The first battle in the Ekrast Plains between the Raon Alliance and the Hegang Alliance ended in a draw. It was only natural. It wasn't a war that would end in a single day or two.
Once the battle ended, Hercules' leader, Shion, gathered the Hegang Alliance's leaders.
"What were our casualties?" Arthand asked.
"We lost 20,000 soldiers. Of course, they revived and returned to their squads," Paton replied. He was acting as the Hegang Alliance's advisor.
"What about their losses?"
"Around 15 to 20,000."
"So we took a bit more damage than they did." Arthand, who was over 2 meters tall, clenched his fist.
"You can't look at it from a pure numbers standpoint. What matters is how much damage our crucial forces sustained."
A battle among players that couldn't be completely killed! Though it appeared like a battle without end, it was actually the opposite. Not only would dying players incur a debuff, but their level and skill proficiency would take a huge hit. Thus, each battle would weaken both sides.
At some point, the scales would tip in one side's favor, and that's when the final victor would be determined. In other words, their most important task was reducing their losses, especially with regards to their most crucial forces.
"Then who took more damage on that front?" Arthand asked.
"It's about even."
"Then our core forces are on even footing with theirs. Though in terms of sheer size, they're slightly larger than us."
"Indeed. However, their size will prove to be an issue," Paton said.
"It probably will."
"So I have a suggestion."
"What is it?" Shion, who'd been quietly listening in, said.
"The Empire Guild is participating in the Arabas Kingdom's civil war, and the Hercules Guild, Steel Heart Guild, and the Breaker Guild are all here in the Ekrast Plains. The last of the 5 great guilds, the Storm Guild, hasn't joined either side. We have to drag them to our side," Paton said.
If the Storm Guild allied with the Hegang Alliance, then the balance of power would shift in their favor.
"Hmm, the Storm Guild, huh. Aren't they fighting the Empire Guild right now?" Shion asked.
"Their dispute ended quietly. It ended with the Storm Guild stealing 12 of their dungeons."
"They took a lot away from them," Arthand said.
"They were too greedy. Once the civil war ends, the Empire Guild will launch a counteroffensive. They pay back twice what they're owed. That's their motto."
"They're probably preparing for the Empire Guild as we speak, so why would they join us?" Shion asked.
"That's how we'll get them. If they attack the Empire Guild at a later date, then we'll help them. In exchange, they have to join the Hegang Alliance," Paton said strongly.
"They won't fall for lip service like that. Hernandez might, but Han Seol wouldn't." Shion shook his head.
"That's why we need to sign a Sabra's Contract. It will be a contract between Mr. Shion, Mr. Arthand, and Mr. Hernandez. It should state something along the lines of 'If another guild attacks, we'll help no matter what'."
"Paton, you're suggesting that Hercules, Steel Heart, and Storm work together even after the war is over," Arthand said.
"That's right. With the Storm Guild's help, we'll defeat the Breaker Guild and the Cerberus Alliance. Their forces will be absorbed by us, and then the Hegang Alliance will destroy the Empire Guild next."
"It's quite an enticing offer. But there are too many cooks in the kitchen."
Arthand, Shion, and Hernandez. None of them could work under another.
Thus, the three leaders would only look out for themselves, causing internal discord, which would ultimately split the alliance apart.
"That's why I'm against dragging the Storm Guild into this. And when this war is over, the Hegang Alliance will be disbanded no matter what," Arthand said firmly.
"I'm against it too. Even if we get Hernandez to help us, the three of us won't be able to work together," Shion said.
The Hegang Alliance's top leaders were against it, so Paton's idea had gone up in smoke.
"Understood. At the very least, we need to stop the Storm Guild from joining the Raon Alliance."
"I will arrange a secret meeting with the Raon Alliance."
"Where we'll agree not to get the Storm Guild involved," Arthand said.
"Would they agree to those terms?"
"They will. They're the ones with the advantage. They'll want to get rid of an unknown variable, which can turn the tides against them."
"Hmm, then let's assume neither side gets the Storm Guild. Can we defeat the Raon Alliance? As you said, they have a slight advantage over us."
"We have to strike at their weakness."
"The Cerberus Alliance."
"So..." Paton explained the plan in detail.
"I like it."
Shion and Arthand simultaneously slapped their knees.
"When the plan's ready, we'll agree not to involve the Storm Guild in this war. And when the Cerberus Alliance crumbles, we'll launch a full-scale assault on the Raon Alliance."
"Let's do that."
The meeting between the Hegang Alliance's leaders was over.
* * *
Once the meeting ended, Shion entered his room and rested. However, someone interrupted him. No, make that several people.
"Mr. Shion, I have something to tell you."
"Mr. Muhorang! And the rest of you."
Hwarang's Muhorang stood in the center. Hercules' high ranker, Excal, the Oracle Guild's Otler, and the leaders of Sea Palace and Tyster also stood there side by side.
"What's going on?" Shion asked.
"Our soul dungeon, Faussman's Laboratory, has been taken from us," Muhorang said.
"Alkartan's Nest has been taken too," Otler said.
"Our guild's soul dungeon, as well as Tyster's soul dungeon, have been taken as well," Sea Palace's guildmaster said.
"In a single day? Who did this? No, what group did this? Was it the Storm Guild?"
Shion thought of the Storm Guild first, who'd just wrapped up their battle with the Empire Guild. Though the Empire Guild possessed great power and influence, they were currently involved in the Arabas Kingdom's civil war.
"Then what guild was it?"
"Not what. Who," Excal, who'd been quiet, interjected. "Kang Oh," he added.
"Kang Oh? Why him?" Shion tilted his head. Kang Oh referred to Predator Kang Oh. To his knowledge, Kang Oh had no favorable or unfavorable connections with anyone. So why was he attacking them?
"I don't know. What I do know is that he was able to steal all of our soul dungeons in a single day," Muhorang grimaced and said.
"Impossible. It should take at least a few days just to find the hidden dungeon."
Shion had no way of knowing that Kang Oh's Hyper Intuition was a form of ESP.
"Information on our soul dungeons had to have been leaked."
"The locations of our soul dungeons is top-secret. How could the information on all of them be leaked simultaneously?"
"It's not impossible," Otler said.
"Hmm. So you're saying that you lost your soul dungeons to Kang Oh. In just one day."
"He wasn't alone. Kang Oh was with the Wind Archer, Sephiro, and an unknown female knight."
"Didn't Kang Oh fight in the Sacred Duel?"
A Sacred Duel was a one-on-one fight.
"He's strong. Overwhelmingly so," Excal, the high ranker that specialized in serrated knives, said.
"Of course he is. He's not part of a large guild, yet he's rank 4. He's on the same level as Helena."
"What will we do now?" Muhorang asked for the group. Ultimately, they had all gathered here to ask Shion this very question.
Shion bit his finger. Whenever he had something to think about, he'd bite his fingers. It was a bad habit of his.
Everyone else just waited for him to speak.
'We have to do what the Empire Guild did against the Storm Guild.' Shion finished organizing his thoughts.
"Give up on the dungeons, and focus entirely on the war."
"But...!" Otler said angrily. It hurt to lose the dungeon's rewards. To think he'd ask him to give that up!
"If we lose this war, then the soul dungeons are the last of our worries. Our guild might be completely destroyed. But if we win the war, then we'll receive a ton of war reparations. Plus, we'll be able to take all of Raon's soul dungeons too. Ah, and not to forget!"
Shion paused for a second, and continued, "When the war is over, the Hercules Guild's elites will take care of Kang Oh for you. Like how we took care of Helena. No matter what!" Shion's eyes glittered. He wouldn't let anyone get in his way.
"As you command." Excal immediately bowed his head.
"Hoo, I'll do as you ask, Mr. Shion." Muhorang accepted his terms.
With this, Oracle, Sea Palace, and Tyster had no choice but to accept. They couldn't beat Kang Oh on their own, after all.
"Keep this in mind. Aside from winning the war, nothing else matters!" Shion stared at them strongly and said.
Losing one or two dungeons wasn't the issue here. This war would determine their guilds' future.
Once they left, Shion bit his fingers once more.
'Kang Oh, Kang Oh, Kang Oh...' What exactly was his goal?
* * *
Kang Oh kept stealing soul dungeons from the Hercules Guild's allies.
There were more than twenty guilds allied with the Hercules Guild. And Kang Oh's party went through eight dungeons that they suspected were soul dungeons.
Six of them were soul dungeons.
He stole Alkartan's Nest and Faussman's Laboratory from Oracle and Hwarang.
Kang Oh took Atlas's Garden from Sea Palace, as well as Tram Jungle's Pyramid from Tyster! Finally, he took Whirlpool Cave and Green Ant Tunnel too!
He stole every last one of them!
Normally, the Hercules Guild would intervene. After all, someone was taking their source of income away from them.
However, they didn't have the luxury of sending troops to stop Kang Oh. After all, they were currently busy fighting a huge war with the fate of their guild on the line.
"We're done with the allied guilds." Kang Oh dusted off his hands.
Hercules' allies may have more soul dungeons, but he didn't have any information on them, so he couldn't steal them.
'I'll use these soul dungeons well.'
Kang Oh recalled Shion's face on TV. One day, these soul dungeons would be his undoing. They would become a knife in his back.
"Are we done now?" Sephiro asked, looking exhausted. He still wasn't ok with stealing the soul dungeons from guilds allied to the Hercules Guild.
"Done? We've only just begun."
"Just begun? You're not... You're not, are you?" Sephiro desperately stared at him. 'Please say I'm wrong!'
"You guessed right. Now we're going to steal Hercules' soul dungeons." Kang Oh grinned.
He knew of four dungeons that he suspected were soul dungeons.
"Are you out of your mind? If we do that, then the Hercules Guild will keep coming after us. No, they're already going to do that. Haa." Sephiro couldn't help but sigh. His dream of living a long life had disappeared into the clouds.
"They're going to come after us anyway."
"You're a target too, Mr. Sephiro."
"Haa, why are you doing this to me!?"
"So we have to use this chance to completely erase Hercules from the face of the map."
"Excuse me? What are you..." Sephiro was shocked. 'What are you talking about?'
"Your plan wasn't to steal their soul dungeons and hurt them that way?" Sephiro urgently asked.
"That's just the prep stage. My plan will come to fruition when the Hercules Guild is completely destroyed."
"Is that even possible?"
"It is. Isn't that right?" Kang Oh glanced at Asu. He'd given her a little taste of his and Helena's plan, so she knew what he was planning.
"Yes!" Asu beamed.
Kang Oh just grinned.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Apologies for the delay. I slept way longer than I thought I would after a 12 hour shift. I hope you have a good weekend!