Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 02 – Chapter 09

Proofreaders: Handibong, Vanouney

Note: For easy character reference please refer to: Characters

Remember Verbrannt

The clear blue sky was cloudless. The hot sun shone brightly over the gathered crowd in the eastern village of Timur.

One hundred fifty thousand people were seated on the stands of the finish line for the Mounted Race. The scorching heat made the crowd more restless.

The announcer’s voice boomed over the speakers.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, our first racer has reached the five kilometer marker. As soon as they come out of Otaczac forest, they will have to run through the last three kilometers of plains right before you. If you don’t have special long range telescopes or other similar devices, you can view the action in our giant jumbovision screen behind me. Our jumbovision is brought to us by the Light Wizards of Regard. If it’s lights and sights, make it Regard.”

Five minutes passed, and a Druid on top of a wind scorpion was shown in high definition on the jumbovision. His wind scorpion appeared to be floating over the plains.

Three seconds later, two Lioumerean Pathfinders with their stag moose came out in hot pursuit of the Druid. Despite the close gap, the wind scorpion still had a clear advantage over the stag moose on the plains.

Slowly, the gap between the Druid and the Pathfinders grew. Laernea and Gandiva pushed their mounts to their limits, but it was futile.

Soutien, the Druid, maintained his lead and won first place. While Laernea and Gandiva placed second and third respectively.

When all three of them came to a halt, the Druid gave the Lioumereans a bow. It was to signify that he enjoyed the race against them. Laernea and Gandiva were unresponsive.

They crossed their arms and stared back at him. The moment Soutien turned his back, the two of them simultaneously stuck out their tongues at the Druid.

An hour passed before the tenth placer crossed the finish line. The Mounted Race event would officially end 24 hours after the first placer.

Yet, preparations for the awarding ceremony started as soon as the seventh placer arrived. All seven racers were asked to join Duke Burmistrz on stage.

With the stage set, the Mayor of Coatl stood in front of everyone. Duke Burmistrz addressed the audience in the stands.

“Friends! Standing before you are the finest racers in all of Zectas! Our experts estimate that only 50% of those who started the race will be able to finish. So, you can all imagine how talented these racers are. Let’s give them a round of applause.”

Everybody clapped and cheered for the top racers of Coatl City’s Mounted Race.

Soutien, Laernea, and Gandiva were on top of the podium marked 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. All of them carried their respective trophies and were waving to the crowd. The participants who won fourth to seventh place stood a foot below them.

All of them were given their promised prizes. Soutien was awarded with 10 million zecs and a golden armored carriage.

While Laernea and Gandiva only won a total of 7 million zecs. They watched Soutien drive away in his luxurious carriage.

With the completion of the awarding ceremony, Laernea tried to call Smoke and asked for his location.

“Gandiva, I can’t contact him…”

The tigress Lioumerean’s face was stricken with worry.

“You don’t think a bandit killed him in their attack against that Brandal base?”

“There’s no way that could happen.”

Laernea couldn’t believe such a thing was possible.

“I’ll try to call Sierra and see if she has any idea what’s going on.”

The lioness Lioumerean called their second in command.

“Hi, Laernea. What’s up?”

“Umm. I was wondering if you know what happened to Smoke? Did Sagen and his men get to him?”

Sierra’s voiced got louder and defensive.

“No, he didn’t! I took care of Sagen and his men personally.”

“Of course, of course. It’s just that I tried to call Smoke, and was about to tell him that Gandiva and I won second and third place in the Mounted Race.”

“Second and Third place? Somebody was faster than you two? How did Smoke take the news?”

“That’s the problem. I tried calling him, but there was no answer. What do you think happened to him?”

There was no response from the werebear.

“Sierra, you still there?”

“Yeah, yeah I’m still here. This isn’t the time to be worrying about Smoke. I’m sure he’s doing fine, wherever he is. For now just come to our location. I have a special task for the both of you.”

* * * * * * 

When Sierra asked Smoke for advice on what to do against the incoming Brandal army, he told her that he wanted them to retreat back to Nanahuatl.

However, there were two major reasons why Smoke needed them to remain and fight the approaching Brandal forces.

First, was securing the whole southern region of Coatl, since Sierra wasn’t able to locate the exit of the labyrinth.

Second, was to help the harassed and massacred villages. Smoke had promised the members of his private army that they were going to be protectors of the weak, and the upholders of justice.

Smoke had to make sure to maintain his intimacy level with his private army. If he left the troubled villages alone, he would risk losing members of his private army.

Sierra had no problem when Smoke asked her to stay. Even though it was only a game in a virtual reality world, she still felt the suffering of the villagers.

The DarkElf told her that he would deal with the immediate threat of the Brandals gathered within the zone during the Mounted Race event, but this wasn’t an assurance that Sierra and the rest of his private army were already safe.

Which was why, on the day the Mounted Race even started, Smoke secretly paid 10 million zecs and hired 500 men from the Avendre Mercenaries in Coatl City.

Even though they were Mercenaries, the Avendre were loyal to a fault. Once a contract was made with them, they would honor it to the death.

Unfortunately, the Avendre informed Smoke that they could only send the men to Sierra’s location within two weeks.

Smoke decided to push through with the contract even if there was a long delay. The Avendre were costly, but Smoke knew they were a necessary expense.

The DarkElf thought to himself that zecs could be earned again, but the lives of his men and the maneators he could rescue were priceless.

Smoke thought that Sierra would love this surprise once she’s seen it.

Even after Smoke planned his countermeasures. He still felt that they weren’t safe. So, he sent Sierra a short checklist on what they could do in their end.

This was to increase their success rate on surviving the Brandals’ attacks.


     Sierra’s TODO:

  1. Find an impregnable headquarters.
  2. Gather the villagers from the other ruined villages.
  3. Train the villagers into formidable fighters.
  4. Improve the levels and abilities of the members of the private army.
  5. Map out the whole southern region            

Sierra started all five tasks, but didn’t finish all of them. They found their headquarters, but it wasn’t impregnable.

They started to gather residents from the devastated villages, but there were still more villages to visit.

Adder and Jinggu started to train the villagers, but their training couldn’t be completed because Sierra needed them to work on reinforcing the castle.

Smoke’s private army did increase their levels. At the moment, Vijaya had the lowest level at 87. Followed by Thyrsus, Sharanga, and Ichaival at 88.

Laernea and Gandiva greatly increased their levels from the Mounted Race. The Lioumereans were now at level 89.

Sharur and Jinggu, the Range Siegers, shared the same level as the Pathfinders. While Adder had the highest level at 90.

With all the Brandals Sierra killed, she increased her level to 95. Some of the other members had started doing personal training, but most of them spent their time training and instructing the new volunteers.

With the help of his falcon Thyr and his ‘Falcon Vision’ ability, Thyrsus mapped 30% of the entire southern region, but his progress was still behind schedule.

Sierra asked Thyrsus for the optimal points to place sentries. She likewise ordered the men to dig out escape tunnels to these locations.

The sentry volunteers were given special flares to alert Sierra and the main force against invaders.

Thyrsus improved on Sierra’s sentry plan. He devised the sentry posts to work as a series of distress signals.

The furthest sentry was ten kilometers away from Verbrannt Castle, and the next sentry towards the castle had a distance of two kilometers.

In this manner, their warning system covered a wider range and had the ability to alert them at an outstanding speed.

* * * * * * 

With all tasks unfinished, Sierra checked on the progress of reinforcing their headquarters. She hoped that their chosen castle could withstand a horde of Brandals.

She thoroughly inspected the improvements done on the ruined castle. This stronghold belonged to Lord Faible, the former ruler of Verbrannt Village.

Sierra and Adder both agreed that this was the best place for their headquarters.

From a short distance, the wide Murray river covered their whole western front.

While, to the east of Verbrannt Castle was Mount Engrais. The snow capped volcano stretched out for miles. It was almost impassable. This dormant volcano made the surrounding soil rich and fertile.

Verbrannt village was so vast that its outer walls were not visible from the castle. There were many parts of the village that laid in ruin, and were reclaimed by the forest of Otaczac.

Their ninety recruits of Fishermen and Farmers used big rocks to repair the damages done on the walls.

They then applied clay plasters on the piled up stones. They used a special type of mud-clay that was abundant in the nearby riverbank.

Sierra was on top of the castle’s highest tower. She stopped her inspection and took a minute to enjoy the picturesque landscape. The wide and winding Murray river coupled with the towering and grandiose Mount Engrais.

“Why in the world would the villagers leave this place?”

The red werebear wondered out loud.

One of the Farmers working on the tower’s reconstruction heard her.

“Excuse me, miss werebear. I’m Veinard Gars, I’m a survivor from Salah village. If you’d like, I can tell you the tragedy that befell this place?”

Sierra turned around and found a forty-year-old man was putting clay plasters on the tower.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. I was just talking to myself.”

“Oh, I see. Well, if you ever change your mind. I’m sure you can ask anyone. This village was quite famous you know?”

“I think I can spare a moment. What exactly happened here?”

The Farmer went closer to Sierra and began to tell the massacre of Verbrannt.

“Before the Brandals and Cavalry Knights arrived in the southern region of Coatl, this village was known to be the most prominent village in the whole area.”

Veinard pointed across the entire scenery.

“Everything you see before you flourished. The fishes were plenty and the harvest was always abundant. All the other villages envied Verbrannt. Regrettably, this was also the reason why it was razed to the ground. The Brandals of the southern legion, wanted to make a bold statement to the whole area.”

Sierra raised her eyebrow as she wondered what exactly the Brandal scoundrels did.

“In broad daylight, all 5,000 bandits of the southern legion, pillaged, plundered, murdered, and raped the residents of Verbrannt. Then, they chopped up the body of Lord Faible to pieces. They attached a piece of the lord’s body to a black ctenosaur. Then they had the six foot long lizard carry the severed piece along with a note.”


  Here is a body part of Faible, Lord of Verbrannt.
  The residents suffered a fate worse than their lord.
  Pay us our demands or suffer more than the Verbrannts!

  King of the Brandals,

  ~ Ultimo Maire

            

“Other villages laughed and ignored the warning. Most of us thought it was just some stupid prank. It wasn’t until more villages burnt down before we realized that the Brandals’ threat was real.”

Veinard looked up to the sky. He touched his forehead with his right hand and raised it upward. It was how Cuezaltzinians performed a short prayer to their god.

“I think it’s very fitting that you chose this place to rally the troubled people, scattered in the southern region.”

Sierra awkwardly replied.

“Really? We only chose this place because of its geographical advantage against invasions.”

“Regardless of whatever reason. I think this tower will be a beacon of hope to everyone in the area.”

Sierra nodded. She smiled as she thought that they were giving peace to the long troubled people in the region.

* * * * * * 

The Huntress Vijaya felt useless. Her twin sister Sharanga blossomed into an invaluable member of Smoke’s private army. Sharanga’s traps and other inventions were very useful in all their operations.

The WoodElf secluded herself in a clearing, deep within Otaczac forest. She had been secretly training for the past weeks. She thought she would be most useful if she could obtain Thyrsus’ ability ‘Falcon Vision’.

Her twin falcons could cover more area to spy on. She also envied Thyrsus, because even without his ‘Falcon Vision’ ability he was one of the tacticians in their military operations.

She tried closing her eyes, but she couldn’t see what her falcons were seeing. She felt that she had no chance of gaining Thyrsus’ ability.

Vijaya regretted that she relied on her falcons for attack power. She wasn’t able to give out any massive damage like Ichaival’s ‘Phantom Arrows’, which had improved from firing four arrows to six.

The young Huntress started to imitate Ichaival’s training in Madam Dawny’s farm. Vijaya held three arrows in one hand, and started to fire as fast as she could. Yet, that also felt awkward to the WoodElf.

Vijaya was frustrated and didn’t know what to do. She heard a branch crack behind her. She quickly had her bow and arrow aimed on the source of the sound.

The one who stepped on the branch was a one-armed man.

“Vijaya, calm down. Sorry if I startled you. I was just out doing some recon. Since most of the recruits are rebuilding the castle.”

“Adder! What the heck? Couldn’t you have called out my name or something?”

“Sorry, I thought that would’ve broken your concentration.”

“Concentration? Are you making fun of me? I must’ve looked really pathetic, huh?”

Adder shook his in disagreement.

“No, on the contrary I think you’re on the right path. Let me tell you something Darius told me, when I lost my arm.”

Vijaya tilted her head. She was curious as to what Master Darius said.

“It is only when we hit rock bottom that we can build a stronger foundation of our improved selves.”

Adder saw that Vijaya was confused.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure it’ll come to you.”

After he shared Darius’ advise, the one-armed Condortlian briskly disappeared into the forest.

Vijaya was slumped on the ground. She started to wail out her frustrations. She felt insignificant and inadequate. Her twin falcons, Vij and Aya, came down and perched on her shoulders.

Her falcons tried their best to console her. They started to shriek and chitter.

Kekkek kekk kekeeeekk kekk

“What do you mean I’ve been talking to you? Of course I can talk to you. I’m a Hunter, remember? All Hunters can talk with their falcons.”

Kekkkekk keeek kkeekk kekeke

“Correct, Aya. Like that’s something special. I see Sharanga talking with her falcon all the time. What’s so special with how I talk to you guys?”

Keeekk keekekek kekekeke.

“Huh? Sharanga’s falcon doesn’t understand what she’s saying, not like how you two understand me?”

Kekke kekek kkeeek.

“Yeah, of course I remember the time when an arrow struck your wing, Vij.”

Kekekk ekekek ekkekk.

“You mean I gained an ability from that time?”

Vijaya checked her ability list and was astonished to see a new ability she had never seen before, ‘Falcon Tongue’.

Keke keekekeeeek kekekekekek.

“I think you’re right, Aya. I was too absorbed mending Vij’s wound that I didn’t notice my new ability. It says that with this I could talk to all falcons and they could completely understand me.”

Vijaya thought that she could use her ‘Falcon Tongue’ for scouting. She tried having Vij fly 200 meters ahead of her and Aya 200 meters behind her.

She called out to them and asked them what they saw. They shrieked back their answers, and Vijaya understood them perfectly.

She thought to herself that she could go to a Hunter Shop, and get more falcons. The condition of calling out the falcons name wasn’t a problem for her any longer.

Her scouting range was shorter than Thyrsus, but that could easily be solved if she had more falcons.

* * * * * * 

Sierra was on the grounds of Verbrannt Castle when she heard the lookout on one of the twelve towers screaming that a cloud of dust was coming towards them.

She looked at the familiar cloud of dust and she knew that they were from Laernea and Gandiva’s blindingly fast stag moose.

The Lioumereans were punctual as usual, and arrived right on the dot of their promised time.

“Gandiva, Laernea. You guys are finally here.”

The red werebear opened her arms and gave the two Lioumereans a bear hug.

“Thanks for coming to greet us. Where are the others?”

Gandiva hugged Sierra back with all her might, while Laernea lightly gave her a quick pat on the back.

“I’m glad you asked. They’re all at the dirus wolves pen.”

Laernea and Gandiva both looked at each other.

“Since when do you have dirus wolves?”

“Oh, its from the time I slaughtered Sagen and his men. After their bodies disappeared, we managed to capture ten dirus wolves. The other nineteen wolves fought to the death, rather than being captured. I think those captured wolves mustn’t have bonded with their riders yet.”

Laernea nodded as they were being led into the dirus wolves holding pen.

“I see, and what are you planning to do with them?”

“Actually, that’s the reason why everybody’s excited to see you two.”

“Huh? What do we have to do with the dirus wolves?”

“Sharur mentioned that you could teach them the Basic Riding ability.”

“So, this was the task that you had us rush over for?”

Sierra laughed as she saw the exasperated faces of Gandiva and Laernea.

When they got to the dirus wolves pen, the Lioumereans were swarmed by Sharur, Jinggu, Ichaival, Thyrsus, Sharanga, and Vijaya.

Adder remained near the dirus wolves’ fence, and lightly nodded at the Lioumereans.

Gandiva and Laernea’s eyebrows met at the center of their faces. They scowled and pushed all of them back.

Laernea crossed her arms when they had enough room from their excited friends.

“Cut it out. We both know why you’re all excited to see us.”

Gandiva snarled at them, and in a cranky voice spoke to their eager students.

“Let me just inform you that the ‘Basic Riding’ ability gives you no enhancements whatsoever. It just allows you to ride mountable monsters. Do you understand?”

Laernea added in their conditions for teaching them the ability to ride mounts.

“Remember, all of you must obey all our instructions all the time. You should call us Master. If you disobey us even once, you will be banned from our lessons. Is that understood?”

The six persons in front of the two Lioumereans nodded enthusiastically.

“Fine! Let’s proceed with our first lesson. If all goes well, we should be done in a couple of hours.”

* * * * * * 

In the real world, Smoke made Sierra study the ranks and formations of modern day military. He also asked her to apply them to their gathered villagers.

From her studies, Sierra learned that an organized group of weak individuals had a chance to defeat stronger opponents in disarray.

Together with Adder, Sierra decided that this was how their militia could operate. The plan was to grow the militia to the point where each member of Smoke’s private army could lead one battalion. As leaders of a battalion, they were given the title of Commander.

One battalion had two platoons. One platoon was made out of six to eight squads. One squad was made out of five to seven individuals.

Sierra’s formed militia followed this chain of command. A platoon leader was given the title Lieutenant. He was directly in charge of the squad leaders.

While a squad leader had the title of Sergeant. At the very least, each squad was comprised of 3 Farmers and 2 Fishermen. This was Sierra’s chosen formation to give their militia a defensive edge.

The Farmers had high HPs and decent defense, but they had low attack power. Whereas the Fishermen had high attack but low HPs and defense.

Sierra was on foot as she set off for the nearest rundown village of Nasunugan. She wasn’t able to learn the ‘Basic Riding’ ability because no dirus wolf could hold the weight of her werebear form.

Sierra brought one platoon along with her to the village. Her werebear curse made it impossible for her to give a good first impression, so she chose one of the villagers to be her representative.

The red werebear made Veinard Gars into a Lieutenant. He was the forty year old man who spoke passionately about Verbrannt Village. She thought his zealousness could convince the residents of the ruined villages.

When they reached Nasunugan Village. Veinard made the people remember how the Brandals ravaged not only their village, but how the bandits laid waste to Verbrannt.

The villagers recalled the horrendous incident, and felt that if they didn’t leave their home they could become the next Verbrannt.

Veinard was honest and sincere. The village leaders and their residents knew that what he spoke was the truth. All the residents of Nasunugan joined them.

As the last citizens of Nasunugan left their ruined village, Sierra wondered how the rest of the private army were doing.

Sharur, Jinggu, Thyrsus, and Ichaival were out on a similar quest. They traveled to the remote villages with their own platoon of volunteers. They proudly rode on the backs of their new dirus wolves.

When Sharanga received a message from Darius, she asked Gandiva to take her back home to Nanahuatl, the WoodElf needed to return home as soon as possible.

Adder and Laernea stayed behind Verbrannt Castle to continue training the Farmers and Fishermen. They needed all the training they could get against mounted enemies.

After Nasunugan Village, Sierra went to Verderben Village. There, she had Veinard repeat his magic. She had him convince the crowd to join their cause.

When Sierra returned to Verbrannt Castle, She gathered a total of 383 refugees from the two villages. She asked Adder to help with the new arrivals. She had those willing to fight be sorted into squads.

Sierra saw that Laernea was impatiently waiting for her to be free, as the lioness Lioumerean kept within her line of sight.

“Can I help you with something, Laernea?”

“Yeah, you can! It’s been almost two days and we haven’t heard anything from Smoke. Can’t you contact him in your other world?”

Sierra thought about calling Smoke, but then she realized that he would have called if he really wanted to talk to her.

“Aren’t you guys together all the time in your other world? I thought the two of you were a couple?”

The red werebear became defensive as Laernea pressed on with her questions.

“No, we aren’t like that. We’re just friends. In fact, I’ve never been to his house.”

Sierra caught a glimpse of Laernea’s smile when she finished talking.

“Oh, I thought that the two of you lived together or something.”

“Laernea, do you like Smoke?”

“What? Why in the world would you think that? I’m just worried about him. If he died then shouldn’t he have resurrected by now?”

Sierra patted Laernea’s shoulders.

“I’ve been worrying about him too, but we still can’t contact him. Don’t worry, I’ll give him a call when I get back to the other world.”

* * * * * * 

Sherry got out of her gamepod. Her mind was filled with what Laernea told her. She picked up her cell phone. She was about to dial Nash’s number, when her uncle called her from downstairs.

“Sherry? Sherry? Can you hear me? I’m about to go to the groceries, do you want anything?”

“Wait up. I need to buy some stuff as well.”

Sherry rushed down and waited for her uncle to drive out of the garage. She sat in the front seat of her uncle’s black sedan.

They rode to the supermarket in awkward silence. Sherry wanted to reconcile with him after she made his new girlfriend eat her exotic Zectas dishes.

She was about to speak when her uncle Alex beat her to it.

“Listen, I’m really sorry about Gloria’s visit. I may have overreacted a bit, she’s just not into special food.”

Sherry remained silent, and stared straight at the road.

“Awww, don’t be like that. I thought your special menu was delicious. In fact, I’ve asked some of our investors to have a taste at it.”

“Why did you do that? I’m not yet ready to have outsiders taste it yet.”

“Ahh… Well, I haven’t given them a date, but I think this could really be something. I think if you have more exotic dishes then you could have a special restaurant.”

“That was my plan right from the start. Before Gloria told me it wasn’t any good.”

“You shouldn’t let one person’s opinion distract you from achieving your dream.”

“I know that, and I didn’t say I was gonna quit. I’m still searching for more recipes to add to my menu.”

“Good. Just tell me whenever you’re ready. I can set up a meeting with the investors then.”

Sherry beamed. She knew her uncle Alex still had her best interests at heart.

As she got out of the car, she noticed that her cell phone’s notification light was on. She swiped her thumb over the screen to check the notification.

It was a voice mail from Nash. The redhead was ecstatic. She just reconciled with her uncle and now this.

“You can go on ahead. I’ve got something important to do.”

“Okay, just find me when you’re done.”

Sherry went to a quiet corner of the supermarket and listened to Nash’s voice mail.

“Hi, it’s Nash. Uh… I’m really sorry I haven’t informed you of my whereabouts in Zectas. I was so caught up trying to solve the puzzles in the labyrinth that I…. Oh well, at least I’m inside the labyrinth now, right? Also, as it turns out the leader of the Brandals was Duke Burmistrz, and Macher was working under him. I knew there was a reason why I had a bad feeling about him. Can I ask you to tell the rest of the private army not to worry? I’ll call them as soon as I’m out of the labyrinth. That dungeon disables all forms of communication to the outside world. I think that’s everything for now?  Oh, and I also found Caid’s son, Espion…”

Her smile turned into a frown, after she heard Nash’s voice mail. She couldn’t believe how he could be so insensitive.

Nash didn’t ask for an update. He didn’t even ask how she was. All he said was to reassure his private army that he was fine. The more she thought about the voice mail, the more she felt unimportant.

Furthermore, she wondered why it took him so long to call her. So, she decided to call him when she wanted to say something to him, and at the moment she wanted to say nothing.

Nevertheless, she was still glad that he finally found his way into the labyrinth. Nash additionally gave her vital information about the Brandal’s leader. She never expected it to be the Mayor of Coatl City.

* * * * * * 

Sierra watched the 250 men clothed in leather armor assembled before her. They were armed with fishing spears, pitchforks, and wooden shields. She saw both fear and determination in their eyes. It was just five minutes ago when they saw a yellow flare launched from the south east.

One yellow flare meant that there were around 500 intruders. Sierra decided to face them head on. Since, she didn’t want to expose their headquarters’ location.

Laernea stayed in the castle with two platoons made up of 80 recruits. Someone had to stay behind, and protect Verbrannt Castle. As a precautionary measure against invaders who could break through Sierra’s attack force.

The 250 men were divided into two battalions. Sierra took command of the first battalion, and would attack their enemies from the front, while Adder took command of the second battalion.

They were assigned to perform a surprise attack from the side. Both Sierra and Adder gambled that the two pronged attack would catch the Brandals off guard.

Sierra ordered her battalion to hold their position when they reached five kilometers away from the castle. Whereas Adder’s battalion moved further ahead to hide in the forest.

The Invading Brandals finally came into view. Sierra saw five Brandal Leaders, and estimated the bandits to be near 400 rather than what the flare signal indicated earlier.

The Brandal’s stopped and had their 35 Snipers take the front. The Snipers pulled their bows and began their arrow attacks. Sierra responded by ordering her battalion to raise their wooden shields.

A second after the arrows were launched, all the black ctenosaur riders ran from behind the Snipers.

The bandits made a mad dash for Sierra and her battalion. The red werebear ordered the Fishermen to assail them with their spears.

Their intense training and improved fishing spears further increased their attack power. It used to take ten fishing spears to kill a black ctenosaur rider, but now they did it with eight.

Sierra’s battalion killed fifteen black ctenosaur riders on their first volley of fishing spears alone, but there were still more than 345 bandits coming straight for them.

The red werebear charged to the front as her men launched their second attack of fishing spears. The black ctenosaur riders clashed against the wooden shields, and broke most of them.

The moment the black ctenosaurs came into contact with Sierra’s battalion, Adder and his men came out of hiding from the forest. Adder’s battalion launched their own fishing spears at the bandits.

The Brandals were caught by surprise. They were temporarily distracted but the Brandal Leaders who stayed behind called out, and gave them orders.

Sierra and Adder leapt to the center of the swarm of bandits. They took on as many as they could. They wanted the enemy’s attention on them, and not on their fledgling militia.

Nevertheless, the 35 Snipers started to pick off Adder’s battalion members one by one. While the rest of their militia’s front squads were slaughtered by the black ctenosaur riders.

Adder tried to run towards the Brandal Leaders, but numerous bandits would blocked his path. Sierra decided to stay behind, as she tried to protect the members of the militia.

Sierra kept on using her ‘Double Slash’ ability to push back the black ctenosaur riders. Despite her efforts, the bandits still managed to attack the squads outside of the werebear’s defensive reach.

She had a hard time fighting the black ctenosaur riders while defending the militia. She felt like she was fighting with her hands tied behind her back.

The Brandal leaders issued another command, and Adder’s battalion was slowly being pushed back into the forest by the black ctenosaur riders.

All the Fishermen from the militia remained focused on attacking the same target. Unfortunately, the Farmers were not able to hold their defensive formation.

The sounds of shattered shields was synonymous to the death of a squad. One of the squad’s Farmers used their pitchforks to momentarily block the bandits.

Their desperate attempt gave them the few crucial seconds needed for the other squads behind them to kill the black ctenosaur riders directly in front of them.

The squad with the broken shields retreated while the immediate squad behind them took their place.

The militia’s focused attack left the Brandals with 335 bandits. Sadly, it came at a high cost. Sierra and Adder were left with 197 men.

Adder’s double bladed sword precisely struck the back of the bandit’s necks. The bandits understood his intent on reaching their Leaders, and continued to block his path.

Because of this Adder’s lifebar was reduced to (59,210/120,150 HP). Even if he did manage to break through the blockade of black ctenosaur riders, his lifebar wasn’t enough to fight against five Brandal Leaders.

Adder knew that a Brandal Leader had 185,000 HP. It was clear he needed to retreat. He started to make his way back to his battalion.

The black ctenosaur riders were waiting for this moment. As soon as Adder turned his back, multiple throwing daggers were fired at him.

Two Brandal leaders left their post from the back and were riding fast towards the one armed man.

From the front of Sierra’s battalion, she saw that the Brandals were aiming for Adder. The bandits were moving in for the kill.

Sierra hesitated to leave the militia, but she saw that as the battle progressed they were equally improving. The red werebear made a beeline towards Adder.

She couldn’t imagine losing Smoke’s right hand man. Her ‘Double Slash’ ability proved very effective in clearing her path.

Sierra reached Adder in time. The two Brandal Leaders were only ten feet away from him. Adder saw Sierra running to him, she gave him a signal and Adder nodded.

The red werebear held both her claws together, and made it into a jumping board. Adder leapt on Sierra’s claws as she threw him upward, increasing the height of his jump.

Adder leapt high. His aim was to land behind the two Brandal Leaders, but the Brandal Leaders took out their bullwhips and caught him in midair.

The two Brandal Leaders pulled him down to the ground hard. Adder was left with 25% of his lifebar. Sierra quickly pulled off the bullwhips before Adder was dragged away.

The two of them were surrounded. Their two battalions were slowly dying. It looked like a hopeless situation. Sierra tried to think of a way to save at least Adder.

As Sierra was looking around for a way out, she saw a cloud of dust rise up from behind the Brandal Leaders.

A carriage pulled by a stag moose came like the wind and blew past the three Brandal leaders who kept to their posts.

Gandiva’s carriage had been upgraded. It had two meter spikes attached to the wheels, and an archer tower on the back.

She asked Tulin to use its strong sturdy horns to plow through the black ctenosaurs who blocked their path.

Gandiva made Tulin stop beside Sierra and Adder.

“Hop on. Let’s get back to our militia and regroup.”

Sharanga was on top of the archer tower. She kept on attacking the black ctenosaurs with her arrows. She ordered her falcon, Shar to throw the five trap systems on the two Brandal leaders.

The first Brandal leader was caught in the trap which weighed him down with 500 kilos, when the five trap system interlocked.

While, the second Brandal leader managed to block the falcon’s thrown trap with his bullwhip. Sierra and Adder got safely on board Gandiva’s carriage. They were on their way to the front lines of their battalions.

Everybody’s attention was focused on the escaping carriage, that they didn’t notice the three meter monster carrying two oversized zweihänders appear as the cloud of dusts settled.

“ROOOOOAAAAAARRRRARRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

The three meter figure was König Mitleid, the maneator king! He released his roar and stunned the three Brandal leaders along with the 35 Snipers.

The maneator king dual wielded two oversized zweihänders with ease. Darius’ special zweihänders greatly increased Mitleid’s attack power.

Mitleid went after the three Brandal Leaders. Each strike of his zweihänder knocked a Brandal leader off his mount.

Mitleid chopped off the heads of their black ctenosaur mounts with one strike from his giant swords.

The maneator king had the ability ‘Beast Monarch’ which gave him triple damage against beast type monsters.

Sierra went back to the front lines and defended the militia. The maneator king’s appearance boosted the morale of the recruits, and at the same time disorganized the bandits.

The red werebear and the militia started to push the Brandals back. The bandits kept on looking back asking for their next orders, but the Brandal leaders were busy dealing with the maneator king.

As Mitleid swung his zweihänders the head of a Brandal leader flew into the air. The two severely wounded Brandal leaders tied their bullwhips to the maneator’s arms.

They hoped to restrain the three meter monster, but Mitleid let out his roar and stunned them once more.

König Mitleid used the Brandal leader’s own weapons, and pulled the two of them to him. He drove the two zweihänders into the ground, and tied up the bandit leaders with their own bullwhips.

The maneator’s sadistic nature was clearly seen, as he repeatedly plunged his zweihänders into the bodies of the restrained Brandal leaders.

He was taunting the 35 Brandal Snipers as their arrows kept coming his way.

“ROOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRR!!!”

Mitleid stunned the bandits in the surrounding area. He then rammed his dual zweihänders into the crotches of the captured Brandal Leaders, and split them clean up to their heads.

It took him less than five minutes to deal with the three Brandal leaders. After which, he proceeded to target the Snipers whose arrows only damaged him for 140 points.

The maneator king ran for the dazed Snipers and slaughtered them. arms, legs, and heads were flying everywhere.

When Mitleid was done with the Snipers, he proceeded to the black ctenosaur riders. The bandits were cowering in fear of what they saw.

Mitleid’s fiery eyes were blood red. He decapitated the black ctenosaurs as if their heads were made out of paper.

Sierra, Adder, Gandiva, and Sharanga watched in horror after they finished killing the bandits near them. Mitleid single handedly dealt with 75% out of the 400 Brandal invaders.

However, the gruesome sight was unbearable to watch. Only Adder kept on watching Mitleid.

Body parts were scattered everywhere. König Mitleid was panting hard and his blood lust was still in the air. Sierra stepped up, and went closer to the maneator king.

“Hey, it’s over. You can calm down now. Mitleid? Are you listening to me? Can you hear me?”

Sierra felt nervous as she drew nearer. Mitleid’s barehanded damage against her was already at 23,000 points. She didn’t want to find out how much those menacing looking zweihänders could damage her.

The red werebear got in front of the maneator king, and raised her hands. Slowly the blood from Mitleid’s eyes receded.

“Is it over? Are you guys alright? I didn’t hurt any of you, did I?”

“Yes. we’re all okay. You didn’t harm any of us. Now, let’s go to our hideout and regroup. You’re in control now, right?”

König Mitleid slowly nodded his head, as he was escorted to Gandiva’s war carriage.

* * * * * * 

A portion of Verbrannt Castle’s courtyard was lit up with campfires. Sierra and Adder managed to survive against the first wave of Brandals, and they knew that it wasn’t the last.

Sierra knew that it was all because König Mitleid came and rescued them. She knew that he was a tough monster boss, but she didn’t know how tough.

Unfortunately, surviving the encounter came at a high price. They came out of Verbrannt castle with 250 men and returned home with only 129.

Sierra and Adder visited the families of those that have died. They tried to console them, but no words could satiate the death of a loved one.

The encounter made Sierra rethink her strategy. Her squad formation was wrong. She consulted with Adder and the newly returned Thyrsus.

Thyrsus came back, and brought along 287 survivors from Dibakar village. A few hours later, Ichaival arrived and brought 312 residents of Quemado village.

* * * * * * 

Days passed, and Sierra wanted to stabilize the lives of the refugees. She started plotting out her plans for the Verbrannt.

Verbrannt Castle currently had a total population of 996 individuals, non-combatants included. The castle’s grounds alone was almost as big as Nanahuatl Village.

Farmers started to plant broccoli, radishes, lettuces, and turnips. While the Fishermen started to catch fish in the nearby Murray River.

The survivors still lived in tents, but Sierra planned on building them proper homes. She only waited for Sharur and Jinggu to return. So, she could give them the task of gathering quality lumber.

Sierra was in the library of Verbrannt Castle. She was busy plotting out areas on a map, and Laernea was distractingly fidgeting in her background.

“What is it, Laernea?”

“Oh, I was just wondering? If you’re not too busy? I’d like to ask you about Smoke?”

“I already told you. He’s inside the labyrinth and trying to save the maneators. You were there when I repeated this to Mitleid, right?”

“But, maybe you have some new information from him? Didn’t he ever call you back again?”

“For the hundredth time. That was the first and last message that I got from Smoke. Now, please leave me alone.”

“Alright, alright. It’s just that I find it strange that he never called you back when you told him about all the progress we’ve done.”

Sierra felt guilty. She never replied to Smoke’s voice mail. Laernea left her alone after that. Sierra was deep in thought, but this time it was about Smoke.

Maybe there was a good explanation why his message was so short. Or maybe he didn’t mean to leave her out of the message.

She smiled as she thought how everything was going so well on her end. Verbrannt Castle was properly reinforced. Additionally, they made an extensive warning system.

Although Vijaya, Sharur, and Jinggu weren’t back yet. She still knew that they would bring more recruits with them.

König Mitleid had joined them, and he was more than enough to take care of 400 Brandals by himself. Sierra even thought that he could easily take on 1,000 bandits.

Yes, things were going great for Sierra. Which made her decide to give Smoke the benefit of the doubt. She made a mental note to call him as soon as she logged out.

She was going to tell him how they managed to raise their recruits to 500 men.

* * * * * * 
Sierra woke up in the King’s chamber of Verbrannt Castle. She had just logged in and was enthralled with joy. Smoke replied to her voice mail. This time it was filled with questions about her and he mentioned that he missed being with her.

She immediately wanted to share the news to everyone. She stepped out into the balcony to check where everybody was.

Sierra was speechless when she saw the sight before her. Verbrannt’s Castle grounds was filled with refugees. She estimated that with these new arrivals, their population must have doubled.

As she arrived on the grounds, Sierra saw that Adder began to ask for volunteers willing to join their fight against the Brandals.

She saw Sharur and Jinggu catching up with the rest of the private army on the side, but the sight that caught Sierra’s attention was the six falcons flying across the sky.

Sierra looked back on Thyrsus, Sharanga, and Ichaival. She saw that their falcons were comfortably perched on their shoulders.

She wondered if there were Hunters in one of the villages they visited, but six Hunters was beyond her imagination. Then she saw Vijaya carrying a special looking staff.

Vijaya’s wooden staff was similar to the one Sharanga used to deceive Canalha’s bandits. Sierra wondered why Vijaya was carrying such a staff.

Then she heard the brunette WoodElf shriek out like a falcon. Vijaya called the six falcons down. Two of the falcons perched on her shoulders, while the rest perched on the wooden staff.

Sierra wondered how Vijaya increased her falcons.

“Hey, you have six falcons now! That’s amazing! How did this happen?”

“Remember you told us to do some special training of our own? Well, as it turns out, I already had a special ability. I just didn’t know how to use it. Good thing Adder came along and encouraged me.”

“Adder helped you master this ability? Maybe I should have some sparring sessions with him again.”

“Not really help, more like enlighten me on the right path.”

Sierra nodded politely, as she had no idea what Vijaya meant.

“So, what are the names of these new guys? I’m assuming Vij and Aya are the ones perched on your shoulders?”

“Yes, they are. The names of my new falcons are Utara, Dakhana, Puraba, and Vala.”

“What exactly is your new ability?”

“Oh, it’s called ‘Falcon Tongue’. I can now have a proper conversation with any falcons. Watch this.”

Kieeekk keekk kekeke kkeeeek kekkk keeeeeek

Vijaya chittered like a falcon, and promptly Sharanga, Ichaival, and Thyrsus’ falcons flew up and circled above them.

Sharanga yelled out to her twin sister.

“I told you to stop doing that! Argh! Grow up already will you?”

Sharanga called back Shar, and so did Ichaival and Thyrsus.

“That was awesome! So I guess this means your attack power has more than doubled right? Do these guys also get the ‘Steel Falcon’ ability?”

“Uhuh, and not only that I can use them to scout as well.”

“Really? I didn’t think of that, but you could most definitely use these falcons as scouts. Well, I’m glad you’re back and all, but I have something important to tell you. So, I’d like all of us to gather in the throne room.”

Swiftly, all the members of Smoke’s private army and König Mitleid assembled in their converted battle room. Sierra thought that the throne room was the perfect place to hold strategic meetings.

Sierra stood in front of everyone and began their forum.

“Thank you all for coming so quickly. First I’d like to hear the updates from everybody. I think Sharur, Jinggu, and Vijaya have arrived for sometime now, and I’d like myself updated.”

Sharur spoke in behalf of his twin brother.

“Jinggu and I have gathered a total of 498 residents from the villages of Bulok, Koyak, and Patah. They were more than happy to join us when we told them that we were forming a united front against the Brandals.”

Everybody nodded their heads, and turned their attention to the WoodElf. It was Sharanga’s turn to give her updates.

“I needed to acquire these lovely feathered friends. So, I decided to revisit all the villages that we’ve been to before. I went to Silap, Salah, Nisko, and Poludnie. Surprisingly I convinced a few from the protected villages to join us.”

Adder added in his opinion on why they joined them.

“The Cavalry Knights were working for the same man as the Brandals. It’s no wonder they would feel suffocated.”

Everyone started voicing out their own opinions, and slowly the room was filled with loud chatter. Sierra had to clap her claws to call for everybody’s attention.

“Alright, that’s enough. Talking isn’t going to solve anything. I also have updates, that I’d like to share. Smoke just left me a message.”

Everybody was glued in on Sierra. They hadn’t heard from their leader in a long time now.

“Apparently, he solved one of the puzzles that Espion’s been trying to figure out for months now. I think he should be out of the labyrinth in the next couple of days.”

Sierra mumbled to herself that Smoke also mentioned how he missed being with her.

When they heard Sierra’s in audible gibberish, Laernea raised her hand and asked.

“What was the last part? I didn’t quite hear it clearly.”

“Oh, he says that he wishes us luck and to continue on gathering the refugees. He really wants to save all these people.”

* * * * * * 

It was just days ago when their militia volunteers were only 500 men, but from the residents that Sharur, Jinggu, and Vijaya gathered. They now had 1,500 men and women who were willing to fight with them.

The new arrivals had various jobs. There were Miners, Tailors, Thatchers, Cobblers, Bakers, Barbers, Blacksmiths, Candlemakers, and Carpenters.

Verbrannt started to take shape as a proper village. The OrkElves and their two battalions, quickly gathered the lumber required to build the houses.

Vijaya, together with Ichaival, had their battalions do some fishing. Adder told them to construct another fishing weir, similar to the dam Smoke constructed in Nanahuatl Village.

Their days were spent with either intense training, or rebuilding village structures and resources gathering.

With the aid of the Blacksmiths, the weapons and armors of the militia drastically improved. They used the metals from the loot of their previous battles.

Laernea and Gandiva went back and forth from Verbrannt to Coatl. They made sure that they weren’t followed and even took a longer route to be safe.

Sierra asked them to bring medical supplies and other essentials that villagers may need. She likewise asked if they could use the winnings from the Mounted Race event.

The Lioumereans gladly agreed. They already planned on giving all of the money to Smoke in the first place.

Sierra stood on top of the tower and examined the improved Verbrannt Castle. All the refugees had their own homes. They had farmlands and a steady supply of fish.

It was almost a week since they encountered the 400 Brandals. Sierra was proud of herself. Then a notification window popped out in front of her.


Reconstructed: Verbrannt Village

  + Ownership of the Verbrannt Village is given to: Sierra.

  The massacred village of Verbrannt has been reborn. Because of your efforts, you’ve given
  the refugees of southern Coatl a new home and a chance at a new life.

  Status:
  * Happiness: 85%
  * Health: 65%
  * Food: 10%

  Stats:
  * Citizens: 3,210
  * Offensive Power: 80,000
  * Defensive Power: 200,000

            

Sierra couldn’t believe that she now owned an entire village. Right after she closed the notification window, the residents of Verbrannt Village all looked up to the tower, and gave her a small bow.

Then, another notification window popped out.


+ Gained Title: ‘Lady of Verbrannt’

  This title is awarded to the owner of Verbrannt Village. As such the residents of the village will show fealty to you and will follow your commands.

  * +3 to all basic stats
  * 10% of all commerce automatically goes to your account.
  * Intimacy with the Verbrannts increased to ‘Revered Savior’
  * You’re now responsible for the well being of the Verbrannts.
  * If Verbrannt Village is destroyed, the title will be stripped off.

            

Sierra was having the time of her life. First a village and now a title. Of course she knew that this village truly belonged to Smoke.

Even if he wasn’t there in rebuilding it, he was still the main instrument of its reconstruction. She tried fiddling around with the menu, but she couldn’t find a transfer ownership option.

As Sierra stayed on top of the tower, she saw an army of around 500 men coming from the north. She wondered why there were no flares up in the sky.

She quickly ordered for all battalions to gather in the main gates. They were going to meet this unidentified army.

Sierra asked König Mitleid to stay behind. She wanted to use him as a last resort. She didn’t want her strongest card exposed right at the start.

The red werebear stood in front of all ten battalions, with Adder close behind her. They waited in anticipation for the 500 men to come into view.

Sierra was confused when she saw that the 500 men were actually Avendre Mercenaries.

“Stop right there! That’s far enough.”

All 500 Avendre Mercenaries immediately stopped.

“Who sent you?”

A captain of the Avendre Mercenary stepped forward and carried a contract with him.

“Smoke sent us. We’re very sorry for our late arrival. We had a problem gathering 500 men on such short notice.”

Sierra took the contract and read it. She saw that it had Smoke’s character signature. Sierra gave the contract to Thyrsus. She wanted it double checked.

“It’s the real deal. Looks like Smoke sent us some reinforcements.”

Sierra took back the contract and raised it in the air.

“Men! We’ve got ourselves some new allies. Let’s give these guys a loud Verbrannt Welcome!”

All the battalions cheered when they heard that the Avendre Mercenaries were on their side. Most of the militia felt that the few days of training wasn’t enough to make them combat ready.

* * * * * * 
The Verbrannt militia was out on the plains. They endured the heat of the blazing sun. Sierra ordered all combatants to be running large scale combat formations.

This was the third day of practice of war formations. The Avendre Mercenaries were asked to lead every formation at the front. Followed closely by Sierra and Adder’s battalion.

Thyrsus and Vijaya’s battalions were on the outermost wings. As they had the advantage of their falcon’s scouting ability.

Sharanga, Ichaival, Sharur, and Jinggu’s battalion were at the center. The members of their battalions were mostly ranged fighters.

While Laernea and Gandiva’s battalions were behind Sierra and Adder’s. Their battalions were designed to be fast and mobile.

In the middle of their practice. Two purple flares were fired from the northern direction.

Straightaway, Sierra ordered the entire Verbrannt militia to charge at the direction of the purple flares. Two purple flares meant that there were approximately 2,000 invaders.

In less than thirty minutes, Sierra and the entire battalion were on their designated grounds for a northern invasion.

They were formed and ready to face the 2,000 invaders. Their eyes fixed on the horizon, waiting for the horde of black ctenosaur riders to appear.

However, the invaders were not the Brandals. Instead, they were variations of mounted Knights.

The invaders were composed of Zectians and Sonstwelters alike. Sierra stood in front of the invaders, and called out for their leader.

A Cavalry Lord stepped forward. It was Macher, the one who betrayed Smoke when he was disguised as Ilad.

Macher imprisoned Smoke inside the labyrinth. For that the Duke gave him the advance job of Cavalry Lord.

When Duke Burmistrz’s 400 Brandals were killed, he gave Macher a quest to gather as many Knights to slaughter Smoke, Sierra, and their militia.

Macher stood a safe distance away from the red werebear. He was aware of how deadly she was. He yelled out to her, for everybody to hear their conversation.

“Hi! The name’s Macher. I’m the leader of these fine Knights, and you must be the famous Sierra?”

As soon as she heard his name, Sierra boiled with rage. It took all her self control not to run at him and slit his throat.

“Why are you here? We’ve done nothing to offend Coatl City.”

“That may be true for now, but Duke Burmistrz sent us to squash the next rebels. Your gathered militia is a high threat to all the villages under the Duke’s protection.”

The members of the militia all shouted at Macher. They called him a liar and a thief. Sierra raised her hand and asked them to be silent.

“As you can see. I think you have it backwards.”

Sierra stepped closer to the gathered 2,000 Knights from Coatl City.

“Listen, I’m sure all of you have heard the rumors about Duke Burmistrz. About how he was a former High Commander of the ‘Ladrones del Mundo’. Well, let me tell you that those rumors were false!”

Everybody was stunned when they heard Sierra. They thought that she was against the Duke.

“Because he isn’t a former member he still presently is! In fact, he’s also the leader of the Brandals, and he goes by the name Ultimo Maire, Brandal King.”

Macher interjected Sierra’s accusations.

“LIES! What this werebear is saying are all LIES! All of you have witnessed the progress that Coatl City has undergone. Those rumors came from the other royals who want to overthrow Duke Burmistrz.”

Sierra shouted at the top of her voice.

“Where do you think the money for Coatl’s events are coming from? All of them are from the scattered villages outside of Coatl. Sure the city may look rich, but the outer villages are in shambles. Only the ones who pay the Duke’s protection tax are saved from the Brandals!”

The militia all yelled in agreement to Sierra’s proclamation.

Macher felt the uncertainty in his gathered Knights.

“People! Remember that all of us are sharing the same quest. This is a special quest only given to the trusted Knights who have proven their worth to Coatl! We’re here to stop their rebellion. You shouldn’t believe what these vagabonds are saying.”

Slowly, the 2,000 Knights were split in two. One side remained behind Macher, while another was being led to the side by a busty Aqua Knight.

Macher and Sierra vigilantly watched the third faction being formed. The Aqua Knight leader of the new group spoke out.

“Sierra, is it true that Ilad has joined Smoke?”

Sierra wondered why the female Aqua Knight asked about Smoke’s disguised character, but answered her anyway.

“Yes, Ilad is a part of our group. Why do you ask?”

“I’m Mamelon. I was one of the leaders of Ilad’s Non Aggression Pact, and most of the others behind have wanted to join Smoke for a long time now. But I’m joining you because I trust Ilad. With that said, we would like to join you in this quest of protecting these people.”

At first, Sierra was confused at what Mamelon was saying. Then, she realized that Smoke’s NAP members thought they were on a quest. She instantly took advantage of their misconception.

“That’s right! Smoke, Ilad, and I are on a quest of not only protecting them, but also liberating the people of Coatl. Furthermore, We have reason to believe that this is a Series Quest. The final quest should be related to ending the tyranny of Duke Burmistrz.”

Macher couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He scanned the Knights behind Mamelon and estimated that there were around 800 of them.

“Mamelon! Don’t be a fool! If you join them, then all of you will become wanted criminals in Coatl. Do you really want that? Do you want an entire main city against you?”

The voluptuous Aqua Knight faced the crowd behind her.

“I think going against a main city sounds fun. Are you guys with me?”

“YEAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

“HOOHHAAA!”

“We’ll follow you wherever you lead us, Mamelon!”

With a sneer on her face, Mamelon faced Macher.

“I think that answers your question.”

Macher’s face became disconcerted. He was fuming with anger as he yelled.

“YOU’LL ALL PAY FOR THIS! Do you really think you have a chance against us?”

Macher opened his party window and was about to remove all the members who had joined Sierra’s side.

“Don’t bother, we’ve already left your party.”

Slowly, Mamelon’s Knights started to join Sierra’s side.

The Cavalry Lord had doubts that he could win. His 1,200 Knights versus 1,500 militia, 500 Avendre Mercenaries, and 800 Knights was next to impossible.

Sierra made a ‘Whisper Message’ to her forces to be on their toes. She wasn’t sure if Mamelon was truly on their side.

Macher was about to sound his retreat when he saw one red flare up in the sky. It came from the south. Sierra saw Macher staring above, and she instinctively followed his gaze.

Dread overcame Sierra when she saw the red flare. She quickly called for the Commanders to look up. They immediately looked back to her, to ask for their orders.

One red flare meant that there was an approaching army of approximately 5,000.

Sierra was still racking her brains on what to do, when she heard Macher call out.

“CHARGE!”

Macher assumed that the flare was Sierra’s men warning her of another attack from the south. Duke Burmistrz told him that he would have Macher attack the north while the Brandals attack the south.

Fortunately, Mamelon and her Knights countered Macher’s charge with their own. Sierra knew that if they left, their new allies would all die.

Sierra decided to gamble on König Mitleid’s strength. She ordered most of the battalions to help the maneator king.

She sent the battalions of Adder, Sharur, Jinggu, Laernea, Gandiva, Thyrsus, and Vijaya. All seven battalions consisted of 1,050 militia.

Sierra was left with 450 militia, and 500 Avendre Mercenaries. When she saw them leave, she ordered the command to attack Macher and his Knights.

* * * * * * 
König Mitleid stared at the vast army of Brandals gathered in the southern plains. He was watching them march from on top of Verbrannt Castle’s tower.

The maneator king waited for Sierra to come back, but the Brandal’s catapults were almost in range of their castle.

Mitleid leapt from on top of the tower, and made a loud crashing sound when he landed on the ground. He stepped out of the large crater that he made from his jump.

He knew Sierra would be mad, but this was an emergency. He ran straight past the gates, and ordered the remaining militia left to defend the castle with their lives.

Mitleid thought that the Duke must have been furious to have sent this many men. Mitleid wanted to rip all of them out, but he kept repeating to himself that he should focus on the catapults.

The maneator was troubled because whenever he was in his ‘Blood Rage’ state he had no control over his actions.

He was afraid that the catapults would be in range, and he would focus only on his attackers. Mitleid spent many days around the forest of Verbrannt Castle when he helped gather the lumber.

Mitleid knew the fastest way to where the Brandals’ catapults were. He decided to stay far away from any bandit until he was directly facing the line of catapults.

A few minutes passed, and he was where he wanted to be. He leapt out from the forest and roared with all his might!

“RRROOOOAAAAARRRRAAAAHHHHHHGGGHHH!”

Mitleid used this opportunity to slaughter the stunned Brandals. No one was going to attack him in their dazed states. It took only two swings from his dual zweihänders to demolish the catapults.

He quickly destroyed two of his targets, he still had eighteen left to go. Arrows struck his body, when he finished destroying his fourth catapult.

The Brandals had recovered from being stunned, and went after the maneator king. Any black ctenosaur rider who struck him had their heads lopped off.

The maneator king lost count of all the Brandals that he killed. He estimated he had at least eliminated 700 of them.

When he reached his twelfth catapult, both his hands had bullwhips attached to it. The Brandal leaders had come to stop him.

He pulled them to him as he did with the previous Brandal leaders and slaughtered them. After he was done chopping their bodies into pieces, he proceeded to his thirteenth catapult.

Mitleid raised both his hands and was about to swing down his dual zweihänders when five bullwhips were attached to his right hand.

He tried to pull the five Brandal leaders, but they were pulling him back. Two more bullwhips were added to his right hand.

Mitleid tried pulling harder, but then ten bullwhips were suddenly attached to his left hand. König Mitleid looked up to the sky.

The Brandal leaders knocked both of his zweihänders out of his hands.

The maneator was about to let out his roar when two Brandal leaders came from the front and wrapped their bullwhips on his muzzle and his jaw.

The Brandal leaders had silenced his roar! He tried shaking the two bandits off of him, but they held on to him firmly.

Next, six bullwhips were attached to each of his legs. The Brandals pushed him down, and made him face the sky. When he was pinned down, additional ropes were nailed down on the ground to hold him.

A Brandal leader stepped over the Mitleid’s chest, as the rest of them held him down.

“We heard you like to torture people. Why don’t you have a taste of your own medicine!”

Four Brandal leaders carried jagged swords, and stood on both sides of Mitleid. They started to saw off his hands, while other Brandal leaders were on top of him. They were stabbing him with their swords.

After his hands were sawed off, the jagged sword wielding Brandals went for both his hooves. The Brandals encircled around the captured maneator. They laughed and jeered at him.

König Mitleid was held down and was surrounded by 32 Brandal Leaders. The maneator’s lifebar was quickly dwindling down. Mitleid’s lifebar displayed (195,227/300,000 HP).

The blood gushed out from Mitleid’s severed hands and hooves, which gave him a ‘Bleeding Status’.

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