“So, do you think you can do it?” Brom’s father, Orom Karendesh, the twelfth and youngest subleader of the A rank force known as the Bronze Legion and the man everyone acknowledged as its next leader, looked at Brom from across a small two-person table in the home they shared on the Bronze Legion’s A rank planet of Dorinal, a relaxed look on his face.
He’d just asked Brom if he’d consent to being the general of the Bronze Legion’s second force in the War of the Chosen, and the request was making Brom nervous, especially given how he’d been tricked in his last System hosted competition.
“I don’t think I would do well,” Brom said honestly, his scaled tail waving nervously behind him. “The age limit for the War of the Chosen is 72 years, yet I’ll only be 26 when it starts.”
“I don’t expect you would.” His father’s tail was laying lazily on the floor as he took a drink of kimani blood from the bottle on the table. “But that’s not the point. The first force will attempt to win the War of the Chosen. That is their role. The role of the second force is to prepare the soldiers who will fight in the first force in 36 years. And you are the strongest of those who won’t have passed the age limit by then.”
Brom looked down at his hands. “But I don’t think I’m ready to be a leader.”
Brom could almost hear the mirth in his father’s voice and he looked up again.
“Logistics, soldier deployments, keeping up morale, I feel confident in the role of a quartermaster or maybe even a defending general, but I know myself. I’m not good at trickery and I’m not good at predicting the trickery of others. From everything I’ve read, that is very important.”
His father opened his mouth slightly, a little blood flowing down his jaw onto his neck, as his tail waved slightly with amusement. “And what should a general do if he knows he isn’t good at something?”
Brom paused for a second, thinking. Then he realized what his father was hinting at. “Find someone who is, put them in a high position, and listen to them.” Brom thought for a bit more. “That Shadow girl was in the same Trial Tower instance as me, so she should be roughly my age. And her stats weren’t maximized, which means even if she is from one of the larger forces, they don’t value her all that much. I could invite her as one of the twelve commanders I’m allowed.”
His father reached out a hand and passed him a large silver medallion, the token of a general in the War of the Chosen. “That’s what I would recommend. It’s also possible the plague you mentioned was actually created by her and if that’s true you’d be gaining a lot more than just an advisor. I’ll create a quest for her and set the deadline to one year before the War of the Chosen starts.”
Brom placed his chin on the table and rolled his eyes up to the sky. “Thank you, father.”
“No need to be so formal.” His father waved a hand dismissively and stood up from the table. “And no need to put so much pressure on yourself. Yes, the expectations from others due to you being my son are high, but you don’t need to care about them. Do what feels right for you. Strive for what you want. I’m powerful enough to protect you and, so long as you don’t become a wastrel, I’ll always support you.
“You’ve seemed interested in following the path of a general and that does make me proud, but make sure you are doing it because it is what you want to do. And take this War of the Chosen as your chance to find out.”
Brom just sat there thinking for a bit, pondering his father’s words. Then he rose, summoned his greatsword into his hand from his spatial storage ring, and walked out to the training yard, starting to swing his blade to help him clear his head.
* * *
Heavenly Blade Orom Karendesh has offered you a quest.
Make it to E rank (Common)
Accomplish the following:
- Make it to E rank at least one standard year before the next War of the Chosen
Rewards: 1 War of the Chosen Commander token and 4 War of the Chosen Soldier tokens for the army Bronze Legion II
Do you accept?
Mila, who would be ready to advance her race and then class in a couple of weeks, looked at the quest which popped up in front of her and immediately thought of Brom Karendesh, the lizard-man cultivator she’d tricked during the tournament portion of her first F rank Trial Tower and, from the information on the forces in the universe she’d been reading, Orom Karendesh’s son. Then she asked Nana Xara, “First, does the fact Orom Karendesh can make this quest mean he knows who I am? And, second, if not, any idea why he would want me in his force’s army?”
“Like with the quest you received from the Alchemist of the Deep Woods, quests made through the System can be granted to people a cultivator doesn’t personally know by giving the System specialized criteria. The name Shadow is viewable to anyone powerful enough to have access to the ranking list from the Trial Tower, and the Bronze Legion is at that level. So, the quest should have been made by specifying your name and ranking in the Trial Tower, leaving nothing to worry about when it comes to your identity.”
“As to why Orom Karendesh would want to give you this quest, his son probably mentioned you, or might even be one of the other commanders or even the general of the Bronze Legion’s second army participating in the War of the Chosen.
“Given what we know about the Bronze Legion, in my opinion at least, this is unlikely to be a trap. They can’t do anything to you in the War of the Chosen when neither your real body nor your real soul will be there. So, they probably want to either talk or, more likely, they think you are talented and want your help.”
“You think the offer is legitimate?”
“Well, damn.” Mila felt frustrated. “Was there any point to joining the Violet Mountain Sect? This is a much better way of joining the War of the Chosen than getting a soldier token from them.”
“Had we been forced to gain the Twelve Element Primal Code from the Vin Clan, we couldn’t have gotten all the resources for the Twelve Element Stationary Enhancement Formation and then we couldn’t have gotten all the resources which came from the latest Trial Tower, such as the Stone of Primal Beginning and the Book of Languages.”
“Alright. Well, there’s that.” Mila sighed. “But I’ll still have to go back to the Violet Mountain Sect soon and use their soldier token, so this token could only go to Diana. And that opens up a lot of strategy issues.”
“Diana’s identity as your likely apprentice should already be known in the Evolon Galaxy Cluster, and Earth’s other native powers should be known as well, including Nitya and Irena, who would normally take two of the soldier positions. Isaiah shouldn’t be as much of an issue, as he looks quite a bit different from when he was in his clan, but it would still be a risk to have him interact with the universe’s most powerful youths at this time, to say nothing of allowing Aalam to join as well.
“For acquiring the skill orbs Aalam and I need, however, the only other way to get them besides the War of the Chosen would be to rob them from at least an A rank power. The resources for race advancement and for our other needs we could get through the universal auction you’ve been invited to or through other sources, but we basically have no choice but to participate in the War of the Chosen if we want Aalam and I to reach our full potential.”
The original plan had been for Mila to participate in this War of the Chosen to get a sense of it and then wait 36 years for the next one, by which time she could likely get them a deal like the one Orom Karendesh was giving them now. By that time they would have leveled up quite a bit and increased their stats through natural resources, so they would have done well even without Aalam, but, if they wanted to do well in this instance of the War of the Chosen, they would need Aalam’s power, so he would have to participate with Diana and the others.
“What do you think, Nana Xara?”
“Hmm.” Nana Xara didn’t sound like her usual cheerful self, actually seeming to take this seriously. “There are risks to including Aalam, but the risks are a lot less than they used to be.
“Due to the Stone of Primal Beginning, Aalam advanced way faster than anyone would expect of him, and anyone who saw that type of growth wouldn’t immediately think of such a rare resource but would instead think his Laws were forcibly raised, and that makes him much, much less of a threat. At the same time, due to his Laws advancing so fast and two of his Laws being Bonds and Severing, if he is able to advance both Laws to middle grade before reaching D rank and you are able to advance your Laws of The Healer and The Reaper to Law Pupae, the two of you together should have the power to change his name in the overlord status of any planet he adds to his Territory while he is E rank, and it will also allow you to change the effect his overlordship will have on those planets as well.
“This gets rid of the two biggest issues with exposing Aalam to the universe. So I would advise going for it. With Aalam’s new race, it won’t be obvious to most he’s following the path of the Heavenly Spark anyway.
“No matter what, he’s going to be exposed eventually, and this will allow you to control the narrative.”
Mila thought about it for a few minutes. Then she decided. “Alright then. Diana will be the commander and she’ll be joined by Aalam, Isaiah, Nitya, and Irena.”
Then Mila realized something. “Wait, there is an age limit, right? Irena probably wouldn’t qualify.”
“No. She would,” Nana Xara explained. “For System related age limits, everyone on Earth will be considered nine at the start of the War of the Chosen.”
Mila hadn’t really thought about it much, but her own body was only seven years old. “So, it’s not by the age of the soul?”
“No. That would be unfair to cultivators from newly integrated worlds. Instead, for these types of events, the measurement is the time from when the System officially recognized you.”
“Okay.” Mila contacted Diana, Aalam, and Isaiah through their bonds and told them about their new change in plans.
In a few weeks, Aalam would be done raising his Twelve Element Primal Code to level 9 and Mila would be done raising hers to level 8 with his resources. Then Mila could join everyone and finally advance her race to E rank, though they’d already determined she’d have to use a whole lot of souls to account for the fact a D rank soul was required to power the process, the one requirement for the race her bloodline couldn’t let her bypass.
Thankfully, she still hadn’t used the various E rank souls the Violet Mountain Sect had prepared for her before she left.
Then, seeing as Nana Xara was absolutely positive Aalam wouldn’t be able to unlock any alternative classes no matter how high he raised his Laws or the level of his cultivation technique, they would both join Diana and Isaiah in advancing to E rank with the classes they had already planned on taking long ago.
“Nana Xara,” Mila sent. “Remind me again why I can’t just have Aalam break the Violet Mountain Sect’s mountain mark and not go back. Sure, they could change the rules on me and potentially destroy my soul. But if I faked my death convincingly, they wouldn’t be able to.”
She wasn’t going to say it over her bond with her teacher, as Nana Xara’s soul was located in a mental realm created by the System and it was very possible the System would be able to listen in on their conversations, but Mila’s Shadow Princess uniqueness would allow her to break her bond with the elder of the Violet Mountain Sect who controlled the sect’s bonds and easily fake her own death.
Sure, doing so would allow any god who looked into her later to find out about her uniqueness, likely leading to said god killing her, but there was a very high chance the Violet Mountain Sect wouldn’t go so far as to force her to completely sever the bond. Also, if Mila were able to get her hands on a powerful contract severing skill, given her Law Larva of The Reaper, which had a strong severing component, was already high grade and Aalam’s Law of Severing was already a Law Pupa, she’d be able to break the bond herself and easily fake her own death.
“To advance to D rank with a Devil’s Contract line skill, you’re going to need more years of hiding your identity, and to meet the qualifications for the other skills you’ll want to gain, you’re going to have to act like a saint. That fits the persona you’ve been building in the Violet Mountain Sect, but it would be impossible to achieve on Earth. And there’s nothing to gain from creating a new identity on a new planet instead.”
“Curse my power set.” Mila sighed again. “I’m going to so miss talking to everyone over our bonds.”
“Hmm.” Nana Xara sounded contemplative and Mila felt herself growing excited. “If Aalam’s Soul stat gets high enough and his Law Pupa of Multi-Dimensional Geometry advances to middle grade, there are some specialized artifacts which might make that possible.”
Mila felt her heart start to beat faster.
“Tell you what, I’ll make a quest to give Diana the blueprints if you manage to achieve one twelfth of the requirements for the Advanced Angel’s Release skill.”
So, at least one more year of not being able to talk to Aalam and the others over her bonds with them, but there would be something to look forward to.
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