The mercenaries who gathered at Moramatch were not the only ones angered by the wrongdoings of the four major mercenary groups. Despite ending in failure, the alliance inspired thousands of other mercenaries. Six large coalitions formed, and more than four thousand mercenaries were on their way to the Transverse Mountains. Their target was very clear. They wanted to drive out the Shansa soldiers. These mercenary coalitions all wanted to expand their power and ensure a position of power for themselves. What could they do to make a name for themselves? Victories and blood of their foes. Therefore, the mercenaries had become even more methodical and ruthless.
Not only the supplies lines were targeted. Even full size armies were not spared by the mercenaries’ tactics. Mercenaries may not have as much people as a full size army, but they mastered element of surprise. No one knew the mountains as well as the mercenaries, and the Shansa army could not defend themselves against the gorilla strategy of the mercenaries. Shansa Empire was losing men at a staggering rate.
Band of Brother mercenary was a major mercenary group, and was the first to send out spies against Shansa Empire. Due to the chaos in Country of Mercenaries and the arrival of Maho Empire’s golden knight Miorich at Blackanis City, the chance of victory for Shansa Empire was very slim. That, and the sudden riots in the eastern coastal region, led Edward the VIII to recognize the improbability of winning the war, and he began to recall his armies.
For Yolanthe, this was amazing news, and he was greatly relieved. This allowed him to put his plans into actions. For Anfey and his companions, however, this was terrible news. The mercenaries that were gathered at Moramatch before knew that Alibaba mercenary was the one that destroyed the Griffins Aerial Squadron, and so did Kumaraghosha. This news had already spread throughout Shansa armies and Country of Mercenaries. Alibaba mercenary had became an almost legendary mercenary group. Sometimes too much fame was not a good thing. Anfey was confident that he could defeat a thousand men, but some sources stated that the first group of Shansa soldiers that were recalled had thirty thousand men. What if these men wanted revenge for the Aerial Squadron?
After the news arrived, Anfey and his men sat around in a circle, silently, with their heads down. A few days ago, they had defeated a group of mercenaries and defended their territory. Now, the threat was much greater than a few mercenaries.
To make things worse, Black Eleven and his men were attacked by a group of mercenaries on the way back to Moramatch, and the supplies they bought for Hagan were mostly lost. Only two men made it back to the town alive.
Most of the mercenaries wanted to serve their country, and that was why they were gathered at the Transverse Mountains. However, their leaders had other plans. This was the first and only chance since the founding of the Country of Mercenaries that they could challenge the leadership of the four major mercenary groups. If they could make the other coalitions disappear and take their men, then the future Country of Mercenaries would be ruled by five major mercenary groups. This made the leaders of the coalitions very excited.
Due to their ambitions, the coalitions had conflicts not only with the Shansa armies, but also with each other. Spies were spotted throughout the coalitions, and there was countless backstabbing. Some coalitions even set up ambushes for the other coalitions. This made the situation even more chaotic. The mercenaries were no strangers to tactics like this, but now they were even more reckless. They were willing to do everything for their future. Luckily, these mercenaries were still in the minority, or else Edward VIII would not order the retreat of his army.
Anfey was worried. He knew that he could afford to fight against a proper army, but it was not the right time to leave the town, either. Dwarves and gnomes aside, there were hundreds of people in the mercenary group, each with personal possessions. If they were to leave Moramatch, it would result in a long caravan. That was an invitation to bandits and rogue mercenaries. Even if some members of the group stayed behind, the town was surely being watched by other mercenaries. If the few that did leave were surrounded by mercenaries, they were as good as dead.
Everyone was deep in thought when Christian spoke up, "Why don’t we split up?"
"We put all of our elites into one team. That team will be responsible for getting the mercenaries’ attention. The rest could take shelter in the underground tunnels when the attention was on the other team." Christian paused for a moment before continuing, "Anfey, all the mercenaries know you already. Why don't you lead the team and make those people think we had all left the town."
"We need someone here as well. I was the one in charge of finding the dwarves and exploring the caves. I know this town," Christian said with a grin. "Take Suzanna with you. It is much more dangerous out there."
"What about here? What if Shansa Empire attacks the tunnels?"
"What Shansa Empire needs to do right now is get their armies back to Shansa safely. They don't have a lot of time. I don’t think they can afford launching a full scale attack right now," Christian said. "I won’t try to defend the tunnels. Don't forget, we have Hagan on our side. If we are attacked, we still have the behemoth."
"Hagan, how much supplies do you have left? How many times can you summon the behemoth?"
"Once," Hagan said.
Christian frowned and looked at Hagan. Hagan touched his forehead and said, "No, no, I was wrong. I can summon it three more times."
For someone as observant as Anfey, Christian’s gesture did not escape him. However, he didn’t want to point it out. "It’s not enough," he said.
"I can’t do it more than three times," Hagan said. "I can make the potion, but I can’t just make behemoth bones."
"If Shansa Empire put you under siege, what are you going to do?" Anfey turned to Christian and asked.
"It's very unlikely."
"What if it happens?"
"Take Riska with you. You can ambush them."
"Shansa Empire doesn’t have a lot of mages, but there have got to be at least a few dozen in an army of thirty thousand. We wouldn’t even have time to ambush them."
"That’s a problem for you to solve," Christian said, "not me. Take Niya with you. She hates the tunnels. I tried to convince her to go with me, but she refused every time. If she had to spend days down there, she would go mad."
Anfey frowned. Christian’s words sounded like a dying man’s last will, and it made him very uncomfortable. He knew that Christian came from a wealthy family. Anfey might not have agreed with Christian’s plan, but was impressed that he was willing to take up the responsibility of protecting his friends.
"No. It would be burdensome for me to go with him." Surprisingly, Niya rejected Christian’s plan.
Christian smiled and shook his head, but did not say anything else. Proposing this plan might have already tipped off some of the more insightful people about his true intention. He didn’t want it to be more obvious.
Anfey glanced at Niya. Everyone grows as time goes on and as they accumulate experiences, and Niya was no exception. Anfey had been ignoring Niya, and he was surprised by her mature response.
"Anfey, you have to decide," Black Eleven said quietly. "I think Christian has a good plan. We have to split into two groups. If Shansa Empire really wants revenge, you can save us from the outside. If we are all stuck inside the city, it is over."
"He’s right, Anfey. You have to pick," Zubin said.
"You have to come with me. You’ve spent the most time in Country of Mercenaries, and you know this place the best," Anfey said. "Black Eleven, Suzanna, Riska, and I. Just the four of us."
"Shouldn’t you pick a few more?" Christian frowned and asked.
"This is enough," Anfey reassured him.