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Chapter 340: Truth

 Chapter 340: Truth

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

The fight between Manlyn and Shinbella ended quickly. Even though Shinbella had been imprisoned for weeks and was very weak, she was fueled by rage and hatred. Manlyn could face Anfey in a fight, but he couldn't face Shinbella because of his guilt. A few minutes after the fight began, he was struck by Shinbella's great sword.

Maybe out of guilt, Manlyn did not resist. If he had, he might have been able to defeat Shinbella. Shinbella's tactic was powerful, but easy to block. Manlyn, however, did not take advantage of her mistakes. Before he died, he stared at her with sorrow in his eyes.

After Manlyn's death, the quarrel in Moramatch calmed down. Except for a few remaining rebels, most of the mercenaries chose to surrender. For most mercenaries, there was no conflict that could not be solved. They saw what had happened and there was no need to resist.

Anfey became the de facto leader. He had experience governing a hundred people, but there were at least a thousand mercenaries gathered in Moramatch. Taking care of the mess Manlyn left was exhausting. Even though Christian and Blavi were there to assist him, it took almost an entire day take care of everything.

Ozzic told him that Alice had not not busied herself with taking care of the town, but nevertheless the town was running smoothly. Even Manlyn's arrival had not effected it much. Ozzic's words reminded Anfey that he needed to speak to Alice. When he had first met Manlyn, Alice asked him to kill Manlyn for her. Anfey was doubtful then. If it had been another person, perhaps he could lie to her, but he knew that Alice would see through his lie. Anfey was still uncertain about what position he should give Alice. He needed to talk to her to decide whether he was going to trust her or take her power away.

Ozzic led Anfey to Alice's house. He spotted only two guards in the yard. They looked like formally trained soldiers. Anfey thought they must be Kumaraghosha's men. The guards saw Anfey and did not stop him.

Anfey hesitated for a moment then knocked on the door. He waved his hand at Ozzic, who bowed and quickly left.

"Come in," Alice said.

Anfey pushed open the door and walked into the room. Alice's room had simple furnishing. There were a table, a bed, a bookshelf with a few books, and two chairs. Anfey closed the door behind him carefully. He was surprised by the simplicity of Alice's room.

"I'm not surprised that you came," Alice said softly. She should have gotten up and greet him as a hostess, but she kept lying on her bed and did not move. Her tone was cordial, but lacked the respect she held for him before.

"You knew I was coming?" Anfey asked, sitting down on one of the chairs.

Alice nodded slowly.

"You had to think about that question before answering?"

"A lot of trouble can been avoided if we think before we talk."

"From what I've gathered, you're not one to shy away from trouble."

Alice shrugged. "Some troubles are necessary," she said.

Anfey sat back in his chair and stared at her. "Alice," he said after a few moments of silence, "I know you and you know me. We aren't impulsive people. We don't have to act like this."

"I don't understand you."

"You do and I know you do," Anfey said. "What are you trying to show? That you're childish and impulsive? Or are you telling me that I should feel guilty for not believing you?"

Alice narrowed her eyes but did not say anything.

"I think we need to talk, don't you? Or else we won't understand each other. We can even turn on each other. Who knows? Tell me honestly. Why did you announce that I'm gathering an army?"

"Don't you think this is a precious opportunity?" Alice asked quietly. "Necromancers are threatening the entire world, but the four major mercenary groups turned their backs on their people. Our offer is practically a beacon in the darkness for these people. Normally, you can have ten towns like Moramatch, and you're still not the best."

"I don't care who's best," Anfey said. "You know why those mercenary groups refused to help. You know why you don't have the resources to support all these mercenaries."

"I know."

"Then how do you propose we solve this? Where are you going to get food?" Anfey asked. "How many mercenaries are in this country? Ten thousand? A hundred thousand? What will you do if all of them come here? The necromancers don't even need to attack us. All they need to do is surround us and we will all be dead in a week."

Alice looked at him, amused. "I admit you are a smart man," she said with a grin, "but clearly you are severely lacking in certain areas."

Anfey sighed. He was worried because he knew exactly how cunning and brilliant Alice was. "Don't interrupt me," he said. "Tell me, how are you going to solve this?"

"You are overestimating yourself," Alice said with a shrug. "Don't forget, you aren't the best. You aren't even close. You're second-rate, at best. How many mercenaries did you think our announcement would attract? Did you really think even the four super mercenary groups will come?"

"Watch your tone," Anfey said coldly.

Alice chuckled and shook her head. "There are only four super mercenary groups, but there are more than fifty first-rate mercenary groups. The only one willing to come here is Jagged Rose. All the others here are second-rate at best."

"It is still more trouble than we can handle. What are you going to do about refugees?"

"We aren't taking useless people," Alice said. "We have our examiner right outside our walls, don't we?"

"What do you mean?"

"The necromancers have control of Transverse Mountains and are pushing their way into the country. A battle with the necromancers is inevitable if someone wants to reach Moramatch. The mercenaries that arrived here are the survivors. They are experienced and ready to fight. Refugees won't make it this far." Alice paused and smiled. "We are increasing strength without lifting a finger. Tell me, am I wrong?"

Anfey felt a sudden chill looking at Alice's smile. He could picture groups of hopeful mercenaries and refugees being slaughtered by zombies and necromancers. He did not know what kind of a person Alice was before, but her experience in the Country of Mercenaries clearly changed her. But Anfey must admit that only people like Alice could survive in a time such as this.

"I counted. There are about two thousand mercenaries here. How are you feeding them?"

"I never do things I am not prepared for."

Anfey nodded and stared at Alice, who stared back at him. After a few tense moments, Anfey sighed and said, "We'll talk about this later. I want to talk about Manlyn. He's not someone who would fall for a trap that easily. What did you do to make him trust you so much?"

"He knew who I was."


"He had visited Shansa Empire before."

"You two knew each other?"

"He knows of me," Alice corrected him. "I have no memories of him."

Anfey nodded. A princess would never waste her time with the leader of a mercenary group. "And then?"

Alice licked her lips and said calmly, "He kept trying to insert himself in my group of confidants. He respected me, even more so than Ozzic and the others. I gave him some power to keep him interested."

"Didn't you realize how ambitious he was?"

"Do you take me for a fool?" Alice asked with a smile. "Manlyn was ambitious, but he was not a good actor. We all knew what he wanted." Alice sighed and continued, "He wanted power. He wanted me. Of course, I could use that to my advantage."

"Don't forget that I gave you Moramatch," Anfey said.

"I thought you would understand," Alice said softly. "It seems like you still do not understand my plan."

"I'm waiting for an explanation," Anfey said. He was good at reading people, but Alice was a politician and she knew how to conceal her emotions. He needed to speak to her honestly so he could understand her.