Gold of the river, meant not just any gold hidden under the sands of river banks, but the magic-imbued gold bits under the serene flow of the river of fates within Ina’s embrace. It was one of the most valuable treasures in the world, and was regularly used by witches in witchcraft that shaped the future, hence earning them the term, Witches’ gold bits.
Within folklore, it was regularly mentioned that the greedy witches hoarded gold, which was actually a reference to this exact item.
It was a magic ore so excruciatingly rare, for only a piece the size of a fingernail would be worth the value of a castle.
In the game, the Witches’ gold bits had another important function, and that was the Line of Fate Breaking. To put it simply, to complete the highest level of Elemental Activation, the evolution from Sage Realm to Perfect Body, this item was vital.
It was a part of the bridging spell from superhuman to saint level.
Before the Slate Wars, Brendel never even heard of an ore of this name, it was just very briefly mentioned in certain reference books that he had encountered.
The first time Vaunte players were aware of the Witches’ Gold Bits was after the Holy War. During the Year of the Sparks, the first slate was found within the borderlands of Sanorso.
Upon then, players began venturing into the Black Forests en masse, and the first Witches’ Gold Bits were found and included in player inventories.
Nevertheless, these gold items were painfully elusive within the Black Forests. For a more generalized comparison, their encounter was of slightly lower rates than even the Fountain of Youth.
Every revival of a War Goddess would require one pound worth of river’s gold, one full pound! Brendel upon realization was nearly driven by impulse to murder Babu, for it was almost like a blatant update to him that the War Goddesses cannot be revived. It would make more sense anyway!
The remaining ingredients were far easier to locate. One of them was to cut off the Fangs of Future, which in this context meant Fenrir’s fangs. Its descendants counted too.
The Offsprings of Fenrir were classified as Twilight Monsters, which meant they could only be encountered in the Calamity of Wolves, specifically the larger occurrences like the one in the Loop of Trade Winds.
And if the Offsprings of Fenrir were seen in the Calamity of Wolves, it would the complete and utter destruction of that particular area, along with catastrophe and massacre.
With that said, their fangs kept as souvenirs of war were more than rare, meaning they could easily be worth as much as money could buy.
As for the Blood of Hydra, this to Brendel was instead the easiest to obtain, for he had five unhatched Hydra eggs in his possession. Now all he needed to do was to nurture them in a nest, and when the Hydras hatch he would have all the blood he’d need.
The ingredient up next would be the Singing Silvers. For this item, one will have to venture deep into the Pool of Song to encounter them, their rarity was only below that of the River’s gold.
There was only a handful in this world that would know how to put these magic metals to use, most would just keep them as souvenirs, resulting in them being sold in markets at unremarkable prices, occasionally even found in the auction halls of Ampere Seale.
All he needed to do was pay good attention to what was in store, invest some money and he was certain they would not be too hard to retrieve.
Nevertheless, neither of those aforementioned could compare to the final ingredient.
The Nest of the Windbreaking Colts.
Just the name alone left Brendel with a serious headache, “This is a Class Six creature.”
They were indeed. The Windbreaking Colts were Class Six creatures, and on the rarer side even for the Class Six species at that. Only in the Wind Elemental Plane were they ever caught by men, but for their nest, no living person had ever encountered one.
Naturally, that included Brendel himself. Who the fuck would want to build a Windbreaking Colt nest anyway?
Unless Valhalla could sustain a nest for these creatures, otherwise it would be pure fantasy.
Nevertheless, he never stopped chasing Monica for an answer, despite usually to no avail.
The light spirit’s reply was the same as always. “What I know is limited to Valhalla.”
Upon the completion of the Valurian Warrior Hall, the Warrior goddess’ information was implanted into her mind.
As for everything else, she had no clue!
But she did however provide Brendel with painfully effective advice, she suggested for him to buy a Windbreaking Colt himself, it would set them back 1.2 million taels, which was half the total revenue of the entire Trentheim territory. Brendel was inclined to lock her up into a drawer upon hearing that suggestion, he had enough of her blabbering by his ear for once.
There are no free meals in the world, be it for the Silver Ladder, or to awake a hibernating War Goddess, they were all far-fetched things it seems. He took a deep breath.
Fortunately for him that Valurian Warrior Hall, upon its creation, had brought along a few more renowned War Goddesses, Brunhilde and her four assistants, Shijakul, Gale, Scotia, and Lagrace.
These were all celebrated War Goddesses in history. Besides Brunhilde that was a Class Nine being with peak level Elemental Activation ability, the others were all had solid Quasi-Class Nine abilities too. Just from raw power alone, they were ahead of Brendel.
But in turns of Combat power, it was a whole different story. Brendel had on occasion dueled them individually, in which the most powerful amongst them, Brunhilde, had to channel the Nine Luminaries and Flash Sword Art styles respectively to defeat him, while the others, from his monstrosity of a fighting experience alone, were easily bested.
Given it a good thought, if his Planeswalker stats were to mature a little more, even if all five of the War goddesses joined forces, he could still put up a fight.
What Brendel was not expecting was that his friendly duel with the War Goddesses earned him immense respect from their ranks. The Valurian Warrior Hall honored the powerful and the talented, and the Lord commander himself had earned the recognition of Brunhilde and the others, even Babu became more respectful of him ever since.
All that recognition and respect he received meant nothing, however, for Babu actually mentioned that Brunhilde and the rest cannot leave Valhalla to join the war, for Valhalla could not sustain their magic expenditure. Brendel nearly saw his eyes blanked out from that statement.
Before the construction of the Holy Cathedral of Dawn, the War Goddesses’ daily activities were fueled by the reserve magic of the Valhalla depository. If it was within the range of Valhalla’s boundaries, their magic expenditure was negligible.
According to Babu’s narration, they would require a few hundred up to a thousand units, which was about the magic of two dozen Moon crystals. Howbeit upon leaving the Valhalla territory, their magic expenditures would multiply over time. In just a week upon the Four War Goddesses leaving the radius, the magic required would equal to that required for the first stage development of the entire Valhalla.
Over a hundred and thirty thousand units, a figure so staggering Brendel was left stupefied.
Using the current war with Bloodstaff as a reference, even though it could be considered as a small-scale civil war and border conflict, it would still require them at the bare minimum a full month. In a month, he will have to prep no less than four thousand Moon crystals in his inventory to sustain them.
It did not seem like a justifiable expense.
And if the war were to drag on, he would be watching on revenue being flushed out like a flash flood. That said, it was no surprise that Brendel decisively ordered Brunhilde and the rest to stay put within the boundaries of Valhalla.
On one hand, now that this war no longer required their input, a hidden claw would be the sharpest when hidden. On the other, Brendel seemed to understand that the War Goddesses were now effectively mercenaries of the city, with multiple clauses and immensely costly prices.
If need be, he knew best not to use them wherever possible.
He sighed, owing to the fact that it took him this long to figure out.
Lifting his head once more,
He gazed afar at the drizzling overcast sky. As the Month of Autumn entered its second half, the weather seemed to have shifted towards the colder end. Through the chilling breeze of the fringes of autumn, the cold would seep into the bone.
Amongst the Mountains of Chablis, the air crisp and saturated with moisture, he perched on a hilltop, looking down below.
In his field of vision were countless silhouettes weaving through the forests by the foot of the mountains.
Under the Aouine canopies of sawblade oak tree leaves and scattered Blue oak leaves were increasingly visible humanoid creatures marching their way forward.
These people did not all hate the rain, some even uncovered their hood, exposing their enchanting faces, their long, golden blonde or green hair partially masking their sleek necks and shiny foreheads.
Next to their hairpins were their pointy ears, carrying weapons a grade larger than that of the generic Elven longbow. Armed with the renowned Wind Archer bow, one after another they navigated through the dense, primeval shrubs of wild strawberries.
This was already the third day since leaving Valhalla, and for the last three days, the situation within the battlefields of the Cielmann region had been continuously arriving via Carglise with the assistance of Cole’s scouts. Brendel would then review the information and categorize them into different fields of information.
From the differentiated intelligence, he would then selectively inform the princess in private. The reason he carefully handpicked the news to be raised was because he knew most of it would reach the hands of Viero and Lantonilan and their legion commanders.
It was hardly a guarantee that those men had no spies and moles planted within the frontlines, and he would prefer not to risk exposing his relationship with the King of Cielmann by surprise, which when publicly announced would raise the attention of Radner and Bloodstaff.
Naturally, through their regular letter conversations, the princess had already been notified of the presence of the said “Mountain bandits of Cielmann”.
It was clear to him that the princess was skeptical about Cole and his men, unsurprising given her position of power. She was a descendant of the Noble ranks and the royal sect, which naturally meant she would prioritize the benefits of the Nobles. For a man like Cole that would periodically ransack Noble lands, she would never consider the benefit of the doubt.
The princess thus understandably had time and time again warned him not to get too chummy with men like Cole, for it might deter his reputation among the ruling class.
To Brendel however, Princess Gryphine’s petty, almost childish advice left him in tears from laughter. Who Cole was through history was remarkably clear to Brendel. Knowing exactly who he was, it would be a hard stretch if Brendel were to side with the Nobles instead, on any given day.
That was the history of the King of Radner, starting from scratch to overturn the Radner region, and in a time of conflict within Aouine received the recognition of all parties towards the independence of Radner and crowning himself as its king.
All the way until right before the Battle of Slanted Forest, even Madara acknowledged his position, and for long periods of time, he served as the just arbitrator between Madara and Aouine.
After the destruction of Aouine, he then backed Ellara in the war against Madara, but by then Aouine players had all gradually moved on from the location, hence leaving its ending in the unknown.
That said, it was clear that this man was no simple bandit.
As the frontline situation was further dissected, it was revealed that Deputy Squad Leader Walter had been killed at war, on the same night Bloodstaff demolished the White Winged Cavalries.
With that revelation, it duly confirmed the tragedy of the annihilation of the White Winged Cavalries, and the full exposure of the Grinoires passageway to the blooming thorns of the Madaran Black Roses. Vanmier Legion at this point had no other option but to enter the northern regions of the Tusankard Forest to salvage defenses.
Nevertheless, the effects were proven disappointing, for the shoddily readied legion was trashed by their Undead adversaries and the remaining human armies haphazardly retreated to the southernmost boundaries of the Manoweir region. As frontline updates began to return, it was clear that the Legion of the Undead had made it past Slofavien, the busiest division within the Grinoires region.
Or at least it once was. Now it was in a state of paranoia and apocalypse.
Duke Grinoires chased reinforcements from the North and Karsuk, but to the eyes of others, the closest army was in Lantonilan, and it was Duke Carnon’s own army.
Viero and Karsuk’s armies were out of the question, owing to the distance. As water afar quenches not fire, it was not worthy of consideration, and everyone be it for or against them knew about that fact.
The Madarans were absolutely sure that the war was already won. Even over at Ampere Seale, the Kirrlutzian envoys and the servants of the Holy Cathedral of fire watched on, albeit rather cynically at what they deemed another frankly stupid and completely avoidable mistake made once and again by their Aouine neighbors.
But only the few that were actually leading this war knew the complete truth, that an army by then had marched right under Bloodstaff’s breath. A real battle was just about to take shape.
Brendel watched over the Wind Archer garrison, then turned around and shifted his gaze towards Danir, right beside Medissa and Fennie. The Leader of the tree elves heard of his war strategies and hurried his way from the Loop of Trade Winds through day and night to meet with the Lord commander himself.
In the rain he stood, folding the letter made with dried oak leaves, with a genuine smile he announced, “Thank you for bringing me the words of the little brat. Danir, please pass this message on to Freya our young princess that we had never forgotten about her, and when the day comes that she becomes the true Bishop of the Goddess of the Forest, we welcome her back to Trentheim with open arms. She’s always welcome to lend a hand.”
Danir glanced towards him, “Milord,” Brendel waved in response, “Just call me Mr. Brendel, sounds better.”
Danir frowned as he continued, “Mr. Brendel, the elders would expect you to fulfill your oath. Our interactions with humans are far and few between, but regarding the...rumors that…”
“I understand, there are some cold-blooded merchants and Nobles that had tainted our reputation, but my purpose is different. The changes in the Loop of Trade Winds were there for all to see.”
Brendel continued, “The Elders should understand I assume, that the human greed and curiosity were too the exact personality traits that push them to incessantly seek to explore this unknown world. All I did was offered them with an opportunity.
Nevertheless, only I am aware of how we should approach this, the exploitation of Black Forest can take no mishaps. Once humans had experienced its benefits, our achievements would no longer be a one-time event, it would create a culture of exploration towards the kingdoms of the future. The commencing of a brand new era, one that would bring us forward from the cowardly hermit cultures of today.
Danir nodded. It was exactly this speech that Brendel had made that had convinced their Elven elders in the meeting. Otherwise, the druids, neutral by default would never agree to involve themselves in mortal conflict, whether Brendel was to lit the torch upon the Loop of Trade Winds or not.
But with the given circumstances, Brendel’s action sufficiently proved that he possessed the capability and vigor to detach the mortal world from darkness and develop clear boundaries between them. Henceforth, the druids had to stand with him in supporting his oversight upon this ancient kingdom. Brendel drew out attractive terms for them, and if his goal were to visualize, it would enable a dream the druids had yearned for generations.
It was a goal so valiant and selfless Danir appeared visibly conflicted. Why would a human, a shallow, Nobleman at that, carry such Herculean aspirations?
He turned towards Brendel once again as he replied, “I will pass your words to the Chieftain. My children are now in your hands, treat them fairly and with kindness.”
Brendel convincingly nodded.
He does not yearn for war, but for the survival of Aouine, and its people, a war of resistance will have to be fought.
Right then, little Pero finally took to speak. Veronica left them here in Valhalla to watch after Prince Lenarette, for the youths of the Folded Sword Squad inherited the greatest quality of the Kirrlutzians, loyalty, and honor, traits that were undeniable throughout.
But now they were left in an awkward position, for the Folded Sword Squad could not possibly serve as an independent military force within Trentheim, and little Pero and Brund were fully aware of this. Before the actual battles began, despite being notified to abide by the command of Brendel, the exact extent of their involvement was what they need to reaffirm.
If Crown Prince Lenarette were to reside as an honored guest, then their role would be to serve as his private protection squad. If that was the case, Brendel could restrict the limits of their movements and power, but cannot directly give orders to their ranks.
In a different scenario, however, if the crown prince was seeking refuge in Valhalla under the generosity of Trentheim authorities, then the Kirrlutzian crown prince naturally could not possess an army of his own, besides his own personal guard.
Veronica had been noticeably vague about their roles in Aouine. Given the situation, however, it seemed to them that Crown prince Lenarette was indeed seeking asylum in Valhalla, but The Lord of Trentheim however did not demand their immediate return to the empire, which they find rather perplexing.
Days ago, under Brendel’s invitation, they had accompanied the crown prince to attend a military meeting, and the insight obtained from the discussion was quite revealing in itself.
The squad leader did not specify what their roles were, or if they had agreed to or declined the request. Nevertheless, it was rather evident that Lord Trentheim’s intention was inclined to involve them in the war, or at least presented as such.
As for the choice of the Folded Sword Squad, Pero was certain, just from the warmongering spirit imbued in their blood alone. They wanted to fight.