Chapter 18: Distribution of Authority
The fleet stayed at Thousand Illusions Island for three days. After that, they left, this time with the Blackwater Corps in tow.
At this moment, Su Chen’s army now contained four different sources of power.
There were 50,000 people from the Boundless Sect, 210,000 from the Subdued Sea Branch, 300,000 from the Oceanids, and 70,000 from the Blackwater Corps, which totaled 630,000 soldiers in total.
And these were not 630,000 commoners — the army was entirely composed of powerful Origin Qi Scholars, each one of them warriors capable of manipulating the Origin Energy in their environment.
A force this strong was probably capable of invading virtually any territory that they wanted to. Even Sky City would be put to the test by them.
Even so, this number was still insufficient to handle all the Sea Beasts living in the Abyss.
Every soldier on this expedition was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Twelve days later, the fleet arrived at the edges of the Abyss.
This territory was wholly owned by Sea Beasts. It was one of the most terrifying locations on the entire continent, and even the most powerful individuals had to tread with caution.
The fleet’s imposing aura almost completely disappeared once they arrived.
The boats inconspicuously and silently glided along the surface of the water. The only sound that could be heard was the whistling wind and the crashing waves.
Perhaps it was due to the lack of outside interference, but even the sea itself was beginning to grow quite aggressive.
Massive, towering waves began to surge to the sky as dark clouds formed overhead.
Wild winds and heavy rain beat down upon the fleet as lightning and thunder shook the air around them with shocking intensity.
From time to time, massive demonic birds would even fly across the sky, staring at the fleet below as if they were looking at dead men. They were waiting for the moment when they could descend and feast upon their corpses.
Lightning spirits danced through the sky, exploding into balls of flame from time to time. There were Thunderclap Spirits, Darkness Lightning Spirits, Solitary Wind Spirits, and many other elemental spirits present. All of these spirits howled and cried out in a strange, unsettling cadence.
Sea Beasts would also surface from time to time.
Instead of running away, they were circling the fleet, searching for opportunities to strike.
“This is really quite a good place to do research in,” Su Chen sighed as he glanced up at the spirits floating around in the sky.
Thunderclap Spirits were the main source of power for the Bai Clan’s Thunder Blade. These spirits could utilize the sound of thunder to attack an opponent, completely ignoring most defenses. They were quite powerful as a result.
Unfortunately, it was possible to counter this spirit’s characteristics, and the defense-piercing aspect of the Thunderclap Spirit’s attacks was not necessarily always effective. As Su Chen’s opponents had gotten stronger and stronger, his Thunder Blade’s effectiveness had greatly decreased.
Cloud Leopard, on the other hand, was sometimes able to squeeze some more use out of it, and he had a surprising ability to draw more power from than was expected.
Of course, if Su Chen were to spend some more time researching that skill, it was entirely possible for him to develop a more powerful thunder attack, where its power would exceed that of the original move. However, Su Chen’s primary interest was not on that, so after giving the spirits a cursory glance, he sighed and moved on.
There were countless paths to take when it came to research. All Su Chen could do was choose the most important one at any given time.
“Master, they’re waiting for you right now,” Iron Cliff said as he stood behind Su Chen.
“Mm,” Su Chen muttered in response. After staring at the sky for a bit longer, he returned to the palace.
Li Chongshan, Frostpoint, and the others were already sitting in the palace.
In order to ensure that their movements and actions would be coordinated, the unified fleet had designated a nine-person command group with Su Chen as their leader all the way back at Thousand Illusions Island. In addition to Su Chen, each of the four distinct branches had sent two people: Li Chongshan, Chu Yingwan, Jiang Xishui, Ji Hanyan, Frostpoint, Westminster, and Black Flame’s Zhong Zhenjun and Ding Feng.”
Su Chen had only requested for Ding Feng to accompany him on this trip, but Zhong Zhenjun had also volunteered to come.
The Blackwater Corps were Black Flame’s main military strength. Zhong Zhenjun didn’t trust anyone else to manage them, not even Ding Feng. Thus, he had personally come to keep an eye on things.
This nine-person command group was the highest on the chain of command; every important decision was made by this group. This was what Zhong Zhenjun had advocated for, and the Oceanids had quickly seconded his idea.
The Oceanids also didn’t want Su Chen to have too much authority when it came to the division of power.
Even though they had pinned their hopes on Su Chen, that didn’t mean they would let him make every decision of his own volition.
No one would hand over their autonomy so easily to another person.
Su Chen didn’t mind, and strictly speaking, the Oceanids had already given him enough face. The Boundless Sect had three members in this group, and Jiang Xishui and his wife were also allied with him. And as long as Su Chen didn’t try to cheat the Oceanids, they would not go against him either. In some sense, it was not wrong to say that this nine-person command group operated with one mind.
The fleet had just arrived at the Abyss, so they needed to discuss their next steps before they made any moves.
When Su Chen entered, Zhong Zhenjun was in the middle of talking. “No matter what, stability comes first. I think that we should first bait out a single Sovereign and pick it off when it’s by itself.”
Frostpoint shook his head. “If Sovereigns were that easy to bait out and kill, then we wouldn’t be in such a sorry state. The Sea Beasts aren’t completely devoid of intelligence. Once they realize that something is up, they will call for reinforcements. We’re right next to the Abyss right now, so we could be kicking the hornet’s nest by trying that!”
Zhong Zhenjun chuckled as he replied, “Then we will need Sir Su to come up with some ideas for us. If he is so confident in being able to deal with the Deep Sea Sorrow, then this should be a small matter for him.”
Everyone cursed silently in their hearts. Small matter? More like the crux of the matter!
Figuring out a solution to this problem would decrease the threat of the Abyss by more than twofold.
Even so, it wasn’t like Zhong Zhenjun’s words were completely unreasonable.
Sometimes, the words that incited the strongest negative reaction were the most truthful.
Even Su Chen had to admit that Zhong Zhenjun’s suggestion was logical.
Su Chen sat down on the seat in the center and said, “I understand Commander Zhong’s suggestion and support it. However, there is no way for us to do that at the moment. But I do already have a plan that should allow us to resolve this problem soon.”
Zhong Zhenjun squinted at Su Chen. “Oh? It’s not that I don’t believe you, Sir Su, but rather that I would like to know how you are planning on resolving this issue.”
Su Chen casually replied, “Easy. The Deep Sea Sorrow is issuing commands to the Sovereigns and forbidding them from leaving the Abyss. Only the older beasts that are about to die can leave. I just so happen to be developing a medicine that is supposed to increase the lifespan of older individuals. However, it ended up having the opposite effect.”
Frostpoint furrowed his brow. “You mean, it accelerates the aging process?”
“That’s right!” Su Chen nodded.
Everyone immediately understood what Su Chen was getting at.
Younger Sovereigns wouldn’t be easy to bait out, but if they accelerated the aging process for one of the Sovereigns, then it would automatically leave the Abyss, making it much easier to hunt.
“If that’s the case, then why don’t we just make all of those Sovereigns ancient at once? Why waste so much energy and effort?” Ji Hanyan couldn’t resist asking this question.
Su Chen replied, “The Sea Beast Sovereigns are so massive that it will take an incredible amount of resources just to make one of them ancient. I have been gathering resources for over five years, but I only have enough to age two Sea Beasts. Also, the Sea Beasts will attack the Oceanids once they grow old. If I was really able to age five hundred Beast Sovereigns at once...... Hehe.”
Su Chen didn’t finish his sentence, but everyone knew that it would be a disaster for the Oceanids and Black Flame. The Oceanids would survive because of Freedom Wind, but Neptune’s Fort and Thousand Illusions Island would be lost forever.
More importantly, it was possible that the Abyss wouldn’t be completely destroyed; as new Sea Beasts were drawn in, a new powerful force would eventually be built up in its place again.
In any case, this idea was not feasible.
“If that’s the case, then we can’t waste the medicine on any random target. There are certain Sea Beasts that possess an innate resistance to poison, and others have vast amounts of vitality. We need to choose a suitable target,” Su Chen said.
Frostpoint nodded. “Even though it won’t be easy, it is still possible. Sir Su indeed came prepared.”
His tone was one of respect.
Zhong Zhenjun, however, coldly said, “If Sir Su has any other plans, please tell us now so that we aren’t left in the dark until the last possible moment.”
“I will tell you when the time is right.”
“If Sir Su won’t say anything, then I won’t force you to talk. I would like to discuss something else, then.”
“I want to know how our future profits will be divided.”
Everyone frowned when they heard this.
When recruiting the Blackwater Corps, Su Chen had mentioned that there would be benefits handed out in exchange for their help in dealing with these Beast Sovereigns.
This was both an enticement and also reality.
Even though these Sea Beast Sovereigns had basically lost their Origin Crystals due to the accelerating effects of the Deep Sea Sorrow, it would be wrong to say that there weren’t any benefits to be claimed whatsoever. More importantly, Su Chen would be able to distribute benefits even if they couldn’t find any from the Sea Beasts themselves.
The division of benefits, then, was an important topic of discussion.
Traditionally, the people who contributed the most would be rewarded the most, and that contribution was determined by how much manpower that side supplied.
The Boundless Sect’s position was quite awkward as a result.
The Boundless Sect had only contributed 50,000 people of the 630,000-strong army. This basically meant that in an impartial distribution, they wouldn’t even receive a tenth of the benefits.
Even if they doubled the Boundless Sect’s portion by virtue of Su Chen’s crucial assistance, they would still take less than twenty percent of the profits of this expedition.
As the person who would be responsible for destroying the core of the Abyss, and as the mastermind behind this expedition, having such a small cut of the profits was a joke. In some sense, it would seem that Su Chen’s authority was actually quite minimal.
This period of time was not a particularly progressive one; most people let their fists decide how much they would be able to take home to eat.
If you didn’t get a bite, that merely meant that your fists weren’t strong enough. You wouldn’t even have the right to argue about it.
This was why everyone had been avoiding this question.
Even so, the awkwardness could not be avoided forever, and sooner or later, it would need to be addressed.
Zhong Zhenjun was basically acting as the villain at this point. The way he posed his questions was nauseatingly crafty, and it was easy to dislike him as a result. However, the questions he asked were still necessary to ask and consider.
Everyone glanced at Su Chen.
Su Chen, however, said without any trace of panic, “It’s still a bit too early to discuss how the spoils will be divided.”
“So when will be a good time?” Zhong Zhenjun immediately asked.
“Naturally, it is after the battle is fought.” Su Chen replied calmly.
Even though keeping one’s trump cards in hand was always a good thing, they could not be used in negotiations when kept hidden. As such, it was still necessary to play the card at the right moment.
Su Chen was planning on making a big splash in this first battle to completely quell the dispute on how the spoils should be divided.