While Zaran and Sylphie were busy attending to the reporter's every question, a commotion was happening within the mercenary guild's office.
"WHAT!" The leader of the mercenary guild roared as he read the report that the king's envoy had brought. "The king wants every mercenary group above rank C? We are already spread thin as is! With the top groups leaving... this city will become a kingdom of thieves."
With a stern expression, the envoy lightly coughed and said "That is your problem to solve. If we do not gather all the mercenary bands above level C how are we even going to stop the humans? It'll be a week before the other nations are able to assist us. By that time everything in the west will have fallen. Do you know how many lives are at stake? Even our military fortress might fall if we don't gather every bit of strength we can gather."
The leader of the mercenary guild sighed and looked at the envoy with weary eyes. "Is it really that bad?"
"In the past three weeks there have been multiple raids on remote villages near the border and like before not even a single child remained alive. If it weren't for merchants passing through those areas we wouldn't even have known as fast as we did. We already gathered out army near the western border. After considering why the Tarra kingdom would do this, we arrived to the conclusion that it's most likely probing attacks or calculated attacks that allow them to set up invasion routes or future supply lines."
"You don't know but even though we invest quite a large sum into the military, we're far from able to stop the Tarra kingdom from advancing, so it's even more likely to be a probing attack than anything else. We've already sent word out to the other nations but as I said before it'll be a week before they are able to move out. We need to move our troops and we need to move them now! If we don't hurry up and solidify our defences... we will be wiped out by the Tarra kingdom in no time."
With dejection sprawled across his face, the guild leader nodded, wrote down a few words on a paper and called in an assistant.
"How can I help you sir?" The assistant politely asked.
"Make sure every rank S, A and B guild receive this notice." The guild leader said as he handed the assistant the paper. "Tell them to hurry up and finish their task within a day or drop it if they are unable to. We'll recompense their loss."
"Yes sir!" The assistant turned around and left the room, without even glancing at the note, quickly heading over to the nearest communication room.
The king's envoy gave a calm smile. "If any C rank guilds are due for promotion, you may also tell them to join our forces."
The guild leader grit his teeth and quietly said. "Fine, I will make sure to have those contacted as well. Is that all? I'm afraid with the top guilds gone I don't have time to amuse you any further."
With a smirk on his face, the king's envoy turned around and left without saying another word.
"FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Those bastard Tarra's! Fuck the king too!" The guild leader roared a few minutes later. "How the fuck am I going to keep order in my designated area if I don't have the troops to do so! FUCK!"
Hearing someone knocking at his door, the guild leader barked. "COME IN!"
One of his assistants came in with his tail between his leg and quietly muttered. "Sir, I was told you to remind you that today you have to visit the Reign guild and check up on them concerning their mission with the nayeran."
"The Reign guild? Who are those again... Ah! I remember." The guild leader muttered, quickly signalling the assistant to leave. "Those guys... I will have to pay them a visit later."
Thinking about the state of the Virul branch of the mercenary guild for a little longer, he came to a decision and yelled. "Assistant!"
CREAK! The door flung wide open almost instantly as a half dog half man entered the room. "Yes sir?"
"Go over the reports of any guilds below the C rank and see if they are due for promotion or almost there. Immediately raise their rank by one. Tell those who are not getting a promotion that they have to join forces to tackle requests outside of their rank until further notice! The reward for the missions those guilds completed shall be doubled momentarily. That is all."
With that order being given out, the guild leader picked up his coat and left for the nayeran territory.
Meanwhile in the Tarra kingdom's war room a man completely clad in black, who wore a black hood to cover his face, stood at the war table and observed the deployment of troops. The various generals were reporting the numbers they had deployed and the exact coordinates, not even being off by a single degree.
At the black clothed man's side stood two bodyguards, one long and lanky, the other short and robust. Both gave off a calm but terrifying aura and every single one of the generals present acted with the utmost courtesy around them, being terrified to death of offending either of the two of them.
Still, the fear they felt for the bodyguards was far less than the fear they felt for the black clothed man. Even though they knew he had no power in his body whatsoever, the speed at which he had wrestled himself into the top spot of the military was absolutely terrifying. He went from a nobody to becoming the grand marshal in mere weeks!
"Sir N..." One of the generals started, but his mouth was instantly covered by one of the black clothed man's two bodyguards.
"HOLD YOUR TONGUE! You are not worthy to speak his name! Moreover, what if anyone here is a spy!" The bodyguard barked.
A calm voice rang out from the bodyguard. "Calm down. No one here is a spy. At most they just wish to see me dead. Regardless, please continue general."
The general gulped before he begun to report on his mission as well as the current state of his troops. "The mission was successful and every inhabitant of the city has been slain, as you said sir, the supplies in that village were enough to feed our troops for a month and the coin we were able to plunder could serve for an equal amount of time."
Sighing could be heard from the black clothed man. "The resources and gold you plundered interest me not. What does interest me however is its strategic position. What worries me is that you nor your colleagues have realized why I have been sending your troops out to those villages in the first place. Every single of your reports have been concerning the resources you plundered, not the state of the land in that area, which should have been of great interest to any half decent general!"
Hearing the scolding of the black clothed man, all of the generals unconsciously took a step back. Only now did they realize that they had been sent out for more than just a simple slaughter and plundering mission. But it was too late to realize their mistakes now, all they could do was hope that the black clothed man wouldn't punish them or send them to their deaths.
The black clothed man sighed once more and focused back on the war table. He took a few pawns that signified a troop count of ten thousand troops and moved them into the area of the villages the generals had just razed.
"I don't understand why do you give us a mission to raze the village and then are now seemingly planning to move in troops afterwards?" One of the generals asked.
An ice cold voice rang throughout the room. "All of you, take the battalion commander you like the least and make them advance their troops through those areas. We'll see how the enemy reacts and go from there."
An uproar started within the war room. "You are planning to sacrifice a hundred thousand troops in total just to figure out how the enemy reacts?" One of the generals yelled out in surprise.
"You can't do this, even as the grand marshal you can't just offer up a hundred thousand of our men!" Another called out.
"QUIET!" The man clad in black shouted, his voice trembling due to the rage. "If I figure out how their strategist thinks I can reduce our losses by far more than a mere hundred thousand men. So do as you are told! Now leave!"