“Please wait while we pair you with an examiner,” said the female operator that appeared on the holographic window.
She left the video call leaving Luon in a blank white room by himself. Once he had logged into the Vortex Container, the school had supplied he appeared in this room and was told to sit and wait. From what he knew the duration for this examination was long, some may last only a few hours while others may go on for days. Regardless the student is graded on their performance, so it didn’t matter whether or not they won or lost.
The commanding skill was a helpful one to develop and at the same time useless to many as there were a limited amount of commander positions in the first place. The most one would accomplish with such a skill set would be the position of a small squadron leader, but the skill was taught regardless of that fact in case an accident were to occur in the middle of the battle.
Luon couldn’t help but recall Thanatos’s memory which got him started to lead an army in the first place. If weren’t for his actions he would have been eliminated in the early stages of the simulation.
Luon closed his eyes as he meditated over the matches he and Arisa had fought the last few days and understood several key points. One every soldier is precious, unlike the virtual wars, a real war would not have reinforcements pop out of nowhere. Two, although every soldier is precious, there are those who are more powerful than others, and their might is worth possibly hundreds of soldiers. Lastly, morale is important, every single soldier has feelings, even though Luon has no idea how the simulation did it, Luon could feel the tides of the battle continually shift due to the morale of his and his opponent’s soldiers.
Luon didn’t have to wait that long, replacing the female operator was a black obelisk which said, “Student Number: NEX-6854BP, I will be your examiner for your commander examination. You may refer to me as Examiner 10 in Area D, or D10 for short. Do you understand the rules to the examination, or would you like to hear it once more for clarification?”
The black obelisk didn’t surprise Luon as it was one of many default avatars that people had used to hide their identities when talking to other people. For all, he knew he could be battling against an expert or someone who had no idea what he was doing.
Luon understood the underlying rules but he still requested the examiner to reiterate them, it wasn’t just to confirm what he knew but to probe the professional ability of his examiner.
“Understood, then I’ll lightly cover the basic information you need to know for this examination. The setting of the match is held in a randomly generated settings, and your goal is to outperform your opponent. There are no reinforcements, and the battle is restricted to a fixed region in where food supplies routes are designated on your map before the battle. Win or lose, your grade is solely dependant on the actions committed as well as your relationship with your subordinates. Of course, if you were to win, you are guaranteed to pass the course,” said D10.
Luon nodded in understanding as he thought, ‘Well obviously if I won the battle there is no way for them to fail me for that.’
D10 continued as he said, “If you wish to surrender early or have any questions in the middle of the battle your BMPU is equipped with an option to open the general chat system of the match. On certain occasions, we will grade and pass students on their understanding of the outcome of the battle. Knowing when to give up and retreat to save the lives of their soldier proves the excellence of a great commander. Also, if the morale of your soldiers reaches a certain point where I deem it unnecessary to continue, I would ask you kindly to surrender. Accepting that decision may affect your grade depending on the circumstances. Is there anything else you would like to hear about before we start?”
After hearing it once, Luon learned that the examiner may be playing some mind games with him by using the general chat system. There was no guarantee that his surrender may allow him to pass the course as it was only taken in for consideration. Having understood the rules, Luon said, “No, that is all I need to know.”
“Well then, student NEX-6854BP, are you ready for your examination?” D10 said.
“Yes,” Luon nodded resolutely.
“Best of luck, let’s have a good match,” D10 said before the communications cut out.
The surroundings change and the white room became a blue sky as a vast plain appeared before Luon.
Warriors stood left and right, far and wide in an orderly fashion as five generals kneeled before Luon.
He gave off a sigh as he thought to himself, ‘Out of all the settings to get, I would get this one…’
The battle took place in a setting rode horses and fought with swords and spears. Archers are well-known, but the might of a few powerful warriors shook the hearts of many.
It was an era that highly resembled the Chinese Dynasty, the era of the Warring States.
“My lord, the preparations for the battle have been completed. We’re waiting for your orders,” said one of his generals.
Luon looked at the man and said, “Good work General Wang, your efforts are most appreciated. Stand back in line while I give out my speech.”
“Yes!” General Wang enthusiastically said.
As General Wang head back in line Luon let out a small sigh. Unlike the other settings, this one was one of the worse to deal with. His men were either too proud to be commanded, sly as a fox, over-ambitious or weak and pathetic. Luon was playing the role of a commander defending the land of the emperor from vile rebels who had teamed up with another province to seek wealth and glory.
Morale was key in this type of setting and out of all of his generals and their captains, only half of them were usable. The main problem was maintaining human relationships and manipulating people to obtain their full effectiveness. To do so, Luon had to analyze each of his subordinates weaknesses and strengths. He looked at General Wang who he had sent away and found that although General Wang may have appeared amicable at the moment – when the war starts he was bound to a thorn.
[General Wang][A 1000 man leader, one of the generals from the Wang family. Has secret dealings with the enemy forces and is more than likely to turn while in battle. Specializes in the deceit.]
The system provided Luon the ability to read his subordinates backstory and setting to assist him in the battle. The entire setting was randomly generated as they took certain aspects of the actual history and added a new spin to it. If he wasn’t keen enough and missed this factor, he may have failed the examination because of this unknown factor.
Luon looked at the generals and found that only General Wang had intended to betray him. Luon looked at this other generals and contemplated how he would place his men without causing strife amongst his ranks.
[General Situ][A 1000 man leader, one of the generals from the Situ family. The Situ family is famed for their spear technique and their household rivals the Wang family. General Situ is exceptionally loyal to the emperor. His strength is only second to General Zhao. Easily gets over his head.]
[General Zhao][A 1000 man leader, one of the generals from the Zhao family. He is the strongest general under your command. Famed for his ability to fight on horseback and red spear. Will easily intimidate most enemy forces. Very calm and collected.]
[General Huang][A 1000 man leader, one of the generals from the Huang family. From a family of renown archer’s that are able to smite their foes from a mile away. Utterly useless in close quarters, and is a coward.]
[General Li][A 1000 man leader, one of the generals from the Li family. Famed for his defensive abilities. A large man who wields a heavy ax and able to travel for many miles without tiring. His nickname is the Immortal Li to his enemies. Extremely prideful, will not commit to orders without a good reason to follow.]
Luon had 10 000 soldiers in total, half of which was under the command of his generals and the remainder followed his orders.
Luon bellowed to his troops, “For the emperor, we fight, and for our land we protect! Slaughter those who want to slaughter our loved ones! Slaughter those who want to rob us! For every head, you will be awarded wealth, and the ability to live another day!”
After saying the cringy lines to the troops, Luon couldn’t help but feel slightly embarrassed deep down inside. However, this maneuver was absolutely necessary to boost the morale of the soldiers. No one would want to fight for a commander who wasn’t entirely into the battle.
The soldiers roared, unlike the generals who had their own misgivings, a good portion of the troops were rallied to fight against the invaders. With half of the soldiers being peasants and mercenaries, Luon felt this battle isn’t going to be that easy.
General Zhao is without a doubt the vital key to turning the tides of the battle. Thinking about this carefully Luon said, “General Li, you take the right flank with General Huang. I want you to whittle away at the enemy’s forces as much as you can with arrows. General Situ, you guard the left flank, if the enemies started to rain arrows on you then fall back. General Wang will stand at the vanguard and as for General Zhao, loosely position yourself in the left flank. I’ll leave the on-site decisions to you.”
“Yes,” out of the five generals 3 of them agreed to his orders. General Wang and General Li were dissatisfied. General Li asked, “Why did you position me in the right flank with General Huang? I beseech you, place me on the forefront and I’ll bring you the heads of the enemy general.”
Following after his words, General Wang said, “Let General Li take my place, and I’ll take his position in the right flank. There isn’t any difference between the two. I honestly feel General Li would perform much better.”
‘Of course, he would perform much better, but if I let a back-stabber like you beside General Huang who is useless in close quarters, then the entire battlefield is lost. Should I confront him about this?’ Luon thought to himself.
“Your strategy is spot on. But if you were to confront him before the battle, it will only cause disorder within the ranks. Stand firm, your position is greater than his. Use your authority to control him, as for General Li, you should convince him to stay on the right flank. If you were to use your authority it would sour your relationship,” Thanatos said as if he had experienced this scene many of times.
Luin nodded at Thanatos remark as he said to the two, “Watch your words! Who do you think the emperor allowed to be in charge? I have authority over the battle and what I say goes. Return to your soldiers the battle will soon begin.”
“Yes… sir,” the two agreed despite being dissatisfied. They turned around at began to walk back to their troops. However, before General Li got too far away, Luon said, “General Li, protect General Huang, he’s young and reckless, but he looks up to you. If you were to part from him than how could he possibly perform well? We aren’t fighting to gain merits, but to convey the emperor’s will.”
General Li turned to look at General Huang who felt worried for him. He gave hearty laughter as he said to Luon, “As your will. I will protect the right flanks and not let a single one of them pass.”
Luon nodded as he said, “Alright time to di-”
Just before Luon dismissed everyone, a messenger ran into their meeting and said, “Reporting! The enemies are on the move!”
Shocked at how fast D10 moved his troops Luon asked the messenger, “What’s the situation? How many forces are moving and what is their formation like?”
“This… they aren’t moving their entire army, only a small portion of them along with a bunch of villagers in tow,” the messenger quickly reported.
‘Can it be?’ Luon suddenly had a frightening thought, he burst out of the room and headed to a spot where he could see the enemies, following him was his five generals. They arrived only to see a gruesome scene, it was the execution of several villagers that the invaders had caught along the way.