Monarch of Evernight - Volume 10 - The Flag of Evernight (1183-) Chapter 1209: Expert Assault
The new army in Pagoda City was nearing the end of its training period and the general situation throughout Zheng was also becoming clear. While taking down the western corridor region, Qianye cleared out all of the Second Prince’s remnant forces. This served to shut up all those who were somewhat suspicious of his power.
Additionally, the other princes weren’t a match for Nan Ruohuai and his Royal Guard. After a series of bad losses, they were either dead or had fled, leaving only a handful of obstinate factions. Everyone knew that there was no longer any hope for these princes. Even if they could destroy the entire Royal Guard, Qianye would turn back and wipe them out.
With the general situation growing clearer, a lot fewer people offered resistance. This reduced the number of troops Qianye needed to station in each territory to maintain the occupation. He left three thousand men in Eastern Sun Island and two thousand in Expansive, moving the other five thousand to Pagoda City. At the same time, Qianye sent someone back to the neutral lands to transfer twenty thousand troops over. Dark Flame started recruiting another fifty thousand soldiers in the meantime and began training them.
During this period, Qianye never stopped cultivation despite how busy he was with military affairs. His daybreak origin power made sharp progress, and his nine origin vortices were perfectly full three days before the appointed date of the western expedition.
At this moment, he could see that his vortices were like a golden sea of light. The revolving origin power had condensed to an extreme state, filled with countless golden granules. Above the vortices were plumes of hot golden fire.
Such origin vortices were at the absolute limit of their progress. They could no longer absorb origin power, not even the purified version from the Song Clan Ancient Scroll. Qianye, at present, would step into the divine champion realm in just a single tiny step, accomplishing something so many people in the Empire could only dream of.
However, Qianye suddenly discovered a problem on the cusp of advancement!
It was precisely because the origin power in the vortices was too pure that the golden origin fluid was extremely dense. The speckles within were a sign of natural crystallization, but how could it be so easy to condense everything into solid? At the very least, Qianye wasn’t able to compress all the fluid into solid after going all out.
This meant that he might never be able to cross the divine champion barrier with his own power.
Qianye fell into a daze after discovering this fact. All cultivators in this world had to worry about their origin power lacking in purity. Who would’ve thought an overly pure origin power would bring about such a reverse effect?
Qianye was slightly distracted, but he was far from dejected. Back in the year when he was injured, every rank-up required him to invest several times the origin power compared to ordinary people. Even becoming a champion was a hazy dream back then, but he had gotten through it all. If he couldn’t get things done on his own, all he needed to do was seek out external opportunities.
News of Qianye’s imminent western expedition spread throughout Zheng. The response throughout court was far from unanimous, but the main voice was one of opposition. The ministers, led by the grand secretary, did their utmost to persuade Nan Ruohuai to stop Qianye’s expedition. This progressed to the point where their words were bordering on a quarrel.
The grand secretary’s line was that the great corridor would fall into Qianye’s hands if the expedition was a success. Zheng’s only exit would then be blocked, and with it, the nation’s hope of future expansion.
Looking at the impassioned ministers below, Nan Ruohuai felt both anger and comedy as he sat on the throne. For several decades, Zheng’s losses and wins against the dark races had been shouldered by Pagoda City’s defense system alone. The enemy was already building fortresses at their door, yet these people dared to talk about expansion? The only reason Pagoda City could last as long as it did was because of that talented general, Xu Jingxuan. If it was any other person, the dark races would be surging into the country by this point.
Now, these civil ministers were afraid that Qianye would gain the advantage, acting like dogs in the manger. That was the gist of their attitude.
At this point, Nan Ruohuai said calmly, “Then, how do you suggest I stop him?”
The ministers began suggesting all kinds of strategies, including working with the dark races. Apparently, they were planning to use all kinds of unscrupulous methods to kill Qianye.
Nan Ruohuai listened until the ministers’ grew thirsty and had to pause for a bit. Only then did he say, “Good ideas, good ideas. Now, which one of you is willing to lead our troops and take back Pagoda City for me?”
The court fell into utter silence.
Qianye, in Pagoda City, naturally had no idea about this little interlude. Zheng’s internal movements were not important to him at all.
There was no unnecessary ceremony on the day of the expedition. He simply issued the usual orders, commanding the main army to set out as planned. As for motivational speeches and the like, nothing could compare to the warship fleet hovering in the air.
As the land between Pagoda City and the enemy fortresses was frequently used as a battlefield, there were virtually no human settlements or dark race tribes. The only people in the area were wilderness hunters, sly and ruthless men on the prowl for things to hunt.
Before Qianye’s airship fleet, however, the hunters became the hunted. All they could do was hide as the massive shadows flew overhead, praying that they would not be found.
The entrance to the great corridor was overcome by an unprecedented tremor as the rumbling airship cannons rocked the mountains and shook the earth. One stone castle after the other collapsed, and the small fortresses were drowned in a sea of flames. The troops garrisoned in these structures fled frantically, but what awaited them were low-flying gunships and air-dropped mercenaries.
The number of mercenaries was small, but they were exceptionally fierce, and their firepower, outrageously dense. A one-hundred-strong mercenary squad was able to firmly suppress an enemy force six times their number.
With their retreat blocked, most of the dark races went berserk and charged at the mercenaries. They had always looked down on the humans and considered the warriors of Zheng to be the very representation of weakness and cowardice. No matter how many of them there were, a single charge was usually all it took to break them.
What they didn’t know was that the soldiers before them weren’t forces from Zheng but Qianye’s Dark Flame mercenaries.
The fierce firepower reaped most of the dark race soldiers along the way. The short sprint-charges the werewolves took great pride in was an utter joke against the metallic torrent. One werewolf after the other fell, riddled with bullet holes.
Only a hundred or so out of five hundred remained when they reached their destination. The dark race soldiers weren’t discouraged by the setback; they actually became more excited and entered a state of bloodlust. From experience, a dozen or so dark race warriors could defeat a hundred human soldiers. Close quarters combat was the werewolf’s home ground.
The mercenaries weren’t panicked by the arriving werewolves. They threw down their origin guns, drew their swords, and threw themselves forward.
The surviving dark race soldiers felt as though they had run into a wall of metal; their sharp claws were helpless against the mercenaries’ heavy armor. On the other hand, the humans were unimaginably strong and would often cut the werewolves in half with each slash.
In just a single charge, only a dozen or so werewolves remained standing. These survivors only lived ten seconds longer as they were mowed down by the mercenaries’ counter charge.
Similar scenes were playing out all along the corridor. Qianye’s forces destroyed the castles and intercepted the fleeing enemy with each assault, uprooting all the smaller strongholds around the two main fortresses. The fleet, transports, and ground forces worked with great unison and structure as they devoured the dark race forces one after the other.
All of this happened so fast that most of the surrounding strongholds had fallen—with over ten thousand dark race warriors either captured or killed—before the werewolves in the two fortresses were able to react.
The fortress commander’s orders would never arrive in time to organize a counterattack on the spot. Hence, their only choice was to recall all forces back to the fortress, but only half of the retreating troops survived the intercepting airship fleet.
The first wave of attacks came to an end at night. Qianye became quite spirited when the generals submitted their battle reports.
In this battle, they had uprooted over forty peripheral strongholds and crushed over fifteen thousand enemy soldiers, six thousand of them taken in as war prisoners. Most of the prisoners were werewolves, but there was a good number of arachne and vampires as well.
In this manner, the two fortresses had lost their external barrier despite still holding twenty thousand soldiers. They had also lost fifteen thousand soldiers, which served to lower the difficulty of the next assault.
When Xu Jingxuan came to see Qianye, his eyes were sunken and he looked fairly tired. However, he was full of excitement when he presented the report and offensive strategy for the two fortresses.
The plan he had put forth was fairly detailed and thorough, so much so that it had taken into account their air-superiority. According to his strategy, they would only lose a couple thousand men to take down the fortresses.
This casualty rate was normally acceptable, considering they were taking down such a big fortress. However, Qianye pointed at the main cannon and asked, “You want to focus on these?”
“Yes, according to our current reports, only your battlecruiser can destroy these two main cannons while taking on their counterfire. During this time, we must provide enough suppressive fire to shut down the other cannon turrets in the city.
Qianye nodded. “Leave this cannon turret to me, you draft up another plan.”
“Do as I say.”
“Yes!” Xu Jingxuan left hurriedly, both terrified and excited to finally see Qianye in action!
From what he had said just now, he was planning to launch what was called an expert assault. Although most battles were decided by the experts, an expert assault wasn’t a frequent option in actual battle. Even fewer would throw out their ace at the very beginning, especially since they were facing a fortress and the danger level was difficult to guess. If something were to happen, the entire expedition could collapse.
Xu Jingxuan knew how powerful Qianye was, but even Liu Zhongyuan wouldn’t dare attack the enemy fortress’ main cannon alone.
Dark Flame’s fleet was already in the air as the first rays of dawn arrived. Like a dark cloud, it bore down toward one of the Wolf Fang Fortresses.
The airships had just arrived above the fortress when Qianye jumped down toward one of the main cannons.
The well-prepared cannon rumbled, spitting out an astonishing stream of fire at Qianye!
In his True Sight, Qianye could see a big mass of darkness origin power rushing at his face. This shot was highly-skilled—it was fired with great accuracy despite Qianye being a small and mobile target. However, Qianye’s figure disappeared with a flicker as the projectile barreled up into the air, blasting a slow gunship into pieces.