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Volume 4 - Perpetual Conflict, Chapter 63: Discovery
The lone peak was verdant, tall, and precipitous. This exceptionally eye-catching peak, akin to a sword pointing towards the sky, was one of the prominent landmarks Qian Ye had noticed in the scene Andruil had shown him.
He proceeded even more cautiously and gradually approached the lone peak under the cover of the surrounding topography. Dark race activity was obviously greater in this region, but it was still manageable as there was no increase in the inherent strength of the patrol squads.
Even though the Wings of Inception would be able to sense the entrance when it was nearby, searching for it in an area spanning thousands of square kilometers was no different from looking for a needle in a haystack.
But sometimes, the clumsiest of methods was the most effective. Qianye had already committed the landscape to memory and, thus, with himself as the center, he split the region into thousands of small areas which he later went through one by one.
On the second day, a group of humans appeared in Qianye's field of vision.
Hardly able to believe his eyes, he brought out a differential scope and began to scan them.
He scanned for vampires first and found that, among the dozens of people, about half were surging with blood energy, while the other half was non-reactive. Next, he found that the others were non-reactive in werewolf, demonkin and arachne modes as well. A faint glow began to s.h.i.+ne on their bodies only when he switched to the daybreak origin power gauge.
Qianye put down the scape with a heavy heart. Excluding the possibility that the enemy had utilized special anti-detection methods, the current results could almost confirm that half of the group consisted of humans, while the other half was made up of vampires.
Under normal circ.u.mstances, humans who cultivated daybreak origin power would be like sheep among wolves after entering dark race territory and would be torn to shreds before getting very far. Additionally, there was no need for the dark races to disguise themselves in this special region where their forces were especially concentrated.
This meant that these were bona fide humans who cultivated daybreak origin power and not those fellows who had fallen to the Evernight Faction. Such people were currently walking together in harmony with vampires—there was definitely something going on behind this.
Their manners were also somewhat peculiar. Instead of moving around aimlessly like ordinary patrol squads, they would pause after moving a certain distance, whereupon some of the humans in the group would operate certain machines or a.s.sume odd cultivating stances. Only after a while would they head over to the next region.
Qianye found, after observing them a number of times, that they seemed to be using special equipment, detection origin arrays, and spatial fluctuations. This gave him a bad, albeit vague, premonition.
He didn't continue tracking them but instead continued with his own search. But after half a day, he came across yet another similar group.
Qianye decided to take a risk after seeing that the unit had entered and stopped within a valley. He activated his Bloodline Concealment and retracted his aura, then circled to the front and hid inside an ancient tree.
This was an extremely dangerous endeavor. Although the party wasn't being overseen by a champion-level character, it still had several rank-eight knights in addition to a large number of high-ranking warriors. Without the advantage of range, it would be difficult for Qianye to even escape unscathed from such a force.
But his luck was quite good—the group did indeed walk over to where he was hiding but stopped when they were about 200 meters from his position. At such a distance, Qianye could clearly hear what they were talking about.
The vampire leader was a knight and, from his hangman's noose insignia, it was apparent that he was a member of the Byrne clan. The other vampires were also mostly warriors from the Byrne clan. The human leader, on the other hand, was a middle-aged man with a gloomy and distracted expression.
The Byrne clan knight and the middle-aged man stood together, looking at the men setting up the equipment or sensing their surroundings using meditation and origin arrays.
Impatience flashed across the Byrne clan knight's countenance as he said, "We've been searching for ten whole days with nothing to show for it. If you wretched humans dare lie to me, I'll tear you all to shreds and put you on the dining table!"
The middle-aged man fearlessly responded to the Byrne clan knight's threat with a sneer, "Our progress during these ten days is obvious. The numbers show that we're gradually closing in on the entrance. Hmph, you morons must've searched for months before working together with me, but what have you found?"
"This is an insult to our great ancient Byrne clan!"
"A mere knight can't represent the whole clan," the middle-aged man replied impolitely.
The knight drew his sword in a bout of fury and pressed its edge against the middle-aged man's neck. "Despicable human, all of you are only good for being diced and placed upon the dining table!"
The middle-aged man wasn't moved at all, and there was even some disdain in his smile. He pushed the blade away and said, "The current cooperation between us was finalized by the major characters. If you dare kill me and delay matters, not only you but also this whole squad will be wiped out. Away with your blade, idiot."
The blood knight's pale face warped and twisted while his chest heaved with great intensity. He suddenly pulled back his sword and growled, "You best be able to prove your worth. Or else, I'll personally dig your heart out!"
The middle-aged man glanced askance at him and mocked, "You're just a b.a.s.t.a.r.d who hasn't even condensed a blood core. If we really start fighting, it'll be me digging your heart out instead. And don't forget that the person working with us is Duke Garis. Do you intend to declare war on him?"
Neither of them was willing to give way in this verbal spar. From how the subordinate vampires and humans were all minding their own business, it was apparent that they had already become accustomed to this kind of quarrel.
Dark clouds filled Qianye's heart. He was puzzled as to why these humans would choose to work with the dark races, but it was apparent that they possessed certain techniques and information that might allow them to find the entrance to Andruil's hidden treasure before long.
Qianye knew he had to act faster.
After the group left, he continued on his own journey. He encountered many units along the way and their strengths were also increasing.
At dawn the next day, Qianye was struck by a sudden sense of alarm. The dark golden blood energy was still sleeping lazily outside his heart, but the pair of small wings on its back fluttered a number of times. After this, he felt a gentle voice calling out to him from the northwest.
It was the entrance!
Qianye calmed down his rapidly beating heart. It was imperative that he be more cautious at this point. He regulated his physical condition and returned himself to a state of concealed bloodline before running in the direction from which he was being called.
At this moment, over ten people were standing on an isolated peak and gazing into the distance. Since this was the highest point in a radius of hundreds of kilometers, one was able to take in the entire region while standing here.
The ten-odd people looked different and possessed greatly different demeanors. Over half of them belonged to the dark race, but there were also a number of humans among them. The leader on the dark race side was a vampire count while the humans were led by a young man, not even thirty years of age.
The vampire count asked the young man, "Mr. Li Rui, how's the progress on your side?"
He was fairly polite and didn't show the slightest hint of arrogance before this human. That was because he knew that this young man's age actually exceeded his external appearance and that his strength was much greater than his frail body would suggest. This vampire count couldn't hope to emerge victorious in a battle with this human.
Li Rui's gaze swept across the vast mountainous region below him, and he said with a smile, "We already have a general idea of its whereabouts. I'm currently four parts sure that Andruil's treasure is within this region."
The sound of a falcon suddenly echoed through the air as a fierce-looking bird flew in from the distance and landed on Li Rui's shoulder. He retrieved a copper tube from its claws and pulled out a paper slip from within. Once he had read the message, he allowed the bird to fly away.
With a wave of Li Rui's hand, his servants approached and opened up a map for him. He confirmed the coordinates for a moment and then marked down a certain location. There were dozens of similarly eye-catching marks on the map, vaguely forming a spiral shape together.
Li Rui stared at the map momentarily, then said to the vampire count, "We have more good news. We've picked up yet another origin power fluctuation. It seems our target is quite likely to be in this region. We should be able to find the entrance to the Black-Winged Monarch's treasure within half a month. When the time comes, I hope Duke Garis will honor his word."
The vampire count replied proudly, "We are of the great ancient Lakins clan. Duke Garis won't go back on his promise under any circ.u.mstances, so please rest a.s.sured!"
Li Rui smiled. "All is well then. According to our agreement, everything related to the Wings of Inception will go to your side, while everything else will be split 50-50. Additionally, I've already prepared enough black crystals and mithril. I hope our upcoming deal will go smoothly."
"300 origin guns specially-crafted for human use are already being s.h.i.+pped. They should reach your hands after a month."
Li Rui extended his hand and said, "Wonderful! I look forward to a joyful cooperation!"
The vampire count hesitated for a moment, but in the end still reached out to shake Li Rui's hand.
"Eh?" At this time, Li Rui's eyes suddenly s.h.i.+fted towards the distance.
"What's the matter?" The vampire count followed Li Rui's gaze but found nothing.
Li Rui frowned and said slowly, "I thought I saw someone moving in that direction, but I'm not too certain because of the distance."
Not just the vampire count, but all the other vampires on the peak were visibly moved. The location Li Rui had pointed towards just now was dozens of kilometers away. All they could see from such a distance were the dense mountainous woods. How could they spot a person's figure? Just in terms of perception, this constantly smiling and polite Li Rui had overwhelmed all of these vampires.
The vampire count was secretly alarmed, but said without much change in countenance, "Maybe someone lost his way?"
Li Rui frowned even more, then suddenly said, "No, something's not right! I have a bad feeling about this. Li Zhan, take some men and check that location. Now!"
The patrol squads in the region were strictly a.s.signed to their own perimeters. However, it was difficult to tell the direction in the vast mountainous woods, so a slight deviation in their routes wasn't a big deal. But a single person moving through the woods was definitely abnormal.
A staunch man with killing intent concealed between his brows answered Li Rui's call. He gestured to the several warriors behind him and immediately jumped off the cliff.
He fell straight down for almost a hundred meters before a fine rope shot out from his hands. The steel claw at its end dug into the cliff and slowed the man's fall. Afterwards, he retracted the rope and shot it towards a cliff below. With this method, he reached the base of the thousand-meter peak in the blink of an eye.
The other Li family warriors also descended rapidly by utilizing their ropes in a similar manner. Afterwards, they ran full speed in the direction Li Rui had indicated.
The expressions of all the vampires changed slightly after seeing Li family's elite warriors in action.
The vampire count said to a certain viscount, "You should also take a squad of warriors and check that area."
The viscount responded and left with a unit of vampire warriors.
At this moment, Qianye was standing on a treetop. His expression couldn't help but sink when he saw the stream of warriors descending from the tall peak and rus.h.i.+ng in his direction.
He knew he had been discovered.