Chapter 402: Qixi!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
"This is a thousand jun of Hyderabad ore, almost a hundred million taels of gold. Is it really out of our reach?" the goateed elder muttered to himself.
He had to admit that he had not anticipated such a situation. It was such an excellent opportunity, such a large piece of meat, but he couldn't take a bite.
Without the skill to forge Wootz Steel, they would not be able to do anything with the ore they seized.
"That's not guaranteed."
Yao Guangyi spoke after thinking for a few moments.
The elder raised his head, a questioning look in his eyes.
"I hear that the smiths of the Abbasid Caliphate and Charax Spasinu have some experience with Hyderabad ore. Although we can't use it, we might be able to sell the ore to them."
"That's our only option then."
The goateed elder sighed. Although he didn't have too deep an understanding of the Hyderabad ore, he did know that there was a massive difference between the raw materials and the finished product.
The finished product that was the Wootz Steel weapon was currently worth tens of thousands of taels, but the raw ore was probably only worth several hundred.
This was far different from what he had expected, but it was better than nothing.
After all, it was completely useless in their hands. The two black objects in Yao Guangyi's hands were the best proof.
"…I'll inform the other side and have them steal the ore as quickly as possible. I'll have them bury it somewhere, and then once the storm has passed, we can get in touch with the Arabs. We'll have to let them take advantage of this Hyderabad ore."
The elder spoke with the greatest of reluctance.
"Yes, that's all we can do."
Yao Guangyi also sighed. Although he appeared indifferent, he could not possibly remain unmoved by the sensation of a hundred million taels of gold brushing past him.
Though he spoke with indifference, boundless regret still filled his heart.
"If one cuts the grass but doesn't pull out the roots, they'll regrow with the spring wind. Though we've ruined this business transaction, it's no long-term plan."
The goateed old man rapped on the table, his gaze fixed on Yao Guangyi.
"General Yao, your Yao Clan has a large pull. Can you not think of a method of completely cutting off this business of the Wang Clan's? If we can't cut it off at the source, won't we be unable to finish things for good?" the goateed old man asked.
Yao Guangyi's eyes glimmered, but his mind was surging with ideas. Sindhu was weak and impoverished, and simply couldn't be compared to the Central Plains. If they sent over a squad of experts to the Hyderabad mountains and seized the ore veins, they really might finish things once and for all and truly pull off a fatal plan.
The problem was that Sindhu was very far from the Central Plains, and they weren't familiar with the geography. They would need at least three months.
But the benefits were also evident.
Although the Yao Clan and King Qi couldn't touch the Wang Clan, and certainly not Wang Chong, for the time being, they could certainly send experts to Sindhu to make trouble.
Even if the Sage Emperor knew, they wouldn't be blamed for it.
Some things could not be said as long as they weren't exposed. They didn't need to fear any response from the Sage Emperor.
Yao Guangyi's gaze was habitually focused within the empire and focused on managing the affairs of the Central Plains. Here, however, he fell short to the goateed elder. He was a newcomer who was just now beginning to see farther.
"Sir's plan is excellent. However, in this matter, my Yao Clan alone will not be able to do it. I'm afraid that I will need Sir's help."
"General Yao, relax. I'll take care of the arrangements on King Qi's end!"
The elder fiddled with his goatee. For the first time, the two had sympathized with each other on this point and unanimously agreed.
After a while, a black falcon flew out of the capital. At almost the same time, the experts of King Qi and the Yao Residence set out from the capital. They met up and then began their journey to the distant Sindhu.
The unbroken mountains meandered endlessly. If one started from Longxi and traveled northwest, after traveling several thousand li, one would encounter a vast desert. Winds howled down from the mountains, and the signs of erosion from wind and sand could be seen everywhere.
This place was Qixi!
This was a place one had to cross when traveling to the Western Regions.
Qixi was the Qixi Protectorate1, under the rule of Imperial Great General Fumeng Lingcha. However, even Fumeng Lingcha did not have much control over this area. (TN: Qixi translates literally to 'Desert West'. It refers to an area between the present-day towns of Hami and Dunhuang.)
The vast desert was a product of nature, and when faced by the mighty power of nature, even the strength of an empire lost some of its luster.
A great number of mounted thieves, brigands, and bandits had flourished around the Qixi Desert, because the desert served as the best of barriers.
If one entered the desert, not even the officials and soldiers of the empire could help.
And in the northwest region of the Qixi Desert was a place called Mount Qiongqi. Amidst the waves of heat and endless sands, countless mounted thieves and brigands were encamped. Countless halos shone beneath their feet.
It was impossible to count the number of Tier 4, 5, 6, and even Tier 7 or 8 True Martial realm experts present.
At noon, when the scalding waves of white were at their hottest, a sudden quaking began to come from below the ground all around Mount Qiongqi.
The sand vibrated and the ground was even more restless. It was like some massive beast was about to drill out of the ground.
Warhorses neighed as all the horses in a range of several dozen li felt an aura of unease. They became restless and some even reared up on their hindlegs.
Warhorses were far more sensitive to this sort of aura than humans.
But unlike the reaction of the warhorses, all the brigands and bandits who sensed this aura began to excitedly shout.
Many bandits even grabbed their wine bags, gorging down wine and heartily laughing with anticipation in their eyes.
"Hahaha, it's not one bit lacking. It's exactly the same as yesterday!"
"Boss's cultivation time has come again!"
"Extreme flame and heat, extreme Yang and toughness; there's no place better than the desert for Boss to cultivate."
"Hahaha, take a look at the rookies of the group. It's not even started yet and they're already scared into this state. How can they run around with Boss like this!"
"That's right! Come! Throw them into the sea of sand! With so little guts, they don't deserve to run around with Boss!"
As the crowd laughed and caroused, the anticipation in their eyes deepened.
Boom! With a terrifying rip, the sea of sand around Mount Qiongqi began to seethe as cracks began to appear. After a moment, boomboomboom! Hundreds of thousands of rocks of all sizes seemed to come to life, an invisible strength pulling them out of the ground and into the air.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
The large stones weighed almost a thousand jin while the small ones weighed several dozen. As each one soared into the air, they did not fall back down. Instead, like scattered stars, they hovered in the void, not moving in the slightest.
For an instant, all of Mount Qiongqi was silent.
Even though they had seen this miraculous sight countless times, the crowd still felt a powerful shock each time they saw it.
Like they were seeing it for the first time!
"It's too impossible!"
"Truly like a god!"
"Who else other than Boss can do this!"
On the ground, countless eyes stared at this apparent work of a god taking place above them, filled with envy, fear, and a deep reverence. One True Martial Tier 4 bandit even spilled his wine bag, unaware that his clothes were being soaked.
This was no work of a god, nor was it the unfathomable power of nature. All this was the result of human strength.
The strength of their boss.
Hwooo! The wind roared, sweeping sand and gravel with it. At almost the same moment these massive stones flew out of the ground, the natural Origin Energy in the surroundings seemed to be drawn over, majestically surging toward the center of Mount Qiongqi.
A massive clang resonated in everyone's ears. As everyone was raising their heads, a massive wave of black 'steel' rushed down from the mountaintop, stopping halfway down.
There was another clang, and then a second wave of 'steel' rushed down, enveloping the first 'steel' halo before continuing even further down…
One, two, three… seven halos of heavy black thorns enveloped the entirety of Mount Qiongqi. The final and largest wave was exuding the heavy aura of the great earth.
These three massive halos formed the most primordial and most powerful of halos:
Halo of Earth!
These seven halos were brimming with the heavy aura of the laws of earth. Before the high and heavy wall of the Halo of Earth, all these True Martial realm Tier 7, 8, and 9 warriors seemed insignificant.
This was the enormous power belonging to a high-tier expert of the Profound Martial realm!
The countless rocks scattered across the sky were at first still, but then they began to vibrate, unleashing a resounding drone.
Guided by that invisible energy, the wind and gravel began to shroud the entire region.
It was the scorching noon, when the sun was at its hottest, but the area around Mount Qiongqi was cold and gloomy, with even the sky obscured.
All the bandits paled as the dust cast the world into shadow, and all was silent.
After some time, the large stones fell back down and the sand scattered. All the floating stones dropped back into the ground, and the fissures themselves also began to close.
The sand encroached from all sides to close the gaps!
In a flash, everything had dispersed. The sea of sand regained its original appearance, and there was not a single sign that anything had changed.
"Boss has finished cultivating!"
Someone faintly sighed 'Boss', and with this sigh, a figure in the depths of Mount Qiongqi began to wake.
1. Qixi translates literally to 'Desert West'. It refers to an area between the present-day towns of Hami and Dunhuang.↩
(TN: In the past, Starve referred to Qixi, 碛西, as the Western Regions. However, Western Regions has another term for it, 西域, which is also used in this novel. In order to avoid confusion, 'Qixi' will be used to refer to the Qixi Protectorate that Fumeng Lingcha governs instead of Western Regions Protectorate.)