Chapter 396. War's Climax (1)

"I have two pieces of good news!" Paton, the Hegang Alliance's advisor and Shion's right-hand man, raised his voice.

"Good news? What is it?" Arthand's eyes gleamed as he looked at him.  

"We've established a secret deal with the Raon Alliance. Neither side will try to reel in the Storm Guild!"

With this, they had eliminated one unknown variable.

"What else?"

He had definitely said 'two' pieces of good news.

"They joined us."

"Hoh."

"What did you offer them?" Shion asked.

"I gave them two of our best SS-rank items, and a 10,000 gold scroll. I also agreed to give them ownership of Ecle Palace once the war ends, and that we'd acknowledge them as one of the 5 great guilds. If the Hegang Alliance wins, we'll provide them a portion of the loot and the reparations as well."

"They wanted all of that? Those greedy bastards!" Arthand spat out.

"Haha, they joined us because there's more to gain. They have no sense of loyalty," Paton said.

"You're not going to give them what they want, are you?" Shion asked.

"I'm not giving up the Ecle Palace," Arthand said, brooking no argument over the matter.

"Of course not. We'll get rid of them once they've served their purpose." Paton smiled wickedly. 

"Hoh."

"They seemed confident that they wouldn't be used and discarded, but they're so mired in greed that they couldn't assess the situation properly. One of the 5 great guilds? What a joke."

"That bodes well for us. That they have people on their side like that." Arthand smiled.

"They promised to betray the Raon Alliance, right?" Shion asked.

"The day after tomorrow."

"The day after tomorrow... That's when we'll finish things."

"That's right."

"Mr. Arthand."

"Go ahead."

"On that day, we're going to use everything at our disposal, so..."

"We'll do the same."

"When the war is over, let's negotiate for ownership of the Ecle Palace, rather than immediately start killing each other."

The Hegang Alliance was essentially led by two male lions. A giant, powerful prey was in their way, so they agreed to work together, but once that prey was killed, it was clear that they'd aim their fangs at each other.

Shion really didn't want that to happen, so he asked that they negotiate first.

"Fine." Arthand nodded his head.

They had already taken heavy losses. The prospect of fighting again after defeating the Raon Alliance wasn't very appealing to either side.

"To the Hegang Alliance's absolute victory!" Shion raised his glass.

"To victory!"

* * *

After the meeting, Shion returned to his room and was given bad news.

"Furon Underground Cave, King Vitan's Tomb, and Tallane Charnel House have all been taken from us!?" Shion slammed his fist onto the table.

"I have no excuse."

Lacus, Light Rock, and Dulvanetta, who'd all lost to Kang Oh, bowed their heads.

"Hoo. No, it's not your fault. It can't be helped. You were against Kang Oh. He's on the same level as Helena after all," Shion said.

"It's difficult to beat him one-on-one. Once this war is over, I'll show him the true power of the Hercules Guild. Of course, we'll reclaim all of our dungeons too."

"Yes, sir!" the Hercules Guild's high rankers replied as one.

"Do your best in the battle tomorrow and the day after. Failure means death."

He was slightly exaggerating here, but it was true that whoever lost this war would take considerable losses. After all, they would have to pay extreme war reparations.

On the flip side, the victors would profit significantly.

'We may become stronger than the Empire Guild.'

Storm, Breaker, Steel Heart, and Hercules all had one clear goal: to become the strongest guild! 

On the other hand, preserving their spot at the top was the Empire Guild's goal.

'The Hercules Guild will come out of this stronger than ever!'

In the past, when he and Lacus were part of the Numbers, the Hercules Guild was strong enough to stand side by side with the Empire Guild.

'Let's regain our past glory!' 

Shion's eyes shined with ambition.

* * *

The next day, the two opposing forces didn't fight as if they'd come to a prior agreement. Not only had they agreed to keep the Storm Guild out of this, but they had also agreed to a one day ceasefire. 

While it was a game, it didn't change the fact that several players had spent more than 10 days engaged in an intense conflict. Thus, there was nothing more valuable than a day of rest for them. 

They rested inside or outside of the game. It was entirely up to them. 

It'd been a long time since the sun had set over the Ekrast Plains without a drop of blood.

However, the Raon Alliance and the Hegang Alliance knew full well that the battle would become the most brutal and intense that it's ever been following this period of rest!

And finally...!

It was a bright morning.

"Don't let down your guard. Today's the most important day!"

"Let's do our best!"

"Let's do it!"

The top executives of the Raon Alliance and the Hegang Alliance focused on getting their troops' minds right and raising morale.

In no time at all, it was midday.

"Are we ready?" Raon asked Brand.

"Completely. Today, Saladin, her, and her followers will be joining us," Brand said.

"Good. Distribute the great magic scrolls to our top executives."

The Breaker Guild had prepared these great magic scrolls as an ace up their sleeve.

"Yes, sir."

"Tell them to only use them when they can do maximum damage!"

"Understood."

"Any issues with Cerberus?"

"Probably not."

Brand had way too many responsibilities as the alliance's advisor. He needed to design their battle formation, solve issues that their allied guilds had, figure out their enemies' movements, prepare their trump cards so they could be used at the right time, etc.!

Thus, he hadn't taken a closer look at Cerberus.

"Probably?" Raon furrowed his brow.

"I apologize. I'll check again."

"Hurry up."

Then...

"The Hegang Alliance is approaching!"

"They're coming!"

The vanguard yelled from the front.

Thus far, the Hegang Alliance had fought defensively, yet now they were openly advancing.

"Stay here and do your duty," Raon ordered.

"Understood," Brand said.

The Black Lion, Raon, rode on a giant rhinoceros, and went to the front.

Until now, he'd been commanding his troops from the rear, but today was D-Day. Thus, he intended on fighting on the frontlines, and using his incredible charisma to bolster his troops' morale.

"It's Raon!"

"Raon! Raon! Raon!"

The troops' cries gradually got louder.

Raon came to the forefront, and raised his right fist into the air. Then, the troops stopped chanting his name.

"You worked hard thus far." Raon's voice rang out. "So let's finish this quick, and then go and get some lunch!"

Raon's charisma was tremendous. But him speaking amicably to his troops, as though they were his close friends, only made them more excited and cheer even louder.

"Uooooh!"

"Raon! Raon! Raon!"

Their cheers resounded throughout the Ekrast Plains.

Seeing that, Brand and the Breaker Guild's executives looked at him with respect.

As expected of our guildmaster!

"All forces... charge!" 

The Raon Alliance advanced forward. 

Thud! Thud! Thud!

A huge army ran across the battlefield, causing the earth to shake.

This war, which would one day be called the Ecles War, had entered its climax.

* * *

"Fire!"

The Hegang Alliance attacked first with Steel Heart's cannons. They were the same eight cannons that the Engineer Squad had managed to save from the Lava Squad!

"They're coming!"

"Barrier!"

"Shut up and dodge!"

The cannonballs were too fast. They weren't something you could dodge. 

Bam!

Boom!

Once the cannonballs made contact with either people or the ground, they would release the spell contained within, sweeping away anyone in the vicinity.

However, Arthand couldn't help but feel disappointed; their firepower was much lower now that they only had eight cannons left.

"Grr, if it weren't for that damn Magma!" Arthand recalled Magma and gritted his teeth.

"Our finest, the Steel Sword Squad, the Leopard Squad, and the Lava Squad, forward!" Raon yelled, and the Breaker Guild's three squads popped out of their battle formation.

"Cerberus's three heads, Jairus, White Lion, and Black Sword, forward!"

The three organizations, led by Jairus, Lion Heart, and Lee Tan, followed behind them.

"I want the Steel Sword Squad and Jairus in the middle, the Leopard Squad and White Lion on the right, and the Lava Squad and Black Sword on the left!"

They followed Raon's orders to the letter.

"Charge!"

"Follow me!"

"C'mon boys!"

The three squads, led by Schaal, Snow Flower, and Magma, went their separate ways.

"Don't fall behind!"

"We're going too!"

"Let's go."

Cerberus's three leaders ordered their own troops.

"Aah, the battle between the Raon Alliance and the Hegang Alliance has begun. Please stay tuned!"

"Our experts believe that today will be the largest battle thus far. Please stay tuned to see how the battle turns out!"

"I wonder if the war will be decided today? If it is, who will be the victor? Viewers, please keep watching till the very end!"

All of the networks, including gaming, terrestrial, and cable, showed the battle between the two alliances on the Ekrast Plains.

"It's still a close fight!"

"Some individuals are performing above and beyond. Snow Flower, Nile, Lacus, Shion! They're all even!"

"Aah, that's... A great magic scroll!"

"A giant glacier has appeared in the middle of the battlefield. It looks like great magic!"

Snow Flower had used a great magic scroll, which contained 'Frozen Mountain'.

"Keehk!"

"Ugh."

"Uhahk!"

The power of great magic was tremendous. It had slaughtered the Hegang Alliance troops that'd been fighting the Leopard Squad in a single go.

"Finish off the small fry," Snow Flower said calmly.

The Leopard Squad, which was composed of only the best female players, roamed across the battlefield. No one could resist their sharp claws.

Bam!

This time, a small volcano erupted from Magma's side. He had used his own great magic scroll, which contained the 'Summon Volcano' spell.

"This is the best environment for me."

A Sun Warrior was capable of absorbing heat. Which meant that a volcano was like a feast for him!

"Let's go!"

Whenever he swung his sword, fierce flames would spread everywhere. He was more powerful than normal, as he absorbed the heat of the volcano.

"Come at me all at once!"

The Lava Squad passionately engaged the enemy.

Steel Sword's leader, Schaal, had a great magic scroll of his own; it contained a powerful lightning spell. However, now wasn't the best time to use it, so he saved it. 

Nevertheless, the Steel Sword Squad was considered Breaker's most powerful squad for a reason. Even without the scroll, they sliced through their enemies like a well sharpened blade.

"Kill them all."

"Attack!"

The Steel Sword Squad mercilessly swung their swords, annihilating anyone in their path.

Due to the Breaker Guild's three squads and their use of the great magic scrolls, it was assumed that the Raon Alliance would hold the advantage in the early stages of the battle.

However, the battle had only just begun, and the Hegang Alliance was ready to mount a counterattack.

"Great magic scrolls. They made a huge investment," Shion muttered.

Great magic scrolls couldn't be bought with money. They could be bought with a huge amount of contribution points from the Tower. The Breaker Guild probably didn't have much left after buying three of them.

"We have to lure them in even deeper," Shion assessed the battle and said. He was referring to the three squads and Cerberus. "That way, we'll be able to attack them from both sides. Shion smiled wickedly.

"Haha. That's why I placed the intermediate guilds in front. To act as meat shields."

"Good job."

As Shion wanted, the three squads and Cerberus, which supported them from behind, swept through everything in their path.

'Just a little bit more.' 

Shion stared at the battlefield. Then, he immediately said, "Now!"

"Yes, sir!" Paton opened a message window and contacted their allies. 

- Now. Kill them all!

"Everyone, attack the Leopard Squad!"

"Kill the Lava Squad!"

All of a sudden, the White Lion and Black Sword Guilds attacked the Lava Squad and the Leopard Squad.

"Traitors!" Snow Flower's eyes shook.

"You crazy bastards!" Magma's eyes burned with rage.

"What happened?" Steel Sword's leader, Schaal, pointed his sword at Jairus.

"I-I don't know." Jairus looked puzzled. 'Are they crazy?'

"Hmm." Schaal examined the nearby Jairus guild members too. They looked taken aback by the sudden turn of events.

'They weren't involved.'

"Mr. Jairus, please go and help the Leopard Squad. I'll help the Lava Squad."

"Understood."

"The main force will send reinforcements soon. So please trust in us and fight till the very end."

"Of course."

"Steel Sword Squad, follow me!"

"Let's go!"

Schaal and Jairus went their separate ways.

This information was immediately reported to Raon and Brand.

"Those bastards!" Raon's face grimaced with anger. 'How dare you turn traitor?' 

Brand immediately came over. "Our three squads are completely surrounded due to Lion Heart and Lee Tan's betrayal. We have to do something. I'll send Mr. Saladin and the Wyvern Squad immediately."

"Hurry up!" Raon yelled.

"We have to send our reserve troops too. If they fall, then we all fall."

"I'll command the reserve troops myself. Contact Saladin and her now! It's time."

"Yes, sir!"

Kuheong!

Raon unleashed a lion's roar.

"Let's go and save our brothers. Everyone, follow me!"

His rhinoceros advanced forward like a trolley, and the Raon Alliance's reserve troops roared and followed him.

A short while later...!

Several birds flew out of the Red Thorn Forest. However, there was something much larger that took to the sky.

Kyaahk!

Gyaahk!

Wyverns!

"Let's go." Saladin, riding the largest black wyvern of the bunch, pointed his sword at the battlefield.

This was the first time the world got a glimpse of the Breaker Guild's fourth squad, the Wyvern Squad.

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