Following Meng Tian's advice, Baron did not raise his forces and instead opted to just stay in defense mode and witness how the first month would go. Just as Meng Tian had said, many of the newcomers did indeed band together to try to take out the more well established strategists. In just the first month alone, close to half the the strategists that entered into this aerial portion was knocked out of the competition.
As soon as Baron was confident enough, he had Meng Tian go back to the others to increase their own fame. Meng Tian's parting words were to beware of Eumenes, Wang Yi, and William Bridges. These three were likely to be their final opponents in the faction selection tournament that would be happening in another 50 or so years. Baron heeded the warning but knew that they would not have to worry about this until much later into the tournament.
Now that Baron was running this alone, he decided that he needed to prepare a few more traps to anyone who would challenge him. He had his lieutenant Naire set up a few more ambushes near his territory and soon enough, someone fell for it hook line and sinker. With the traps working so well, Baron only had to go and mop up the mess with his fairly well trained army which took almost no effort.
Even though Baron was considered to be the worst out of his 5 group team, he was still much better than the average aerial strategist. This is due to the immensely targeted training his team had gone through, the records hall, and their decently sized and capable blueprints.
Baron continued to go down this path for the next 3 months and soon enough only about 300 territories remained on the map. One of the smallest was Baron, while the territory of Meng Tian and the others were quite big even compared to the elders of the Sun Alliance, almost all of which had managed to survive up to this point. There was one practice in tournaments like these that were quite common. Larger territories allowing lesser territories to pledge their allegiance to them. The smaller territories knew that if they didn't have enough skill to continue, they would only be wiped off the map and that is why it was better to partner with a group who was already well known.
Using this custom, Meng Tian and the others had conquered all the way from their original base to Baron's, with about 50 bases standing in their way. They took all the necessary precaution to make it look like they would rather have warlords under them and had instead given this opportunity to many of those that were in their way, not just Baron. With this maneuver, their clout and prestige rose to quite a high level within the tournament participants. This was the best that the Meng duo had ever done and were enjoying the fruits of their labor.
All of the remaining territories just kept going at it and after a full 8 months of this type of war, there remained just 25 groups vying for supremacy. One of which being Baron, Meng Tian, Meng Yi, Guan Yu, and Yue Fei along with close to another hundred or so strategists that had pledged their allegiance to mostly the Meng duo.
It was evident to everyone present in that group that out of the 25 or so groups still remaining that they were indeed the weakest out of all the remaining parties. Even if they did stop one advance made by another group, they would be completely crushed should yet another group appear. The only thing they could do was to either pray that no one would target them, which was a very tall order. Or they could ally themselves with another group, which was easier said than done. After all, who would want to ally themselves with the weakest group?
Of the 25 or so territories, 10 of them belonged to the Sun Alliance with a total of at least 60 of their elders. Should they all band together, it was likely that they would wipe the floor with pretty much every other party. However, there were two groups that was stopping them from doing that, both of which would pose a serious problem to them. One was the 4 co-leaders of the Yellow Wang faction, while the other was the trio that comprised of Wang Yi, Eumenes, and WIlliam Bridges. The latter would actually partner with the Yellow Wang faction since Wang Yi is still part of that faction.
The Sun Alliance elders knew their limits, even if they were able to take out both of these groups, they would have to suffer casualties that would effectively cripple them to the point that they would have to either hope for a miracle to occur or to ally themselves with another group. However, they were far too prideful to ask others for help and pretty much unanimously agreed to watch how events would unfold. This was the mentality for the others as well and soon enough, there was a period where no one would dare to carelessly attack without considering the advantages it gave to their neighboring enemies.
They were all in a sort of deadlock that could break if anyone made a move, but none dared to do so. This went on for another month which just gave everyone ample time to prepare their defenses and strengthen their air forces. The first move that was made came from a very unlikely group, a group that was perhaps even less well known Baron's group.
It was a group by the name of Bair Fighters, although this group had slightly more territory than Baron, but their way of fighting was far more different. These guys took no prisoners or allegiances from anyone. They slaughtered their way to the top whereas most of the others had done it through recruiting defeated strategist.
Most of these groups contained hundreds of strategists with a distinct hierarchy, but these Bair Fighters only had 5.
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