UNS Singapore, Captain's Quarters

"Is this report true?" Blake asked as he read through the paper document with red stamps of 'Top Secret' stamped here and there.

Intel Officer Tavor nodded. "As much as info I could gather from the boy."

"But there is no way for us to verify the truth," He added.

"If what he claims is the truth," Blake put down the report. "It could change the war totally for us!"

"Yes, Sir," Tavor replied. "But as I said, we can't deny nor verify the facts. He could be spinning a tale for all we know."

"Even with a truth stone?" Blake asked.

"If the person under the truth stone strongly believes what he is saying is the truth," Tavor explained. "The truth stone will only show that the person is telling the truth."

"It is not a fail proof method," Tavor continued. "If the person was subjected to brainwashing... whatever he or she says will show up to be the true cause, he or she has been led to believe in it."

"And the boy has been working with Raman and his gang for quite some time, we do not know what had done to the boy during their time together," Tavor added. "But we did manage to verify one point of his story, which was the time he spent on board a merchant ship called the 'Wave Dancer'."

"We managed to rescue one person from the landing party," Tavor said. "And that person has now joined us as our shipwright. He verified the part of the boy on board the ship and even recognized him."

"Interesting," Blake rubbed his chin. "Can we use the boy for our own political ways?"

"Hard, Sir," Tavor replied. "The boy has not much influence with any of the prominent Lords of the Empire as he stated."

"He does have an uncle that favors him, but he appears to be in the level of a mid bureaucracy role within the Empire," Tavor gestured to the document. "Influence wise, not much."

"Alright, keep digging," Blake nodded. "Find out everything you can on the boy, his relatives and who is sympathetic to him."

"Yes, sir!"


Airspace North of Orwell's Point

Blue Thunder gently rode the warm air currents as he and his crew patrolled the region, on the lookout for any Imperials

Before them, the shoreline of the Source Sea spread out as far as the eye could see. The freshwater lake was massive almost like a sea of its own, sparkled under the sunlight.

"Boss, boss..." Blue Thunder called out. "Why do you think Ras is ignoring me?"

"Of course she is ignoring you dense piece of dragon shit!" Flight Sergeant Stamford muttered. "She was expecting you to save her cause you like her or something, not because of duty!"

"Oh, but I do like her!" Blue Thunder sighed. "Its was a misunderstanding!"

"Well, tell that to her," Stamford shook his head. "Explain it, with... erm... some gifts that dragons would like!"

"Eh?" Blue Thunder tilted his head and folded his arms as he lazily glided in the air. "What would a red dragon like? Fresh meat? Gold? Monster ivory? FLOWERS?!"

"Can't help you there, mate!" Stamford laughed. "I'm not a pro with chasing dragons!"

"Maybe I find some nice dramas for her," Blue Thunder sighed. "Maybe it will cheer her up!"

"Sure thing," Stamford patted Blue Thunder's side. "Okay, focus on the patrol now."

"Okey dokey..." Blue Thunder sighed. "I think I see something there..."

"What is there?" Stamford asked, alerted.

"Looks... like ships!" Blue Thunder moaned. "Why... can't we have a nice patrol without seeing anything!"

"Get us closer!"


Orwell's Point, Marine Command

"So we got a whole invasion fleet just beached offshore north of us?" Joseph clarified. "How many troops? Which faction?"

"Estimated twenty thousand," The operator replied. "Imperial."

"Rothschild?" Joseph frowned. "Hmmm, how far away are they?"

"Roughly 2 days march away," The operator reported. "Dragon One reports majority as infantry."

"Drop an UAV over," Joseph ordered. "And bring the alert level up to orange!"


Magister's Thorn Lab

"Where is it?" Thorn opened pulled out another drawer and ransacked the contents inside. "Where has it gone to?"

He searched fanatically high and low, all over his workplace, even the sofas were overturned. "How did I misplaced it?"

He paused to take a breather as his room was turned upside down by his mad search. "I know! Dr. Sharon was here the last time!"

Quickly leaving his room, he dashed out towards Dr. Sharon's workplace and found her hunched over some paperwork in her office.

"Dr. Sharon!" Magister Thorn panted. "Did you take it?"

"Take what?" Dr. Sharon paused in her work and gave Thorn a quizzed look.

"The vial blood!" Magister Thorn asked. "Rastraz's blood!"

"Huh?" Dr. Sharon gave a confused expression. "I did not touch it at all..."

"But... but..." Magister Thorn flopped down on one of the chairs in the office and looked deflated. "It's lost!"

"Are you sure you did not misplace it?" Dr. Sharon looked at the disheveled Thorn and asked gently. "Did you put in your room?"

"No.. no..." Thorn sighed. "I checked and searched everywhere! Someone must have taken it!"

"But who?" Dr. Sharon asked. "Who has entered your room?"

"I- I don't know..." Thorn frowned. "I kept it carefully in my lab... I am certain of it. But this morning, it was gone!"

"When was the last time you were in your lab?" Dr. Sharon asked.

"Yesterday afternoon," Thorn replied sadly. "After that, I was at the Ball, and only returned this morning to find my vial of dragon's blood missing!"

"Do you know who would want a vial of dragon's blood?" Dr. Sharon continued to ask. "Who will need it?"

"I don't know," Thorn rubbed his head. "It has potent magic powers, anyone who uses magic will find it a great arcane catalyst!"

"So, that means almost everyone here is a suspect..." Dr. Sharon sighed. "Let us go report this and see if there is any security footage of the cameras in the corridor."

"Let's hurry!" Thorn quickly dragged Dr. Sharon off to find the guard commander.

But to his disappointment, there were no cameras installed anywhere way near his door. The only cameras were installed at key choke points only.

"Now what?" Dr. Sharon asked Thorn who sighed deeply. "We got no clues, and you trashed up your place."

They stood inside Thorn's messy lab. "Even if there was a theft, you destroyed all the evidence..."

"Oh well, I guess... I could try my luck with Rastraz again," Thorn replied. "I just hope that no one used the vial of dragon blood for any evil purposes..."

"Anyway, I think I better report it to Joseph... just in case!"


North of Orwell's Point, Landing Fleet

"My Lord," A soldier bowed and reported. "All the troops and supplies have been offloaded from the ships."

"Good," The Rock nodded. "And the scouts?"

"They have been deployed already," The soldier replied. "The Fourteen, Sixteen, Thirty Second, Thirty Third, and Thirty Fifth Dragon Corps will join us within the next day."

"Any word from the Rothschilds?" The Rock asked as they made their way to the front of the gathered troops.

"Not yet, my Lord," The soldier said. "We expect to hear from them within the day."

"Ensure they have sent supplies down to us," The Rock ordered. "Also I want you to make sure they have dispatch reinforcements to us too."

The Rock turned his attention to the score of wagons that carried his Bronze Men. "Does the Rothschild know who we are dealing with here?"

"No my Lord," The soldier replied. "The Emperor did not deem it fit for the news to spread."

"Find out what Rothschild knows," The Rock said. "Since the Emperor did not inform him, I see no reason why he needs to know either."

"Yes, my Lord!" The soldier bowed and headed off to carry out his orders.

"Order the men to set fore!" The Rock ordered. "I want the men to be as close as possible to the city before they discover our army!"


Orwell's Point, Marine Stronghold

"MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!" Marines ladened with heavy gear embarked onto the waiting transports while others moved pallets and crates of ammunition and other supplies on board.

"Lieutenant Silverstar!" Joseph stood at the marshaling grounds of the Stronghold and called out to the various Company commanders. "I want your Falcon company to take up a defensive position on the other side. You will hold the ground with the river to your left."

"Dig in and go to ground," Joseph ordered as he gestured to the map of their region. "Eagle company will hold the right flank."

"Hawk company will set up a firebase northeast of the city and provide fire support," Joseph said to Hawk's OC. "I want one of the MAWs to anchor the center of the line. The other MAW to be stationed at the firebase as support."

"What is the status of the MAW that was salvaged back?" Joseph asked the 1st Cavalry Commander.

"It's still out of service," The 1st Cavalry Commander replied. "But the gun and the turret is still working well, only the legs are out of action."

"If needed put it on the wall for static defense," Joseph ordered. "No point wasting a good gun."

"Now I want both PT boats are to patrol the river to prevent any enemy forces from surprising us from the riverside." His finger traced the river on the map. "Cover the flanks of Falcon company."

"Gryphon, I know your men are due for rotation back to Haven, but all leave is canceled now." He addressed Gryphon's OC.

"You and your men will hold the city together with 3rd Battalion's Impala and Jackal Company," Joseph turned to the two new Company Commanders that came with the convoys.

"I want the local police to be on high alert for any spies or infiltrators in the city," Joseph said to the City's Police Commissioner, previously the local head watchman.

"All planes to be on standby as of now," Joseph turned to the Airforce ground commander. "Till we know what is their purpose, have your men on full standby and ready to roll at any moment!"

'Is that clear, gentlemen?"

"Yes, sir!"


The hustle and bustle of the Marines readying for war did not go unnoticed to the locals but morale was high as word had spread that the strength of the soldiers was as strong or even greater than the Imperial Knights!

Hundreds of the citizens turned out to the streets to watch the parade of armored vehicles and transports that rolled out from the castle and out of the city. Children ran alongside the moving vehicles waving at the Marines. While most of the people cheered for the soldiers, some remained reserved as they remained skeptical of the strength of the soldiers and did not want to take a side yet in the war.

Watching the departing vehicles, Titanna sighed heavily as she wondered if the soldiers were being deployed against her father's forces and would they face another overwhelming defeat.

She now fully knew the strength of these barbarian soldiers were way more powerful compared to her family's forces, especially now with the total defeat of the Knights of Silver, they wouldn't even stand a chance.

If her family forces were destroyed, other lords in the region will no longer listen to her father, and internal unrest will soon follow!

Titanna banged the door of her room, calling for the guards to bring her to see Lord Joseph. She must stop the battle at all cost or her family will be doomed!


Evelyn sat next to the window and watched the rumbling vehicles rolling out of the main gates one by one. She twirled the clear glass vial in her hand and smiled as she felt the magic emitting out from the vial.

With this blood, she could call upon the soul of Dante back from the abyss! She clutched the vial tightly to her bosom and continued to watch the flow of the vehicles exiting the castle.

"Soon, my love... Soon..."

A note from neo Koh

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