Corrupted Guardian

by

Ivan_Ivanovich

45 The change of leadership – What was yours is now ours

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The entire slum district was in a rebellion. The reason and common sense were replaced by greed and mob mentality. However, there was a person guiding the rebels, he was the one known as Guardian. Under his command, the thugs struck the city when everyone least expected it. Both the heist on armoury and Guard Commander assassination were a success. The city was plunged further into the chaos.

Of course, the guards responded to all of this, but it was too late. The mob was armed and dangerous, the guards didn't exactly have the numbers to suppress the rebellion. Still, they marched towards the slums, all in hopes to preserve the piece; more looting was the last thing they needed.

The guards descended on the slum district. They were informed about the horde of angry people but there were none to be found, they wondered where all of them disappeared so quickly. Actually, guards were oddly surprised to find the slum district half empty, a lot of the people were missing, both men and women.

This was because Guardian was leading his army of rebels through the sewer tunnels towards the city centre. They moved as quietly as they could in order not to alert the guards above them. Finally, they have reached their destination and like rats spilt all over from the sewers. Only one thing was on their mind, it was to get what was rightfully theirs.

The city once again was invaded, this time it was not the foreigners but simple-minded and poorly-educated bums who did the plundering. It was pandemonium once again, whatever fire had not taken yet the rebels did. The remainder of the market district was reduced to nothing. People turned against their own, poor against the wealthy.

Once the guards released that their quarry somehow outmanoeuvred them and were looting the city it was too late; the damage has already been done. Their commander had been assassinated along with other higher leading officers so the organisation and planning was poor. Guards did not want to turn to mercenaries for help but they had to, they had to quench the rebels. To their surprise, most of the mercenaries refused their request.

They had a convenient excuse of not wanting to interfere with the internal affairs of this town’s people. One thing was to kill foreign invaders and another to kill their own. Also, they were paid amply not to interfere in this, of course, this was not mentioned to the guards. Actually, it was the first time mercenaries were paid not to fight and they were more than happy to do just that.

The City Guards were in a desperate situation, the rebel force was moving towards the noble mansions. The guards had to act, they had no other choice, it was the nobles who played their wages and without them, they would be left penniless. Some wondered if they should join the looting but that would be ill-advised, the slum dwellers held too many grudges against guards to allow them to join.

Just before the rebels could reach the mansions the guards caught up and the melee ensued. The guards were better armed and trained than the poor folk but the poor had the numbers. They had the numbers and a hidden ace in their hand; their secret weapon was Guardian and they were grateful to have such a powerful mage in their ranks.

Guardian was not holding back, he was putting his newly obtained power to a good use.

“Retreat, now!” He shouted to a small group of his men. The men quickly broke off from the melee and got behind him.

The guards looked confused and unsure what all of this meant. Sure, they saw a huge beastman in front of them, but even if he was big - what one person can do against so many guards. The guards crossly overestimated Guardian and their peers standing further away quickly learned that.

A blast of concentrated energy slammed at the guard’s formation with an overwhelming power, it was so strong and rich in mana that it quite literally disintegrated the men upon the contact. Only two things were left in their place, the metal they had on them like the tips of their spears and the lower portion of their legs; the rest of the upper body was turned into ash.

Both the guards and the rebels screamed out, neither have seen a magic so devastating. The poor were even more thankful that the Guardian was on their side. All it took were few more blast like that to teach the guards that they stand no chance against him, the men learned that and retreated. They knew that the nobles were done now, so was their pay, but their lives were what mattered the most.

Seeing the guards fleeing Guardian motioned his men to proceed towards the mansions. There used to be twelve but only 8 remained now; Islanders had looted four before they left. There were enough men to launch a simultaneous assault on all eight of them at once, and so the rebels did.

Guardian picked a random building and led his men towards it. The walls were lined with hired mercenaries, a lot of them were archers, there were some mages too; this won’t be as easy as he taught it will.

“Attack and cover me! I need to get close and then they will be done.” He instructed his men.

The archers had a range advantage against the mages so Guardian had to take the arrows until he got close enough to unleash his spell. His men shielded him and themselves with wooden tables and other parts of furniture. The arrows rained on them and quite a few men got hit. Guardian was the lucky one to reach the walls unscathed, now all he had to do was cast his spell before other mages could. He did so with no trouble at all as his casting time was virtually close to zero.

A blast of energy hit the wall sending both men and the heavy debris flying all over the place. Few fireballs hit his men setting them aflame, now Guardian knew the location of the mages. He made a quick work of them by blasting them to oblivion. Then his men rushed to the yard through the massive hole and engaged in a fight with the rest of the mercenaries. Guardian joined them, he was not just a mage but a brilliant brawler too.

From then on the mansion fell within 10 minutes. Guardian went inside the hall only to find that the nobles have all already been killed; he had hoped to get a chance to exchange at least a few words with them. His men then stripped the mansion clean off everything, no matter how much or little the thing was worth. Guardian himself would get to keep the most of the loot as he was the leader of this group.

Unlike the Islanders, they did not kill the servants or set the building and surrounding grounds on fire, but similar to them they moved to the next mansion in order to kill the nobles and plunder their wealth. The rebels without him were making only slow progress at breaching the walls and were actually suffering serious casualties. However, with his assistance, the second mansion was taken care of just like the first and then he moved to the third one.

By the time he was half-way done with the third one, the rebels managed to plunder the other two. There were a lot of dead and injured, but there was no mourning only cheering and celebrating. The poor got their hands on an unbelievable amount of wealth and were busy celebrating and stuffing their sacks full of coins. The other two groups hearing that got jealous and doubled their efforts to crack the defences.

Guardian and his men moved in to help to defeat the remaining mansions. For one reason or another the last ones managed to hold against the rebels; probably a testament to the skills of the mercenaries the nobles had managed to buy. This meant that behind marble walls lived the most prominent, wealthy and powerful nobles of this city.

Just before Guardian could blow a hole in the wall with his magic, he himself got almost blown away. A small group of mages ambushed the rebels from the back; they had guards at their sides who had retreated but now were back. The mages were the people from the Mages Guild and they have finally decided that it was to their best interest to keep at least some of the nobles alive otherwise the city would fall to the complete anarchy.

Various destructive spells were fired at the rebels without any mercy. The rebels had their bodies set aflame, they hearts stopped by arcs of thunder or their flesh melted off their bones by various corrosive energies. Magic was a devastating and incredibly potent weapon which could be countered only by good strategy or magic.

The mob was taken by surprise and succumbed to panic and went into disarray. Guardian knew that he was the only one who could solve this. He used his men as cover while he positioned himself for a counterattack. It was easy for the mages to spot his tall frame even in this horde of people so they directed their attack to him. The mages fired their spells only to find that magic projectiles were either dispersed or deflected by some sort of blast.

Guardian used the opening he had just made in order to cast the most devastating spell in his possession towards the mages. It took him only a few seconds do it and a supercharged beam of magic energy was expelled from his body through his hands and towards the formation of guards who were shielding the mages. The guards had seen Guardian’s magic before and his ability to disintegrate a person completely, however, this time they had mages to cast warding and shielding spells on them creating a barrier of sorts. There were at least a few dozens of mages doing just that in cooperation so the magic barrier in question was indeed quite strong, some mages even tough that they were overdoing it and wasting their precious mana. They were proven wrong in a split of a second when the beam hit the barrier and shattered the magic energy keeping it together. The barrier was breached and the men behind it reduced to a pile of ash and metal. The beam was powerful enough to obliterate both the guards and the mages behind them.

As soon as Guardian's vision recovered from the overwhelmingly bright light, a side effect of this spell, he proceeded to fire another beam at his enemies. The guards and mages turned to flee but it was all too late, all of the mages were defeated just like that and the remainder of the guards rushed behind any available cower to save their life.

Once again Guardian could concentrate solely on pillaging remaining mansions, at least he thought so. A large golem showed from behind one of the buildings in the distance. Guardian knew who exactly the owner of this golem was, what he did not know was the intentions of that owner. He wondered if their friendship will come to an end; he hoped that it won’t be the case. After all, he liked this friend of his and the friendship in question have been beneficial so far, not to mention the fact that Cynthia was a powerful ally to have.

Guardian had to be careful, he braced for a fight just in case. The golem was approaching him rapidly, it was in a full sprint running as fast as a heavy golem could; which was not that fast. The construct got closer and closer, Guardian became anxious as it was already dangerously close. He did not want to brace the force of impact as it would definitely damage him seriously. Even if not fast, the golem had a tremendous mass and huge amount of kinetic force, enough to break through a wall. To prevent golem hitting him Guardian raised his hands ready to cast the beam spell and shatter the golem into the pieces.

However, he did not need to resort to that; the golem stopped moving and rapidly slowed down. A gust of dust and debris was sent flying towards guardian but that was only a minor inconvenience considering what could have happened. Cynthia stepped from behind the golem.

“I didn’t want to believe but you are behind all of this, aren’t you?” She asked him, shock still present at her voice.

“Unfortunately, yes.”

“Is there a way to stop you? I will do everything I can to end this peacefully!”

Guardian was surprised that Cynthia took this calmly, well calmly in relative terms. She didn’t appear to be here to pick a fight with him.

“I am afraid both me and people here are too invested to stop. We are beyond the point of return.” He stated a simple fact.

“No! I do not believe that at all. This city needs leadership, someone competent to guide it. Do you think people here will be able to govern themselves peacefully? This is why the nobles are needed. Do not kill the rest of them.” She tried to reason.

Guardian sunk momentarily into the deep thought. What she was saying was a truth, the nobles were a necessary evil. They were corrupt and unfair but the only ones with the sufficient power to keep the order, and educated enough to bring prosperity and create wealth. This is arguable, of course, but this was how the things worked here. If there were no one to keep the order the town would plunge into complete anarchy, eventually the poor would turn against each other and this would lead only to an annihilation of the Harbour Town. Even the Islanders would not what this and this was a real problem. A problem to which he had a solution to already.

“Well, then it will be me who rules this city from now on.”

“You can’t be serious!”

Just before Guardian could rebuke Cynthia he was distracted by one of his men.

“They say they surrender, what should we do?” A beastman thug reported.

“What? Did you breach the walls? If so just kill them.”

“No, the walls still stand. The building remains shielded by the mages from inside.”

Guardian concluded that they must have realised that they will not hold out against the rebels for long and decided to surrender. He approached the walls to speak with the head of the noble family.

“Give him a chance!” Cynthia urged him. She was doing her best to mediate the situation.

Guardian spoke with the noble through the wall for a couple of minutes.

“You will have to hand over all of your wealth.” Guardians explained the only way to resolve this for the third time.

“But I will submit to you completely reducing myself to a status of a mere vassal. Let me keep, at least, some of it.”

“No. It is either my way or the other way, the way of the poor and abused you so much despise. I am the only one who can keep you alive. Once your mages' mana pools run out and the walls get breached you know what will happen.” Of course, he could breach the walls instantly here and now but this was beside the point. Guardian wanted the noble to believe that he was a saviour and not a destroyer in this situation.

“Just a little bit then.”

“What is more important to you, your life or your wealth?” Guardian knew that he can’t let the noble both live and keep any wealth. “Without me, you and everyone inside will be just slaughtered and the rest plundered. With my option, you at least get to live for another day.”

“In servitude that is… but I agree.” The noble had no other choice.

“Well then, step away from the wall and do not resist!”

Guardian blew a hole in the wall and his men hurried into the mansion. The noble and mercenaries were visibly nervous and fearful for their lives, but they held their part of the bargain and did not interfere with the looting. The noble in question held his wife in his hand preventing the woman from lashing out. She was the one not ready to part with their possessions. She screamed and shouted various profanities at the thugs looting her home, her husband had to knock her out before she killed both of them.

“Your life had cost me my share of the loot here. You better don't waste my investment in you.” Guardian warned the fallen noble.

“Yes, yes of course.”

“I did everything I could!” Cynthia said somewhat apologetically to the man. She was glad that she had saved at least a couple people. “Guardian, how do you intend to fight off Islanders now? Should we all flee?” In her mind, the city was now doomed to fall to Islanders.

“There is no need to fight them.” Guardian replied to her.

“What? How?” Cynthia was not following his train of thought.

"Ha ha ha.” The noble laughed at a naïve girl.

“What?” Cynthia asked once more, she felt like she was not told something she should have known.

“He is in cahoots with those horned mongrels.”

“No way! This can not be true?!” Cynthia looked at Guardian for answers, his silence told her everything she needed to know. “But why?”

“For the better future, better future for me that is.” and an ample amount of coin to keep himself in power.

“We are all doomed!” Cynthia believed that the Islanders will invade regardless of who was in power.

Guardian seen her emotions and proceeded to explain his plan, he hoped that she will decide to cooperate with him.

With the nobles out the guards were left without their payment and would resort to banditry. Unless Guardian took the role as their employer which he fully intended to do. He needed someone to re-establish the order. He planned to use the remaining guards, mercenaries and those loyal to him to keep the city from destroying itself. He would let the poor keep most of their loot but he would stop any other looting and killing, through sheer force and outright murder if necessary; he was the big boss here now and the people will have to recognise him.

Also, he would keep the rest of the mercenaries here just in case the Islanders decided to backstab him. He still had the number advantage against the Islanders and he doubted that they would discard their investment in him. He hoped that it would not be the case where Islanders pick a fight with him as he planned to make favourable trading conditions for Islanders here. After all, the nobles opposing the Islanders were dead and the war hatched between the Harbour City and Islanders could be buried.

Guardian's main worry was that the Islanders wanted him to be their puppet; he would oppose this. He wanted a partnership on equal grounds and he had enough men under him to demand that. All he had to do now was wait for the Islanders to deliver the reward of their deal or attack him. If they moved their army on the shore to provoke him he fully intended to show that he was not the one to be messed with.

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Ivan_Ivanovich

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Lord Vile @Lord Vile ago

Thanks

Attack and cower me!

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