There were ominous clouds all above Ampere Seale, the ambiance resembling that of Trentheim. It was the smell of a brewing war.
Back to his base, Brendel immediately held an emergency meeting.
The location of the meeting was chosen to be close to the new Valhalla located in the forest, a clearing with ten ancient trees, planted by the Elves, surrounding it. He was taken aback by the scenery of the place, and had temporarily used it as an assembly point. He had notified earlier for the core members of the war to gather, including those that had followed his stead since long ago.
Julian, Taron, Mano, Leto, and Batum were the founding of the Red Bronze Dragon mercenaries. While Julian was once the leader of Fortress Riedon’s patrol guards, he had become part of the mercenaries ever since then. Only Taron was slightly special compared to the others, as he was originally the captain of White-Mane. And due to special circumstances, he was invited to this group. He must be viewed as a traitor by the Kingdom now.
Brendel was standing below one of the Mayan trees as he looked at these few men and lamenting the past.
Some of the familiar faces of the group had been lost: some of the elderly had passed due to illness as they migrated, and a big portion of those who remained died in the war with Count Radner. But it seemed like the will was passed onto the survivors, making them even stronger and determined.
Which led to evident changes that can be seen from the group before him--
Julian was once the nobles' henchman that took the role of oppressing the citizens. Brendel’s first impression of him was a weak gangster who wore the facade of being strong. But even that was long gone, and in its place was a tanned, battle-scarred man that looked vulgar yer mature and composed.
There were not many refugees who followed Brendel all the way to Trentheim due to their reluctance to leave their homes. But those who did, despite fearing Julian, would stop and pay him some respects. And the number of people who did this was steadily increasing.
However, in Brendel’s eyes, what was important was only his strength. Within a year, Julian grew from a person who was stuck in the Iron rank to someone close to breaking through. And it was not just him. Most who survived Fortress Riedon had also undergone huge changes as well: Batum, Taron, and Leto are also at the peak of Iron rank as well and are just awaiting breakthrough!
The mana wave surges are affecting the entire world, but only those who experienced the trials of life and death will truely perceive these changes.
Brendel's eyes moved onto another group. The Grey Wolves Mercenaries. Abandoned by Makarov, these bunch did not spend much time with Brendel and co. However, their strength had also increased as well, especially Sanford, who immediately stepped into the Iron rank after consuming the Dragonblood potions.
Initially, Amandina suggested reserving the potions to the people that came from Fortress Riedon and only distribute to the others once they observed their situations for a while. However, Brendel felt that the people who followed him up till now, after fighting two wars for him, are reliable and loyal subordinates. In this era, it would require massive amounts of courage to oppose the nobles. But if it was not due to Makarov and the others forcing them to their limits, why would they follow Brendel to this point?
Although there were limited quantities of the potion, the distribution method based on contribution was more widely accepted than the method based on their length in serving Brendel. After all, the older ones within the group are already loyal to him and his army, so more effort was needed to convince the younger generation. Using this point as the basis of his argument, he persuaded Amandina and won the favor of the crowd. Even so, the Red Bronze Mercenaries got the mot Dragonblood potions. But at least there is a chance for the youngsters to overtake their predecessors now that this plan is enacted.
As long as you worked hard, you will be compensated accordingly. This was the sole motivation for everyone to work harder.
Brendel’s motive was to maintain the overall motivation of the entire group. Due to his status as being a party leader within the game for a period of time, and was versatile in handling an organization with modern methods. Compared to the nobles of this world, it was obvious he was more skilled in this department.
In the eyes of Amandina, her Lord’s methods have a miraculous effect never before seen by her. The mercenaries became more united and coordinated. But beyond that, she felt some subtle change in their souls. They became more motivated now: the newcomers worked efficiently; the veterans who felt their status being threatened also kept up with their work. Even Amandina was affected by the mood and was working energetically in the morning.
Firbur was undergoing a subtle change, a cycle of motivation forming amongst the organization. Amandina who had read a little about the Emperor Arts was slightly shocked. The sight she just witnessed was one that most nobles and even kings wanted to achieve but could not. And yet Brendel seemed to have completed it with relative ease.
She pondered for another while and admitted, with a little self dejection, that she could not replicate the effects her Lord had just achieved. I always thought that loyalty is the main factor in governing a group, but why is it that My Lord keeps on overlooking this point? Isn’t he afraid that his comrades will betray him one day? Switching sides is a common sight, and all the nobles struggled to figure out a way to prevent it.
Brendel may not have noticed it, but his organization is so loyal towards him that it was the most loyal and united body Amandina had ever seen.
At her question, Brendel only answered that if his men were happy about the entire system, why would they leave? He wanted the reason for his subjects’ loyalty to not be the rewards or benefits he offered but to the sustenance of the entire organization. He was confident that his choice was the best for the organization: He maintains it, and the other pays him loyalty for it. After all, it was exactly because of his belief in this group that led others to trust it as well.
Amandina was really confused about his explanation. But in the least, she had never witnessed such a calm and dashing look before--
‘If someone were to join me, I would welcome them with open arms. If they wanted to leave, I will not stop them as well.’ Maybe it was that open-mindedness that made him so charismatic.
A group that accepts anyone. Even those vulgar bastards like Julian can find a place in it.
Amandina was carrying around these thoughts as she walked into the open field. She looked up at Brendel and unexpectedly locked gaze with him.
The girls around my Lord is increasing. And even that boy Morpheus is cuter than me..
Unknowingly, she came up with such a thought. She had decided to not fight with Romaine for him, but it seemed like she could not suppress her emotions for long.
“I don’t have the chance.”
Brendel grinned upon seeing his trusted advisor. He thought that she was reminding him to keep a composure that befitted a noble when they locked gazes and imagined her reprimanding him with a serious tone, making him smile.
Despite having that look all the time, she still sometimes looked cute.
Brendel unconsciously began to assess any girl she met, but he quickly reacted to it, and shook the notion out of his head. It seemed that ever since that kiss by Ina, there is something else in his heart.
After all, he was someone who was still in the middle of adolescence, and was really confused about the relationship between men and women.
He hit his head to clear his mind and glanced once more at his men. The remaining people were pouring in continuously, filling the place up to its extent. It was then that Brendel had noticed, for once, how big his organization had gotten.
Scarlett, Morpheus, Medissa, and Andrea were beside him. A bit further away was Ciel, Ropar, and his Fireclaw Lizardmen, plus a group of Wind Elves and Fire Djinn, who were beings that came from the Elemental Planes. Although they did not bond that well with the others, it was acceptable that they could communicate with one another. After that, he noticed Kodan, Carglise, Merial and the young officers of the White Lion Squad forming a circle in the clearing. This group of people had come together and become friends after their experiences in the Dark Forest.
The two Pristine Archangels were standing by Romaine’s side, as if they had become her official bodyguards. The ‘undead’ status on their body was also gone as well. Prior to this meeting, Brendel had used l his Grimoire of life to collect his Cards that were in the Graveyard. The Grimoire of Life is currently under cooldown while Graveyard Revival had returned into his deck.
This is all to prepare for the trip to Ampere Seale. I may have lost the chance to use Grimoire of Life in Ampere Seale, but I believe reviving the Cards that I lost is more important.
Although the Grimoire of Life is the core of the Paradise of Purity, it was only a defense card and it would never be more important than an offense one. Besides, Brendel had many other ways to revive his troops and a mountain of Holy Potions, in which he got from Amman to supply his army, as a backup.
Looking further away, he could make out Forn, Jana, and Cornelius - the three mercenary commanders - along with their troops. Then there was Raban and Lucas standing from the Mercenaries of Lopes. On the other corner were the Red Bronze Dragon Mercenaries. Finally, it was the Lycanthropes of the Green Village, the Druids and the Wind Elves standing together. Francia looked really happy within the circle. She finally got time to spend with her father now. After all, it was Brendel’s decision to not let her duties as a Druid affect her relationship with her family.
Brendel looked up, and he saw the Cave Dwellers on the tree branches. Tagiv was living life comfortably under Brendel and sworn to be loyal towards him as his master. They did not get the discrimination they expected to have from the rest of the group, and were even seen as the protectors of it as well. Before the appearance of the Tree Elves, the Cave Dwellers were indeed Brendel’s strongest force anyway.
It was a rare occurrence to see all the people gather around here as they were usually preoccupied with their own stuff, like Amandina who was managing the fields in Miirna did not have the time to have a meeting. Trentheim is currently going through the process of stocking up food harvest for the winter. Brendel had basically zero knowledge in that matter and had to rely on the expert, Amandina. Vaunte’s agriculture relied on magic and had a really high yield. Although the Wizards and the Priests from the Holy Cathedral could be of help here, the Priests would never aid the rebel army. Thankfully, Brendel had many Druids under him and they were better than the Priests at cultivating plants.
It was then when Brendel noticed how powerful his forces became.
I have Scarlet, Morpheus, Medissa, Ropar, Ciel, and Andrea… That would make six Gold-rankers with two Wizards included. Besides, I also have Kodan and the Fire Djinn, who were at the Early Gold rank… So that makes nine… But I also have to include the Tree Elves and the Druids as well… Hmm… Seems like I am just behind Duke Arreck and Seifer in terms of strength. The Royal Family of Aouine has twenty-two Gold rankers serving them, but not all of them serve the main family. Some also serve the First Prince that backs House Seifer. That means that there are only about ten or so Gold-rankers in the Royal Family that also represent the Kingdom’s main attack force. Seems like the number of my Gold rankers are comparable to theirs, and if I included the quality of mine, there’s no doubt my comrades will outrank them!>
Besides, I have a lot of Silver and Iron rankers. I can at least see the three mercenary commanders, the Mercenaries of Lopes, the Fireclaw Lizardmen, Carglise, Merial and the Pristine Archangels as well. I must also not forget the mercenaries from the Dark Forest and the Tree Elves as well. Their huge number definitely cannot be overlooked an- Oh! Forn had also stepped into peak Silver stage.
The hundred or so Silver ranked 'Garurumon-rock-wolves' are a force that cannot be underestimated as well.
After that, the Red Bronze Dragon Mercenaries form my main Silver ranked force, and the officers will form the foundation for being the Iron rankers, followed by Julian, Odum, the Wind Spirit Dragons as well as the Cave Dwellers. If I include Tharma and the Illusionary Beasts, the only non-combatants were Romaine and Amandina.
However, I lack a trump card. Princess Gryphine has Buga and Grandmaster Fleetwood who have awakened their element, and these people must be stronger than the average. In the Noble Faction. Duke Arreck should have two Elemental Awakeners, three with the Northern Duke, Viero has one and Karsuk two, with one of them being a Wizard. Compared to them, my powers are really far behind.
I may have the Sword Saint of Ashes, but he does not belong to my organization.
To win in the battle of Elemental Awakeners, my only option is the Golden Battle Flag. ALbeit the restrictions imposed on it, it would close the gap between our powers.
At that point, the noisy courtyard had quiet down as everyone gathered. Their gazes fell in the direction of Brendel, awaiting him to say something. It was only then Brendel managed to escape his thoughts. He slowly eyes the entire place, the words finally connected in his mind.
“Let’s talk about recent events.” Brendel cast a glance at Amandina.
The youth continued with the happenings in Ampere Seale. He felt the need to prepare the mental state of his people. It concerned him and his men’s future, and he needed them to understand him. The changes might take some time, but he was awaiting the results.
How many were willing to follow my stead? How many are willing to save the glory of the Kingdom that once waved its flag proudly?
“My sword shall point forward, as did the first nobles of Aouine fought for glory and the Sages’ wisdom. To King Erik!”