Chapter 44: Before The Storm
In ancient times, when tacticians face city lords that have requests of them, they will often phrase the situation in a way that make it seem like they are in a very difficult situation, as though their lives may be lost anytime.
Everyone have fears. When one’s life is threatened, they would be extremely alert and careful. When the city lords hear from their tactician that their life is hanging, they would uncover it to the end despite how much they don’t believe in it. If they realise that they are in a precarious situation after an intensive interrogation, naturally, they will seek for a solution through the tactician.
Then, the opinions of the tactician would be much more respected. When the crisis is averted, the standing of the tactician would naturally rise through the ranks. Following their rise in standing, their new opinions will become more and more respected, allowing their rise in power to be more and more rapid.
The saying ‘I accept the responsibility of leading the army when the country’s on the verge of defeat. In times of trouble, I will carry out my job’ probably means this kind of situation. This has nothing to do with the matter at hand, it is just a trick used by tacticians to be more respected by the city lords they are serving. The wiser the tactician is, the better they are at employing this trick.
“Master, please teach me.” It seems that according to this lady’s script, I should be shouting these words.
After that, she would analyse for me how did the Lion King and Dragon Empress fake their falling out and that as soon as we make a move against them, they would declare war on us, spreading the notion that we are spies sent by the surface to destroy the Alliance from within, causing others to be wary of us. Then, they would personally attack us and force us to the corner. By then, it would be too late to leave.
But if it is just to this extent, they are really underestimating me, Wumianzhe.
“I got it, you stay with your sister for the time being. You both should have a lot of things to say.”
“I…” Facing my unexpected coldness, Victoria sits up, agitated, with anxiety spelt on her face. She seems to be on the verge of saying something but looking at the emotionless me, she ends up leaving the room helplessly.
“If you don’t come out now, your wages next month will be gone.”
“…Master, please pay me the wages you owe me on last year’s this month before saying such words.”
“Cough. Elisa, what do you think of the present sent by the Dark Elves.”
“Lord, this must be a trap.” Propping up her glasses, she says these words beside my ear, emotionless.
“…Duh. The kindness of the Dark Elves are as lacking as that lass’s chests. I am asking you what do you think of the thing with the Dragon Empress.”
“Lord, the original saying is ‘the kindness of a Dark Elf is equally improbable as a rational Beastman’ and mocking the lacking of others isn’t a proper action for a gentleman that respects ladies. If she were to hear your words, she would be depressed.”
Even though she said these words, her tone obviously softened by 20%.
“But, from my personal view, her words are probably true.”
“Hehe, intuition your head. Don’t tell me that you haven’t received the report and analysis from ‘Onlooker’.”
As a diplomat, it is impossible to survive blind and deaf in a land full of enemies working against you.
As soon as we entered the city, my intelligence team Onlooker immediately dispersed and started to collect information. From my understanding of their work efficiency, all kinds of reports should be stacked up on Elisa’s desk by now.
“… The Lion King and the Dragon Empress really crossed blows and their fight was quite intense. Half of the Lion King Residence being destroyed isn’t a false news. But it is precisely because of that we can be sure that they are definitely staging a show.”
“Is is too fast? Too obvious? That’s right, there is still more than 20 days before the auction date, they could have researched it together. Even if a fight were to blow up, it shouldn’t happen right now.”
“No, it is just that if they really fell out, the Dragon Empress which is 2 ranks higher than the Lion King would have long stole the items and escaped. But, the Scepter is still in the hands of the Lion King, which shows everything. Furthermore, when 2 such experts start fighting, it should the entire street around the Lion King Residence getting destroyed and not just the Lion King Residence itself. This is just a show and if we were to really make a move, they would move on to make us the public enemy of the Alliance.”
I nodded my head satisfied. What Elisa said concurs with what I was thinking.
From the very start, we, Liu Huang Mountain City, is the anomaly of the underground world. Joining the Alliance would not necessary be a good thing to the few current Underground Autarch, especially for the Lion King and Dragon Empress who have a grudge with us.
I could collude with Kajah and Ainsterna and make use of the Yongye Scepter to divert firepower away from us. But, Shou and Molly aren’t fools and the tacticians under them wouldn’t be so incapable to be unable to see the situation clearly. Naturally, they won’t allow us to successfully join the Alliance, so it is almost an inevitable that we would face schemes and troubles.
Even if this isn’t a trap, I only intend to contact Kajah and Ainsterna. I never intended to get involved in it.
We are the newcomers, newcomers that don’t belong to any factions or powers. It cannot be helped that people would be wary of us.
If I were to take the initiative to attack the Dragon Empress, then they would only have to spread rumors that we are ambitious for power and that Adam is born on the surface. We would be seen as enemies by most of the neutral city lords. When this gets past a certain extent, coupled with the incitement of Underground Autarchs, we would be exiled by the Alliance and even hunted down.
“Obediently staying in our home base is the best decision? Aiyo, this really makes one feel so helpless.”
“Yes, as the date of the auction and the Alliance Conference at the end of the year approaches, the burden on Shou will become heavier and heavier. This would put us further away from the eye of the troubles. It is best we don’t do anything now and wait patiently. That would be the most appropriate decision.”
“Hehe, to pass the initiative to the opponents isn’t a good habit… Tell those fellows that they are granted the freedom to get on the streets and cause as much trouble as they please. If there’s anything they find an eyesore, feel free to interfere. Show them the might of Liu Huang Mountain City. All is good as long as they don’t get bullied. If they find someone they can’t defeat, call for support. If they are still unable to settle it, return back to base. I will handle it even if the sky falls.”
Hearing that, Elisa gasps, shocked.
“You are allowing those perverts to act as they please? Authorising those single-celled Knights to go on the street to enforce the law? Let those devoted believers of law spread their teachings on the street? You do know that this city is different from Liu Huang Mountain City, there are criminals everywhere right? If they were to fool about, it would definitely get to the point of no return. Do you intend on destroying the whole Vance City?”
“The underground world respects the strong. The voice of the weak won’t be heard. I am just using my own actions to do my self-introduction, otherwise I would have just brought those bastards here just to waste my rations. Right, get the engineers to prepare the Roland series to move out. Leave some pilots here to await for orders so that they can reinforce the others at all times. Tsk, those stubborn fools still refuse to change the name, this name really feels so awkward.”
“…I got it. Then, how should I deal with Victoria?”
“‘Wash her clean’ first.”
“Alright, I will wash her clean and tie her on your bed. But, your physical condition doesn’t seem to be at a good state, I’m afraid you might not be able to enjoy her. Do you need me to call some adult toy shops to purchase some tools?”
“Stop fooling around, you know what I mean.”
The kindness of Dark Elves? If you were to put these 2 together, the entire underground world just treat it as a joke. The Dark Elves pride themselves on betrayal and lies, it would be weird if there’s nothing wrong with their present.
But even if there’s a problem with Victoria, it isn’t like there is no solutions to it. Since they sent over a living person, then she must either be a spy that might betray us anytime or a living bomb that will explode at any moment. What that compels Victoria to follow the orders of her original master would probably be a Magic Contract, threatening her with the life of her kin and such means.
Magic Contracts can be erased, the wires of the bombs can be cut and hostages can be stolen over. ‘Washing clean’ is a commonly used spy language. It means to force the person in question to confess all her secrets to see if she could be saved. If there is a possibility to convert her over, then we’ll try to pull her as one of our people.
“You sure are concerned about her, I thought that you would give the order to erase this volatile factor. It is too easy to make her die of an accident. I reckon that silly sister of hers shouldn’t be sufficient to affect your judgement. Unless, you have really learnt to cherish women?”
Towards these kind of ‘presents’ whose history is unknown, I would normally decisively erase them so as to prevent problems in the future. But if Queen Victoria in ‘history’ dies just like that, it would really be a great waste. Furthermore, since I realised that I had been neglecting Diana’s potential all along, I shouldn’t allow her to continue wasting it. In the future, she might become a powerful fighter on our side and falling out like this really isn’t worth it.
But it isn’t easy to explain these things to Elisa. Pretending to be a Seer of calamities is already a limit. If I were to be so godly as to predict that a stranger has the potential to become an Epic Hero, that would be too over the top for anyone to believe. Un, it definitely isn’t because I found explaining troublesome that I found myself a bunch of reasons. Thus, I simply laughed. Haha.
“Stop saying silly things, you know that it is a guy inside and I, Lich Roland, is definitely not a gay.”
“Hmph, who knows.”
Even though she said it like that, but from the looks of her swinging tail with a butterfly knot at the end during her departure…
“Elisa’s mood is quite good huh. Un, since those stocks that were discovered are going to face with tragedy sooner or later, I should go to Vance City’s underground book collection to top up my collection. Since her mood is good, she might even let me off even if she catches me in the act…”
What? No guts to ask someone out? I also want to ask someone out but other than enjoying eyecandies, what else can I do…
I stare at this unfamiliar and empty room. Somehow, I feel a little lonely. I shake my head, opens the window and look at the scenery of lights outside.
“Schemes are not the true way to go but it is a pity that we aren’t strong enough.”
If we were to trace everything to the source, the main reason is our powerlessness. The total military power of the envoy team is only these 5 to 6 Legend-rank while those Autarchs, under their accumulation from a few centuries, when they move all of their people, they are capable of taking out 400 to 500 Legend-rank city lords. If we were to go at them directly, we will be the ones who suffer.
The only top-tier power that we can move from our side is Xiao Hong and there are already 4 Underground Autarch standing on the other side. Also, it is unknown how many other equal tier existences there are.
“If Adam and Magaret are here… No, even if they abandon their job of protecting Liu Huang Mountain City and the investigation of the seal of the Fire Elemental God, it might not good for our situation here if they really come, it will make us stand out. With an overly powerful combat ability and an identity not of the underground world, they might cause us to be seen as enemies and assault us from the very start.”
TL: Exact phrase used when he said that it might not good if they really come ->It might not be a good thing for the swan to stand tall in the midst of a group of chickens.
“Adam that dumbass isn’t good at acting and Magaret couldn’t care less about compromising. In the end, there’s a 80% chance a full-blown war might break out. It is a much better decision for them to be acting as a threat behind our backs now, preventing the Lion King and Dragon Empress from getting physical with us. Sigh, if only we had 2 more top-tier power.
Just when I was complaining over the lack of fighting power, I failed to consider that this isn’t my old dwelling that I am familiar with and the empty room on the left has a small secret chamber. From there, there is a peephole which the original owner left to look and listen into the happenings in the library…
“What should I do! Lord Wumianzhe is actually that bad Lich Roland. I accidentally overheard a big secret, will Momo be silenced? Momo doesn’t want it, Momo hasn’t saved up sufficient dowry to marry a husband.”
This secret chamber was discovered by Momo when she was checking out the mansion. But, delighted over this unexpected surprise, she didn’t report it and instead used it as her secret slacking and snack spot.
On the other end of the chamber, Diana’s face was dumbfounded. Initially, she was worried about her own brother and Momo said that she had a way to find out what they were discussing. So, she followed Momo into the secret chamber she discovered and instead, learnt this explosive secret.
“No wonder we were unable to catch Roland, no wonder Roland is always a step behind the boundaries of punishment… What should we do?”
But very soon, she remembered the city which she and her companions view as home. The future Knight of the Moon made up her mind.
“The grave and wise Wumianzhe is the core and the basis of the judiciary system, so he must be infallible… Momo, you definitely must not reveal this matter! Absolutely never!!”
In the empty underground tinsel, the sound of the sneeze echoes loudly, travelling a great distance away.
“What’s wrong? Ah Dang, you can actually catch a cold?” The one speaking is a female Elf riding on a tall Skeleton Horse. The extravagant robe on her extends pass the body of the horse to the floor. Her eyes, which resembles a whirlpool of intertwining black and white, had some kind of inexplicable eerie to them.
The Skeleton Horse which is moving slowly is obviously no ordinary being. It is more than 3 meters tall and on the ground it steps on, an icy hoof could be seen. In this instant, the Bone Dragon Queen Gria who doesn’t even bat an eye to the end of the world was actually surprised at how her companion which was normally healthy to an outrageous extent could actually get sick.
“Papa misses Ah Dang. Papa needs Ah Dang. Ah Dang must go and see Papa.”
The one saying this is a short Dwarf. His face is full of pimples and he is biting on a chicken leg-like food.
His eyes are unfocused and saliva drips uncontrollably from his mouth as he walks, making him look dim-witted. But, the seemingly normal walking motion, even with him occasionally stopping to pick up stones to throw at the nests of birds, he still manages to move faster than the tall Skeleton Horse.
“Is that so? Looks like Lionheart isn’t wrong. As the first Undead created personally by our Emperor, you are indeed our Emperor’s eldest son in a certain sense, so there should be some kind of connection between you and our Emperor… Our Emperor, no, your father, where is he? Can you confirm his location?”
“Below!! Ah Dang feels it, he is below!”
“Hehe, that’s good. We shouldn’t be far from our destination, Vance of the Underground Alliance, right after this fortress. We just received reports that Lamost and the rest have arrived so we must hurry. Otherwise, your father might find himself in a bad situation.”
“Ah Dang will beat up anyone who dares to bully Ah Pa! Ah Dang will eat anyone who blocks Ah Dang from finding Ah Pa!!”
The voice of Dwarves are similar to that of human children, so that childish-sounding threat may seem weak. But Gria knows that even if the one in the way is legendary Dragon Empress Molly, Ah Dang will still fulfil his words. If he says that he is going to eat her, then, not a single scale will be left.
Not too far away is the Granite Fortress in the underground tunnel. That is a barrier set up by underground city lords around this area. On the other days, they are responsible for collecting tax for using this path but today, fully armed Beastman soldiers can be seen everywhere.
Just as the two people approaches the security radius of the archers, the fire used for lighting up the area flies towards them.
“Who’s there? It is an emergency situation now and the Lord Beastman Sovereign has ordered for all underground tunnels to be sealed. No matter who you are and your reason for heading to the underground world, please return back from the path you came from.”
Gria assesses the Lion-tribe Beastman who is leading the team on the frontlines. Finding no unique individuals, she lies on her vine chair uninterested. She knows that Ah Dang has starved for far too long since the last meal from the previous underground city and in the face of the starving Ah Dang, she has no chance to fight at all.
“Ah Dang is hungry, Ah Dang wants to eat meat!!”
Looking at the small Dwarf running towards him, the Leo Commander raises up his double-handed greatsword warily.
“Don’t come over, stay where you are!!!”
But, the Dwarf continues to advance, so the Leo Commander raises his right hand to give out a signal for arrows to be fired. Afterwards…
There is no more afterwards…
In a distortion, the Dwarf disappears and what is left on the ground is that thigh of the Dragon Queen he was chewing on.
“AHHHHHHHHHHH! What kind of monster is this!!”
Shrouded in dark fog, a large figure fills up the entire tunnel. A large monster that exceeds all imagination seems to have transverse beyond the world of dreams into reality and the terrified Beastman soldiers had nowhere to run to.
After 1 minute, when everything calmed down, what was left is a gigantic hole… Yes, the entirety of the Granite Fortress and the Beastmen in it has disappeared have all disappeared without a trace. The only thing remaining is a gigantic hole.
“How is it? Delicious?”
“It is a little tough, and some of it even got stuck on my teeth… Not delicious, not delicious!! Ah Dang wants delicious food!!”
“Un, then let’s go to Vance. Your next restaurant is waiting there.”