Chapter 2: Hermes Guild’s Outcome
The defeat of the Haven Empire! The shame of the Haven Empire!
The end to the war in the north completely shook the entire Versailles Continent.
KMC Media’s signature program, the Story of the Versailles Continent.
s.h.i.+n Hye-min, Oh Joo-wan and several professionals reported live.
“Oh Joo-wan ssi, will this make a difference to the future of the continent?”
“In the meantime, the north has suffered considerable damage due to the Hermes Guild. There was the prohibition of trade and sabotage through acts of terrorism. The economic and human losses were significant. Now their victory has laid the foundation for the kingdom’s recovery.”
s.h.i.+n Hye-min laughed brightly.
“A lot of viewers will be wondering about this so please explain in detail.”
“The Haven Empire has committed financially and technologically to the construction of cites in the colony.”
“I remember the broadcast. There was an interview with lords in the Haven Empire about the development of the northern area.”
“Yes, that did happen in the past. Currently there are many commercial facilities, residential areas and decorated market squares. The farmlands and mines near the cities were also developed. The problem is that the population is low so there is a limit to the development… This will be instantly resolved after joining the Arpen Kingdom.”
“There really are a lot of northern users. Is there a good connection between cities in the colony?”
“Of course. The Hermes Guild had many development plans so infrastructure such as the roads and marinas are excellent.”
The cities created as a bridge for the Haven Empire would be handed over to the Arpen Kingdom.
From the perspective of the Haven Empire, it was like handing Weed their order of sweet and sour pork.
At that moment, s.h.i.+n Hye-min and Oh Joo-wan could see two sentences on their monitor.
-The current game broadcast as a 72.83% share.
The full broadcast ratings is 9.361%.
The PD standing next to the cameraman gave a thumbs up. It was natural for the hosts to like high ratings.
“The cities will now be joining the Arpen Kingdom. As well as the residents living in the colony. So what about the reactions of the NPCs? There is a chance the residents from the Central Continent might revolt.”
“They fully welcome joining the Arpen Kingdom.”
“I’m wondering about half the residents. They will have to change their country affiliation. Is it due to the high reputation of King Weed?”
“That is one of the reasons, but the residents originally lived in other kingdoms in the Haven Empire. Their kingdoms were conquered and they had the status of slaves, so they were pleased to be freed.”
“That is because slavery isn’t officially recognized in the Arpen Kingdom.”
“That is the important part.”
s.h.i.+n Hye-min and Oh Joo-wan exchanged glances. The hosts and producers of the broadcasts were generally aware of Weed’s nature.
The Arpen Kingdom could gain a huge profit from slavery. A perfect slave kingdom based on exploitation!
They would eat barley bread at the crack of dawn, gra.s.s porridge for lunch and would sleep very late at night.
But unlike forced laborers, no taxes could be obtained from the slaves. They had no property to manage.
If the Arpen Kingdom acknowledged slavery then tax revenues would go down and it would be easy to mobilize huge manpower for development projects.
-Right now, the agricultural prices are too cheap. It will be difficult to reap taxes.
In order to collect taxes from many people, slavery was abolished! Items such as coffee and sugar cane were grown through low cost labour in the north.
To plant enthusiasts who had to be satisfied with flowerpots in apartments, Royal Road was like heaven.
“Is it growing?”
“Wah! It is germinating. Sprouting!”
“The size of the lettuce is 15 metres. Heh. The target has been updated. I won’t give up here. I will use everything to break the record of a 23 metres long carrot!”
Thousands of plant enthusiasts joined cafes and communities where they could talk about their crops in Royal Road.
-It is like a dream being able to plant in the earth instead of just the flower beds at my apartment. I will put up a few photos.
Cities had s.p.a.cious land where wheat, barley, grapes and various agricultural products could be grown.
-Yesterday I spent some time in Royal Road. I got up early in the morning to plow the fields and could see as the sky filled with stars transitioned into the rising sun. I was extremely proud.
There were also users who cleared land in the stony mountains.
-I planted the seeds, waited patiently and it finally germinated! I planted herbs in a 5000 pyeong piece of land in the mountains north of Morata. I need people to help me take care of it.
-I also have land to the east of Morata… Are you Wild Manure-nim?
-Ohut. A famous farmer in Morata has joined our cafe!
Every once in a while, there would be taunting posts.
t.i.tle: Take a look at this garbage plant cafe.
Are you all farmers?
Kukuku. This year I’ve stepped on many flowers.
I also burned the flowers.
There were also posts to alleviate bad feelings.
-I will show photos of beautiful flowers. They are flowers that can only be seen in one season a year.
-If you are feeling bad then tell me. I will listen seriously.
-Life is tough. I gain courage and hope knowing that flowers will keep blooming next spring. Aja aja fighting!
People in the plant community considered the Arpen Kingdom as a holy land.
Miretas dreamt of becoming a farming master and had a huge scale farmland where he grew food, fruits and herbs.
There were many novice farmers who grew crops because there was no slavery.
Of course, popular items like grapes, barley, olives, tomatoes and rice were exported around the continent.
Daily necessities such as clothing and carriages were soaring due to the increase in consumption from the Arpen Kingdom’s growing population.
“Now it is time to discuss the situation and development of the Arpen Kingdom on the Versailles Continent. Let’s ask the professionals.”
s.h.i.+n Hye-min introduced the professionals in order.
There was a former prestigious guild master on the Central Continent, an adventurer who made great contributions and a high level user.
Many people knew their names in Royal Road.
“First, I want to ask about the Arpen Kingdom. What do you see?”
s.h.i.+n Hye-min questioned the adventurer who replied.
“The momentum of the Arpen Kingdom is great. I thought they could win the war when objectively looking at their power. But the result was far beyond my expectations. I think the Arpen Kingdom’s future will continue to be bright. The challenge is always to create a new dream.”
The representative from a prestigious guild also replied positively about the future.
“They have a large force and time. Thanks to repeated victories against the Haven empire, it is likely that the kingdom and potential of the users will increase even further. Usually the management of a kingdom is done step by step, but sometimes huge leaps can be taken.”
The experts all had a positive outlook for the Arpen Kingdom.
“I would like to hear the opinion of Lee Yong-han ssi.”
Every time he appeared on broadcasts in the past, he had a negative outlook of the Weed and the Arpen Kingdom.
Even though the Haven Empire was a little bit bigger, he was always receiving criticisms from the viewers.
“Kuheom. The strength of the players who won the war is partly due to the leaders.h.i.+p of King Weed. The north will no longer be a continent of adventure, instead it will be the symbol of prosperity.”
Lee Yong-han admitted it.
He was afraid of the viewers’ criticisms but sometimes a kingdom could have great advances after a war.
Moreover, the Northern Continent was like a black hole sucking in users.
The broadcasting stations estimated that 93.7% of beginners started in the Arpen Kingdom.
The Central Continent had high taxes and expensive prices so starting there made it hard to catch up.
Furthermore, the severe wealth gap and lack of facilities for beginners diverted new users to the north.
Of course, the urban development of the Arpen Kingdom was behind but the variety of fun facilities meant that the users were much happier.
In addition to the new users, many people also migrated to the north so the growth had accelerated.
The economic experts also provided their opinions.
“Technology and capital, extensive lands, equal opportunity and motivation for development. A US consulting firm estimated that the Arpen Kingdom’s economic growth rate is 16% per month.
“16% per month?”
“Yes, that means the economic strength will double in just 4~5 months. Technology will be as early as 1 year, and there will be no innovations in the next two years.” The activities of the merchants stood out. The merchants made high investment risks and promoted the development of the kingdom.
Oh Joo-wan asked the economic experts.
“There is still a big gap between the Central and Northern Continents. For example, the Haven Empire could be seen as a developed country while the Arpen Kingdom is an emerging one. Can that gap be reduced?”
“The Central Continent’s facilities have been destroyed by war. Residents are still leaving and there are no signs that the rebellions are calming down. And the leaders of the Hermes Guild are in a crisis itself. There are disputes due to escalating greed so the political power of the lords have to be overcome.”
“The Haven Empire is in a difficult situation. But considering the large number of cities and territory in the Central Continent, won’t it be hard for their power to decrease?”
“It is difficult to guess with only simple calculations. There are several uncertain conditions in Royal Road that could make a country decline. Historically, it is unprecedented for a great empire to collapse so suddenly.”
“Then from now on, we will listen to words from the Haven Empire’s side.”
* * *
Lafaye seemed to indifferently accept the results of the Puhol Fortress battle, but he was burning with anger inside.
Combat troops had been sent on an expedition to the north.
‘It is ridiculous. Why did this happen?’
It was a mystery how such a terrible result had emerged.
Tactics and strategy all flew away as they became entangled with Weed’s tricks and the northern users.
“In 1~2 years, the Arpen Kingdom might end up surpa.s.sing the Haven Empire.”
Every station was chattering loudly about the prospects for the future, and the Hermes Guild’s intelligence network also made similar judgement.
If they maintained the current scale, the Haven Empire had the best economic power. However, the Arpen Kingdom’s development was incredible.
It was difficult for the Haven Empire to catch up with such rapid acceleration.
Despite some good policies, it became distorted once it came time to be executed by humans.
The extreme corruption, chaotic security, and worsening public sentiment meant the Hermes Guild and Haven Empire suffered.
Bardray came up to Lafaye.
“The economic empire that we built is crumbling against the Arpen Kingdom. Now that they have wings, what will we do in the future?”
Bardray was in charge of wars while Lafaye was in charge of internal affairs.
They believed in each other’s abilities and cooperated, however now both of them were nervous.
Bardray was disappointed about the internal affairs of the Haven Empire while Lafaye didn’t have any confidence in winning the war.
‘The best situation will be Bardray leading the army to the north to obliterate them. But will that end the war? What if we are defeated once again?’
Weed’s tricks meant there would always be surprises.
Rather than fighting on the plains, the Arpen Kingdom could scatter if Bardray led the army to the north.
Defeating Weed would be the next best thing, but the time and cost of a military expedition to destroy the north was an issue.
Small resistance armies would occur in various parts of the Central Continent, turning the empire into a mess.
The Haven Empire would be unable to climb out of the mud and would be ruined.
Lafaye expressed his thoughts to Bardray.
“Right now it is difficult to correct the situation. The Hermes Guild’s myth of invincibility has been broken and there is a chance our military and economic dominance can be reversed later on.”
“How can we fix it?”
“The straightforward way… Delay the timing. The Haven Empire won’t be conquered in a war. If we optimize the army and increase the size of the Hermes Guild then we can hold out for a long time.”
It was a method of accepting new users into the Hermes Guild. In the process of expanding the territory, they had to accept more members. Missions such as subjugating the rebels and ensuring security were given to them. However, accepting new users was bound to cause bigger trouble later on.
Lafaye shook his head.
“We don’t have that many methods. The Arpen Kingdom will continue to follow after us.”
“So there isn’t a straightforward way?”
“There is an extreme method to solve it.”
Lafaye stood at the window and looked at the magnificent Aren Castle.
After the Central Continent was conquered, it was only a matter of time until the Hermes Guild unified the rest of the continent.
It was based on their overwhelming military strength, but this could also become a poison pill.
In fact, even if Weed wasn’t there, Lafaye thought that the Versailles Continent was too large.
The east, north and south were all being pioneered.
Millions of users were flocking to Royal Road so the Hermes Guild found it had to deal with all of them.
‘Of course, this could also be attributed to Weed’s popularity.’
Lafaye carefully opened his mouth.
“In the end, the solution is to reduce the taxes to an amount comparable to the Arpen Kingdom. The opposition of the users would reduce and it would solve many problems.”
“I don’t think we need to cut taxes so much. If the income reduces then won’t we have to decrease spending?”
“We can survive.”
The Haven Empire consumed a huge amount of funds on a daily basis. They had a large army and their lavish lifestyle needed to be maintained.
Rewards also needed to be given for the sake of the Hermes Guild’s unity.
“The company is behind us.”
“Did you speak to them?”
“Yes. The sponsors have decided to give the Hermes Guild economic support until we conquer the continent.”
The Hermes Guild was changed into a corporation in reality and investors got involved.
In their position, they absolutely couldn’t miss a chance to invest in Royal Road.
“The Gra.s.s Porridge Cult? They are weak and only have overwhelming numbers. They are constantly breaking their formations.”
“We will crush them so thoroughly that they won’t rise up again. A show of force is needed to make them succ.u.mb.”
“It is worth showing supremacy in Royal Road. I will give you support if necessary.”
Lafaye met with the representatives and managed to gain an agreement for financial support.
“They have decided to take responsibility for a portion of the taxes.”
“How is that possible?”
“It is a huge financial commitment.”
A vast amount of money was poured in to cover the expenditure of the Haven Empire.
“We must prepare for victory in the Versailles Continent. Train more troops to develop our combat power while getting rid of regulations and lowering the taxes. There is no way we can lose.”
“Will the northern users take a step back?”
“Yes. If they enjoy a comfortable standard of living then there is no reason for them to fight us. The Royal Road users will no longer have a reason to follow Weed.”
By default, the north could be seen as on Weed’s side.
The Hermes Guild thought that an organization like the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult was absurd.
The organization skills of the Hermes Guild meant they could mobilize 50,000 people in only 30 minutes.
When looking at the northern users, it was filled with people who genuinely wanted to enjoy Royal Road.
Many users were driven to the north because they couldn’t stand the tyranny and wars between the prestigious guilds.
“We have raised Weed. Now we need to do some tax cuts as well as several measures that can’t be exposed.”
“It will be easy if there is a war. The power of the Arpen Kingdom is poor.”
“There is still a chance. We need to tear down Weed and the Arpen Kingdom with a sharp knife, not a flimsy sword.”
“If we fail again…”
“It won’t be good for us.”
The worst results flashed through Lafaye and Bardray’s heads.
They were receiving a huge amount of cash support from the international investors so if the results were bad, there was a chance of bankruptcy.
“We have already climbed on the tigers. Now we need to ensure that we don’t fall.”
“I guess so.”
“This is our chance from now on. We need to make sure we win.”
Hours after the battle at Puhol Fortress, the major lords of the Haven Empire were gathered at Aren Castle.
The expressions of the lords of the Haven Empire were stiff.
“Losing to the north again… When looking at the long term, it is important to secure the north for the hegemony of the empire.”
“Won’t they come and invade the territory of the Haven Empire now?”
“That is the problem. The fame of the empire has fallen and we are getting more rebels every day.”
“It will be an enormous headache if Weed joins with the rebels.”
At that moment, Lafaye and Bardray entered the meeting room.
The attention of the lords who were talking loudly turned to them.
Lafaye intended to deliver his idea to the lords.
The lords were looking at him with a mixture of mistrust. The myths and achievements of the Haven Empire was rapidly collapsing.
Lafaye and Bardray. The two men they thought would lead the Hermes Guild to conquer the continent felt shaky.
‘The collapse of the empire.’
While the lords were looking at them with deep concern, Lafaye came forward and spoke first.
“Right now, the empire is facing multiple risks. The territories aren’t stable due to rebels and according to the judgement of the intelligence network, we won’t be able to take down the north without risking the Central Continent as well.”
Lafaye’s words didn’t have a simple meaning.
After conquering Puhol Fortress, the north could enter the borders of the Haven Empire and secure some Arpen Kingdom colonies.
The lords of the areas near the north became stiff.
‘War will ravage my territory.’
Due to the numerous wars caused by the Haven Empire expanding, many cities and production facilities were destroyed.
Cities were destroyed during the empire’s territorial expansion in order to build a stable base from a clean slate.
If the cities were destroyed then the lords would receive enormous damage to their revenue.
The giant knight Boemong asked in a bold voice.
“Surely the Haven Empire can stop the Arpen Kingdom? Isn’t our military power enough to unify the Central Continent?”
“There are many cities and fortress so it will be hard to avoid damage in an invasion.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. The army and the members of the Hermes Guild are strong! So far, we can’t tilt the balance of power in the north but it will be a different story if they come to our land. We should try a straight comparison of power!”
“The important thing is that the invaders are unpredictable, so we might suffer defeat in some areas. It is because we have already experienced a war.”
The Hermes Guild had suffered embarra.s.sment because they failed to accurately measure the Arpen Kingdom’s power.
Apart from Morata, it only had wide lands. However, they had endured the subsequent invasion of the Haven Empire and now the users had counterattacked.
Lafaye and the leaders of the Hermes Guild failed to predict how many users would be mobilized to face the invasion.
The power of the Arpen Kingdom was fundamentally due to the support of the users.
Weed alone was nothing but the users of the Arpen Kingdom following him couldn’t be imagined.
“There are many difficulties in governing a vast empire. A long war with the Arpen Kingdom is the worst thing that can happen. But if the northern users come down, they won’t be hard to kill. We just have no choice since they can scatter through the vast territory.”
The lords nodded like it was natural.
The Hermes Guild had a power that no one else could compare to. The Hermes Guild was an extremely powerful, independent force.
But the land and population they had to rule over was too much.
The Hermes Guild users that had shown strength and prestige until now were dissatisfied with the defeat.
“If the Arpen Kingdom joins hands with the rebels in the Central Continent… Their forces will increase by several times. We also need to be seriously concerned about the invasion from the southern desert.”
The Haven Empire had to realize that the worst situation had a high likelihood of happening.
The northern users and rebels could form an anti-Hermes Guild coalition.
The regular users would start to make fun of the Haven Empire and irreversible wheels would start rolling.
Many users in the Central Continent would move under the anti-Hermes Guild banner.
Weed’s popularity and the decline in public sentiment towards the Hermes Guild was enough.
The faces of the lords reddened.
“Such a thing… Is it feasible?”
“Even now, the intelligence network is unsure about this point. But the Arpen Kingdom will increase to several times its current size. It will be the worst if we lose one or two more big fights.”
It was no longer a problem of the northern expedition failing. The empire was at a serious risk of collapsing.
If the Haven Empire lost power, they would be unable to reign over such a wide area.
Even though they defeated the prestigious guilds, public sentiment as well as the broadcasting stations was with Weed.
The broadcasts received the best ratings when the Haven Empire was defeated.
No matter how high level and powerful the Hermes Guild was, it would be difficult to reverse the flow.
Lafaye told them the worst case scenario but there was a high chance of such a crisis occurring.
“Due to that, we have to look at the distant future. For the sake of the empire’s future, we will cut taxes and get rid of the fees for the hunting grounds and dungeons.”
“There was a 20% tax cut a short while ago… How much lower?”
“Now it will be lowered by one third. All places belonging to the guild will have no admission fee.”
A shocking tax cut.
The taxes would now be only slightly higher than the Arpen Kingdom and there would be no admission fees.
“Once taxes are cut, the empire will begin rapidly recovering. And the players standing on Weed’s side will have no reason to attack the Haven Empire. Once their power is reduced, we can concentrate on the enemy.”
“In the end, I guess it has to be like that…”
The lords looked at each other.
It would be good if Weed’s side had less users. But they earned wealth and power from the heavy taxes so it was difficult to give it up.
“After the public sentiment is rectified by the tax cut, we will thoroughly smash the Arpen Kingdom.”
“Then after the war?”
One of the greedy lords asked. This was the question that everyone was most curious about.
“It will return to the original tax rate.”
“Won’t there be a backlash from the users?”
“The core of the opposition will disappear along with Weed. Without the Arpen Kingdom, no one will be able to protest the increased taxes.”
The lords thought this method was too simple.
‘My eyes have become blurry.’
It was obvious that the original tax rate would be restored after the unification of the continent.
But in the meantime, their comfort would be reduced.
It was an effective means only in the future.
The herd mentality was hard to break up.
The Hermes Guild didn’t like losing to Weed and would ensure that the Arpen Kingdom tasted the bitterness of defeat.
Once the Arpen Kingdom was so thoroughly destroyed it would be difficult to recover, winning would become much easier.
The Hermes Guild needed to completely trample on them to prevent opposition.
“We are the Hermes Guild and we won’t lose this war. Apart from mobilizing the army, we will use every means necessary to win.”
* * *
The internet sites heated up after the battle at Puhol Fortress.
A number of users who played Royal Road were spread all over the world so it was understandable that the result would be a hot topic.
But there was a cafe that had its members.h.i.+p numbers rapidly increase.
-The Weed Hating Alliance.
People from various countries like South Korea, the United States, j.a.pan, China, Europe etc., all joined.
It broke 5 million users in the first day it was created and now had a huge 70 million members.
Meanwhile, the popular Weed fan clubs only had around 300,000.
It was because there was a separate fan club for the Arpen Kingdom and Gra.s.s Porridge Cult.
The Weed Hating Alliance poured vicious words onto the forums every day.
-I hate Weed.
-I really hate him. His words and actions, everything is disgusting.
-I fall asleep every night cursing him.
-I bought a fox statue from Weed. Huhu. I smashed and burned it! Why doesn’t he just eat barley bread?
Malicious curses kept being posted. There was only one reason behind their anger.
Seo-yoon, the G.o.ddess of the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult.
She was friends with Weed. There were rumours of a romantic relations.h.i.+p that they didn’t want to believe.
There were posts by those who saw Seo-yoon at the battle for Puhol Fortress.
t.i.tle: The confession of an avian.
I joined the avians. I play them in Royal Road. Both good and bad things happened after joining the avians.
Human users wouldn’t know this but the wind is very cold in the sky.
Flying in the cold wind affects the joints of my wings.
And I… Don’t regret it.
I saw her.
There were thousands of comment on the post about seeing Seo-yoon.
-You have received a blessing.
-W-were you close? Are you in the same s.p.a.ce as the G.o.ddess right now?
-You have enough good luck for a lifetime.
-No. This person… What is the problem with having wing joints affected by the cold? Didn’t you get to see G.o.ddess-nim directly.
t.i.tle: I joined the avians. Heh heh.
I won’t speak for a long time.
Thank you very much.
I want to thank my parents who gave birth to me and everyone else.
I even forgive my indifferent co-workers and dirty little sister.
I’ve lived 31 years alone with no friends but I have no regrets.
Since that day, a light has been lit in my soul.
I now have a reason to live. Thank you.
-I’m envious. I hope to find such hope and courage.
-Isn’t the likelihood of seeing the G.o.ddess higher if I join the avians?
-I think it is a possibility.
-I deleted my level 310 character after the battle at Puhol Fortress. It was in order to be born again as an avian.
-Heol. What a waste.
-There is nothing precious in this world. We should all disappear. Whether G.o.d exists or not, the best thing will be for her to reincarnate.
-Don’t speak so carelessly. It is offensive. Be careful of your words. The beauty of G.o.ddess-nim will not disappear. Forever and ever.
-I know it clearly. G.o.ddess-nim’s voice and everything else won’t disappear. We will forever be in the fields of history.
Weed saw her first when she was beautiful like the snow.
Her cold and dark expression couldn’t hide her beauty. And now she had a brighter smile.
Seo-yoon had a beauty that would be incomparable anywhere in the world.
If a person felt depressed or tired then just looking at her face would give a clean, healing feeling.
-I own a small kimbap business that I had to get a loan to save it. Life is really hard. I’m sorry for all… Just as I thought about committing suicide, G.o.ddess-nim came. Isn’t it still worth living?
-Where do you live? I will go and eat at your kimbap store.
Seo-yoon’s appearance was also defined.
-I couldn’t believe it in the first second after seeing G.o.ddess-nim. And after two seconds, my soul was no longer my own.
The Weed Hating fan club heated up thanks to Seo-yoon.
Her appearance at the battle of Puhol Fortress led to many confessions.
-Wait a minute.. It was insane. It felt like all reason had faded. But why do I feel so proud?
As a match for the characteristics of the fan club, there were also posts suggesting retaliation against Weed. But there were those who opposed this.
-It is a good idea to a.s.sa.s.sinate Weed. I 100% agree. I would stab him if I could. But what about after that? Won’t G.o.ddess-nim be sad?
-Aaack! I keep telling people not to speak so carelessly. I can imagine G.o.ddess-nim being sad.
-G.o.ddess-nim with tears in her eyes… Keheok. My heart almost stopped!
-That can’t be allowed to happen. The achievements of mankind. We must protect her, even if the Versailles Continent is destroyed. Isn’t it worth it?
-Even if I don’t like it, Weed makes G.o.ddess-nim smile. We just have to do our best.
-For the Arpen Kingdom and G.o.ddess-nim.
-How about making the Gra.s.s Porridge Cult a formal religion in reality? I will become lifelong follower and make donations.
-Let’s use the money to place a statue on all the continents, the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
-That is a great plan!
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