In front of Moria's gates, an enormous army of players was gathering together. Carriage horses carried merchandise and rations for the army. This was the first day of the Eastern Kingdom conquest.
Several high-level players were standing around a table that had a map spread over it.
"Where is Warlord?!" a man in blue robes asked.
"I'm here, Demetri, what's the situation?" A young man in black armor and a battle ax strapped to his back walked up next to Demetri.
"The Blood Rager guild has already moved. They will be clearing the area from monsters first."
"Oh, that Zhang Shi chose to go into the Wilds first?"
"Yes, my contract with him was mainly to use his players to clear the way. I will be counting on the Devastators to take over the east for me."
"Don't worry, we will do our best to take the kingdom."
"I don't need your best! I need you to do it." Demetri sounded irritated for some reason.
"Valentine," Demetri called.
"Yes?" the pink armored guardian replied.
"We should get going soon. Otherwise, the Blood Rager guild will be too far from us to support them with players if they end up meeting with the Black Dragon."
"The White Ghost is with them, you don't need to worry about the dragon. He said he has a way to deal with it. The problem is the route we are going to take."
"What do you mean?" Demetri asked.
"If we go through here," Valentine pointed at a spot on the map "We will be killed off by the spiders living in this territory. We should take a detour."
"Wouldn't that separate us from the Blood Ragers."
"The Blood Ragers will not take the path through the spider territory. I already spoke to the White Ghost he also said that they won't be going through the Spider territory. But will pass close to it. We should be able to meet them at the halfway point from the Eastern Kingdom"
"I just don't understand why we are separating our forces; we should have gone as one."
"That would risk the annihilation of the entire army," Valentine said.
"I am not much of hardcore a player but I don't see how an army of 100,000 players can be annihilated," Demetri said, he was a corporate agent, not a hardcore gamer.
Warlord replied, "If we gather together, it will cause all the monsters in the Wilds to flock around us. Separating our forces will split the numbers of monsters and also will lure the Black Dragon toward the first portion of the army we sent."
"Taking care of the Dragon is our first priority, that's why the White Ghost, even as a Heaven Dawn guildmember went with the Blood Ragers to help in this situation."
"Warlord," A black armored sword master came to the planning table and said, "We have news, the Dragon showed up, I have a display sphere we can use to see what's going on, on their side."
"Play it," Demetri said to the swordsman.
The swordsman pulled out a crystal sphere from his inventory and channeled some mana in it activating it. The sphere floated and projected what was going on in the Wilds.
A priest in white robes with blue linings was standing at the front of thousands of players in red.
Next to him was a player in red ceremonial robes and a katana strapped to his waist, it was Zhang Shi.
The black dragon had already set foot on the ground in front of the army and was roaring at them. The players were stuck frozen in place, they were affected by the Terror aura that was being released constantly from the dragon.
The priest in white spread his arms wide, a glowing orb materialized behind him and grew into the avatar of a silver-haired woman wearing a white dress. The woman glowed brightly as the sun in the Wilds and covered the entire army in a glowing aura, lifting the fear effect on the players from the dragon's passive.
"Is he trying to fight it?" Demetri asked.
"No, that would be suicide," Warlord replied.
The dragon reared back roaring again, opening its jaws, an orb of black fire coalesced in front of the dragon growing to surpass the dragon's own size in moments. The sky trembled as black clouds gathered above the dragon. Thunder sounded and lightning sparked across the black clouds.
The Blood Ragers looked stressed, most of them started using their buff and defensive skills to counter the dragon's attack but the White Ghost didn't look the least disturbed. He pulled out an old scroll from his inventory and slowly unraveled it.
The White Ghost roared a single word, "BANISH!"
A swirling tornado raged out from the scroll, consuming the heat from the fireball and instantly dissipated it. Suddenly, the massive dragon roared, its claws dug deep into the ground resisting the pulling force from the scroll. A glint of panic flashed in the dragon's eyes. It had never seen such powerful magic before and it was now facing the unknown.
The old and ancient Dragon tried to shoot more spells at the paper but they were all sucked in and the dragon kept sliding toward the paper.
The swirling tornado, as if it were sentient and angry that the dragon was resisting its pull. Grew up to ten times the size, dragging the dirt, rocks, trees and the dragon toward it with more power and speed.
The dragon faltered for a moment, but that was all it took for the tornado to suck him into the scroll.
The scroll vibrated as a black light shone from it. Suddenly the scroll disappeared from White Ghost's hands.
"Great, that went perfectly. Let's keep going, the dragon won't bother us for at least one week. It should be more than enough to reach the Eastern Kingdom," White Ghost said.
"Nice!" Demetri tightened his fist.
"What was that scroll?" the swordmaster asked.
"That's a Forbidden Chapter. They are one time use skills, we have some too," Valentine said.
"Then why didn't we use that for the dragon?" the swordmaster said.
"Who are you?" Demetri asked, "I've never seen you before with the devastators and don't think you are of high enough rank to be here."
"Sorry, my player name is Blaster, and I am a newly promoted division captain."
"It's alright Demetri," Valentine said, "This guy has been with the devastators since our early days."
Ralph was surprised that Valentine knew him.
"Listen, Blaster, Forbidden Chapters are never the same. Every one of these scrolls has a unique skill. The ones we have aren't suitable for fighting the dragon. The one that the White Ghost used is called Banishment Command. It takes a creature and seals it in an alternate reality for one week."
"He must have gotten lucky to get one. Anyway, guild masters, I'll excuse myself," Ralph said and left the three to talk together.
A man riddled in tribal tattoos and wore monster pelts for armor walked up to the three.
"Wan Yi, you finally decide to join us," Demetri said.
"I'm not a fan of tactical thinking. That's Ghost's job. So, the dragon's down. Aren't we moving?"
"Yeah, we will move now. Call the entire army to march through the wilds. It's time we take down the east," Demetri said.
The army moved in square formations of one thousand players a time. Every one thousand players made a regiment. The Devastators and Heaven's dawn guilds were composed of 33 divisions each. They moved a hundred meters away from each other and into the wilds.
The first division had some of the strongest players in the world of conquest. They cleared the way for the rest of the regiments as they slaughtered the monsters of the wild left and right.
Slowly but surely, the army was making its way through the wild with relative ease. They have yet to meet any powerful monster that required them effort to deal with.
The power behind thousands of players was enough to eradicate most of the monsters stupid enough to attack them alone.
Several players had already racked up high levels of the wild's debuff [Stench of the Weak] which only served to beckon more powerful monsters over time.
Twelve hours into the Wilds, the Guild Alliance lost two hundred players, a measly number compared to their total. These dead players were either weak or unlucky.
They had reached a clearing in the wilds where they called for a rest. Going through the Wilds in the night was tantamount to suicide. So the army set camp. They were ordered to take a rest and continue the march at the breaking of Dawn.
Demetri called for another gathering of all the leaders in this raid.
Inside a large tent, six players were seated next to each other around a table. They were Mercy, Tess, Valentine, Warlord, Demetri and Wan Yi.
"We are doing great, our progress through the Wilds is actually much better than our experts expected. Even our losses are less than we feared." Demetri said. The Wilds weren't as scary as he had thought.
"You should fire that 'expert'," Mercy said.
"What do you mean?"
"If you think the Wilds is this easy to raid, why didn't any guild take over it? You should know that we are at the rim of the Wilds. Once we are inside the Deep Wilds, that's when you will see the real terror of this area."
"You sound like you have been into the Deep Wilds, before."
"Oh, she has." A growling voice sounded right next to Demetri.
Turning there was nothing but empty space, but suddenly that empty space vibrated, revealing a figure that was standing upright. It was twice the size of Demetri and towered over everyone in the tent.
He was a blend of a human and a lion. Tawny golden locks and fur darker than the night. Claws sharp as swords and a grinning muzzle of deadly fangs. His lion mane was done in thick dreadlocks tied with ribbons and beads.
Everyone around the table with the exception of Mercy and Tess hopped to their feet taking defensive positions, they didn't know when this half man half lion came from or how he infiltrated into the main tent of the army.
"What the fuck is this?" Demetri shouted.
"Leonard," Mercy said, "Still can't find Kurukuru?"
Everyone went silent, Mercy knew this creature, this eased their tension, because this very creature was level 550, and could easily kill them all on without breaking a sweat.
"Yes. But could you tell me how did you notice my tracking mark?" Leonard said, his grin never disappeared.
"Well, it was actually the guy riding the Fiend that noticed it," Tess said.
"Hmm, right, he looked like a smarty. So, tell me, I believe our deal still stands?"
"We don't have the right to talk about the deal, you should speak to that boy if you want to know about his decision to help you or not," Tess shrugged. She didn't forget Dave's instruction. Never give the lion man any information that could be counted as 'helping' him in tracking the mantis.
"Too bad I already lost his smell, he would have made a fine addition to my collection." Suddenly a loud screech sounded from outside the tent.
The players in the tent couldn't move to see what was going on. The monster between them had his name in big red letters, it was hostile and so far, it hadn't attacked them. They wanted to keep it that way and decided not to do any sudden moves.
Warlord and Valentine were already talking about countermeasures and ways to escape the man-lion through party chat.
A player in leather armor entered the tent shouting, "There is a monster-' but the player couldn't finish his words as he saw the black man-lion standing in the tent.
Mercy asked the ranger, "What kind of monsters?"
Regaining his composure, the ranger said, "It's a giant praying mantis."
"HA! I knew it, that bastard will come to feed itself here. It's full of weak prey. Time to hunt." The black lion disappeared from view.
The ranger was pushed away from the tent exit, it meant that the lion had left.
"What the fuck was that?" Demetri asked.
"That's one of the dangers of the deep Wilds, I never thought he would leave the Deep Wilds and come here.
You should order the players not to attack him, nor attack the mantis. They will just die." Mercy said.
"And you know that how?" Warlord asked.
"Because both of these things hunted us for days in the Deep Wilds. Now are you going to send the order or not? Believe me, these two can kill hundreds of players in minutes."
Demetri used the voice chat and shouted, "Give the order to all players, cease aggression against the praying mantis and the lion. Do not attack them no matter what, even if they attack you do not retaliate and just run!" Demetri said.
The mantis screeches echoed through the night. Leaving the tent, all the players saw the two creatures fighting a deadly battle. Leonhard was swinging its massive dagger at the mantis that blocked and sliced back with its claws. The two blinked several times, smashing into tents and killing any unfortunate player that was caught in their fight.
The praying mantis received a serious wound, Leonard had shoved his dagger into the mantis' belly. Suddenly, an idiotic player thought it was a good chance to secure an easy kill. He shot an arrow at the mantis.
Leonard, enraged from the dishonorable display, disappeared from in front of the mantis and stabbed with his dagger into the head of the player, instantly executing him.
Turning back for his prey, the mantis was no longer there, it had already taken flight and disappeared into the night.
"ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!" the lion roared in anger.
"Shit, you went and done it now," Mercy said.
The lion, mad at the fact that his prey escaped, began a slaughter through the Devastator and the Heaven Dawn guild.
Tess said, "Order your players to retreat and leave a few to hold Leonard for a bit. Otherwise, you will start losing more players than you want. Don't fight, just stall him until he cools off."
She brought a whistle and blew on it. A centaur appeared next to her.
"Derin, take us away from here," Tess said as she reached with her hand for Mercy to ride with her on the centaur.
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