuying in charge to maintain logistics and their retreat path. He himself would lead a company of light-armored elites to launch a raid.
Zhao Yuying only spoke up after seeing Qianye picking out warriors, “Are you serious?”
“Of course I am.” Qianye felt baffled.
“That’s a mine you know, an unending fountain of gold coins!” It turned out that her miserly character had resurfaced.
Qianye laughed. “If we can’t drive that old spider away, we can’t get our hands on any of them no matter how many mines there are. Moreover, didn’t you say there are many other places in this mountain range where we can excavate new black stone mines?”
Zhao Yuying wanted to grab Qianye’s shoulder out of habit, but Qianye easily got away. She rolled her eyes and asked with a laugh, “Qianye, why are you being so shy? Don’t tell me you’re still a virgin?”
Qianye’s countenance turned dark and replied coldly, “I’m most certainly not. Thank you for your concern.”
“Oh, that’s great then! Elder sister will take you to a brothel when we get back to the upper continents. There are a lot of premium goods there!”
The Dark Flame officers nearby seemed as though they wanted to laugh but didn’t dare. Qianye wanted to put his palm on his face—why had a proper strategy discussion deviated toward such a topic? In the end, he said helplessly, “This isn’t something you should be concerned about, is it?”
“What’s wrong about this sister caring about a major turning point in your life?” Zhao Yuying was bold and confident in her conviction.
Qianye really didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. How was caring about a major life event related to a brothel? In truth, he already had quite a few at his side—for instance, Lil’ Seven and Nine who were glancing over at him from a distance.
Speaking of a major turning point in life, there really were quite a few people concerned about it, including Song Zining and Wei Potian. It was just that their focus was entirely on one another’s major life event.
At this moment, Song Zining and Wei Potian were playing chess. Normally, such sophisticated matters were out of Wei Potian’s reach, but at this moment, the Wei clan heir was sitting beside the chessboard with a black piece in hand, gazing at Song Zining with a smile as though he was about to play a move of the ages. 
Meanwhile, Song Zining was inherently proficient in the miscellaneous arts. Although his skill in chess wasn’t comparable to a national grandmaster, it was still quite easy for him to fling Wei Potian away for a few streets. But his expression wasn’t joyful at this moment and could hardly maintain the usual elegance despite the group of n.o.ble ladies spectating the contest from the side. He was rubbing a handful of white pieces and had already cracked quite a few of them.
Judging from his expression alone, Song Zining was presumably about to give up and admit defeat. But looking at the chessboard, white was doing quite well and had beaten black into disorder—the outcome had already been decided.
Wei Potian, however, simply refused to admit defeat. He continued to place pieces randomly and even smiled faintly with the att.i.tude of a national expert. It was, once again, Wei Potian’s turn, but he didn’t even look at the chessboard. He simply opened his fan with a swoosh and began to wave it around absent-mindedly. The Wei clan heir’s way of holding the fan was rather valiant and looked as though he was raising a battle axe.
But the drawing on the fan was the work of a famous expert and it looked incomparably familiar. This should be Song Zining’s favorite item that he had been carrying around recently, and it seemed to have fallen into Wei Potian’s hand for some reason.
Wei Potian closed the fan with a swoosh and began pointing at Song Zining. “Just look, haha! What makes a gifted scholar? What makes a romantic? Aren’t they all like this? If anyone in the Song clan says they can surpa.s.s the Seventh Young Master, I’ll be the first to object!”
These words ignited a series of gentle feminine giggles that were inexplicably pleasant to the ears. These n.o.ble ladies were watching the game—some were sitting on Song Zining’s side, while the others were beside Wei Potian. The scene was joyful and harmonious.
The recent days were mostly filled with such scenes. Half of the distress originally belonging to Wei Potian was now shouldered by Song Zining. How could this not make Wei Potian delighted? Especially since the Wei clan heir had rarely ever succeeded in scheming and the one he had conned this time was Song zining.
Song Zining’s eyes swept past Wei Potian like a blade and calmly said, “Play your piece.”
Wei Potian’s mood was as good as having drunk a jug of cold water on a hot day. He didn’t look at the chessboard and, instead, spoke to the ladies with a laugh, “I, Old Wei, have always been an unrefined person with no other hobbies apart from fighting and womanizing. The only merit I have is my loud snoring. But look at this Seventh Young Master—his face, his chest, on second thoughts, just look at his face! Isn’t he so much better than me?”
He slapped his thigh. “Song clan. Ah, that’s the Song clan were talking about! My Wei clan isn’t that bad either, but we’re somewhat lacking in military expenditures and can’t draft that many soldiers. When the dark races come knocking at our doors, even I, the heir, have to fight them on the front lines. I’ve even lost count of how many times I was injured.”
With that, Wei Potian got up and lifted his clothes, “As a matter of fact, this daddy here has another deep scar on his b.u.t.t! Come, let me show you!”
The group of young misses cried out in alarm and immediately started giggling. Someone scattered a handful of chess pieces onto Wei Potian’s head, most of which then fell into the chess board. Later on, Wei Potian shamelessly messed up the chess board and demanded it to be a draw.
Song Zining was so angry that he couldn’t speak, but he didn’t dare to provoke Wei Potian either. Otherwise, who knew how chaotic the scene would become if the latter really took off his pants.
It was a fact that the game could no longer continue. It was already quite late at night, and all the n.o.ble ladies rose and excused themselves with smiles.
Song Zining grabbed Wei Potian who was about to slip away and growled through his teeth, “Wei Pighead! You clearly know I won’t fight for the Song clan lord’s position. Why do you have to con me like this?!”
Wei Potian grinned. “This is an era where looks are everything. Who else should I con?”
Song Zining replied coldly, “Qianye looks so much better than me. Why don’t you con him instead?”
Wei Potian halted his steps, sized Song Zining up from head to toe, and said while clicking his tongue, “What a brother you are!”
Song Zining replied unceremoniously, “You’re no better either. Otherwise, you wouldn’t bring these women over here!”
Wei Potian suddenly looked up at the moon and said solemnly, “Do you know what’s more important than looks?”
Song Zining responded subconsciously, “What?”
Song Zining suddenly felt like an idiot. It was such a foolish question, and the answer was just as dumb. Yet, he had actually accompanied this boar in such a conversation.
But things couldn’t go on like this. Wei Potian had been dragging him around all this time, and they would always be accompanied by a large group of n.o.ble ladies. The greater half of Song Zining’s forces were in the dark. Some stewards with special ident.i.ties wanted to report certain matters to him but found no opening to make an appearance.
Song Zining said solemnly, “Qianye is on his westward expedition and there is an entire pile of work regarding Dark Flame’s logistics. The matter with the expeditionary army hasn’t ended either, so I have a lot of work to do. I won’t be able to do anything if I’m entangled by these women.”
Wei Potian folded his arms in front of his chest and gazed at Song Zining with narrow eyes. He then broke into a laughter all of a sudden. “Dark Flame? Qianye is the corps commander, but I feel that all the men inside are yours.”
Song Zining’s gaze fixated upon him, and the two proceeded to stare daggers at each other.
After a while, Song Zining laughed. “This is a business partners.h.i.+p between me and Qianye. My investment will reach thirty percent share at most. Even if we have some old grievances, do you really have to pick this time to trouble me?”
Wei Potian extended three fingers in an unperturbed manner and waved it in front of Song Zining. “Very well then, promise me one thing. Lose three rounds of chess to me publicly, and I’ll give you some pointers.”
Losing three rounds of chess was only a bit of humiliation and nothing big. Song Zining thus agreed on the spot.
Wei Potian laughed loudly and said, “It’s easy to deal with those women. Just do what you must and pretend they don’t exist. Oh, right! It’s always a good strategy to bring up other suitable candidates for them and split the firepower.”
Song Zining ground his teeth after hearing this. Apparently, he was such a target for sharing firepower.
When Nangong Ling and three other n.o.ble ladies came to find Wei Potian, the Wei clan heir was in exceptionally high spirits. He brought them to the seventh division headquarters to drink with Zhang Zixing.
Wei Potian began to boast after three cups of wine had gone in. He claimed that he was unrivaled in chess, and it was easy for him to take down Song Zining. Nangong Ling and the others had already seen how he had shamelessly failed to acknowledge his defeat, but they didn’t reveal anything at the moment and only concealed their faint chuckles.
Zhang Zixing had actually played a couple of rounds against Song Zining and utterly lost. How could he be satisfied after hearing this? “It’ll be a miracle if you can beat Seventh Young Master.”
Wei Potian waved his hand and laughed. “That gigolo? Not to mention win against him, even winning three times straight isn’t impossible. I’m not bluffing! You want to bet?!”
Zhang Zixing laughed and said, “What does the Wei clan heir want?”
Wei Potian rubbed his hands and said, “I heard you have a piece of high-quality silken essence gold in your hands. I’m not very greedy; just give me about 250 grams of it.”
Zhang Zixing couldn’t help but glare at him. Silken essence gold was a rare metal used to make high-quality armor, but Wei Potian’s words made it seem like cabbage. “250 grams? It’ll be difficult to bring out such an amount even if you rob me. What do you want it for?”
Wei Potian said, “I already have quite a few other raw materials and only missing that one thing. With it, I can have someone forge a heart armor for one of my brothers.”
“Qianye, the head of Dark Flame. You’ve also met him before. One can die any day in a place like Evernight. This daddy here will feel more at ease with a good armor on him.”
Zhang Zixing’s expression eased up quite a bit. He gave it some thought and said, “Very well then. What will you bet?”
“How about this fan?” Wei Potian brought out Song Zining’s folding fan, opened it with a swoosh, and showed off both sides.
Zhang Zixing was quite knowledgeable. “This is the work of an expert, and the price is extraordinary. But I’m someone who leads soldiers into battle. What must I do with such a thing?”
“You don’t like it, but that doesn’t mean those old men will feel the same. These ladies like it even more. Just look at their expressions!”
Nangong Ling and the others reached out to poke Wei Potian ruthlessly. Fortunately, he possessed thick skin, and they weren’t even able to tickle him. As for how this fan arrived in Wei Potian’s hands, no one knew the actual story behind it.
Zhang Zixing nodded with a smile and agreed to the bet.
The two continued drinking until noon. Wei Potian then dispatched someone to send word to Song Zining. After confirming the latter was at the Dark Flame headquarters, the intoxicated Wei Potian headed over to play chess with Zhang Zixing in tow.
Wei Potian was belching from the alcohol even as he sat down unsteadily at the chess table. Even in this manner, he played three rounds in succession and actually won the bet.
Zhang Zixing was dumbfounded. Wei Potian’s chess style was unrestrained and fairly strategic. But he had experienced Song Zining’s chess ability before—it was bold, imaginative, and flexible. He simply didn’t believe Wei Potian would win three rounds in succession. It was impossible to say nothing fishy was going on.
But Zhang Zixing also noticed that although Wei Potian and Song Zining were both Qianye’s friends, they were secretly at odds. How could they work together to scheme against him? He connected the dots and understood that this was probably a linked scheme set up single-handedly by Wei Potian.
Despite realizing what was going on and his displeasure at being tricked, Zhang Zixing was still willing to accept the loss. He immediately ordered his guards to deliver the silken essence gold to Wei Potian’s residence.
Wei Potian laughed shamelessly and said, “Just a small trick, don’t take it to heart.” With that, he brought out the folding fan and slipped it into Zhang Zixing’s hands.
Zhang Zixing was startled—Wei Potian was actually planning to trade all along, and the bet was just an excuse. His expression relaxed quite a bit.
Song Zining saw everything from the side and immediately realized that he had been thoroughly exploited. His face couldn’t help but turn dark.
It was at this time that a sharp alarm echoed over Blackflow City. Everyone’s expression changed—how could there be a sudden alarm with the third division’s airs.h.i.+ps patrolling the skies?
Zhang Zixing rose into the air without a word, and his guard unit ran after him at full speed. Numerous light jeeps began speeding at full throttle toward the nearest sentry post.
Zhang Zixing flew into the sky over the watchtower, whereupon he gazed into the distance and found four black dots—those were four airs.h.i.+ps approaching them at high speeds! No wonder the patrolling airs.h.i.+ps didn’t have time to report back. The other party had already overwhelmed all the airs.h.i.+ps in his sub-fleet in terms of speed.
Zhang Zixing’s heart trembled momentarily. He emitted a long whistle which reverberated through the sky, sending all the corvettes and destroyers in his sub-fleet scrambling into the air while the main battles.h.i.+p started up its engines.
The four airs.h.i.+ps in the distance approached without slowing down and made a beeline for Blackflow City. They began to send out a series of light signals after seeing imperial airs.h.i.+ps rising into the air one after another.
“So it’s from the Red Scorpion.” Zhang Zixing felt relieved.
At this time, Song Zining and Wei Potian had arrived atop the wall. They glanced at one another with peculiar expressions.
 Chess here is referring to “go” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_(game).