Princess Sonya was amazed by the rapid changes occurring in the duchy. Particularly, the army whose divisions were growing more and more apparent.

She had no idea who was moving the strings. It was less than likely that this person was from the Alliance. It's already ridiculous enough for three crown prince candidates to come here.

After some study of the region, she wanted to finish off the Duke Jataur along with the capital star as well as other important stars.

'I have a rough idea on how to destroy this duchy but destroyed a duchy along with its duke and without him are two different things.'

As she wondered how to find the sly, paranoid duke, a piece of unexpected news came knocking.

<Prince Oleg has returned from enemy lands victoriously! He assumed his throne and declared a war on traitors!>

'The business houses are fleeing, the army is dealing with its own troubles, he struck at the perfect spot.' Princess Sonya couldn't help but admire the man's timing.

A few snippets were shown in the piece of news.

The first one displayed Prince Oleg crowning himself and encountering some dissent in the court by some older, loyal officials.

"To stand between me and the duchy's revival, risking the duchy's future to save your traitorous friends, bold!"

Eleven senior and loyal courtiers' heads rolled that day.

The supposed relief from the Prince's return took a sharp turn and evoked fear in the officers that were hopeful.

Things only got darker.

Oleg conveyed a public execution of some talented princes, terming them all as traitors and along with them, he also killed a few who were caught trying to leave the duchy to the 'promised paradise'.

The capital turned bloody in 24 hours and the army, which was already trying to find the dissidents was forced to pay close attention.

But Oleg's actual play only started then. The prince, no, the duke started ordering the army on its operations.

"If that many rank 4s can escape, it's obvious there are rank 5 traitors in you and I dare say…rank 6."

Such conferences weren't supposed to be broadcasted. But the man new to authority was too drunk on his overnight status to care about such trivial things.

Two important reactions followed.

The loyal faction in the military—which constituted the majority of rank 5s and rank 6s—felt insulted and betrayed. To prove their own loyalty, they began to name the ones who they deemed suspicious.

It unravelled like a can of worms and six rank 5s were voted to be the most likely traitors—given their political views which were a harsh critique of the previous duke. The six were executed in public, brutally.

But unlike what the prince intended, this has the opposite effect.

The loyal faction questioned the need for their loyalty when the Duke had abandoned them, wasn't seen for days and according to rumors, fled to a safe haven.

The fall out from this meeting also caused a massive panic in public, pushing a narrative that even the army was looking to escape this hell.

The terrible situation grew even more horrifying.

This triggered a response reaction in the army. The duchy they protected was disintegrating in front of their very eyes.

'What am I fighting for?'

Beyond all expectations, a fight broke out the next day and under the leadership of more than a dozen rank 5 officers, a not so insignificant chunk of the army fled.

…And that's how Varian received his first batch of rank 5 Zions.

Unfortunately, the space crack was already overused by this point. Even with his slivers' usage, it grew chaotic. None of the rank 2s and below that boarded the ship survived the journey.

The space crack was supposed to last for decades thanks to the precious, perhaps even a unique treasure used by the Abyss Emperor.

But as Varian split it into multiple pieces and used it roughly, the first space crack collapse began.

Still, looking at the dozen rank 5s, hundred rank 4s and even more rank 3s, Varian felt a sense of satisfaction.

"Hazel, inform them that the paradise is closing in three, no, two days."

"The fights would grow way more intense! And this might even call some rank 6s…is that okay?"

"That's exactly what I want." Varian chuckled.

With the manipulation of a man far away, Zion underwent its next upheaval.

Duke Oleg who was already seething due to the 'betrayal' on his first ruling day went berserk when he learned about these rumors.

So, he called all the rank 5s and rank 6s into a single conference hall.

"We're going to spend our two days here. No one is taking a step outside." The air grew heavy and the officers looked at each other in shock and fear.

"Announce it for the world to see." He clapped his hands and a broadcast began.

"No one cares about your lies, foreigner! None of my army officers believe your false promises." Oleg spoke bravely to the screen.

But in doing so, he exposed the location of the hall through its famous background and the fact that he gathered the strongest members of the duchy in one place.

While this went on, Prince Merov followed his teacher's instructions and sneaked his three slave creatures into the capital city: a winged wolf, a white tiger and

tri-head snake.

Due to the actions of Duke Oleg, even people guarding sensitive areas were disturbed.

The winged wolf, the best at detection, had its talents amplified by its < Paragon > Path.

So, even though there were many anti-detection formations all over the capital, the wolfy detected a secret location in the capital. A location where a suspicious golden formation lay dormant.

When the image got transmitted back, his teacher's voice rang in his ear.

"Yes, that's it! That thing can kill even peak rank 7s! It should've been set to activate when it senses the aura of any powerful rank 7 nearby. Nasty trick. The duke of this region has no problems destroying his own capital if he can end the enemy."

Merov pursed his lips in disdain. It's just a trick in the end. Before sufficient strength, any trick went useless.

"That new duke, Olek, was it? He should be on the purple moon circling the capital planet." Merov declared with a smug smile.

He wanted to appeal to his teacher that even though he didn't think much, when he did, he could be quite smart. But even a 9-year old would've recognized the purple moon from Oleg's broadcast.

"Y-Yeah, you're quite something, disciple." His teacher praised his nonetheless.

Merov nodded in satisfaction and with a simple instruction, the three slave creatures collectively attacked the formation. It hummed in protest before it tried to activate. Thanks to their team effort, the formation was quickly disabled.

When it did, an aura shockwave swept through the main star system. Emergency alarms that many officers didn't even know existed rang off.

Duke Oleg sat dumbfounded, unable to grasp what the hell just happened.

"Enemy attack!"

"It's an enemy attack!"

"The capital has been breached!"

"This alarm rings only when a rank 7 enemy sneaked in!"

Thanks to a few 'allies' in the meeting, Hazel was able to learn about this development shortly after. And she spread it quickly.

The news spread like a forest fire and soon, everyone on the streets was panicking.

The intense disturbance alarmed Princess Sonya and the emergency rescue messages were sent to every powerhouse outside, but particularly, to Sage Nevar and Prince Xoler.

"Teacher, now that the formation is disabled, should I ask my slaves to end that star system?" Prince Merov asked in a casual tone, not sparing the slightest thought on how this would impact billions.

"The planets in main star are almost always enchanted with defense formations. If you don't go and break them yourself, your slaves will take more time than you'd like, opening a possibility for variables.

Remember, this is a foreign land. Once you make a decisive attack, destroy as many star systems as possible and rush back to Centaurus. This isn't a place to stay!"

"Urgh, seriously," Merov groaned in frustration and his figure vanished.

On the outskirts of the capital star system, Princess Sonya appeared in her battle attire. Remaining in full stealth, she observed the unexpected development.

They had just one chance at attacking.

The normal defense formations in the capital city began to fire into activation.