Chapter 20:

Negotiation and War


To ensure no scheming can be done, Vera has made sure to separate all of Leo’s party members into their own room. The accommodation was still great as each room is very well decorated and well maintained for royalty guests. The five rooms are in different parts to make sure they can’t communicate through walls. they are all still situated within the same general area for easier security access. Each room has their own guards that work in shifts to constantly watch them. Even bathroom trips have to be requested and escorted by the guards to make sure they are well monitored. The only time the party can meet up is for lunch or dinner, where they would eat in a private dining area with Vera herself. Leo noticed the hectic mood that everyone in the building seems to be in. Guild members constantly run around, presumably preparing for the battle to come. Multiple arrangements were being made by Vera to ensure their advantage in the upcoming battle. It seems like this problem was larger in scale than they could ever expect when they first escaped from Abania.

“That crazy old man. I can’t tell what he’s thinking.”- Vera can be heard mumbling to herself at dinner.

“So, what is your decision? Maybe you will finally let us leave peacefully? That way you can avoid a fight too.”- Natalie teases.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I wouldn’t want to be rude by kicking my guests out like that.”- Vera cheekily replied.

“The food here is great.”- Claudius said, munching down on the meal.

“See! He gets it.”- Vera said with a smile.

“I have to somehow find an opportunity to talk to at least one of the members. I’m sure Vera is preventing us from making decisions by separating us like this.”- Leo thought, looking around.

His chance never came as everyone soon finished their dinner and were escorted back to their room. Unexpectedly, when they got close to their room, Natalie slapped Sophia’s boobs, making her jump back.

“WHA…WHA... WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?”- Sophia hugs her boobs, blushing bright red.

“Nothing, it just seems like your boobs have grown quite considerably.”- Natalie said.

Sophia gave off a perverted grin as Leo and Amber facepalmed.

“Hey.. Natalie…”- Leo tried to say something.

“What’s up?”- Natalie asks.

“Well, nothing actually.”- Leo stopped himself as he noticed the guards looking at both of them.

It would be too risky to talk about a plan right now, so Leo decided to stop for the day. As he laid down on his bed, Leo got a headache just trying to come up with what to do. Morning quickly arrived. It's officially 3 days after Doppel’s initial deal with Vera. Today is the deadline for the decision. Looking outside the window, Leo can see numerous horse drawn carriages outside. It’s filled with powerful adventurers under the Sanc Gladius banner coming back from different corners of the continent in anticipation of the battle.

“Our leader has summoned you for the meeting.”- A guard can be heard outside the door.

“Coming.”- Leo replies, walking outside.

His fellow party members were also summoned, all leaving their room one by one. They were escorted once more to the main room. The hallway is packed with Sanc Gladius members. The mood is tense. Walking into the room, Leo can see Vera, along with Garnet, Saura and Zorgis behind her. Doppel can also be seen on the other side of the room, although it's reasonable to assume that it’s just one of his clones. He is accompanied by Lorcan, with multiple Alias United and Elqium members behind them. Lorcan gives a very creepy smile once he sees Amber enter the room, licking his lips like he needs some hydration. Amber gave a disgusted look in return, which seemed to turn him on even more.

“Now that everyone is h-... well, we’re missing the old man.”- Vera said.

“Rest assured, Velh has entrusted us with his crest. This should be sufficient in proving that he is working with us.”- Lorcan said, pulling out a brown crest.

The crest was then handed over to a maid, who carried it over to Vera. She looked at it, checking for its authenticity. After a swift look, she handed it back to the maid, who in turn returned it to Lorcan.

“It looks real enough. I’ll take your word for it, let's start negotiating then.”- Vera smiles.

“This is bad, everyone is so tense here. I doubt we can even run away with this many people watching.”- Leo gets nervous, looking around.

“As we all know. My good friend, Amber, over here recently came up to me for protection. She was running away from a certain deviant that was after her.”- Vera said.

“Pfft, we all know that’s a lie.”- Leo thought to himself, looking at Vera.

“Well, I’m sorry if Doppel gave off the wrong impression. I didn’t mean to scare you like that. Now, come back to me Amber. I promise I’ll treat you well. As proof, I even made sure to punish the girls that hurt you.”- Lorcan stands up from his seat, completely ignoring Vera and only looking at Amber.

“Ew no. I’m not going back with you.”- Amber says in disgust.

“I reckon your new ‘friends’ over there have been implanting some negative thoughts into your head. Rest assured, I know you are being lied to. You belong only to me.”- Lorcan creepily said.

“Looks like you are really far gone Lorcan. Do keep in mind that I’m the one talking to you here.”- Vera said in a more serious tone.

“Sorry. Let’s get this done quickly then.”- Lorcan turned over to Vera, replying with a very straightforward and cold tone.

“1 million gold coins. I’ll give you the bounty that was promised. You also get to avoid conflict with us.”- Lorcan offered.

“You must be kidding. You think we’re afraid of a war? You don’t want me to remind you why we are the best in the continent.”- Vera sternly stated.

“10 million gold coins.”- Vera said.

“HUH?!?!”- Leo looked over in shock at how crazy the amount of money was.

The room immediately fills with whispers from both sides, surprised by the sheer amount.

“Let’s be realistic here, I doubt even you could muster up that ridiculous amount if you were in my shoes.”- Lorcan looked at Vera.

“That’s true. At best you can probably gather only up to 3 million coins by emptying your treasury. However, we aren’t talking to just you. Your friend over there has plenty of money to spare.”- Vera pointed over at Doppel.

“You think The Mercantile Alliance would cough up that amount of money for you?”- Doppel becomes furious.

“If you value your so-called ‘friendship’ with Mr. Lorcan over here, I doubt requesting a few millions from your sponsors would be too difficult.”- Vera smiles.

“We have known each other for quite a long time now. You know I can’t make Doppel do that. How about 3 million gold coins?”- Lorcan offers.

“Hmm… 7 millions and half of your raid rewards for the next year.”- Vera replied.

Lorcan is visibly upset at the audacity of the deal Vera offered, but he seems to have force himself to calm down.

“3 million and 10% of our raid reward for the next 2 months.”- Lorcan compromises.

“I’m willing to get 10% of your raid reward. However, the amount of gold coins can’t go under 8 million. Your friend here can make up the amount you lack, maybe even the old man can chime in.”- Vera confidently sets it forward.

“I understand. Then it shall be war.”- Lorcan stares directly at a smiling Vera.

“You don’t know what you have just gotten yourself into. Whatever value you see in keeping Amber in your grasp is not worth it. I promise you, you’ll regret it once your guild is dismantled.”- Lorcan stands up, leaving the room.

Doppel and the rest of their group also followed along, all leaving the room.

“This chick is bonkers. There’s no way in hell anyone would take her deal. She came into this negotiation with the intention of war from the very beginning.”- Leo stares at Vera in shock.

“HAHAHA! That was great, did you all see the look on their faces?!”- Vera teases.

Leo’s party can’t help but stand there surprised. They didn’t know what to say.

“Well, you all heard it for yourself. Time for war!”- Vera said.

The hallway fills with cheers of Sanc Gladius members, as if they wanted to fight from the get go. It’s going to be a tough battle 1 on 3, but Vera seemed very confident in her guild’s ability to win.

“Knowing Lorcan, I’m sure his guild is camped out somewhere near the capital. They’ll strike at night, so we’ll meet them at the outskirts of the capital. Guards, take our guests back to their room. I have important things to discuss with my generals.”- Vera said, waving goodbye.

“Guests my ass, we are her prisoners at this point. She wanted to keep Amber around for her own benefits. At the rate that this is going, we’ll be stuck here forever!”- Leo’s thoughts start to panic.

As they are being escorted back to their room, Leo looks at his members.

“We need a way to regroup and discuss our course of action.”- Leo thought.

“Hey, I kind of need to go to the bathroom. I think I drank too much water earlier.”- Leo awkwardly smiles and asks.

“Unfortunately, I can’t allow that. You can go once all of you have returned to your room. That’s just the order given, sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.”- The guard politely answers.

“Shit, I didn’t think it through. Um…”- Leo thought to himself.

“Oh...Hahahaha.”- Leo laughs.

There was an awkward silence as everyone looked at Leo in confusion. He then rushes at his group members, only to be tackled by the guard.

“LET ME TALK TO THEM. YOU CAN’T SILENCE ME. WAIT FOR ME GUYS, I’ll BUST US OUT AT 7PM”- Leo shouts as the guards try to silence him.

Amber and Natalie facepalms, looking at the idiot. The guards tied up the resisting Leo, trying to keep him calm.

“WATCH YOUR FINGERS, BOOTYHOLE MAN!”- Leo completely lost it.

“Uh.. I’m a woman.”- One of the guards replies.

“Don’t listen to him. Stop him from talking.”- Another guard said, taking a cloth and gagging Leo’s mouth.

The members are once again escorted back to their own separate room. Leo is brought to his room and chained to a chair. As much as he tries to struggle, he can’t seem to get out of it. All hope seems to be lost as time starts to pass. At lunch time, instead of having a group meal as usual, the guards took precaution by bringing the meals to each member. Leo, of course, has to be spoon fed his meal as he mocks the guard, only to be kicked by her. Just as quickly as lunch, dinner arrived in the same fashion. The clear difference in the atmosphere can be felt as a lot of the guild members already left the building to prepare for the battle. It is now 7:15 PM., a few hours before their summoning to the battlefield. Certainly they won’t be fighting, but Vera would want to keep them around as bait for Lorcan to charge in. Our idiot of a main character has already given up on the idea of busting his party members out at 7, he couldn’t even break himself out. With all of his will, he still yells loudly, forcing all the guards to enter his room.

As Natalie sits quietly in her room, she looks at the clock. It reads: 7:30 PM. As she closes her eyes, knocks can be heard on the door.

“Are you a pervert?”- Natalie nonchalantly asks.

“Sigh… Yes.”- A voice can be heard on the other side of the door.

Natalie quickly stands up and walks to the door as it’s being unlocked from the outside. As the door opens, one of the guards and Sophia can be seen standing outside. They quickly enter her room, with Natalie poking her head out, looking at the hallway to make sure no one spots them.

“What took you so long?”- Natalie asks.

“My guard took his time to get to me. It’s all thanks to Leo scaring them with his threat of busting us out.”- Sophia replies.

“Ok, let’s continue what we agreed upon. You are going to head to Amber’s room and bring her here. Got it, Claudius?”- Natalie asks, looking at the guard.

“Uh, got it, but where is she again?”- Claudius asks while disguised as one of the guards.

“Just look at the map I drew again. Here, I’ll show you where to go.”- Natalie said, explaining the layout to Claudius.

Natalie’s plan has finally been put into action as she has also been trying to bust the group out. Staying behind, she and Sophia would wait and hope for Claudius to be successful in his attempt. The clock reads: 7:48 PM.