Light Novel – Zectas – Volume 02 – Chapter 10

Proofreaders: Vanouney, Otton, and Handibong.

Note: For easy character reference please refer to: Characters

A Village against a City

Before he was captured, König Mitleid was the devil incarnate. He slaughtered many of the Brandals before the bandits were able to capture him.

If only Mitleid didn’t focus all his attention on the catapults, he wouldn’t have been caught by the bandits.

The Maneator was painfully sprawled and pinned down on the ground. The Brandals circled around, as they kept on taunting him.

After they severed his hands and hooves, the Brandal leaders with the jagged swords went higher up on Mitleid’s limbs. They started to chop off his arms and legs.

Due to his ‘Bleeding Status’ and the continuous attacks by the Brandal leaders, König Mitleid was now dying. His life bar displayed (62,197/300,000 HP).

Mitleid’s heroic act destroyed more than half of the Brandals’ catapults and eliminated almost a fourth of the bandits’ five thousand strong army.

The Maneator King stared blankly at the sky. He felt the Brandal leaders’ jagged swords and throwing knives being plunged into various parts of his body.

However, his mind blocked the pain brought by the Brandals’ tortures. Instead, he was reminded of all his wrongdoings.

How he slaughtered the men sent down to be executed in the labyrinth. How he accidentally killed his Maneator brothers when his ‘Blood Rage’ state was activated. Finally, how he mercilessly tortured Smoke for hours.

Even if he wasn’t in complete control of himself in all of those heinous acts, it was still his hands that did all the evil work.

Mitleid wanted to repent for all the immorality and wickedness he committed, but it was clear that he would go to the afterlife without the chance to redeem himself.

The Maneator thought he deserved such a horrific death. He only hoped that before he perished, he would be able to see his liberated brothers from the labyrinth.

Sadly, it was clear that he wouldn’t get to do any of that. As such thoughts ran through König Mitleid’s head, a bolt enhanced with fire came and blew away the Brandal leader who stood on top of his chest.

A few seconds later, a torrent of poison bolts attacked the bandits. The surprise ranged attack knocked all of the Brandal leaders away from the Maneator King.

Laernea and Gandiva’s war carriages ran side by side as they led the way for their 1,050 militia’s spear like formation.

They had their stag moose, Tulin and Bilis, run at an adequate pace. This let the men on foot to keep up with their stride.

The Lioumerean’s war carriages had twenty of their best Fishermen on board. They were given the task to target the black ctenosaur riders in front of their path.

Each war carriage also had a turret on top of it. There, Sharur and Jinggu’s ‘Repeating Ballistae’ were installed.

It was a collaborative work from Darius and Sharanga as they were looking for a way to improve the OrkElves’ heavy ballistae. The new ranged weapons were so heavy that they had to be attached to the turrets.

Despite the weapons’ increased weight, Sharanga increased its attack speed and power damage. With the Repeating Ballistae, the OrkElves’ attack increased by threefolds.

In order to enhance their scouting abilities, Thyrsus and Vijaya had war chariots attached to their dirus wolves. They had one of their Lieutenants drive the chariot while they scanned the whole battlefield.

Vijaya took the right side while Thyrsus took the left. Vijaya relied on her six falcons to detect which of the men on her side where dying.

She had the falcons spread out in pairs of two. Before one of her volunteers’ shield were broken, the falcons would dive in and attack the enemy.

This gave the injured militia the opportunity to switch out with a fresh volunteer. Vijaya also helped by continuously attacking the enemies with her Hunter’s bow and poison arrows.

Gone were the days when she solely relied on her falcon’s damage. She knew that each arrow meant an increased chance at their survival.

Thyrsus Fischer observed Vijaya’s regained confidence as she executed an outstanding defense with her falcons. He used to pity her when her twin sister, Sharanga, started to get more attention than her.

Nevertheless, he knew that it was only a matter of time before she would earn an impressive ability like her ‘Falcon Tongue’.

Ever since they were young, Thyrsus witnessed his friends’ prominent lives while he lived a mediocre one.

Vijaya had her looks and personality, and even if Sharanga was shy, she still shared her twin sister’s face.

Raised by their raped mother, the OrkElves, Sharur and Jinggu, had their innate Strength and Dexterity, and the Nanahuatlanos’ sympathy.

Ichaival was famous for being the village clown, while Laernea and Gandiva were the problematic trouble makers.

Thyrsus thought that he would have everybody’s respect and admiration, if he focused his attention on his studies and behaved himself.

However, the years went on and he was still the forgettable kid in the village. He even had to say his last name before the residents remembered that he was Peitro Fischer’s son.

Thyrsus talked to Darius about his dilemma, and the wise Beggar Legati asked him if any of his friends ever forgot him.

From there he got the idea to forcibly insert himself, into the lives of the people who he wants to remember him.

If his talents were not visible to the masses, then he personally got to know each individual and showed them his abilities.

For Smoke, Sierra, and Darius; Thyrsus made sure that they knew of his reconnaissance ability and tactical prowess.

He privately got to know all of the 1,500 men and women volunteers in their militia. He knew their full names, their former villages, and their professions.

Thyrsus relied on his great memory to build a strong rapport with all of them. His hard work in getting to know all of them, made him the most trusted commander in the entire militia.

Multiple volunteers on Thyrsus’ side got switched out even when their life bars were still in the safe zones.

Thyrsus emphasized on everyone’s safety which gave them an impenetrable defense in their spear like formation.

With both the head and the sides of their spear formation secured, Adder positioned himself to guard the rear on foot.

Adder received an improved weapon as well. Darius enhanced his BlitzTod into the double bladed BlitzSturm. His new weapon almost had the same damage potential as one of Mitleid’s zweihänders.

Adder gathered the Blacksmiths in their militia who had the ability to use ‘Shield Smite’. The Blacksmiths made sure to repel all of the bandits who tried to go after them.

The one-armed man commanded and defended the militia, as he watched their forces pierce through the thousands of surprised Brandals.

As they got closer to the pinned down Maneator King,  sprawled on the ground, Laernea and Gandiva went in opposite directions.

Laernea took her war carriage to the left, while Gandiva took hers to the right. The meter long spikes attached to the sides of their wheels, ripped through the legs of the black ctenosaurs that stayed within its range.

From on top of the turrets attached to the war carriages, Sharur and Jinggu kept on attacking with their flood of poison bolts.

However, the blown away Brandal leaders regrouped themselves and immediately ordered their bandits to block the war carriages exits.

Each of the Lioumereans were forced to make a half-circle run with König Mitleid as their central point.

The Brandals had seen through their plan and blocked any chance of escape. Adder told Vijaya and Thyrsus to form a barricade.

The two Hunters ordered their special defensive militia members to be ready to deploy their long barbed poles.

After the Lioumereans ran in a semi-circle direction, Vijaya and Thyrsus ordered these men to start deploying the barbed poles in a fixed distance from one another.

The barbed poles were activated, the moment the last militia member was within their circle. The barbed wires extended out, and connected with the poles closest to them. They created a barbed circular fence around Mitleid.

Adder and Vijaya immediately went to free Mitleid from his bonds. Vijaya tried to apply first aid, but Mitleid’s ‘Bleeding Status’ wasn’t removed.

Mitleid’s several wounds were beyond help. They needed the healing powers of at least an Arch Bishop to remove his ‘Bleeding Status’.

The militia’s pitchforks and spears managed to fend off the black ctenosaur riders, but the Brandal leaders who weren’t hit by the OrkElves’ poison bolts sprang over their barbed fence.

Adder had to leave Mitleid’s side as he faced one of the Brandal leaders inside their inner defense. Vijaya tried her best and kept on applying bandages to Mitleid’s wounds.

Arrows from the Brandal Snipers were constantly flying in towards them, so Vijaya ordered her six falcons to specifically target the culprits.

Vijaya trained her ability ‘Steel Falcon’ to Advance Level 2. Her falcons became immune to most arrow attacks.

Behind the barbed fences, Laernea and Gandiva kept riding their war carriages in opposite directions.

This gave the OrkElves an even wider range of picking out the Brandal leaders trying to come back in.

Thyrsus stayed near the center of their defensive formation and kept a close eye on the militia members who were about to fall.

With his bird’s eye view of the battle, Thyrsus swiftly gave out instructions to support the dying men and women. He quickly replaced them with the uninjured volunteers.

Thyrsus wished that one of Smoke’s private army members was a Priest and had an AOE healing ability.

Currently, they only had first aiders in the militia. Their abilities were only at the Beginner level. They amateurly applied bandages to the injured.

Death was imminent to the gravely wounded. The absence of a reliable healer was their militia’s greatest downfall.

Adder scanned around their defensive formation, and knew that it could not last. He shouted at Thyrsus and asked for his best estimate.

“How long?”

Thyrsus looked through his falcon’s eyes and yelled back.

“Ten minutes tops.”

Adder blocked an incoming bullwhip with his upgraded double bladed sword, BlitzStrum. He was about to leap over the Brandal leader when he received a call from Smoke.

The one-armed man tumbled over, and his right leg was caught by the Brandal’s bullwhip. Thyrsus sent his falcon to attack the Brandal leader’s head, while he targeted the bandit’s back.

Adder answered Smoke’s call, as he used his BlitzSturm to free himself from the bullwhip and charged towards the bandit.

“Hello? Adder? Can you hear me?”

“Yeah, I’m here.”

“We just got out of the labyrinth. I spoke to Sierra, and she updated me with the situation. Where exactly are you?”

Adder dodged the Brandal leader’s throwing knives and lunged his long double bladed sword into the bandit’s stomach.

“Sorry, can’t talk. We’re about three kilometers south of Verbrannt castle.”

“I understand. We’ll be there in about fifteen minutes.”

“Wait, Smoke! Hurry, Mitleid’s dying! Thyrsus said we only have ten minutes left…”

Smoke wasn’t able to hear Adder’s last message, as the call was already dropped.

Adder went to where Thyrsus stood. He rode Thyrsus’ war chariot, and yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Everybody! Smoke’s coming in fifteen minutes. We just have to last these next few minutes!”

Everyone in the militia had heard about Smoke. He was the charismatic leader that assembled their commanders, and made them into his private army.

That alone made every militia member respect Smoke. Adder’s short speech revitalized the militia volunteers. With their boosted morale, they gave out their all defending the barbed fences for the next fifteen minutes.

* * * * * * 

It was ten minutes after Smoke called Adder. He and his group were still hidden inside Otaczac forest, as they watched a sea of black scaly ctenosaurs encroach over the barbed fences of the helpless militia.

Irritated, Smoke scratched his head. As if he was searching for a solution to come out of his scalp. This was the complete opposite of the welcome back party he was expecting.

Smoke tried to calm himself down by checking his newly acquired treasures. He was able to use three out of the seven items that the Tenebris’ guardian allowed him to take out of their treasury.

With pride and gusto, the DarkElf looked at his ‘Sable Wizard’s Surcoat’, ‘Lunar Gravity Boots’, and ‘Digger’s Wand’.

The ‘Sable Wizard’s Surcoat’ was a black armor made out of hard leather and chainmail. It had a lower defense than his gora plate, but it had special attributes.

It gave an increased bonus experience of 15%, 10% resistance to all elemental attacks and immunity against hostile shape-altering abilities.

The ‘Lunar Gravity Boots’ was made of black leather with silver stitchings. It enabled the wearer to reduce the effects of Zectas’ gravity.

This gave the wearer an increased movement speed of 25% and an increased leaping power of 50%.

The legendary Lunar Gravity Boots also had an active ability called ‘Lunar Eclipse’. Once activated, a casting circle with a diameter of five meters appears on the ground.

Anyone who stood inside the casting circle receives the boot’s passive effects for five minutes.

The ‘Digger’s Wand’ was a bronze wand with a length of fourteen inches. It increased the wearer’s Earth alignment by 20% and had the active abilities ‘Tunneling’ and ‘Trenching’.

The three treasures were amazing beyond words. However, all of Smoke’s equipment looked like they were about to break. This was due to his single stone Beggar rank.

His worn-out hooded cloak covered his ragged surcoat and tattered boots. His wand, looked like a rusty wand instead of its sleek bronze color.

When he was disguised as Ilad, the Flame Knight. He used Igniz’s dark purple flames to coat his rusty armor. This time he didn’t use Igniz’s energy in order to keep Smoke and Ilad’s individuality.

Smoke smiled as he finished his battle simulation in his mind. He pointed his Digger’s Wand on the space in front of them and pointed it again towards the center of the militia’s defensive formation.

Finally, he activated its ‘Tunneling’ ability. The muffled sound of moving earth was heard, and a circular hole opened on the ground.

Smoke then activated his boot’s ‘Lunar Eclipse’ ability, and his four companions reflexively stepped inside the casting circle.

A blue light engulfed them. After they received the boot’s effects, they immediately ran inside the tunnel.

The DarkElf ordered Igniz to light their path as they pushed on towards the tunnel’s exit. Smoke estimated that with their increased movement speed they would be out of the underground passage in less than two minutes.

Smoke, Espion, and three maneators jumped out of the tunnel. The Brandals broke through portions of the barbed fence.

There were black ctenosaurs caught in the barbed wire and were trampled over by the other bandits. Dying militia members were scattered on the ground.

With his increased jumping ability, Smoke leapt to the center near Thyrsus. He soared up to the sky and activated his wand’s ‘Trenching’ ability. He created a circular trench outside of the barbed fences.

The trench had a circumference of 450 meters. Its depth was four meters with a gap of six meters. Trenches were meant to be used as a defensive countermeasure against the enemy’s ranged attacks.

However, Smoke used it to drop the Brandals out of their defensive formation. The DarkElf looked around, and saw König Mitleid dying on the ground.

One more attack, and the Maneator King would be dead. With his ‘Earth Manipulation’ ability, Smoke quickly constructed twelve towers from the ground and it skyrocketed upwards.

The circular towers were scattered inside their defensive formation. The creation of the towers and trench came at a cost, and left Smoke with 5% of his maximum Mana.

Each tower was made from the hardened mixture of rocks and earth. The dispersed structures had a height of a two story building, with stairs protruding out on its walls.

Straightaway, Adder added Smoke to their party and switched the leadership of the seven battalions to him. Smoke opened a group call to the entire militia in the area.

“Everybody, hurry and climb up the tower. The staircases will automatically retract in five minutes.”

The 297 survivors immediately scrambled for the nearest tower for survival. Each tower had less than twenty-five people huddled closely together.

Smoke created a special tower with Mitleid, Adder, Espion, Thyrsus, and the three maneators on top of it.

This specific tower had no stairs, and it rapidly rose to the height of a four-story building.

König Mitleid’s vision was blurry. Yet, despite his unclear sight he felt a familiar presence. Mitleid called out Smoke’s name.

Smoke went near Mitleid. The DarkElf asked Thyrsus to help him sit König Mitleid on the Earth throne that he created.

“Mitleid, I’m here. Let me have Igniz cauterize your wounds to remove your Bleeding Status.”

“Aagguhh, Aagguh.”

The Maneator King coughed out blood from his mouth as he spoke.

“Come here, we have to hurry. I don’t think I have much time left, and don’t bother trying to save me. I’ll only get the Burned Status if you do that.”

König Mitleid coughed up more blood.

“I know that my time has come. I deserve this cruel death, but I didn’t think the great god, Cuezaltzin, would answer my prayers. He has given me a chance at redemption.”

Mitleid stared at the three maneators behind Smoke. The DarkElf called the three Maneators over to them.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Maneators were wiped out by the Tenebris. They were replaced by a new monster called Krampus. These three noble Maneators were the only ones I managed to save.”

Smoke asked the tallest Maneator, armed with his Rzeka glaive to step forward. The bulky red Maneator stepped in front of König Mitleid and bowed down.

“Name is… Stark Rind. Honor is mine to see you… King of Maneators!”

Next, was the shortest Maneator with Smoke’s bullwhip. The orange maneator stood at a height of 2.5 meters. He knelt down beside Stark, and rapidly introduced himself to their King.

“You’re König Mitleid! I’ve been counting the hours that I could finally see your face, and now that I’m here, I see that you’re more intimidating than I imagined. Oh, right my name is Rasant Rind. It’s a privilege to be in your service.”

Lastly, was the Maneator armed with Smoke’s Gora Shield and Flamdius Sword. He got down on his knees beside his two brothers.

The gray Maneator spoke in a dignified voice.

“Smoke has told us all of your heroic deeds your majesty. I am called Weise Rind. We three shall live our lives upholding the great name of the Maneators. We shall carry your teachings when you unified the different classes of Maneators.”

“HAHAHAHA! Aagguhh, Aagguh.”

König Mitleid coughed up more blood as he laughed hard. Everybody was confused why Mitleid reacted that way to the Maneator’s introduction.

“Forgive me for laughing. I’m just very happy to see that I’m not the last Maneator. Smoke, you’ve done the impossible! You’ve freed all the living maneators inside the labyrinth.”

Mitleid changed his gaze towards the three maneators who knelt in front of him.

“Brothers, please stand. I should be the one kneeling before you, but I’m having trouble just sitting down. When I look at the three of you, I know that I could die in peace. You three will change how the world remembers the Maneators. I’m expecting great things from you, and I know that you won’t disappoint me.”

After Mitleid’s speech, a notification window popped up in front of Smoke.

+ Completed Quest!
                                   Liberate the Maneators under Coatl City

You were not able to save König Mitleid’s original brothers, but you’ve preserved the Maneator’s legacy by freeing the three maneators you’ve created inside the labyrinth.

 * König Mitleid’s Inheritance
 * 3,000,000 exp

+ Level Up!

The DarkElf was in a daze. He couldn’t believe the experience he got from König Mitleid’s quest. He was about to thank the Maneator when suddenly, Mitleid’s voice became serious.

“Smoke, You’re now the Maneator King. Albeit you only have three subjects, but I think these three are worth more than an army. Now, before I breathe my last dying breath. Let me give you your inheritance, and kneel before me.”

The DarkElf’s eyes grew even bigger. He thought that he received all the rewards from Mitleid’s quest.

König Mitleid lifted his handless arms and dripped his blood over the DarkElf’s white ponytailed hair.

+ Gained Title: ‘Maneator King’

  This title is awarded to König Mitleid’s heir. As such, all maneators will show fealty to you and will follow your commands.

  * +5 to all basic stats
  * Intimacy with the Maneators increased to ‘Worshipped King’
  * You’re now responsible for the well being of all Maneators.
  * If all the Maneators are dead, the title will be stripped off.

“You have been anointed with my blood. It now flows within you, and with it you have become my representative. Lead the maneators well and protect them with your life. Spread the greatness of the Maneator and fulfill my repentance.”

+ Gained Ability: Beast Monarch
+ Gained Ability: Maneator’s Roar
+ Gained Ability: Blood Rage

The abilities’ description flooded Smoke’s view that he wasn’t able to read all the abilities in detail.

“Mitleid, this is too much. I don’t know how to thank you… But I think we should still try to cauterize your wounds.”

“No, it’s useless. Even if an Arch Bishop was here, it would still end up in my death. The Tenebris’ curse would counter any form of Light healing. Besides, it’s better this way. I’m leaving the maneators in good hands, with you as their King.”

König Mitleid looked at the three maneators and called out to them.

“Weise, Stark, Rasant, could you indulge a request from your former King? I’d like to see how you three fight before I go meet my judgement.”

The three maneators respectfully bowed down their heads. As they solemnly looked up to König Mitleid, all three of them let out their loudest roars.

All three maneators gave König Mitleid their final bow to him and leapt down, straight to the ground.

A deep crater was created by the three behemoths. After they landed, they quickly scattered in different directions.

Smoke asked Adder and Espion to join the three maneators down below. Unlike the maneators who hopped directly from the four-story tower, Adder had to jump to the nearest shorter tower and fought the bandits on top of it.

Espion decided not to jump. Instead, he nailed his rope made out of wolf spider thread, on the floor of their tower. He then speedily rapelled downwards.

The young Spy used his sideways momentum to swing himself to the top of his targeted tower. Swiftly, Espion equipped his green dual knives, and became a blur as he attacked the bandits.

The DarkElf also ordered Thyrsus to maintain his station in the tallest structure, and order the militia to support the troubled towers.

Smoke used his ‘Telefax Vision’ ability to scan the entire battlefield. The Brandals had four black ctenosaurs piled on top of each other in order to cross the trench that the DarkElf created.

These black ctenosaurs were extremely well trained. The Brandals had to travel through various terrains which forced them to teach the lizard mounts to form intricate formations.

The Brandals used the same technique on Smoke’s towers. This time they made steps out of the black ctenosaurs.

The first step had one black ctenosaur, followed by two of piled on top of each other, and was completed by three lizard mounts stacked together.

The war chariots of Laernea and Gandiva with Sharur and Jinggu on top, protected six towers altogether.

Vijaya with her six falcons managed to defend two towers that were close to each other.

Adder cleared out the Brandals on the tower where he landed on, and ran down to the next tower closest to him.

Rasant, the fastest Maneator, ran towards the furthest towers. He took out his borrowed bullwhip and attacked the Brandal leader blocking his path.

Like an orange blur, Rasant dodged the bandits’ attacks, and coiled his bullwhip around the Brandal leader’s neck.

The orange Maneator pulled the bandit to him, and stabbed the bandit rapidly with Espion’s throwing knives.

With the Brandal leader’s life bar almost depleted, Rasant snapped the bandit’s neck like a twig.

Rasant laughed at the corpse of the Brandal leader. He then looted the bandit’s bullwhip and equipped it for himself.

With an evil smile, Rasant dual wielded the two bullwhips. Ruthlessly, Rasant flogged all the bandits within his range on the way to the furthest towers.

Weise, the smartest Maneator, aimed for the neglected towers in the middle. He searched for the optimum position which allowed him to defend three towers.

The gray Maneator was armed with Smoke’s Gora shield and Flamdius sword. With a calculated look, Weise cleverly aimed for the weak joints of the bandits and blocked all of their attacks simultaneously.

Stark, the strongest Maneator, went for the undefended towers closest to him. With Smoke’s Rzeka glaive, Stark forcefully dealt with the black ctenosaurs riders in only three strikes.

A stroke for each arm and a clean slice across the bandit’s neck, but the Brandal leaders were a different story.

Angrily, Stark executed ten strikes of the Rzeka glaive in order to dispose of the Brandal leaders. The Maneator shouted in frustration as it took him longer to kill the leaders.

Filled with content, König Mitleid sat on his throne and watched the three maneators slaughter the Brandals below.

Smoke wanted to join the battle, but decided to wait for Mitleid to die before he left the Maneator’s side.

“Smoke, if you don’t mind? Can you send my zweihänders to Stark? I think he’ll have a quicker time dealing with the Brandals if he’ll use them.”

The DarkElf inspected the two massive swords and carefully set them down.

“I’ll give it to him as soon as the time comes.”

“Alright. Then you better give the swords to Stark now because my time’s up.”

Smoke patted Mitleid’s right shoulder and grasped it firmly. Mitleid spoke to Smoke for one last time.

“No words could remove the pain that I’ve inflicted upon you, but know that I’ll spend all of eternity regretting it in the afterlife. Forgive me, Smoke…”

– Maneator King: König Mitleid has died.

Smoke stared blankly at Mitleid’s body as it slowly started to fade. He remembered how he used to hate this Maneator to his core, but now a tear shed from Smoke’s eye.

As König Mitleid’s body disappeared, item drops started to appear. Smoke reflexively picked all of them up.

+ Acquired Maneator hide.
+ Acquired Maneator horns.
+ Acquired Maneator hooves.
+ Acquired Maneator embryo.
+ Acquired Maneator dna – hybrid class.
+ Acquired Maneator essence.

Smoke smiled with tears. Mitleid left him with enough materials to create one more Maneator. Sadly, Smoke could only give life to a Maneator inside the labyrinth.

The DarkElf placed the zweihänders inside his backpack window. He couldn’t give it to Stark because the red Maneator was still at level 101, and the zweihänders’ level requirement was 300.

Smoke pulled up his hooded cloak over his blood drenched hair, and wiped the tears from his eyes. He took in a deep breath before he scanned the battlefield.

Smoke asked Thyrsus to estimate how many bandits were left. After scouting with his falcon’s eye, Thyrsus answered back with 3,102 Brandals. They were outnumbered ten to one, and against seasoned marauders.

The DarkElf glanced over the scattered towers and found that four towers were outside of anyone’s defensive reach.

Smoke thought that the militia had suffered enough. He wouldn’t allow anyone else to die on that day.

He used his ‘Lunar Gravity Boots’ and jumped up to the sky. He then spread his hooded cloak, and glided through the air.

“Igniz, create firewalls below the undefended towers.”

Smoke dove down to one of the undefended towers and stunned the Brandals on top of it. This particular tower only had five militia members left.

The survivors stood closely together with their backs against each other. They were shocked to hear Smoke’s loud landing.

The DarkElf took out his improved ‘Power Chainsaw Bow’ which he transmuted inside the labyrinth. Masterfully, he released a multitude of arrows.

Smoke’s fire enchanted arrows dealt 12,500 damage points against the black ctenosaur riders. It only took him one volley of eight arrows to take down a mounted bandit.

After he finished the five black ctenosaur riders on the tower he stood on, he targeted the black ctenosaur lizards which formed a ladder formation towards a different tower.

It only took two arrows from Smoke to kill the lizard mounts. As his damage against the monsters were tripled by his inherited ability, Beast Monarch.

When Smoke targeted a Brandal leader on the ground below him, his power chainsaw bow revealed a damage of only 9,000 points.

He switched targets and struck the bandit’s mount instead. The Brandal leader fell down on the ground, and tried to scrambled to his feet trying to avoid Smoke’s arrows.

Smoke took advantage of the bandit’s exposed back and turned him into a human pincushion with sixteen arrows stuck to the Brandal leader’s spine.

The DarkElf stopped attacking with his arrows. He only had 3,192 arrows left and there were still 2,812 black ctenosaur riders to kill.

Smoke assessed his situation. The most threatening aspect about the Brandals was their great maneuverability.

Which made him decide to focus all of his attacks on their mounts. With his ‘Lunar Gravity Boots’ and ‘Hooded Cloak of Cologus’, Smoke made his way around the battlefield with ease.

Five hours passed, and the DarkElf finally used up his last arrow. He killed a total of 1,596 black ctenosaurs.

He destroyed the ladders that the Brandals created with their lizard mounts, and temporarily secured the safety of the survivors.

Despite their valiant efforts, they still lost more volunteers and were left with only 212 militia members. Whereas, the Brandal horde still had 1,216 black ctenosaurs, 2,102 bandits, and 32 Brandal leaders. They were still outnumbered five to one.

Everyone on Smoke’s side was exhausted. They were out of arrows and bolts. All of Smoke’s men stayed on top of the towers for safety.

Smoke elevated the ground around Laernea and Gandiva’s war carriages, and raised them to the top of different towers.

It had been ten minutes since the Brandals’ last attacks. In the lull of the bandits’ attacks, Smoke ordered Espion and Rasant to collect the arrows, bolts, and fishing spears scattered on the ground below them.

After they took their meals, the two fastest members on foot immediately obeyed their orders. Smoke smirked as he remembered his first time meeting Espion.

The young Spy was a spoiled brat. Espion had to lose his right eye in their first battle against a Krampus before he saw that he should obey Smoke’s commands.

Smoke assumed that this break had two purposes. First was to reorganize the ranks of the bandits and second was to give them a mental breakdown.

Most of the militia survivors felt the coming of their death. This made them easier targets for the bandits.

The DarkElf was racking his head for a plan that would ensure their survival. They already suffered enough loses of their militia.

Smoke didn’t want Mitleid’s death to be in vain. He wanted to save all 212 survivors, even if it meant dying.

As the DarkElf was thinking of a strategy, he received a call from Sierra.

“Hi, how are you guys doing? All of the militia survived, right? Please tell me you wiped out all the Brandals when you arrived.”

Hearing Sierra’s questions made Smoke remember the dying faces of the militia volunteers and the last moments he had with König Mitleid.

“I’m so sorry… If only I was stronger, or faster. I could’ve saved them.”

“No! Don’t tell me someone from the private army died?”

“König Mitleid… He’s gone now, and so is 75% of our militia. At least Mitleid saw the maneators I saved from the labyrinth… Do you remember when I was still working for your uncle and I was telling you about the monstrous Maneator?”

Sierra didn’t respond, but Smoke heard audible sobs.

“Who would’ve thought that the monster who tortured me would become a close friend.”

The werebear spoke after she finally found her words.

“I didn’t tell you this, but König Mitleid was the friend who rescued us from before. He looked dangerous when he was in his Blood Rage state, but I pitied him when he snapped out of it. It’s a scary thing… losing control of your own body.”

“Sierra, what about the battle on your side? Is it over?”

“Yeah, we managed to defeat Macher’s invasion, but the weasel was so sneaky that he was able to escape. He ditched ten Knights from his private army in order for him to escape.”

“Listen, I don’t know how much longer we can last. We’re out of ammunition, and the Brandals aren’t giving us enough time to recover our HPs. How many are left on your side?”

“The battle just finished a few seconds ago. I still have to do a head count, but I think we have 400 militia members, 350 Avendre Mercenaries, 190 Zectian Knights, and 410 Sonstwelter Knights.”

“That’s alot, but even if your group joins us, will only have enough to match the Brandals’ numbers.”

“We could do a two pronged attack? We’ll attack from the sides and draw their attention, while you attack them from the opposite direction.”

Smoke smiled. The two pronged attack was one of the first war tactics he had discussed with Sierra. He quickly pushed the thought to the back of his head, and focused on the battle at hand.

“No, we can’t do that. We may win, but at what cost? I don’t want to lose anyone else.”

“Well, you better think of something fast. Before the Brandals make their move. While you’re thinking, we’re already on our way to you. We should be there in twenty minutes.”

Smoke was glad that Sierra had 1,300 men coming to their aid, but fighting the Brandals head on was suicide.


The DarkElf suddenly heard a sound. It was an indication that his life bar and mana bar had completely recovered.

An idea came to Smoke’s mind when he realized that his Mana was at full capacity.

Smoke sent an order to his group channel. He told them to stay safely on top of the tower, regardless of what they were about to see.

The DarkElf left Adder in charge. He then briskly took all 4,000 of his arrows from Espion and Rasant.

After he gave out his instructions, Smoke used his ‘Telefax Vision’ ability. From a distance he confirmed that the Brandals were still huddled closely together.

The Brandal leaders were still discussing their final attack, and the black ctenosaur riders were busy applying bandages to their own wounds.

Some of the bandits had even built campfires. They were cooking a meal while waiting for their leaders’ orders.

Smoke grinned from ear to ear. The Brandals’ had given him the perfect scenario!

Immediately, Smoke left Adder in charge of the whole battalion. He then leapt up to the sky with Igniz orbiting around him.

Armed with his Digger’s Wand, the DarkElf expanded his hooded cloak and expertly glided his way towards the Brandals’ encampment.

Smoke activated the Digger’s Wand when he was directly above the huddled Brandals. He created a trench that had a circumference of 600 meters.

He didn’t stop there. He reactivated the same ability but this time only slightly smaller. With this method, Smoke doubled the gap of the trench.

The DarkElf wanted to be sure that the Brandals could not escape their trap.

When the trenches were done, Smoke glided around the Brandal’s encampment. He followed the path of the trench that he created.

As Smoke flew over the wide excavation, he ordered Igniz to cover the trench in a sea of flames. Igniz gave Smoke an astonished look.

This was Igniz’s first time creating such a long firewall, but after he saw the DarkElf’s eyes, the dark ember sprite obeyed.

Igniz saw that Smoke was determined to finish the Brandals alone. After they covered the entire trench in flames, Smoke ordered his symbiote to do the same on the Brandal’s encampment.

The dark ember sprite was wobbly. Igniz weirdly flew around and was about to faint. Nevertheless, Smoke’s symbiote complied. Igniz covered the entire area, until he finally consumed his last energy.

Igniz started to fall down from the sky. The dark ember sprite had consumed Smoke’s last MP. The DarkElf briskly caught Igniz and placed him inside his special pocket designed for his symbiote.

As he glided in the air, Smoke checked his ‘Status Window’ and saw that he was out of Mana. The DarkElf gambled on his increased Wisdom stat. He thought that his MP regeneration was enough for this grandiose plan to work.

Nevertheless, Smoke decided to push through with the second phase of his plan. He switched out his Digger’s Wand, and took out one of the boss weapons he got from inside the labyrinth.

The DarkElf smirked as he heard the screams of the bandits below him. Despite their high resistance to Fire, the Brandals still received the ‘Burned Status’.

Smoke could have simply used Igniz’s flames as he did now, and not endanger himself against the bandits.

However, Smoke needed a bait worthy of the Brandals’ attention. Otherwise, they would have leapt outside of their encampment and tried to climb out of the trenches.

Smoke shouted at the top of his lungs as he remained gliding above the bandits.

“Hear me you Brandal Scum! The name’s Smoke! I’m the leader of this rebellion. I’m sure that you will be handsomely rewarded by Ultimo Maire if you can kill me, but I doubt that any of you pathetic losers can take me! You’re only used to fighting Farmers and Fishermen!”

The Brandals were enraged at Smoke’s audacity, and were looking for a way to attack him in midair.

Forcefully, Smoke dove down to the sea of flames below him. The DarkElf welcomed Igniz’s flames as he was immune to its damage.


The DarkElf stunned five Brandal Leaders as he landed at the center of their formation. The impact of Smoke’s landing blew them away.

Smoke was whirling his deadly ‘Chain and Sickle of Dasende’ with his right hand, while he kept the heavy iron ball ready with his left. He recalled the three major reasons why this plan was only applicable now.

First, was the Brandals huddled formation. From the time Smoke arrived, this was the only occurrence where the bandits were all in one place.

Second, was his Mana. Smoke had depleted his mana from creating the first trench and raising the towers.

Third, was his weapon. The ‘Chain and Sickle of Dasende’ wasn’t usable near allies. It would wreak havoc against friend and foe alike.

The DarkElf created a whirlwind as he rapidly spun his Dasende over his head. The whirlwind slowly became larger and larger as Smoke extended its chain.

Before the bandits recovered from their stunned state, Smoke targeted the necks of the leaders mounted on the back of their black ctenosaurs.

Smoke killed all five Brandal leaders on his sickle’s fourth orbit. The DarkElf ran in every direction.

He slashed the opponents who got near him and bashed the bandits who were farther away with Dasende’s iron ball.

Igniz’s sea of flames slowly damaged all the Brandals. The ordinary bandits were left with 60% of their life while the Brandal leaders had 85%.

With his ‘Lunar Gravity Boots’, the DarkElf leapt up as soon as his regenerated Mana allowed him to use his items’ active abilities.

The DarkElf stunned the four bandits below with the force from his landing as he used his ‘Hooded Cloak of Cologus’, and massacred the four black ctenosaur riders.

Gradually, Igniz’s flames died out. Which revealed the soot covered ground. Sporadic smoke was coming out of burnt earth.

This time, the DarkElf went after the bandits on foot. As the bandits were running towards him, He knocked fifteen of the bandits down with a sweep from his long iron chain.

With his opponents down, he alternated hitting them with the weight and the sickle. As he kept attacking the fallen bandits, the other bandits on foot had him surrounded.

As Smoke looked around his enemies, his ‘Chain and Sickle of Dasende’ glowed. This indicated that his Mana was enough to use its active ability, ‘Cyclone of Slaughter’.

Encircled by the Brandals, Smoke activated the ability. His movement and attack speed were increased ten folds. The DarkElf spun around with extreme speed that his weight and sickle created sixteen afterimages.

The Brandals within Smoke’s reach were either slashed by the sickle or blown away by the weight. The ability lasted ten seconds which created a pile of dead bodies.

Slowly, the bandits started to back off. This time, the twenty-seven Brandal leaders stepped forward and faced the DarkElf.

* * * * * * 

Adder along with everyone else watched Smoke fly off to the Brandals encampment, but as soon as he saw Smoke dig the trench and cover the enemies base with flames, he knew that his leader was on a suicide mission.

The one-armed man instantly called the other members of Smoke’s private army, and told them to rush to Smoke’s aid.

Smoke’s second in command ordered the Maneators; Weise, Stark, and Rasant to bring Laernea and Gandiva’s carriages down from their towers.

No one questioned Adder as they rode on the Lioumereans’ carriages. Adder left Thyrsus in charge, to take care of the surviving militia members.

The trench was still covered in flames when they arrived at the Brandals encampment. They saw glimpses of Smoke jumping up and heard his loud landing as he crushed the bandits.

All of them wanted to cross the trench, but Igniz’s flames prevented them. Adder decided to use this time to target the bandits that were away from Smoke.

The one-armed man ordered them to fire all of their projectile weapons. Forthwith; Sharur, Jinggu, Laernea, Gandiva, and Vijaya unleashed their bolts and arrows against the Brandals.

Ten minutes passed, and they saw that the flames inside the trenches started to subside. Some of the Brandals were jumping into the trench, as they tried to escape from the flames.

Adder reflexively ordered to focus fire on the bandits in the ditch. They would quickly be outnumbered if they managed to climb out of the four meter deep trench.

Adder, Espion, Weise, Stark, and Rasant spread themselves out. They targeted the bandits that started to crawl their way out of the trench.

Twenty minutes passed, and all of Igniz’s flames were gone. Adder and everyone else finally saw Smoke. Their leader was clearly struggling.

The DarkElf dodged the Brandal leader’s whips, but the bandit’s throwing knives hit their mark.

The three Maneators were overwhelmed at the sight of their injured King. Weise, Stark, and Rasant leapt into the trench and plowed their way through the bandits. Espion followed the Maneators lead and trailed after them.

They blew past their enemies and rapidly scaled the other side. Stark led the way with his Rzeka glaive while Weise, Rasant and Espion covered his back and followed closely behind him.

Rasant’s dual bullwhips momentarily distracted the Brandals. They thought that one of their leaders were caught by the maneators.

Weise dictated the direction where Stark should go next. The gray Maneator was constantly searching for the most efficient path towards their King.

Espion positioned himself inside the Maneators’ triangle formation. This was one of the formations Smoke created for them inside the labyrinth.

The young Spy weaved in and out between the Maneators, attacking the bandits with Smoke’s green dual knives and his blinding speed.

Adder watched Espion and the three Maneators gradually make their way to where Smoke was. He remained behind and led the attack on the bandits inside the trenches.

Thirty minutes passed, and Adder saw movements from the opposite side of the plains. Sierra had finally arrived with her reinforcements.

Everyone in Sierra’s army stood in awe at the sight before them. One man was inside the swarm of Brandals, and fought heroically against the bandits.

The 410 Sonstwelters recognized the long white haired DarkElf as Smoke. They saw him turn into a blur as he attacked the bandits with his chain and sickle.

The Brandals’ encampment looked like a huge black-and-gray arena as it was encircled inside a trench. The area was covered in soot and gray smoke was escaping from the ground.

Smoke’s fight against the Brandals was brilliant, but his life bar was already in the red. Sierra ordered her army to charge the Brandals.

As Smoke’s battle pushed on, Sierra noticed a shift in the bandits movements. She noticed that three Maneators were trying to create a path for Smoke to escape.

However, the Brandals were gathering towards Espion and the Maneators. Sierra arrived to where Adder and the other battalion commanders were positioned.

“Adder, what’s the plan?”

The one-armed man gave Sierra a quick smile of relief.

“We have to cover Espion and the Maneators’ escape route, so they can get Smoke out of that death trap.”

Sierra nodded. She quickly delegated the plan to Mamelon and the Captain of the Avendre Mercenaries. Both groups instantly responded and dove into the trench.

All of their ranged attackers targeted the bandits that blocked Smoke’s escape path, while the militia members and the Avendre Mercenaries spread around the trench attacking the bandits that tried to escape.

The red werebear led the charge. She didn’t know how Smoke did it, but most of the Brandals were left with only 50% of their life bars.

Sierra and 600 various Knights started to reopen the closed escape path. They pushed onwards, and massacred the injured bandits.

The red werebear and the Knights haphazardly fought through twenty meters of bandits. She was afraid that she was too late to reach Smoke in time.

Desperately, Smoke stood on top of an earth platform and used his power chainsaw bow to attack the bandits. He switched out his chain and sickle because he was afraid he would injure his companions.

Espion, Weise, Stark, and Rasant formed a circle around Smoke’s platform. The four fighters on the ground trusted each other completely, and only focused on the enemies that were in front of them.

Their five man team held their formation until Sierra arrived. The injured Brandals had no chance against the combined might of Sierra and 600 Knights.

After Sierra and the Knights cleared a path to Smoke, the red werebear went directly to where he stood. The DarkElf gave her a reassuring smile.

Smoke unequipped his bow and opened up his arms expecting a hug, when Sierra’s claw came out of nowhere and clonked him in the head.

“Ouch! I thought you came here to save me?”

Sierra was genuinely angry at Smoke.

“I thought you told me that you didn’t want anyone else to die?”

Smoke grimaced and raised both his hands in surrender.

“I said, I didn’t want to lose anyone else. Besides, I knew you would get here in time. Or at least I hoped.”

“See, you weren’t sure we would make it. Even if we do revive, you should treasure our lives here in Zectas. Think about the Zectians who sacrificed their lives to preserve yours. Don’t you think you’re mocking them by sacrificing yourself like this?”

“I know that, but isn’t it unfair if I wasn’t prepared to offer my own life as they would do the same thing for me? We’ve lost the lives of almost a thousand men! Even if we’re inside Zectas, it feels all too real for me.”

Sierra remained silent and kept on glaring at Smoke. She knew that he had a point but so did she.

“Anyway, let’s not fight over this now. We still have to deal with these Brandal bastards.”

As the two of them spoke, Smoke felt that someone was watching him. He looked around and noticed that some of the Sonstwelter Knights kept on glancing over his direction.

Smoke quickly unequipped his hooded cloak, and fought on with the thought to suppress his secret abilities. He kept in mind to only use the actions he performed in his videos.

An hour passed as they went on to butcher the Brandals. When the last bandit fell, a notification message appeared in front of everyone in the battlefield.

+ Quest: Liberate Coatl from Corruption
    Liberation Quest
    Level: A

    Remove Duke Burmistrz from his place of power, and free the entire region of Coatl
    from his men corrupt Cavalry Knights and ruthless Brandals.

    Note: Accepting this quest makes you a wanted criminal in Coatl
    for as long as Duke Burmistrz is mayor of Coatl.

    Accept the Quest? [YES/NO]

* * * * * * 

Somberly, Nash reviewed his latest video feed for the tenth time. His last video where he pretended he was training himself as Ilad, only got him a check of $10,000.

He was close to the required number of views for the $15,000 check, but unfortunately he ran out of time.

Nash was hopeful for the check to be $15,000. Donny had lost miserably at the national competition of the AUTOMATA (Amateur Unarmed Tournament Open Martial Art Techniques Association).

The general aura around their house was depressing. He thought a short vacation was something that his entire family needed, but a vacation meant he would need money.

This made him decide to upload his latest video feed as soon as possible. Nash would have loved to show his adventures inside the labyrinth, but that would only confirm that Smoke and Ilad were the same person.

For the latest video, he chose his battle against the Brandals. It was a video in honor of König Mitleid’s heroic sacrifice and of those militia members who offered their lives for Verbrannt village.

Nash carefully edited out the parts where he glided with his hooded cape, or jumped high with his lunar boots. He did include the part where he used his chain and sickle.

Apparently, Sherry and the other Sonstwelters saw him using it when they came to rescue him. Rumors had spread that Nash’s advance hidden job in Zectas was that of a Ninja Weapon Master.

Normally, these rumors about his hidden job would have brought a smile to his face. Yet, today his depressed gloomy face remained.

After he was done uploading his battle with the Brandals, Nash clicked on the most active thread in all of Zectas’ history.

TriTank: So, what if you’ve finally met Smoke? Meeting someone unimportant is just that… unimportant.

BlackStar: Why do you need to bash Smoke so much? Even if you’ve done something extra ordinary does that really give you the right to talk trash against him? I bet you haven’t even accomplished half of the things he’s done.

TriTank: If you only knew who I really am, I bet you’d bow down before me.

SmokeDisciple1093: @BlackStar, I completely agree. BTW, This is sort of a secret or maybe not so much since I’m posting it here. Anyway, Smoke’s going to go against Coatl city’s mayor. Our master’s going after a city!

Albarn: But doesn’t Tristan already have a city? I’ve heard that you earn an insane amount of zecs owning a city. Isn’t Smoke just following after Tristan’s footsteps? Just as Tristan is following Amahan’s?

DKid: This isn’t the same at all. Tristan was given Tonaci city. I guess slaying a dragon is an amazing feat as it is, but I think going against a city is even harder. Can you imagine fighting against an entire army of a main city? The city guards alone are already a force to be reckon with.

TriTank: If what you’re saying is true, then I’d pay good money to see Smoke get slaughtered by that city. Which city is he trying to take over anyway? Is it Coatl? That’s where he got his new accomplice right? Some Flame Knight named Ilad?

BlackStar: @TriTank, you sure know a lot about Smoke, for someone who thinks he’s unimportant.

Hepburn: I know the attentions mostly on Smoke and Tristan at the moment, but I have a strong feeling that we’ll be hearing something big from the northern continent soon. I don’t think Amahan’s idly doing nothing up there.

Asura: Well, I still have my money on Tristan. I know that he can be a bit of an ass, but anyone with that much power tends to be an ass anyway.

Nash turned off his desktop and was about to head downstairs. He took his eskrima sticks with him as he was about to leave his room.

He planned on beating his frustrations on a hanged tire. He needed to keep himself from thinking about König Mitleid’s death.

* * * * * * 

Grief and sorrow blanketed over Verbrannt Castle. However, the residents refused to give in to the pain in their hearts.

They kept themselves busy with the farming, fishing, and other menial tasks. Various defensive projects were on the works outside of the Castle walls.

Everybody looked for different ways to help out and improve their situation. Which was why Ichaival Jackal was busy helping out the residents in Verbrannt village. Especially the families of those who had died in the last battle against the Brandals.

He filled their water tanks to the brim, chopped their firewood into a neat pile, and even entertained the children with a few of his parlor tricks.

Ichaival was known as Nanahuatl’s village clown, but all of that was to cover his grief over his mother’s death when he was five.

As he carried another bucket full of water, Ichavail stopped and looked over Sharanga’s shop as she was experimenting on her new defensive weapon.

Throughout his entire life, there was only one person who saw through his facade. It was Sharanga Sundara when they were eight years old.

Ichaival was catching frogs near the river when Sharanga happened to pass by. The young WoodElf was usually quiet and kept only to herself or her twin sister.

However, on that particular day Sharanga stopped walking and sat near him. She told him that it was okay to cry.

She went on to say that she cries herself to sleep at night as the memory of her own parents were starting to fade.

Ichaival got really angry with her. He couldn’t believe how some abandoned kid could possibly understand his feelings.

So, he got one of his captured frogs and shoved it down Sharanga’s blouse. He kept teasing her as he ran away.

From that day on Ichaival’s love for Sharanga grew, but he didn’t know how to show it. He always resorted into pranking her instead.

Yet, now that they were older, Ichaival thought that he would act properly and show her how he truly feels. Sadly for him, Sharanga only sees him as the boy who kept on playing jokes at her.

Ichaival’s gaze on Sharanga was disrupted when Adder stepped in front of him, and told him that they were summoned to the war room.

* * * * * * 

Smoke and Sierra were having a heated argument in the throne room, as they waited for everyone in their private army to arrive.

“Why can’t you understand? If you created a guild and invited more people in to join, then I think we would have a good chance of getting 10,000 Sonstwelters like Tristan.”

“Sierra, it’s you who can’t understand. You can’t trust these Sonstwelters. They’ll always have a hidden agenda of their own.”

The red werebear stared at the DarkElf with frustration.

“Then what about your Non Aggression Pact members? Why did you do that? Isn’t that the same thing as making a guild?”

Smoke did a face palm, as he tried to let Sierra understand his reason.

“Those two are completely different. The NAP members had strict rules that prevented them from betraying me, but even then I was caught by Macher. “

“Wait a minute, I thought that Macher’s men weren’t a part of your NAP? Also, there are other benefits that we could get as a guild.”

“I know that… But I just can’t bring myself to trust any of them.”

Thyrsus knocked on the throne room’s door and walked in. He came to tell them that everyone had assembled in the war room.

Smoke and Sierra abruptly ended their discussion and silently followed Thyrsus.

The DarkElf sat at the center of a long rectangular table. Sierra sat at his right side, while Adder to his left.

The other members were spread throughout the table. Ichaival had to ask Espion to change seats with him, so he could sit next to Sharanga.

With everybody settled down, Smoke started their meeting.

“I would like to thank everyone for all your heroic actions in the last battle. We may have survived that army of Brandals, but I wouldn’t call it a victory. We’ve suffered too many casualties, and I’d like us to have a moment of silence to remember König Mitleid and those who laid down their lives for our cause.”

The war room was filled with solemn silence.

“Now, I’d like to formally introduce to you the newest members of our family. The young Spy with the eye patch, is called Espion. Then we have the tall burly red Maneator, he is called Stark. The hyperactive orange Maneator is Rasant. Finally, the gray Maneator who is quietly observing all of us is called Weise.”

The four new members gave a nod and other various forms of acknowledgement as the war room erupted with applause.

Smoke proceeded with the meeting once everybody was done clapping.

“Our biggest concern at the moment is Duke Burmistrz next attack. I don’t think we could survive another one, as we are now.”

The DarkElf quickly glanced over at the red werebear.

“Which is why Sierra has brought up the idea to create a guild with other Sonstwelters, and I’d like to hear your opinions about this matter.”

Thyrsus quickly added in his thoughts.

“I think that it’s a great idea. I’m sure you probably know this, but Sonstwelters have special abilities that are beyond us ordinary Zectians… I got to know all of those martyrs and I don’t want to see any more of militia members die”

Laernea and Gandiva raised their hands simultaneously.

The lioness Lioumerean spoke first.

“I understand what you’re saying, Thyrsus. Nevertheless, I still don’t recommend being allies with other Sonstwelters. From our experience, those guys only bring trouble. Of course, Smoke and Sierra are a special case.”

Espion interjected Laernea’s argument.

“I’ve had vast experiences with Sonstwelters myself, but desperate times calls for desperate measures.”

Gandiva contended Espion’s point.

“Wouldn’t that make us vulnerable to spies? I mean Macher is a Sonstwelter and he works for the Duke.”

Sharur raised his own point.

“If this was Sierra’s idea then I’m sure she has a good reason for bringing this up. I say we go with it and create a guild with the other Sonstwelters.”

Ichaival, Sharanga, Vijaya, Jinggu also raised their point of views about the matter. Everybody had their own ideas, and the war room was filled with loud disputes and raised voices.

Sierra clapped her werebear claws loudly to call everyone’s attention.

“Smoke and I had a similar discussion as what all of you are having now, but the fact remains that we need more manpower. I don’t see any other way to increase our army quickly.”

Espion had something to say that he thought Smoke and everyone else might have not known yet.

“Do you know how many men are under Duke Burmistrz? He has a standing army of 80,000 in Coatl city, while his main Brandal force of 120,000 bandits are out attacking Centzo city. We’ll have more information on their numbers, when my Da Caid arrives from Coatl.”

Smoke affirmed what Espion said.

“Yeah, I heard about it from Macher too. The bastard said that the Duke promised him Centzo city if he continues to work under him. What I didn’t know was that the Duke had that many men. I thought he only had around 20,000 at most.”

Everyone fell silent. There was no way they could overcome those numbers. No one said it, but all of them secretly thought that they were doomed if they stayed in Verbrannt Castle.

Smoke composed himself and took control of the awkward silence.

“Those are unwinnable odds, but we owe it to the people of Coatl and the martyrs that have died, to save this region.”

The DarkElf took in a deep breath before he spoke.

“Given this new information, I think we have no other choice but to create a guild with other Sonstwelters. However, I don’t want to be the guild leader.”

Smoke looked at Sierra.

“This was your idea, so I’d like you to take charge over the Sonstwelters. I’m fine with the Zectians. You can deal with the Sonstwelters yourself.”

“But they’re only willing to join if you’re at the helm. Argh! Just when I thought you weren’t being stubborn you say something like this.”

Weise quickly said something before another fight broke out.

“I’ve read various books on war and politics. I think that Smoke should still play the role of Guild Leader, but Sierra takes charge of the Sonstwelters. Smoke doesn’t need to directly talk to any of them. I’m sure you can allow something like this, right?”

Smoke gave no response, but he also didn’t say no.

Not to be outdone by the gray Maneator, Thyrsus quickly added on to what Weise was saying.

“I’m not 100% sure but I think a guild can also have special rules similar to what Smoke created for the Non Aggression Pact members. If we apply that then that should give everyone whose apprehensive about the other Sonstwelters some assurance.”

Smoke nodded and said.

“Fine, I guess I can do that.”

The private army members who wanted to create a guild clapped their hands while those that opposed the idea remained stoic.

Smoke looked around the war room and thought that surviving against Duke Burmistrz was doable, he just didn’t know how to do it.

The DarkElf also had one more information that he hasn’t told anyone yet. From his time in the labyrinth, he found the location of the ‘Witches of Wysteria’ in one of the books in the Tenebris library.

The witches were the ones that placed a curse on Sierra when she visited Repormatl village. Their location was said to be in the desolate lands to the west, Veneficatl Valley.


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