The ex-members that had poisoned the Flame Mercenaries had been bought out by the Defiance Mercenaries a long time ago, and were thus not spared by Kai Er. Their heads were cut off, and their corpses were tossed into the wilderness outside of Wake City for the beasts to feast on.
With everything done and taken care of, the group cleaned up the area around the Kai family’s compound before heading straight on in. Within the halls, Jian Chen sat at the very top where the head of the compound would normally sit. At his side was Ming Dong and the five others along with Kai Er and his three companions from the Flame Mercenaries.
“Kai Er, Qingfeng, Mo Tian, and Charcas, what has happened since my departure those years ago? Why has the Flame Mercenaries fallen into such a miserable state?” Jian Chen stared at the four in question.
“Captain, it was all because of our inability. Not only were we unable to expand the Flame Mercenaries, we also let it fall into such a desolate state. If not for the captain coming over to help us, then our Flame Mercenaries may not have survived beyond today.” Kai Er spoke in shame.
“Describe what happened to me in detail. Allow me to understand just what occurred in the past.” Jian Chen spoke.
Kai Er gave a look to the other three for a moment before summoning up his courage. “Captain, allow me to say it. When you first left, we followed your orders on doing our best to expand the Flame Mercenaries’ strength. At that time our strength was enough to make us undefeatable in Wake City, so our very first step was to reorganize the structure of Wake City and reclaim all the power that had been lost to us.”
“Our plan was performed without a hitch when we were first implementing it. We were trying to bring many of the other clans and powers under our command along with several of the weaker mercenary groups. Thus, the Flame Mercenaries attained another level of power, but there were some factions within Wake City that were unwilling to join with our Flame Mercenaries. Forming an alliance, they began to contend against our Flame Mercenaries. This coalition of theirs was filled with several of the stronger families and mercenaries within the city, making their strength no less than our own. For some time, we battled secretly with them in the shadows of the city receiving damage on both sides. Half a year later it was discovered that the cub of a Class 5 Magical Beast was found. The news was leaked and had made its way to the ears of the enemy alliance. This time, our Flame Mercenaries and that alliance were embroiled in an all out war because of the cub. Both of our sides ended up inflicting a tremendous amount of damage. In the end, our Flame Mercenaries managed to win over the enemy alliance. Alas, Weiss and Seth were both casualties of the war!”
Upon hearing of a Class 5 Magical Beast cub, Jian Chen’s eyes gained a strange light to them. “This cub belongs to the Golden Tiger King doesn’t it.”
“Correct. That cub was indeed the Golden Tiger King’s cub. It was unable to attack because of its adolescence. Hence, our Flame Mercenaries were able to obtain it. But unfortunately…” Kai Er’s voice began to falter at this point as pain and grief filled his face.
“But what?” Jian Chen’s eyes continued to stare down at Kai Er with the same strange light. There was an unforgivable and unforgettable hatred etched between this Golden Tiger King’s cub and Jian Chen. It was because of this cub that the original captain Kendall was killed and the rest of the members beside him had been buried in the mountain range.
“Ai. It was because of our carelessness that the cub was stolen at night by a secret assailant. Duo Kang gave chase, but he ended up being beheaded. Taking a look at the wreckage later, we were able to ascertain that the assailant that took the cub was in possession of a battle skill.” Qingfeng sighed with regret etched on his face.
“It was all because of my negligence.” Mo Tian regretfully spoke. The anguish on his face could hardly be contained as if he blame himself over Duo Kang’s death.
Jian Chen’s face hardened as he questioned, “Did you manage to find out just who it was that took the cub away?”
“Not a single piece of information was found. That assailant didn’t leave behind any clues for us to find. The cub was never found in Wake City ever again.” Charcas shook his head.
Jian Chen’s eyebrows rose as he began to think to himself.
Meanwhile, Kai Er continued to speak, “After that, our forces were weakened against the might of the alliance. Now stuck at a deadlock, we were very surprised to hear that the alliance had begun to suffer from internal strife. Beginning to fight one another, it led to us witnessing the entire alliance crumble and wither away into ash.”
“We tried to take advantage of the chaos to subdue the rest of the straggling factions, but what we didn’t expect was that another party would come in like the storm and beat us to it. They were the Defiance Mercenaries. Not even a few days later, the leader of the Defiance Mercenaries, the One-armed Warrior, had even come to us and ordered us to swear allegiance to his mercenaries. After our refusal, the Defiance Mercenaries began to act as a foil to our own. There was some sort of unusual connection between city lord and the One-armed Warrior, so they were looked after with special consideration by the city lord. As a result, the Defiance Mercenaries began to explode in development; along the way, our mercenaries came into conflict with theirs several times to end up with what you witnessed today.”
Jian Chen hummed to himself after listening to the entire conversation, “I didn’t think that so much would happen in a short two years. Things have gotten far more complicated than I thought, but this cannot be blamed on you.”
Qingfeng hesitated for a moment before opening his mouth once more, “Captain, there is still one more thing to report.”
“Say it!” Jian Chen spoke.
“Captain, after Weiss’ death, Weiss’ son took over the Dohre clan and withdrew from our Flame Mercenaries. Now that captain has returned, should we have the Dohre clan rejoin us?” Qingfeng asked.
Giving it some consideration, Jian Chen spoke, “No matter what is said, Weiss is a man who died for our Flame Mercenaries and merits a spot as a minister for outstanding service. I will go to his clan tomorrow. It’s getting late now, and you should all go rest. Now that I’ve returned, the Flame Mercenaries’ development will not be stopped. Tomorrow morning, I will have several important announcements for everyone.”
Kai Er and the other three left the hall so that Jian Chen and his group of seven were the only ones left.
“Jian Chen, so this is your mercenary group? There’s only four Great Saint Masters and an unremarkable amount of strength, but that isn’t important. With our strengths, it won’t take long for us to transform the Flame Mercenaries into the strongest mercenary group in the Blue Wind Kingdom.” Ming Dong spoke.
“En, that is my plan as well. So, in light of this, does anyone have any favorable plans we may try?” Jian Chen asked.
“Simple, we must build up our army. As long as you announce the fact that there are seven Earth Saint Masters, I am sure many mercenaries would be willing to join us.” Ming Dong suggested.
“While that is a decent plan, it will only bring forth the people with hidden agendas. We cannot find everyone, and it won’t be long in the future that another repeat of today’s events happen again. In my eyes, we should make our soldiers an elite squad, but in a controllable number. An elite squad of a hundred can defeat a mob of a thousand civilians.” Dugu Feng spoke.
“Oh, that’s not bad. Dugu Feng’s suggestion has some merit to it. Why don’t we just spend some time and blood in training these soldiers into becoming the elite soldiers we want?” Ming Dong asked.
“Training them to become elite soldiers is a must. These soldiers are ones that I find suitable in both my mind and in reality, but it isn’t enough. My goal is that in the future, the Flame Mercenaries will become the strongest on the Tian Yuan Continent. It will take a very long time, but this cannot be done slowly. I must move fast, move swiftly.” Jian Chen said.
“Then I have a suggestion, everyone please consult about this as you see fit.” You Yue finally spoke up from her long-seated silence. “Jian Chen, if you wish to develop the Flame Mercenaries as quick as possible, then there is really only one path for you to go. You must go to the stronger cities and subdue all of the stronger mercenary groups under your control. With your strength, as long as you don’t come across any Heaven Saint Masters, you will meet no obstruction.”
“If we do that, then even if they swear allegiance to us on the surface, who knows what they just might do in secret. The things that happened today should be a lesson.” Senior An spoke.
“That isn’t something we should worry about. In the face of absolute power, any machinations become as threatening as a paper tiger. The men with brains will see the strength of our group and know what they ought to do. To follow us would be to further their paths and reach a new height. If they stay within the mercenary group for long enough, they will become to come to love and cherish the group. Just like a civilian that lives in a kingdom, they will come to love the kingdom and cherish it as their family.” The princess spoke. “Moreover, Jian Chen is a Heaven Saint Master and a very strong one at that. The amount of individuals like him in any single kingdom is known to be scarce no matter where you are. To have a Heaven Saint Master as your patron is something every single person hopes for. To have a Heaven Saint Master as their patron is to have their statuses elevated even if they themselves are not strong. Needless to say they will not fear some other force swallowing their power whole. Thus, they have no reason to decline joining us.”
Everyone had fallen silent after You Yue gave her piece. They all knew that she had only spoken words of pure logic. Truly, in the face of absolute power, any machination or secret plots were nothing more than paper tigers. No matter how big the wave, there would be no internal strife within the group as long as their captain remained upright.
Jian Chen sat in silence as well as he processed her words. Taking notes of the detailed plan of You Yue, Jian Chen finally smiled and nodded his head, “That isn’t bad at all. Let us work as such.”
Having her own plan be approved by Jian Chen caused You Yue’s face to reveal a delightful smile. “However there is one thing to be cautious about. When using force to make them submit, do not remove all forms of power from their previous leaders; otherwise, even if they submit, their anger for you will never be forgotten. Their mercenary groups were after all founded on hard work as well. If all of your hard work was so easily dismissed and taken away by someone else, I doubt there is a single person in the world that would accept such a slap in the face.”