The fifth wave of the event Protectors of Amaharpe had just ended. At the moment, the number of casual players who originally participated in the event had decreased by approximately 25%. This was due to the difficulty level of the waves increasing the further along the event proceeded.
"These monsters are so tough! I've traveled all around the Towering Oak Forest quite a bit, but I've never even seen some of the monsters that appeared in the last wave." One of the casual players participating in the event sounded exhausted as he spoke.
"At this rate, will we be able to even last until the last wave?" One of his party members questioned.
He could only remain silent in response to that question as he had no idea if they could manage the sixth wave, let alone the tenth! However, if he showed too much doubt then the other members may back out. After all, one would lose precious experience if they were killed at their level.
Meanwhile, at the sector the guild Cross Haven was located in, Wang Qiang took the time in between waves to pay a visit to his guild leader, Ewan. He was currently discussing what he had gathered so far from the information provided by the scouts he sent out to monitor the movements of Sage Falls and Hollow Tempo.
"Leader, no matter how I look at it, there appear to be no movements from both Sage Falls and Hollow Tempo according to the scout reports I've received. However, I still strongly believe that one of them has something to do with this." Wang Qiang said in a tone full of confidence.
Although he did not have definitive proof as of yet, his instincts and experience told him that something was off about one or even both of those guilds.
Ewan gazed into the distance, far up in the sky. He was thinking back to when there was a sudden thunderstorm that appeared without any warning signs and then vanished without a trace. Then afterward, a huge vortex was formed in the sky. It was an astonishing sight to witness firsthand.
But, he did not let his thoughts wander off too much and listened closely to Wang Qiang's words.
"Then, what exactly are you suggesting? Without any proof, the other top guilds will not believe a word we say. At most, Blue Oasis and Hyper Symphony may believe us, however, you understand better than anyone that making a move based on simple accusations is something that my Cross Haven has never done." Ewan said in a calm and steady voice.
Wang Qiang stayed silent at the response. This was because he had known Ewan for many years already. By now, he already had a good grasp on how his guild leader would proceed with certain matters. He would trust the choice of the man he chose to follow.
"However, looking the other way when there's a potential danger lurking in the shadows is also something that my Cross Haven has never done. Tell me, hypothetically of course, how would you deal with this situation?" Ewan said as he turned to look at Wang Qiang.
"Well, hypothetically, I assume that every action up until now has been a test of sorts. Testing our response time and how we react in order to have a better understanding of how we function. It was unlikely that whatever they had planned would go undiscovered with the blatant way they did things, however, I believe it was a throwaway plan." Wang Qiang explained.
He then continued, "In other words, if it worked then good, but if it did not work then everything was also fine. Right now, I would suggest we keep a reasonable level of contact with Blue Oasis and Hyper Symphony. While the other guilds may not believe us, those two have a high chance of doing so as you've said before."
"The point, Wang Qiang." Ewan said as he knew that Wang Qiang could go on for an extended period of time giving every bit of detail if he let him do so.
Wang Qiang paused for a brief moment and cleared his throat. "We should inform everyone that their guild may be the target of a great scheme." He got straight to the point.
"Oh? If we did that, we would be alerting Sage Falls, Hollow Tempo, or whoever is responsible of our awareness of their plans, correct?" Ewan asked.
Wang Qiang nodded, "Yes, that would be the case. It's exactly what we need to do under these circumstances. Right now, they are probably already aware that we have discovered certain elements of their plans. However, in the end, they still have the comfortable feeling of being in the shadows and remaining unwatched."
"If we were to alert all of the top guilds, including Sage Falls and Hollow Tempo, then even if the majority refuses to entirely believe our words without proof, they will still take some type of precaution to be on the safe side. After all, they will be unable to ignore us completely."
"By doing this, we not only shed a bit of light on the hidden shadows, but we should be able to gain more insight as to who is behind all of this. This is all, of course, hypothetical."
"What message would you send to the other guilds?" Ewan questioned.
Wang Qiang gave a meaningful smile as he responded, "Watch your backs, there are snakes lurking in the shadows!"
Ewan closed his eyes to think for a moment. A few seconds later, he opened his eyes as they now had a look of clarity within them. "Very well, make it so."
"Yes, leader!" Wang Qiang set his right fist to his chest as a way to salute in a respectful manner. He then headed back to his area to carry out his task.
Ten minutes later, every single top guild had received a message from Cross Haven. It was almost cryptic in a way. It was a short and simple message. "Watch your backs, there are snakes lurking in the shadows!".
In most cases, the top guilds would not care about such nonsense. However, there were two reasons that caused them to, at the very least, consider the possibility.
The first reason was that the message was delivered by the guild Cross Haven. If it were any other top guild, they would immediately dismiss it. But, Cross Haven was known for their fair play and did not rely on underhanded tactics to succeed.
The second reason was that Cross Haven had Wang Qiang! Wang Qiang was a brilliant strategist that no guild would want to come across on a battlefield. If you were to ask someone to name the top five strategists within the gaming community, no list would be without Wang Qiang's name.
At the moment, Slayer had a darkened expression on his face after receiving that message from Cross Haven.
"That fool promised me that things would go forward without any further complications. Then, what do you call this mess?!" Slayer angrily shouted at the member who delivered the message to him.
The member that delivered the message was terrified. He had seen what Slayer was capable of when his mood got to this point. He wanted to cry for being forced to deliver the bad news.
"You! Did you not tell me that everything was going according to plan?!" Slayer turned his focus onto the cloaked figure who was dispatched by Vault earlier to be his eyes and ears.
"Rest assured, Slayer. If our leader says that everything is going according to plan, then there is no possible way that it's not. However, if you are getting cold feet and want to back out, I will relay your message without fail." The cloaked figure responded.
"Cold feet...? What gives an underling like you the right to talk to me in such a way?! Do you have a death wish?" Slayer coldly glared at the cloaked figure.
The cloaked figure smirked. "Those who can see are some times blind in their own way."
When Slayer heard that, he was just about to erupt in a fit of anger, however, he paused when he heard the next few words.
"The terrifying thing about "her" plans is that even those who take part in it directly are unaware of its true intricacies. I've heard the message. Watch your backs, there are snakes lurking in the shadows. Everything that has happened up until this moment has been within her expectations. You see, guild leader of Sage Falls, even your reaction was calculated by her." the cloaked figure said.
Slayer narrowed his eyes as he listened to what the cloaked figure had to say. His reaction was calculated by her? Who was he talking about?
Slayer calmed himself down before he asked, "Who are you referring to?"
"That piece of information is not important. I was simply told to tell you that you shall have your answer soon." the cloaked figure said.
Something that Slayer hated more than anything was being spoken to in riddles. However, he was willing to accept the large risk for a potentially huge return.
"Hmph, we'll see. However, should your Headhunter Syndicate fail to deliver on its promise, I shouldn't need to tell you the consequences for wasting the time of my Sage Falls guild." Slayer said in a threatening manner.
"You may do as you wish. After all, the end results shall be the same." the cloaked figure simply smirked at Slayer's reaction. "She" had predicted this as well!
"Everything is ready on your order." Menerva who currently stood behind Vault said in a soft voice and almost timid voice.
"It's about time. I was beginning to grow impatient with the wait. Begin at once!" Vault said as a large grin formed on his face.
"Understood..." Menerva then sent out her orders.
"Sir, some members of Blue Oasis have come to see you. They said that it's regarding the message you sent, they came to request your assistance to instantly resolve the matter. Something about having found out the identity of who's responsible." One of the members of Cross Haven approached Wang Qiang to deliver the message.
"Hm?" Wang Qiang was surprised. It had only been around fifteen minutes since he sent the message out. How did they discover something so fast? He frowned, "Are you sure they are from Blue Oasis? Did you verify their identities?"
The guild member nodded his head, "Yes, sir. I've made sure to verify that they are indeed from Blue Oasis. In fact, one of their Lieutenants is within the group."
Wang Qiang furrowed his brows, "Since a Lieutenant of Blue Oasis has personally come, then there is a good chance that they have indeed found out. Send them here." Although Wang Qiang was a little skeptical at first, since a high ranking member like a Lieutenant showed up he could be somewhat at ease.
"Yes, sir!" The guild member said as he left to carry out his order.
A few moments later, six players had arrived before Wang Qiang. Indeed, they were members of Blue Oasis just as the guild member had said. This made Wang Qiang disregard his previous suspicions of imposters.
"It is good of you to personally pay me a visit, Lieutenant. Tell me, what information have you brought?" Wang Qiang spoke in a friendly, yet serious manner.
"I have heard of the feats of Wang Qiang. I have been looking forward to this meeting for quite some time. It took a little digging, but we have finally figured out who was behind this whole mess." The Lieutenant approached Wang Qiang as he reached out his hand for a handshake.
Wang Qiang reached out his hand to accept the gesture. However, just before their hands made contact, he felt an overwhelming sense of danger. He immediately reacted, but it was too late.
Wang Qiang's entire body was paralyzed as a sword swung straight for his chest. He was actually being attacked by a member of Blue Oasis! The other five players who were with the Lieutenant moved fast and pressed on with their assault.
The surrounding Cross Haven members were shocked. They would dare to attack their general in such a dishonorable way?! All of the nearby Cross Haven members rushed to the aid of their general.
"Sir, General Wang Qiang has been attacked!" One of the members of Cross Haven reported to Ewan.
"?!" Ewan was shocked. Attacked? How did someone manage to get close enough to attack one of his generals? Or better yet, who had the guts to lay their hands on one of the highest ranking members of Cross Haven? "What of General Wang Qiang? Who was behind the attack?" Ewan said in an extremely calm voice. However, there was a hint of coldness to it.
"General Wang Qiang survived the assault, but if he had been a bit slower then he would have been killed by the surprise attack. Sir, it was members of Blue Oasis. I have already confirmed that the information is accurate." The guild member responded.
Ewan was relieved that one of his generals had not suffered a huge setback. However, that relief was soon replaced by a feeling of coldness by the act of one of his generals being attacked.
"Blue Oasis?" Ewan was bewildered. What reason did Blue Oasis have to attack one of his generals? Could it be that they had overlooked something? One thing was for sure, whoever was responsible would have to pay a price. He wanted answers and he would have to start with Blue Oasis.
"Inform Dragus to gather a small party. We will be heading over to get some answers from Blue Oasis, personally." Ewan was determined to get to the bottom of this. It would not be long until the next wave started and so he had to act fast.
Back within the Chaotic Dogma Realm, Izroth and Aegis were currently walking side by side having a conversation. At first, it was simply idle talk. However, Aegis soon changed the topic at hand.
"Your skills during our previous exchange were quite refined. It is not often that I encounter someone of your skill level." Aegis said.
Izroth maintained a carefree expression, "Your skills were also not bad."
Aegis narrowed his eyes at that response. He felt as if Izroth was trying to intentionally provoke him. However, he could not read this person at all.
"Tell me, what is the meaning of your name?" Aegis asked in a straight forward manner.
Izroth was a little surprised by the sudden question of his name's meaning. This was something he had never been asked before.