Li Kuanglan said helplessly, “Qianye, I asked you to leave some survivors.”
“There.” Qianye pointed at the officer leaning against the wall.
The man was hanging on his last breath and even a bit weaker than an ordinary soldier. Li Kuanglan scanned the officer with her perception and found that his body was in a withered state—his vitality was like a candle in the wind that would be extinguished at any moment.
This state was usually a result of being drained of essence blood by a vampire, but there were no fang marks on the officer’s neck.
Frowning, Li Kuanglan shivered as she recalled the countless bloody threads receding back into Qianye’s body.
Li Kuanglan tapped the officer’s chest, sending a wisp of frost energy into his body. The man gasped in pain, but then he became more spirited and some color returned to his face.
“Where are you from?”
The officer replied with some difficulty, “We’re from Wildwolf Mercenary Corps, mobilized on order of the Tidehark city guard. We’re in charge of sweeping the battlefield and dealing with prisoners after the battle.”
Looking at the corpses hanging on the cave wall, one could easily tell that they weren’t just “dealing” with the prisoners. Li Kuanglan wasn’t too familiar with the neutral lands yet, so she glanced over at Qianye.
“They’re scavengers.” Qianye’s explanation shed some light on the nature of these mercenaries.
These soldiers were basically cannon fodder, wading into battle during war and in charge of sweeping the battlefield afterward. Because they were so weak, their only payment was in the form of post-war spoils during cleanup. In truth, most of the good stuff would be taken by the main army, leaving only a pitiful amount for these mercenaries. Hence, they weren’t willing to let go of a single bit of gear. That was also why the corpses outside had been stripped clean. A suit of semi-intact armor was already a fairly good harvest for them.
Such mercenaries would usually torture their prisoners. Usually, it was to see if they could squeeze out some benefits, but most of them would just do it for fun. As the pettiest existences on the battlefield, even their own people would look down on them. Hence, their suppressed emotions would convert into an indescribable thirst for violence once they were afforded the chance.
It was only natural that Qianye would be angered to the point of using Life Plunder to wipe out the entire mercenary unit.
The officer’s aura soon passed its peak and began declining. Li Kuanglan tapped on his chest again. “Who were you fighting and why?”
“I heard they’re people from Southern Blue, a newly formed mercenary corps and their city guard. They had just suffered great losses after defeating the Wolf King’s army. We caught them completely off-guard and defeated them after a while.”
Li Kuanglan asked a key question, “Where’s the Southern Blue city lord?”
“There’s no way we would know. I only heard that they managed to capture a major character and another escaped. I don’t know… anything else…” The officer’s aura gradually weakened. Soon, his head was hanging to the side, never to move again.
Li Kuanglan stood up, saying, “That’s all we’ll get out of him.”
This officer had been struck by Qianye’s Life Plunder and was already on the verge of death. For him to speak as much as he did, Li Kuanglan had to use her origin power to excite his vitality.
Qianye asked, “Who was the one captured and who escaped?”
Li Kuanglan sighed. “You know the answer, why ask me? According to reason, the one who has escaped should be Ji Tianqing, and the other, Song Zining. Perhaps neither of them was captured and that so-called major character is someone else.”
Qianye sighed. “I have a feeling that the one captured is Song Zining.”
Li Kuanglan said, “Don’t be in a rush, the other party beat Ji Tianqing and Song Zining, so they’re probably not easy to deal with. It’s no use if you go in this condition.”
Qianye’s eyes flickered with a frosty glow. “Perhaps I can’t save Song Zining right now, but whoever the other party is, I must let them know that I’ve come. If they do anything to him, I’ll pull them up by the roots sooner or later.”
Qianye was neither gnashing his teeth nor stomping his feet—he merely stated this in a calm manner. Li Kuanglan’s expression was complicated. “Song Seven is quite fortunate to meet someone like you. Let’s go, we’ll continue tracking them. I’m sure their main camp isn’t far off now.”
Li Kuanglan walked out of the cave with Qianye in tow. She then signaled for the airship to ascend to a high altitude and await orders. Meanwhile, she and Qianye would track the enemy on foot.
The airship was priceless, yet its defenses were fairly mediocre. Li Kuanglan didn’t want to risk losing the vessel considering the other party had the power to take down an expert like Song Zining. The airship would be a sitting duck before an enemy of this level.
At this moment, an old man suddenly appeared behind Li Kuanglan. “Allow this old servant to follow you.”
Li Kuanglan said, frowning, “This is my battle and it has nothing to do with the family. No one is to interfere!”
“Young Master…” The old man wanted to persuade further, but Li Kuanglan and Qianye were already moving away. The old man could only fly back to the airship with a sigh.
Both of them were adept at tracking, and Qianye even more so in the wilderness. They found their way to the objective after a while of searching.
It was a valley with a water source. The entrance had been fashioned into a temporary camp with a thousand soldiers garrisoned within.
Taking cover behind the complicated landscape, Qianye and Li Kuanglan retracted their auras as they observed the place.
Despite being a temporary camp, the place was constructed strategically with intersecting sentries and patrols covering all aspects of the base. There were no blind spots to speak of, and even the most experienced of hunters would find it difficult to sneak in.
Even though the soldiers had removed their insignia, Qianye could tell immediately that they were part of Tidehark’s forces. Their powerful auras and premium equipment made Dark Flame look like a random mob—even the Wolf King’s forces paled in comparison.
The thousand soldiers here were fairly powerful in terms of combat strength and more than enough to route the forces of Southern Blue. Song Zining's defeat was expected considering it was an ambush and how weak his forces were, but what kind of person could prevent him from fleeing?
Li Kuanglan said after a moment of silence, “There’s an expert, don’t act rashly.”
Qianye’s eyes lit up with blue ripples as he scanned the camp. His body trembled ever so slightly when he saw a faintly discernible leaf floating at the center of the camp!
Qianye had True Sight activated at the moment, so he could see the flow of origin power. This leaf was only made up of origin power, so ordinary people couldn’t see it—only people with abilities similar to the Eye of Truth could discern its presence.
The leaf was vivid and lifelike as it drifted about in the air, but its stem was always pointing in a certain direction.
Qianye shifted his gaze accordingly and found a green light flickering far off in the distance. Even with his eyesight, he could barely see a similar leaf floating in the air.
At this point, Qianye could already confirm that it was Song Zining who had left these trails for him to follow. He had apparently fallen into Tidehark’s hands, while Ji Tianqing was nowhere to be found.
Li Kuanglan pointed to a corner of the camp and whispered, “I smell blood from over there, looks like that’s where the prisoners are being kept. Do you want to go and take a look?”
Qianye had just nodded when a gloomy aura rushed out from the camp. “Who’s sneaking about there?”
Li Kuanglan and Qianye were alarmed. Qianye’s spirit had wavered ever so slightly when he found Song Zining’s hidden markings, and a bit of his aura had leaked out in the process. Who would’ve thought the enemy would notice this small detail? This person’s perception was apparently very sharp, likely not below Qianye’s own.
A figure rose up from the camp and charged over toward Qianye and Li Kuanglan. Qianye was startled after seeing this person’s face. It was actually the old man hiding in the clouds back then.
The elder was also surprised to see Qianye—a cold smile appeared on his face and his eyes were filled with killing intent. It would seem he was still holding a grudge for that day.
Li Kuanglan whipped out Cold Moon’s Embrace, shooting a beam of ice blue radiance toward the old man. “Leave first!”
However, Qianye remained staring at the old man. “Was it you who ambushed Zining?”
The old man snorted as he drew his blade to deflect Li Kuanglan’s attack. “What ambush? I led an army to defeat the enemy openly, and then captured their general. That cunning girl escaped immediately once things had gone south, there’s no way she could’ve escaped my grasp otherwise!”
Li Kuanglan’s expression turned serious when the old man drew his blade. Her attacks sped up several times, slashing several curved beams of sword energy at the old man. “Qianye, go!”
Li Kuanglan was already using her full power at this moment, except the swift strike that had shaken the entire void continent. However, the black crystal blade in the old man’s grasp blocked all the attacks amidst a flurry of afterimages. Apparently, he still had room to maneuver despite the attacks.
One could already see some clues from this short exchange. Judging from how easily he was handling his sword, it was clear that Li Kuanglan wasn’t his match. There was probably no injustice in Song Zining’s loss.
Qianye roared, “Where is Zining?”
The old man let out a peal of sinister laughter. “That little fellow is on his way to the Wolf King.”
Killing intent surged in Qianye’s eyes. “You’re quite bold!”
The old man replied with a carefree harrumph, “Heh! It’s been many years since anyone has spoken to me this way. It looks like you have a good relationship with that boy. How about this? If you kneel down and submit willingly, I might release that little fellow on account of you saving me some trouble. What do you say?”
Qianye took a deep breath. “Zining would never submit willingly, and neither will I. You can forget about me surrendering. Kuanglan, leave first!”
Li Kuanglan shouted, “Are you crazy!?”
“I’m not, I just need to let this old man know what regret is.”
The old man broke into hearty laughter. “Fine, I must see how you’re going to make me regret…”
He was startled before he could even finish speaking.
Qianye’s figure flickered into the main camp, and a sanguineous light erupted briefly in a hundred-meter radius around him, extinguishing all life in its wake.
The old man glared daggers at Qianye, roaring, “You dare!?”