Volume 3 - The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace, Chapter 20: Unsolved Problem
The major raised both arms in surrender before smiling bitterly, saying, "I will try my best to greet around and let them have a normal inspection. The observation period will be a month, and if there truly aren't any infected people then we'll release them. If you still cannot accept this, then you may as well kill me."
A normal inspection meant a more reasonable survival rate. Qianye sighed on the inside and withdrew his foot from the major. Then, he holstered Eagleshot back to the holster and showed his back.
"That is all. I will pay attention to the results." once he was finished, Qianye turned around and left.
The major climbed up to his feet and twisted his head strongly. Then, he suddenly shouted at Qianye's back, "Hey kid! Don't commit such folly in the future, get it!"
Qianye left without ever turning his head around as if he hadn't heard his call.
The major spat out a blood stained spit and swore, "What a goddamn monster!"
As for whether he was commenting on Qianye's strength or his behavior, it was unknown.
Qianye walked very quickly, and it didn't take long before his surroundings were all wastelands once more. However, right now at this moment, the major's words were still resonating in his heart.
Right now, it really would seem that saving the human cattles who were penned up by the vampires was an arduous and thankless folly to commit. It wasn't to say that these people should not be rescued, but simply a matter of the Empire's current system and their principle of choosing to kill an innocent over letting a blood thrall go free.
This system and principle was the product of millenniums of cruel war, and the countless bodies of pioneers and almighties. One might say even that right and wrong could not be judged based on the circumstances at the time. If something must be said, then the fact that the Empire continued to exist to this day and was just as strong as ever was proof of its righteousness.
Even if Qianye had a different opinion on this matter, he was only one person. There was no way he could go up against the entire system, not to mention that he had not a clue what he could do to prevent this. At the very least, there was no way he could actually kill the expeditionary forces' major and outpost guards for the dozens of human cattles right now. Now that would be a foolish action of biting the hand that feeds. No matter how questionable the expeditionary forces might be, they were still the human's final defense line against the dark races on the Evernight Continent.
The major's final suggestion was the most tolerant proposal he could give in the current circumstances. Moreover, when Qianye thought deeper into the matter, he realized that this wasn't the end of the case. Even after the dozens of humans were safely released from custody, their situation still would not be much better.
The Empire possessed four continents and more than three hundred provinces. However, the resources they possessed were never enough when compared to the Empire's massive population and the threat of power enemies.
On the empire's domain, there were several billions of poor people at the lowest rung of society struggling on the line of life and death every day. In comparison, these human cattles absolutely did not qualify for better treatment unless they could prove their own worth.
However, this was easier said than done. Some of these people were captured and thus had memories of human nations. Perhaps they had a chance at merging back into society once more. However, those who were born and raised in the dark territories were a different question. If there were no one to guide them, then it was unknown whether they could get used to life in human society.
This was the first time in his life Qianye encountered a problem which he would not have considered in the past, and that was dealing with the aftermath of war. But he did not know where the answer lay either.
After returning to Darkblood City, Qianye headed to A1's Firearms first.
Old 1 raised his head and glanced expressionlessly at Qianye once, saying, "You're back."
"I have something good to give you." while speaking, Qianye tossed a satchel onto the counter.
Old 1 snorted before standing up slowly. He said, "Something good? More like some trouble! One day these old bones are gonna die by your hands-"
Old 1's voice came to an abrupt stop before he could finish.
The buckle of the satchel was broken and loose, revealing the antique handguns of the vampire kept inside it. Old 1 suddenly took off his spectacles and wiped it clean carefully before fishing out a pair of snow white gloves to put onto his hands. Only then he held his breath and gently drew out the two handguns and placed them on a piece of white cloth.
"Go close the door!" Old 1 said without turning his head.
Qianye locked the shop entrance as he said. Some amount of expectations immediately grew inside his heart. If that grade three Flowing Gold Rose last time could be sold for five hundred gold coins already, then these two antique handguns that formed pairs and were rank four origin guns should be worth at least two or three thousand gold coins, shouldn't they?
If that was the case, then the goods on Old 2's list would not be a problem any longer.
Of course, Qianye was still willing to accept that mysterious mission if it wasn't too troublesome. Although it might not be as simple as it appeared-otherwise Old 2 would not have racked his brains and came to his doorsteps-but based on his trust on Yu Yingnan, Qianye still thought that there was no harm at giving it a try.
While Old 1 wiped the handguns with leather flannel, his thumb carefully traced every decorative design on the guns. An R was etched onto the handle of one handgun, whereas a flowery W was on the other.
After Old 1 placed the two handguns side by side, he said to Qianye, "Take these handguns back with you. I cannot accept them."
"You can't? Why?" Qianye was stunned for a time.
Old 1 pointed at the two alphabets on the gun's body and said, "If I am not mistaken, you must have taken these from some vampire noble's collection room. While these pair of abbreviated alphabets may mean a lot of things, if it appears on a pair of Origin guns then it can only mean one name: Ross Weald. He is an extremely famous vampire noble. These two guns were his when he was younger. They are called the "Twin Flowers." The reason they became famous was because Ross had challenged and killed the former Darkblood City Champion rank mayor when he was just a Baron, which is the equivalent of our human rank nine Fighter. This is the pair of handguns that had dealt the final blow."
"Then it should be even more valuable, isn't it?" Qianye asked in puzzlement.
Old 1 shook his head and said, "The problem is that this Ross Weald isn't dead yet. In fact, his life is going swimmingly and he is a Marquis already. His territory is at the wide west of Darkblood City, and this pair of handguns is probably a gift by him to a certain descendant of his. No matter how you've acquired these guns, it is the equivalent of a loud slap on Marquis Ross' face. There is no way he will take this lying down. Therefore, I cannot accept this, and so is everyone else in the entire Boulderstone Region and its surrounding areas."
At this point, Old 1 looked meaningfully at Qianye before saying, "You know, the borders of Darkness and Daybreak is in fact the gray area we speak of. Gray means the coexistence of both black and white. Therefore, if the dark races are planning a little something, they have many ways and many humans who are willing to serve under them."
Qianye was a little stunned. Ever since the incident at Blackflow City, ever since he learned about the underground munitions of Darkblood City's black market, he already noticed that there might be a lot more secret deals going on between the human race and dark races he could imagine. But before Old 1 had pointed this out so bluntly for him, he would not have imagined that a vampire marquis would have such powerful influence in a human controlled area.
Amidst shock, Qianye also felt anger rising involuntarily to his head. In reality, this was not above reason. If the active commander of the expeditionary forces could trade in secret with the dark races, then what's so strange about other families and forces doing the same thing?
Qianye sucked in a deep breath and withdrew the pair of handguns, "In that case, not only could I not sell these things, I would even be chased and hunted by the vampires?"
"It would appear so."
But Old 1 had immediately hinted obscurely to Qianye that, while he could not sell off Ross' twin guns in Darkblood City, it did not mean that he could not sell it in the upper continents. It didn't take much thinking before Qianye understood his unspoken words. A vampire marquis who could kill a human Champion when he was still a Baron was an important figure, but that was only on this territory. Ultimately, it was still a question of strength. The hands of this Marquis Ross had not yet stretched to the upper continents.
Other than the "Twin Flowers" that he could not unload at the moment, Qianye's spoils also included a bag of crystal coins and a grade three origin gun that belonged to a Blood Esquire of a patrol team. Therefore, in the end an additional one hundred or so imperial gold coins was traded into his pockets, so it could be considered a small profit.
After he was done tidying his equipment, Qianye that sought out Old 2 to make his report. A moment later, the duo found a quiet shop near the Home of Hunters and sat down. They ate as they chat.
Old 2 listened to Qianye's adventure from beginning to the end, and his expression changed from respect, heaviness, and finally a bitter smile of helplessness.
Qianye's own expression was surprisingly calm as he said, "What, even you think that I've caused a huge trouble?"
"The one you killed is probably the descendant of Ross Weald, and the fact that he can develop a small, independent family meant that he was at least the direct bloodline of Ross Weald within five generations. What do you say? I know that you are never afraid to fight the dark races head on, but the fatal blow often comes from behind one's back."
Qianye smiled slightly and said, "I'm not easy pickings either. If there are any people who are willing to throw their lives away from the dark races, then I don't mind adding a few more human lives to my score. I will kill as many as they come!"
"You are only at rank four!" Old 2 said sincerely and earnestly. In reality, it was because Qianye was only rank four that he was in so much trouble right now. If he was at rank eight, nine, or even Champion, then he would be facing a lot less backstabbers. After all, before one betrays, they had to at least know who they're trying to betray!
Qianye only smiled and made no comments about his rank.
Old 2 said sternly, "We can talk about your mission now. Tomorrow, Miss Qiqi will send her men over and give you a final interview. If you pass the interview, then you will set out on the same day. However, I doubt it'll be a problem for you to pass it."
"Miss Qiqi?" it was a name that Qianye was completely unfamiliar with.
"Yin Qiqi, is one of the core successors of this generation's Drinking Horse Yin clan. The Yin family is an aristocratic family of the upper three ranks. Even in the entire empire, and they are the first class influential clan on the Qin Continent. Therefore, you more or less get the idea of Miss Qiqi's status, don't you?"
Naturally, Qianye understood this very well. The nobility ranks of the empire was extremely complicated. There were four grand households, seventy two aristocratic families, and thousands of landowning households. In general, they had used the same nine rank system when the nation was founded. Among the upper three ranks, the four households Zhang, Zhao, Bai and Song were indisputable leaders. There were also some super aristocratic families that weren't too far behind them. Although the rankings of the upper, middle and lower three ranks would often fluctuate, illustrious aristocratic families such as the Drinking Horse Yin clan, Far East Wei clan, and Jadestone Wang clan had never fallen off the upper three ranks.
The most direct observation of this system was the page of special caption in every mission intel back when Qianye was still serving under the Red Scorpion, stating the exceptions to the local death quota. Generally, those of middle and upper three ranks would fall under this exception.
If Yin Qiqi was core successor to such an aristocratic family of the upper three ranks, if they were to discuss her status in terms of the empire's aristocracy sequence, then she was god knows how many times higher than people such as Darkblood City's mayor or the expeditionary forces' major general.
Something puzzled Qianye, however. What kind of mission was an honored daughter of an illustrious status trying to complete that needed the help of a lowly hunter?
Old 2 said, Your mission is to act as Miss Qiqi's adviser, aide, soldier, and assassin during the time she is on the Evernight Continent, and if necessary, her lover."
The mouthful of water Qianye just drank was nearly spat onto Old 2's face when he heard this, "Lover?!"
Old 2 rolled his eyes at him, "Of course it's not real!"