Soldiers in Ellisen Empire were excited. They wrote an oath to the king, swearing to take over the whole Country of Mercenaries in three months. However, they found they were surrounded by "War Marsh" before the oath even reached to the desk of the king of Ellison Empire.
Mercenaries were everywhere in the Country of Mercenaries. Some of them were natives while others were immigrants. They were civilians in the country and became mercenaries as needed. Sometimes if knocking on a door in the Country of Mercenaries, it was easy to find that there were a few swordsmen or magisters in the family. It was nothing surprising.
Mercenaries could be organized in different ways. It could be friends who shared the same interests, a family, neighbors, even a village itself as a large size mercenary group. No matter how the mercenaries were organized, their sense of morality, loyalty, and responsibility were far better than militaries.
Although different sized mercenaries fought on their own, they still brought huge trouble to Ellisen Empire militaries. Logistics, small-scale rangers and scouts in Ellisen Empire suffered constant attacks. In other words, unless the soldiers in Ellisen Empire stayed together in their camp, any group of soldiers sent out on a mission, no matter whether a group of several, more than ten, or even hundreds, they all suffered fatal attacks from mercenaries. When the main force came to help, they would only see the dead bodies of their soldiers. When they did investigations in the villages, they could not find anything. Those civilians, or people who appeared to be civilians, were hostile towards the soldiers in Ellisen Empire and refused to cooperate.
Logistics suffered the most. In order to take territory in the Country of Mercenaries quickly, the military in Ellisen Empire usually only left hundreds or a few thousand soldiers as guards after they took over an area while, the main force would keep advancing. Mercenaries fought back and annihilated forces of guards one after another. Ellisen Empire’s military found they fell into a situation where they were surrounded by opponents.
Soldiers in Ellisen Empire could not tell apart a peaceful civilian and a killer who killed their peers. They could not control the situation. The word "slaughter" was taboo. In the battles of humans against other races, slaughterers had always become heroes of humans, but slaughterers could be spurned by all human beings in the civil wars. Of course, it was still possible to slaughter the Country of Mercenaries. It depended on the determinations of the upper class in Ellisen Empire.
First of all, Country of Mercenaries was a country with a fighting history. Death would not scare them since they had a history of fighting off the grim reaper. Slaughter would only make mercenaries indulge in extravagant acts of revenge. Ellisen Empire militaries needed to prepare for fighting alone, since other countries on Pan Continent might unite together to fight against Ellisen Empire. The delivery of metals, magic crystals and other military supplies would be blockaded. Then it would be hard to get any supplies from other countries, while local goods in Ellisen Empire would become less available. They also would experience political and economic isolation and attacks. If Country of Mercenaries tried to call for other countries to fight together against Ellisen Empire in the name of justice, then Ellisen Empire would be at a military disadvantage.
These disastrous possibilities made the upper class in Ellisen Empire finally decide, after lengthy deliberations, to recall their armies. Their offensive plan of moving forward in three branches was foiled. Armies in those three branches gathered together and retreated to Ellisen Empire as fast as they could.
A couple of soldiers died here and over ten soldiers died over there. It did not seem like a big number of fatalities. However, it happened so frequently that when the fatalities were added up, plus the lost guards, the upper class in Ellisen Empire found the fatality total had reached 40,000.
The war ended by the loss of the aggressor, Ellisen Empire. Since then, the other countries would always consider the military strategy of the Country of Mercenaries by involving everyone in the war. Country of Mercenaries and Tumen Commercial Union were two special governments in the south and north of Pan Continent, respectively. Compared with Tumen Commercial Union, Country of Mercenaries had full autonomy, while Tumen Commercial Union was dependent on Maho Empire. Tumen Commercial Union could develop to this extent so far due to the open policy of the Maho Empire. If the king of Maho Empire were cruel and greedy, Tumen Commercial Union would not be in such a good position.
Blackwater City was one of the two most important cities in the Country of Mercenaries. It was also one of the biggest distribution centers of magic crystals on Pan Continent. In the magic world, the demands and wear and tear on magic crystals was huge. Whoever had control of magic crystals would have control of the lifeblood of Pan Continent. Ellisen Empire used to be very powerful, but went into decline later on. Ellisen Empire was overtaken by Maho Empire. The policy of refusing businessmen from Ellisen Empire into Country of Mercenaries played an important role in it. After the invasion by Ellisen Empire, this policy had been carried out for a hundred years, which damaged Ellisen Empire’s economy greatly. Ellisen Empire had to buy magic crystals at a high price from the countries which had amicable relations with it. The lost in the past hundred years could not be calculated. This was a classic example of karma on Pan Continent.
A hundred years later, the revenge did not stop until a beautiful princess of Ellisen Empire married a regimental commander from a super mercenary group in the Country of Mercenaries. The age difference between them was huge. Whether the marriage was the result of political concerns was not possible to trace back.
Two sons of that regimental commander passed away from accidents, and the two-year-old grandson died from disease a year later. The son of that beautiful princess inherited the position of regimental commander. Whether what happened in this family was by accident or planned was going to be a myth. It was not worth looking into it anyway, since people knew Ellisen Empire was rebounding to recover its past strength.
Other kings on Pan Continent learned from Ellisen Empire about the potential threat from the Country of Mercenaries. They tried to keep a good relationship with the Country of Mercenaries as they kept an eye on it. They could bear to have their main resources under the control of an unorganized country, but could not allow a powerful authoritarian government to appear because it would become a huge threat to all the countries.
The upper class in the Country of Mercenaries seemed to understand this principle. Four super mercenary groups had been in power by turns. Every term was only one year long. No matter which mercenary group developed quickly, other mercenary groups would work together to reduce its power. There was much internal dissension among mercenaries. They knew they had to have internal dissension to reduce their power in order to avoid being the target of other countries.
Anfey learned about these from Christian and Suzanna. There was a saying that "you need to see it to believe it." When Anfey entered Blackwater City, he sensed a total different feeling in Blackwater City than in Maho Empire and Tumen Commercial Union.
The city walls in Blackwater City were very low. The Country of Mercenaries was a country without defensive facilities, but with a strong defensive system. City walls were never helpful. Many pedestrians on the streets wore swordsman and mage signs. The swordsman and mage rates in Blackwater City were a lot higher than in Maho Empire. It seemed that the buildings on the street were very old. They were neither as tall and grand as the Maho Empire’s, nor as fancy as Tumen Commercial Union’s.
A pleasure-seeker on the street flipped a woman’s skirt and squeezed hard on her butt. That woman looked like she enjoyed it. The bars were so loud that waves of sound came the bars that seemed like they could have made people on the street deaf. All of these would not happen in Maho Empire or Tumen Commercial Union. Maho Empire and Tumen Commercial Union seemed to be civilized, while it was still wild here. These three cities usually left people with quite different impressions.
Anfey found people on the street did not seem to be interested in others. Every time they encountered a weird person on the street, Christian and others in Anfey’s legion would watch curiously for a while, but people in Blackwater City treated it like nothing had happened.
There was relatively more freedom in Blackwater City. The Mercenary Union would not interfere with personal lives unless they caused safety issues for others. No one would judge if a person was riding in a female elf slave’s carriage, or even killed a female elf slave on the street, since that person just destroyed his own property. However, he had to pay a cleaning fee for it. Of course, that person needed to be prepared for revenge from the proud elves.
"Female elf slave" sounded like a low status. It would be wrong to think that way. Female elf slaves only meant they had just entered the human society. Their status would change over time. Some of them would earn higher social status, while other would earn lower social status. The wife of the current regional commander of the Tiger of Tawau mercenaries used to be an elf slave, but she had thrown off her slavery and become an influential member of the upper class. She had nine children with her husband. Every child of hers was outstanding.
"Anfey, if the people in Blackwater City learned about the warrant sent by the Phillips, would our safety be an issue?" Blavi whispered as he watched the people on the street.
"No, mercenaries are not killers. Phillip was just a master swordsman. He did not have such influence," Suzanna answered quietly.
"Let’s find a place to stay first. We should rent or even buy a house later," Anfey said, looking at the sign for a hotel.