"Good morning, players from all over Aries! Today is the much awaited round two of the World Guild War preliminary event, the team battles! For three days, teams of representatives from the qualifying guilds will complete each day's challenge and try to stay in the competition. Here are the instructions for today's challenge."
Competitors and spectators gathered at the stone amphitheatre once more for the second preliminary round. The valkyrie flew high in midair and read aloud a golden scroll containing the rules set by the world moderators. Flanking the valkyrie were two harpies carrying a trumpet each.
The valkyrie continued, "All representatives will be warped to an instance field. Each guild is given a small castle with a statue inside to defend. Once the statue is destroyed, the guild is out of the competition. Surrounding the small castle are four towers that shoot elemental bolts: fire, ice, wind, and earth. To destroy a guild's statue, these towers must first be destroyed. Guilds whose statues survive and who destroyed at least one statue will proceed to tomorrow's challenge. Players killed inside the field will be warped to a cooldown area where they will wait for two minutes before being respawned inside their home castle. Items and buffs are allowed within the instance field."
"Sounds like your usual multiplayer online battle arena game in a mass scale," commented Luna. She and the other Noctis Noir members were back at their usual seat right in front of the Jupiter mages. They were waiting for the start of the team battles, which was scheduled to begin after an hour.
"Shall we start planning for a strategy?" Lyria turned her head to face the others. Behind her, a robot maid distributed limited-edition headgear to players.
Astrid's menu tablet suddenly made a sound. She received an unexpected message from Garth. After reading its contents, she kept her menu tablet. "I'll be right back. Garth is calling up a meeting for guildmasters."
"A meeting? Why?" Lyria asked, surprised.
"I don't know yet. I'm about to find out."
Astrid warped to the meeting place as soon as she pressed the 'accept invitation' button that came attached with the mail. Once she arrived at the sandy beach in the Black Rose headquarters' instance field, Pio met her at the entrance and led her to the conference room where familiar faces were seated around a circular table.
Garth smiled when she entered. "Astrid! Glad you could join us. Come, have a seat."
She took a seat in between Tank and Magnus. There was an empty chair beside Magnus that might have been meant for one more guildmaster.
"So, what's the meeting about?" Tank asked.
Garth placed both his hands on the table. "I gathered you here to propose an alliance for today."
Magnus nodded in approval. "A wise move, considering that all the guilds will be battling on the same field."
"Information about other guilds forming alliances already reached me," said Garth. "If we want to gain an advantage for this round, this is our best choice of action."
"I'm in," said Tank.
"Me too," Astrid followed.
Garth nodded. "The proposed terms of the alliance are as follows: we avoid attacking each other's bases and work together to destroy as many statues as we can to eliminate competition. Assisting in defending an allied guild's base is not necessary, but optional. Do you agree to these terms?"
The rest of the guildmasters agreed.
"And that concludes our meeting. Unless one of you has something to add."
Magnus held up a hand. "Wait. I suggest we wear something that will help us identify those part of this alliance. We don't know the faces of some members who are representatives."
"Good idea. How about something like a tying a certain color of cloth to our wrist?" Tank suggested.
Garth thought about it. "If we make it too obvious, there's a chance that the other guilds will target us for being part of an alliance."
"What if we do a hand signal?" Astrid suggested. "We can agree upon an 'asking' hand sign and an 'answer' sign. If we're doubtful about whether a certain player is part of the alliance, we use the 'asking' hand signal and see if they are able to reply with the 'answer' sign."
"That could work."
Magnus shrugged. "Ok, hand signal it is then."
Tank nodded in agreement. "We might need a backup 'answer' hand signal in case the other guilds catch on to our strategy."
After they decided on the hand signals for their alliance, the meeting was adjourned.
"Now, spread the word," Garth said before closing the conference room door behind him.
The guildmasters warped back to their respective teams at the stone amphitheatre and informed them of the meeting's outcome.
"An alliance?" The rest of the Noctis Noir members were surprised to hear the sudden news.
Astrid nodded. "This way, we'll have an advantage over other guilds. We can also easily eliminate competition."
"What's the strategy?" Luna turned to Astrid.
The girls huddled together. Astrid spoke softly, "Luna and I will first head out to search for a nearby castle to attack and to kill any player that comes near our castle. While we're away, the three of you defend our base. The towers should keep the attacking players busy, so you can shoot ranged spells at them. When you need backup, Lyria can cast teleport to summon Luna and me."
Anna placed her hands together. "Alright. Let's do our best and win this!"
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