Eloise's expression changed radically. This was indeed a way! However, it was still a massive and risky gambit, as they would only send small groups of people, vulnerable to attacks.

"That's why I wanted your opinion. Do you think groups of four soldiers can survive in this forest long enough to reach their destination and come back?"

Eloise got deep in thought. Their military was still in its beginnings, and any loss encountered was considered heavy. On top of this, even if she trained them and got rid of their cowardice, the journey ahead was harsh and unforgivable. This meant that only the elites would be able to survive. This conclusion also solved the issue of keeping soldiers behind to defend the city.

"If we send our strongest, they can, but we don't know how they'll be treated once they arrive. It's a big gamble, and I can't take this decision for you. However, I can assure you that it is feasible"

It was Derrick's turn to think. His idea was nothing unique and every city had an ambassador representing its interests throughout the land. In a short and vulgarized way, they were legalized spies. The issue at hand was that his city's reputation, albeit slowly spreading, wasn't recognized. If he sent his soldiers like this, their words wouldn't be taken seriously, and they would be turned away or even worse, suffer the fate mentioned by his General.

This left him with a single option that would surely cost him dearly.

"Do you think gifts will increase their chances?"

Eloise immediately nodded. This had been her conclusion as well. The only way to attract one's attention without raising suspicion was to act in good faith. The only step remaining was to choose said gift.

Since every village was composed of refugees and outcasts, the first thing Derrick ruled out was money. Its value was shallow at best in these parts.

After thinking for a few minutes, he shared his thoughts with the group.

"How about weapons? It would only be a full set of armor, but it would show that we aren't hostile and that we can produce these things, highlighting our prowess"

The three women looked at each other and agreed with the logic. Smiting required a ton of resources and expertise, and if someone demonstrated it, it would surely leave a positive impression behind.

"Good. Let's look at the emplacements we'll be targeting first"

Derrick took out a refreshed and modified map. They had constantly redrawn it to track their colonization progress and it also allowed them to see how many villages remained.

"Do you have any insight Lacha?"

She analyzed for a while before resignedly shaking her head. The growth rate of Akata had surpassed her wildest expectations and everything afterwards was uncharted territory.

"Well, it doesn't matter. We'll just send groups to the closest ones and hope for the best. How long will it take the groups to reach their destinations?"

Derrick identified 50 villages, which meant 200 of his elite troops would march and bring with them 50 sets of armors, which made his heart ache. His reserve would take a big hit, but the investment was worthwhile.

"With their stamina, it should be a two days round trip. We can assume a day of rest as well, so it would be a total of three days maximum"

"Good. We'll send them to make our presence known, but to also convince them to join us. I want you to send them in two days. If soldiers aren't back in the timeframe, march and kill all resistance"

Eloise nodded. After staying under Derrick for these last few months, she had learned one thing : having mercy often proved to be a weakness. People were naturally greedy, and if they were given an inch, they would try to take a mile. She hadn't seen that truth until Derrick exposed it time and time again.

Moira, who had remained silent until now, finally spoke up.

"I want to participate in this mission"

The rest of the group was shocked at first before realizing it was perfectly in-line with her character. She was a soldier, and one that experienced Derrick's wrath first hand. It was only natural that she would try to prevent another massacre, maybe to appease her troubled and guilty conscience.

Derrick watched her for a while before sighing. Her resolute look confirmed that opposing her was pointless.

"Ok, but you'll be under strict protection. Eloise, match her up with the best. If anyone came to harm my woman, I'd be a laughingstock"

The general agreed and Moira harrumphed, expressing her disagreement. She had been training constantly since her defeat, and she was sure nobody would be able to match her.

"With this settled, it's time to plan second phase"

The atmosphere suddenly got heavier, matching the gravity of his words. This was the part that would directly threaten a Capital City, thus declaring war on the Krakow Empire. If they failed, there was only one end possible : extermination. Derrick sensed the change and a sinister smile crept on his face. His revenge hinged on this, and he would make damn sure it didn't fall short.


The meeting ran late and continued throughout the night, with everyone chiming in. Derrick's plan was raw and lacked many components, which immediately jarred Eloise. As a genius of tactics, she was appalled that her Master even considered such an idea to topple a behemoth, which had made Derrick blush in embarrassment. It looked like his tactic senses were still well below the norm.. The final draft done, everyone went their way, preparing themselves for what would come in the future.

The sun was already shining through, which meant it was time for Derrick's departure. He could only imagine Alma's fury if he arrived late, which made him giggle inwardly.


He could see the endless farms on the horizon and the boundary of the forest. There were many layers of clouds present, allowing him to land safely near the edge without being found out.

He donned his traditional black cloak and cautiously advanced towards the dirt road, making sure that nobody saw him leave the forest.

Not even three minutes after he arrived did he see another cloaked figure approach him. Since she wasn't human, the elf had to hide herself, or she would be captured and most-likely sentenced to death.

"Have you missed me?"

Derrick's remark and arrogant smile annoyed Alma, who hissed in response. Even though she respected his strength, she still couldn't tolerate his attitude.

"My Master wants to proceed quickly, so let's go. I hope you weren't full of hot air when you mentioned your city. It's the first time I've seen him this excited"

"You'll see for yourself!"

The two promptly left and dove in the thick forest. What they didn't know was that a pair of eyes was on them the whole time..


They were both riding on Io, with Alma tightly hugging Derrick. It seemed that heights scared the proud elf.

"Don't squeeze me too much or you'll break my ribs"

Derrick couldn't help himself and teased her, to which she replied by squeezing even harder, making the necromancer choke. This woman was terrifyingly strong for her petite stature.

"We have a few hours ahead of us, mind if I ask you some questions?"

The sudden inquiry brought Alma back to her senses, and she nodded, figuring it would be a good way to pass time.

"I need information on Terra, especially military"

Alma stiffened and Derrick lost his breath, totally caught unprepared.

"Why do you need it?"

"I haven't told Brigand yet, but I plan to in the near future. Can you relax now?"

She did so after he clarified, but still felt uneasy. Derrick was an extraordinary individual, and if he was asking for such sensitive information, it meant he was brewing something dangerous.

"Will he be at risk?"

That question caught Derrick unprepared, but he chose to answer truthfully. It wouldn't advance his cause if she didn't trust him.

"Yes, but only for a short period of time. I'll do my best to protect him"

She felt sincerity in his words, which reassured her more than she wanted to admit.

"Ask away"

Derrick took her cue and bombarded her.

"What's the population count in Terra?"

"Last census, it was 400 000. It's an abnormally high number for a Capital City, but it's because of its location"

"How many soldiers are stationed in it?"

"The numbers are unclear, but estimations say it's hovering between 35 000 and 50 000"

"Their strength?"

"Iron armors and weapons for the bottom of the chain and steel gear for the cream of the crop. Their training is rigorous and their discipline, unmatched"

"Who's their strongest fighter?"

"The Official. His identity is unclear, which is surprising. They usually like to flap their gums and vent their power, but not the one in Terra. He is a very mysterious being"

"How strong is he?"

"It's unknown, but some say he was a legendary fighter in the 10th legion of the Krakow Empire. After his merits, they apparently promoted him and transferred him here"

"Interesting.. Does Terra have any sort of secret weapon?"

"I have no information about that, but I would assume so. The continuous wars have prepared them for every eventuality"

The Q\u0026A session ended and time passed until Akata came into view.


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