Chapter 1274 Frustrations

    

Kerslin Castle, headquarters of the Zhentarim Association.

Inside a secure magical room.

 

The two individuals who represented the Association’s highest authority sat face-to-face, worry and concern wearing heavily upon their faces.

After a long silence, Chairman Freed finally spoke.

“How is the situation within the Association, currently?”

Vice-Chairman Mirva sat on the opposite couch with a dark expression on his face. His eyes glimmered. It was obvious that he was in a pretty bad mood as well.

“Things are generally stable at the moment!” Mirva replied in a coarse voice, “Most Association adepts have signed contracts of servitude. They won’t take any rash actions until their contracts have been fulfilled. On the other hand, it’s…”

“It’s what?”

“It’s the new apprentices that recently arrived this year that are the problem. Over half of them have yet to sign a contract with us. They seem to be watching from the sidelines, waiting until the Association offers better conditions.”

“These weak-willed bastards. Without the Association’s recruitment, they would have rotted in their dull little villages as meager farmers and lowly adventurers. Investigate their families and backgrounds; start applying pressure on their families. Hmph! They can hesitate, but I don’t believe even their families dare hesitate.”

Mirva nodded silently, then rubbed the snake-eye ring on his right little finger. A new order was quickly given out.

Having done that, Mirva let out said in an exasperated tone, “It seems like Greem is intent on going against us. How should we deal with him?”

The old and sly Freed couldn’t help but sigh when he heard his companion’s question.

“Greem is young, but very composed and experienced in his way of handling things! To avoid going against us directly, he chose not to expand his territory. Now, we can’t even find an excuse to summon the Association elders and punish him in any manner.”

“He’s still young. He’s only three hundred years old at the moment. He has plenty of time to outlast us. Judging from the Crimson Clan’s current actions, he has no intention of starting an adept war or expanding his territories. He has his sights set on the next two or three generations.”

“Perhaps even the fourth or fifth.”

“Yea, he’s very, very patient. He obviously wants to play the waiting game until we die of old age!”

“Its been a long time since a new Fourth Grade adept was born in the Central Lands. Greem has been the only one in the past two or three hundred years. It’s been over eight hundred years since you and I advanced to Fourth Grade. We won’t be able to last for more than two hundred years, no matter how many more treasures we find. The other Association elders are in the same predicament as us. Even Kerala, the youngest of us, is already five hundred years old. Greem is avoiding direct conflict. He’s targeting the new generations and waiting for us old people to die!”

“Hmph! Once the older Fourth Grade adepts have died of old age, the new generation of Fourth Grade adepts will be living under that terrifying shadow of his. When that happens, no one in the Central Lands will dare to go against his will, even if he doesn’t start a war!”

The two leaders of the Zhentarim Association complained together, but they had no solution with which to deal with Greem.

When it came to sheer combat prowess, the legendary fire adept was probably already the most powerful adept in the Central Lands.

This fellow had even gone to the Adept’s Association headquarters in the east recently and had friendly relations with them. According to the news that Freed recently obtained, the Adept’s Association’s evaluation of Greem was very high. They even listed him as the fire adept closest in prowess to an ultra powerhouse.

Ultra powerhouses. What were they? They were powerful individuals at peak Fourth Grade, with the greatest chance of advancing to Fifth Grade!

How few years had it been since Greem advanced? To think he would already be evaluated so highly by the Adept’s Association.

Of course, Freed and the others would not doubt the Adept’s Association’s judgment at all. They would only be fearful of Greem’s alarming rate of improvement.

At the speed he was developing, the entirety of the Central Lands and the Zhentarim Association would eventually become his. Freed, who had conspired towards the same goal for so many years, was naturally upset about this. He was unwilling to see what he had devoted his entire life to become someone else’s possession.

However, a simple flip through the list of instructors at Horton Magic Academy and a long list of incredible names would blind you. Fourth Grade…Fourth Grade…Fourth Grade…so many Fourth Grades, from a dragon lord to a Fire Lord to a lich.

In all honesty, Freed’s heart trembled when he saw this list.

He might have had a mean streak in the past that would have made him attempt to intimidate Greem with the hundreds of years of accumulation behind the Zhentarim Association. However, upon seeing the number of powerful individuals that Greem had gathered, and comparing that to the loose gathering of adepts he had around him, all will to fight seeped from his body like leaking gas.

Out of nowhere, Freed felt incredibly sad and dejected. His tense spirits abruptly relaxed as he sunk limply into his couch. A teardrop formed in the corner of his wrinkly eyes.

“We can’t beat him anymore,” Mirva also let out a series of sighs. “Once all of us old fools die, the Central Lands will fall into his hands. For the next one to two hundred years, I want to try our best to cultivate the few good seeds we have in the Association. See if we can continue our legacy. Perhaps they are our only hope now.”

Freed remained silent. He did not reply.

Almost every Fourth Grade adept had tens of thousands of descendants and clan members, especially those belonging to ancient clans that had lasted for thousands of years. These Fourth Grade adepts were the very gods of these clans. As long as they remained, no one would dare dispute or encroach upon the rights of their descendants.

However, once their lifespans came to an end and their souls dissipated, the fates of their once sheltered descendants would be like candles in the wind.

Who didn’t have an enemy or a rival? Once their protective umbrella was gone, these former enemies that had been kept down and low for hundreds of years would lunge for the throat. The clan would either fall into decline or be pulled up at the very roots, exterminated to the last member.

These things were more than common in the World of Adepts!

As such, most Fourth Grade adepts would find ways to protect their clans when they realized that Fifth Grade was an implausible dream. They would also try to cultivate a new powerhouse who could take on the clan’s legacy in their place.

However, while it was easy to say such things, actually committing them to action was difficult.

First, these Fourth Grade adepts would never be willing to cultivate any adept that was not a direct descendant.

Those who were outsiders would always remain outsiders!

The Fourth Grade adepts would never be willing to train these adepts that joined halfway, no matter how talented they were. After all, it was almost inevitable that these individuals would split off and found their own clans once they reached Fourth Grade. They would never treat their mentor’s clan as their own family.

Thus, the legacy of the clan could only be passed on to a direct descendant.

However, in doing so, the number of options available would become incredibly limited.

The number of individuals within the descendants of a Fourth Grade adept who had the potential to reach the same level were very, very few. To raise all of them to Fourth Grade successfully would also consume an exorbitant amount of resources.

While a Fourth Grade adept’s future was still uncertain and not yet doomed, they would first guarantee resources for themselves before providing their descendants with whatever leftovers they had.

This situation undoubtedly further reduced the possibility of magical geniuses appearing among their descendants!

That was why there were very few examples of high-grade adepts emerging from within the same clan and inheriting the clan’s legacy. Most adept clans faced uncertain futures. It was all laughter and joy while they were on the rise, but those times wouldn’t last forever. When the dark times came, they would live in poverty and struggle to survive.

Many adept clans simply fell to ruin without a single surviving descendant.

Take Chairman Freed, for example. The Sidmund Clan he belonged to had three thousand members. Four hundred of these members were direct descendants of his. Among them, only one hundred and twenty-seven had a talent for magic, while only two of them had managed to reach Third Grade.

However, even these two individuals were not worth investing in or training. That was because they didn’t have sufficient talent to begin with. They had only managed to reach their current heights thanks to the pile of resources available to them.

Of Freed’s direct descendants, there was a reasonably talented granddaughter. She was only two hundred years old, but she was already advanced Second Grade. Still, helping her reach Fourth Grade within another one to two hundred years was a difficult task.

That was why Freed felt his heart ache at the thought of his clan declining after his death.

He knew very clearly what would happen if he offended Greem too much now. Greem might not be able to do anything at the moment. However, once Freed had died of old age, Greem would certainly take bloody and terrifying vengeance on the clanspeople and descendants he left behind.

That was the cruel reality of the World of Adepts!

Usually, everyone treated the Sidmund Clan as an ancient and noble clan, out of consideration for him. However, once he was gone, his clan would not be supported by a single Fourth Grade adept. They would be like fish on a cutting board then– no happy fate awaited them.

Freed lifted his head and looked at Mirva, his gaze filled with pain and hesitation.

He knew that Mirva’s clan was in the same situation as his. There were no capable individuals among his descendants who could support the clan after his death. Mirva’s grandson had done quite a good job recently and had a fairly talented child.

However, that child was only intermediate First Grade at the moment. To help him reach Fourth Grade within two hundred years was a hundred times harder than doing so with his own granddaughter.

They were both in the same boat and were facing the same difficulties.

“There’s no way we can keep fighting with Greem. However, Kerala and Alfred are still young. They still have three to four hundred years left to live. They aren’t going to be willing to be suppressed by the Crimson Clan, are they? Perhaps we should win them to our side!” Mirva stroked his beard and said.

“Alfred. His Molten Fire City has allied with the Crimson Clan now. He’s making a killing out of selling those rare ores mined from his city. There’s no point in hoping that he’ll be the one to stand forward and make trouble.” Freed got upset every time they mentioned that lord of the Molten Fire City.

However, his thoughts quickly shifted to another person. “Kerala, on the other hand, is someone we can win to our side. Her clan territory neighbors the Crimson Clan. She must be feeling even greater pressure than us. If some sort of conflict could occur between them, we might be able to suppress Greem’s arrogant ambitions slightly.”

Mirva’s eyes gleamed as he chuckled coldly, “Isn’t that easy? I will go and arrange the matter immediately. I will make sure to have their two clans fight very soon! Hehehe, with Kerala as the vanguard, we can get Matthew, Nicolas, and Gaia on our side as well. At the very least, we will be able to slow down the Crimson Clan’s development and buy ourselves more time.”

Having said that, Mirva promptly left the room in great spirits.