Qianye and Li Kuanglan figured things out immediately. Reproduction might not be a problem for humans, but it was a major issue for the dark races. The stronger their bloodline powers were, the more difficult it was for them to procreate. Even experts at the level of princes and dukes couldn’t be certain that they could produce children with powerful bloodlines. In fact, it was a common occurrence for the offspring to have inferior bloodlines compared to their parents. That was the most distressing problem for the dark race experts.
Among the four major dark races, the demonkin were known to have the most difficulty in reproduction. One could easily imagine how crazy they would go once such a wine entered the market.
However, Qianye had reservations regarding this. “But won’t we be making them stronger? This isn’t too good for the empire, is it?”
Ji Tianqing replied, “You have no idea how crazy those demonkin families are about offspring. If we’re willing to sell, no price is off the table. Demanding demonic steel and restricting their strategic resources is also one way we could go about this. Rearing children takes more than a couple of years. It’ll be dozens or even hundreds of years before a newer dark race generation rises to power. We’ll win the present advantage in the meantime.”
These words were reasonable. It was just that they might be rearing a proverbial tiger in the long run.
Ji Tianqing knew what Qianye was thinking. “What are you so afraid of? If they give birth to more demonkin, we just need to kill a couple more to make up. What, do you have so little confidence in yourself? In us?”
Qianye was thinking about his showdown with the Demoness over the city of Indomitable. He could still remember the instinctive trembling from that day—that was a living creature’s innate fear of destruction. It was just that he had suppressed his fears and never looked back.
He would’ve never thought so many things would happen thereafter, and his life trajectory would change so much.
The ancient demonkin race had accumulated countless secrets throughout the myriad years, difficult procreation being their only limitation. The key to unlocking this restraint lay in the Great Maelstrom. What if the demonkin were to get their hands on this key?
“No, we can’t sell to the demonkin!” Qianye said firmly.
“The vampires then. The arachne and werewolves can give birth just fine, we won’t get a good price.” Ji Tianqing was busy with her calculations.
“It doesn’t matter which race we sell them to, it will only help them produce stronger descendants.”
“How many of those descendants can catch up to their parents? If you’re really worried about the empire, then come back. With you around, we will have no fear even if every duke were to produce an extra descendant.”
Ji Tianqing sounded like she was joking, but from a certain perspective, that was the truth. Qianye’s current combat strength was now shoulder to shoulder with the strongest experts of the younger generation from both factions. Young genius was no longer sufficient to describe his current status. He was already capable of shouldering great responsibilities wherever he was posted. If he were to go all out, even a newly ascended divine champion would face the risk of falling to his blade.
If Qianye was willing to return, the Empire would gain a core fighting power. It wasn’t impossible for him to found his own clan in the future.
Thought of the Empire would invoke memories of Nighteye inside the dungeon. There were no words to describe that agony—it was a pain that made him give up his family and brethren, one that made him escape to the neutral lands with Nighteye.
Since the moment of his departure, Qianye had no intention of going back. He was willing to fight abreast of his brethren from the past, willing to fight alongside confidants like Li Kuanglan and Ji Tianqing, but he was no longer willing to work for the empire, nor would he accept any command from the military. In truth, it was only out of consideration for Song Zining that he hadn’t uprooted the Imperial military in the neutral lands.
Hence, Qianye only remained silent in the face of Ji Tianqing’s suggestion.
Li Kuanglan cut in at this point. “Your vampire side is not a problem, it’s fairly easy to change your identity and no one will trouble you regarding this.”
Qianye’s expression turned gloomy. “Why must I change my identity? Must I fear the military? I’m right here in the neutral lands. If they want to kill me, they’re welcome to send as many people as they want. You can forget about making me disguise myself for them.”
Realizing that she had said something she shouldn’t have, Li Kuanglan looked away and no longer dared to glance at Qianye.
Ji Tianqing dragged the topic back on track. “There’s yet another use for the alcohol. Yes, they can greatly increase one’s reproductive powers and longevity, but that’s not all there is to them. What they actually do is increase one’s vital functions all around, thereby improving their powers of procreation and lifespan. That also means that drinking this spirit regularly can help one break through cultivation bottlenecks.”
Qianye was skeptical. “Why didn’t I sense anything?” He had tasted a small mouthful of the wine, but he didn’t really feel any comprehensive upgrade to his body.
Ji Tianqing glared at him, saying, “A monster like you doesn’t need to upgrade his body.”
Qianye realized the issue here. His body had been reforged by the auric flame blood and reached the level of an ancient vampire. He had also undergone a thorough tempering under the effects of his Venus Dawn, improving his constitution once more. That was the reason he was able to move unhindered in the Great Maelstrom and get through the frigid night alone. This level of physique could no longer be upgraded with the wine.
Increasing one’s chances of breaking through bottlenecks was also a useful effect, enough to drive the experts stuck at the champion or divine champion threshold crazy. In terms of value, however, it still couldn’t hold a candle to the effect of helping the demonkin reproduce.
Ji Tianqing’s eyes shifted about. “Qianye, we might not sell, but other people will. There is no way we can stop such items from flowing into demonkin hands. Rather than letting those unscrupulous merchants earn this money, we should claim it ourselves. At the very least, we know where we can benefit.”
The reason was sound, but Qianye couldn’t help but feel that something was off about it.
After careful thought, this was sacrificing the long term situation for present benefit. The demonkin would take hundreds of years from childbirth to maturity, and the price they would have to pay at present was a decrease in strategic resources and subsequent weakening of fighting power. The empire, meanwhile, would enjoy increased fighting capacity.
This meant that if the empire could grasp this hundred-year window, they might be able to commence a major operation to restrain the demonkin’s growth. Their situation would turn dire if development was stunted for a century.
In the end, Ji Tianqing was confident in herself and the experts of the younger generation, that they would be able to grasp history and rewrite it. Hence, she was willing to seek new resources at any cost and risk.
Qianye understood this reasoning, but he didn’t approve of the method. It was simply too risky—if the demonkin were to produce another Demoness, there would be a new shift in power across the Evernight faction. Ji Tianqing, however, didn’t seem to care. No one knew whether her confidence came from herself or Qianye.
Ji Tianqing had no intention of arguing. “Let’s collect as many resources as we can on the way back, there’s no telling how long it’ll be before we can get here again.”
Qianye had a feeling that only powerful divine champions would be able to survive the area they were in. He was fairly okay, but the other two would need to wait several years more until they were at the divine champion realm. The spatial passage was abnormally sensitive, and divine champions crossing the passage would trigger a fierce origin tempest. Hence, both the Empire and Evernight would mostly send young geniuses below the divine champion realm into the Great Maelstrom.
Perhaps that was why the people who had entered weren’t strong enough to reach this area and thus never found the white fruit.
Qianye suddenly recalled something. “All three of us landed close by, but where are the others?”
Ji Tianqing and Li Kuanglan exchanged glances, apparently having made some guesses. The former said in a calm voice, “Do you think other people will survive if they land close to us?”
“You have a point there.”
Qianye had seen the group from the aristocratic families and imperial clan. Although he didn’t know much about their identities, he did get a good grasp of their ability. These people were a far cry from Li Kuanglan and Ji Tianqing. They probably wouldn’t survive the first night in such a harsh environment.
The dead wouldn’t even leave an intact corpse in this world. They would become food for the various animals roaming about during the day, bone and all. Their armors and weapons might be sturdy by imperial standards, but even the trees in this world were stronger than warship armor alloy, let alone rocks and native weaponry.
“Should we bring some native weapons back?” Qianye was no weapons expert, but he felt that the metal in this world was different.
“We won’t be able to bring a lot, only as many as we can stuff into our spatial gear. The important factor on our way back is weight and not size. The gravitational pull inside the tunnel will increase by dozens of times. That means, even you won’t be able to carry a lot.”
Li Kuanglan added, “Metal, wood, or even random stones here will be a strategic resource back in the empire. Unfortunately, we’re not strong enough to gather even the rare resources, not to mention the staple ones. Don’t you have a map of the Heavenschild Pasture? You’ll see once you get there. It’s already quite good if we can take away one percent of the produce.”
“Heavenschild Pasture! You have the location of the Heavenschild Pasture?” Ji Tianqing was excited.
“What do you want?” Qianye became alert.
“Of course we’re going to rob them!” Ji Tianqing was completely oblivious to Qianye’s expression change. “The medicines produced from the Heavenschild Pasture are good stuff. More importantly, some of them can be added to our white-fruit wine to amplify its effects. The Song clan can’t bring them out anyway, what if we take some for ourselves?”
“This… that’s not appropriate is it?” Qianye laughed wryly.
“There’s nothing bad about it. Song Zining gave you that map so that you can go and take what you need. Now, you have two assistants, so you can take a bit more,” Li Kuanglan spoke in a righteous manner.