Chapter 540. The Freedom Alliance vs. the Imperial Army (1)

The Freedom Alliance's 1 million troops gathered in Altein.

As the Alliance's Commander in Chief, Rapuly picked three people to lead their troops. 

His first pick was his close friend, Gheor. He was a general during the reign of the Altein Empire, and was called the Mad Tiger.

His second pick was the general of Krampal, Ould. 

And his last pick was the Invincible Gladiator, Burkan. 

Gheor was an extremely renowned general, and had the leadership skills to match. Plus, he was one of the continent's Masters.

Burkan was much stronger than Gheor, and had assumed command of a large army against the Evil God Worshippers just a short while ago.

Ould wasn't on the same level as them; he wasn't a Master. However, he was much smarter than his peers, and was called the Tactical Genius. 

"It's time to organize the army."

Rapuly put Gheor in charge of 400,000 troops, which was called the Tiger Corps after his own nickname.

Breaker and Storm were part of this army, and Han Seol was given an advisor post. It was also the alliance's largest corps, as it included the large guilds.

It was clearly the Alliance's main force.

Burkan was put in charge of the Eagle Corps. The eagle was a symbol of gladiators. 

It included gladiators, Dion and the 100 Fighters, and two of the five great mercenary groups: Sword and Drak.

General Ould was given 300,000 troops, which was called the Elephant Corps. The elephant was the symbol of the large city, Krampal.

The players were spread amongst these three corps.

Once they had finished organizing their troops, Rapuly called Gheor, Burkan, and Ould to a meeting. Han Seol, as well as the other advisors, joined them. 

"I need a plan to defeat the Arabas Empire," Rapuly said.

An old man, who had clear eyes and a giant body more than 2 meters tall, stood up. Strangely, the man's hair was white, but his eyebrows were black. 

It was General Gheor, who was once called the Mad Tiger!

"Our best bet would be to guard Saw Rock Fortress, and make sure the Arabas Empire can't come out. However, it's far too late for that... This is the next best thing!"

Gheor pointed his index finger at the spread out map.

Golden Road Fortress!

The continent's roads went through this major transportation point.

"We have to protect this place no matter what. If they take it, then the Arabas Empire will be able to travel anywhere within the central region. They'll also get a safe supply route too."

Everyone listened carefully.

"The Golden Road Fortress is in the middle of five other fortresses. These fortresses are set up in a way that they protect each other. Thus, we'll be able to fight off our enemies with less troops. But if we want to adequately staff each of the fortresses, then we'll need to send one of our corps."

Rapuly stroked his chin. It was a bad habit of his when he had some thinking to do.

He looked at Ould and Burkan one after another. Then...

"Ould."

"Yes!"

Ould was a short man in his late thirties. However, no one looked down on him for his age or his height.

The Tactical Genius, Ould!

He was much smarter than his peers.

"Go to the Golden Road Fortress. Do whatever it takes to protect it!" Rapuly ordered.

"Understood!" Ould replied. 

"Ould."

"Yes, General Gheor."

"Protecting the fortress isn't everything. You know what I'm talking about, right?"

"Of course. We'll protect the fortress, and attack the Imperial Army's rear and/or destroy their supplies if we get the opportunity. Then, the Empire will be forced to split their army to deal with us," Ould said without hesitation. 

Gheor smirked. 'As expected of Ould!'

"Gather the Elephant Corps and go now. If I was the Arabas Empire, then I'd be aiming for Golden Road Fortress right about now."

"Understood. Please send me the details of the meeting separately."

"I will."

Ould left the conference room.

Sometime later...

The Elephant Corps departed Altein and headed for Golden Road Fortress.

Those remaining continued with the meeting, which was primarily led by Rapuly and Gheor. 

"If Ould is successful, then the Arabas Empire will be forced to advance on Altein."

Gheor marked two places on the map. It was the Nazrak Plain and the new Sunset River.

"A land route and a sea route," Rapuly said.

"My friend, I think they're going to come by land," Gheor said.

"It makes sense. Desert soldiers would have a hard time moving through water."

The Arabas Empire didn't have enough boats to move hundreds of thousands of troops across the water.

If that's the case, then they would have to build or steal them. Even if they managed that, they wouldn't be effective at fighting above water.

"But they may surprise us and come by sea."

That's why he didn't unmark the Sunset River, and pointed at it.

"Which means we have split our troops. We'll have to read their movements and act accordingly."

"Yeah."

"Then the Tiger Corps will go to Nazrak Plain, and the Eagle Corps will head to the Sunset River."

"Understood."

"Yes, sir!"

Gheor and Burkan replied simultaneously.

"However... Arabas has a powerful organization called Empire behind them. You know them well, right?"

Gheor stared at the advisors, or more specifically, a female advisor. He was looking at the Storm Guild's vice-captain, Han Seol.

She was the Tiger Corps' advisor.

"Yes. I have been watching them, studying them, and preparing for them for a long time."

"That's why I chose you as my advisor. Tell me about Empire."

"Empire is..."

Han Seol explained what she'd learned in detail. 

She went over the Empire Guild's members, their power and troops, their ambitions and plans, and what she believed they did, and what they planned to do.  

Gheor smiled.

"Empire, huh... I really want to fight them." Gheor emitted a fierce, valorous energy from his body. 

Old soldiers never die.

This phrase fits a man like Gheor quite well. 

* * *

The Imperial Army was divided amongst Dukeram, Dalton, and Kantos. 

As the Supreme Commander, Dukeram was in charge of the 1st Corps, which consisted of 300,000 troops. The Empire Guild's troops, as well as their eight squads, were part of this corps.

It was clearly their main army!

Arabas's Guardian God, Dalton, led the 2nd Corps of 200,000 troops. It consisted of natives of the Arabas Kingdom. It also included Insect/Sand Mages, as well as the desert's mercenaries.

Lastly, Ghost Spear Kantos (a native of the conquered Baiyan Kingdom) was put in charge of the 3rd Corps, which possessed 200,000 troops. His origins may explain why his corps was made up of soldiers of the Baiyan and Dellas Kingdoms, as well as the players that'd recently joined the Arabas Empire's cause. 

The 1st Corps conquered Saw Rock Fortress, and made the nearby free cities surrender.

The 2nd Corps crossed the Phamas Mountains, captured the port cities, and then returned.

The 3rd Corps went south, and subjugated anyone who didn't follow the Empire's rule. Then, they conscripted 30,000 more Desert Warriors.

20,000 troops were added to the Arabas Empire's reserve troops, bringing their number up to 250,000.

After that, a new order was given.

Jegal, the Imperial Army's Chief of Staff, ordered them to advance on the Golden Road Fortress!

Kantos led his troops across the border. It was supposed to be a dangerous journey due to the mountains, but the 3rd Corps wasn't weak. .

Along the way, they passed a few small towns that'd surrendered to them, and would fight any enemies that they came across. In spite of that, they quickly advanced forward.

By the time they reached the Golden Road Fortress, however, elephant flags were fluttering from atop the fortress's walls. Ould hadn't had any interruptions along the way, so he was able to make it there first. 

Kantos knew how the Golden Road Fortress was designed, so he immediately ordered his subordinates to assess the other five fortresses. 

"They all had elephant flags, and a relatively large force was stationed at each one."

"Mm." Kantos looked up at the Golden Road Fortress, and furrowed his brow.

The Golden Road Fortress was designed in such a way that each fortress could help each other.

If he attacked the fortress, then the other castles' troops would attack them from the side or the rear. Of course, the other castles would also help guard the fortress.

Thus, they had to simultaneously conquer the other castles before they could conquer the main fortress!

'We won't be able to do this in a single day or two.'

Ultimately, Kantos' troops pulled back and set up camp. They needed to rest before they did anything.

After that, he contacted Jegal via a Communication Mage. 

The Communication Mage created an oval mirror, which showed a reflection of Jegal.

"I apologize. The Golden Road Fortress has already been occupied by our enemies. Considering the fact that there are elephant flags all over the place, it must be Ould's forces."

"It can't be helped. We already had a backup plan in case you couldn't conquer the fortress, so it won't be a problem."

"Then?"

"Construct a fortress nearby, and make sure the Elephant Corps can't leave and get in the Imperial Army's way."

If they could keep Ould and the Elephant Corps trapped within the fortress, then it wouldn't be a losing deal for them.

"Understood!"

"Please keep your supply route safe."

"I'll keep that in mind."

As Jegal ordered, Kantos began constructing a new fortress on a nearby mountain.

However, Ould wouldn't let this pass. He formed a detached force of 50,000 troops, and ambushed them at night.

"Enemies!"

"Enemies have appeared!"

Intense screams and cries, as well as the sound of weapons crashing against each other, resounded throughout the battlefield in the shadow of night.

"Move quickly!"

Ould led his troops from the front. Their weapons easily killed the 3rd Corp's troops.

A short while later, their tents ignited with flames, illuminating the dark night.

"Damn it!"

Kantos' leadership was nowhere near as great as his ability as a warrior. He hadn't been expecting an ambush, and had been completely blindsided.

However...!

He was called the Ghost Spear. His individual power was tremendous.

"You bastards!" Kantos quickly thrust his 3 meter long spear several times.

Stab!

Whoosh!

His spear pierced through his enemies before it even made a sound. He was ridiculously fast. 

"I'll kill you all!"

The tip of his spear was like the reaper's finger. Whoever he pointed his spear at would die without exception.

"Mm." Ould witnessed Kantos' rampage and bit his lip.

'He's an Elite Master.'

The Elephant Corps had two Masters of their own. However, he would need both of them to keep Kantos at bay.

Moreover, the 3rd Corps was filled with powerful troops. At first, they panicked from the sudden ambush, but they quickly got a hold of themselves and fought back.

On the other hand, the Elephant Corps lacked battle experience. That was a problem most of the free cities' troops possessed.

Ultimately, the ambush was only effective at the beginning.

"Everyone, retreat!"

Thus, retreating was their best option right now. That decision allowed them to escape before the 3rd Corps could construct a perimeter around them. 

Bam! Thud!

Kantos struck the ground with his spear shaft, leaving a deep, long scar on the ground.

"Shit!" Kantos gritted his teeth. Ould had got him good. Luckily, they hadn't taken as much damage as he'd expected.

Following that, Kantos kept his guard up, and prepared for ambushes.

'We're ready for you anytime!'

However, Ould never came out again.

Ould had 300,000 troops, while Kantos had 250,000. However, that number was split amongst six fortresses.

On the other hand, the 3rd Corps' fortress wasn't divided into smaller fortresses, so all of his troops were stationed in one place. Moreover, Kantos' troops were more skilled than Ould's.

A head-on battle would be risky.

Ultimately, Ould couldn't discard his defensive advantage, and Kantos, who had less troops than Ould, couldn't afford to siege the fortress.

This boring, conflictless confrontation continued.

* * *

While the Elephant Corps and the 3rd Corps were in a stalemate...

Dalton's 2nd Corps passed Saw Rock Fortress and entered the central region. 

His mission was simple.

The 2nd Corps was to subjugate the eastern part of the central region, and take it over for the Empire!

It definitely wasn't a difficult assignment.

Most of the eastern free cities had surrendered to them, after all.

Dalton divided his troops into eight separate brigades, and advanced. He wanted to take control of as much territory as possible.

However...!

The Freedom Alliance didn't just twiddle their thumbs and watch. 

Burkan's Eagle Corps, which was guarding the Sunset River, advanced from the south and engaged them in small battles.

The owner of the mountains and plains changed day after day. In the morning, the Eagle Corps would plant their flags in the city, and at night, the 2nd Corps' shield flags would flutter atop the castle walls.

The battle continued over and over again.

The residents took up arms and attacked them. It was, however, common for them to lose their lives, come back to burning buildings, and lose their homes.

This resulted in countless orphans and refugees. The ground was filled with countless corpses.

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