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Duke Minghai, Duke Wenyuan, and the group of generals arrived beside Qianye, waiting for their next order. Qianye scanned the men with his eyes.
Everyone here had been reborn, regardless of their person or status. Just like the demonic army Zhao Jundu had led back then, they were devoid of fear and keen to push the limits of their strength.
Some of them found it strange. Why would he stop right as their destination was in sight?
With a wave of his hand, Qianye summoned a map of the area with his blood energy. There was a bright spot on a mountain close to the entrance.
“The final battle will be here.”
“Not bad, easy to defend and difficult to attack,” Duke Wenyuan said.
“The prolonged exposure to the black flames have made the nearby mountains even harder than top-grade alloy. None below the marquis rank can even damage it. It’s definitely a good battleground where our geographical advantage will remain constant,” said Duke Minghai.
Duke Wenyuan added, “The only problem is that we have no supplies. If the dark races surround us without attacking, we won’t be able to last long. We’ll need to plunder some supplies if we are to fight.”
“Correct, the Empire’s supply line can’t reach this place.”
After the generals had finished discussing this matter, Qianye said, “Let’s go, we’ll figure it out when we get there.”
A route appeared on the projected map, more or less a straight line stretching towards the final battlefield. It shot past the vicinity of a fortress defended by a hundred thousand soldiers.
Yet, no one had any objections about this path.
The silhouette of the fortress appeared over the horizon not long afterward. In the dusky environment of Blacksun Valley, the stronghold looked like a sleeping void colossus.
Since the imperial soldiers could see the fortress, it was only natural that the other party would’ve seen them too. The soldier in charge of the sentry tower immediately sent a report, which was relayed up the ranks until it reached the commander of this fortress, Vampire Duke Dominica.
The man was having lunch when the report was delivered. The table before him was full of good food—the array of eleven main dishes went to show how high his status was. Vampire nobles paid particular attention to every detail of their lifestyle, no matter where they were.
Seeing his aide enter with a report, Dominica said in a bored tone, “You must be mistaken? What kind of report is so urgent that you need to bring it here, can’t you seem I’m having lunch?”
The aide looked terrified, but that didn’t stop him from speaking, “Lord Dominica, I’m sorry for disturbing your meal, but this is an urgent report that requires you to make a decision.”
“What’s so urgent? Are the enemies at the gate?”
“In fact, they are passing right by our gates.”
“What?!” Dominica was so surprised that he spilled a bit of his wine. A sense of foreboding arose in his mind. “Bring the report to me.”
The aide hadn’t even moved when Dominica snatched the report and walked out of the hall, reading along the way. “So slow.”
The duke was nowhere to be found when the aide exited the hall. Fortunately, he understood Dominica’s habits quite well, so he made straight for the gates. As expected, the duke was already on the gate towers, staring into the distance with a serious expression.
The aide followed the gaze. With his visual power, all he could see were soldiers moving toward the sinkhole. He could tell that the enemy forces weren’t big and probably just around three thousand men. A random marquis and his direct subordinate forces could outnumber them two to one.
As the aide saw it, the brazen passing by of this unit was no different from a resounding slap to the sacred blooded races in the fortress.
It wouldn’t be too excessive for Duke Dominica to respond to this insult in person.
Yet the duke seemed pensive. The anger and impulse on his face slowly faded away, replaced by a shiver that ran down his spine.
He said with a swing of his sleeve, “This matter is of utmost importance. Write a report and send it to Her Majesty as quickly as possible!”
The aide was startled. “They’ll be gone by the time I finish writing.”
Dominica’s expression darkened. “Write what I tell you to! If you utter more nonsense, I’ll put you in the blood pond and turn you into nutrients.”
The aide wanted to say something, but a comrade dragged him off to the side. After the duke was gone, that person said, “You idiot! That human squad made it here with so few people, how do you think they managed that?”
The aide was startled. “Could it be… that person?”
“Who else? The Tempest is in his hands now.”
The aide was enlightened, but he still wanted to argue. “But, the duke won’t necessarily lose to him!”
“What if he does? Go write your report. I think your position is in danger.”
The aide left hurriedly.
Outside of the fortress, Duke Wenyuan’s eyes gleamed brightly. “Those dark race bastards are afraid to come out and fight us! Such cowards!”
“The commander probably put the fear of god into them. With the Tempest in his hands, which ordinary duke would want to commit suicide against him?” Duke Minghai chimed in.
Duke Wenyuan, “I wonder how big of a bang you and I will go out with!”
Duke Minghai laughed, “No matter how big, we’re both accompanying the sire.”
The two had formed a heroic bond amidst laughter.
Qianye stared intently at the fortress, but seeing no movement, he turned back and went on with his journey. What he didn’t know was that the entire fortress was busy, brainstorming how to write a report to Nighteye.
This report had to be carefully written. Nighteye might not look at it now, but she might flip through them at a later date. Even if she never read it, some council members might do it one day. They couldn’t say that they were afraid of meeting Qianye and the Tempest in battle, could they?
The report stated that the forces in the fortress were waiting for a decision from the higher-ups because the matter was of great importance. Both imperial and Evernight nobles were quite familiar with this tactic.
The small human squad thus left the massive fortress behind and inched closer to the black pillar of flames. Even the ordinary soldiers could see it now.
Half a day later, they arrived at the foot of the tall mountain.
Standing less than a thousand meters tall, this mountain wasn’t all that high. However, it was the only high-ground in the flat region. The geography at the summit was complicated, with giant rocks dotting the area. These rocks closer to the sinkhole were round and smooth, a feature that had formed after prolonged exposure to the flames.
The mountaintop was even more advantageous for them than Qianye had anticipated. The wide road leading to the sinkhole was under the control range of this mountain. Occupying this peak effectively cut off the connection between the sinkhole and the fortress as they could fire upon anyone trying to travel between them.
The mountaintop was still hot at this point, so much so that even champions were sweating and ordinary soldiers found it difficult to bear with the heat. This was probably why the dark races hadn’t occupied this place yet.
The flames were already weakening by the day, so it was likely that troops would be able to occupy the peak in a few days’ time.
Glancing at the surroundings, Duke Minghai and Duke Wenyuan were both somber. Fighting here would demand even more resources than normal. Their supply of drinking water alone wouldn’t last that long.
Qianye gazed at the distant sky, at a small black dot that was moving toward them at a leisurely pace. The dukes eventually realized that the approaching object was actually a void colossus. It was just that the creature was sporting dozens of origin-sails on its back, an odd integration of human technology.
“Martyr’s Palace!” Duke Minghai cried out.
It was no secret that Qianye possessed the Martyr’s Palace. The humans had relied on this massive airship to destroy two duke-grade vessels on the void-continent and claim victory. The only problem was that few had ever laid eyes on the airship despite its fame. Even Duke Minghai and Wenyuan took a while to snap out of their reverie.
The Martyr’s Palace arrived slowly, stirring quite a bit of ruckus in the Evernight fortress.
It was flying well beyond the fortress’ firing range. Moreover, the Evernight side never had any air force advantage, to begin with. Most of their airsh.i.p.s here were just for transport since they couldn’t bear to mobilize those expensive ones. None of their experts dared fly up to fight the colossus, either.
The more intricate and advanced the airsh.i.p.s were, the faster they would degrade in the adverse environment of Blacksun Valley. And there was no need for such advanced vessels unless mobility was a requirement.
The Martyr’s Palace traveled unobstructed until it slowly descended onto the mountain peak.
The great army everyone was expecting did not appear as the doors flew open; only Caroline walked out with a big crate.
“This is the thing you want.”
Qianye scanned the box, saying, “Good.”
“And this, I managed to get one after paying an exorbitant price.” Caroline passed Qianye a tightly sealed box.
“Whose is it?”
“It should be the Longevity Monarch’s.”
Duke Minghai and Wenyuan exchanged glances, realizing the topic of that conversation. The box contained an origin bullet imbued with the Longevity Monarch’s origin power, and there was no need to explain who that bullet was for. What shocked them was how such a treasure would actually leak out.
Qianye weighed the box in his hand. “A thousand years of development, yet there will always be maggots in the Empire.”
“It’s inevitable. As long as the backbone isn’t rotten, the general situation will remain intact.” Duke Wenyuan understood quite well.
Qianye put away the box and said to the two dukes. “Your journey with me ends here, the Martyr’s Palace will send you back to the rear base. Come find me seven days later when the pillar of black flames subsides.”
“What?” the dukes cried out in alarm.
“From here on out is my battle, you two will lead our troops back. All the soldiers who have managed to get this far are great men. Don’t sacrifice them needlessly. Now, get on the airship!”
The two dukes weren’t willing, but they didn’t know how to refuse Qianye’s order. The same went for all other soldiers. An impatient Caroline began rushing them; the environment here was too adverse. The longer the Martyr’s Palace remained here, the greater the risks.
The two dukes boarded the palace reluctantly. As the massive vessel took to the air, all the men were crowded around the windows.
On the summit. Qianye had produced a big flag and written a giant “Ye” on it, the last word of his name. He was satisfied as he observed his very own standard.
As the Martyr’s Palace drilled into the clouds, that big flag fluttered proudly in the air.
Qianye sat down beneath the flag, waiting quietly for the dark race army to arrive.
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