Chapter 386. The Beginning of the Ecle War

Deep within the Empire Guild.

"What about the plan to assassinate the 3rd prince?" Empire's vice-captain, Jegal, asked.

The civil war had occurred due to the crown prince's death. The 1st prince had died from an accident, and the 2nd and 3rd princes fought for succession.

The Empire Guild supported the 2nd prince, so their enemy was the 3rd prince.

"We've deployed Kraal and our assassins. We can execute the plan at a moment's notice," Jegal's subordinate said immediately.

"They could try assassinating the 2nd prince too, so prepare accordingly," Jegal said.

"Understood."

"Ah, what about brainwashing the 2nd prince?"

The Empire Guild hadn't entered the civil war just for a position or a reward.

Their goal was the Arabas Kingdom itself!

They planned on making the 2nd prince their puppet, making him king, and taking control of the entire kingdom.

"It's proceeding very secretly."

"Be very careful."

"I'll keep that in mind."

"What about our squads?"

"They defeated the 3rd prince's troops, and are pushing towards the enemy's bases. They haven't suffered defeat yet."

"Good. Contact me immediately if anything happens."

"Yes, sir."

"Go."

A short while after he left, another man came in. It was Belmor, the one who'd instigated the Ecle Palace conflict.

"I heard that the Hercules Guild mobilized. Good work."

"It was nothing."

He was the source of the rumor that the Hercules Guild should be removed from the 5 great guilds.

Belmor had also made it so that information on the Witch's Forest would eventually make its way to the Hercules Guild.

"Now the other guilds won't be able to stay put," Belmor said.

"Of course. They can't just sit back and watch as the Hercules Guild takes Ecle Palace."

"However, Helena gave the Ecle Palace to the Cerberus Alliance. That wasn't part of our plan."

"It's fine. That'll just make the conflict even larger."

Originally, the Cerberus Alliance would've disappeared on its own. However, by giving the soul dungeon to them, the Cerberus Alliance had been reborn stronger than ever; it was about as powerful as one of the 5 guilds at that.

Hercules, Cerberus, Storm, Breaker, and Steel Heart. The fight among them would certainly be worth watching.

'In the meantime, we'll seize the Arabas Kingdom. If we capture Baiyan and Dellas too, then it'll become a true empire.'

The empire would likely be called Dukeram, after the Empire Guild's leader. The first emperor would obviously be Dukeram as well.

If that happened, then no one would be able to stop the Empire Guild!

Jegal smiled.

His long awaited plans were progressing smoothly, and it wouldn't be long before his ambitions were fully realized.

* * *

The battle between the Hercules Guild and the Cerberus Alliance lasted for three days. However, Jairus still retained ownership of the soul dungeon.

"Hoo, hoo. Seeing those Hercules bastards moaning and groaning is such a welcome sight." Black Sword's leader, Lee Tan, smiled.

"Indeed. I never liked how arrogant the 5 great guilds were." White Lion's leader, Lion Heart, nodded his head.

"They were looking down on us. But they won't be able to do that anymore. We'll stand alongside the 5 great guilds from now on," Jairus said heavily.

"You're referring to your plan of combining our guilds into the Cerberus Guild," Lion Heart said.

"Yes. It'll be no different; the three of us will control the guild. This is a chance to absorb all of the intermediate guilds' forces and increase our power, wouldn't you say?"

"I'm fine with the three of us leading the guild. But we'll have to have a guildmaster. Who will be the guildmaster?" Lee Tan asked.

"We're the guildmaster. Us three. Why else would we have taken the name, Cerberus." Jairus smiled.

They would start as three, but there would only be one guildmaster in the end. Him!

"Hmm." Lee Tan stroked his chin.

"I heard that Ecle Palace only offers one mysterious scroll per month. It's way too little," Lion Heart said.

"If we expand the dungeon, then the rewards will increase. There are plenty of offerings outside that'll give us a ton of repel points."

"I see. The Cerberus Guild, huh..."

"Think about the Steel Heart Guild. They were originally five separate guilds, but they joined forces and became one of the 5 great guilds. That's possible for us as well."

"I'll think about it," Lion Heart said. He also had his own plan. 

'The final victor is the true victor.'

At the moment, everything was going according to Jairus's plan. However, no one knew what the future would entail! Perhaps he would control the Cerberus Guild as its sole ruler!

"Mm." Lee Tan thought quite similarly to the two.

It was every guildmaster's dream to become one of the 5 great guilds, and then become the greatest guild. Of course, people never shared power.

"I'll think about it too. Ah, but it's on the condition that we manage to keep the Ecle Palace till the very end," Lee Tan said.

"Of course. We have to protect Ecle Palace no matter what. With the scrolls and all of our support, at least one of us has to enter the Numbers," Jairus smiled and said. Lee Tan and Lion Heart smiled too. They all believed that one person would be them.

However, life didn't go as you wanted, or as you planned.

We would just have to wait and see. Whether they were actually capable of protecting Ecle Palace till the very end.

* * *

"How many production workers does our guild have? Think about how much trouble they have to go through to increase their proficiency; they have to sew over and over again, and hammer away day after day. Isn't that so pitiful!? Gentlemen, we have to obtain the mysterious scroll. Is that understood?" A giant bodied man, who was over 2 meters tall, said from atop a dais.

His name was Arthand!

He was also known as God Hand. He was the most skilled blacksmith, tailor, metalworker, and leather crafter among the playerbase.

Arthand was also the leader of the Steel Heart Guild, which was one of the 5 great guilds!

"Yes, sir!" Steel Heart's elites simultaneously yelled. Their equipment shone blindingly bright.

Steel Heart gathered the greatest production workers. Thus, their members were always wearing the best of equipment.

"Let's go!"

"Oooh!"

Steel Heart's elites left their home base, Tryon City, in lines through the center road. It was truly a magnificent sight.

* * *

There was a giant mansion in Latnia City. This was the Storm Guild's headquarters in Despia. 

"Shouldn't we go to Ecle Palace too? It's our chance to have a good fight." The Spear King, Hernandez, stroked his weapon, and stared at his vice-captain beside him.

It was clear that his body itched for a good fight.

"Why? There's nothing to be gained there." Han Seol widened her eyes. She was clearly saying, 'Don't even think about it!'.

"What do you mean? There's the mysterious scroll!"

"What about it?"

"What about it!? Do you have any idea how valuable that thing is?"

"I know how valuable it is. I watched Helena's ridiculous performance too."

To think that there was a Mage who could wield fire, water, wind, lightning, earth, and even illusion magic so proficiently. 

Her character was completely busted.

If they could get their hands on the scroll, then a 2nd or 3rd Helena could be born without much difficulty.

The Spear King, Hernandez, could also use those scrolls to try and ascend the ranks.

"So shouldn't we get involved? We're not just any guild; we're one of the 5 great guilds. We can't just let the other guilds take it."

If I can't have it, then you can't either. That was what the competition between the 5 great guilds was like.

"It stinks," Han Seol said.

"What does?"

"It smells so unnatural. Someone made this happen from behind the scenes."

"Who?"

"Who else? It had to be the Empire Guild. More specifically, it had to be Jegal."

"Why?"

"They want to take control of the Arabas Kingdom."

"Huh?"

"Why else would the Empire Guild have 'empire' in its name? They clearly want to form an empire."

"So what?"

"Following the people's revolution and the Altein Empire's collapse, the free cities put several systems in place to prevent a dictatorship. Thus, even if the Empire Guild has the power, they aren't capable of seizing the free cities. If the people band together and incite another people's revolution, then the Empire Guild will have to give up. On the other hand, the three eastern kingdoms are still ruled by kings. The people there are used to dictators, so if they manage to control the leader there, then they can do whatever they want with the kingdom."

"Hoh. Then should we aim for one of the three kingdoms too?" Hernandez's eyes shined.

Han Seol shook her head. "The Empire Guild was only able to do it because of the civil war. Unfortunately, the Arabas Kingdom is the only one undergoing a civil war."

"Then let's aim for the Arabas Kingdom. The Empire Guild is backing the 2nd prince, right? Let's support the 3rd prince!"

"That's impossible."

"Why!?"

"The Empire Guild planned for this, and prepared accordingly. Perhaps it was their actions that caused the civil war in the first place. On the other hand, we're completely unprepared. If we were to fight in the civil war as is, then we'd just be used and thrown away."

"Tch."

"There's a high chance that the Arabas Kingdom will come under the control of the Empire Guild. If we really wanted to stop them, then our best course of action would've been to gather the other 3 great guilds, and support the 3rd prince. However, the Ecle Palace stopped that from happening."

"Hmm, then should we try messing with them while they're busy with the civil war? We probably won't be able to stop them from taking control of the Arabas Kingdom, but we should at least hurt them a little bit."

"It's much better than getting involved with Ecle Palace."

"Alright, good. Then let's steal their best dungeons."

"Here you go." Han Seol passed him a document from her inventory. It contained a list of the Empire Guild's dungeons, including their names and their locations.

"Oh, you knew this would happen?"

"Let's hit them where it hurts."

"Alright."

Hernandez and Han Seol grinned.

That same day...

The Storm Guild's elites attacked 'Kainshell', one of the dungeons under the Empire Guild's control.

* * *

An intimidating lion man sat askew within a giant chair. He had a bitten apple in his hand.

Black Lion, Raon!

Numbers rank 3!

It was none other than him.

"Steel Heart is on the move?"

The Breaker Guild's executives were gathered around him. Of course, Snow Flower was there too.

"Yes," the Breaker Guild's advisor, Brand, said.

"What about the Storm Guild?"

"They stole a dungeon from the Empire Guild," Brand immediately replied.

"So they've chosen to go after the Empire Guild. It's a good decision."

"If we didn't have bigger fish to fry, then we could've gone after them too."

"This was probably Han Seol's idea, right? I wish she was on our side."

"She's an extremely loyal person. If you want her, then you'll have to take over the Storm Guild."

"Well, I'm sure we'll get our chance."

"Of course."

"Then I guess it's time for us to get a move on too."

"That's right."

"What's our goal?"

"Reducing the other guilds' power as much as possible."

"Exactly. The mysterious scroll or Ecle Palace doesn't matter. We'll use this opportunity to reduce our competitors' power as much as possible, and increase our own."

"Some of the alliance's forces have already agreed to fight under our banner. We've established a communication network between them and us too."

Raon clenched his fist, which was covered in black fur and sharp claws.

Bam!

The apple in his hand burst, and fruit juices flew everywhere.

"We'll crush Steel Heart and Hercules."

With this, the 5 great guilds mobilized, each with their own aspirations and goals. Of course, the 5 great guilds weren't the only ones that were on the move.

The 5 great guilds' followers, the intermediate guilds, the small guilds, and countless players that wanted to become famous or had some other reason to join, either joined the 5 great guilds or worked independently.

This was the beginning of what would one day be called the 'Ecle War'.

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