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A Black Market LitRPG – Chapter 157: Defectors Bahasa Indonesia

Three days later…

The atmosphere in the Central District was tense. Thousands of refugee camps had been erected, civilians fleeing the conflict zones of the other sectors into the safety of the enforcers and the four Barons’ private forces.

It was truly a time of instability, with every party in the city out to get a slice of the pie themselves. Despite the obvious danger, many impoverished citizens and others afflicted by the war and increasing taxes flocked to Raktor, seeking both fame and fortune through joining one of the sides. Or, if they were far more daring, creating their own factions and hoping to sneak undetected from both the major gangs and the enforcers, profiteering off the dire situations.

This did not mean that the economy was in complete shambles – rather than that, the warring parties made efforts to protect their own and stabilized their controlled areas. Farms, villages, towns around Raktor pledged allegiances to gangs in exchange for protection, creating competitive economies to fund and supply the war.

In such an era of open conflict, everything was up for grabs in Raktor. Looters and thugs roamed the outskirts where the major gangs and enforcers could not afford to allocate security, causing bandit kingdoms to prop up incessantly. This further compounded the insecurity of the area, yet provided ample opportunity for upstart mercenaries and adventurers to make a name for themselves.

The black market flourished like never before, with the merchants, smugglers and traders from both within the County of Raktor as well as other Counties exploiting the price difference to their own gain, feeding off the desperation of those unable to muster up the cash to flee the conflict zones.

The supply routes too were not free from hijacking – both side mustered forces and mercenaries, drawing companies of men-at-arms to fight for them. Everyone with a bit of ambition in their hearts were here in Raktor, dreaming of themselves standing at the top, or climbing through the ranks of either side.

Hopeful enforcer recruits and fresh gang members clashed frequently in skirmishes, targeting facilities, factories, distribution centres and even housing to both destabilize and hamper the morale of the enemy.

Despite the obvious flourishing of the black market, Raktor’s economic activity as a whole had begun to plummet significantly, though it still remained a powerhouse in the region. The economic activity was slowing being seceded to other counties, as fearful legitimate traders unwilling to risk war fled to the borderlands of the county.

The worst hit were the Barons, who originally derived their tax revenue from the various Sectors, as well as tribute from the major gangs. With their original source of income cut off due to the revolt, they fought tooth and nail to restore the status quo to no avail, unable to even make a dent in the major gangs’ slow encroachment of the city.

Baron Cain sighed as he entered a meeting room with two of his bodyguards, where the other three Barons were already waiting for him, agitation clear in their tone as a heated argument was in full swing.

The air was solemn, no one in a joking mood. The war had taken a toll on all of them, forcing them to the brink as they were now burning through their monetary reserves.

“We can’t keep on fighting like this – we simply do not have financial reserves to fund the enforcers and our private forces for another month!” The West Sector’s Baron wagged his finger with obvious vigor, clearly infuriated by the ongoing conversation.

“That is what bonds are for in the first place. We can simply borrow from the middle class and upper class now. War bonds, if you will.” The North Sector’s Baron shrugged.

“That’s if any of them even has trust in our ability to win the conflict. Everyday, we are losing both ground and territories to the major gangs and even cocky upstarts! Just last week, I lost close to 15% of my farms to the Veiled Angels!”

“If you had the competency to keep them in check a year ago, we wouldn’t even be in this position!”

“You dare?!”

“Enough!” The East Sector’s Baron interrupted. “We are fighting a common enemy, not each other! We all want to return to the status quo. This meeting is not for the two of you to squabble over past grievances.”

Baron Cain took his seat, slightly amused at the West Sector’s Barons furious expression, though he did not show his own derision outwardly. “I assume you have called this meeting because the Duke has finally responded?” He asked the East Sector’s Baron.

“I’m afraid not. In fact, this meeting is called because of the very fact that the Duke nor Tryas had yet to respond to us.”

While the East Sector’s Baron did not continue speaking, the implications were immediately clear to the other Barons, even if they did not show it on their face. Something is happening in the upper echelons – something that is worth more than intervening in Raktor. “What of Count Leon?”

“Count Leon is still attacking Ocra. While they have breached the walls, the Duke’s mage had immediately returned after his assistance, leaving Count Leon unable to return his troops completely.”

“Is the Duke doing this on purpose to weaken us?” The North Sector’s Baron scoffed.

“It wouldn’t be the first time it has happened.” It was common among the nobility to weaken their subordinates so as to ensure compliance. Nothing is worse than having a subject that is far stronger than you.

Baron Cain knew that if Count Leon had immediately captured Ocra and returned to control Raktor, he would be the most powerful Count under the Duke immediately. It was this ambition and understanding to which the rest of the other Counts conspired to drag Count Leon down.

Of course, Count Leon was well aware of this, but believed he could mitigate the sabotages. However, he had never expected the major gangs to be so upfront and direct with their bid for independence. And as the Barons were subordinates of the Count, they too suffered the consequence of failure.

The Barons knew that the other Counts were indirectly involved as well, as both greed and jealousy at Raktor’s economic dominance grew larger over the years. To climb the ranks, one simply has to pull down others.

“Assuming the Duke is not responding on purpose, does this mean that he is favouring other Counts over Count Leon? Has he dispatched mages to support the other two Counts’ attacks?”

“No, he has not. In fact, he has not responded to anything save for Count Leon’s call for demolition mages.”

Weird, far too weird. Baron Cain pondered, rubbing his hands slightly. “Never mind the Duke. I am more worried about Tryas not responding. How can the Emperor allow such a civil conflict to occur in his Dominion?” The West Sector’s Baron pointed out. “The Emperor did not sit by idly during the Versia War.”

No one at the meeting room could answer him, each of the Barons slowly thinking to themselves. Baron Cain was sure that even if one of them knew the answer, they would keep it to themselves as a form of informational advantage.

“For now, we shall assume that we are on our own. No help is going to come from outside, unless we expend resources to hire mercenaries and men-at-arms. The fact of the matter is this: our territories are dwindling, our revenue is plummeting, and the morale of our troops is at an all-time low.” The East Sector Baron summarized.

“So?” The North Sector’s Baron shrugged again. “There is nothing else to it but to fight. Unless…?” He raised a brow at the East Sector’s Baron.

“I would like to propose a compromise. A peace deal. This war’s economic toll is far too harsh. Any longer and we will be carved up like an opal whale in Proco, gutted for all to see and ravage.”

“And you want us to buckle first? Insane! Even considering this option is grounds for treason against the Yual Dominion!” The North Sector’s Baron scoffed.

“Then what? Do we fight incessantly until we run Raktor down into the ground, a husk of its former glory? Even if we win three months later, the damage done would take years or even decades to restore.”

“It’s a matter of pride. Nobles should never bow their heads to lowlife criminals, no matter how many potion-addled brains follow them!”

Baron Cain did not speak even as the argument went on between the North and the East. He of course, was extremely reluctant to submit to the major gangs. He could already imagine Sebastian’s gloating face looming over him, causing anger to rise within him.

“You call my actions treasons? The Duke refuses to help us. The Emperor ignores us. The Sanctum of Yual has all but forsaken us, leaving their enforcers here to perish in vain. If anything, it is the Emperor who has failed us!” The East Sector’s Baron pushed back.

“You have gone too far, Baron Namor.” Baron Cain finally spoke up. “It is one thing to say that the Duke is incompetent, but to say that Yual himself has failed you can be very well considered heresy.”

Namor glanced at Cain, obviously incensed. “Fine. We will continue fighting to the inevitable death. Perhaps this may be the dying thrashes of Raktor as it slinks into depravation and never-ending conflict.” With that, he stood up and left the room, his armoured bodyguards trailing behind him.

The three other Barons too began to disperse, leaving separately in their convoys of armoured wagons, heading back to their own districts. Despite their supposed alliance, Cain was well aware that the Barons were anything but united in vision or goal. It was already hard enough to share information, resulting in tactical failures whenever they tried to enact a joint pincer attack.

Forget the other Counts trying to pull down Count Leon, even the Barons are trying to pull down each other. Cain calculated as he was transported back to his mansion in the armored convoy, mulling over what has been revealed so far. As of now, the biggest worry of him was Namor’s final words. If Namor decides to defect to the major gangs, it would be a devastating blow to us. The entire East Sector would be completely lost, serving as a new staging ground for attacks into the other sectors.

It would be a chain of dominos falling, as Cain was reliant on the other Barons doing their part in stemming the loss of districts and supply routes to the major gangs.

Suddenly the wagon screeched to a halt, the brakes slamming as Cain was nearly thrown forward. “What’s going on? Why did we stop?”

“Sir, the road ahead has been blown up. We will need to take a detour.”

Alarm bells in Cain’s head began ringing. “No. We’ll head back to the Central District. The detour is a trap.”

“Yes, sir.”

The convoy began to turn around, but just as the front wagon’s driver turned his wheel, a explosive round slammed right into the wagon, causing it to flip in a brilliant pillar of flames, the blue arcia flames erupting violently.

“Sir, keep your head down!”

Cain crouched immediately as the windows were pummelled by pellets, streaking through the cabin and killing one of Cain’s bodyguards who used his body to protect the Baron. “GET US OUT OF HERE!” Cain roared to the driver.

The driver slammed the pedal, the arcia engine churning as the wagon sped up down the cobblestone street, avoiding the burning husk of the front wagon and heading straight back for the safety of the Central District.

Cain fumbled for his arcia radio, testing it with a few clicks before finding out that there was a jamming applied. Before he could ask his remaining bodyguard to hand him a gun, the front of the wagon blew up as a mine exploded underneath, tossing the wagon up into the air.

The world seemed to spin in slow motion for a brief second, Cain seeing the horizon flip before the wagon came crashing down on the street again, completely upside down.

The wagon was still intact thanks to the heavy armour, but Cain was now a sitting duck in the cabin, scrambling for the arctech gun on his dead bodyguard’s belt.

“Stay here, sir!” His remaining bodyguard urged as the bodyguard peeked out of the shattered windows, his arctech handgun aimed right at the sky as he loaded a special pellet in.

Firing with a single squeeze, the special pellet shot up towards the sky, streaking in a single red line of smoke up to the clouds like a flare. “Enforcers should be here in a few minutes.”

“A few minutes isn’t enough. Help me tear the seat out!” Cain ordered, his hands digging into the leather of his chair, ripping it to shreds to reveal three arctech rifles already pre-loaded, marked with the logo of the Seven Snakes.

Equipping themselves, Cain could hear shouts and screams, along with gunfire as footsteps approached the wagon. But just as a hand reached out to grab the door, another loud explosion was heard, the wave of sound and dust buffeting the wagon violently.

“What the?” Cain’s ears was ringing as the sounds of fighting intensified, with harrowing yells of pain and the sinister twisting of bone and flesh. The pings of pellets bouncing off armour continued as Cain heard the wrenching of his wagon door. The door of the wagon was slowly ripped out, with Cain immediately opening fire the moment he saw a glimmer of armour.

The pellets were immediately negated by a point defence arcia bolt, the door blasted open by two assassins. The bodyguard roared as he lunged out, only to have his neck sliced by the assassin’s sword in one fell swoop. “Target confirmed. Proceeding to kill.” The assassin raised his handgun, aimed right at Cain’s forehead.

Before Cain could even flinch or fire again, a warhammer swung and hit one of the assassins right on the head, crushing it into a meat paste that slid across the rugged surface of the crashed wagon.

The other assassin swung his sword on instinct, his arm immediately grappled by a lady who flipped him onto the ground with a terrifying slam. The lady punched the assassin in the face, her fist already dripping with blood as she continued.

Behind the lady, five other assassins laid groaning, their limbs twisted in unnatural ways while they were still clearly alive. Cain’s eyes widened as he recognized the wielder of the warhammer, who unexpectedly was his saviour. “You? Since when did you get back?”

However, his eyes were suddenly attracted by a mark on the back of the assassin’s neck. This… this is Namor’s special forces. He tried to assassinate me?!

“Seems like you need better friends.”


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