“Cheng Yang, what are you trying to do?” Yuan Jianzhe’s cold voice had thrown all decorum aside.
Cheng Yang smirked.
“Brother Yuan, what are you talking about? Didn’t we agree that I can enter or leave the safe zone as I please? It can’t be that you want to back out of our contract, right?”
“That’s…” Yuan Jianzhe wanted to protest and point out that the deal didn’t extend to whatever the hell the tiger was, but the words were caught in his throat. He was so close to forging the knives that could kill Cheng Yang, so he didn’t want to openly declare war just yet.
“Maybe I’m here to build an army?” Cheng Yang suggested when Yuan Jianzhe remained silent. “A few tens of thousands would be nice. Or even a hundred thousand? What do you think? In my opinion, more is merrier, so I should make one as big as possible.”
Despite Cheng Yang’s taunting, Yuan Jianzhe didn’t get angry. He was never afraid of Cheng Yang’s political power and was even less so after discovering Phoenix Village.
It would be too easy to buy or bribe anyone Cheng Yang left in the safe zone, not to mention the cost of housing an army outside your base of operation. Thus, unless Cheng Yang had been kicked in the head by a donkey, Yuan Jianzhe knew he would never make that choice.
Since Cheng Yang had the energy to joke around, Yuan Jianzhe knew he wasn’t here to start a war. So, he sighed and let the tension flow out of his body.
“What’s your intention?” He asked in a much calmer tone.
“Do you think this is a good place for a conversation?” Cheng Yang motioned towards the large crowd gathering around them.
“I pride myself on transparency, so anything I have to say I can say in public.”
“Oh, in that case, let me put my cards on the table. Yesterday one of my soldiers was injured by an explosion. Probably a hand grenade or landmine. Aside from the army, no one has access to weapons like that. Care to explain yourself?”
“We had nothing to do with that. We’ve been strictly following the terms of our non-aggression pact.” Yuan Jianzhe denied the accusation without batting an eyelid. “There are plenty of deserters who might have one, and too many corpses have littered the city with lost military equipment. It’s even possible some bandits found a military supply depot.”
“Don’t take me for a fool. If I say you did it, that means you did, so don’t bother denying it. You’d better find a way to appease me within three days. Otherwise, our treaty will be nullified.”
Before Yuan Jianzhe could react to that declaration, Cheng Yang’s heels clipped Enlai, and the two disappeared into the distance.
Although Yuan Jianzhe was angry, he had no choice but to endure and stay composed. Since Cheng Yang had slapped his face in public, any outburst of anger would only lower his reputation further.
“Lao Wu, let’s go back. We need to discuss our plan for dealing with Cheng Yang.” Yuan Jianzhe’s only opportunity to regain face was to put on a strong front before leaving. Without a show to watch, the crowd gradually dispersed.
Once they were back at his villa, Yuan Jianzhe turned to Lao Wu.
“What do you make of the monster Cheng Yang was riding?”
“My guess is that Cheng Yang discovered a new game rule. That would make the monster either a mount or a pet. It could also be a new summoning ability he got from the Forgotten Grave. But, I don’t think that’s likely. The monster was too fast to be a summon.” Lao Wu succinctly analyzed the situation. “If its a mount, the speed makes sense, but the combat power wouldn’t be outstanding. However, if its a pet, we’re in trouble.”
“Why would you say that?”
“A monsters speed is a good indicator of its level. Since the monster was faster than Cheng Yang, it should be at least one level higher. Thus, I believe the monster was at least a Pinnacle-Grade monster if not stronger.”
“So its possible Cheng Yang tamed a Mature monster?” Yuan Jianzhe asked with a frown.
“It’s highly likely.”
“In that case, we’ll need to take Cheng Yang’s threat more seriously.” Yuan Jianzhe sighed. If it was just Cheng Yang, they could try to get him banned from the safe zone, but the chances of that affecting a monster were low. “Send out an order. We’re having an emergency meeting.”
With that, Yuan Jianzhe turned and walked up to the attic.
Lao Wu bowed before leaving to spread the word.
Half an hour later, anyone with even a bit of power was gathered in Yuan Jianzhe’s villa.
“Does everyone know about Cheng Yang’s visit today?” Yuan Jianzhe asked with a grave expression.
The crowd nodded.
“Since you all know what happened. Let’s begin. Cheng Yang has gone too far this time, and if we continue to act weak around him, we’re never going to have the opportunity to strike back. Any suggestions?”
“Commander Yuan, is Cheng Yang just looking for an excuse to attack us, or did you plant landmines in his territory?” The captain of the first militia, Lao He, asked.
“As far as I am aware, we did not. However, Cheng Yang doesn’t hide his emotions well enough for the attack to have been a lie. If anyone took the initiative to do what he claimed, please speak up now.”
Yuan Jianzhe glanced around, but no one answered.
“You won’t be punished if you did. Cheng Yang would find trouble with us either way. I just need to know so we can proceed with the correct information.”
“I ordered the attack.” Ding Ming, one of Yuan Jianzhe’s colonels, said quietly. “I believed it to be what the commander would want.”
“Stop. There’s no need to justify yourself. Since his claim is legitimate, we need to discuss how to proceed.” Yuan Jianzhe waved off Ding Ming’s control. “Why did you do it, and what did you learn.”
“As mentioned in my previous reports, my spies discovered a second village to the East of Cloud City. Since they couldn’t get close, we weren’t sure if they were related to Cheng Yang but had to assume they were. Since the two groups were related, the power level of their soldiers should be similar.”
“What’s your point?”
“Attacking the village to the South was too risky since Cheng Yang was there, but since the East was unguarded, it was easy to set a few traps and wait for someone to walk into them. This would allow us the gauge the feasibility of explosives against higher-level individuals.” Ding Ming explained. “I felt this was vital intel due to the presence of the high-level guards we’ve seen on the Southern village. Although they’ve never left, they have the same efficiency Cheng Yang does when it comes to killing.”
“What were the results?”
“A Standard-Grade soldier barely survives the explosion, and the resulting injuries incapacitate them for a few moments before their limbs regenerate.”
Yuan Jianzhe frowned.
“How many of those guards are there?”
“We aren’t sure, but their numbers don’t exceed eighty.”
“Tch, how can that bastard have so many strong soldiers.”
“Commander.” Lau Wu decided to speak. “Given the strength Cheng Yang has displayed, I think conceding one more time will allow us to delay until-“
“Commander, we can’t continue to give in to that man!” Ding Ming cut off the advisor. “As I said before, they seem almost incapable of leaving the village. If we can confirm that they are NPCs, we have nothing to worry about. even if we can’t attack him, we can at least stop Cheng Yang from attacking us!”