Legendary Moonlight Sculptor Volume 50 Chapter 6 – Myul visit
As the leader of the Griffon Knights, he silently snuck into the Garnav Plain as the day of the battle got closer.
< You used fairies’ disguise cream. >
He applied the special fairies’ cream that subtly altered the shape of his face and the color of his skin. It was an expensive item that cost one thousand Gold per bottle, but he had a few bottles that he had once bought just for fun. He wanted to visit the Garnav Plain in person, to see the sight of the land bustling with the crowd and the ongoing festival.
“Hello, we are Chicken Porridge squad. Please come and try our porridge.”
“Cockles Porridge group here. We’ve put both fried cockles and seasoned cockles in the porridge.”
“Ahem. I’m from Whale Porridge. Why don’t you have a bite, if you haven’t had lunch yet?”
The moment Myul approached the Garnav Plain, several users came to surround him.
‘H-how on earth did they know it’s me?’
At first he was startled, thinking that people had seen through his disguise, but fortunately those users were just the porridge promotion staff of the Grass Porridge Cult.
Myul, while slightly flustered, asked:
“Uh… so, how much is the porridge?”
“Um, it’s all free.”
“These are just samples, so we don’t take any money.”
There had been a lot of users who had rushed to the Garnav Plain in a great hurry from all across the Continent. Most of them had run all the way after they arrived at a point that was around a day’s travel from the plain, without even stopping to have a meal. For those users, each group of the Grass Porridge Cult had decided to form a porridge promotion unit which would provide some free food.
Excluding a few unusual cases such as Loach Porridge or Stone Porridge, many skilled chefs from each group had joined the promotion unit as there was a competition to produce the best-tasting porridge of all.
Myul took a bowl of chicken porridge first, as it was his most preferred kind.
“Whoa. It’s really delicious! Very savory.”
< Your stamina has been recovered.
Your strength will be temporarily increased by 3 points. >
The bonus increase in stats aside, what was far more incredible was the excellent taste of the porridge that filled his mouth the moment he put the spoon in.
“Hehehe. Chicken porridge is indeed the best, right? Everyone likes it.”
The Chicken Porridge member smiled proudly. It was the result of more than a thousand cooks researching together to find the most optimized recipe possible.
“Try our porridge this time!”
< You have consumed a warm bowl of cockle porridge.
By eating a dish that has been prepared through skills and kind heart, your luck has been permanently increased by 1 point. >
All other kinds of porridge were also well worth having a taste. A smile appeared on Myul’s face, whose stomach was now full with various grass porridges.
“Thank you. But I cannot help but feel guilty for having all this excellent food for free.”
“Would you like to make a donation, then?”
“We have a collection box. This is part of the Versailles Continent Happiness Donation, with the purpose of supporting the war effort for the coming battle or helping novice users in general. We’re not forcing anyone to make a contribution, so don’t worry if you’d rather not pay.”
The collection boxes for this donation campaign, which had been founded by the Grass Porridge Cult, could be found in every city and town square of the Arpen Kingdom. For the convenience of the donators, some were even placed in government offices, castle gates and famous hunting grounds.
Making contributions was entirely up to the free will of the donators, and there were many users who benefitted from it. The collected money was used to lend basic equipment for cheap prices to the users who had just started playing Royal Road. If the novices showed a rapid progress and reached level 50, they could further rent more advanced gears without paying any interest for the first 3 months, no questions asked. Houses were built in the shantytowns and sold to those who needed them with dirt-cheap prices, and help was given to the inexperienced farmers whose crops were ruined or merchants who suffered heavy losses, due to disasters or monster assaults.
The Happiness Donation box to rescue those who were going through a difficult and desperate time!
There was just one small issue: nobody knew exactly who the manager of those collection boxes was. Some said that they belonged to Mapan Store, and others claimed that Saint Lemon herself managed the boxes. A few more skeptical people spread the rumor that the caretaker of those collected money was in fact Weed’s back pocket, but it was met with fierce refutation from those who saying that he would never do such a thing.
Myul nodded his head gladly.
“How much should I pay for donation?”
“There’s no ‘correct’ amount. Even if you give just 1 Copper, it’s the thought that counts.”
“Ah. I see.”
Myul put 100 Gold into the collection box, as his high prestige demanded.
‘Looks like they are working for the good of the Arpen Kingdom… this amount should be fine.’
Passing through the entrance to the Garnav Plain, he walked towards the location where the festival was taking place. He was not intending to join the people in the sculpture construction site; he didn’t come all the way here only to do more physical work.
‘I hear music.’
In the festival site, there were more than three thousand bards playing their instruments. In the centre of that crowd of minstrels was another bard: Marey! The music led by him turned into a wild storm that flooded into the vast land.
♪♫♪ We sing
of victory, of glory, of love and future.
With a cheerful, merry heart,
with the courage we possess, we rise. ♪♫♪
♪♫♪ You, who sculpted the stars,
assembled the grounds,
and lead the people onwards… ♪♫♪
Marey was playing a harp. After he took the lead with his harp first, the rest of the bards playing all sorts of instruments followed in response, forming a giant harmony.
Myul thought he was beginning to understand how it feels to have music make his whole body tremble. The sound of the instruments, as intense and destructive as a fight in battlefield, and the sweet, gentle notes resembling a confession of love, mingled with the bard’s singing.
♪♫♪ The footsteps ahead, the traces of greatness,
put a warm smile on the faces of those
who follow them, hand in hand. ♪♫♪
♪♫♪ You who wishes to dream,
do not be afraid to answer the call of fate,
for we are not alone,
and will walk this path together. ♪♫♪
Whenever the music went on to the next movement, it felt as though he was experiencing the passing of spring, summer, fall and winter compressed into an instant. The fact that this piece was being played by more than three thousand bards together was in itself amazing, but Marey’s play had the power to call forth real wind and rain… A performance that could summon large raindrops through music!
‘I’ve never seen anything like this before. This is not an ordinary performance skill… maybe it’s a Special Skill of Bards?’
The Bard Special Skill that was revealed to the world for the first time by Marey; it was Music in the Wilderness, a skill that could be used to perform in front of a large audience in an open, expansive place. The power of music ultimately relied on sound; one could not fully appreciate the music if they couldn’t hear it properly due to them being too far from the source. The Music in the Wilderness skill provided the audience with the crystal clear sound quality they would have if they were each wearing a set of extremely expensive, high-performance headphones. On top of that, by using this skill the performer could also conjure any stage effects they wanted such as lighting and rainstorm; they could even strike somebody in the audience with a bolt of lightning.
A rumbling sound of thunder, then… BOOM!! Massive cracks of lightning struck across the sky, and dark clouds gathered, blocking off the sunshine. The power and intensity of this skill was determined by the performer’s affinity to nature, but this magical sight created by the bards was in itself magnificent to behold. As long as the bards kept on singing and playing, Music in the Wilderness would dominate the entire area. And there were currently three thousand bards all playing their instruments and harmonizing with Marey’s performance.
Marey and the rest of the bards raised their heads and let the falling raindrops splash on their faces.
Sing even louder!
You, who listen to the sound of forming wind,
the clear drops of water,
and the great tremor of the land… ♪♫♪
♪♫♪ Your pulsing souls burst
and shake the whole world. ♪♫♪
Raise your eyes and behold.
Let us all march in unison.
You, the people who share this time of miracle! ♪♫♪
As the bards’ performance was coming to an end, the clouds began to clear. At the same time, the rainstorm stopped and the sun came out again to shine brilliantly, perhaps as a natural course of an effective stage directing.
The audience who had been completely mesmerized by the music also came to themselves. They soon noticed the land was full of beautiful flowers with various colors and shapes that had just sprouted out from the ground, which was yet another gift presented to them by the performers; a miracle that turned the whole area within the sound’s reach into a flower bed. To perform this one piece of music, all of the bards including Marey himself had completely depleted their mana.
The audience rose from their seats on the ground in a thunderous round of applause. Marey and the bards were filled with the overflowing joy from having played such a fantastic and thrilling piece.
< You have completed your interpretation of the Song of Courage.
A total of 812,239 people have listened to your music.
You have set a new record for the largest audience in the continent!
You have managed to elicit astoundingly positive reactions and praises from the audience. Currently 810,988 people have joined in a standing ovation.
Playful fairies and spirits are staring into space dazedly, utterly enraptured. They seemed to have forgotten to even complain and chafe at everything as they were so wont to do. >
A message board popped up for Marey and the other bards; during usual street performances, bards were able to check their increased fame and skill proficiencies immediately after they finished a song. In case of a large-scale concert such as this, the amount of fame, stats and skill proficiencies they could gain depended on the reaction of the crowd.
Clap, clap, clap!
“This is such a moving song.”
“This is the most unforgettable piece of music I’ve heard in my whole life.”
The acclamations and praises had been continuing for more than ten minutes. Even as they stood to shower in the cheers of the crowd and confirm the success of their music, they felt a hot wave of emotion welling up in their heart.
‘Yes, this is it. This is why I became a bard.’
Singing songs, and playing musical instruments! Through sound and expressions, they could soothe the pain in people’s hearts, or laugh with them in joy.
‘I can’t help but love music.’
The pride in one’s profession!
Almost half of the bards were even beginning to tear up, overwhelmed by emotions. They wouldn’t have been able to imagine that such a glorious day would come to them when they first chose to become bards, practiced handling their instruments with their clumsy hands, and composed their first songs. It was one of those moments that turned their life into something so wonderful; a moment to forever cherish in their memory.
Twenty minutes had passed in a flash, and Marey felt the necessity of calming down the still applauding crowd. As much as they loved to see people’s passionate reaction to their music, they still had a lot of songs ahead in their playlist, and the night was too short. Rather than enjoying the audience’s cheers for any longer, they wanted to let people hear more of their music.
“We will begin with the next song. This is the first time we play this song in public, and the title is ‘Goddess of a Star’.”
Marey and the bards sat down once again and started playing their instruments. Silence fell on the Garnav Plain which had been full of excited and noisy sounds from the cheering audience just a second ago, and a quiet, tranquil melody began to flow. The various musical instruments were being played in harmony, creating such a pure and beautiful sound that seemed to cleanse the listeners’ ears.
< You have used the skill: Music in the Wilderness. >
Slowly the sky began to grow dark, but it was not due to dark clouds this time; night was falling. Sparkling stars embroidered the heaven in beautiful patterns. The Milky Way stretched out, a mystic veil of aurora streamed and green rays of light were spilling down from the sky.
“It’s begun again!”
The audience had to restrain themselves from making too much noise out of excitement. The beautiful sounds of music made by the instruments, in combination with the fantastic sceneries — it was a precious opportunity for the people to face their own happiness while being immersed in the music. As the new song began, Marey and the bards also got a chance to check the overall statistics they had achieved by playing the Song of Courage.
< Your Song of Courage has mesmerized the audience.
A standing ovation was given from 784,014 listeners, which lasted for 23 minutes and 19 seconds in total.
9,284 people were moved to tears, which were not easily stopped. >
< Spirits of water shed tears in clear droplets — Increased affinity. >
< Spirits of wind danced to your music — Increased affinity. >
< Spirits of light are cheering in joy — they have promised to protect you from now on. >
< Spirits of sound are smiling — your music will be imbued with special fortune. >
< Your Music in the Wilderness skill level has increased to Beginner 8. You are now able to deliver your music at a greater distance. The scale, size and mystique of your desired special effects will be improved even further. >
< You have completed a piece worthy of being recorded in the history of music.
By breaking the record for the greatest size of audience in the continent, your fame has increased by 83,193 points. >
< You have obtained the title: A Minstrel that Leads People’s Minds
The one who has claimed the hearts of countless people! This is a title that only those who know how to speak and show through music can have. >
< Your level has increased. >
< Your level has increased. >
< Your level has increased. >
< Your Speechcraft skill level has increased. >
< Your Charm, Charisma, and Luck stats have increased by 10 points each. >
< By completing a song that will remain in the history of music, all of your stats have increased by 10 points. >
A long message window popped up to Marey who was playing the next song.
One characteristic of this profession was that a bard could rapidly gain an incredible amount of fame, even when compared to other artistic professions. Just by singing or playing instruments in cities and villages a bard’s fame easily increased by hundreds of points at once, provided that they were reasonably competent. But even so, Marey had never seen over 80,000 points of fame piling up, on top of all the increases in level and skill levels, after playing just a single piece of music.
‘It would have been impossible to have such a good opportunity if it hadn’t for Weed-nim.’
He wouldn’t have gotten a chance of holding such a miraculous concert anywhere outside the Garnav Plain.
The skill proficiency for Music in the Wilderness increased more rapidly as the size of the audience got larger. The various effects brought forth by the music would also grow more intense as more bards joined in to play. There were more than three thousand bards playing together, and an additional six thousands who had not yet joined the performance and were still practicing the pieces. The bards from the Northern Continent were not proficient in more than a couple of instruments, and their skills were still somewhat lacking. Nevertheless, the sight of them all trying their best to present the audience with a beautiful performance made Marey’s heart swell. On the day of the battle against the Hermes Guild, a total of ten thousand bards would put on a joint concert.
‘This sight, this music, and this happiness I feel… Royal Road is such a wonderful place.’
Marey played his instruments even more energetically. The performance of the bards who were experiencing similar feelings as Marey also began to echo through the crowd more profoundly.
Myul, who had been standing in the back of the audience, was so amazed that his mouth was still hanging wide open.
‘I never knew such music exists in this world. And the mood of the crowd is also… quite something.’
The general impression of the Grass Porridge Cult to an average Hermes Guild user was quite similar to that of a zombie horde, swarming in to kill you while screaming ‘Grass Porridge! Grass Porridge!’ But ever since he arrived at the festival site, he could see that these people were genuinely enjoying a happy moment while listening to this music.
‘I feel like I’ve stepped into a different, wonderful world that I didn’t know before.’
Even as Myul stood watching there were a continuous stream of people joining the crowd, and currently it seemed there would be at least a million of them in this area alone. One million… and it wasn’t like the headcount on a battlefield; they were the people who had assembled to enjoy some great music.
‘I didn’t expect to see such a sight here.’
Myul stood there for almost 2 hours listening to the music, unable to bring himself to leave. Only when the exhausted Marey and the bards were taking a break and wiping their sweating foreheads did he leave the stage to visit a different area.
“Come and have some delicious food here!”
“Food alley right over here. Come, Everything’s really cheap!”
As they were in a plain rather than in the middle of a city, restaurants set up in simple tents were doing their business. Within those endless lines of tents, every kind of dish imaginable was being cooked and served; starting with the 400 different types of grass porridge that represented the Grass Porridge Cult, every famous cuisine from all around the globe could be found here.
– Restaurant owned by Daphne, the chef serving the Royal Family
– Mouthwatering boar meat cuisines
– Specialist seafood restaurant, only roasting fish that lives at least 300 meters below sea level!
– The freshest seafood from the Wulhoff Reef!
– Fruits and vegetables! Just give it a chance, you’ll like it!
People were entering different tents according to their taste.
“*Burp*. That was a good meal.”
“Oh, there’s a Bulgogi place over there.”
“Let’s go! Gogogo!”
“But we’ve just eaten…”
“Don’t worry about that. Our profession is of a Warrior; we’re not going to be easily killed by burst stomach! Let’s eat some more.”
“If you say so…”
As there were so many excellent restaurants, people were busy filling their stomach with more food.
Cuisines from various countries in the real world and from every region across the Versailles Continent were gathered in one place in this food alley. Adding all the original menus developed by many renowned chefs on top of that, the total number of different dishes in the place would be simply staggering. One would easily lose the track of time and end up spending a few days in this street alone.
‘It looks like there’s no food I cannot find here. And look at all those people enjoying themselves…’
As he admired the view around him, he found a restaurant that looked up to his taste and entered. He had always been quite fond of seafood, and he was curious to taste the food made with the ingredients obtained from the Wulhoff Reef that had recently been on the air.
“Excuse me… a table for one person, please.”
“Sure. Come take a sit here.”
The restaurant, which was presently packed full with over a hundred customers, had only three items on its menu:
– Table d’hote (fish) – 45 Silver
– Table d’hote (clams) – 20 Silver
– Table d’hote (Octopus) – 35 Silver
Exactly 100 Silver if you have all three!
Myul glanced at the people in other tables. Every customer was eating their way through the plates of seafood piled up in heaps. The main dish of the octopus course meal was apparently a huge roasted octopus that was longer than 80 centimeters in length.
Myul stopped a waiter who was passing by and asked, “Excuse me, but I think there’s been a mistake in those prices in the menu…?”
“Why? Are they too expensive?”
“No, no, it’s just… I think they should be in Gold pieces, instead of Silver?”
The table d’hote of fish also consisted of various kinds of delicious fish roasted expertly. Not only were they fat and juicy, but they were cooked so perfectly that he had to fight down the urge to hold the fish with both hands and gnaw at it. Myul would have been more than willing to pay even if the price had been 45 Gold.
The waiter asked him, smiling, “You are from the Central Continent, I presume?”
“Yes, what about that?”
“Those prices are quite normal in this area. You’ll find even cheaper places in Morata.”
This was unimaginable in the Central Continent.
Such low prices were partly due to the cheap labor costs in the Arpen Kingdom as well as the custom of enjoying cheap and delicious food that had been widespread ever since the old days when Morata was but a shantytown. But the more fundamental reason was the fact that there were no taxes charged on food products. There was no user in the Arpen Kingdom who didn’t know of the famous quote made by Weed when he was establishing tax laws for his kingdom:
“Why do we have to put taxes on food? Don’t tamper with things that people eat!”
The tax rates in the Arpen Kingdom were already very low, but when it came to food in particular, there were no taxes imposed whatsoever. As Weed himself had had much experience of going hungry during his impoverished childhood, he simply couldn’t bear to put tax on what people eat.
“We can always make up for the low tax revenue by selling lands. Just ripping them off a little… I hear that real estate investment scam is a real gold mine nowadays?”
Of course, this latter half of what he said was quickly and quietly silenced before it spread, never to be known to the public.
At any rate, Myul was so shocked by the cheap prices of the Arpen Kingdom he was feeling as though something just hit him hard in the back of his head.
‘If people don’t have to worry about matters of basic necessities in this way… there’s no wonder this kingdom is so popular.’
After a day’s visit to the Garnav Plain, Myul was filled with a mixture of complicated emotions. He couldn’t help but think that those users who moved over to the Arpen Kingdom from the Haven Empire must have felt like discovering a paradise. For the first time, he understood why so many of them fought while chanting the name of the Grass Porridge Cult.
‘I never doubted our right to rule, because we were the winners, because we were the strongest… but… could it be possible that we have exploited our users too much?’
After dining in the restaurant, Myul continued roaming around the plain. There were exhibition sites for artworks, and several expos were taking place for promoting elven and dwarven cultures. Parents were holding their children’s hands while walking on the treetops, experiencing the elven lifestyle.
He also looked around the magnificent exhibit halls for various brands around the world including LG and Samsung.
“A luminescent wall-mountable TV! Watch the upcoming war with this luxuriously designed television!”
“Apply now, and we guarantee complete installation within two days, anywhere in the world! Get a free crystal ball with a size over 1 meter, too!”
“We are currently having a customer appreciation event; we give a magic quiver and a silver axe to any customer activating their new mobile phone!”
“This is Ssangyong Motor Company. The size of this wooden statue is identical to that of the original. Feel free to try sitting on it. Buy it, and get a free, living ox!”
The promotional booths connected to Royal Road.
Slim elf ladies were advertising and selling the companies’ products as a part-time job.
“We’re from Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical. Have a sip of this cool ginseng water. There’s nothing better for relieving your fatigue!”
“Hi, we’re from Lloyd’s. You can make all the troubles of your life go away with a single insurance. We give a free vitality potion for everyone who visits our promotion booth now!”
“KTX : comfortable, rapid travel to your destination. A train pulled by 100 oxen bound for the east side of the plain is due to depart very soon. Anyone who’d like to get on, please come gather over here!”
“From fighter planes to freighters. We are Boeing, a manufacturing company specialized in all kinds of aircrafts. Step into the exhibition hall right now and enjoy the show!”
“Amore! We are giving out free herbal cosmetics! For the first 500,000 customers only!”
“This is PIC Resort. Anyone feeling tired after all the walk around the exhibition halls? Come and have some rest here! We’ve opened a pool, too!”
“This is the announcement from Nordstrom Department Store. We give a free Macaron set for every customer who visits our store now…”
Companies and corporations all across the world were covering a considerable portion of the Garnav Plain in order to promote their image. They were able to raise their brand awareness significantly by giving out small souvenirs to the users or offering them a trial experience of their service.
Home appliances, IT, automobiles, shipbuilding, chemistry, real estates, construction, health care products, steel manufacture, furniture, banks, machines, department stores and hotels!
All these exhibition halls had been built which would easily dwarf even the largest home consumer electronic exhibition in the world in terms of scale, almost like comparing a university to a kindergarten.
Myul was now almost speechless with astonishment.
‘Right. Aside from the fact that all those world-class companies have their booths here, how on earth is it possible to prepare something like this in just ten days?’
Although it was a long time ago, Myul once looked over the Garnav Plain while flying on the back of a griffon. That once-barren land which had nothing but overgrown grass had now been completely transformed right before his eyes.
‘Is this the extent of Weed’s influence? But that’s probably not all there is to it…’
Of course, even Weed had not expected such an outcome, but before he knew events started to gain in scale with a frightening speed like a rolling snowball. With the entire media over the world focusing on the Garnav Plain and people and companies competing with one another to take advantage of it, it was only a matter of time before such a perfect transformation took place.
“This is Okpo Heavy Industries. Try boarding on the world’s largest container ship! We are currently building a cruise ship as well.”
Myul heard a large shouting sound and automatically turned his head towards the direction of the noise. What he saw was a supersized container ship towering over him, which was more than 400 meters in length, 35 meters in height, and with a whopping 70 meters of width.
“The size of this ship… but how is this standing in the middle of the plain?”
A mysterious sight!
Not so long ago, the management of Okpo had also thought at first that such a construction was impossible from a common-sense point of view; but what would be impossible, when sculptures of far more impressive sizes were being constructed at that very moment in the Garnav Plain?
“It’s not like we’re actually setting this ship off into the sea; we just have to make its exterior believable enough.”
“No, we need to get this right. Look at all those other companies that publicized themselves for free to the worldwide media by building the statues in the Garnav Plain. If they can do that, why can’t we?”
So the engineers in heavy industries managed to construct the ship in just two days, through cooperation with the master shipbuilders from Port Varna. Although it was too hastily constructed with wood, stone and soil to be launched to the ocean, the structure of the sails and the hull was that of a real, functioning ship.
“The way they build a ship in Royal Road isn’t half bad. It’s quite convenient for promoting our company to the overseas buyers, since we can show them the life-size models of the ships…”
“Wouldn’t it be also nice if ships constructed by our company sail around the seas of Royal Road?”
A container ship that weighs 340 thousand tons!
Now it was possible to build a supersized vessel in Royal Road. Of course, as it needed the driving power of wind or rowing oars in order to sail even with the help of the sailing skills there were a lot of inconveniences when operating the ship in the real ocean, but it was still well worth constructing it for tourism or promotion purposes.
“So this is how we build large sized vessels here.”
“The cooperation of masters is indeed crucial in shipbuilding industry.”
The master shipbuilders of Varna could learn valuable know-how as they constructed a large vessel. Even with the same techniques and labor time, a few tricks and some know-how could more than double the speed of shipbuilding, which was normally a process that took a long time.
“I think it is also worth referring to the method of making an onshore deck for shipbuilding.”
“How about opening a joint shipyard? There’s only so much an individual builder can do.”
“You mean we set up a real, official shipyard here?”
“Building those large merchant ships with more than 70, 80 crew members is too difficult and time-consuming for an individual work. It’s far better to make it into a joint operation, while increasing the production efficiency by using novices for simple tasks. It would be convenient if we could obtain standardized materials, too.”
“That sure makes sense, but what if we cannot find any work?”
“The Haven Imperial Navy has been eradicated. The sea belongs to the Arpen Kingdom now.”
The repository of adventures and exploration!
There were rumors of exorbitant treasures and mysterious lands far away from the Versailles Continent. There weren’t many people who set out on a long-distance cruise due to the heavy risk and lack of information, but they thought it was just a matter of time before more people joined the expeditions. The number of ship orders that the master shipbuilders received had already been increasing by almost a hundred percent every month. Although the overwhelming majority of those orders were for small fishing vessels sailing around the littoral sea, there were quite a few fast-sailing liners for adventures and medium-sized sailing boats for trade. The size of those ships was getting larger each day as well.
“Let’s do this, then.”
An additional effect of the festival — it triggered an extensive increase in the production output of the Arpen Kingdom’s shipbuilding industry.
‘The power of this Arpen Kingdom is indeed enormous. I’ve always looked down on it, only considering its weak military strength… but its full potential might even be beyond my imagination.’
After looking around the exhibition sites, Myul started heading over to another location once again.
‘This isn’t going to be easy. We really need to prepare ourselves for the worst… I should take a look at those sculptures, too, now that I’ve come all the way here.’
He walked towards the sculptures construction site.
It took him a considerable time to get away from the festival site because of the crowd, and as he was walking nearer and nearer to the construction place, he was feeling increasingly overwhelmed. At first he thought the huge silhouettes rising from the heart of the vast plain were mountains, as human common sense dictated when a person saw something that was so absolutely gigantic. But soon he realized that those mountains were covered with climbing people that looked like a swarm of ants; those people had even built stairs to carry the materials.
‘Those… are sculptures?’
Myul was taken aback, once again. As a great lord of the Haven Empire, he had seen a lot of sculptures: the collections of nobles during the early days of Royal Road, or the extravagant artworks he saw in the Royal Palace… His general impression of sculptures was that they were pieces of art, carved both splendidly and delicately, but what he was watching now had a size of such a scale that was almost ridiculously excessive.
210 meters tall, and 600 meters wide.
Its tail alone could match the size of a 50 storey building.
He could also hear the workers who had joined the construction of the statue.
“Some more stone and sticky mud, quickly please!”
“The surface is getting cracked. I think we need some help from potters… please bring a few fire-class mages as you come up.”
Myul’s head was beginning to hurt.
‘They’re STILL making those things?’
It was a tremendous relief that they were not, at least, making it any bigger, as it seemed that they were now working on the detail.
‘So I need to fight against these huge… things… when the battle begins?’
The strength of the Griffon Knights was unmatched in the Central Continent. They had never been defeated before, save by Weed and the Arpen Kingdom.
‘But their size… can they all come alive and move?’
On top of the size, the eyes of this great ox looked as ferocious as those of a predatory beast. Its claws were as sharp as a lion’s, and there was even a pair of wings sprouting from its sides.
< The Soaring Ox.
This work of art was made by filling up the interior with soil and stone and pouring 329 tons of molten iron into its frame. A total of 540 thousand people worked together in order to complete the statue. >
‘This thing is just too much. Once the battle begins… I’ll have to leave the other squads deal with it.’
Myul tried to find sculptures that looked relatively easier to fight, but it was not an easy task. The other works that he could see beyond the giant sculpture of the ox were even more overwhelming: a winged serpent, a three-headed wyvern, a badger that shoots poisonous needles! What they all had in common was their enormous size, just like the ox.
‘And those things will be flying around the sky…’
Of course, huge size did not necessarily mean superior strength. Most of the large-sized monsters in Royal Road were powerful, but that was because they possessed strength and stamina to match their bulky appearance. So just making those sculptures magically come to life would not guarantee that their physical abilities would be proportional to their size. The Hermes Guild’s intelligence unit had made a rough estimate of the power that these sculptures may have once they are brought to life by Weed’s Life Bestowal, purely based on the analysis of Bingryong, Imugi, the Wyverns and Phoenix.
‘…But we never expected Emperor Geihar von Arpen to get into the picture. Just how terrifying is he going to be? Still, he wouldn’t be able to make ALL of them come alive, would he?’
Myul stood there for a while, staring at the sculptures. He would learn their exact strength once the battle began, but he wished he would never find out as much as possible. He didn’t think he’d enjoy fighting a giant winged rat in the air.
‘Even after all I’ve seen, my bet would still be on the Hermes Guild winning.’
Myul knew of all the five Secret Weapons that Lafaye had prepared. Aside from the Shadow Army of Palma which had already been eradicated, each and every one of the remaining four was plain and simple a mass-murdering weapon of war. The moment they were revealed to the public, all of them could potentially attract a great deal of angry denunciations.
‘The Hermes Guild is just as desperate, for there is no way back. If we really win in this battle, we’re going to become official villains, irrevocably.’
Lafaye, who was in charge of making preparations for the battle in the Garnav Plain, arranged for a meeting in order to establish plans for the war. It was the job of each mid-ranking commanding officer to direct the troops in their unit, but they still needed to determine the larger scale strategy they would utilize in the greater picture. For security reasons, only twenty users attended this meeting, including Bard Ray, Arkhim, Steer, and Lafaye himself.
“There shouldn’t be any issue with the assembly of the Imperial Army as well as their morale. Mercenary recruitment and conscription process have been proceeding smoothly, too.”
“The main problem would be the human wave strategy of the North.”
“Well, we’ll just have to kill them all and that’s one problem solved, isn’t it?”
“That would only make things difficult for us, as there will be no end to the fight even if we kill them all day long.”
“We also need to consider the amount of damage to our side.”
Bard Ray and Lafaye placed all the battle plans on the table and revised them. One of the tactic was the old orthodox way of marching the Imperial army to the doorsteps of the Northern users in the Garnav plain… They considered a variety of formations and ways of operating magical squads, and evaluated how best to utilize the Empire’s Five Secret Weapons.
Lafaye shook his head.
“The Order of the Steel Knights and the rest of the Five Secret Weapons are certainly powerful. There’s no doubt that they will be effective in the battle, but they will not be quite as decisive as we need them to be.”
“Then? Do you mean our current military strength is still not enough?”
“We need something with even more punch, something that can absolutely smash them into smithereens with sheer force.”
Lafaye might not know much about actual combat, but he was an excellent strategist. He was the one who had worked diligently to make every preparation and lay foundation for the Hermes Guild to take to the sky and unite the entire Central Continent. But as thorough and error-free as he normally was, after having been dealt a number of blows by Weed he was being particularly cautious, almost excessively so.
“It’s difficult for us to predict the coming battle with an exact certainty. They’ve managed to introduce an unexpected variable that is Emperor Geihar. Another problem is that they’ve already occupied the Garnav Plain as their own territory in advance. We might as well fight within the enemy borders now.”
Arkhim slammed the table with his fist in rage.
“They propose to delay the fight and then go take over the battlefield, making all the preparations they want… How is this fair? It’s cheating!”
“Well, it’s not Weed who did it, at least not directly, so it’s no good making complaints to him. He’d probably already counted on the opposition from our side before he made this move.”
Lafaye did not want to be dragged along by his enemy like this. Once they had lost the initiative, things would only become more disadvantageous to them no matter what they did. Even if the Haven Empire had superior military power, they would end up fighting this battle on Weed’s own terms.
‘As soon as he accepted our request for the head-on match, he led the users to set things up in the Garnav Plain without taking any direct step in person. He is certainly not just any ordinary foe. I won’t let my guard down, either. Not when there’s such a critical battle coming.’
The Arpen Kingdom and the Haven Empire, clashing with each other with all their might. No one knew what changes would be brought to the Versailles Continent after this battle concluded. Lafaye needed a trump card, something he knew he could count on.
Caddler, who was in charge of training the magical squads, raised his hand.
“There’s something I’d like to tell you: we have been researching a magic spell recently.”
Caddler was a user who had mostly stayed in the background until now. As a member of the Royal Guards, he had obtained the hidden profession Mage of Carnage early on — meaning that his magical power grew as he slaughtered more and more villagers or users. As a repercussion, there were some side effects such as the power and the suppressed rage of the dead, but he could nevertheless obtain a tremendous amount of combat capacity as a result. He was presently one of the users who had been showing a rapid growth with much support from the guild.
Caddler smiled confidently.
“It’s one of the Ultimate Spells of Magic… and we are more or less ready to use it.”
Lafaye recalled a report which he had received a while ago, about an Ultimate Spell that had been discovered in a historic site left by a mage: ‘Summon Flaming Meteor’.
It was the spell that Weed himself had obtained during his quest for the last secret skill of sculpting, and used to devastate the main headquarters of Embinyu Church. The Hermes Guild had been extremely astounded by the spell’s force as they watched the event through the broadcast, and had been looking everywhere to procure the same spell: since it had been used during a quest, there was a fair chance of it being discovered by those who were occupying the Central Continent. Numerous historic sites and dungeons of mages had been thoroughly searched, and although there had been much difficulty, they eventually managed to acquire the spell tome of Summon Flaming Meteor through a quest. It was a partially torn-off, incomplete tome, and even after it was restored by mages and adventurers, they still needed magical resources and research to make the spell work.
“You mean it’s possible to cast Summon Flaming Meteor right now?”
“Not by normal means. But using Black Magic, one can cast more advanced spells that are 2 levels higher than normal, so… *ahem*, we’ll need to sacrifice some jewels and mana stones as well as rare living creatures, but we’ll be able to cast the spell all the same.”
Summon Flaming Meteor!
Once they found out that they could use this wide area-of-effect destructive spell, they began devising a new battle plan.
“How about we use it after the mid-phase of the battle, as a hidden card? We’d be able to turn the tide of the battle that way. We could consider dropping it on top of Weed’s location, too.”
“We cannot summon the meteor in the press of battle. Also, our side would have to suffer too many sacrifices.”
“Not to mention the huge amount of mana consumption by the magical squads.”
“Weed can simply dodge out of the way. He’s bound to feel something is up when he senses a sudden movement from our side. Considering the speed of the Wyverns or Bingryong, that he often rides on, it would be difficult to hit him with the spell.”
“What’s the maximum number of times we can summon the meteor?”
“We can cast it multiple times as we are using Black Magic, but it will become increasingly taxing for the mages. Still, if we gather every mage in the Haven Empire, we’ll be able to summon about three at the same time.”
“That should be enough.”
“In that case, it might be better to focus our power on summoning the meteors… we should use the spell early on, to eliminate any unexpected factors from the start.”
The plan was set up: strike the whole Garnav Plain by summoning the flaming meteors! With more than a hundred million people concentrated in one area as seen on the broadcast, the amount of damage this spell would inflict on them would be astronomical. The Haven Imperial Army decided to swiftly penetrate into the battleground immediately after the meteor strike and slaughter the remaining enemies as their basic tactic.
“Strict confidentiality is crucial to this plan.”
“We can inform the mages right before the battle. As it is a type of Black Magic, we only need a few core members to know about the plan in advance.”
“That would do perfectly.”
The Haven Empire decided to open every single armory in its territory to equip the troops, taking resources from each of the lord’s castle and even recruiting city guards. For this occasion, the true entirety of the forces that rule the Central Continent would be assembling in one place.
Steer, the head of the intelligence unit, and Arkhim, who was in charge of the Royal Guards, were getting increasingly busy as well.
“Here’s the current situation in the Garnav Plain: a total of 475 gigantic statues have been completed so far, and 3,741 are still under construction.”
“You mean they are going to finish making all of them?”
“No. They probably won’t be able to finish about half of them before the start of the battle.”
“The analysis report about Geihar von Arpen has just arrived.”
“Could Emperor Geihar really raise all those sculptures?”
“It is hard to judge, but I think it would be quite impossible even for him. There haven’t been that many sculptures that Weed has created and turned into his servants.”
“I’m studying the military strength of the old Arpen Empire and the species of the sculptural creatures which lived during that time, but there are not enough records remaining.”
The intelligent unit and the heads of the guild were all fully mobilized to gather information and make any necessary provisions in order to increase the Haven Empire’s chance of winning and enhance the combat capacity of its people.
“Balzetta merfolk have made their appearance in Wulhoff Reef. They are expressing their intention of joining this war as Emperor Geihar wishes, saying that they are the descendents of an old sculptural race.”
“A party of adventurers that had been exploring the western mountain range sold some information to us. We paid them 5,000 Gold for it, and it’s about a small bird. It is thought to be a baby Baraag, a species that is known to have been long extinct.”
“A coincidence? Or…”
“It seems Weed’s adventure has changed the history.”
They discovered some evidence of the said changes to the past history. Baraags, the species created by Emperor Geihar, had not died out entirely as per the original history, and had immigrated to a temperate island in the west. There they lived on, forming a natural paradise in that large island located in the middle of the sea beyond the reach of the humans. Hence, several races of sculptural lifeforms were coming to join the battle to respect the emperor’s wish.
“How would you assess the combat capability of those Baraags?”
“They look like difficult opponent to deal with, judging by the videos, but as there are many of us I expect we’d be able to deal with them.”
“We can fight them by deploying the giant modified catapults.”
“No, it wouldn’t be very effective against them. It’s going to be cumbersome to protect the ground troops, and we’ll lose control over the sky.”
Arkhim could not help but feel uneasy about the Baraags.
The Emperor Bard Ray was to be the supreme commander of the entire army. Arkhim himself was the second in command, but in terms of the actual operation of the forces, more than half of the Imperial Army would follow his orders. As this was a tremendous responsibility, he needed to win no matter the cost. No amount of losses would be too high as long as it could ensure their victory in the battle.
“There was a quest related to fire drakes a while ago, correct?”
“Yes. It’s a quest that enables us to recruit those drakes for the battle if we bring them a large amount of Fire Gems.”
“Proceed with the quest.”
“But the expense would be very large…”
“This is no time to save money.”
As they were the only force that dominated the Central Continent exclusively, they had been able to obtain a list of quests and agreements with numerous species.
A Fire Gem that can seal fire magic! Those gems were usually formed in volcanic regions, and could only be acquired by killing some tricky monsters. They were not often found in normal shops, even with a price of about 4,000 Gold, and they decided to spend the entire stock they had been saving until now.
“An unexpected factor: there’s been news that a lot of office workers are applying for a holiday on the day of the battle in Korea.”
“How could that be…”
The current trend in Korea was important, as it was a country with more top-tier gamers than any other nation around the world.
“Some high schools are even having a day off, predicting that there would be a lot of trouble maintaining the class atmosphere.”
Arkhim groaned, but not for long. No matter what country you looked at, there would be very few people who wouldn’t want to join such a phenomenal battle. Those students and young workers would have found a way to go online by fair means or foul anyway.
“The acquisition of additional Steel Knights is going well, thanks to the preparations we have made in advance.”
“We’ve hidden the host of the Alkin disease near the Garnav Plain, too. We’re preparing the antidote, but there’s not much of it.”
“How about the Phanzellope Order of Phantom Knights?”
“They’ll be here by tomorrow, for certain. There has been a lot of delay as they needed to move without being spotted by any users.”
“And the Spears of Annihilation…”
“34 of them have been distributed to main members of the shock troops.”
The Five Secret Weapons of the Empire were all ready to be launched without any issue. After checking through the progress of every preparation, Arkhim nodded. As the battle in the Garnav Plain was getting closer day by day, the military strength of the Haven Imperial Army was becoming more and more impeccable as well. The size of the army was increasing rapidly, too, by hiring temporary guild members, mercenaries, or conscripting more soldiers.
‘Blame us if you will, after we win. The Haven Empire will do everything it can.’