Friday, April 23, 2021

Page 3148

It was probably the latter, though. If Carl had that much power at his disposal, then he would have been able to take care of the Beast of Lorent all on his own. Sure, it was possible that the Vanguard had only very recently sent him more troops or something, but Hector doubted it.

It sure would've been nice if Jackson himself decided to show up to help, though. If the guy's reputation was anything to by, then Hector wouldn't mind meeting him. Plus, there weren't very many Rainlords around at the moment, so it might actually be safe to talk to him. Maybe.

The most recent rumors about Jackson weren't quite so pleasant, what with him supposedly having been gravely wounded by the Mad Demon, but that was a while ago. No matter what Morgunov's machines had done to him, Jackson had to have recovered by now.

...Right?

Hector tried not to linger on that particularly question too much. Hell, even if Jackson just sent some of his troops their way, that'd be great. The guy must've had tons of strong dudes working under him.

Eventually, Krigoth got back to him about Garovel's earlier question. Could the scouting team identify specific combatants in the enemy encampments?

'No,' was the reaper's unfortunate answer. 'Isaac's team has been looking for nearly an hour now, but none of the big names have appeared out in the open.'

'So the camps really could be decoys, then,' said Garovel. 'We have to assume that the major players area already on the move. Let's get everyone into the Tower of Night. It's the safest place for all non-combatants.'

Hector could only agree, and soon enough, everyone was moving. It was a bit overly cautious, he knew, since the attackers were almost certainly going to pop up in Lorent before Atreya, but if ever there was a time to be overly cautious, it was now. And besides, with so many people abroad, the Tower of Night had more than enough space. They wouldn't be cramped in here at all.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Page 3147

<"Hah! If there was, I wouldn't tell you,"> said Carl. <"It's far too early to be sharing privileged information like that with an outsider like you. We still don't even know if this attack is real. Zaman could be bullshitting us as part of some larger scheme. You shouldn't be so quick to trust that snake in the grass.">

Ah, that was more like it. "How about reinforcements from a private security firm, then? Last I checked, the Lorentian Security Council was talking about rehiring Greenworth for exactly this reason. Did that deal ever get approved?"

<"No, but I've advised the President to push it through using his emergency war powers.">

"Think he'll listen?"

<"Doubt it. And even if he does, I don't think Greenworth will be too eager to work with Lorent again. With the war on, mercenary groups will have their pick of clients, right now. And the last time Greenworth was here, our damn media raked them over the coals, which hurt their reputation internationally, no doubt. Other firms won't find that type of treatment too appealing, either, I'm sure.">

Damn.

<"Still, if we manage to land a new contract, I'll be sure to let you know.">

Hmm. That almost sounded nice of him. "Thanks."

Carl didn't have much more to tell him after that. Hector asked about how many he had available to defend P.J. and what their relative levels of strength were, but no matter how diplomatically he tried to phrase it, the man wouldn't provide him with details.

Hector hoped that was just because Carl was a stingy bastard and not because the guy was afraid to admit how weak they were.

Page 3146

He made the call to Carl Rondel next. He was relieved to hear that Ravi had kept his word.

<"Yeah, I just heard,"> said Carl. <"I'm mobilizing my forces now. How long you can get here?">

"To Riverton, P.J.?" said Hector. "I'm not sure that's where I should be going."

<"Hmm? You have somewhere else in mind?">

"Not yet. But I doubt Abolish would hit the capital first. And if all our forces are consolidated there, then our response will be equally slow whenever they do show up."

<"You planning to just sit on your ass in your castle, then?">

More biting words as usual from Mr. Rondel. Hector almost wanted to retort immediately, but he caught himself.

He wasn't obligated to tell Mr. Rondel anything about his plans. And in fact, he didn't even trust the guy all that much. It might've been better to keep his own movements to himself. If Abolish somehow found out that Hector wasn't at Warrenhold and decided to attack it while he was gone...

Well, that was a worst-case scenario that needed to be avoided at all costs.

But he also didn't want to outright refuse to say anything, either. That'd be unnecessarily hostile towards a potential ally. Maybe a little white lie would be better, then. "Yes," said Hector. "For now, I'll continue to wait here and observe. If P.J. gets attacked, I promise I'll dispatch reinforcements immediately, but I expect the first place that needs help will be somewhere else."

<"Hmph,"> was all Carl said.

Which was a bit surprising, actually. Hector had expected the man to give him a piece of his mind. "Any word on extra reinforcements from your end? Like from Jackson?"