Chapter 1309 Plans for the Central Lands

 

Kerala slowly looked away once Fabres’ silhouette had vanished over the distant horizon.

After a moment’s hesitation, she finally asked in a soft voice, “Lord Greem, since you now possess the power and reputation to unify Zhentarim, could I ask what you have in mind for the structuring of the organization in the future?”

It was only natural that she asked such a question!

In all honesty, countless people in the Central Lands wanted to know the answer to this question.

The Crimson Clan was rising, and Greem was ascending toward his throne. How did the legendary fire adept plan to unify Zhentarim? How would he command and reorganize the scattered forces and clans of adepts?

That was the burning question in the mind of every Central adept.

If Greem solely wanted to benefit the Crimson Clan and propel it to greatness, he could rule over the entirety of Zhentarim as a mega-clan. It would allow the Crimson Clan to grow rapidly in a short time.

However, this was not compatible with the hopes of the large number of weaker adepts that populated the Central Lands.

In the past thousands of years, the Central Lands had been ruled by scattered and disunited adept clans. All sorts of alliances and rivalries connected the assorted clans. Together, they held over ninety percent of the Central Lands’ resources in their hands. Free and wandering adepts who did not have the support of a clan would find it difficult to survive.

Meanwhile, most clans were biased toward their own bloodline descendants, so much so that these clans’ core authority was often made up entirely of bloodline descendants. No matter how talented they were or how much potential they held, foreign adepts would always be inferior to the core adepts of the clan.

That was why free, grassroots adepts in the Central Lands often had to work far harder to make a living for themselves than if they joined the Adept’s Association. Meanwhile, down over in the Northern Lands, the witches reigned supreme and were extremely xenophobic people. The Silver Union was the world of the esoteric adepts. Adepts of other classes and branches were suppressed there as well.

From an overall perspective, the best place for any adept to develop was none other than the Adept’s Association!

The Northern Witches ruled through the Witch Council. The Northern Lands were divided into thirteen territories, each governed and managed by a witch branch. Only public affairs were put to a discussion and decided by the Witch Council, composed of the various witch branches’ leaders.

Other adept organizations could not possibly model their own ruling governments after the Northern Witches.

That was because the Northern Witches were naturally united together by a single individual– Witch Queen Salem.

As one of the only three Ninth Grade adepts from the World of Adepts, she was a powerful adept who held various titles, including Witch Queen, Monarch of the Witches, and the Ancient Witch!

The ruling structure of the Silver Union was also a legislative assembly, that of a senate.

However, esoteric adepts were incredibly influential in the Silver Union. Adepts of other classes were greatly suppressed and prevented from holding any office with real authority.

If Greem did not intend to employ the governing model of a mega-clan, his only option was to go for a governing structure resembling that of the Adept’s Association!

Upon hearing Adept Kerala’s questions, it wasn’t just Mary, but Meryl, Emelia, and the other Crimson leaders who became interested. They all wanted to hear the thoughts and decisions of their clan leader.

It was a decision that would determine their benefits, after all. It was only natural that they would be concerned.

Greem stood at the bow of the ship, looking at the shifting clouds in the distance as a relaxed expression appeared on his face. He said calmly, “I do not intend to use the governing structure of the Adept’s Association!”

Kerala’s face turned dark. It was obvious that she was somewhat discouraged at hearing this answer.

Meanwhile, Meryl, Emelia, and the others seemed to be delighted to hear this.

Only Mary’s expression did not change. Her eyes were still fixed on Greem, filled with unconcealable concern and anxiety for him.

Greem sighed and said, “Of course, I have no intention to return to the old and beaten path of a single adept clan.”

Meryl and Emelia were stunned for a moment.

An expression of thought appeared on Kerala’s face as the light of hope secretly lit up in her eyes.

“In truth, the best method for uniting the hearts and minds of the people of the Central Lands has already appeared, though it is only a tiny sprout at this stage,” Greem continued.

“Do you…do you mean…Horton Magic Academy?” The light in Kerala’s eyes suddenly lit up.

“Indeed!” Greem nodded and said, “Adept clans are often too focused on their own bloodline descendants, making it difficult for them to accept and assimilate excellent and talented new blood. As such, we should weaken the ruling power of clans and turn toward magic academies, whose mission is to spread knowledge to all. That is the best solution I can come up with!”

“This might draw the ire of all high-grade adepts!” Adept Kerala sighed, “After all, the system of adept clans led by high-grade adepts has kept too many people far too comfortable for far too long. The magic academy will probably face united opposition from all major clans if it attempts to grow even larger in scale!”

“But this will be incredibly beneficial to the Central Lands, won’t it? Otherwise, there would not be so many free adepts cheering for the rise of the Crimson Clan.”

“But the ones who can truly decide the future of the Central Lands aren’t those powerless free adepts, but high-grade adepts with actual fighting power.”

“That is why we must be the pioneers and march on forward. Moreover, the enemies aren’t fully united under a single banner. There are plenty of methods we can employ to sow division amongst them. At the very least, I trust that your Dener Clan will stand by our side?” Greem asked, half in jest.

The expression on Kerala’s face flickered several times. Finally, she nodded with some difficulty and said, “Of course. From the moment our two clans reached an agreement, the Dener Clan had only one path available to us. I can stand out and express my support for Horton Magic Academy, as well as transfer most of the clan’s assets to the academy!”

Greem nodded happily when he heard this.

“That is enough! With the addition of Fabres’ forces, we are not alone on this side. Moreover, we can also try to win more forces to our side, particularly Molten Fire City, Silentridge, or any other neutral parties. What comes next is no longer a battle of powers, but a battle of diplomacy! Let’s see which of us can draw more allies and more support to our cause!”

“Hmph! Those defeated hounds. They have no right to stand against us. As long as you are here as the Central Lands’ uncontested ultra-powerhouse, I believe the fence-sitters will know how to choose. That being said,” A flash of worry appeared on Kerala’s face, “The Adept’s Association has chosen to intervene directly this time. It is obvious they don’t intend to allow the Central Lands to unify. Will they send out more adepts after this to intervene in the affairs of the Central Lands?”

“Hmph! If the Adept’s Association has decided to become enemies with the Central Lands, then we can also draw in allies for ourselves from the other regions. There is no way the Silver Union and the Northern Witches will sit by and watch the Adept’s Association launch an invasion into the Central Lands! They might be happy to see the Central Lands and the Adept’s Association tear each other down to pieces. However, if I were to die in battle, then the Central Lands would become the Adept’s Association territory. How could they possibly allow such a thing?”

“So, what is our next step?”

“Intimidate some of them, win over some of them, and knock the rest down a peg,” Greem spoke decisively, “As for Freed and Mirva? Just declare war on them now! The more ferocious of a beating we can give them, the more we can intimidate Nicolas and Matthew. If they try anything funny again, there will no longer be room for them here in the Central Lands. As for Alfred…I will personally go and talk to him!”

The members of the Crimson Clan were excited to hear this and stood up straight.

“Relay my orders. Gather the Crimson forces and prepare to assault Kerslin Castle!”

“Yes, my lord!”

“Yes, my lord!”

 

…………

 

Kerslin Castle.

Headquarters of Zhentarim Association.

 

It was also the territory of the Jorma Clan, which Freed belonged to.

It had been a little over a month since the battle at Stoneshard Valley, and rumors regarding the Central Lands were only growing and growing. It was becoming harder and harder to tell which were truths and which were only rumors.

However, the tension lingering around Kerslin Castle was, without a doubt, enormous.

One after another, adept forces were recalled from lesser planes back to headquarters and stationed at the several fortresses around Kerslin Castle. Messengers scurried here and there, continually relaying all sorts of information.

The most attention-catching of which was most certainly information on the Crimson Clan’s movements!

When they heard that the participants of the battle at Stoneshard Valley were grievously injured and had retreated to their own clans to nurse their wounds, Kerslin Castle had celebrated joyously. However, when news of Greem’s reappearance in public reached them, the castle became deadly silent once more.

In particular, when they heard that the Crimson Clan was rallying their forces and preparing for a march on Kerslin Castle, the entire Jorma Clan was stunned!

What further frightened them to their core was the rumor that the legendary fire adept, Greem, was marching along with the Crimson Clan’s army.

When the news broke out, nearly half of the Jorma Clan’s subordinate forces scattered. The rest who remained were also in a state of constant fear and anxiety.

To intimidate these fence-sitters, Freed had no choice but to personally order the recall of all adept forces stationed in lesser planes and the reinforcement of the headquarter’s defenses.

As for whether such an order would allow for revolts in the lesser planes and destabilize the Jorma Clan’s rule? That was beyond their consideration now.

According to recon forces sent out by the Jorma Clan, the Crimson Clan had sent as many as seven Motherships for their assault on Kerslin Castle. All of the Crimson forces were hiding in the Motherships, so it was difficult to gauge the invading force’s exact numbers.

Unlike other adept clans, the Crimson Clan had a large army of magical machines and numerous other war machines. It was more than well-known by now.

In particular, the most infamous magic energy war machines were the powerful magic golem dragon and the Motherships.

Now that the Crimson Clan had sent out seven of their ten Motherships, it was more than enough to indicate the severity and significance they assigned to this invasion.

For a while, Kerslin Castle was filled with a tense and murderous atmosphere!