Chapter 1159: Battle of Attrition
Within Whitetown, Qianye hadn’t closed his eyes for long before he was woken up by the rumbling of cannons. He stood up and glanced out of the half-standing wall, only to find a group of vampire swordsmen charging over in utter silence.
Qianye remained still. Under the effects of bloodline concealment, he was able to remain undetected even as the vampire soldiers rushed past him. Only when they had passed did he stand up and aim his Mystic Spider Lily at the back of a vampire knight’s head. He then vanished again after a single shot.
The knight let out a miserable scream as he fell to the ground, rolling about while clutching his head. The vampire warriors stopped immediately—some remained on guard, while the others tried to save their officer. The vampire knight was the leader of this squad. Currently, he was critically injured, but not without hope of survival. In the end, the soldiers had no choice but to split off most of their men to carry the knight out of the battlefield. The remaining handful of soldiers became cautious as they explored deeper into Whitetown.
Qianye’s figure vanished after observing the developments. When he appeared again, he was already on a rooftop several street blocks away, hurling a spear and pinning a werewolf baron to the road.
That baron’s two followers wanted to help their master, but some of the corpses on the roadside suddenly stood up. A hail of bullets ensued, punching holes in the two followers until they looked like sieves. The mercenaries then scattered in every direction, lying down again elsewhere and pretending to be corpses.
Every corner, light and dark, might see a bullet or a dagger suddenly appear, so every corpse had to be confirmed for authenticity. It wasn’t even certain if a random pile of rubble was safe—a number of mercenaries might rush out or it might collapse and turn into a trap.
The dark races had dug numerous tunnels under Whitetown to store supplies. After Song Zining took over the city, he expanded these tunnels to form a maze-like network with several layers. At this point in the fight, all these arrangements were being fully utilized.
After suffering in the city ruins repeatedly, the dark races soon discovered that the secret was underground, yet they had no way to counter the strategy. They had discovered some underground entrances, but those entering would never return. No one knew which passage was real and which was a death trap.
The entire city and the area below it were interweaving battlefields, where danger was lurking in every direction.
In these ruins, two enemies were the most dangerous—Qianye and Song Zining. The latter’s Three Thousand Flying Leaves Art could produce illusions that were difficult to discern. Numerous times, two different dark race units would see the silhouette of a mercenary group and end up killing one another.
Qianye, on the other hand, was the nightmare of titled experts. His Bloodline Concealment made him look like an ordinary mercenary on the battlefield. The experts who were used to sensing things with their perception would ignore him because he was so similar to an ordinary soldier. Then… there was no more.
After killing a demonkin viscount, Qianye finally felt a tinge of exhaustion. He had unknowingly been fighting for an entire day and lost count of the number of fights he had joined. Was it twenty or thirty?
The sky was turning dark, and the moon was glowing with a faint yellow hue, outlined by a thread of blood-red. The void continent would occasionally see two moons as well, but their positioning and shape were largely different from the main continents. This filled one with the feeling of being in a distant land, especially when the fight was at its fiercest.
A long steam-whistle resounded in the distance. This mournful and lonesome sound was the signal to retreat. The dark race soldiers ran out of the city like the receding tides, many of them falling to the bullets striking their backs. The mercenaries’ tenacity and blood-thirst had been fully awakened; they had no intention of holding back their fire just because the enemy was retreating.
Qianye climbed on top of a crumbling building and gazed at the direction of Whitetown. In his eyes, the specks of light that represented living flesh had grown sparse. This meant that a good number of mercenaries had once again become corpses. Although he knew some of them were still in the underground tunnels, the number was fairly limited.
Sensing something, he leaped down onto a pile of rubble in a certain street block. Song Zining was gasping on a large rock. His mask was nowhere to be found, and even his white robe had disappeared. Only his spear was firmly in his hand, its color dim from the caked blood.
Qianye sat down beside him and sighed. “We don’t have many troops left.”
Song Zining replied, “They lost a lot more.
“Many of them have been following us for some time.”
Song Zining understood Qianye’s mood. “Qianye, it’s normal for people to die in such battles. This is a frontal war between two major factions. Not to mention a couple thousand soldiers, you, me, and even bigger characters are just small pawns on the battlefield. We have no choice even if we’re pushed to the forefront.”
Qianye sighed. “I really don’t understand sometimes, what’s all this fighting for?”
“Survival and resources, what else? Ha, those aren’t things we should be thinking about. What we need to do now is survive.” At this point, Song Zining patted Qianye’s back. “You’re a man who’s going to stomp on the Sacred Mountain, how can you be so downcast? Haha.”
“How about you? What do you fight for?” Qianye asked all of a sudden.
Song Zining said after a period of silence, “Before the old ancestor went into death cultivation, I could already feel that she was filled with regret. She regretted not ruling with a heavy hand and cleaning out the family. Speaking of which, I wouldn’t have received training in Yellow Springs if she hadn’t made the final decision back then.”
“She was the one who made the decision?” Qianye was shocked.
Song Zining had never mentioned how he had come to join the Yellow Springs camp. Qianye had always thought Song Zining had been abandoned by the clan after his talent test was manipulated. That was why he never asked about the details. Now, it would seem that Song Zining did suffer discrimination in the clan, and the old duchess was also pulling the strings from behind.
“Yellow Springs wasn’t a bad thing. Think about it, those on the Evernight Continent would never get such resources even if they sold their lives for it.” Song Zining stretched lazily. “I’m so tired, let me lean on you.”
Qianye kicked away a charred piece of metal and sat down with his back against Song Zining. The two reminisced about the past, about Yellow Springs, and the time before they had met.
This was an era where one had to struggle for survival, not one where one could live upon another’s charity. Even if one could live by kneeling, some would rather die standing.
Thinking back to the Evernight dumpster, Qianye couldn’t avoid a certain scene from popping up in his mind. That silver-haired man reaching out to him, his body shrouded in lingering green light. It felt as though he had met an angel.
Far off in the distance, Romier’s expression was ashen as he observed the long casualty report. His eyes were so red that it looked like he was going to bleed.
Only titled experts were listed in the document, and that was exactly why this list was so shocking. Those at the scene couldn’t help but feel relieved that they weren’t a part of this list.
The only one who wasn’t astonished was Duke Pratt, the one other seated person in the room. He had indeed entered Whitetown and retreated when the order was issued. But how could ordinary experts know what he was doing inside the city? Even if some people knew, they didn’t dare speak out.
Romier had no way to deal with this. Looking at the casualty report, he finally realized Pratt’s mood when he was retreating. Over half of the titled experts under his command were now dead, including a marquis and no small number of direct relatives. This battle had severely damaged Romier’s forces, and it would take several decades to replenish the loss.
All eyes were on Romier at the moment. The man knew what everyone was thinking—they wanted him to enter Whitetown with Pratt. That was the only way to suppress Qianye and Song Zining. To be frank, it was time for a showdown between the two parties.
This decision, however, wasn’t easy.
Romier rarely fought in factional wars, but he wasn’t about to underestimate his opponents. As a powerful character of the Mamon clan, he knew certain secrets that even Pratt didn’t. He recalled the arachne duke who had charged into the Martyr’s Palace. The spider had to flee for his life almost immediately, leaving his fleet behind and traversing the void forcibly. Later on, he was saved by the reinforcement fleet, and that was the only reason he had survived. Even now, the arachne was still unconscious, and no one knew what had happened inside the Martyr’s Palace.
Romier couldn’t stop thinking about that expert who had injured the arachne duke. Where could they be hiding? He had investigated repeatedly, regardless of the cost, but he couldn’t find out the expert’s whereabouts. From the beginning up until the end, there was only Qianye and Song Zining inside Whitetown.
At the thought of this, Romier couldn’t help but glare at Pratt, but the old arachne pretended not to know.
Romier felt quite hateful at heart. If Pratt hadn’t given him the wrong information, he wouldn’t have lost so many soldiers. At this point, it seemed Whitetown had several thousand soldiers remaining at the very least. That meant Qianye had garrisoned over thirty thousand soldiers here!
Fitting thirty thousand men into this small place was crazy. And what black magic were these human defensive structures made of? They could still be used to fight a battle of attrition after being demolished by heavy cannons.
Gazing at the distant Whitetown, Romier finally spoke, “How many soldiers do we have left?”
“Sire, less than forty thousand.”
After a moment, Romier said with narrowed eyes, “Issue the order, all forces attack! All tribes, all warriors, I want everyone who can move on the front lines. The flagship will retreat back into the void.”
All the followers were shocked. “Sire, you must not!”
This was cutting off one’s path of retreat. Apparently, Romier was planning to burn their boats and defeat Whitetown. The only problem was that Romier was cutting off the retreat of those on the ground. People at his level could retreat immediately once things went south and return to the flagship. The other counts and viscounts who couldn’t traverse the void would be left behind to die.
Pratt understood Romier’s plan, but his own flagship was also in the void, so he was all too happy to follow the plan. The other people didn’t dare criticize Romier directly.
Having assigned the mission, Romier turned to Pratt with a smile. “Sire Pratt, would you be interested in taking a stroll through Whitetown with me?”
Pratt stood up and said, “There’s nothing to see there, but if Sire Romier is interested, I shall of course accompany you.”
“Very good!” Romier walked out of the warship and stood in the air. All the experts appeared behind him as the massive warship turned about and vanished over the horizon.
In Whitetown, Qianye felt as though he didn’t get to sit very long before the sound of cannon shells once again echoed through the air.
At this point, no one was bothering to intercept the projectiles. Origin power was precious—even Qianye couldn’t completely replenish his energy at this point, let alone others. The dark races didn’t have much ammunition left, either. The sparse cannon fire was just for a show of dominance.
Qianye and Song Zining exchanged glances, ready to split off into the field. It was at this time that Qianye sensed something and looked up at the sky.
The two Evernight dukes were slowly flying toward them, unleashing their aura without the slightest bit of concealment.
“Time for a showdown.” Qianye realized.
Song Zining glanced at Qianye and performed a hand gesture. Qianye nodded after some thought.