INSIDE THE STRONGHOLD
‘What does that store?’ Azief pointed to one of the shed.
‘That is our food storage. That is meat’ he pointed to one of the shed,
‘That is vegetables.’ Hamad pointed to another shed like barn
‘And what’s that?’ Sofia pointed to another one with 10 guards posted around it. Azief also curios about that shed since it is so heavily protected.
‘That is our Rewards and Acquisition Shed.’
‘Rewards and acquisition shed? What’s that?’ Azief ask
‘That is where we put our skill books, pills, potions, weapons, armour and the rest of the world orb system.’
Hearing this Sofia and Azief both are shocked but they do not shows their shock on their expressions.
Then Sofia asked,
‘Why would you do that?’ Clearly Sofia is puzzled.
Azief on the other hand began understanding what this stronghold is all about. Control he deduced.
Looking at the people inside the stronghold they are mostly civilians. Looking at the guards, there are warriors as the foot soldiers.
Archers guarded the watchtowers. Knights as the vanguards. Mages as long distance weapons. Support class as the hospitals.
These are systematic, in order….but mostly…..controlled.
If not how could they create this kind of environment? Their classes, their specialties is decided by the higher ups that control this stronghold.
Azief could see this in just one glance.
Heh, it seems there are some ambitious people out there. Hamad was entertaining Sofia, answering all her question when suddenly Lord Shadow ask
‘What is the hierarchy inside this stronghold?’
Hearing this, Hamad also hesitates to tell Lord Shadow because, he in a way, could guess what Lord Shadow reactions going to be, but then with a sigh he said.
‘Let us enter one of the barrack and speak there.’ He said.
Azief and Sofia nodded. It seems that this conversation would be private. They walked to the barrack.
When Hamad enters he quickly orders all the officers and the recruits inside the barrack to clear the place.
The only one inside the barrack is the Captains, Vice-Captain, Hamad, Sofia and Azief.
Azief sit down and Sofia sat beside him. Then Hamad also sits down while the captains and Vice-Captain still stand and then Hamad begin his explanation
‘When the Light fell, we didn’t know what to do’ he said bitterly.
‘All around us was tall trees, and green grass. We heard monsters, we saw zombies eaten by some moving trees. It was terrifying and we were always in peril. For a few days we move in silence. We lose people. Then we reach what used to Mentakab. There…..we meet the Vice Commander.’
And saying this, clearly there is a hint of awe and respect in Hamad tone regarding this man called the Vice Commander
‘Vice Commander?’ Sofia said puzzled.
‘When the Fall began, Putrajaya crumbles, KL was destroyed, ravaged by monsters. Millions died in a single days, cities were burned and turns to ash. From the ashes, comes a group. They called themselves the Party for All Malaysians.’
‘A political party in the middle of an apocalypse?’ and Azief almost break character and laugh but he endures it.
‘Not a political party’ Hamad said and this time his facial expression was clearly hinting to something dark.
‘A military one. It was led by two generals.’
‘You mean real military?’ Azief said. But one thing stays in his mind. The words that Hamad said, sparked soothing in his mind.
The words, two generals and something clicked in his mind, the wheels turning as a few thing is enlightened to him.
He didn’t say anything neither is his expression betrays his newfound information but he clearly has some ideas about some things and even though it is just a conjecture at this points, at least he has a place to start from.
He did not ask the name of the two generals instead he keep on listening to Hamad
‘Don’t know’ Hamad said. Then he continued
‘I don’t really know whether the General really did come from the military or not but they possesses enough people following them and establishes a stronghold in the middle of KL after the beast retreated. Everyone been calling them general and they do look the part. The reason why they built the stronghold in the middle of Kl is because when the meteor strikes, there is some those meteorites that crashed to the earth right?’
‘That meteorite that falls did not bring the monsters. They bring the Teleport stones.’ Then Hatta explain to the duo about teleport stones.
‘So, that’s the reason they build a stronghold there!’ Azief exclaimed.
Now wonder! If the teleport stone could transport the low level players to other part of the country, to every state, this party could gain control and information easily.
‘Yes, so they could send their army to pacify the country.’ Hamad said excitedly. Clearly he supports this party.
But Azief clearly could not agree with this. Sending armies? Establishing controls? These are the worst case scenario he once thought of.
Some selfish people, is carving Malaysia and creating their own sphere of influence. Warlords…..are emerging.
And what better way to carve a fallen nation then during chaos, by offering safety and security…..by sacrificing liberty and freedom?
While Azief is conjecturing in his mind about all the things he found about this stronghold, Sofia ask Hamad.
‘How does this got to do with you?’ Sofia asked.
‘Well, when we reached Mentakab we saw that there is a stronghold and we enter the gates. Entering we were given a choice. Either we join them and relinquish our World Orb items or after three days we would be evicted from the stronghold.’
Threats, huh? Azief mused. That would work.
‘And you choose to stay. Protection by sacrificing liberty. Hmph’ Azief snorted. He clearly looks down on such person.
How could they become stronger like that? Hamad, Hatta, and Sita and the Vice Captains all smiles bitterly.
‘Not all people are like you, Lord Shadow.’ Hamad said bitterly. How could a strong man like Lord Shadow understand?
Weak people have their ways. “You can’t run away” is an ideal for the strong.
And not all people are as brave or could endure what happens after the fall. Some lost loved ones and could no longer get up.
Some lost courage and give up. Some found no other meanings, and they stop.
But hope……hope keeps the heart alive. And the Party is a beacon of hope for the weak. A hope of normalcy, a hope for security….a hope for things to get better.
And in front of hope…people will be blinded by any logic and reason, and would surrender almost anything.
To people who can stay and stand their ground, to not be swayed and get up from their despair, to not lose courage and to find a purpose in this new world, these people could easily see the discrepancies of the intention of this Party.
Because these kind of people…..are strong. Both mind and body. Seeing Hamad and his subordinates bitterly accepting their positions, Azief could not stand it.
‘Hmph. Was I born strong? In the beginning, I was also weak!’ He shot back to Hamad.
Sofia glares at Azief and Azief stop rebuking them. Calming himself down, he asked these people a question
‘How many?’ Azief asked them
‘How many what?’
‘How many of these strongholds have these generals constructed and how many states have they pacified?’
‘From what I heard from our last messengers, four states have had the stronghold and each stronghold is now trying to pacify each region.’
‘Which states?’ Lord Shadow asked
‘Pahang, Terengganu, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur’ Hamad replies again
‘And the hierarchy?’
‘Recruits, Normal Recruits, Officers, Vice-Captain, Captains, Head Captain, Vice Commander, Commander, Vice General, General.’
‘Pretty simple’ Sofia said, nodding her head
‘Yes, this is the beginning.’ Hatta said from behind
‘And each thing is regulated, no?’ Azief said, and there is a trace of ridicule here. Hamad obviously did not miss that ridicule and his face redden.
He very much supported the Party and its vision for a new Malaysia, and very much desires the peace that Malaysian have protected and preserve for 59 years.
‘Yes.’ Hamad replied in a slightly higher tone
‘Skill books, items, pills all this belong to the individuals.’ Azief coldly said
‘The Generals are trying to create back the former government’ Hamad said proudly.
As he used to work for the government he is very loyal to the government which is why he so easily enters the Party.
‘By exploiting the weak and desperate?’ Azief asked, his tone was laced with ridicule and condescension.
Sofia glares at Azief but Azief would not back down on this matter.
It’s one thing for users to rob items or pill against one another, but to exploit the weak and desperate, to play on their hopes and takes away their liberty…..he could not stand it.
‘Don’t you see what they are doing, Hamad?’ Azief asked, hoping for him to see some sense and snap out of it
Hamad clearly rose to the occasion and defended the party with great vehemence. Of course Lord Shadow is not surprised instead he listen calmly
‘The party provides protections and security. While it is true, that each class is regulated and resources like skill books are stored for the party it does not belong to the Generals but belongs to those who did great merits. Not to mention, hunting with a group is means increased safety and less of a risk. What do you have against government anyway?’ Hamad said slightly angry
‘Hmph!’ Azief snorted
‘Protection and security? What protection and security? There are beast out there that could destroy your so called stronghold with a swish of their tails. Does not belong to the General? Belongs to those people who did great deeds? Those people who win you those skill books are the one who should lay claims to the books! You must ask those low level people to kill high level monster right? After all a lower level person killing a higher level monster would drop more gold and items. What is this if not exploitation?’
Each one of his word struck a nerve with Hamad who was a staunch supporter of the Party vision and goals.
His face turned red and he was very angry. Not a few hours passed and Lord Shadow has clearly seen their method of operations and then mocked them for it.
How many people were saved because they work in a group? While it is true, that people level up harder when fighting in a group but at least they’re safe.
In Azief opinion, unless you did not dare risk your life in this new world, you will always be mediocre.
What use of making the world anew, if the same kind of people keeps ruling it?
‘Classes regulated? Do you want to let humanity perish? The world orb specifically said to grow stronger, not to play governments!’ Azief said passionately.
And clearly there is some anger in his voice.
How could the people here be so stupid? Hearing the word government did that blind their eyes, dull their senses? Do they not realize that they are being exploited?
If you become strong enough, why would you need protection?
Everyone can be as strong as him, if not stronger than him if they only fight and persevere and not trying to find the easy way out.
Being strong is the only way.
It’s not like Azief don’t want to sit calmly under the umbrella of government but even as he thinks of what the government could do for him, he could not think of any that would guarantee him survival in this new world.
He met a Unique rank monster and that monster is formidable enough to even destroy a city if it run amuck.
Imagine if Apex ranks monster appears, this stronghold, would probably be destroy by one breath.
This is why he could call them idiots.
The government function has always been to govern. But what could you govern in a world starting anew with evolutions, magics and monster?
The government also provides security and protects the people of the country. But in this new world, the government couldn’t do anything and most have been destroyed when the fall came.
There is no security guaranteed. No safety net from the government. No guarantee for anything.
You could only trust in your strength and those around you.
Then he said at Hamad again
‘Hunting with a group increased safety? Hamad, there is no safe place anymore! The resources don’t belong to the Party? Who would believe that? I’m not a ten year old kid to be deceived by some sweet words.’
This time Hamad could not stuff his feeling any longer and he explodes.
‘You…you! All the people inside this stronghold are hoping that General Razak and General Bashar to succeed in establishing back the governments! You…you are evicted! Get out!’ He yelled.
‘Head Captain!’ Hatta said behind him trying to calm down the Head Captain.
On the other hand, Sofia just shakes her head while Azief just look at Hamad and could not understand how he could be so blind.
A difference of ideals he mused.
‘Hmph. I would not stay in this stronghold a moment longer even if you begged. Since we have different ideals, then I would not force you. But when my words are proven true, don’t regret it!’
Lord Shadow leaves that dire warning as he got up.
Waving his hand, he activated telekinesis and the barrack door open like a gust of wind attack the door and the door fly open.
Azief got up and began leaving the barracks no fearing any resistance while Hamad is still looking angrily at Lord Shadow, while Hatta face was plastered with a very complicated expression.
Each and every one hearing what Lord Shadow words, have their own thoughts.
Not everyone is as loyal as Hamad to a party not even a month old, and not everyone believes the promise the party has promised.
Each and every one of them has made their own choices, and each of them have different objective and reason why they follow the Party.
Hamad loyalty is because of his faith towards government. Hatta, because of the mutual benefit. Sita stays because of her friends.
Azief? A wandering soul in isolation has no need for a place to belong. And when he made that oath with Sofia, he was no longer alone.
And together they would take on the world. Together, they can do anything.
Sofia also got up calmly and follows Azief out.
‘You should be a little patient with them’ she said as they walked to the main gate.
‘I have no patience dealing with idiots’ he said coldly.
‘Hmm. You care that’s why you scold them.’ Azief did not reply to Sofia statement and Sofia just smiles.
He really doesn’t know how to express his emotion a little bit more gently .Just say that he didn’t want them to be deceived. Instead he picked up a fight she mused as she shakes her head, looking at Azief behavior.
He is misunderstood. She mused and then she remembers the class clown before and she asked herself.
What happen in those years that change someone so bright to become so cold? One day, she hopes that she will know.
When they reach the main gate, the main gate was already shut down.
Hamad who look at Lord Shadow back began sighing in regret. He was too hot headed and was about to console Lord Shadow again.
It was fortunate that the main gate was shut tight. It will give him time to console the duo.
But then something unexpected happens. Lord Shadow jump up and he arrived on the watchtower easily almost like he was flying.
With one leaps, he arrived at the watchtower. Seeing this, the people on the yard could not help but take a breath.
Could human do things like that? They seem to be asking themselves and some even rubbed their eyes, not believing what they are seeing.
The same could be said for Sofia who jumps and gracefully lands on top of the watchtower.
‘Wait! Please wait!’ Hamad said as he is running towards the duo direction. But the duo has already jumped down the tall watchtower leisurely.
The one who was most shocked is of course the guards on the watchtower.
They built high walls to prevent people from scaling the walls, and high stairs to reach the watch tower but in front of this duo, one jump is all they need.
Living under the well, the frogs think the well is the whole world.
The frog in the well was happy. It wasn’t interested what was outside the well. The frog in the well was happy.
It was recluse to anything that happened outside the well. And you all were happy. Because you didn’t know what occurred outside the well.
This is what Azief thought about those people living inside the stronghold. So many threats outside and they think they are safe in a wooden box?
The guards look down as the duo landed with grace and without even a broken bone.
Looking at this they are truly shocked. Jumping from such a high distance and not even a bit hurt.
In their stronghold there is nobody could do such feats. That is because they are regulated and each resources is given to the stronghold.
To Azief, they all have a screw loose in their heads. The path to strength in in front of them, yet they give it to another.
What idiocy! Of course they couldn’t defeat Lord Shadow and Sofia. The duo eats pills, beast meat, and learns every skill that they could buy and got.
Looking back at the stronghold, Lord Shadow sighed.
‘Plan B?’ Sofia asked, still smiling after they landed.
‘Plan B.’ Azief said smirking.
And they rush back inside the forest.