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71 Julia

    Moira's group, now including Thomas, were walking on the dirt roads of Oleo, escorted by the soldiers they had just terrorized.

    The village was in much better shape than they had anticipated, and its development was impressive. They were nowhere near Akata, but if given a couple of years, they would be a flourishing city.

    Every citizen curiously watched as the group made its way to the center. They had seen soldiers rushing outside, but they didn't know the exact situation. Gor's subordinates had also sneaked him back in to avoid creating unrest due to his current pitiable state.

    After a few minutes, they finally arrived at what they deemed to be the town hall. Like the one in Akata, it was roughly built and seemed to be temporary.

    The soldiers escorted them inside before turning around and leaving, their duty now over. Compared to its exterior, Moira was impressed by its interior's decor. It wasn't luxurious, but it was done elegantly and the materials used had been treated with great care. It appeared there were good workers living in this village.

    "Welcome to Oleo!"

    The sweet voice surprised them, immediately making the group turn in its direction.

    What greeted them was a bowing tall and tanned woman. Her traits were delicate and her long, brown hair cascaded to her waist. She really was a beauty. Moira, not fazed by her looks, was the first to respond.

    "We're glad to be here! We're sorry for our initial..."

    The woman raised her hand and stopped her mid-sentence, a little exasperated.

    "I heard... You're not to blame... My husband has always been a hot-head that never reasons and only thinks with his fists... I never expected him to come back this battered though haha"

    Her laugh was beautiful, making the men blush. Moira saw their expressions and gave them a vicious side-eye, making them turn away and gulp in fear. She didn't show it, but she was surprised that Gor had managed to land a woman that beautiful. The funny interaction made the woman laugh even more.

    "Oh, I forgot to present myself. My name's Julia and I'm the Miss of this village. Let's reintroduce ourselves"

    "I'm Moira, the second Lady of Akata. These are our soldiers, namely Thomas, John, Henry and Terry"

    Julia seemed particularly interested in Thomas. She had heard Gor's stories about Berserkers, but never thought she would meet one in her lifetime. They were usually hidden from sight, reserved as trump cards that would wreak havoc on battlefields. She also never expected her husband to be the victim of one's wrath.

    "As we've previously mentioned, we're simply here to discuss a potential migration of your people to our city"

    Julia had been quickly briefed earlier and was aware of their demands, so she invited them in a separate room where a long wooden table accommodated all of them. She didn't wait for them to get comfortable and promptly started.

    "I'll be representing Gor during this meeting, and thus the interests of Oleo. You're asking for us to migrate to Akata, right?"

    Moira was taken aback at first, but quickly realized that the woman in front of her wasn't just pretty. She knew how this game was played. Her demeanor had changed from a hospitable hostess to one that had fangs and would tear them apart if their proposal lacked in any way. They had, in the end, heavily wounded the leader of this village, so they better had a good reason.

    "Thomas, take John, Henry and Terry outside. Leave our gift on the table"

    The soldiers understood and left right away, leaving behind the two women and a shining iron armor, who caught Julia's eyes. It was brand new and didn't resemble the ones made in the Krakow Empire. Moira still couldn't believe that it had survived the trip and all their problems without even getting a scratch.

    Moira's dismissal also gave Julia a smile. It would have been disrespectful to Julia if mere soldiers attended a meeting of this importance.

    "Yes, we want you to move in with us"

    "And why should we do this? You've seen our village. It's the best around"

    It was Moira's turn to smile.

    "The armor on the table was made by our blacksmiths"

    The news stunned Julia, who turned her gaze once again to the equipment laying on the table. It didn't appear to be exactly on par with official blacksmiths, but it was close enough considering it was basic armor.

    Julia hid her enthusiasm and kept her poker face, making Moira perplex. She couldn't see through her counterpart as she was, primarily, a soldier. Politics were obviously not her strong suit.

    "That is quite an achievement, but it doesn't really affect the way our citizen live. We have a big community here, and we have been developing steadily for the last few years. Their standards of living are now quite high, with food never lacking and lodging given. Could you guarantee this?"

    Moira's expression didn't change, and instead calmly replied.

    "Akata has more than 30 000 citizens now, so I'm sure our standards are fine"

    The response was so dry and devoid of emotion that Julia choked on her saliva. 30 000?! UH?! It took her a few seconds to recuperate and her state almost worried Moira, who didn't know why her reaction was so intense.

    Meanwhile, Julia's mind was in shambles. They had barely heard of Akata before and their information said that it was a small village that scrapped by to survive. This meant their information was outdated to the point where a behemoth appeared next to them without their knowledge. It couldn't be right, and she was sure that Moira was bluffing. With that in mind, she was determined to find the real number.

    "I have difficulty believing this number. After all, 30 000 is unheard of in this region and the logistics are a nightmare, especially considering the numerous monsters roaming around. People are killed by them every year, which is a real pity. I know you're trying to embellish your numbers to make your offer more appealing, but it will have the opposite effect"

    Moira now realized why her counterpart had reacted in this way. It appeared that Akata's development was abnormal, to the point where it stunned Julia. After all, she hadn't paid much attention to it, instead devoting all her time to perfect her training. She thought a bit before finding a simple, yet good solution.

    "Well, would you like to come see it for yourself? It'd be my pleasure to welcome you in our home"

    Julia was surprised by the offer and thought a bit, before finally agreeing. Gor was in no shape to travel, and she wanted to see the real state of Akata. If they could make armor of this quality, they were surely doing well.

    Moira was happy that her suggestion was accepted and shook Julia's hand.

    "We'll be leaving at dawn, as we have to report before then. The army will be sent otherwise and I don't want a war to erupt between our people when we'll be collaborating in the future"

    Julia found her statement absurd and thought she was exaggerating their prowess once more. However, she couldn't wait to visit the place that housed a Berserker in their ranks.
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