Chapter 1291 Battle for the Central Lands

 

There was an adept war between the Dener Clan and the Crimson Clan, yet the shadows of so many other clans lurked behind it. Naturally, only Greem could fully understand all the implications behind this.

In the eyes of Gargamel, Meryl, and the others, it was only a natural expression of hostility that the incumbent forces of the Central Lands held toward newly rising clans. However, Greem could see that this trouble was initiated by the existing forces across the entirety of the World of Adepts.

The things that you could see differed based on the height upon which you stood!

The Central Lands had been quiet for far too long.

They had such vast lands, plentiful resources, population, and complete legacies of knowledge. Yet, they were still suppressed and reduced to a second-rate organization by the three major adept organizations. The importance of Zhentarim was utterly incongruous with the sheer scale and size of the Central Lands.

There were external reasons for this–the three major organizations unwilling to see the rise of another rival–and internal reasons: the incumbent forces of the Central Lands were largely composed of independent clans who did not want to see a centralized force cutting into their benefits.

This combination of external and internal factors was what gave rise to the strange existence that was Zhentarim!

The appearance of Greem and his Crimson Clan had undoubtedly begun to shake the ruling foundations of the Zhentarim Association. The clans and their leaders were starting to become anxious. Of course, to say that the Crimson Clan had utterly shattered the framework of Zhentarim was a bit premature.

However, the Crimson Clan’s appearance did indeed mean that the first brick had been taken out of Zhentarim’s foundations. As long as it continued down its current path, it would only be a matter of time until the Zhentarim Association collapsed!

Greem could see this clearly, and so could those old Fourth Grade fools!

Greem had originally prepared himself mentally to wage war against all the clans of Zhentarim. Judging by the current situation, those old fogeys were still a little too conservative. They had only pushed out Kerala for a spearhead.

They remained behind the scenes, eager to get rid of the variable that was Greem while not wanting to have their clans bear any damage that could come from war. It was hardly a surprise that the Central Lands had ended up in this state of disharmony for several thousand years now, considering the hesitation and indecisiveness of these clans.

In fact, Greem had already prepared himself for the eventuality that the Crimson Clan would be demolished even before he established Horton Magic Academy. He was still young; he had the capital to afford defeat.

Moreover, the most important thing to the Crimson Clan wasn’t its worldly territory, resource sites, or even its hundreds of clan adepts. It was their powerful high-grade adepts.

Even if the enemy completely wiped out the Crimson Clan’s current foundations, and even if none of the Crimson Clan’s adepts or apprentices survived, all Greem had to do was hide in and defend Fire Throne. He could remain shut-in for a hundred years, and there would be nothing his enemies could do.

Greem, Mary, Alice, Arms; these four Fourth Grades were the greatest assurance for the Crimson Clan’s continued existence!

As long as they were still around, no one could truly exterminate the Crimson Clan.

Even if the clan was defeated, all they had to do was wait for another hundred years. When those old fools had all passed away, who among their descendants and their successors could stop the still youthful Greem?

Greem had countless opportunities to try and fail. However, if the clans of Zhentarim chose to walk down the path of violent opposition, it would mean eternal doom for them. Given the resentment accumulated between them, their clans would not escape the terrible fate of extermination and a severed legacy. 

It was the most bloody and most cruel truth of adept wars!

The Crimson Clan, which Gargamel, Meryl, Emelia, and the others saw as the bedrock they had to defend with their very lives, was no more than a simple bargaining chip in Greem’s eyes, to be used against his many enemies.

A few hundred years of trials, difficulties, and calamities befalling the clan? Greem could tolerate all those things happening. As long as he could achieve his final goal, all the bumps he met along the way would be no more than the desperate struggles of his enemies.

It was the different perspective that arose from standing at different heights and having completely different views on life!

However, that was only assuming the worst-case scenario. Judging by the current situation, the old fools were still reluctant to commit to an all-out war against the Crimson Clan. Otherwise, should seven or eight of those Fourth Grade adepts unite their forces, Greem would be prepared to retreat to Fire Throne.

However, those old men didn’t dare!

If the Crimson Clan fought with suicidal zeal, it could quickly exterminate or cripple three or four Fourth Grade clans in the process. If that was the case, who among this alliance of Fourth Grades would be willing to become sacrificial victims to the Crimson Clan? Who would be willing to fight on the very front lines?

The sudden duel issued by Adept Kerala wasn’t precisely a desperate attempt to achieve something by defeating Greem. Instead, she could see everything with perfect clarity now and was looking for the quickest way to stop the Dener Clan from bleeding any further.

She was unwilling to remain as the spearhead against the Crimson Clan for the rest of the Zhentarim Association. She was using this method to force those ghosts to step out of the shadows.

It wasn’t hard to imagine how bloody and cruel the battle in three days’ time, which would decide the Central Lands’ fate, would be. Meanwhile, it was probably best for the Crimson Clan to find some more allies for itself in the meantime.

 

…………

 

Three days later.

Stoneshard Valley.

 

Ever since they confirmed the final battle’s date, the Dener forces that had reached deep into Ailovis had slowly retreated to Stoneshard Valley and the surrounding lands.

They set up camp and strengthened resistance here, starting large-scale construction and hurrying to place down as many temporary magical defenses as they could.

There were several round watchtowers, each three-stories high and nearly ten meters in diameter. Several sniping spots and observation slits in the towers could each have ten adepts stationed within.

These impromptu war towers protected the adepts within with powerful magical arrays. Simultaneously, the adepts could use the offensive arrays within the buildings to amplify their attacks.

These war towers were constructed in a hurry, and most of the magical facilities were single-use. However, the resources and materials consumed in their construction were no less than a proper adept tower. That was why clans that did not have so many resources could not afford to use these war towers in such lavish fashion.

The cheapest adept tower would cost at least two hundred thousand magical crystals, while a single one of these impromptu war towers cost one hundred and fifty thousand magical crystals.

For the sake of defending the dignity of the clan in this last battle, the Dener Clan had constructed as many as thirty of these towers in front of Stoneshard Valley. 

However, having war towers alone was not enough. These towers were meant for defense after all.

The Dener Clan also placed numerous garrisons between these towers, composed of shocking numbers of forces. These adept forces consisted mostly of adept apprentices that could unleash power roughly equal to an adept with the aid of special equipment and combat techniques.

Their existence made up for the insufficient number of official adepts and increased the flexibility of the clan’s strategies in war.

The Dener Clan had also put together several tens of thousands of powerful voodoo beasts and placed them before the war towers. They were the cannon fodder for this fight.

Adept Kerala finally felt slightly relieved after making all these preparations. She sat calmly inside the fortress located in Stoneshard Valley, silently awaiting the Crimson Clan’s arrival.

Standing at her side were Zhentarim Association Chairman Freed, Vice-Chairman Mirva, Elder Nicolas, Elder Matthew, Elder Fabres, and Elder Mornashen Gaia, known as the leader of the Gaia clan and as the most powerful adept of the Central Lands.

One could frankly claim that almost every Fourth Grade adept in the Central Lands with any kind of disagreement or grudge against the Crimson Clan was gathered here. The other Fourth Grades were either watching matters unfold from the sidelines or were genuinely not interested in the politics.

Moreover, individuals were also sent out from the three major adept organizations to observe this war and evaluate the Central Lands’ future trajectory. 

Of course, should things start to move in a direction ‘detrimental’ to them, it wasn’t unlikely that these ‘observers’ would take action as well. There was no need for armies. All it would take was the appearance of one or two incredibly powerful Fourth Grades on the battlefield, and the war would go down whichever path they had chosen.

If one were to be even more straightforward, they would point out–accurately–that this war would never have reached such intensity if not for the major organizations’ subtle influence in the shadows!

Noon had just passed when a massive dust cloud rose on the horizon.

A rumbling army of magical machines charged forward, heading towards Stoneshard Valley like a steel dragon.

At the forefront of the army was a hundred goblin chariots, the Steel Pathfinders.

The goblin chariots had now broken free of their former constraints of steam power. They were now powered by magic energy and, thus, no longer released their signature white smoke. A hundred goblin chariots thundered across the land, stopping two kilometers away from the enemy lines. They began to bunker down as the cannons on top of the chariots spun around. In the blink of an eye, a kilometer-long wall of steel had appeared.

Behind the chariots was a massive army made up of magical machines.

Ten Motherships hovered in the air.

Each of these Motherships was as large as a small city. The bottoms of the Motherships were covered in terrifying cannons, their silver hulls brightly reflecting the sun’s light.

An army of over ten thousand magical machines marched in perfect formation on the ground. Each of these machines was over three meters tall. Fearsome magic energy cannons and beam rifles were installed on their torsos, shoulders, and arms.

With each coordinated step forward, it felt as if the earth itself quaked along with them.