The next few months were very onerous for Baron and those that united under the Meng duo, Guan Yu, and Yue Fei. Their focus on defense had caught quite a few prying eyes but in the end their efforts were ignored and a sizable force from a neighbor to the south began to lay siege to their territories. Commander Naire, and Commander Byron were sent along with some reinforcements to try and stop it. Though they were successful in repelling the attacks, they had receded some territory in this skirmish.
These two definitely had skill, there's no doubt about that, but the issue that the Meng duo noticed was that they both seemed to be in a bottleneck in terms of ability. Though their capabilities could be considered to be quite good within the Chinese community, their performance could only be considered inconsistent and far too hot headed. That being the case, they were the best two that had pledged their allegiance.
Many of the other master strategists that were defeated either joined their conqueror's service or traveled to go and try to get into a group that they knew would make it far into the tournament. This created an interesting dynamic as the strongest forces usually kept growing stronger while everyone else was left to pick up the scraps.
The most obvious way to get a high ranking was to keep attacking, offensive moves are deemed to be more crucial than strictly defense. During this time of Baron's group consolidating their power and defending their borders, there were quite a few developments from the others. First, the Bair fighters, with their measly but powerful group of 5, went onto a nonstop rampage of attacking all of their surrounding armies. This ensured that none of the groups surrounding their territory would be able to directly attack without first dealing with the offensive.
This was an unexpected move from the Bair fighters because one of the groups that shared a border with them was a Sun Alliance group that had a reputation for being ruthless to no degree. The entire point of launching an offensive was to get it done as fast as possible, but the Bair fighters had decided that going into 4 long term offensives suited their interests more.
Another development that did not escape the notice of everyone was that the 4 groups from the Vesper faction as well as the Yellow Wang faction started to conquer their way to each other, and once they did, partnered up so that they would become one large group that cooperated between each other on near equal terms.
The last and perhaps most cunning development came in the form of Baron's group steadily but surely losing the majority of their lands to their enemies. Anyone could guess that they were doing this for a reason, but only the true masters could guess as to what they were up to. Losing land might be signalling to the others that you were weak and therefore an easy target. However, with the way that Baron's group was sending out reinforcements and the ratio of kills to deaths heavily favored them.
This served to tell anyone with a sharp eye that they weren't focusing on keeping their land, but rather to cause the most damage with the least amount of harm done to their own forces as much as possible. Another perk with losing some of their land is that they could more easily send out reinforcements and have their forces less split up trying to defend multiple attacking armies. This caught the attention of some, but ultimately ignored by most since it didn't concern them.
After a few more months of this tactic, Baron's group finally decided to strike. In the span of just 2 weeks, Baron and Guan Yu in one fell swoop, took over an entire territory so fast it beggared belief. The reason for their success was because of the already weakened enemy forces as well as the magnificent strategy made by the seven of them. This alarmed the other groups of just how terrifying Baron's group could be given the time to prepare. After this point, no one dared to underestimate their opponents any further.
The group that was just conquered by Baron's party was the easternmost territory and with that out of the way, Baron's group had one foot in the very edge of the map. This meant that they only had 3 directions to worry about when it came to defending: North, west, and south.
The days of any big developments turned into weeks, then months, and finally a piece of news that shocked every strategist came to be. This happened while Meng Yi was giving another report to the others
(MY) "The first time Bair fighters that was going to war with it's 4 neighboring groups has actually managed to take over all of them on the same day!" Meng Yi practically shouted to the others in the briefing room.
(BM) "Calm down, Meng Yi. Though this piece of news is quite disturbing, we shouldn't concern ourselves with this group just yet. They are still at the very edge of the western map while we are on the very eastern edge." Baron reassured Meng Yi.
(MT) "That is true, however, we will have to start preparations for them soon. We shouldn't just let them get close to our lands to consider them a serious opponent." Meng Tian spoke.
(CB) "Why don't we ask them for an alliance? If they are able to beat one of the group of the elders from the Sun Alliance, they must be powerful beyond anything we can imagine." Commander Byron said.
(CN) "I don't think that will work, Byron, they have mercilessly killed all who have fell to them. To do so when they could've recruited them must mean that they are likely very confident in their skills and will not accept any alliances." Commander Naire told Byron.
(MT) "Naire is mostly correct, but I wouldn't say they are confident in their skills just yet. I could be wrong, but I feel like this is just something different about them that I can't put my hands on."
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