I nodded. “Mn, I'm here!”
Her smile still lingering on her face, Karinshan said, “I thought you would stay at the Violet Empire, and that Sophia would reward you greatly for it…”
I shook my head. “No. I chose to join Sky City because I wished to continue fighting for the survival and honor of the human race!”
Of course, it was all bulls.h.i.+t. There was nothing more real than riches and b.i.t.c.hes! Sky City had a ton of resources, and joining them gave him the opportunity to open a shop. That was the true way to prosperity and success. If I joined the Violet Empire instead, it was only a matter of time before I starved to death. I might not be a businessman, but I was at least sensitive enough to pick up the business rules and trends in games.
A small smile cracked across Karinshan's lips. “Does this mean that you're still a warrior of the Silver Moon Alliance?”
“Yes, I am!”
“That's wonderful!” Karinshan giggled at me until she looked to the side and noticed the stunned NPCs. Only then she realized what she was doing wasn't entirely appropriate and let out a cough. Regaining a bit of her usual self, she said, “Jon, tell me the details. How was your journey to Dragonbone Mountain Range?”
Jon the Windchaser replied softly, “It was bad. The monsters at Dragonbone Mountain Range had transformed and become extraordinarily brutal and powerful. Bush was stomped to death by an Armored Rhino in our very first battle. He never had a chance.”
“Hmm? You're telling me that an Armored Rhino killed Bush?”
“That's right!” The Windchaser continued. “We thought that our quest was destined to fail, but this young warrior showed up at the perfect timing and lent us his aid. Now we have the ingredients necessary to 'cure' Lord Arthas's 'illness'. It's time to meet him and see what other excuses he has to reject your order!”
A trace of disgust immediately flashed across Karinshan's face when Arthas was mentioned. “Mn. Take my arrow banner of command with you, deliver the Armored Rhino Hearts to Arthas's camp now and order him to attack five Night Creature encampments from the frontline of Fort Iron Bull this very evening.”
“Yes, Your Highness!”
The NPCs all nodded gladly, and not even I was left out of the plot. Princess Karinshan pa.s.sed me a golden arrow banner of command and said, “Welcome back to the Silver Moon Alliance. Here, take this to Arthas and tell him that he must send out his troops before evening!”
“Mn, leave it to me…”
I nodded and put the arrow banner of command into my clothes. I suddenly felt as if I had grown a couple inches taller, as if I was an imperial envoy of the princess. Heck, it was a fact that Princess Karinshan had requested me personally to carry out her order. I wondered if I could use my newfound authority to order that b.a.s.t.a.r.d, Arthas, to spare me a couple of beautiful ladies? Hahaha!
Speaking of which, I had unwittingly become the Windchaser and the beautiful a.s.sa.s.sin's superior. Not only were they looking at me with newfound respect and fear, I wouldn't be surprised if they decided to draw the flaps of the tent apart and send me out like humble servants, saying, “Leader first!”
Of course, there was nothing I hated more than this type of theatrics, so I stepped out myself before they could do anything. Then, I opened the map of Fort Iron Bull and noticed that all the armies of Floating Ice City in the area had been marked as I expected them to be. Princess Karinshan's camp was guarded by the Black Cavalry led by Commander Stark, the Frost Army led by Commander Ziyan, and the Scarlet Wolf Army led by Commander Lintus. Together, they formed the core strength of Princess Karinshan's army. Directly to the north was Arthas's territory and his two great armies. So far, they seemed like an arrogant bunch.
On the other side of Fort Iron Bull was the human army of Sky City. Together with Floating Ice City, they formed a threatening pincer. Fort Iron Bull was a critical location and choke point where the armies of Sky City, Floating Ice City and Night Creatures met. It was why all three forces were desperate to take it for themselves. For starters, no one trusted the taurens enough to leave such a critical location in their hands. Two, if the taurens decided to submit to the Night Creatures, the gates of the north would open, and all the territories of Sky City and Floating Ice City would be exposed to the Night Creatures. It was a price neither empire was ready to accept.
“My lord, Lord Arthas's camp is right there!” The beautiful a.s.sa.s.sin pointed toward a fiery red tent directly to the north. It was surrounded by countless halberd-wielding guards, and the knights surrounding the camp almost looked like they were endless. Clearly, this place was heavily guarded, even more so than Princess Karinshan's tent!
Of course, Princess Karinshan was way stronger than this lowly human lord. In fact, she didn't even need the guards because there were only a handful people in the entire continent that could kill her. If someone really was plotting to kill Princess Karinshan, these guards wouldn't be able to stop what was coming.
I nodded and strode toward the tent, but before we even crossed the fences two guards blocked our way like lightning and pointed their swords at me. They growled, “This is the lord's tent, and no one is allowed to approach it!”
These sn.o.bbish b.a.s.t.a.r.ds!
I pulled out the arrow banner of command and declared, “We have been commanded by Princess Karinshan to pay Lord Arthas a visit!”
The bearded of the duo said in a low tone, “The lord has forbidden anyone from approaching his tent without his express permission. You may be Princess Karinshan's messengers, but—”
I pulled out the Purgatory Sword and pressed it against the b.a.s.t.a.r.d's throat as quick as lightning. I growled. “How dare you! Have you forgotten which city this army belongs to? Princess Karinshan is the ruler of Floating Ice City, not Arthas! Either you let us in, or you lose your head right here right now!”
The bearded guard broke out in cold sweat and stumbled a couple of steps backward. He stammered, “You… you…”
“What's wrong? Are you going to let us in, or not?” I said coldly.
The other guard hurriedly answered, “Wait! You can go in, but the lord is resting right now. Please allow me to inform him of your arrival.”
I smiled. As I thought, these people were pathetic scoundrels who only knew how to bully the weak. Princess Karinshan clearly knew what she was doing when she chose me to deliver her order. Had she left the task to the Windchaser, an old magician who looked like he could be blown away by a gentle breeze, he might've been sent away even before he could meet Lord Arthas. Sometimes, violence could only be fought with violence!
It wasn't long before I led the NPCs into the tent where Lord Arthas was supposedly waiting for us. The moment I pushed aside the flaps of the tent, I immediately spotted a thirty-year-old n.o.ble lying on top of his bed. He didn't look sick at all, and he was holding the waist of a female attendant in revealing clothes. Not only that, another two attendants were ma.s.saging his back, their gorgeous bodies barely hidden by the thin fabrics they called clothes. The man had one hand on his sword, but if he was planning to look imposing, then this was clearly the wrong way to go about it. Still, Lord Arthas clearly understood the essence of the life of a n.o.ble. Who would want to go into battle if they could spend the rest of their lives like this?
“My lord…” One of the guards walked up to him and reported, “These people are Princess Karinshan's envoys. They even have her arrow banner of command…”
Arthas glanced at me once before looking at the Windchaser and the a.s.sa.s.sin. His gaze immediately grew piercing as it swam up and down the beautiful woman's well-shaped body. He smiled. “Have you brought me the Armored Rhino Hearts, old man?”
The Windchaser replied respectfully, “Here they are, my lord!”
He dropped all the rhino hearts on a nearby table, but Arthas's gaze was fully focused on the beautiful a.s.sa.s.sin. He smiled again. “You are Tina, a famous adventuring a.s.sa.s.sin of Floating Ice City, am I right? Would you be willing if I asked you to stay with me and become the protector of my lands? You will never have to roam without aim again.”
The a.s.sa.s.sin's mouth fell open in shock. No one had any doubt that he would make her join his harem the second she answered yes.
The Windchaser and the other two swordsmen who came with me looked angry, but no one dared to say anything. After all, their station was far, far below Arthas's!
It was at this moment I stepped in front of Tina and hid her behind my big cape. Then, I smiled at Arthas and raised the arrow banner of command, saying, “The ingredients are all there, so you're ready to fulfill your promise, aren't you? Princess Karinshan has ordered you to set out before this evening and clear out five Night Creature encampments from the perimeter of Fort Iron Bull!”
“Is that so?” Arthas smiled disdainfully at me. “The little girl wants to make me lead the charge and sacrifice the lives of my men, doesn't she? Return and tell her that Stark and his Black Cavalry should lead the attack. If she agrees, then I promise to provide cover for his army from the flanks. Victory will be ours to take, so she has nothing to worry about!”
My eyes turned colder. “Are you disobeying a direct order from a member of the royal family, my lord?”
“Aha, of course not! I wouldn't dare!” Arthas laughed cunningly. “This is just an advice from an elder to a junior. Not everyone in the empire belongs to her, you know?”
I gripped my sword tighter and almost acted there and then, but a pair of arms hugged me just in time to stop me. I turned around to see Tina shaking her head at me and whispering, “Calm down. Let's report this to the princess first before we do anything…”
I mulled over her suggestion for a moment and acquiesced. It wasn't like there was a quest where I must succeed at persuading Lord Arthas, not to mention that it would be truly embarra.s.sing if I got provoked into a fight by a mere NPC!
Thus, I tossed the arrow banner of command on the table and left the tent. It wasn't long before we returned to Princess Karinshan's tent once more.
“So, how did it go?” Karinshan walked up to us.
I replied solemnly, “Arthas gave a bunch of excuses and seemed unwilling to spare any effort to serve Floating Ice City. He also said that the Black Cavalry should lead the attack, and that he would only provide cover from the flanks.”
“d.a.m.n him!” Karinshan clenched her fists angrily. “Are the rumors true? Is Arthas planning to declare himself king because he has two powerful armies under his thumb?”
The a.s.sa.s.sin nodded. “I think so, Your Highness! Not only did he claim seven of our mines for himself without permission and use them to forge his weapons and armors, he is in constant contact with the dukes of Dawn City. He's clearly planning to betray our city.”
I nodded in agreement. “Yeah, this b.a.s.t.a.r.d made an army of his own, ignored your authority, and led a life of decadence like you couldn't imagine. He's clearly planning to break away from Floating Ice City! Princess, the time to hesitate is already behind us! I implore you to make a decision soon!”
“Mn!” Karinshan's eyes grew determined. “Earlier, I received an intel that Artha.s.s would be rus.h.i.+ng back to Floating Ice City to wed the two daughters of Viscount Trey by force! I need a brave warrior to intercept him and bring his head to me!”
The Windchaser and the a.s.sa.s.sin immediately backed up in shock. “We…”