"Gulp." Someone swallowed.
Though the alliance was a grand army, they couldn't stifle the sense of unease that swept through their ranks, and the sound of someone swallowing could be easily heard.
"They're coming," someone muttered.
The alliance's warriors were staring at the north.
The monster army was advancing southward.
The Helpara were one-eyed, human sized poisonous toadmen. They were cruel monsters that stretched out their sticky tongues and devoured people in a single bite. Helpara also possessed extremely potent venom.
Mukargas were flying mosquitoes that were larger than humans. Their gaunt, thin legs were covered with fur, which was absolutely disgusting.
They specialized in controlling dead bodies! Thus, they were called Devil Mosquitoes.
Last but not least, the Volcaine! They were the most dangerous of the three.
Their thick stomachs were ripped open, revealing a wide open mouth, and their faces were like that of a demon, epitomizing wickedness.
They also had four legs and four arms, all of which were as thick as a temple's pillars. Their bodies were huge, about 5 meters in size.
It was said that they had killed the most non-human species in the west.
The Evil God Worshippers, covered in masks and black robes, swung their whips and traveled alongside the monsters.
There were two monster birds flying above the monster army. Two Evil God Worshippers rode atop them; they were apparently the leaders of the monster army.
"Mm. To think that I'd see such a horrendous sight." Balduk gulped. The horrific tragedy that they'd only heard about would be repeated today.
"We still have to stand and fight," Doran said. He no longer insisted on attacking Ankaro Fortress. Their main priority now was to destroy the monster army and come out alive.
"But why are they here?" Mumugul asked.
"It's one of two things. Due to the battle between the trolls and the Anti-Ingrit Alliance, the west has weakened substantially. So they've either been waiting for this opportunity, or..." Doran said.
"Or?" Mumugul urged him to continue.
"They've joined forces with the trolls. This is the worst possible scenario."
"Mm." Balduk's expression darkened even further. That would indeed be the worst possible scenario. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
"We have to fight assuming that it's the worst possible scenario," Mumugul said strongly.
"Indeed. We have to assume that the trolls coming out of Ankaro Fortress are our enemies too." Doran nodded his head.
"All forces, get ready for battle!" Mumugul yelled.
"Get ready for battle!"
"Get ready for battle!"
Balduk and Doran yelled.
The Elvish Warriors shot arrows, and the Elementalists summoned the elemental spirits. The Orc Shamans raised their staffs into the air and cast spells. The mercenaries did a little bit of each; they threw projectile weapons, shot arrows, or cast spells.
Bam, bam, bam!
Whizz, whizz, whizz!
The alliance's long-range attacks descended upon the monster army's vanguard.
The monsters let out a horrendous cry.
The Volcaines' stomachs opened, firing blazing fireballs at the alliance forces.
"It's fire! Water! Water!"
Those hit by the fireballs screamed.
The Elementalists summoned the Water Spirit, while the Orc Shamans cast healing spells.
"Keep up the ranged attacks!" Doran yelled.
"Long-range attacks!" Balduk shouted.
The alliance kept up their long-range assault. The Volcaines did the exact same.
As this was going on, the monster army crept closer and closer to the alliance forces.
"Commanders, lead the warriors! Us orcs are invincible," Mumugul yelled.
"Nigel Knight Order, gather in the middle. If we fight as one, we'll win!" the Elvish Warrior, Kuyol, yelled.
Doran left commanding to him, and left to engage the Volcaines.
Volcaines were formidable monsters. Only someone extremely strong could hope to fight them. Thus, Doran couldn't afford to sit back and lead his troops.
"Gold rank mercenaries, deal with the Mukargas and Volcaines. Everyone else, deal with the Helparas!" Balduk ordered.
"Oooh!" In an attempt to overcome their fear, the mercenaries cried out, and then dashed towards the monsters.
The alliance versus the monster army!
The battle had only just begun.
* * *
The first battle was short. In fact, it ended instantly.
The Mukargas, Helparas, and Volcaines were horrendous monsters. Even so, the alliance's warriors fought bravely.
The Evil God Worshippers used all sorts of wicked spells and mental attacks, and attacked their whips too. Nevertheless, the alliance's warriors didn't give up.
But once the trolls came rushing out of Ankaro Fortress, they couldn't withstand the combined might of the trolls and the monster army.
"It's the worst possible scenario," Doran said.
"We have no chance," Mumugul said.
"Our best option is to retreat," Balduk said. Both Doran and Mumugul nodded their heads.
"Escape the battlefield as fast as you can!"
Mumugul, Doran, and Balduk simultaneously yelled.
"Uaaahk! Run away!"
"Don't abandon me!"
The alliance's warriors began to run in every direction.
"Haha, don't let a single one of them get away!" the Troll Great Chieftain, Razul, said crazily.
The beast and smile mask men quietly watched the battlefield from atop their monster birds.
"The Nigel Knight Order will stay behind for now!"
"We have to buy time for our orc brothers to escape!"
"Gold rank mercenaries, show them why you're so expensive!"
The Nigel Knight Order, the gold rank mercenaries, and the most elite Orc Warriors stayed behind to buy time for their allies to escape.
Despite that, they incurred several casualties.
They'd lost an exceptional Elvish Warrior, Kibry, as well as Butal, who was widely considered to be the next generation Orc Supreme Commander.
The panther-faced gold rank mercenary, Grato, died with his entire body aflame.
Countless others had died as well. It was truly a brutal and horrendous result to their first battle.
What's worse, the Devil Mosquitoes, the Mukarga, had gained control of their fallen brothers' bodies.
Anyhow, the remnants of the Anti-Ingrit Alliance completely left the Ingrit Plains, where the Ankaro Fortress was located.
They gathered at the neutral zone, Kasten, and reformed their battle line.
The monster army stayed near Ankaro Fortress, and the Ingrit Trolls remained in place as well.
However, everyone was well aware of the facts. That this was the calm before the storm. An even larger battle would occur soon.
* * *
Jae Woo called Jin Cheol.
"I liked the footage. However, I'm not in charge of the program covering the western battle. Another producer is, and they've already signed a contract with another player," Jin Cheol said calmly.
"Mm. Is that so?" Jae Woo said disappointedly. 'This is bad. Without him, I won't have anyone to compete against Hye Rim...'
"Yes. I could ask if they're interested, but they probably won't be able to offer you what you want, as they've already signed a contract with someone else."
"Well, I guess it can't be helped."
"But if you get your hands on some great footage, then please let me know. As you know, I always offer you my best."
"Of course. Then I'll talk to you later."
"Yes. My door is always open."
Jae Woo hung up and briefly thought things over.
'Should I contact VG?'
VG, or Virtual Games, was the #2 ranked gaming network.
'Should I try selling the footage to them, and make them compete with TGN?'
But he soon shook his head.
He didn't know anyone at VG. Not only that, but they may already have some footage like GBS.
'In the end, my only choice is to go with Hye Rim... I wonder how much she's willing to give me.'
Jae Woo sent Hye Rim a brief message, saying, 'Let's meet.'. Hye Rim immediately sent him a reply, telling him to give her a time, place, and date.
A few days later...
Jae Woo met Hye Rim at a nearby cafe.
"Have you seen the footage?" Jae Woo asked. He'd already sent footage of him fighting the trolls and the monster army.
"How was it?"
"It was good. Especially your fight with the Troll Champion, Nergal. People will be fascinated by the appearance of the Evil God Worshippers too."
"Is that so?" Jae Woo grinned.
"Yes, but I'm also aware that the other networks aren't going to buy this footage from you." Hye Rim smiled back.
"Mm." Jae Woo's expression stiffened.
"News travels fast."
"If you don't catch on quick, then you'll never survive in your field."
Hye Rim already knew that both GBS and VG weren't interested in his footage.
"Tch." Kang Oh clicked his tongue.
"Last time, I told you I'd give you whatever you wanted for your footage, but... That doesn't mean I'm just going to roll over for you," Hye Rim said firmly.
"Tch. Then tell me your price."
"Alright. Let's negotiate." Hye Rim smiled.
After that, Jae Woo sold both clips of him fighting the troll army and the monster army for 30 million won ($30,000 USD).
"If you have some other great footage, then please let me know." Hye Rim left looking satisfied.
It wasn't a bad deal for Jae Woo. 30 million won wasn't a small sum by any stretch of the imagination.
But he couldn't stop thinking about the 'what ifs'. What if Jin Cheol was free to compete for the footage? If he was, then he could've sold his footage for so much more! He soothed his stomach ache with cold water.
* * *
A peaceful tribe, the Mer, just had their village razed to the ground.
They were skilled in agriculture, not combat.
On the other hand, the troll/monster army was extremely powerful and horrific.
"Capture them. We need them to create more monsters," an Evil God Worshipper said.
"Gyaahk, let me live!"
The Mer were dragged to Ankaro Fortress, their hands bound with rope. After that, they were forced to undergo intense torture and were offered up to create more monsters.
The villages nearby experienced the same thing.
"This time, it's the Innar," Turkavan said, looking down from the castle walls. He saw lines of prisoners being dragged into the fortress.
"I feel like... something's gone wrong," Shakara said. His forehead had been creased for quite some time.
"I heard rumors that the Great Chieftain slaughters the prisoners every night," Turkavan said.
"You don't really think that the Great Chieftain would..."
"It doesn't matter whether the rumors are true or not. The fact of the matter is that the Great Chieftain has changed. And I've heard that anyone who goes against him is sent off to the Evil God Worshippers."
"No one knows where Elder Vishoum is after he publicly criticized the Great Chieftain."
"This is bad. Really bad. How will I face our ancestors when I die?" Turkavan groaned.
"..." Shakara had nothing more to say. He felt like he was having a terrible nightmare, but this was no dream.
"Be careful what you say. The Great Chieftain won't spare you just because you're a champion." Turkavan patted his shoulder and left.
Shakara wanted to plug his ears.
He could almost hear the victims' unending screams from not just the Ankaro Fortress, but from across the grasslands as well.
However, he couldn't just look away and cover his ears. He gritted his teeth and tightly gripped his spear.
'We can't keep going on like this.'
Shakara would correct everything, even if he had to give up his own life to do so.Previous Chapter Next Chapter