I did some quick thinking while standing at the entrance of the camp. "I was just bringing my friends over to Sky City. I wasn’t expecting to see you here. You were going to report your success to Princess Karinshan, right? How did you come to be in the Purple Grape City domain?"
Mona replied with a giggle, "Let me explain. After I filed a report, Princess Karinshan put me in General Stark’s army, and General Stark gave me command over the Black Cavalry’s 5000-strong scout battalion. So, I brought them to this desert. Princess Karinshan had ordered me to rebuild this place and set up a small fortress just in case we need to defend against certain crises."
I immediately thought of Sophie’s army. Sophie was ultimately an undead, so even if they were on the same side, Karinshan could never put her full trust in her. That was why Karinshan had dispatched 5000 troops to build a temporary camp to use as a forward base.
The camp behind Mona was… pretty shabby, to be honest. I saw a lot of swordsmen polishing their swords without anything to sit on. Instead of stables, the riders had to tend to their horses between the trees. In fact, the only notable structures in the camp were a couple of bonfires and tents that could be made from sticks and leaves. They couldn’t even protect them from the rain, and even with no rain in this desert, the tree leaves would rot and have to be replaced over time.
"Forgive me for saying this, but it looks like your camp is a long way from completion…" I said with a smile.
Mona turned a little red before sighing. "I know, but this is all I can do right now. All seven of our armies are currently battling against the undead of Bloody Shield Domain at Vanished God City. You already know this, but Bloody Shield Domain is currently commanded by a cunning Purgatory Sovereign, Coldblade right now, so most of our supplies are dedicated to that battlefield. Princess Karinshan herself told me that we would have to be self-sufficient because the empire no longer had the resources to devote elsewhere."
I shook my head. "I see. So, how many people did you bring with you? Actually, scratch that. Do you have blacksmiths, potion sellers and item sellers in your midst?"
Mona pointed a finger behind her and said matter-of-factly, "Of course! We are an army, you know. How can we fight without a complete assortment of merchants? I only wish that we didn’t need to pay these lazy bastards a ton of gold to follow us, and even then, the contract is only half a year long."
That was good news. I said, "So, Mona, as you can see behind me, the friends I brought with me are unaffiliated players. However, I promise you that they are all reliable fellows. Can you do me a favor and allow them to resupply at your camp?"
Mona opened her mouth with a slightly troubled look on her face, "I’m a soldier of Sky City. You know I can’t associate myself with wandering soldiers too much, unless…"
"Unless they will be of use to me!"
"And how exactly do you want them to help you?"
"For starters, they can help complete my camp…"
I agreed immediately, "Just tell us what to do, it will be done."
Mona nodded and pointed at a swordsman uncle behind her, "This guy here is our materiel officer. Speak to him, and he’ll give you and your wandering soldiers various tasks that will help us rebuild these ruins. Every time you complete a task, you will receive a certain number of glory points exclusive to our Black Cavalry Scout Battalion. Once you’ve obtained 100 glory points, you will become a guest of the Black Cavalry Legion and obtain the right to resupply here and even our protection."
Mona’s request could be boiled down to one thing: work for her, and she would grant us the right to enter her temporary camp. Grind enough amity, and she and the 5000 high-level fiend-rank NPCs would even offer us their protection. The players of Purple Grape City wouldn’t dare to attack us then.
So I turned around, faced Godkiller players and pointed at the materiel officer with my thumb. "You heard her. Accept rebuild quests—preferably in hundred-man parties to speed things up—and grind glory points. Once you have 100 glory points, you’ll be able to resupply here."
Warscar broke into a wide grin. "Got it!"
Even Hickey was smiling. "I didn’t think things would go this smoothly!"
I nodded in agreement. "Yeah. Make it snappy though. We could all use some rest soon."
He Yi walked up to me and asked me smilingly, "Are you going to stay in Ice River Canton for the time being, Lu Chen?"
"Duh. Where else can I go?" I shrugged. "I’m the child who’s been abandoned by his own people. Making a living for myself in these ruins is all I can do now…"
He Yi pursed her lips. "Screw you! We haven’t abandoned you…"
I laughed. "Anyway, thanks for everything you’ve done, but you shouldn’t let me keep you or the gang any longer, Eve. Don’t worry, now that Godkiller is back to a couple hundred thousand, God’s Domain and Era of Strife can’t just face-rush us anymore. We’ll be fine."
However, He Yi insisted, "I don’t want to. I want to stay here with you…"
Beiming Xue pulled my arm and said, "C’mon, big brother. Sister Eve hasn’t seen you for a very long time. Let her keep you company just a bit longer…"
"Ah… yeah. Okay…"
It was at this moment the ground trembled unnaturally again. A group of heavy cavalry was charging toward us, and the leader of the group was a grim-faced man wielding a bloody spear.
Hickey quickly unsheathed her weapon and uttered through gritted teeth. "My god, is this place the devil’s den or something? There are powerful enemies all over the goddamn place. Ugh, those riders look really powerful. We’ll have to stop them with all we got…"
However, I pressed down her sword arm and said, "They’re one of us."
"Ah? One of us?" Hickey asked in confusion.
The incoming cavalrymen had the emblem of Bloody Mercenaries on their shoulders. That’s right, the newcomers were none other than Gui Guzi, Du Thirteen, Heaven’s Rain, Diamond Dust and everyone else in Bloody Mercenaries. It was practically impossible to not recognize Gui Guzi the Knight God and Heaven’s Rain and Diamond Dust the Knight Generals.
Du Thirteen and Gui Guzi jumped off their horses and ran toward me immediately after they came close. Both men caught me in a bear hug as Du Thirteen laughed on top of his lungs. "You finally came home, brother!"
Gui Guzi was laughing just as loudly. "We are all worried about you, Boss Broken Halberd. We wondered if you were getting rekt in the outer lands everyday…"
"You’re the one who’s getting rekt…"
I rolled my eyes at him good-naturedly, but I quickly turned serious and pushed Gui Guzi away from me. "Speaking of which, I have a score to settle with you, Little Gui. What the hell were you thinking taking Bloody Mercenaries away from Ancient Sword and even making Eve cry, huh? Did someone hit you in the head or something?"
The joy on Gui Guzi’s face was immediately replaced by intense awkwardness. He took a step backward, straightened his spear and bowed his head deeply. "I was wrong, Boss Broken Halberd. If you want to hit me for it, then do it. I, Wang Xu, swear that I won’t hit back!"
I obliged him and punched him right on his shield. He stumbled a few steps backward before looking up at me in shock, "Boss Broken Halberd, you…"
I gritted my teeth. "Have you forgotten the oath of Bloody Mercenaries? We exist to protect Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls and to fulfill the dreams we failed to fulfill during Spirit of Grief. Not only that, Eve is my dearest person, and you put her on the spot like that in front of everyone? Do you really still consider me your brother?"
Gui Guzi clenched his fists tightly. "Boss, I…"
Suddenly, Beiming Xue stepped in front of Gui Guzi and spread her arms protectively. "This really isn’t big brother Gui Guzi’s fault, big brother…"
"And why’s that?"
"Because…" Beiming Xue bit her lips.
Finally, He Yi stepped out and said quietly, "Because I’m the one who told him to do what he did, dummy…"
He Yi continued her explanation. "If I hadn’t made Gui Guzi and the Bloody Mercenaries ‘betray’ Ancient Sword, they couldn’t have flattened Sword Lord of Jianghu’s territory or gone up against Tang Long until now. It was a bold move, but to be honest, Bloody Mercenaries have been the ones to suffer the most..."
Gui Guzi put on an appropriately suffering expression. "I know right? But nooo, Lu Chen obviously thinks that he’s the only one who’s suffered…"
I stared at him. "You think I didn’t know that Eve gave you the permission to leave? Sure, Thirteen and Mamate are bone-headed enough to follow you, but there is zero chance Heaven’s Rain and Diamond Dust would’ve done the same without Eve’s permission. I’m angry not because you ‘betrayed’ Ancient Sword, but because your goddamn acting in that situation was too fucking convincing! You actually made Eve cry at Dark Moon City, you fucker!"
Gui Guzi chuckled awkwardly. "Well, I guess that’s true… I honestly wasn’t expecting that to happen, but at that moment, I guess I wasn’t acting at all. I just couldn’t stand the fact that you had to bear all the burden by yourself!"
"Alright, let’s put it behind us." I glanced at him. "By the way, I remember that you registered your name as Gongsun Gu when we registered for our first tournament. So why did you call yourself Wang Xu just now?"
"Ah, that was a fake identity I had falsified together with my diploma. It cost 500 RMB even after a 50% discount…"
We laughed. The truth had finally been unveiled, and Bloody Mercenaries didn’t need to act like shifty fuckers around their own main guild anymore. They were and always will be Ancient Sword Dreaming Souls’ protectors.
A while later, Xu Yang slapped Gui Guzi on the shoulder before saying, "By the way, Lu Chen’s brothers and sisters from Iron Skull Wilderness have decided to settle themselves at Ice River Canton for the moment, but there are thousands of high-level mobs here, and the Japanese guilds such as God’s Domain, Era of Strife and Asuka Period are just waiting for an opening to screw them over. We’ll need someone to protect them in the meantime."
Gui Guzi immediately slapped his own chest and declared confidently, "No problem, Bloody Mercenaries will handle this. The ten thousand Dragonlight Cavalrymen at Sky Ridge will lend their aid at any moment. But I’m going to need to give me your 30k Zephyr Cavalrymen. 10k elite cavalrymen are not enough you see…"
"Fine…"Previous Chapter Next Chapter