The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor

 
 

The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 49 Chapter 8 part1


Through interviews with the TV stations, Weed officially accepted the proposal from the Hermes Guild.

– I willingly accede to your challenge to fight in the Garnav Plain, provided that the time of battle will be on Saturday evening, 15 days from now.

Lafaye and the Hermes Guild were extremely confused when they received Weed's response.

'So he's going to have a head-on fight with all of his main troops against all of ours? Is he serious?"

"Is this really what Weed said?"

"It is. There are already videos of his interviews with the CTS and KMC Media."

"Huh…"

The users in the inner circle of the Hermes Guild were just waiting for their chance to get revenge. Still, while they were all for crushing Weed and the Northern users, they hadn't expected their enemies to accept their proposal so easily.

Everyone's gaze fell on Lafaye.

"If we're having a full frontal war, isn't our side going to be at a huge advantage?"

"Absolutely. This means we can concentrate all of our forces into one place, without having to protect the rest of the vast territories of the Empire."

"Then why did Weed agree to this battle so readily?"

"…"

Lafaye was a man who had a talent in connecting small clues to figure out other people's intentions and set up his schemes accordingly. However, this time even he had no idea what to make of this sudden turn of event.

The Hermes Guild had received proposals from the broadcasting stations similar to what Weed had been offered, but the guild was not overly interested as it was already very rich thanks to the investments from various sources. In addition, Lafaye didn't realize that Weed's obsession with money went beyond the bounds of his common sense.

"I think… he is either playing a trick on everyone, thinking that he can afford to lose the fame he has gained so far…"

Lafaye continued making a conjecture that sounded the most probable to him, although he didn't feel much assured of his deduction.

"…or he genuinely concluded that he can defeat us, yet again, in this battle."

"What do you mean?"

"Maybe Weed is putting too much confidence in his own popularity, or he might not have a clear idea of the exact military strength of the Hermes Guild."

"But he has fought us so many times!"

"And we have lost a lot of times; let's be fair."

"…"

"However, he won't be able to overcome the many challenges of this upcoming battle with the human-wave tactics alone. With our top elite troops, the Hermes Guild will be as strong as if it had both the spear that can pierce through anything and the shield that can resist any attack."[1]

Lafaye was convinced that there was no way their side would lose if they faced the Arpen Kingdom in an all-out war. The entire military force of the Hermes Guild was currently spread over the vast Central Continent, ruling the whole territory. The Northern users' war strategy consisted almost solely of their signature human-wave tactics which was not unbeatable. Just considering the Empire's Second Legion alone, it was certainly true that they had accomplished a remarkable feat until the middle of the battle although they had suffered big damage afterwards.

Arkhym spoke, his voice far from enthusiastic.

"What if he conjures up another guy like Bar Khan after making this agreement?"

The dreadful undead horde — something they hoped they would never have to face again.

"I do not think that is his intention. If he uses trickery, he normally uses it to avoid the fight altogether. Once the battle begins, the Grass Porridge Cult and other users supporting the Arpen Kingdom will assemble in the field."

"So, because of those people Weed will be forced to make his appearance, and he won't be able to summon some other monster like Bar Khan?"

"Exactly. Calling forth a being like Bar Khan will lead to the self-destruction of the Arpen Kingdom. It would be difficult for him to use his skills that cause disasters, too."

"I just cannot understand why he would do this."

"The Garnav Plain is also not the sort of terrain suitable for his usual tricks and deceptions."

The solution Lafaye and the Hermes Guild users were looking for was just around the corner, yet it just didn't register to them as a valid answer.

'He knows to plan things from a long-term perspective, considering the fact that he was the one who founded the Arpen Kingdom. Not only that, he proved to be meticulous and full of clever tricks in every battle.'

'Broadcasting rights? Money? Of course they don't mean anything to him, a man of such reputation and influence…'

Although the answer never dawned on him however deeply he thought, Lafaye still concluded that the situation had become more favorable for the Haven Empire.

"We made the proposal and Weed has accepted it; the only thing remaining is preparation for the war."

Calcus the Slayer asked a question.

"By the way, what would be the reason behind his suggestion to postpone the date of the battle? He said he will face us on the Saturday, 15 days later."

"That I do not know. He might be devising a dangerous trap."

 

***

 

Weed arrived in the Garnav Plain in advance using Yurin's Picture Teleportation skill.

"There's only grass here, brother."

"Yes. Not a place for much trickery and deception."

As this was the battlefield the Hermes Guild had chosen, he had done some preliminary research on the Internet. The Garnav Plain was a vast land with a wide-open view, so it would be difficult to set any traps in here. There were occasional gentle slopes here and there, but they were not enough to have any decisive influence on the battle.

"This is a good place for hosting a fair, large-scale battle between two great armies."

The Hermes Guild wouldn't have wanted to attract any unnecessary accusations from people when it proposed a showdown, apprehensive of the guild's already widespread notoriety.

"But I'm not going to fight this fair and square."

As Weed took in the view of the Garnav Plain, he became lost in thought for a moment. If he won this battle, he would gain an amount of wealth enough to ensure a luxurious life for his whole family for generations.

'An owner of a building, a land, a house, or even a real estate speculator… I could be anything I want.'

He recalled how it felt when he had just lost his parents during his childhood: as if all happiness was slipping away through his fingers, and the world became a blur before his eyes. The feeling of deep despair that poured down buckets of icy water on his heart, lost and cast away.

'…And I've come this far.'

He had learned how malicious and terrible the world could be as he worked in factories and construction sites. Those who were weak and penniless were so easily trampled. The people he saw while walking past the department stores or coffee shops looked as if they were from a whole different planet. As he roamed about the busy streets of a town with his sister, he remembered feeling like they were the only derelicts and beggars in the crowd. He was often envious of people who got upset with their bad exam results or angry with their friends, knowing that their troubles and pain would fade away in but a few days.[2]

'Mastering sculpting skills and going through all those difficult quests… Maybe all of that has been to prepare myself for this battle.'

As soon as he was done with this little flashback about the past, he started to design plans to win the coming fight. The Grass Porridge Cult and the Hermes Guild… as it would be the battle in which the two most important forces in the Versailles Continent clash, there would be a variety of unpredictable factors in play.

'Once the fight starts, lots of things are going to happen that will be beyond my control as well.'

As of now, he could not know what kind of strategy the Hermes Guild would use, nor exactly how much power the Grass Porridge Cult would be able to exert, until the actual battle began.

'I'll just have to do whatever I can. As a master sculptor, it is time to put every skill I've ever learned to use.'

Plenty of dirty and cheap tricks crossed Weed's mind. Naturally, skills with heavy penalties such as Sculptural Life Bestowal or Sculpture Resurrection would have to be used if necessary. In case of Sculpture Resurrection especially, anything short of reviving a special figure who had made the greatest accomplishment in the history of Royal Road wouldn't do.

"I cannot let the person just fool around for some time and disappear, either. I'll need to make sure that they will help me no matter what."

There was nothing so insincere as a half-hearted flattery; a truly professional sycophant put his soul into each compliment, and his flattery had the power to even cure the listener's chronic constipation[3] .

"To set things up for a big picture, I'll have to use my Time Sculpting skill as well. It's just for one time only, but I think I know where to use this skill for the best effect."

Making predictions for the upcoming war in ordinary ways wouldn't be enough; the Hermes Guild would already be doing that as well. Wits, flattery, and mooching off other people — using his most extraordinary talents, Weed was completing a grand plan that reached back even to the old history of the Versailles Continent.

 

***

 

Mapan!

A prominent merchant and the leader of Mapan’s Trading Company, he received a whisper from Weed.

– Weed: Notify every group of merchants in the Northern Continent: we need to concentrate supply lines to the Garnav Plain as much as possible. In addition to weapons and war supplies, make sure to bring enough provisions that people can eat and drink. All the food and wine must arrive within three days — this is the most important part.

Mapan never doubted Weed's words; he had learned long ago that the guy had the Midas touch that turned everything into gold.

'There's a good reason why he's become a sculptor. It's a profession specialized in fumbling with a piece of wood found on the ground then ripping other people off by selling it at an outrageous price. It was in Weed-nim's nature to become a sculptor.'

But while trusting in Weed's judgment without question, Mapan was still curious about the reason behind his action.

"I will gather up all the weapons and war supplies we have, even if we have to empty the stock in every shop in the entire Morata region. But will we really need to bring all the food?"

There were still two weeks left until the battle in the Garnav Plain, and as each individual user would also carry their own food with them he was wondering if supplying additional provisions would really be necessary.

– Weed: *sigh*… You are too innocent for your own good.

The moment Mapan got this message from Weed, he realized that he was making some serious misjudgment. Namely, he was making the error of trying to understand Weed's devious motive from a sensible, ordinary point of view.

– Weed: There will be many users who arrive in the Garnav Plain earlier than the actual date of battle.

"I'd assume so."

It would take only two days for the Grass Porridge Cult members who had taken control of the Harpan Region to get down to the Garnav Plain. Geomchi and the Desert Warriors would not require a lot of time to reach the plain either. As both sides have already agreed to settle things once and for all in one fateful battle, there would be no reason to fight the Imperial Army before the promised time. By taking the route northwards left open by the Imperial Army and using the teleport gates, they would be able to arrive in the Garnav Plain very soon.

– Weed: So, we need to catch those early birds. With enough wine and food, this will be a perfect chance for us to empty their pockets, don't you think so?

"A-ha! That is…!"

Mapan could picture the whole scene in his head. A crowd of a colossal size flocking to the Garnav Plain; not to mention all the Northern users, many users of the Central Continent would also rush to the place not to miss the chance to witness this grand event. With such a huge amount of people gathered in one place, plus the supply of food and wine… the outcome would be obvious.

"It will turn into a festival!"

– Weed: Correct. They will go on an absolute binge, quite oblivious to their pockets being emptied.

"Indeed…!"

– Weed: People tend to squander their money when they are dreading the unclear future. No matter what the outcome of the battle would be, we need to make a profit.

"Let me just say this: words cannot express my admiration for you. Your unshaken businessmanship moves me deeply."

– Weed: I proposed to have this grace period for 15 days because I hoped the users of the Central Continent would also join in on the fun.

"I shall begin to make every necessary preparation. I'll have to hold the best festival in the entire Versailles Continent, mobilizing every merchant group in the North."

Weed didn't mention it, but this little scheme of his was also one of the most important tricks for his victory in the coming battle. Among the entire user base of Royal Road, there were a surprisingly large number of people who did not care much about who gains the supremacy over the Versailles Continent. They were just not interested in such political matters, and having settled down in the corners of small towns and cities for a long time, the state of affairs in the entire continent had little to do with their lives. There were especially many users of the Central Continent with such a tendency, as they were getting tired of the long lasting war.

A lavish festival that would make even the ordinary users jump into the celebration with excitement; after those Central Continent users thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the feast, it was extremely likely that they would turn to Weed's side with the slightest nudge.

'This alone would be enough to increase our strength by tens of percent.'


Clarifications from the translator

[1]This (I think) refers to the old Chinese story that poses a question, "What happens when you try to block an all-piercing spear with an all-blocking shield?" which became the origin of the Chinese word for contradiction. Korean language uses the same word as well.

[2]To be honest, I'm not really sure what the author means by this sentence because the original text in Korean is quite vague. It's not clear exactly what or whom Weed was feeling envious of (because there is no mention of any people), and who exactly is feeling this 'troubles and pain (because the Korean text just says 'this pain', at first I thought it refers to the pain Weed was feeling but I later decided it doesn't make sense in the context). Overall the problem is caused by the lack of subject, which makes it very confusing as to who is feeling what. So this is the translation of my interpretation of this sentence, which can be one of many.

[3]There is a Korean expression that translates literally to something like "curing the 10-year-old indigestion', which refers to a situation in which one feels a deep sense of satisfaction as a result of a very frustrating problem being resolved. The author replaced the word indigestion with constipation probably in an attempt to make it sound more comical, and I changed the expression slightly more in the actual translation to make it not sound overly random for people who are not familiar with this expression.



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