Day 5 – The Time Has Come
For the past few exhausting weeks, the Manticore squad moved farther and farther into the Marauders' territory, fiercely fighting for each step they moved into the north. Some regions have already fallen under their attacks, and the Dynasty banner was about to rise deep inside the Marauders' lands.
Yet something was not right about everything and the squad had more and more doubts about the situation. It seemed that the Rebels and the Dynasty, by now the two strongest forces, were avoiding direct confrontation and were simply slaughtering weaker opponents (not without the help of Manticore). As they did so, they cleared space for their future one-on-one battlefield.
There were some rumors that they even acted together, attacking other alliances both from the west and from the south simultaneously, making them stretch their defenses which became thinner by the day. No one could say for certain whether it was pure coincidence or organized action, though, as diplomats of the two main forces maintained icy silence.
The Dynasty boy, or the "Kitten" (an alias he first received from Claw) was surprisingly useful. He was not even close to the level of the other four, but he was delighted by the task he received. It involved taking care of defense, and he fully accepted this responsibility, training recruits and making sure they would get the best armor. They managed to gather considerable defensive forces there. And yet, despite his success, day after day the boy's mood became gloomier and gloomier, and that was hard not to notice.
Sometimes Claw heard how the boy was crying into his pillow at night and at those moments, her heart felt his pain. They still didn't manage to find his parents and she believed that was the cause of his distress. The poor, lost soul…
But the real reason was simpler and more frightening at the same time. Having joined the Manticore squad, with each new day the "Kitten" saw the real people behind the famous aliases which they used to the outside world. Very tired and very loyal to each other people whose only aim in this war was survival. Day after day, he gained more respect for what they did and how they acted, and felt more and more attached to the famous squad. Yet, he was perfectly aware what destiny had been prepared for all four of them. And every time he received a dispatch from an unknown person, he hesitated to open it, scared to see the message inside. This was the real reason, that made his days dark and nights uneasy.
He made it a habit to open unexpected dispatches only in the morning and felt genuine relief if they merely contained a random question, which people often wrote to the four. That meant he could survive another day without worry. And still, it happened. Right after he opened another random message, he suddenly saw the bold handwriting of the king, which he recognized immediately. The message was short but left him no hope.
"The time has come."
To be continued.
Task: The task below is one that the Manticore squad gives to those who wish to join their armies. Try solving it.
How many warriors are on the image?
Hint: You do not necessarily need to count them. Those who give the closest answer to the one provided by the artist, would win.