As the ruler of a province, Marquis Bow.a.n.g held significant position and authority. The Far East Wei Clan had already recovered after successfully fending off a dark race offensive and things were looking better by the day. Hence, despite the small scale of investment on the floating continent, the marquis understood the defensive layout of Indomitable fairly well. Just a glance at the peripheral deployments was enough for him to discern its location and authenticity.
This defensive map held great significance and urgency. As for how it was obtained, that was no longer as important.
Marquis Bow.a.n.g said decisively, “Follow me to the Zhao clan main camp!”
At this moment, the one overseeing the entire war was Duke You, a man as capable as he was old. Knowing right away after seeing the map that this matter couldn’t be delayed, Zhao Xuanji made an immediate decision. One order after the other went out to the aristocratic families. Moments later, the troops in the city began to mobilize and numerous airs.h.i.+ps took to the skies.
Such a major movement couldn’t be concealed. Seeing that most of the troops were from the Zhao clan private army, many an astonished aristocratic family began seeking information on what had actually triggered such an operation.
The battle reports only arrived at dawn.
The Zhao clan and some of its allies moved out in full force to attack a demonkin warzone. The clan had utilized every resource at their disposal for this campaign, and it could be said that they had gone out in full force. Zhao Xuanji had even borrowed one of the imperial sub fleets guarding the void to provide cover fire.
The battle went surprisingly well—the Zhao clan army cut through the enemy forces like a hot knife through b.u.t.ter, encountering almost no resistance along the way. Many of the enemy’s defensive points weren’t even active when the airs.h.i.+p fleet—by virtue of the intelligence on the defense map—decimated them in advance. The demonkin marquis in charge of the warzone brazenly joined the battle, but he was made short work of by a pincer attack from Zhao Xuanji and Prince Rui. In the end, he had to flee with grievous injuries.
After punching through the warzone, Duke You didn’t continue fighting overzealously. Rather, he slowly a.s.sembled his forces under the cover of the airs.h.i.+p fleet and pulled back to his original battlefront.
This battle was so fast and sudden that even the other defense zones didn’t manage to react. The dark race army was still fixated on a.s.sailing the military’s defensive area, advancing over ten kilometers in half a night and killing Wu Daoyu’s subordinates in droves. The man felt his heart bleeding, but there was nothing he could do. It was too late to request reinforcements from the military, and all he could do was hold on until the last man.
Clearing out the entire demonkin warzone in one battle was a shocking achievement. The rumors about the Zhao clan’s reluctance to do battle were automatically destroyed, and many people began to ponder deeply about Duke You’s ability to mobilize an imperial fleet at the critical moment.
One more day pa.s.sed by before news began to spread that the key to this victory lay with the warzone map that the Wei clan heir had brought back. Numerous versions of the story began to fly about—there was one claiming that he had charged deep into enemy territory and s.n.a.t.c.hed the map from the enemy central command, and another about how he had sneaked past a thousand kilometers of enemy defenses to steal the information.
Since Wei Potian had made such a big contribution, next up was naturally the Zhao clan who would receive numerous rewards from both the military and the imperial family. In the several days that followed, Wei Potian was fully occupied by the many award ceremonies and dinner banquets. He would be dragged into a different wine party before the hangover from the last had pa.s.sed. Eventually, he had no idea where he was anymore.
In a short period, the Wei clan heir’s fame had reached its zenith and almost looked as if it might surpa.s.s that of Zhao Jundu’s.
It really was no surprise because that map was highly valuable. With its aid, Zhao Xuanji not only managed to wipe out a marquis’ entire force but even baited the enemy leader out and injured him. The demonkin marquis managed to escape in the end, but he was gravely injured—he would probably never recover even if he had survived. It could be considered the removal of a powerful enemy from the Evernight faction.
Among the four races, the demonkin’s combat strength would quickly surpa.s.s the other three races in the latter stages. A demonkin marquis’ combat strength was at least on par with that of werewolf and arachne mighty marquises. Additionally, the demonkin possessed mysterious abilities and secret arts that made fighting them quite a headache-inducing endeavor. No one was willing to fight against such an enemy. As such, to the overall battle on the floating continent, finis.h.i.+ng off a demonkin marquis could be considered great progress.
In the end, Wei Potian was awarded a marquis worth of contributions which, to him, was like a golden meat pie that had fallen into his lap. To be honest, all he had done was run an errand and pick up an item on his way back. At most, one could add the hour of unconsciousness to his labor and the mysterious kicks to the b.u.t.t.
Doubtlessly, all of these was part of Song Zining’s plan. This filled Wei Potian with a bit of worry in addition to the present delight. He refused to believe that Song Zining would be that kind—there must be some sort of trap behind the sweet bait.
The empire had always awarded contributors generously. Additionally, Wei Potian’s status was special and the Wei family was also a target of recruitment for many powers. Hence, his benefits this time were quite abundant. In addition to the military’s pure contribution points, the imperial family had also awarded him a number of rare treasures, enough to forge himself a set of battle armor. Besides, these treasures possessed special synergy with his Thousand Mountains. Apparently, they had been specially picked out for him.
The Zhao clan’s private rewards were similarly bountiful—they actually gave him a small high-speed battles.h.i.+p. Despite being a basic model, the present sent the Wei clan heir over the moon.
What puzzled Wei Potian was the fact that Song Zining never appeared again after that night, and no one knew where he had gone.
Wei Potian didn’t become muddle-headed from the unexpectedly ample rewards. After some thought, he decided to return to Far East Province and manage the war over there. The battle around Indomitable was becoming increasingly odd, with who knows how many powers wrestling behind the curtains. He knew that this was no longer the place for him. Besides, the Wei clan had little benefit in this war and Qianye had already deserted the empire. For a brief moment, Wei Potian felt truly downhearted and wanted nothing more than to leave this place immediately.
On a lone peak a thousand kilometers away from Indomitable, Bai Kongzhao was standing on a cliffside and gazing at the starry skies. No one knew what she was thinking.
Bai Aotu climbed up step by step. She then arrived beside the young girl and dropped a backpack at her feet, saying, “The things you want are here.”
Startled, Bai Aotu said with a smile, “This is the first time I’ve heard you say thank you, but these words are really quite cold. You still don’t consider yourself a part of the Bai family.”
Bai Kongzhao sighed. “I don’t belong to anyone, not even myself. I have no idea why I’m alive, either, perhaps it’s purely the will to survive.”
“Are you leaving?”
The la.s.s nodded. “I can no longer find any sense in remaining here.”
“There is war here, countless experts and enemies, even some that you simply cannot handle. Isn’t that reason enough to stay? If you want to kill, there are innumerable soldiers in the dark race army.”
“No, that’s not it.” The girl shook her head, her eyes inexplicably vacant. “I suddenly feel that there’s no longer any meaning to killing. Those people are no longer a threat to me, and killing them won’t make me feel any safer. Right now, I really don’t know what I want to do.”
Bai Aotu remained silent for a moment before saying, “Must you really go? Is it because of Zhao Ruoxi?”
The young girl shook her head. “No. I know she wants to kill me and she can kill me if she wants, but I have an inexplicable feeling that there is no longer anything for me to do in this place. My destiny is far far away.”
“Have you thought about where you’re going?”
“The neutral lands,” the la.s.s replied without any hesitation. It would seem she already had an answer.
“Because of Qianye? Are you still going to kill him?”
Bai Kongzhao’s eyes were full of bewilderment. “Him? Perhaps, perhaps not. I only feel that I need to go and take a look there.”
“The neutral lands suit you very well. Then, I wish you good luck.”
The young girl revealed a smile of self-derision. “Good luck shouldn’t belong to someone like me.”
“Neither I,” Bai Aotu replied indifferently.
The young girl picked up her backpack and waved at Bai Aotu. “I’m leaving now.”
Just before jumping off the cliff, Bai Kongzhao looked back and said, “Although I’m not from the Bai clan, I like this name. I’ll keep on using it!”
She then leapt off the cliff and fell straight down, eventually fading away into the vast wilderness.
Only a good while later did Bai Aotu leave in silence.
Life in the neutral lands was surprisingly calm. Qianye’s daily job consisted of digging pits and renovating the house. After that great battle, East Peak had no more martial uses—it quickly became a shovel for digging through soil and a saw for chopping trees.
After several days, a rather impressive looking courtyard had begun to take shape. The walls had been fully constructed, complete with a lookout tower and two big houses each occupying half of the interior. On the other side was a storeroom. Only a small part of it was visible on the surface with the remainder being an underground icehouse.
The old man had already set up his workshop. At the moment, he was mostly producing equipment for daily use and spare parts for ancient machines, which gave him a sense of accomplishment.
Nighteye and Zhuji would go out to hunt every day while scouting the surrounding areas in pa.s.sing. The environment on the other side of the river was no different from this side, but a widespread mist hung in the air less than ten kilometers from the riverbank. Neither Nighteye nor little Zhuji entered it because they could feel a vague sense of danger from within it.
That night, the sky was starting to grow dark and the temperature was quickly dropping. The little courtyard, however, was full of warmth as the flickering blaze drove away the rising cold.
There were already several dishes on the dining table, filling the room with their delicious aroma. One could tell at a glance that it was Qianye’s work. The door opened at this point and in walked Nighteye. Squealing in delight upon seeing the dishes, she quickly shook away the frost on her cloak and took her seat at the table.
Qianye walked out from the kitchen with a huge bowl of soup in his hands, a ladle in his mouth, and a plate on his head.
He put the soup down on the table and glanced about. “Where’s Zhuji?”
“She’s gone down to the sea, but she should be back soon since it’s dinner time,” Nighteye replied.
“I guess so. No matter how playful this little girl is, food is still the most important thing to her. She’ll return after a while,” Qianye said with a smile.
At this moment, the doors flew open with a bang and Zhuji rushed inside with a lobster even bigger than herself, crying, “Extra dish, extra dis.h.!.+”