Volume 4 – Perpetual Conflict, Chapter 82: Return Journey
With his True Sight, Qianye saw that Zhao Youpin’s stance wasn’t just for show. The surging origin power rippled outward with his body as the center, a full seven ripples extending toward the surroundings. All of them were potential attack routes, covering almost the entire semicircular area in front of him.
Zhao Youpin’s body swayed lightly like an immortal crane dancing in the wind, the seven origin power ripples fluctuating indefinitely along with his movements—it was as if he would launch a fierce attack toward a certain direction at any given moment.
The Soaring Wader Fist was indeed worthy of its status as a secret art. Judging from its origin power movements, it could be said that the art possessed both offensive and defensive capacities. The swaying movement afforded him many routes of attack while making it difficult for the opponent to grasp the trajectory of his assault. For the same reason, he was also capable of calmly dealing with all attacks within the wide coverage area. That semicircular area-of-effect might expand even further if Zhao Youpin were to reach the champion level.
But presently, all of the Soaring Wader Fist’s variations were clear as day in Qianye’s eyes. The secret art was, true to the Zhao clan’s style, fairly elegant and flowery. It was constantly suffused with an unhurried calmness and seemed free of all worldly intent. But this was also why, despite its quick-witted elegance, the art was three parts lacking in power.
Qianye immediately accumulated his origin power and strode forth to deliver a simple punch toward the opponent’s chest.
It was a jab from the Military Combat Arts. It wasn’t accompanied by any fancy movements, but faint rumbles of thunder seemed to echo in the air as the fist shot out.
Zhao Youpin’s range of swaying suddenly increased, almost losing his balance and involuntarily leaning toward the edge of Qianye’s incoming fist. He was greatly astonished because the incoming attractive force was so powerful that it took a fair amount of effort just to overcome it.
Zhao Youpin could no longer bother with bringing himself back to the most optimal position. He immediately let out a resounding scream as he swung his right hand like a wing and slapped down on Qianye’s fist.
A thunderous bang was heard as fist and palm collided. As if struck by lightning, Zhao Youpin’s entire body was severely shaken and suddenly flung backward. He crashed through the desks and tables along the way before slamming into the wall and coughing up a mouthful of fresh blood.
Zhao Youpin had never expected that he would encounter such a situation. For a while, he was startled, afraid, and even his brain was blanked out. He saw Qianye running over with large strides, but was slightly delayed in his reaction.
Qianye’s leg whipped out with a momentum capable of bringing about total annihilation. As if he had just woken up from a dream, Zhao Youpin shifted his body and evaded with all his might.
Qianye’s fist smashed down again, but this time, Zhao Youpin could no longer dodge and was forced to defend with his arms crossed—a thunderous boom rang out from the impact followed by the coughing up of even more blood.
Qianye’s attacks were like lightning and thunder, not leaving Zhao Youpin with even a moment to catch his breath. Each and every one of his moves was direct and agile, with most of the basic moves from the Military Combat Technique, but he was fast enough, powerful enough, and cruel enough.
Zhao Youpin had lost the initiative and had to exhaust all his strength just to defend against Qianye’s casual blows. He couldn’t understand why the latter’s strikes were so powerful despite being at the same level as him. It felt as if a great mountain was pressing down upon him, one so heavy that it made him despair.
Within moments, Zhao Youpin’s origin power defenses crumbled, allowing Qianye’s palm to strike right through and land heavily on his chest. The man couldn’t even cough up blood as his entire chest caved in amidst snapping sounds.
Qianye slowly withdrew his attacks and gazed at the dying Zhao Youpin.
While gasping for air, he said with great ferocity, “The Zhao clan won’t… let you go! They will hunt you down to the ends of the earth. I’ll be going first to wait for you down there!”
Qianye replied with an unmoved expression, “Then keep on waiting.” With that, he casually drew out a sword from the nearby rack and pierced it into Zhao Youpin’s heart. He then looked around the room, dropped the sword, and calmly leapt out of the window before disappearing into the night.
The battle was over in a flash and had involved only ten-odd moves. Only after Qianye left did the guards rush into the study and raise the alarm.
Qianye ran swiftly under the night sky and straight toward the airship port. The entire Darkshore City was in chaos at the moment, but this area just outside of the city’s west gates was relatively silent. The only difference from the norm was a several-fold increase in the number of guards.
However, these vigilant guards were only for show in Qianye’s eyes—he deftly crossed over the guard cordon and arrived before the three airships parked on one side of the port. There he chose the centurion class airship transporting a mixture of passengers and cargo.
Opening the emergency hatch at the rear of the airship was quite easy for Qianye; the set of metallic instruments used for torture could also open simple mechanical locks. Moreover, this centurion class airship was the empire’s most common dual-use public airship model and thus had no overly complicated mechanisms.
Qianye snuck into the airship from the auxiliary door, resecured the door, and removed all nearby traces. The airship, scheduled to fly for the Zhao clan capital in two days, was completely quiet at the moment with neither crew nor passenger on board. However, the greater half of the cargo hold was filled with goods.
Qianye headed toward the fuel chamber in the lower layer. The ship had already been resupplied with black stones piled up in the form of a small hill within the fuel reservoir. Qianye found an isolated corner near the wall where he dug out a hole, lined it with military use tarpaulin, and made his way inside.
Qianye emitted an origin power vibration, causing the surrounding black stones to roll down and bury him within. He then retracted all of his aura and gradually retracted his body temperature until he reached a state of semi-hibernation.
The chaos in Darkshore City eventually calmed down after the other two city guard captains appeared to take control. However, the tense atmosphere persisted.
As a city guard captain, Zhao Youpin’s assassination within a private residence was not a small matter. A city guard captain from such an important city could be considered a manger level character within the Zhao clan, belonging to the middle ranks.
The city guard mobilized in full force—they overturned Darkshore City as they searched for a full day and night, but to no avail. Naturally, an important area like the airship port was searched thoroughly many times over. Even the guests and their luggage were inspected stringently as were the goods in the cargo hold. It was just that no one thought to overturn and look through the pile of black stones in the fuel reservoir.
All of this torment only took place within Darkshore City region as external order had to be maintained. Otherwise, not to mention a mere captain, they would be rebuked by the Zhao clan even if it was the city lord who died.
As such, the centurion class dual-use airship carrying both passengers and goods took to the sky according to schedule and flew toward West Pole City.
Everything was normal within the Zhao clan residence in West Pole City, the only exception being the privately circulated news of Zhao Jundu’s imminent action.
This news astonished many people. Duke Chengen’s three highly ranked sons had just left for battle and hadn’t returned just yet. Zhao Ruoxi was also away from the city. There was no need to mention Zhao Weihuang himself—the man was with the Fire Beacon Corps all year round and would only return for major occasions and ceremonies.
There was a dedicated group of staff to operate the daily affairs of the Zhao clan and thus their absence wouldn’t cause any disturbance. However, the Duke Chengen lineage leaving no administrative character in the residence raised a fair number of eyebrows.
Soon, people from every residence became curious about this matter. However, Zhao Jundu had decided to set out alone this time—inquiring about his destination was out of the question since even his personal guards received no mobilization notice.
The folder related to the assassination of a city guard captain from Darkshore City arrived on Zhao Jundu’s desk the next day. The nature of this matter was relatively vile, but it couldn’t be considered too big a matter and was thus categorized as a third class document. This meant that the matter had already been handled, and Zhao Jundu needed only to know of it.
Zhao Jundu only glanced at the subject before tossing the folder onto the desk. He had been in a bad mood these days, and now after seeing that a stately guard captain had actually been assassinated within the city, he couldn’t help but feel enraged.
The file didn’t stop on the table. It slid off and landed on the floor with a bang, whereupon a loose sheet slowly fell out from it; it was a drawing. The conclusion of the search in Darkshore City was that this person had likely escaped and thus they were requesting the main branch to issue a wanted notice for him within the Zhao clan domain.
Zhao Jundu bent down to pick up the file and his expression changed slightly after glancing at the drawing. This was an ordinary-looking young man whose features couldn’t compare to that of the handsome youth in the other two drawings. But Zhao Jundu’s intuition was somehow making him associate the two.
He refocused his thoughts and went through the folder again. There wasn’t a lot of new content—this person had killed many soldiers in Darkshore City and had then assassinated the city guard captain for reasons unknown. Zhao Jundu picked up the drawing again and, after observing it for a while, suddenly noticed which part of it was similar to the other two.
The eyes! Both in the handsome drawing and the ordinary one, those eyes were too alike. Generally speaking, unless it was an overly complicated appearance alteration technique, one wouldn’t especially change the shape of the eyes.
Zhao Jundu couldn’t help but reach out to rub his forehead. He suddenly thought of Zhao Ruoxi and only then did he notice another issue. Regardless of who this person from Darkshore City was, the clear eyes of the youth in the drawing given to him by Uncle Wang actually bore a striking resemblance to his little sister.
Zhao Jundu gave it some thought before stamping some large characters on the file from Darkshore City: “Return for reinvestigation.”
Those from the Profound Library in charge of daily affairs couldn’t help but feel astonished after receiving this rejected folder. Zhao Jundu would usually only read through such cases and never take action. Could it be that there was more to the assassination in Darkshore City than it seemed on the surface?
The steward who had received the folder immediately understood something after he recalled the bedridden Darkshore City Lord and the ambiguity of this assassination case report. Several secret orders were dispatched toward Darkshore City before dusk that day. Soon, the secret agents who only answered to the main family were mobilized to further investigate the root of this matter.
While the Zhao clan headquarters and Darkshore City were busy with various things, the airship carrying Qianye finally arrived in West Pole City after two days and one night of flight.
The airship landed at a public airship port in the outskirts of West Pole City. There, Qianye waited until the dead of the night before emerging from the fuel chamber. It was quite fortunate that the Zhao clan was wealthy enough to stock enough fuel for a round trip, even for a public airship. The black stone reservoir was only half consumed, leaving Qianye with enough space to hide.
At this moment, the airship was completely empty and even the goods had been unloaded. Qianye made his way to the auxiliary door and left without leaving any traces just as he had done when he entered.
West Pole City was located in the hinterlands of the Western Continent and was also the heart of the Zhao clan’s four great provinces. In a grand display of their affluence, the city gates were kept open through the night and there was no tax for entry. Qianye discarded all the alterations in his appearance before entering West Pole City. That way, no one would be able to associate him with the incident in Darkshore City.
As expected of the number one city on the Western Continent, they also were quite efficient with news from the other continents. Naturally, Qianye paid the most attention to the war on Evernight Continent. From the current information he had obtained, it seemed the war was over—it was truly over.
The conflict had passed, and thus he didn’t need to hurry on his way back. However, he also couldn’t remain in the Zhao clan territory for too long since disguises weren’t omnipotent. True experts could utilize various unfathomable methods to lock onto a person’s whereabouts. It was best for him to leave the Western Continent as soon as possible.
Qianye booked a seat on the earliest public airship bound for Mount Taihang. His target was that small remote city. He would cross the Silentflame Steppes just as he did when he arrived and return to Evernight Continent via the grey channel.
Afterwards, Qianye lay low in West Pole City and almost never left the hotel room. Only when the scheduled time for his flight approached did he leave hurriedly for the airship port and boarded his airship.
Moments later, Qianye stood at the cabin window and watched as the ship gradually distanced itself from the ground. He felt much relieved as the airship sped into the distance, traversing over the mountains and rivers.
Zhao Jundu received news from the Sixth Elder not long after Qianye’s airship took to the skies.
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