In a hotel Room in the city, Bastian sat cross legged on a lavish bed, wearing simple linen clothes. V was sleeping on a sofa near the bed. Ben stood at attention, next to Bastian’s bed, with a worried look on his face.
This was quite the change, considering their previous predicament.
After the General saw Bastian make his oath to the heavens, he was astonished.
Bastian’s actions were completely unexpected.
“General you only have five minutes, if I were you, I would use them wisely.”
The General woke up after Bastian spoke.
This brat! It was a trap!
Yes, it was a trap. The General did in fact have enemies. One could even say he had more enemies than he should, due to his honorable nature. He would often speak out against anything or anyone who he deemed dishonorable, and in the Western Deserts, such people were as common as a grain of sand.
The General wasn’t really being forced to do anything, he could just not identify his enemies for the next five minutes. That would render Bastian’s actions void.
But then he would lose out.
Indeed, for this was too good of a deal. A Mark Bearer had offered to wipe out his enemies for him, all within a year, all he had to do was give him control of his army during that year. Not to mention that the Mark Bearer had made an oath to the heavens. This meant that he was very confident.
But there are still a few problems.
“How do I know that you aren’t trying to take control of my army? What guarantee do I have that you will not try to take it from me?”
The General had a good point. Bastian was a powerful and charismatic Mark Bearer. Within that year, he could easily win the hearts of his soldiers, especially if he really did carry out his oath. Some, or possibly even more, might leave with him.
“Oh. That is simple. General I do not just want an army. I want a good army. If I was to fragment your group, it would lessen in ability. Besides what I want the most is not a large number of soldiers. What I want the most, General, is you.” Said Bastian whilst smiling.
“Me? Why me?” The General couldn’t help but ask.
“Well General the reason is quite simple. You are an honorable soldier, one who has the ability to cultivate an honorable army. I don’t just want one army General. I want to have many, but first I must have someone I trust who can lead those armies.
Someone who is also very intelligent and is charismatic. You said it yourself, you and your men would rather die than do something against your own will, I admire that. A man who can cultivate such a loyal group of soldiers is very valuable. Which is why I need you General. I need you far more than anything else.” Said Bastian as he pointed at the General.
“You see General I have a vision. This region is far too war torn and disruptive. I already established a Kingdom of my own, but a distance from here. When I return to my Kingdom, I plan on establishing true law and order. A land where honor and truth are paramount. A land where the weak aren’t constantly afraid of being trampled on. A land of freedom!”
Bastian speech struck the General like an anvil. He had never heard such words from a noble before, let alone a Mark Bearer. On the Sovereign Continent, it was the law of the jungle. The strong prey on the weak. Very few people wanted to change that, least of all, nobles and Mark Bearers.
A speech that sounded cheesy to Bastian was revolutionary to the old man.
The General was no mentalist, but his years spent judging people were not in vain. He eyed Bastian like an eagle, and saw that the boy honestly believed he could achieve such lunacy. Either that, or he was a psychopath.
“You see General, although the Kingdom is mine, I don’t have a firm grasp on it. Which led to me stand before you in such a sorry state but I do plan on returning, and when I do return,” Bastian struck the wall with his tiny fist, “I will clean out all the filth. So General, 3 minutes are left. I’m sorry to have to ask a distinguished man such as yourself this, but will you help me sweep away my trash?”
Bastian held his hand out toward the General, his tattoo glistening in fool splendor, his eyes no longer arrogant, but still overbearing no less.
This is no mere child.
The General shook Bastian’s hand.
“My enemies are General Isaacs, General Frinz and General Vermalen of the Three Fangs Alliance.”
Bastian grinned so hard his cheeks started hurting.
Bastian stretched his hands and reclined on his bed lazily.
“Ben, tell me what we are dealing with,” said Bastian. He needed to know who his enemies were and his new army.
“Yes master. General Moto is the leader of the Flaming Winds Army. It was originally a small mercenary group but over the years, it grew and extended. It now currently occupies two E rank cities and one D rank city.”
Cities on the Sovereign Continent varied in size, and were given ranks according to their size and development. The ranks went from SSS to E, with SSS being the highest. More than half of the cities on the continent were not even worthy of having a rank, much like the city they were in then. These were called Rank less Cities.
In a fragmented region like The Western Deserts, it was common to find states made up of only a few cities. Barely qualified to be called Kingdoms. Normally they did not even have names, so they were just called occupied cities.
Once a mercenary group reached a certain level of strength, it would become a Free Army. The sign of being a Free Army was occupying, in other words controlling at least one E rank city.
When he heard that the Flaming Winds Army had a D rank city under its control, Bastian was impressed. Normally an army would at least need to have about 4 or 5 E rank cities before they think about taking over a D rank one.
“He is currently engaged in a fight with the Three Fangs Alliance. This is an alliance composed of three armies that joined together becoming one. These armies each had a grudge with the Flaming Winds Army, and coveted its D rank city, thus they joined together and formed their alliance.
These armies were led by General Isaac of the Isaac Army, General Frinz of the Freeze Brigade, and General Vermalen of the Blazing Army. Both General Isaac and General Fritz only had two cities under their control, with at least one being E rank, where as General Vermalen, had three E rank cities under her control.
Although it was an Alliance in name, General Vermalen’s strength far outstrips the strength of the other two combined, thus, one could think of her as the Leader.
All three armies neighbored the cities under the Control of General Moto, and were planning to take over his cities. General Moto was told to surrender his cities and join the alliance. He refused and even slandered the other three generals. Thus a war is believed to be about to start.
Although General Moto is powerful enough to beat all of the three head on, combined the three have an army that is at least double what the General has.
Most frightening of all is General Vermalen herself.”
Ben’s explanation had shed some light on the situation. Bastian was pleased, but both he and V wanted to know what was so scary about Vermalen.
Ben realized he had piqued the interests of the two and spoke up.
“General Isaac and General Frinz are both old experienced male veterans. On the other hand, General Vermalen is a young woman, and is believed to be in her early twenties. Five years before, she and her army did not exist. She practically sprung up from nowhere, and started gaining power. Rumor has it that she is a middle Teacher, and her second in command is a lower Scholar. It is also believed that she is…a Mark Bearer.”
Ben expected to hear sounds of astonishment and gasps. Yet his master and V merely nodded as if he had mentioned something mundane like the time of day. In fact, Ben could have sworn to have heard V sigh in relief.
As expected from my master! He is truly incredible! To not even flinch after hearing the magnitude of our enemies’ ability, what a powerful mind.
All of the people in the room knew that Bastian had been given effective control of the Flaming Winds Army. They also knew that he had taken an oath to the heavens, which was by nature, absurd.
V was angry and pouted for a few minutes, she was also ignoring Bastian. Bastian found this childish behavior quite refreshing.
Finally she is acting her age.
As soon as both parties heard what they were up against however, they were actually relieved. Due to both their backgrounds, such meager people would not even have been qualified to be their cup bearers in the past.
Taking care of such a pathetic army would be as easy as pie.
“V, how long would it take you to kill all of the outstanding officers in one night?” said Bastian lazily.
“Depends, but judging from what Ben said, it would probably take me about thirty minutes per city. If all the soldiers are gathered in one place, then 2 hours at most. It would probably take an hour if I did it at night.”
Bastian frowned at V’s response, “That’s a bit slow don’t you think?”
“Hey, I just got my cultivation back, so my foundations are a bit unsteady. This is the best I can do for now,” said V defensively.
“Fine, I suppose this will have to do for now,” said Bastian in a dejected tone.
What? What just happened?
Ben thought he had heard wrong. He could have sworn he had heard the most ridiculous conversation he had ever heard in his entire life.
He was about to confirm what he had heard, when Bastian spoke again.
“V when will you break through to upper Fighter?”
V got up from the sofa and furrowed her brow in thought. “Maybe about a month or two from now. I could do it faster, but I’m feeling too lazy. Besides I’ve just spent the last few months as a slave. Cultivation will have to wait, so I can enjoy myself.” said V as she picked up a bunch of grape like fruits from the table, and started plopping them in her mouth.
“Meh. There is no rush. Besides, I plan on training the army in some real military tactics. On our way to the inn, I asked the General to give me an overview of how his army was organized. It was very sloppy.
The tactics were primitive and structure was awful. I planned on rebuilding the whole thing from scratch. Even without your help, I am pretty sure I can wipe out the three fang whatever’s in at most, six months. Ben I’m feeling sleepy so I’m about to take a nap. Make sure no one disturbs me.
Oh and Ben, deliver a message to the General for me. Tell him I said six months.” Immediately afterwards, Bastian starting napping on the bed.
V followed suite. After about a minute or so within the room, only the sounds of the children snoring could be heard, along with the sweat from Ben’s forehead dripping onto the floor.
Advanced Fighter? Primitive? Six months??
These words kept ringing in Ben’s mind the entire time. For the first time in his life, he felt like a little kitten amongst tigers!
In another room, the General and his men were conversing.
“Are you sure that’s what they said?” said the old man.
One of the men gulped, before saying, “I’m positive sir. Six months.”
The room got deathly quiet. The General couldn’t handle the silence anymore. “Lang, you’re the smartest man here. What are your thoughts?”
Lang closed his eyes so he could gather his thoughts properly. After a few seconds, he gave his opinion. “I think giving control of our army was too rash. However given our dire circumstances, and the situation you were put in, I cannot say I disagree. As to whether or not he can pull this off, I think there is a high possibility. We all know what Mark Bearers are capable of.”
Lang’s wise words were met by widespread nodding across the room.
“Vermalen has been a thorn in my side for way too long. Mark Bearer against Mark Bearer. Let’s give her to have a taste of her own medicine.
Lang spread the word. Our army has a new tactician, he is a very powerful Mark Bearer. The more exaggerated the story is, the better.
Vermalen has spies everywhere. I’m pretty sure she will get wind of this sooner or later. Might as well take the initiative.”
Earlier on, Bastian had given the General permission to disclose his status as a Mark Bearer. Apparently it would boost their men’s morale, whilst doing the opposite to the enemy. The General naturally did not oppose.
The men assumed that a storm was about to start in a few weeks, little did they know that tomorrow would be host to an event that would change the entire sub region and its neighbors! And that the cause of this event was a twelve year old cripple with no cultivation!