At the top of the city wall in Thesewal, a border city near the Fulgur region where Jack had visited during their expedition to the Temple of the Divine Squall, stood two figures. However, these figures were not the usual human soldiers. Instead, they were the green hulking humanoids better known as orcs. The two orcs were the father and son of the Raretooth tribe, Abdu and Abasi Raretooth.

They were the ones who led one of the three expeditionary forces that crossed into the Themisphere kingdom and drew the first blood. They were the vanguard army tasked to seize a solid foothold to serve as the main base for the rest of their army which was still on the way. Thesewal had been one of the towns chosen for these footholds.

The defending army in Thesewal didn't have enough men to defend against the large force Abdu brought. Their scouts had spotted Abdu's approaching army two days before that army arrived in Thesewal, but those two short days were not enough for reinforcement to come to their aid. They fought valiantly. The battle lasted for a few days. But ultimately Guss, the acting mayor and the highest-ranking officer in Thesewal, saw that it was impossible to hold the town. So, he sounded the retreat to reduce casualties.

Before he left, Guss made sure to burn the supplies that they couldn't take with them. This was an order given by the newly appointed chief strategist for this war.

That was five days ago. At this time, the town was already completely under Abdu's control. The news Abdu had received mentioned that the other two expeditionary forces had also successfully occupied the other two border towns. Their entire army should complete their crossing in around one week. Then they could start organizing for the real battle. Because by now, the Themisphere kingdom should also be mobilizing their army.

In Abdu's opinion, Themisphere's act was rather swift. The intelligence they gathered said that at this time, Themisphere's army was already amassing outside their capital. Even though they had sent a war declaration to Themisphere a day before they hit Thesewal, as was dictated by their custom, Themisphere's response was still considered fast.

While contemplating, Abdu watched the distant plains with a calm expression. Abasi, on the other hand, was somehow agitated.

"Something in your mind?" Abdu asked.

"I just feel it is a pity that it takes us this long to invade," Abasi answered. "Damn those cowardly Lord Chiefs. If they had agreed to our proposal to invade Themisphere sooner, we would have caught them when the human princes were fighting among themselves one month ago. It would have been easier to crush them then."

"If they have asked us to invade then, I would have proposed for us to delay."

"What? Why? Father, I don't understand."

Abdu smiled. "Because it reminds me of an old story. There was a chieftain in the past who was urged by his officers to attack a neighboring country. That particular country was embroiled in civil war at the time. However, instead of complying with the request, the chieftain invited his officers to the training square. He ordered some dogs brought to the square and then pitted the dogs to fight against one another. While the dogs were fighting, the chieftain brought a wolf in. When these dogs noticed the wolf, they ceased fighting and instead engaged the wolf. From this incident, the chieftain explained to his officers that however fierce a war inside a nation, it would stop when outsiders invade. The war participants would then redirect their aggression against the outsiders."

Abasi contemplated the tale. "Father… You mean if we have invaded then, the princes would have stopped their infighting and worked together against us."

"Working together is an unknown, but they will for sure stop fighting one another and come at us, even if separately."

"I see…"

"Now, instead, they have lost quite a lot of men in that civil war. As well as several talented officers. Most importantly, they have lost one of their three Lord Marshals."

"Arther Pendrake? I heard that he only quits the army, not dies. Won't he rejoin when his country is under threat?"

"Hehe. He won't. We have studied his personality. He is a hard-headed person who values his pride. If he joins again so soon after he announced his retirement, it will be like throwing mud at his own face. He won't do it, even for the sake of his country."

"That's great. With only two Lord Marshalls, they won't be able to stand against our three war chiefs."

"Still, don't underestimate our enemies, I've heard that Duchess Isabelle, the prior court sorceress, had regained her full strength. She had even fought Arther to a standstill during the civil war."

"What's to fear? We also brought our shaman king. We have four high-level mythical-grade combatants, they only have three."

"That's right. Our troops and outworlders are also more experienced in warfare. We should be at an advantage. Still, as I said. Do not underestimate our enemies. Such behavior is the downfall of any leader."

"Yes, father," Abasi said.

Abdu nodded and returned his calm gaze to the distance. Yet, if someone looked closely, they would see the fiery passion in his eyes. He was expectant for the coming conflict.

Jack sent a message to Wilted advising her of the situation, telling her that it was unlikely that Themisphere could send reinforcement at this time. Wilted pitied the situation but there was nothing they could do about it.

Jack and Paytowin used the guild return scroll and appeared in Heavenly Citadel. He first went and made preparation to settle Paytowin in their headquarters before handing the ancient battleground legacy and brave golem blueprint to Tip who was inside the Guild Hall. As for the Mana Gathering Stone, Jack kept it.

Tip's eyes were so wide that Jack worried they might fall out.

John and Jeanny were not there because Jeanny had informed Jack that they were at the palace. The high-ranking officers were being assembled and they would be briefed soon on the war plan that the prince and the others had been discussing in the past few days. Jeanny told Jack to come as soon as possible because Jack was also a part of the plan.

Jack planned to use the Mana Gathering Stone on their Time Chamber. The stone would increase the density of the mana inside the chamber, thus allowing one to better learn mana sense and mana manipulation. In addition to the compressed time within the chamber, they should be able to see many members' improvement in mana control in a short time. However, he wanted to let Jeanny copy it first so that they could use it on the other guild structures as well.

After leaving, Jack teleported to Thereath and headed directly to the palace. He saw Jeanny was waiting for him by the gate. She immediately led him inside. In the large courtyard, Jack saw many soldiers busying about. Jeanny told him that outside the capital, there were even more soldiers that had been called upon from all corners of the country to face this invasion. Jack didn't see them because he had teleported directly into the capital.

"So, John is already inside?" Jack asked.

"Yeah, he had been devising a plan with Prince Alonzo and the others these past few days. Today was the day where the big shots from the army arrived and they would be informing them of the war plan."

"Wow. He has truly come far, eh?"

"Yeah, after the last civil war, most had acknowledged his ability. Especially the prince and royal advisor Mason. With their backings, he had been appointed the chief strategist for the current war operation."

"Chief strategist…? Let me say again, wow! I guess he had moved even higher than me in this kingdom."

"Not really. The prince also wants to give you a major role in this war. The orcs had come invading from three different fronts, so our armies are also divided into three to face each of them. Two out of the three armies are being commanded by the two remaining Lord Marshalls of this country. The third one, the prince wanted you to lead them."

"What? Me…? Are you serious? Ain't there a more suitable candidate? For example, lord commander Armstrong?"

"Lord Commander Armstrong will serve as your right-hand man," Jeanny said with a smile.

"Hah? And he is okay with that arrangement?"

"He didn't show any objection when the prince discussed with him."

"Hm… I don't know… Sound like a heavy responsibility."

"Then you should learn to bear one already! In our guild, you are always a leader in name only. Time to act like one!"

"Uh, I think you are more suited to command this army, but yes, ma'am. I will try my best."

"Actually, it was John who pitched the idea. Prince Alonzo supported it. Royal advisor Mason didn't object, so it was decided that way. Of course, if you haven't shown up today, they will decide to have Armstrong replace you."

"Knowing John, I hazard he has a purpose of pitching me to be the third army general."

"Yeah. He said he needs someone on the ground that can maneuver following his every command. The two Lord Marshals will most likely be difficult."

"And he expects me to follow his every beck and call?"

Jeanny shrugged. She said, "Aside from that, the third army will also be the one that incorporates players into the army. The first and second armies led by the Lord Marshals will be fully filled with native soldiers. Same as during the civil war, the war summon quest has been announced a few days ago. After players learned of the last war, most are eager to join now. The kingdom has received a staggering number of volunteers from players all across Themisphere."

"How many is a staggering number?" Jack asked.

"Five hundred thousand," Jeanny replied.