Chapter 1133: Between Loss and Gain
The Divination Pavilion stood atop Purple Gold Mountain.
The hill was the highest point in the capital. Standing atop the nine stone steps of the Divination Pavilion gave one an unobstructed view of the city of Revelation, its roads, streets, energy tower clusters, and street blocks spreading out from beneath one’s feet.
The city was bustling in this glorious era of prosperity.
The Unending Palace was located to the north, like a macaque lying across the city center. Looking down from above, there were palaces and pavilions dotting the landscape amidst the lush vegetation. It almost seemed as though there were soaring snakes roaming the land.
The divination pavilion was an important part of the Empire. The building and the mountaintop were usually sealed off when there were no ceremonies. Even divination specialists from the Imperial clan would only stay at the hall at the bottom of the mountain.
The rays of the afternoon sun had washed over the long steps leading to the summit, the plaza used for every major Imperial ceremony, and the twenty-seven floors of the nine-stratum pavilion.
The bottom-most floor of the seventh stratum was a large hall surrounded by glass doors. Apart from a set of sofas near the stairs, there was no other furniture at all. Apparently, this place was used as a temporary rest area.
There was a simple bamboo chair near the southern window. It looked fairly normal, like the ones used in humble households, making it stand out like a sore thumb.
The sun was at its brightest this time of the day. The brilliance was faintly reflecting off of the white hair of the person in the chair, but that radiance couldn’t quite disguise the deep-seated grey within. The decay hidden inside the vigor was truly shocking to see.
The sunlight flickered as a projection emerged slowly from a shadow on the ground, gradually condensing into Habsburg’s appearance.
This person was vivid, lifelike, and looked just like the actual person. Standing several meters away, he gazed quietly at Lin Xitang sleeping in the chair.
The Divination Pavilion remained silent both inside and out.
Only when the origin power sundial had ticked twice did Lin Xitang open his eyes, the tiredness in his expression lingering still. He first glanced at the scenery outside the window, then turned toward Habsburg after noticing him.
Habsburg bowed slightly. “Marshal Lin, good afternoon.”
Lin Xitang made not the slightest movement and his expression was calm. “I wouldn’t dare accept such a greeting from Your Majesty the Blood Prince… or perhaps even Great Dark Monarch.”
Habsburg shook his fingers with a smile. “It’s just a high dimensional projection art, only capable of pinpointing a target to within ten meters. It’s far inferior to Lilith’s power.”
The medium for that so-called tracking should be the origin blood injury in Lin Xitang’s body. The prince made it sound easy, but the power involved was already beyond most people’s comprehension.
This kind of clone, even if it was just a projection, only existed in legends. The bidirectional interaction here meant that there were even deeper spatial principles at play. Compared to an ability like Duke Wei’s Miraculous Dark Skies, the difference was like that of a continent and an enclave.
Lin Xitang had no intention of arguing. Even the Evernight Council wasn’t sure how strong this vampire prince was. “You’re in the capital of Great Qin, the source of daybreak. Even the Queen of the Night has never set foot here before.”
Habsburg broke into a laugh. “Is the heavenly mystery different for Daybreak and Evernight? I wouldn’t be able to appear if this place wasn’t filled with void origin power.”
Lin Xitang looked down ever so slightly, a hint of coldness flickering through his eyes. The Divination Pavilion summit was covered in a special origin array, and there was indeed void origin power. However, as the foundation of the Empire, the situation here was an absolute secret only known to a handful of families who worked in divination. How did Habsburg find out? If he was only guessing, how could he take such a risk without being absolutely certain?
The prince was a smart person. He immediately guessed Lin Xitang’s thoughts after reading this expression. He shifted the conversation away since he had no intention of arguing about it. “You probably know this already, but the doors to the new world will be opening soon. There will be big changes to the power balance in the Evernight council. The holy war is on the brink of taking place, but it has been postponed indefinitely.”
Lin Xitang’s expression was just as calm and expressionless.
Habsburg paused momentarily before saying with a frown, “You can’t sense the new world.” His tone was certain.
Li Xitang replied, “Not enough power…”
Habsburg cut the man short, “There was never a great dark monarch among the Evernight prophets. There was never a heavenly monarch among the Imperial diviners, either. If you want to say that it’s because your race’s one thousand years of existence is too short, then what about the demonkin? They were born together with this world, yet there’s no great monarch among their prophets, the sable demons. Did you never break through because you couldn’t or because you were afraid of losing your divination powers?”
Lin Xitang stared at Habsburg for a while. “Your Excellency Habsburg, is this the reason for your visit?”
Habsburg’s warm expression had disappeared at one point. His characteristic demeanor as a major vampire clan member looked exceptionally sharp in the shadow.
He heaved a long sigh. “I’m here to say my farewell. I will be leaving once the doorway to the new world opens. That is a calling from the source, something I cannot refuse.”
Lin Xitang nodded. “Farewell.” He had no intention of wishing an enemy well, even as a formality.
Habsburg’s expression grew calmer as his figure gradually faded away into beams of light.
The short exchange just now drained Lin Xitang greatly. He closed his eyes again, but sleep did not bless him again.
Habsburg’s words revealed a good deal of information. The holy war within the Evernight faction had never stopped before; this would be one of the rare documented pauses to this civil crusade. This wasn’t good news for the Empire. This meant that the human race would soon be suppressed on all fronts, and there was no telling what that mysterious new world would bring. Habsburg had described the calling as coming from the “source” and not “bloodline”.
In the void, a high-speed vampire airship was moving circumferentially around a designated point. There were no insignias or markings on its body. The captain was standing in the control room, his expression nervous as he gazed at the various apparatuses in front of him. Their location was too close to the central continent of the Qin Empire.
The cabin doors opened and a voice drifted in. “Return to the mothership.” The captain recognized Prince Habsburg’s close attendant, Marquis Leonard. Greatly relieved, he sent the airship on its course without delay.
Leonard entered the main cabin with a cup of coffee to find Habsburg sitting comfortably in an armchair, fiddling with a couple of crystals holding secret missives. Ordinary parchment documents were stacked in a corner of the desk, most likely already processed.
The captain and crew had no idea what had gotten into the prince, making him want to stop outside of the Qin Continent for two hours. Leonard knew, but even he had no idea when Habsburg had left and when he had returned. Either way, they had stopped here for a bit too long, somewhat longer than they had previously planned.
Leonard placed the coffee in front of Habsburg. “Your Excellency, do we return once we reach the mothership?”
“You return to the Twilight Continent with the mothership.”
“Yes.” Leonard was somewhat surprised, but he didn’t ask a lot of questions.
“What’s the latest location of Zhang Boqian?”
“We only know that he’s not in the Empire,” Leonard explained. “There were no heavenly monarchs among the latest mobilization to the void continent, so we don’t know of his whereabouts.” Heavenly monarchs were extremely difficult to track, doubly so for those without a territory to watch over. Even the Great Qin military had no grasp of his location if he wasn’t going to war.
Habsburg wasn’t at all interested in the situation on the void continent. The Perth clan, just like Nana’s Mammon clan, rarely took part in factional wars as they were busy with the holy war most of the time. He gave the attendant a nod to show that he understood.
Seeing that there were no more orders for him, Lenard bowed and left.
Sunlight slowly moved over the Divination Pavilion until there was only a small speck of light. It was almost dusk.
The central elevator hummed softly, followed by a series of highly trained footsteps, then the sound of moving tables and objects being placed.
Li Xitang didn’t look back. His gaze remained fixed on the long window and the twilight flowing over the city. The people who had arrived were the palace attendants in charge of bringing him food and drink. The familiar procedure had repeated so many times that there was no need to pay it any attention.
The elevator activated once again, humming as the attendants left quietly after laying out the dinner.
Li Xitang raised his right palm from the armest to his face. This simple movement seemed slow and exhausting, almost as though he were dragging a heavy object. Upon closer inspection, there was a translucent blue on his pale skin and his fingers were purple, not unlike the deep ice from the frozen land.
He flexed his fingers a bit before supporting himself up on the armrest. All of a sudden, a pair of arms appeared to support his arm and back, slowly lifting him up from the chair.
“Your Majesty?” Lin Xitang was stunned.
“Minister Lin is unwell, and this is a private place. You may ignore the formalities.”
Lin Xitang looked over to find the Emperor of Great Qin in ordinary warrior’s attire, his aura retracted almost entirely. The man looked no different from a normal citizen at first glance.
The two sat down at the table.
The Emperor said, “Today, Lil’ Nineteen came to ask me about his homework. We got to talking about astronomy and the fall of the Void Valley Star. We remembered that it was the first lesson Minister Lin taught me as an attendant tutor.”
Lin Xitang scanned the dishes and utensils on the table but didn’t say anything.
The meal went by quickly and the two moved to the nearby sofa. The Emperor himself made tea, an art every noble had to learn. Moments later, a delicate fragrance wafted out from the jade-green tea.
“Brewed from the white fruit and Marine Lotus from the Great Maelstrom. The effects are yet to be confirmed, but the taste is marvelous.”
Lin Xitang took a sip of the tea. As expected, the fragrance filled his entire being—wisps of warmth spread to his bones and limbs, softening his stiff arms and legs.
The marshal held the teacup in his palms and asked, “Regarding that plan, did Your Majesty pick Prince Linjiang or Princess Haimi for the commander of the eastern flank?”
The emperor gazed intently at the pouring tea as he replied, “Imperial Sister Haimi.” He then continued calmly, “The battle has begun.”
Lin Xitang’s cup trembled slightly when the Emperor placed a new cup of tea before him.
“I wish to return to the Northern Residence.”
“Things in the Imperial court are quite chaotic. No one can come to this place, so it’s a great place to recuperate.”
“The Divination Pavilion is an important place for the Empire. I’ve lived here for almost a month against rules and tradition. I’m afraid it’s not that appropriate.”
“No one knows that Minister Lin is here.”
The room fell into silence.
The Emperor enjoyed his tea calmly. After finishing his portion, he placed the empty cup down before him and stood up. “Minister Lin must live on well, even if it’s just for the Empire’s benefit. As for the war, it’s just a certain battle at a certain location over a certain period, losses and gains are just numbers.”
He bent down and stretched a hand toward Lin Xitang. “Teacher, let me help you to your room to rest.”