The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 49 Chapter 7 part2
[Note from Mimosab]
– Thanks to our proofreaders Eternal and Ecrin who work hard on each release! And to SoreLoser who doesn’t fell well at this moment but should be back soon! Chapters 4 to 6 will be updated with some improvement this weekend.
– There won’t be any release next week because we need some time to proofread the beginning of the next volume (3 are already 100% funded) and be sure about the quality.
– We agreed with the translator to change the cost starting from the volume 50. I mean from a fixed cost to a “cost per word” like any translator usually do. It won’t be different for most releases but will be more accurate with longer ones (and it still lower than standard prices..). I’ll add clarifications in the FAQ (translator price + word count + Paypal commission) asap.
The users of the Hermes Guild who had defeated the Immortal Legion were making an appearance in a broadcasting studio.
"We had to risk our own lives when we were fighting against Bar Khan. With corpses and ghosts running about everywhere, there was no such thing as a safe zone."
Boemong the Giant Knight—A man in his late 20s with a calm sort of demeanor in real life, he was having an interview on the CTS Media channel. Han Seung-bin, a former actor and the host of the program, continued with his questions following the script.
"I myself play Royal Road but I have never joined these kinds of large battles, so I'm very curious; did you ever want to just flee?"
"No; I never once thought of such a thing. We could not afford to lose this war. For the peace of the Versailles Continent, I mean."
Beside him were four other users of the Hermes Guild waiting for their turns. The next interviewee was Arkhym, who had even lost his life during the battle.
"Bar Khan was revealed to be much stronger than it was initially predicted; what do you think was the most important factor for your victory?"
"We won because we were the Hermes Guild, simple as that. We could have avoided the battle, but we chose to face them in the Valkis Castle to minimize the damage to users, even though we knew that we would be at disadvantage."
From the monitor screen that had been set up in front of the host and the guests they could see the comments the viewers were sending in real-time.
-Kuko: Dragged into a fight in a rush, more like, and they barely won.
-Beldegar: Wow…some thick skin they've got, lying like that. They fought in the Valkis Castle only because they wanted to minimize damage to THEMSELVES.
-3BottlesCognac: I don't care how they won. Ask them about the Haven Empire going down.
-DefenseStat3: For the peace of the continent? What rubbish. It was them who started all of it first, wanting to destroy the Northern Continent.
-WoongDingWoongDing: The Hermes Guild is the cancer of this game. It's paradise in the Arpen-liberated regions.
-JohntheSkeletonWarrior: I'm going to move to the Arpen Kingdom if both the Britten and Harpan Regions get conquered.
– Keru: Don't worry. The Haven Empire is in a huge crisis now. They could collapse very soon.
– Calm_and_Composed: I joined the Grass Porridge Cult, too!
– No_Study: Grass Porridge is the way to go. The Haven Empire is just a setting sun now.
From these broadcasting monitors, the Hermes Guild users confirmed that users had already lost their interest in the battle against Bar Khan. It was quite the opposite of the result they had expected, which was to take back their leadership over the Versailles Continent by defeating Bar Khan.
'But why? The viewers were so generous with their cheers and praises whenever Weed was on adventure!'
There were some important difference between the Embinyu Church and Bar Khan, although both were powerful forces that had swept the whole continent into chaos. Because of the Hermes Guild's quick handling of the situation, there was very little damage the Immortal Legion had inflicted on common users, nor were there many people who had actually seen the undead army in person. The Hermes Guild wanted to blame Weed for causing this whole mayhem, but that would put them in a rather ridiculous position because he wouldn't have revived Bar Khan if it hadn't been for the Shadow Army of Palma in the first place.
'We did all the hard work, but Weed is snatching all the fame from us.'
The users who had participated in the battle against Bar Khan were unhappy, but Lafaye and other heads of the guild were pondering over the situation seriously.
"We didn't expect things would go this badly…the users of the Central Continent are so willing to move over to the Arpen Kingdom…"
"We might as well assume that the users in the regions conquered by the Arpen Kingdom have all joined their side."
It was fortunate that they succeeded in driving off Bar Khan and his army, but they had to suffer considerable damage to the Second and the Fifth Legions. The Haven Empire was gradually losing its restraining power to control over the other users. They lost their dominion over the regions taken by the Arpen Kingdom so easily, and things were not better in the areas where the Desert Warriors' laid their march. What they found even more bitter than having the Empire's hands and feet cut off by the enemies was the fact that the local lords assigned by the Empire itself were welcoming their conquerors wholeheartedly, going so far as to holding festivals for celebration.
Those lords were just trying to find a way to secure their livelihood, but from the Hermes Guild's point of view, it felt as if there were traitors throughout the entire territory. With so many common users not hesitant to take the Arpen Kingdom's side on top of that, the guild was having a great sense of crisis.
"Overall, Weed and the Arpen Kingdom are using a strategy too clever for us to handle. It seems every step they take is based on an exhaustive prior planning."
"Indeed, that looks like the only possible explanation. The enemy is coordinating their limbs with such meticulous precision."
"I suspect Weed himself is managing and holding firm control over the top authorities of the Grass Porridge Cult, and as their users are voluntarily seeking to do their part, it is difficult for us to respond to their quick actions in time."
Since the Hermes Guild users had little understanding of how the Grass Porridge Cult worked. Recently they started to suspect if this all had been all part of Weed's grand scheme.
The expression on the faces of Bard Ray and other users who had lost their lives fighting Bar Khan was also quite grim. Bard Ray was still indignant about the fact that he did not even get to finish Bar Khan by his own hands after such a desperate fight.
"We've always thought the Haven Empire has been going easy on the Arpen Kingdom, but now that we have actually fought them, their military strength is nothing to sneeze at."
"I don't think it can be called a proper fight. There are simply too many unexpected factors!"
Boemong complained, but Lafaye answered bitterly.
"Considering that strategy and popularity are part of their power, now we need to admit that the Arpen Kingdom is indeed a formidable enemy. In addition to that, in terms of the abilities to manipulate media and turn the public sentiment to their favor, their competence surpasses ours by far."
"But what about our own military strength?"
Someone in their midst protested, but Lafaye only gave another light sigh.
"Right now, too many users are turning their backs on us."
"But for what reasons? We've lowered the taxes over the Central Continent and relieved many restriction measures, haven't we?"
"Because they just don't trust us that much."
The lords found themselves at a loss for words, as they had only agreed to those user-friendly measures to appease the public for the time being and had been intending to get back to the original state once Weed and his Arpen Kingdom get dealt with.
"Things will get far more disadvantageous to us as this war continues. Should we suffer a few more defeats and lose all our troops, then…"
Lafaye did not finish his sentence, but everyone knew what that would mean; the Hermes Guild without its armed forces—it would be like a gladiator thrown into a pit of beasts with his limbs cut off.
It was not very fair to put the blame on Lafaye's poor strategic decisions or errors of judgment, after all this time; it was true that his commanding abilities had been less than perfect since the conquest of the Central Continent, but that was mainly because of Weed constantly acting beyond their predictions. Only after taking some hard hits were they beginning to realize that any other person would have just as much trouble dealing with Weed and the Grass Porridge Cult.
Bard Ray thought to himself.
'Black Knight…could it have had any effect?'
For a Black Knight, there were quests that involved suspecting and lowering the loyalty of his subordinates and the residents. He had actively cleared those quests in order to improve his own martial strength, but now the Empire was quickly losing its influence even before the actual loss caused by those quests starts to take effect. Bard Ray asked the people around him in a heavy voice.
"Who has the solution to this current situation?"
Lafaye kept silent for a long moment, receiving everyone's gaze; but as no one spoke out, he opened his mouth again resignedly.
"The most failsafe action would be to retreat to the Haven Region. If we let them take the conquered regions in the Central Continent and fall back…we would be able to divert their attention elsewhere."
"…You call THAT a solution?"
Arkhym asked, his brows raised; to him it sounded like an extremely absurd idea, especially thinking of the time and effort the guild had put in order to take control over the Central Continent.
"This is the most effective and safe way. The popularity of Weed and the Grass Porridge Cult would not last forever. After they get hold of the major lands in the Central Continent, the common users will inevitably be divided and fight each other, so we'll just have to build up our strength for several months in the Haven Region over which we have the most secure dominion."
The heads of the Hermes Guild understood his intention, but nobody was able to step forward and openly agree to this suggestion. Withdrawing their forces would mean that countless lords would have to give up their territories, so their protest would be severe. As the Hermes Guild had been funded by a lot of external sources, it was also very important to be careful not to offend their investors.
"This is the best option in my opinion, but it will also be quite impossible to execute."
Lafaye shook his head, admitting that he himself had given up on this strategy; this was indeed a plan that was very difficult to carry out, even with his influence and Bard Ray's resolution.
"The second best solution is to buy some time while concentrating our war effort on defense."
"Would buying more time make the situation better for us?"
"While engaged in the defensive war, we'll have to do everything we can to ruin the reputation of Weed and the Grass Porridge Cult, such as spreading rumors, bribing and media manipulation."
The atmosphere became ever more serious. Only a while ago it had felt like the whole Versailles Continent was in their hands, and suddenly they found themselves pondering the possibility of defeat.
"We haven't even had any proper fight yet…Can't we just resolve this through battles?"
Boemong drew out his sword and stuck it into the ground. At this proposal, a flame sparked in the eyes of the other Hermes Guild users as well.
As the ones who had spent all their lives chasing after strength and power, they simply could not tolerate their current position, repeatedly getting beaten and damaged.
"There is just no chance of us losing if we assemble all of our strongest forces in a big showdown."
"Absolutely right. We've already defeated Bar Khan, let's go up right now and fight. Fight, and show them the strength of the Empire again."
Lafaye also sensed the heated mood among the other users.
'Maybe this really could be our breakthrough…there's certainly a limit to what we can do by just trying to play clever.'
They had gained dominion over the Central Continent with their brains, but still have suffered big losses because they had also earned the public's resentment in the process. As a nation that seized its power through wars, there was no more room for the Haven Empire to step back.
The Hermes Guild had issued their proclamation.
-Royal Road is the new world for people to live their dreams. From its beginning, many users started the game dreaming of a new world, and they have constantly improved themselves since, while finding joy and pleasure in the life on the Versailles Continent.
Now, the Central Continent that has only just started to gain stability after many wars and conflicts among various forces, the land that is the living foundation of all of us, is shaken by the invasion from the North.
The Hermes Guild hereby declares that it will face this threat with determination, in a full-frontal battle. We will not allow this war to destroy the numerous cities and villages where the users live; in order to prevent any more disorder and damage, the Hermes Guild will send its full forces riding to the Garnav Plain.
To Weed, and the Arpen Kingdom: if you have courage enough to face us, accept our challenge without hesitation.
Power against power.
If you want to take away the territories of the Haven Empire, then you must prove your strength first.
This bold proclamation was hung in every each castle and city of the Central Continent. Through the breaking news delivered by broadcasting stations, the common users also came to know about it, and soon it was spread among most of the users of Royal Road.
"Whooaa. A full-frontal battle?"
"This is crazy. Are they really going to have an all-out war?"
"With all those rankers who don't even show themselves often in front of common folk, plus all the troops that fought in the battles when they united the Central Continent?"
"But that means…whoever wins this fight will unite the whole continent, right?"
"I'm not sure about that, but…the Grass Porridge can afford to lose this kind of battle, whereas the Hermes Guild would have absolutely no future if they lose, wouldn't it?"
"I don't think this is going to be only advantageous for the Grass Porridge either. If Bard Ray and all other top-rank figures are going to join the battle, it would be hard to stop them with the human-wave tactics."
In every town square and tavern, there was a boisterous chat going among the users.
"One barrel of beer on the Hermes Guild winning!"
"My bet's on the Grass Porridge Cult. They are the true legend with no record of defeat. They have never lost until now."
"But the battle's taking place in the Central Continent. It's not going to be so easy for them, the circumstances are different."
"It's difficult to tell how the battle will turn out. Think of the Shadow Army of Palma, and Bar Khan. We just can't know what kind of tricks they will pull out of their sleeve."
"Weed will raise another disaster, too."
"How's he going to clean up all the mess afterwards, then?"
"Dunno. But that's why it's going to be so exciting."
"Wow…I'm dying to see it."
The Garnav Plain was located in the east of the Haven Region, and the south of the Harpan Region. A vast flatland, it was an ideal place for a large-scale battle, and no kind of dirty trickeries would be allowed there.
In the meantime, the officers in the Emergency Situation Room of the Grass Porridge Cult had heard the proclamation but simply laughed it off.
"That is just a nonsense. An all-out war against the Haven Empire? There really might be over one hundred million troops gathered in one place, then. How can such a thing be possible?"
"Currently we are far more popular than them, and time is also on our side. If we just start to take over wider regions and increase our population gradually…"
"The Arpen Kingdom's territory is ever expanding. At this rate, we can take firm root in the Central Continent."
From a strategic point of view, all they had to do was to simply ignore the proposal of the Hermes Guild. However, the reactions of the intrigued public were getting more and more excited.
– Weed and Bard Ray! Who will be the strongest user?
– The Haven Empire's entire troops to be assembled.
– The Greatest battle in history expected to start soon.
– Who would be the winner of the prize offered by Unicorn Inc., the developer of Royal Road?
The broadcasting stations, which had been friendly towards the Grass Porridge Cult so far, were also announcing the proclamation of the Hermes Guild as the main news. Even the general opinion among the lowest-rank members of the Grass Porridge Cult itself inclined towards fighting.
"Finally, Weed-nim and Bard Ray will face each other in person. What fun it would be…"
"No. It is too dangerous."
"They are challenging us directly and we're not going to accept it? When we can liberate the entire Central Continent once we win?"
"The Hermes Guild and the Grass Porridge Cult are already at each other's throat. If we must clash against them someday, now is the best time, when the circumstances are in our favor."
Even the users with some influence in the Porridge Cult were having difficulties reaching a consensus among themselves.
The important factor now was Weed's decision.
If Weed suggested they fight the rest of the Grass Porridge Cult would follow; likewise, if he objected, they would accept his decision, albeit rather disappointedly.
Weed got the news of the proclamation while he was plundering with the Desert Warriors.
In this current state the Central Continent had been turned into a battleground, he was able to fight while moving his position around to anywhere that was more advantageous, be it the Ritten, Harpan, Britten Regions, or the Great Plains of Ills. As a Necromancer he summoned a large number of undead, inflicting damage on the Hermes Guild while pursuing some profits in the process—an ultimate form of a dirty tactics. Even so, the rate at which his power was growing was beyond the imagination of others; all the hard and manual work he had done until now was finally in the process of bearing some fruit.
"When you bring your spoon to a well-advertised feast, there's not much to eat, more often than not."
Using his common sense he made a quick decision and was about to ignore the Hermes Guild's taunt, but a few telephone calls were all it took to change his mind.
"You mean my appearance fee is…What? Are you serious?"
Weed, Bard Ray, and the greatest battle in the history of the continent in which the two people lead their own armies into war.
In order to purchase the broadcasting right so that they have a chance to directly observe Weed's behavior, the broadcasting stations were quickly making their offers.
"We are willing to pay you up to about 500 million won."
"500 million? That much?"
An amount enough to make his heart beat faster.
"Yes, as there are a lot of callings from advertisers…and as you would know, the broadcasting time will be quite long once the battle begins. We'll need to film the preparation process as well."
"Right. That's true."
"So, we will pay you 500 million for 10-hour broadcasting time."
Top-class celebrities were paid 500 million with a single shooting of an advertisement; taking into account Weed's fame as well as the influence and profit they would gain through this broadcast, this was actually a very good bargain for the broadcasting companies.
After a few minutes, other broadcasting stations started to call.
"Our company has prepared 800 million for you. We'll also pay you 10% advertisement fee."
"The KMC Media is willing to accommodate your needs as much as possible; 1.2 billion, and 20% advertisement fee on top of it."
"This is the CTS Media. I won't say much. 2 billion, what do you say? We are open to negotiation for the advertisement fee as well."
Seeing his appearance fee jumping up several hundred million won at a time during the course of a few calls, Weed's sense of reality was losing its usual sharp edge a little.
"Hmm…This feels similar to when I sold my account of the Magical Continent. Suddenly money doesn't feel like money anymore."
Up until this point, the broadcasting stations still thought that the chance of the full frontal war breaking out was not high. They doubted that Weed would take an option that could put him at a disadvantage, and even if he accepted the challenge, it could always be cancelled during the preparation process. The Hermes Guild might come to a wiser decision, too. An incredible number of Northern users were descending towards them currently, but rage is an emotion that fades with time. If the guild decided to let the Northern users take a portion of their lands and buy some time rather than fighting them at the height of their spirit and strength, the Haven Empire might get a chance to stabilize itself. As it was impossible for the Northern users to stay indefinitely in the cities and the territories of the Central Continent and defend them, a tactical retreat would be a more advantageous choice in the current situation.
Despite all these factors, the broadcasting companies still proposed moderate amount of appearance fee, just in case. If this greatest battle in the history of the Versailles Continent really did take place, the companies would be willing to pay any amount of money for the broadcasting right.
Extra deals came in from the executive directors of the CTS Media.
"If the war does break out, its viewing rate would be the highest for several years from now. The advertisement fee would also set a new record…in that case we need to get a hold on him even if that means we'd have to give him the entire profit of the program, to promote our company."
"Depending on how we cover this war the very class of our station may change. We need to get Weed!"
They have already figured out Weed's obsession with money; with several phone calls that the broadcasting stations had made in haste, Weed decided to fight the Hermes Guild.
'I just need to win this battle, and I'll own a building…I can buy a building in a middle of a city.'
The dream he had had ever since his childhood: making real estate investments, and owning a building! A life free from the worries about money, just making a living by taking monthly rents from the tenants.
"They say sometimes there are battles that you cannot avoid in your life. I guess this is it for me."
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