At the center of the desert, Modune and his insect mages had set up a giant tent and were waiting for Kang Oh's party to exit the oasis.
Modune's beady eyes were completely closed.
Beside him lay a spider the size of a human being. While it was shaped like a tarantula, it was red in coloration.
Modune pet the spider.
'A spider never rushes.'
Modune was like a spider, waiting patiently for Grano to get caught in his web.
He was sure Grano would get caught in the web he'd spun.
'We've set up the device that prevents teleportation, and there are Sandurions all over the desert on watch, so there's no way they can escape. And...'
'They don't know what I have planned for them.'
They likely had no idea that Modune was gunning for them.
As far as Modune thought, they had no reason to run right after discovering the hidden oasis and collecting the treasure.
If that was the case, then they would reappear in the desert defenseless.
At that moment...
His bushy-bearded subordinate quickly entered the tent.
"Grano has appeared in the desert!"
"Really?! Where? Did he pop out of the quicksand pit?" Modune asked.
"No. He appeared somewhere else, and he's been caught in our Sandurion surveillance network."
"And the treasure?"
"Unknown, but they look no different than before."
"Are the others with him as well?"
"Yes. There are three of them in total."
"Good. Attack Grano now."
Modune was sure that Grano had come from the hidden oasis.
The fact that he'd escaped from the quicksand unscathed was proof of this.
It also didn't matter whether he'd collected the treasure or not.
If Grano had the treasure on him then they could just steal it, and if he didn't, then they would make him talk and reveal how to get to the hidden oasis.
"Call the Captain."
His subordinate left his side.
A short while later...
A dust cloud rose as 100 camels trudged through the desert.
* * *
Kang Oh's party traveled atop their camels side-by-side.
In the distance they saw a group of camels coming towards them. It was Modune and his men.
"They're coming," Eder said.
"Move as planned," Kang Oh said.
Grano nodded his head.
Kang Oh's party stopped their camels and observed the situation unfold.
Modune and his men stopped before Kang Oh's party.
Modune's camel came forward and he said, "Well look who we have here. It's Mr. Grano."
Modune was still the same as ever, with his pudgy body, brown flesh, and tiny eyes.
"Oh, it's you, Mr. Modune," Grano said.
"So you remember me."
"Of course I remember you. But it looks like you're going somewhere?" he asked, essentially saying 'We have no idea what your plan is.'.
Modune didn't say anything.
"Well, good luck. We'll see you later."
Grano said his goodbyes.
"The offer is still on the table; we can still look for the hidden oasis together," Modune said.
Grano's eyes shook.
"N-No thank you. I don't know much about the hidden oasis."
His voice shook as well.
Anyone could tell that he was hiding something.
"Is that so?"
Modune smiled in satisfaction.
'As I thought, he did find the hidden oasis.'
"Yes. My comrades and I will get going now."
"Ah, just a minute," Modune called, stopping him.
Grano acted like he was startled.
"Didn't you ask where we were going?" Modune said.
"To be honest, I have some business with you, Mr. Grano."
"I don't know anything about the hidden oasis. I don't want to look for it with you either," Grano said.
"No, you know about the hidden oasis, since you were just there."
Modune's expression changed. His face had become completely serious.
"H-How do you know that?"
Grano's eyes widened.
"How I know isn't important. The fact that I know is."
"What do you want?"
"Please give me the treasure you've collected. If you do, then I'll spare your lives."
Modune finally revealed his true nature, one resembling a hyena.
"And if I don't?"
"Then we'll have no choice but to take it by force. We'll also slowly sap the life out of you and your comrades as well," Modune said.
"W-Wait a second. I'm a research director at Altein's Mage’s Tower. If you attack me, then the Tower will..." Grano said 'desperately'.
"That's fine. I have someone backing me as well."
Modune was a part of the Arabas Kingdom, and he was being supported by his King as well.
Since ancient times, the Abaras Kingdom had gone a different route in terms of magic from the Mage's Tower, so they weren't worried about them.
'Plus, I've gotten permission too.'
Modune had predicted this, so he'd already sent a notice to the Arabas Kingdom that they might spark trouble with the Tower.
The King had ordered him to continue and not worry about the potential trouble that may ensue with the Mage's Tower.
"Please choose. Drop the treasure or lose your lives," Modune said.
At that moment, Kang Oh received a message.
- Reinforcements will be there soon.
It was a message from Sephiro.
He was watching the situation from a high, distant sand dune.
Sephiro bore witness to their confrontation, as well as the fast approaching reinforcements called by Kang Oh and Grano.
As planned, Grano had bought plenty of time, and the reinforcements had come at just the right time.
"Then I guess we have no choice but to fight."
Kang Oh disembarked from his camel and drew his demon sword. He didn't know how to fight atop a camel, so he got off.
Grano and Eder quickly pieced together the meaning of his actions.
The two quickly assumed battle positions.
"A fight sounds good."
Eder disembarked from his own camel. He grabbed the shield on his back, as well as the mace tied to his belt.
Grano also got off his camel, and quietly retrieved his orb from his subspace.
"What a foolish decision."
Modune raised his hand.
The camel-riding Red Sand Unit surrounded Kang Oh's party.
The insect mages too raised their staffs and prepped their magic from behind Modune.
"You think? I don't we're the ones who’ve made the wrong choice."
Kang Oh stared at Modune, seemingly saying, 'You did.'.
"Hoo. Why are you so confident? There are only three of you."
Modune stared at Kang Oh as if he were being ridiculous. However, his eyes were buried under his flesh, so it's not like they could even see them.
"Three, huh... Are you sure?"
Kang Oh grinned.
At that moment...
The ground trembled, and the sound of footsteps became louder and louder.
"There!" one member of the Red Sand Unit, who was behind Kang Oh's party, pointed at a sand dune and yelled.
The gazes of Modune's men shifted to the sand dune.
"What is that?" Modune turned his head and yelled in shock.
There were horses galloping towards them from beyond the sand dune. From a single glance, there were clearly more than 100 men.
Of course, there were men riding atop the horses.
They wore black overcoats, and wielded longswords, daggers, axes, spears, gladiuses, and even iron maces!
'It's like they say. Connections are everything.'
They were the Holiseum's gladiators!
Kang Oh had used Sephiro to explain their situation and request reinforcements from Burkan.
Burkan had certainly come through.
'What did he call them again? 100 Fighters?'
All of the members of the 100 Fighters were highly skilled and experienced gladiators.
These men were Kang Oh's trump card against Modune!
"Quantity vs. quantity."
At first, Kang Oh had no intention of fighting Modune's 100 men with his party of three.
'If Modune's men were pushovers like the Death Potion guild, then I would've considered it.'
However, Modune's men couldn't be compared to the likes of the Death Potion guild.
This group consisted of mercenaries adept at fighting in the desert, as well as insect mages! They were no pushovers.
If that was the case, then they needed to match their numbers.
Kang Oh said, "Now then, let's try this again. Who's the one who made the foolish decision again?"
* * *
Modune alternated between Kang Oh and the fast approaching group with a serious expression.
"What do we do now?" the Red Sand Unit Captain asked desperately.
They didn't have any time. Soon, the unknown group would be over the sand dune and reach their location.
"We have to fight," Modune said.
"We don't have any information on them," the Captain said.
Fighting an enemy one had no information on was an extremely dangerous prospect.
"We can't retreat. They're riding horses, so we won't be able to get away."
They'd caught him off guard. However, they couldn't afford to retreat. If they did, they'd incur far more casualties.
"Understood. Then we'll go and engage them."
Modune nodded his head.
"Red Sand Unit! Follow me!" the Captain raised his blade and yelled.
Then he rushed towards the group descending from the hill.
The 99 members of the Red Sand Unit, which had been surrounding Kang Oh's party, followed their captain.
The two groups rushed towards each other atop camels and horses.
The Red Sand Unit and the 100 Fighters clashed in the center of the desert.
The horses and camels knocked into each other.
The 100 Fighters, garbed in black overcoats, and the Red Sand Unit, garbed in yellow overcoats, swung their weapons at each other.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!
The sound of battle cries and weapons clashing resounded throughout the battlefield.
A gladiator, with a scar over his left eye, swung downwards with his longsword.
He used a skill, evidenced by the blue aura surrounding his weapon.
Iron Will Slash!
It was a skill that increased in power the greater one's concentration.
His blade fell like a waterfall.
"That's my line!"
The mercenary, wearing a yellow turban, counterattacked with his scimitar.
The mercenary's blade turned red and swayed from left-to-right.
Wherever his blade went, a red rainbow would follow.
They got close enough that the sides of their respective mounts touched the other, but their clash furthered the distance between them.
The two stared at each other, and they simultaneously directed their mounts towards their opponent and charged once more.
The longsword and scimitar clashed once more.
Beside them, a spear-wielding gladiator fought against a mercenary wielding two axes.
"Taste my spear!"
The gladiator thrust his spear three times.
It was a dangerous skill that aimed for three vital areas on the human body: the head, the heart, and the solar plexus.
"Not a chance!"
The mercenary spun his axes in vicious circles.
The mercenary spun his axes as if he were swinging nunchucks.
Bam! Bam! Bam!
The tip of the gladiator's spear was pushed back by the mercenary's axes three times.
The camel-riding mercenary charged at the gladiator. Since he wielded the shorter range weapon, he needed to get up close and personal.
The gladiator ferociously swung his spear shaft to keep him away.
The mercenary crossed his axes in an X.
The spear shaft struck the axe.
The gladiator immediately pulled back his spear and then thrust at an opening.
The mercenary gritted his teeth and swung his axe, deflecting the spear.
This kind of fighting was happening everywhere between the mercenaries and gladiators.
The battle that would determine the two group's pride and victory had begun.
The leaders of the two respective groups quietly watched each other.
"I'm the commander of the 100 Fighters, Dion."
Dion introduced himself first.
At first glance, he was a middle-aged man with a masculine face. He wielded a gladius in both hands.
He was known as the Indomitable Gladiator, one who'd excited audience after audience at the Holiseum's gladiator arena.
"I'm the captain of the Red Sand Unit, Kore."
Kore introduced himself soon after.
His nose was constantly red, like someone who was drunk, and was incredibly skilled with a blade. Therefore, his subordinates called him the Red Blade.
Dion and Kore directed their mounts simultaneously and charged towards each other.
Once they were close enough, they swung their respective weapons.
Dion swung his right gladius at Kore's throat.
Swinging a short sword like a gladius atop a horse was disadvantageous and uncomfortable for the wielder.
Despite that, Dion's was dangerous nonetheless.
Kore blocked the tip of the gladius with his own blade.
The clash between the two created sparks.
He could feel Dion's immense strength behind his sword.
His expression darkened as he took his opponents measure. Dion's expression, however, remained relaxed through the encounter.
The difference in their strength was obvious, made apparent by their expressions. Dion was much stronger than Kore.
Dion attacked with his right gladius once more. A white line followed the path of his sword.
High Rank Slash!
The line was much thicker than Kang Oh's own Slash.
"Uhahp!" Kore cried out and swung his sword.
His blade glimmered in a yellow aura.
Gladius and blade clashed.
Kore was overpowered and gritted his teeth.
Dion swung his left-handed gladius at Kore.
The gladius was surrounded by a vortex.
Kore couldn't imagine counterattacking; instead, he protected himself with his sword.
Kore was barely able to withstand the blow.
Dion halted his attack and used the change in momentum to catch his breath.
Because of that, Kore was also able to recover somewhat.
There was a short lull in the battle.
Kore looked Dion over. Were there any weaknesses he could exploit?
However, Dion sported a cool and calm expression. He didn't waver in the least, befitting an experienced gladiator.
'I can't beat him...'
Kore looked around.
The Red Sand Unit was slowly being pushed back. His complexion darkened even more. He couldn't think of a way to come out of this battle victorious.
That's when Modune entered the fray.
"The insect mages need to support the Red Sand Unit."
At this rate, the Red Sand Unit would be completely overwhelmed by the horse-riding group. They needed to reinforce them before that happened.
However, Modune wasn't the only one who could see how the battle was progressing.
Kang Oh stepped forward.
He couldn't recklessly attack because the insect mages had been by Modune's side until now.
However, the situation had changed.
It was now time for him and his comrades to enter the fray.
"C'mon. Let's go, you fat ass!"
Kang Oh gestured with both hands as if saying 'Come here!'.Previous Chapter Next Chapter