To Zephyrwolf, it had always been something distant. Having entered society at an early age, he had experienced the dog-eat-dog and deceptive nature of the world out there. Even the several veterans in Howl of the Tempest Wolves only followed him because he brought them excitement and profit. They were nothing but accomplices who gathered together due to having mutual interests.
But that man… that man trusted him from the bottom of his heart.
Zephyrwolf widened his eyes, the confusion and doubt no longer present in his powerful gaze. He was no tactician, nor was he knowledgeable in strategies. But… he had something in mind which was worth a try.
‘All melee players! Do not leave the city! I repeat, do not leave the city!’
‘All ranged players, stop your attacks!’
‘Players who are still on the battlefield, hurry back to the east gate after you’re dead!’
Zephyrwolf repeated his commands several times, rendering the players baffled. Did he decide to give up? The army of monsters was pressing closer by the moment, yet he ordered them to stay back and cease intercepting the invaders?
In the last three waves, Zephyrwolf had already earned the players’ trust through his tactics and commanding capabilities. All he did was relay Drako Yau’s orders, but the players were oblivious of that. Though unsure of his intentions, the players obeyed him and didn’t make petty moves to oppose his weird commands. As players of Yoda, they were all in the same boat, and they all found it unwise to make things worse for themselves by stirring up trouble right now.
Losing the city was a humongous penalty. Without the city, they would have to travel all the way back to the starter village for restocking supplies after every farming or levelling session. If they ran out of potions and died, their effort and hard-gained levels would be all for naught.
What’s worse was that the starter village did not have warehouses, trade centres, and Skill Masters. It meant the players would have their inventories constantly full, making it troublesome and time-consuming to sort through newly acquired items.
Still, inconvenience was not the main issue. It was the competition between cities. Once a city was lost, players who successfully defended their cities would have a sense of superiority over those who lost their home city. That was the greatest penalty for losing their city—who would want to be inferior to others even in a game?
The monsters were gaining momentum and covering a lot of ground without facing any resistance. They were now no more than a hundred metres away from the east gate.
The beastmen made wild howls of excitement. They couldn’t be bothered to think about why those pesky humans no longer pestered them, for the gate was already right before their eyes. As though they were on drugs, the beastmen ran towards the gate like a mob.
On the city walls, the ranged players were looking at the situation with terror. As the sinister beastmen seemed like they were breaking through any moment now, players started shooting worried glances at Zephyrwolf.
The man stood in front of his demon wolf.
‘Are we still not striking back?’
Hearing the players’ shouts, Zephyrwolf shook his head and muttered, ‘Not just yet…’
‘Not just yet…’
Zephyrwolf’s mind travelled back in time to his child days.
Several teens were standing next to a river. Zephyrwolf was holding a toy water cannon in his hands, the kind which did inflict a bit of pain when shot at others. It was on the slightly more dangerous side of toys. The other teens looked at him anxiously and urged him.
It was the season for fish migration, thus plenty of fish came swimming by from nearby branches of the river. They were almost here, but he remained still and silent. Closer and closer… Closer and closer…
The school of fish overlapped with the army of monsters before his eyes. His hand was now resting next to a mechanical button instead of holding a toy water cannon. The button was connected to a contraption embedded within the eastern walls, indicated by the ancient-looking circuits that resembled lightning.
Twenty five metres…
The school of fish was about to pass right by the teenagers; the army of monsters was about to reach the city walls.
As the beastmen’s feverish growls and roars shook the east gate, the teenager pulled the trigger on the toy water cannon—Zephyrwolf pressed the button connected to the circuits in the walls.
After he pressed the button, motors and gears started rumbling within the walls. The gears creaked as they turned, an amber pattern slowly emerging.
Along with a short spark, an amber arc of light shot out from the eastern gate and expanded in a semi circle, perfectly enveloping the monsters. They did not lose a single point of Health. However, they stood transfixed on the spot, their bodies slightly convulsing.
Mana Shockwave: All enemies within the area will be paralysed and stunned.
Lasts for one minute.
The teenager’s face overlapped with Zephyrwolf’s as they both showed their glittering teeth with a massive grin.
‘Everyone! Slaughter them!!!’
‘Kill them all!!!’
All the melee players had been waiting behind the city walls beforehand for their time to shine. Hearing Zephyrwolf’s shout, everyone charged out through the passages and massacred the immobilised monsters.
Mana Shockwave had disabled the monoeyes and made the monsters vulnerable to ranged attacks once again. Not letting the chance slip, the ranged players also didn’t hold back and started bombarding the battlefield.
While the east gate was triumphing over the monsters thanks to the Mana Shockwave Generator, the west gate was at the brink of ruin. Everyone was stuck within the city and couldn’t head out to the battlefield.
And unlike previous waves, the beastman commander took the field right from the start and hammered the city gate. The players stuck behind the walls could only watch as visible cracks rippled across the gate.
Hades was burning from anxiety. ‘Ranged players, kill the blue monoeyes quickly!’ At the same time, he slammed the button installed onto the western walls.
A system notification rang in his head. ‘Mana Shockwave is in cooldown. Available in: 58 minutes, 37 seconds.’
‘Damn! That piece of trash!’ Hades cursed Zephyrwolf who was taking charge of the east gate, making Zephyrwolf sneeze non-stop.
Truth be told, while the east gate had more players, there were a lot more monsters too. The east gate was not a lot better off compared to the west gate in terms of difficulty. However, it was tactics and strategy which made things a lot worse at the west gate.
Along with a massive bang, the gate was shattered into smithereens. Even the beastman commander was surprised to see the gate break, but it broke into a maniacal laugh the next moment and bared its teeth against the players in the city.
At that very moment, every player who belonged to Yoda heard an announcement.
‘The west gate has been breached. Entering final countdown. The city will be deemed lost if all monsters have not been eliminated or driven out in 30 minutes. Afterwards, all players will be teleported away, and the city will transform into a demon city.’