Five days had passed since Sila’s group had arrived at Zhongsuyuan City . Burapha had been busy delivering air conditioners to customers in every corner of the city . The distribution was going surprisingly well .
Zhongsuyuan City was a tropical city located next to a wasteland and a desert . Even though the shadows from the pine trees helped to block the sunlight, the heat still remained . The city was similar to the northern region, albeit not as severe . As long as one possessed some degree of mastery at energy reinforcement to protect themselves against the heat, they would be fine . It was different from Belacia City where you might freeze to death if you fail to constantly clad yourself with power . Zhongsuyuan City was famous as a trading city, so most players were willing to pay some cash to get their hands on an air conditioner, conveniently eliminating any issues with the heat .
During this period of time, Sila and Kimon’s members made no further moves, afraid that too much of their involvement would spoil the plan and ruin everything they had done so far .
Aside from the ‘Mysterious Flames’ incident that happened four days ago, Zhongsuyuan City had remained in a peaceful state . However, that was only on the surface . Recently, there were several small fights breaking out in the city . While the fights didn’t escalate due to the citizens’ fear of Revin’s influence, the minds of people were pent-up with anger and distrust, ready to explode .
As for Children of the Sea, they were steadily making a name for themselves . They were pioneers in selling air conditioners . While other merchants wanted to copy the idea and sell the same thing, they were aware that an air conditioner is the kind of item that, unlike consumables or weapons, won’t be purchased a second time for a while after the customer buys the first one . Considering the risk and reward, they decided not to jump into this market .
The Pine Leaf Restaurant was always filled with customers . Recently, the number of customers exceeded even that of the best restaurant, the Pine View Restaurant . The reason was obviously the seafood, which left a rare taste for players living in the Main Continent . It was quite unexpected since most if not all players had surely been to Port City . It was even the very first city they’d come across on the Main Continent .
The reason was simple . Most players kept all of their money to pay for the ship departing from the Island of Beginnings . They were short on cash once they arrived at the port, so they rarely chose to spend it on fancy restaurants located around the port .
Moreover, while Lockheart City was called a city, it was actually just a harbor . The reason why it was regarded as such was that some people set up shops and a few buildings around, targeting new players who took a few moments around the harbor before venturing outside . There were neither quests nor notable monsters, leading to players rarely returning to Lockheart City if they weren’t merchants .
The first batch of seafood was almost sold out after just five days . In addition, Burapha’s group received a lot of “reservations” for future orders, coming from not only direct customers but also middlemen and various restaurants . If Children of the Sea successfully secured the seafood market, they would undoubtedly rake in constant waves of profit . However, it was exactly due to this successful trading that Burapha had a severe headache .
In the afternoon, Burapha brought a pile of stacked documents into the hideout, his face clearly showing anxiety .
Inside, Sila was watching a small cluster of golden flames on his right palm . In fact, he had been doing this for four days straight .
Burapha personally didn’t want to disturb Sila’s concentration . However, the situation was urgent . He had no choice but to inform Sila, the leader of the raid operation .
“Ahem, Big Brother Sila . ”
The golden flames wavered for a split second . Sila hurriedly covered them using both hands . A burst of bright light flashed through his fingers, so intense that Burapha had to cover his eyes .
Once the light faded away, Burapha noticed that Sila was healing his burnt hands . It took a few moments before the injuries were gone .
“Are you okay, Big Brother? What was that just now?” Burapha asked out of concern .
“Ah? That? It’s alright . I was just trying a new power that I still can’t completely control . It seems I can’t lose even a fraction of my concentration while using it . ”
“Big Brother . . . we can’t revive during the war event . I don’t think you should take that kind of risk . ”
“Taking a risk? No, I was just trying things out bit by bit . The worst that could happen would be just . . . losing an arm, I guess? But don’t worry . It won’t be fatal . By the way, was there something you needed?”
Burapha believed it was no point to persuade his weirdly stubborn big brother, so he gave up rather quickly . He placed the pile of papers on a table next to Sila .
“There is a big problem, one which we didn’t anticipate . ”
Sila flipped the papers without reading them .
“What kind of problem?”
Burapha sighed . “It would be news worth celebrating if we’re doing actual business . However, for us, things will go terribly wrong at this rate . Our seafood sells too well . Our stock is running out . This is even taking into account the fact that I slowed down our sales . Otherwise, we would have sold everything two days ago . ”
“What exactly is the problem, then? Can’t we just ask our source for more?”
Burapha lowered his head . “It’s my fault . I never considered a situation where we run out of seafood . Children of the Sea already gave us all the seafood they had . Even if we request more, there won’t be any within a short period of time . We claimed that we were going to launch a new branch in Zhongsuyuan City . It will look extremely suspicious if they find out that we don’t have the second batch of products prepared . ”
Upon hearing the explanation, Sila’s expression immediately turned serious . Their reason for entering the city was for trading . However, it was just a pretense . They had no plans to keep doing business, so they didn’t prepare for a long-term trading scenario . If this fact was released to the public, they would instantly lose their chance to perform a surprise attack .
“No, it’s my fault . We originally planned to start the raid in three days, but I postponed it . Otherwise, this problem wouldn’t have occurred . ”
Sila closed his eyes, considering his available options before opening his mouth to ask Burapha .
“What is the progress of each group?”
“They’re all finished . As you have just said, Big Brother, our strategy was originally planned to be done in three days . ”
Sila let out a sigh as he made a decision . “In that case, go tell everyone that we’ll start the raid tonight . We have to take action before someone becomes suspicious of us, otherwise, we will lose our only advantage . I’ll send messages to Cross and Sebastian to proceed at the same time . ”
Burapha was shocked . “Tonight?! What about Big Brother Lomyok, then?”
“Lomyok is quite eye-catching . I’ll search for him in the city . If we’re lucky, he might have already left . ”
“What if he is still in the city?”
“Well, I’ll try to do something about it . Let’s hurry up and finish the preparations, Burapha . Go tell those who are free to look for Lomyok . On the other hand, those who will participate in the operation should go rest . ”
Sensing the impatience in Sila’s tone, Burapha quickly left to do as Sila instructed . As for Sila, he was restless even when Burapha had left . It still couldn’t be concluded for certain that Lomyok was no longer in the city even if they didn’t find him . Maybe he was simply resting in a hotel room .
One thing for sure, however, was the fact that if he failed to raid Zhongsuyuan City tonight, everything would fall apart . The union’s plans were linked to each other like a row of dominoes . If they failed at the first step, the rest would be out of the question .
With his heavy state of mind, Sila opened his system window and sent a message to Cross, then sent the same one to Bluebird, who was closest to Sebastian .
“Proceed tonight . ”
Cross opened his system window and read the new message with no change in expressions . To be honest, he found Sila’s behavior of changing schedule time and time again troublesome . However, he understood that Sila must have some reason to do so .
Zhongsuyuan City was the place where the least number of Wicked Union members had been gathered . In a way, it could be said that it was the union’s most vulnerable spot . As such, their linked plans used Zhongsuyuan City as a starting point .
‘So it has to be tonight, huh . Too bad . It’s the worst possible timing for my side . ’
While Cross might be complaining inwardly, he also understood that wartime is the period when things always change . No matter how difficult the sudden obstacles are, his only choices are to struggle and survive or die .
If there was one area in which Cross was superior to others, that would be his ability to make decisions swiftly . In fact, it was precisely because of this quality that Montra targeted him despite his fighting ability being the weakest among the Four Emperors .
‘If the raid had started a couple days ago, it would have been the best start we could ask for, since the Heavenly Dragon Guild was still perplexed about the news regarding Lone Wolf’s death . However, the time has passed and they are now on high alert . Their defenses are going to be in top condition . Actually, it would be wiser to wait a bit more until they lower their guard before performing the raid . Heck . . . the underground tunnel is still unfinished and will need several more days . What should I do now . . . ?’
“Hm . . . I will have to take a higher risk, I guess . ” Cross opened his system window and sent a command to assemble his people .
Someone blew a horn, generating a loud noise . Startled, a flock of birds flew away from their nests .
The camps of the Royal Armament Guild were always prepared to wage war . Once Cross exited his tent, he could see that all of his subordinates had stopped their usual activities and rushed to their makeshift meeting spot . In less than five minutes, the army consisting of five hundred players had finished assembling and was now waiting for Cross’ instructions .
For the record, Cross divided his entire army into seven battalions . Since they had no legitimate base, each battalion set up their camps along the edge of the Single-Horned Dragon Forest . The locations of their camps were spread out with some distance between each of them, reducing their chances of being eliminated together .
Cross stepped up onto a small stage prepared for him to make an announcement . He swept his gaze to observe everyone before starting his speech .
“Tonight we will attack Siaferia City . Prepare yourselves! Listen to my orders! Firstly, Shueria and Fargo, each of you will lead two battalions, going to the left and right sides . ”
Shueria and Fargo noticed something strange, but they remained silent . Both of them simply acknowledged their assignments accordingly without raising a question .
Something strange was surely going on . Cross wasn’t the kind of leader who suddenly changed his plan without informing his teammates of the reason .
“ . . . As for the main army, Tiger will be responsible for commanding the remaining three battalions . ”
With their well-trained discipline, there were neither complaints nor arguments . However, the people’s eyes clearly showed that they were extremely confused regarding Cross’ decision .
Tiger had relatively weak fighting ability . In fact, commanders of some battalions were even stronger than him . Despite that, the man was assigned to command the main army, which meant he had enough authority to give orders to Fargo and Shueria . No matter how they looked at it—be it regarding fighting ability, seniority, or suitability—Cross’ choice of appointment this time was questionable .
“Now, Jundtrathep and Tiger, step forward,” Cross gave out another order while checking his system window .
Totally bewildered of the reason why she was called, Jundtrathep came out of the battalion in a dumbfounded manner . It was one thing for Tiger . However, she couldn’t find a single reason why she was called .
“Come up here . ”
Receiving Cross’ command, the two went up onto the stage . Cross took out a sword from his system window and offered it to Tiger .
“This sword may not be high in quality, but it’s of utmost importance to me . I give it to you as a memento of your first time leading the main army . ”
Tiger extended his hand to accept the sword, his gaze noticing small letters engraved on the blade . He speculated that Cross must have written them using psychic power .
Cross gave no further explanation, but just his previous words about how the sword was of ‘utmost importance’ were enough to give Tiger a clue . The reason why he was doing this kind of thing could only imply that someone was keeping an eye on this assembly . That much was certain .
“I’ll do my best, Leader . ” Tiger received the sword with both hands .
Next, Cross took out a small item box from his system window . The way he gazed at it for a split second was hard to explain . He handed it to Jundtrathep .
Receiving the box, Jundtrathep opened it and found that there was a pair of silver rings inside . The system notified her that they were part of a set called Couple’s Rings of Commitment .
“Eh? Rings? Why?”
“You don’t have to give me your answer right away . However, I have something to tell you in private . Can we talk? Just the two of us . Please follow me if you aren’t against it . ”
“E-Eh? W-What do you mean? C-Could this be . . . ?”
While Jundtrathep was still confused by the situation, Cross had already left the stage and was walking along the edge of the forest . The surroundings turned deathly silent .
As people were paying attention to Jundtrathep and Cross, Tiger imbued his eyes with psychic power, strengthening his vision . He might be unable to see an object a dozen kilometers away, but reading the hidden message on the blade was well within his capabilities . As he finished reading it, he tapped Jundtrathep on her shoulder .
“You should go, Jund . Whether you accept or reject his will, you should at least give the man a reply . ”
Jundtrathep was still confused . In all her life, she had never experienced this kind of moment before . In any case, it was exactly as Tiger suggested . She had to give the man her reply . The place and time seemed inappropriate though .
“Mn . I understand, Big Brother Tiger . ”
Jundtrathep followed Cross, leaving everyone behind to feel confused about the situation . They began to wonder whether the reason why Tiger was assigned to an important task was related to how he was Jundtrathep’s close comrade . Some became interested in the Sword Emperor’s new love story while some were displeased by how their leader was playing favorites and abandoned his duties to flirt with a girl .
As a result, only a few people noticed that Tiger had approached Shueria and Fargo . Even if they did, they found it rather logical for three commanders to have a discussion before the raid .
Furthermore, Tiger was still inexperienced . It was natural that he would want to seek the two’s advice .
Concurrently, Bluebird sped up his journey to the Skull Mountain Pass . As he showed a red piece to the guards and they had been informed of his arrival beforehand, it took him no time to enter the inner area .
As Bluebird strode past the area, many players along the way intently watched his movements . Each of them might possess subpar fighting prowess . However, their faces were thuggish and scary, leaving the impression that this place was a den of thieves .
Well, it wasn’t totally incorrect to claim it as such . The place was technically a den of thieves, albeit orchestrated by Sebastian who set it up on Sila’s orders .
Bluebird pushed a certain door open . Inside, there were Sebastian and a group of players sitting around .
“Sila said the time has come,” announced Bluebird .
Sebastian nodded, while the rest of the people showed excited expressions . The butler turned his head to look at them .
“Make sure you remember your roles and duties, everyone . ”
The people in the room responded with clamor . They left the room . A commotion could be heard from the outside . Soon, people began to exit the mountain pass .
Sebastian turned back to Bluebird . “What about you, Mister Blue? Have you remembered your role?”
Bluebird took out a skull-shaped white mask that once belonged to someone he called friend, and placed it over his face . He also mimicked the voice of the mask’s original owner .
“Certainly . I doubt the Heavenly Dragon Guild’s members will have time to rest tonight . ”