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Chapter 554: An Exchange of Favors [V6C84 – Sorrow of a Silent Parting]
While pondering, Qianye put away his vampiric edge and performed a quick search through the demonkin count’s body. In the end, he removed an object similar to a family crest and gave it a brief look. Painted upon it was a dark swamp with an odd tree growing in the middle.
Qianye had never seen this picture before. However, the demonkin have always been a mysterious bunch. With the exception of those widely-known clans, the others stuck to their ancestral lands and rarely made contact with the outside world. He collected only this emblem since he found nothing else of interest.
It was at this time that Qianye sensed something. He reached out to grab East Peak and stabbed the demonkin’s origin furnace. The blow crushed the flesh around the origin furnace and wiped away all traces of the essence blood loss.
Qianye breathed a sigh of relief when he recognized the two incoming auras as Zhao Jundu and Li Kuanglan. He suppressed his already receding blood energy into his blood core and circulated the Profound Combatant Formula. Very soon, a dense flow of daybreak origin power washed through all of his vessels.
Zhao Jundu and Li Kuanglan appeared before Qianye in the blink of an eye. Both of them were astonished upon seeing the demonkin count’s corpse lying on the ground. As geniuses of the martial path, they quickly guessed the flow of the battle after glancing at the traces of battle in the vicinity.
Zhao Jundu’s expression once again turned indifferent as he gave Qianye a nod. Li Kuanglan, on the other hand, sized Qianye up from head to toe. Her gaze turned increasingly sharp and became suffused with an aqua blue color. The battle intent in them was unmistakable.
Zhao Jundu’s expression turned cold as he took a step forward and put Qianye behind him. “What are you doing?”
Li Kuanglan laughed loudly. “This fellow owes me two favors and has to fight to the death with me in the future. This young n.o.ble requires such grinding stones on my path forward. I thought I would need to wait several more years, but it seems he can give me a small surprise even now. Now, I’m itching to have a go.”
Zhao Jundu said coldly, “Since Young n.o.ble Kuanglan needs grinding stones, what do you think about me?”
“Just so-so,” Ki Kuanglan answered unceremoniously, “a fight with you won’t help my martial path at all.”
Zhao Jundu broke into a frown. He had to admit that Li Kuanglan’s idea was reasonable. The two of them were actually quite similar on the martial path—both of them sought perfection in terms of combat arts and paid particular attention to origin power control. It was just that Zhao Jundu’s path focused on purity and perseverance, while Li Kuanglan sought destructive potential. Qianye was completely different from the two of them. As one leading the charge and overpowering all obstacles in his wake, he was definitely a better sparring candidate.
It was at this time that Qianye spoke, “I indeed owe him two favors. I won’t shy away from this showdown.”
Zhao Jundu raised his hand at Qianye in a rare moment of anger. “You, shut up!” He then looked at Li Kuanglan and said word by word, “Count those two favors on me and cancel that battle.”
“Wait a minute…” Qianye wanted to protest, but a ma.s.s of violet mist appeared under his feet. His body was immediately restricted, making it impossible for him to even speak. The violet mist trembled a couple of times as Qianye struggled with the might of a tidal wave. However, its color quickly grew deeper and transformed into a bleak azure. This time, Qianye couldn’t move anymore.
Li Kuanglan watched the scene with a spurious smile and said calmly, “Two favors from the Zhao clan fourth young n.o.ble is too much.”
“Then it’s settled,” said Zhao Jundu.
Li Kuanglan tidied up her loose hair and said in a lazy tone, “I have no need for two favors, but one feels like a loss to me. If you really want to take his place in his matter, I want to add another condition.”
“All in all, I met Qianye because of Song Zining, we have a deal if he also owes me a favor.”
“Song Zining?” Zhao Jundu’s eyes narrowed. The chill around him grew denser as he nodded. “That’s fine.”
“Will he agree?” Li Kuanglan couldn’t help but feel a bit curious at Zhao Jundu’s clear-cut answer. Qianye and Song Zining were good friends from what he had heard, but there was little relations.h.i.+p between the Zhao and Song clans. If he hadn’t heard wrong, this dazzling Zhao clan fourth young master wasn’t a big fan of the carefree Song Zining. How then was he going to persuade Song Zining?
Zhao Jundu said coldly, “He has no choice.”
The corners of Li Kuanglan’s eyes twitched ever so slightly. “Fine then…”
Qianye, who had been standing on one side, could no longer endure. His Oceanic Might activated and, accompanied by a loud boom, shattered together with the Omniscient Seal. Qianye shouted immediately after escaping the bindings, “That’s not fine!”
Both domains had shattered at the same time. Even so, surprise flashed through Li Kuanglan’s eyes upon seeing Qianye escape Zhao Jundu’s Omniscient Seal. She suddenly said to Zhao Jundu, “Then it’s settled.”
Zhao Jundu replied immediately, “Okay.” As he was speaking, he reached out to rub Qianye’s temples. This ma.s.sage-like action was actually accompanied by a tyrannical power which once again silenced Qianye.
At this very moment in the imperial camp, Song Zining was sneezing constantly just as he was about to put on his black silver mask. His expression was stern as he broke into a round of cursing, “G.o.ddamit! Who’s scheming against this young master?!”
In the depths of the ruins, Zhao Jundu and Li Kuanglan each had their own thoughts. Just like that, an agreement was reached amidst Qianye’s protests. The two, who had just struck a deal, grew silent as they glanced at one another and then at Qianye’s depressed expression.
Qianye had also stopped speaking. He knew Zhao Jundu’s character and that it was useless no matter what he said at this point. All he could do was to find Li Kuanglan in secret afterward.
Zhao Jundu was the first to break the silence. “Qianye, did you kill that demonkin?”
Qianye had long since prepared an answer. He replied calmly, “Yes, he was destined to lose a melee fight in such a narrow s.p.a.ce.”
This explanation was fairly reasonable, and it also fit well with their observations. Most demonkin weren’t power-types. Their physical strength was, just like all dark races, somewhat stronger than a human of the same rank, but the gap was rather limited. Their main advantage lay in the use of various innate talents.
Additionally, Qianye’s strength and martial path made him a terrifying opponent during the short moment of his eruption. The less s.p.a.ce for maneuver there was, the more focused the damage would be. Having fallen into such an environment with no way to extricate himself, it would be a wonder if the demonkin hadn’t encountered misfortune.
“Did you discover any powerful enemies in the vicinity?” Li Kuanglan inquired. She was still highly suspicious about that golden beam of light.
Qianye replied, “There was a dark count nearby when I was encircled, but he never made an appearance.” This was clearly not the answer Li Kuanglan wanted.
Zhao Jundu said decisively, “No time for all that. Since we were fortunate enough to run into each other, let’s move together from here on out.”
Li Kuanglan smiled as she carved a rough sketch of the castle on the wall with her sword energy. “The main building is over there, we can get in by opening up a path to the right.”
Zhao Jundu’s “us” clearly didn’t include Li Kuanglan. He shot a glance at the blue-robed youth but decided not to bother arguing with her. He simply raised his hand, drew a path on the sketch with a flash of violet energy, and said, “Fine, each of us will scout one path and advance at the same time. The other two will move to a.s.sist when one encounters a powerful enemy”
Li Kuanglan nodded. “Let’s kill our way to the top floor as quickly as possible, there’s a marquis there. The fiery net used to intercept the airs.h.i.+ps was his doing, but he should be quite exhausted by now. We might be able to swallow this big fish with the three of us working together. Let’s go, others might take the credit if we’re late.”
The three formed a temporary unit with Zhao Jundu taking point, Li Kuanglan in the middle, and Qianye bringing up the rear. With that, they rushed out of the ruins and charged toward the main castle building.
Such a lineup could be considered invincible on the battlefield. The trio quickly became well-coordinated after a couple of fights. Once in battle, Zhao Jundu would use his Omniscient Seal to restrain the enemy while Li Kuanglan followed up with her sword strikes. Truly powerful enemies who managed to survive Li Kuanglan’s blows would encounter Qianye’s East Peak.
No matter how many experts there were on the Evernight side, even the squads led by virtuous counts would be slaughtered without exception. The three rampaged through the battlefield and made straight for the castle roof. There, they finally met their opponent after climbing the final stairway.
It was a lanky vampire elder with perfectly groomed snow-white hair. His face was rather long with an extremely chiseled facial outline that left a strong impression. There were frills on his s.h.i.+rt and a small “Z” embroidered on his black bow-tie.
He stood before the great hall on the top floor with a gentle smile on his face. He didn’t seem like someone who had come to fight to the death but instead resembled a courteous person welcoming old friends.
Zhao Jundu and Li Kuanglan’s expressions changed upon seeing this vampire. The latter slowly tightened her grip on Cold Moon’s Embrace and said, “Julio.”
Julio revealed a smile and said gently, “For an opponent whom I’ve never met before to remember my name under such circ.u.mstances, I am truly overjoyed. This is a great honor. Oh, I might’ve made a mistake, I’ve probably met one of you before.”
Julio glanced at Qianye with a contemplative expression, but apparently, he couldn’t recall anything in the end. Shaking his head in self-deprecation, he said, “Even my memory has deteriorated, it would seem I need to return to the blood pond for a nap.”
Li Kuanglan sneered, “I don’t think that will be necessary. I think it’s better you return to the River of Blood.”
Julio nodded pensively. “That’s not a bad idea, either.”
Zhao Jundu spoke at this point, “It’s meaningless to stall for time.”
Julio broke into a laugh. “Stalling? No, my young friends. It’s indeed meaningless to do so. Neither the Lightless Monarch nor Noxus will be coming to our rescue. Everyone in this camp has been abandoned from the moment your most powerful heavenly monarch joined the battle and the Queen of the Night did not appear.”
Zhao Jundu said with a frown, “Then why not make way? We will not stop you if you leave now.”
Li Kuanglan didn’t show any signs of protest, either. They were very clear that a dark race marquis was one matter, and that a mighty marquis was another altogether. Meanwhile, existences like Julio and Nana were on a completely different level.
Even if Julio had exhausted most of his blood energy during the aerial defenses, he could still take one of them down with him during the final struggle.
Jiulio revealed neither joy nor anger upon hearing this. On the contrary, he let out a long sigh and said slowly, “We will always encounter battles like this where we can’t give up despite knowing the outcome. This is the fate of a warrior, the inescapable destiny of a sacred-blooded scion.”
The trio shot each other a glance. They knew that a battle was imminent, and it was clear from Julio’s tone that he was determined to die in battle.