Of course, the majority of unofficial rankers were anonymous. In the wide world of Satisfy, there were people who intentionally concealed their existences and weren't known to the public. Yes, Ares was no exception. He might be recognized by the Overgeared members, but he was unknown to ordinary players.
The Belto Kingdom. The size of the economy and the actual land made it the smallest kingdom on the far east of the West Continent. There were no clear advantages to staying here, so the Ares Army's secrecy was guaranteed. However.
"The Overgeared Kingdom has proposed an alliance. They will help us take control of the Belto Kingdom and strengthen our power against the empire."
The Overgeared Guild was aware of their army? They even knew that Ares was aiming for the Belto Kingdom? The staff members called by Ares were surprised. But it only a portion of them. The majority of people were numb.
"It's no wonder that the Overgeared Guild knows about us."
"There's a rumor that there's a special relationship between Grid and Kraugel. Kraugel leaked our information to the Overgeared Guild."
"You shouldn't accept the Overgeared Guild's alliance offer. They're using an excuse to stop us from hunting Kraugel."
"Does the Overgeared Guild even know that we are hunting Kraugel? Surely Kraugel wouldn't run to Grid for help? I can't imagine it."
"I have the same idea. The Overgeared Guild's alliance offer is irrelevant to Kraugel. The Overgeared Guild wants something else."
"We have to determine their real intention before deciding if we should accept the alliance offer or not. We should be in an advantageous position."
Ares stayed silent while his chief staff members talked. Making his subordinates feel free to express their opinions without worrying about their positions, this was the best way for making an ideal choice on comprehensive issues. It was one of Ares' biggest strengths.
"Do you know that the Red Knights returned to the empire after winning the war against the Belto Kingdom and stabilizing the rear?"
Scott, one of Ares' closest aides, opened his mouth and the crowd fell silent. Everyone's attention was focused on what Scott was saying.
"It's very likely that the empire's gaze is flowing back to the Overgeared Kingdom. The Overgeared Kingdom is under pressure from the empire. They offered us an alliance in order to save themselves."
"Then the Overgeared Kingdom offered us an alliance because..."
"Do they mean to help us cause a disturbance in the rear of the empire and grow during that gap?"
"It's the most natural reason."
The silent Ares finally nodded. It was a gesture that showed he agreed with Scott.
"The Overgeared Guild proposed an alliance with the intention of 'helping' us, but it's actually the Overgeared Guild that needs help."
The Belto Kingdom was defeated in the war and had already dropped from the empire's interest. Ares wasn't in a hurry. He used his duke's position in the Belto Kingdom to steadily build up his forces. He would look for a chance to overthrow the royal family and seize the Belto Kingdom.
'Yes, I don't need the Overgeared Guild's help.'
Of course, it would be much faster to swallow up the Belto Kingdom if he had the Overgeared Guid's help. But Ares' ultimate targets included the Overgeared Guild. Helping the Overgeared Guild would just end up nurturing the enemy.
"I will reject the alliance offer."
The moment that Ares made this decision.
Ares' other closest aide, Luck, rushed into the meeting room. He said that the meeting was boring and went hunting. Now everyone was curious about why he was making a fuss.
"What's going on?"
Scott asked instead of Ares.
"The royal army is advancing here!"
Ares was able to rise to the position of a duke in the Belto Kingdom because he showed great loyalty. On the surface, Ares was the loyalist person in the Belto Kingdom. It was natural for the king and royal family to trust Ares. So why was an army dispatched?
What was this situation all of a sudden? There was an uproar in the meeting room due to the unexpected situation. In the midst of the chaos, Ares and Scott were gritting their teeth.
'It's clearly Lauel's ploy.'
The Overgeared Kingdom was created with Grid's power and Lauel's brains. Lauel's intelligence was acknowledged by the whole world, and it was the same with Ares and Scott.
"Ares, it's clear that Lauel drove a wedge between us and the royal family."
"I know. It's to force the alliance."
"What? The current situation was induced by the Overgeared Guild?"
"Disgraceful! Never accept the alliance!"
A chief staff member shouted in agitation after hearing the conversation between Ares and Scott. In particular, Luck's face was extremely red. He was the one who competed with Kraugel. He persisted in hunting Kraugel after Kraugel's level was reset and now he felt furious at the Overgeared Guild.
"After overcoming this and taking control of the Belto Kingdom, shall we go straight to the Overgeared Kingdom?"
Scott soothed the agitated Luck.
"No, it's impossible. We can't beat the royal family with our current power."
The Belto Kingdom might be small, but the level of their army was enormous. It was all Ares' merits. In the meantime, the Ares Army had fostered a militia and systematic military organization in order to gain the trust of the Belto royal family. It was also a means of building up strength against the empire. Now the efforts of the past was a poison against them. They were furious but what could they do?
"Accept the Overgeared Guild's proposal."
Scott started to persuade Ares.
"Isn't it better to worry about the enemy in front of us rather than the enemy of the future?"
Of course Ares knew this. But he was unwilling. His pride was hurt at moving in accordance with the intentions of others.
"You will someday pay back today's disgrace. The chance will come if you take control of the Belto Kingdom and find stability."
"...It can't be helped."
Under Scott's continued persuasion, Ares finally made a decision. In the first place, he wasn't someone who would make a foolish decision due to his pride.
"I will accept the alliance offer."
The Belto Kingdom. The royal army that entered the Ares Duchy was divided into eight branches. The dust rising like a storm and the sharp screams from all directions caused Grid to frown in the sky.
-Isn't there an answer yet?
Grid observed the ground and sent an impatient whisper. It was regrettable watching the NPC residents die without being able to do anything. Lauel replied to Grid's whisper.
-Ares will have no choice but to accept our offer. You don't have to worry. Sooner or later, an answer will come.
-That's the problem.
Lauel had designed the situation so that the royal army attacked the Ares Duchy. Ares was pushed to the brink and had to accept the alliance. Grid didn't like it.
-Can we trust this type of alliance?
-In the first place, we can never be friends with Ares. Their ambition is far too big and can't coexist with us. Strictly speaking, this is a short-term business relationship. There is no need to question its validity.
Nevertheless, the sight of innocent NPCs being slaughtered was painful. The residents of the Ares Duchy were being slaughtered by the royal army without understanding the situation. The Belto Kingdom had defined all the residents of the Ares Duchy as accomplices of Ares.
'They can't neglect the potential risks.'
Every person had their own reasons. Grid was calming his mind when Lauel's whisper arrived.
-Ares has accepted the alliance. However, a condition is attached. They asked the Overgeared Guild to stop two out of the eight branches of the royal army. Stop their advance for three days until the main force that has been sent elsewhere for training arrives.
-Isn't this the shit that we made?
-They want to test the skills of our allies.
-Didn't you tell me not to expose my skills?
-Yes, it's dangerous to expose all your power to a potential enemy. Use only the skills that you showed during the Belial raid.
A smile appeared on Grid's face.
-Then I will handle two of the enemy branches.
-...No, you just need to grab their ankles for three days... Your Majesty? Your Majesty?? Sir?
"I was suspicious of Ares from the beginning."
Duke Vanish. He was originally the greatest power in the Belto Kingdom. But in the process of Ares emerging like a comet and ascending to the position of duke, he lost a lot of power. The royal family, the officials, and the people. Everyone appreciated Duke Ares more than Duke Vanish. Duke Vanish could only watch as Duke Ares expanded his forces. Duke Vanish's sense of loss was very large. The power that he was able to enjoy due to his family being loyal to the Belto Kingdom for generations was lost to a stone who came rolling in one day.
But it was virtually impossible for him to keep Ares in check. Ares was too capable. His military talent was so great that the Belto Kingdom's weak military power grew by leaps and bounds in just three years. If there wasn't the empire in the middle, the Belto Kingdom would be able to expand its power by targeting other kingdoms.
'It doesn't make sense that such a great person is loyal to a small kingdom like ours.'
Even the Saharan Empire would want such talent. Then why was Ares loyal to the Belto Kingdom? Duke Vanish felt great doubts. That's why he was glad about the news that arrived a few days ago. Duke Ares' ultimate goal was the capture of the Belto Kingdom.
There was credible evidence in the anonymous report. It was the military trend of the Ares Duchy. The army deployed by Duke Ares was able to advance to the capital at any time. In addition, they were practicing war strategies in a city that recreated the structure of the capital. It was a military exercise intended to take control of the capital.
Duke Vanish reported this to the king, and the king, who was extremely furious due to his high trust in Duke Ares, ordered Duke Vanish to invade the Ares Duchy straight away. He even had the support of the royal army!
"Can he stop the 10,000 troops?"
The strength of the royal family was different in dimension. They were active and grew in the war against the empire. On the other hand, Ares lost a considerable amount of troops in the war against the empire. Now he didn't have the power to confront the royal army.
"Kukuk... Kuhahaha! Smash them! Burn the land that Ares stepped on and destroy all the facilities that Ares touched! Remove the Ares Duchy from the map!"
Duke Vanish was giddy with joy as the royal army advanced with no obstacles. The army divided into eight branches in order to burn all of the Ares Duchy. No one was able to stop it. No, he thought they couldn't be stopped.