CHAPTER 8: HERMES GUILD’S RAID
Chapter 8) Hermes Guild’s Raid
“The confusion in the empire isn’t dwindling.”
The Hermes Guild once again realized the emergency situation.
-Knight Myul has died.
-An infestation of rebels.
-Repeated failures of domestic affairs.
-The area conquered in the north is unstable.
These were comprehensive reports a.n.a.lyzing the current state of affairs in the Haven Empire.
Weed killing Myul seemed to have given players courage as hundreds of them attacked the Central Continent.
In the past, the Hermes Guild wouldn’t need to be afraid.
They had dominated the users through fear. Most of the raids were easy and they showed a shocking power through the broadcasts.
The development of the conquered areas in the north was being carried out slower than expected. They invested a lot of money and materials to build cities and facilities. However, it was hard for the Haven Empire to find slaves in the north.
No matter how advanced the technology of the Haven Empire, the northern users showed no interest. The users much preferred the free spirited atmosphere of the Arpen Kingdom as well as clean and accessible buildings.
There were many unexplored areas in the north and they could go to Morata if they wanted the benefits of a city.
Although the Haven Empire was clearly developed, it was hard to compare to Morata.
“I will use all my money to buy a house in the Arpen Kingdom! My family will also be moved there.”
“Heh…give my money? I will pull out all my a.s.sets!”
It was a common side effect for slaves and residents to flee to the Arpen Kingdom. Sometimes beginners would start in the occupied areas.
“Are there many part time jobs here?”
“Only early skills can be found here. It really is the worst. The new buildings in the city are completely boring.”
There were serious setbacks to their plan to develop that area. The conquered northern area was like a hippo eating money and materials.
Furthermore, the villages and cities springing up in the conquered areas were great targets.
Geomchi and his students. There were originally 200 users but that grew to 300. They rode on bulls and enjoyed fighting the Haven Empire in the northern conquered areas. The knights of the Hermes Guild weren’t fools and organized a defense.
“They will be helpless in melee combat but first we need to stop them riding the bulls.”
They were rampaging through the land of the Haven Empire. The commander of the northern conquered areas, Alcard set up a siege on the plains.
However, their sense of battle was fierce. It was the best place to fight and they tore through the Haven army.
Despite having knights, the army couldn’t withstand it at all. They encircled the army and laughed every time they dealt damage.
There were also some magicians among them. The magicians dealt damage while the avians that joined shot arrows from a distance. The avians moved over the Haven Empire conquered area.
Unlike their initial thoughts, the northern continent was just a hippo swallowing up money and resources.
The economic reconstruction of the Central Continent also wasn’t easy. A lot of money was invested in the Imperial Palace as well as the lords for local development.
The repair of war-torn buildings, maintenance and reinvestment in production facilities, ensuring secure trade routes, restoring the deteriorating security and raising the people’s loyalty all required money.
Despite the economic investments, it was useless as rebellions kept breaking out!
They thought the conditions would worsen 1~2 months after the war but steady investment over a period of time would stabilize it.
The Hermes Guild’s perspective was wrong.
The economy of the Central Continent had already shrunk due to the repeated wars. The Hermes Guild were the main ones responsible for this. They defeated their rebels and reigned supreme.
The thought of a glorious future was destroyed by war ravaged facilities and unhappy residents.
Taxes were gathered to rebuild the army and for long term governance. The Haven Empire’s funds weren’t strong enough to resuscitate the economy. A vast amount of gold vanished like water being poured into a dry, cracked rice paddy.
“These are temporary symptoms. The taxes will be sufficient to restore our economic power. The empire as a whole earns billions of gold.”
“Are you out of your mind? We have to contain the rebels!”
“We will just suppress them. The rebels have already lost.”
“What about the production facilities destroyed in battle or the decline in residents?”
“We will have to give up some areas. Leave the areas that aren’t useful. The residents will be forced to go elsewhere.
“Many users are criticizing us…if we abandon some land then the empire will receive even more criticism.”
The atmosphere among the leaders of the Haven Empire was tense. They won in battles against the rebels. However, the internal affairs were cras.h.i.+ng.
Early intervention after the conquest of the Central Continent was required but it was too late for regrets.
The meeting lasted all night and they realized the reality of the Haven Empire.
The current tax income was 4.7 billion gold. However, that tax income was continuing to decline.
They managed to obtain 3 billion gold from the Kallamore area and other somewhat stable areas.
It was still a huge amount but considering the current status, no one was delighted. After some struggle, Lafaye finally said.
“Our military is becoming stronger through continuous battles against the rebels. The problem is that this isn’t what we want. If this continues, many residents will leave and the land will become barren. It won’t be worth keeping.”
There were users who suggested giving up some areas.
“Will it become easier to govern?”
“If the land becomes barren then trade will shrink. It will be an immediate decline in the Haven Empire. The decline of the Haven Empire will be the worst possible situation if we want to unify the continent. Right now, we should maintain it for as long as possible.”
“That method is soft.”
Lafaye presented a method.
Despite the development of the northern conquered areas being a failure, the guild leaders were strongly in favour of his plan.
They still expected to overcome the north but there were no apparent answers at this time.
‘Ruling is like this.’
Sometimes it wouldn’t work properly.
The Haven Empire had made a mistake ignoring the users and residents. They conquered the land but didn’t hold on firmly to the people.
‘No, this isn’t just a problem in the Hermes Guild. The other guilds would have come to the same conclusion if they won.’
Their biggest mistake was making light of Royal Road.
Lafaye and some leaders in the Hermes Guild had experience with other games.
They were online games that had worldwide popularity, especially Continent of Magic that had the highest popularity in decades.
The guild was solidly unified and set clear goals, eventually ruling after some careful preparations.
Afterwards, they ruled through military force. No one could challenge them or take away their right to rule. They had the freedom to exploit the users, no matter the complaints.
That was enough on Continent of Magic.
But this was Royal Road. The game had hundreds of thousands of people signing up every day.
Royal Road was a relaxing retreat away from daily life and there were new attractions to see. There were adventures but for some, virtual reality was just another life.
Many games claimed to have a new reality but none compared to Royal Road. A complete virtual reality.
Millions of users enjoyed Royal Road so thinking they could rule through dictators.h.i.+p was a great miscalculation.
It was possible during the warring period between elite guilds but ruling the huge empire was impossible.
In short, Royal Road was a huge community so it was difficult.
If the users left for other areas, then their foundation would collapse. The difficulties of developing an economy under a dictators.h.i.+p in reality also applied to Royal Road.
‘We need to change tactics… Our Haven Empire is falling right now. The military power is being sustained. There is still an astronomical amount of tax revenue. But the national strength of the empire will keep declining…it is really hard.’
Lafaye kept in mind the decline of the Haven Empire.
The vigor of commerce and the bustle of the users had to survive.
Anyway, everything related to the fate of the Haven Empire would worsen if the national power was shrinking.
The ma.s.sive decline of the Central Continent meant that rebels would keep rising.
Not only would they have to contend with the revived prestigious guilds, users would endlessly rise up to fight against them.
The military forces would be eaten by endless tedious battles and the internal affairs would fall even more.
At that time, the unified lords of the Hermes Guild would fight among themselves. The huge empire would shatter and split. Of course, the time it took for this to happen would depend on the Hermes Guild’s actions.
‘It is really difficult to achieve the unification of the continent.’
Lafaye was aware of the cause and thought of a method.
‘All of this is due to the Arpen Kingdom. The Haven Empire wouldn’t have declined as much if it wasn’t for the Arpen Kingdom. If we reign with fear and don’t put any efforts into internal affairs…the foundation of the Haven Empire meant that it could last for the next 5~10 years.’
However, the existence of the Arpen Kingdom meant there was a more severe backlash from the users in the Central Continent.
Until now, Weed had continued to feed water to the Hermes Guild. According to military intelligence, Weed had stirred up the prestigious guilds.
‘The tax rate of the Arpen Kingdom is so ridiculously low that I’ve ignored it. It is unprofitable when running a country. Of course, there is little need to invest in the military…yet he aimed at us with that low tax rate!’
This bad situation seemed to be due to Weed.
They had the perfect plan to secure the Central Continent but he built a kingdom in the north out of nowhere.
‘It is not over yet. Despite the weakened Haven Empire, we are still a powerful opponent. All the turmoil in the empire will be controlled if I erase the Arpen Kingdom from the map. It is time to raise the Haven Empire.’
Lafaye was a little desperate and made a new plan.
Before he had a moderate, long term plan to weaken the enemies but now he was placed in an urgent situation.
“All representatives of the Hermes Guild will pa.s.s down this command.”
Lafaye was originally the head of the guild. Even now, Bardray was busy with hunting and wasn’t at the meeting so Lafaye made all major decisions.
“There will be no more waste in the Haven Empire. Reduce the support for the colonization of the north. Maintain only a minimum amount of support. And all parties should stop their extravagant acts and lower the tax rate by half.”
“Half is not possible!”
“It will be difficult to maintain our military forces. Other investments won’t do.”
A backlash instantly appeared.
Lafaye shook his head.
“If we don’t take this opportunity now, it will be gone. The tax revenue will keep on falling even if we don’t reduce it by half. We should use a considerable amount of money to expand trade and production. The rebel activities will also die away.”
There was huge potential hiding in the Haven Empire.
Lafaye thought that promoting the activities of merchants would help in tax recovery to a certain extent. Even if there were still rebels, the military power of the Haven Empire could still suppress them.
“And there will be an eye for an eye. We will treat the Arpen Kingdom in the same manner as Weed.”
“Huh? What does that mean?”
“Since Weed and the northern users are attacking us, there is no reason to continue with our previous plan for crus.h.i.+ng the Arpen Kingdom. 30,000 troops will infiltrate the north to kill. They will launch guerilla attacks against the north. All villages and cleared land will be burnt.”
The 30,000 troops would be divided into elite groups of 100 and would spread throughout the Arpen Kingdom.
They would deal damage that the Arpen Kingdom would find difficult to handle.
‘Yes…pay them back using the same method.’
The users were impressed.
Lafaye’s plan was finished.
“I would like volunteers from the Hermes Guild up to 20,000 people. They will be dispatched to the north as revenge for the indiscriminate hunting and killing in our dungeons. Of course, hide and kill as much people as Weed did.”
The Haven Empire decided to do the same thing as Weed.
If Weed created a swirl then the Haven Empire would make a storm.
‘There is definitely a high chance of success.’
The eyes of the Hermes Guild leaders sharpened.
It was difficult to reconstruct the internal affairs of the empire but this was a field they were experienced in.
They would completely destroy the Arpen Kingdom while maintaining the Haven Empire. A strategy that killed two birds with one stone.
They could also state that it was retaliation for Weed and the Arpen Kingdom’s attacks. However, they were warned to move logically instead of recklessly.
‘We won’t be stubborn about a formal war. We will just sweep them all up.’
The raiders from the Haven Empire were dispatched to the north.
The next day, the players of the Hermes Guild set off for the north. Unlike a normal march, they moved swiftly by using the teleport gate and the magicians. Within a few hours, more than 2,000 people were able to arrive in the north.
“The first units will be at Mordred and Vent. Act freely within that area.”
They continued arriving one after another.
“The second units will kill in the port city of Varna.”
“Who should we kill? The non-combat professions like merchants as well?”
“There is no limit. Kill all levels and ages.”
They would act secretly in the north but their aim was indiscriminate killing.
Around 50,000 people lost their lives to the hounds released in the Arpen Kingdom.
“The enemy! The enemy has appeared!”
Among them were three raids to villages of the Arpen Kingdom.
They prevented people from entering the villages, destroyed the growing crops and killed the residents.
“Hehehe, there will be no looting. Burn it all!”
“Yes, Captain! It is cool playing with fire.”
There were NPC knights and soldiers who often partic.i.p.ated in wars in the Central Continent.
The Haven Empire also needed to consider the usefulness of the treatments received from the various religions.
-Hide the fact that you are from the Haven Empire.
The 30,000 troops secretly destroyed villages in the Arpen Kingdom.
Peaceful villages near rivers, lakes and in the mountains became targets.
There was the indiscriminate slaughter of residents of the Arpen Kingdom and even users were the subject of attacks.
They split into units of 20, 30, 50 or 100 people according to their goal of combat or sabotage.
Sometimes they were wiped out by hunting parties of high level users but dozens of villages were destroyed in just one day.
Many residents were killed and facilities destroyed in the Arpen Kingdom.
The 20,000 Hermes Guild users were active from the next day. They went to hunting grounds and dungeons and watched the users.
“They are just beginners. Their teeth hasn’t even been sharpened yet… Still, my mission is to wipe out everything.”
“How funny. Hunting these kids is like cracking eggsh.e.l.ls.”
It couldn’t be helped since the Arpen Kingdom had a 90% ratio of beginners.
The Hermes Guild were tense as they infiltrated the north thanks to Weed, but they didn’t need to be.
“Kill them all!”
If the entrance of the dungeon was blocked, it was sufficient to slaughter the users inside. Even if the news was reported to nearby villages and cities, this wasn’t the Central Continent.
When Weed appeared in the Central Continent, the Hermes Guild had issued a huge bounty. There were also traps for Weed that didn’t have any effect. The infamous Hermes Guild users were the ones who were decimated by Weed.
It was rare for the Hermes Guild to receive any attacks from the users of the Arpen Kingdom. News of the uproar spread to the cities but it wasn’t easy for them to become organized.
Only users over level 400 could deal with them but they were relaxing in Morata. Although some users left the cities, they just fell into a trap. Dozens of Hermes Guild users were waiting and easily swept them up.
By the time a day pa.s.sed, quite a few high level users in the north had lost their lives. There were also more than 100,000 novice users who flocked to their deaths.
“We should have done this sooner.”
“Weed is only one person. We should always use the easy path.”
“This is the Versailles Continent. He shouldn’t make fun of Royal Road.”
A murderer from the Hermes Guild called Dronan laughed while in hiding.
He was enjoying himself in the Arpen Kingdom. There were 30,000 murderers in their midst but the northern users couldn’t grasp the situation.
The 20,000 Hermes Guild users that infiltrated feasted on the bloodshed.
“I feel sorry for these guys.”
“Yes. There will be several days of rest before we go cause an uproar.”
“We will draw public attention.”
“Kukukuku, too easy.”
“Life is easy. I did well to join the Hermes Guild.”
The Haven Empire made a commitment to send more troops. Unlike Weed who was working alone, they had the strong support of the empire.
The Hermes Guild users caused fear as they ran wild in the Arpen Kingdom. Even the novice users in the north couldn’t rest properly as they were engulfed in a nightmare.
The brutal strategy to bring an end to the Arpen Kingdom was moving.
The people in the Central Continent were laughing at the hards.h.i.+ps of the Haven Empire.
“Good. This is what they get for acting so condescending.”
“A nemesis. The empire has a lot of weaknesses.”
“Can we see any benefits if we attack with swords? Those Hermes Guild wannabes…”
“Stop it. We can’t go out of the city. Haven’t you heard the story of their retaliation?”
The reputation of the Hermes Guild went down due to Weed and the rebels.
There were also people involved with the Hermes Guild in the Central Continent.
“The vitality of the city is dead.”
“It is due to the rebels. Well, there doesn’t seem to be as many people as before…”
“There are lots of empty seats, even at the markets.”
“Quite a lot of people moved to the north.”
People were complaining about the economic downturn.
Unlike before, the big cities were quiet.
There were still famous tourist cities but it was hard to find a party to hunt with.
Even the dungeons weren’t as bustling as before. Many required an admission fee so the users were now resting.
There were people gathered to nap under huge trees on hills near the cities. It was comfortable as the users remembered their busy lives in the past.
The only places with good business were the restaurants and taverns. The taverns were talking about the Hermes Guild’s recent raid on the north.
“Isn’t the north screwed this time?”
“I don’t know. There doesn’t seem to be any countermeasures from Weed.”
“I heard the corpses are in the hundreds.”
The users in the Central Continent had similar thoughts.
‘No matter how hard I think, there isn’t any way to stop them.’
The killers were high level users in the Hermes Guild. They could easily break out of any encirclement.
The novice users of the Arpen Kingdom would be helpless. Even walking 10 minutes away from the cities would be an active death zone. Those trying to move to other areas were likely to die.
By isolating and blocking the main roads in the Arpen Kingdom, the economic strength would be cut in half. Then the army would be mobilized and the kingdom would be wiped out in just a few days.
“That can’t happen. Is it that hard to fight against the Hermes Guild?”
“It is difficult for people to have a unified opinion in such a mess. They will be fighting amongst themselves for days.”
“People’s opinions can match as well. As long as there is a clear enemy and land like the battle at the Earth Palace…but the Hermes Guild won’t appear where there are a lot of people. They invade empty villages and act separately from users.”
“The condition of the fight are too favourable for them. These guys are trying to unify the continent.”
“Those guys will use any method.”
The atmosphere while drinking was heavy.
The northern users seemed to be at a disadvantage. The Arpen Kingdom that grew like a weed in the north’s barren land was being destroyed.
The people of the Central Continent were mourning it.
In a wide underground s.p.a.ce somewhere in Morata.
Despite the thousands of people gathered, it was dead quiet. There was a wide clearing with a clear river in the centre of the underground s.p.a.ce.
Finally sound emerged from someone’s mouth! A female user wearing white clothes exclaimed.
“The day we have been waiting for!”
Then people replied in unison from every direction.
“Gra.s.s. Gra.s.s. Gra.s.s. Gra.s.s!”
“Porridge. Porridge. Porridge. Porridge!”
They shouted at exactly the right moment.
The Gra.s.s Porridge Cult that had already conquered the north and was sprinkling its seeds in the Central Continent.
These people were the core members of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult.
No matter how hungry they were, they would not starve to death if there was gra.s.s porridge. The men drank gra.s.s porridge as hangover soup in the morning. The females were even more vicious and ate gra.s.s like it was rice.
The activities of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult didn’t stop with just eating gra.s.s porridge.
Without any exceptions, they had to partic.i.p.ate in large constructions sites in the north as well as pay contributions.
Helping the needy or novices wandering around. They also took care of people in the cities and dungeons. No matter the level of the users, it was a great honour to be part of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult!
Due to their activities, it was inevitable that members of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult would die. The female user standing in the centre was called Lemon.
“You know about the Versailles Continent. There was a period full of chaos, pain and destruction. People trampled on others while trying to live. However, I realized something after drinking gra.s.s porridge. It is clear and pure! People have to live for the sake of this world!”
“Oh, gra.s.s porridge!”
“Since then, I have received the truth about gra.s.s porridge. No longer is the burden heavy. A merciful miracle that will never end. I will drink it even if my nose is clogged!”
“Ohh, merciful gra.s.s porridge G.o.d.”
“The Arpen Kingdom is a haven for the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult. The Gra.s.s Porridge Cult can’t allow the continent to become a mess again.”
The Gra.s.s Porridge Cult members exclaimed after hearing Lemon’s words.
“We will follow you!”
“I will honour the dead of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult with my sword.”
This event was relayed through taverns of the Arpen Kingdom. The live coverage from the broadcasting stations surpa.s.sed 30% ratings.
The bulletin boards were also paralyzed.
t.i.tle: Calling all Gra.s.s Porridge Cult members.
-For the honour of the Toadstool Porridge unit!
-Hahaha, I’ve been waiting for today.
-27 members of the Chicken Porridge unit.
-Office workers. Complete the vacation requests.
-Ginseng Porridge. Kukukuku.
-All seniors of the Crab Meat Porridge unit, listen.
-27 members of the Chicken Porridge unit. Now where…should we make Brandy Chicken Porridge?
-Chicken Porridge seniors, I am honoured. Brandy with chicken porridge sounds perfect. I will finish my work in Morata.
-5 members of the Chicken Porridge unit, allegiance! Shall we go?
-The Bamboo Shoots members are disruptive so please don’t leave comments on this article.
t.i.tle: Bamboo Shoots Porridge unit. Are you finally gathered? And for the curious…
h.e.l.lo. I have been a member of the Bamboo Shoots unit in Royal Road for one month. I started in Morata and it is an honour to talk to seniors.
But I was wondering. How many members are part of the Bamboo Shoots Porridge unit?
-At least 10 million.
-10 million is nothing. There are 20 million.
-Ladies and gentlemen, have you been in Morata lately? It is at least over 30 million.
-Just look in the big cities. Don’t look down on us. This area is also filled with people.
-The avians. Please note that more than one million eggs hatch a week.
-For sure…it is more than the population of most countries
-Are the orc and dwarf bamboo members included? They are a few hundred million themselves.
The Gra.s.s Porridge members continued to gather on the various internet message boards.
A video of 100 kindergarten students singing the gra.s.s porridge song attracted great popularity. Videos of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult also attracted attention overseas.
And unlike the Central Continent, the access rate of users in the north started to rise.