Giant Beast Forest...
The Giant Beast Forest had more entrances than ever.
The geography didn't change, its topology is also the same. However, people stopped treating it as an easy place for hunting wild animals.
After the Beast King Incident, the demonic beasts stopped attacking in organized groups. However, the Beast King is still alive, albeit injured. It's probably hiding somewhere in the forest, recuperating and biding for the day it will command hordes of monsters to once again assault humanity.
They don't know where the Beast King is hiding. But, they are very sure he's still inside the Giant Beast Forest.
They can't do anything even if they know he's hiding in the forest.
Search for him?
The area of Giant Beast Forest easily outclassed any one of the empires. Plus, it's filled with millions of monsters and a menagerie of hard to traverse terrain. Who would organize a campaign large enough to cover the perimeter?
Organize a specialized taskforce to secretly search?
Feasible but reducing manpower will mean covering less ground, the efficiency of doing so would be terrible. To locate the Beast King, they would need tremendously good luck.
At least, the humans are aware that one shouldn't go in willy-nilly or for easy prey.
All the empires set up an operating base between the supply town and the Giant Beast Forest, they stationed capable platoons here while maintaining close cooperation between all three empires.
The operating bases are established with the prevention of another monster flood and to monitor the forest for unusual movements. It's also the conduit for Beast King tracking purposes and regular monster hunting supplying expeditions. They also served as official entrances, turning away unauthorized individuals.
The world of Silvaria's order got challenge by the newly born Beast King.
The Giant Beast Forest is a land with bountiful yields. Humans can never be cut off it or risk a gradual but certain collapse of social order and economies.
The bases allowed trained groups to enter and hunt for resources. Otherwise, the world would already be in chaos.
Without a doubt, hunting in the Giant Beast Forest isn't as easy as before.
With the Beast King still at large, the three operating bases served the important role of keeping peace and safeguard their respective empires. These bases are second in importance only to the imperial families of each empire.
These bases were like monopolies that controlled the allocation of resources from the forest. Each faction had their motives by joining and working with the bases.
For their gains, the factions sent the brightest and strongest to the bases, establishing their own political connections and supply chain.
At the central area of a large clearing, Mikoto, Shokuhou Misaki, Kinuhata Saiai, Frenda, and Takitsubou Rikou led a bunch of Mikoto Sisters representatives. They weren't looking fine. The sisters stood behind the represantatives with grim looks. An army led by three middle-aged men ocnfronted them. In terms of quantity, the army had about the same number as Mikoto's gang.
In terms of power, the sisters all reached peak tier 6 power while the human army is composed of tier 5 to tier 7 soldiers. The leading men were tier 8 in power.
There were other squads here, they were all sent here by their respective factions.
The men were representatives sent by Ailu empire's three great families, the Lori family, Cyto family, and the Ladin family.
Shokuhou Misaki played with her hair like this was a waste of her time. The youths of the human army couldn't help but be mesmerized by her elegant movements. Some of them had lewd looks.
"And, what's with this?"
Shokuhou Misaki asked the 3 men with an expressionless look.
"Is blocking people the way the three great noble houses greet people?"
"You know full well what we want, don't pretend like you don't know."
The three men had trouble resisting Shokuhou Misaki's charm. They weren't as unsightly as the younger men, they recovered as a mean-looking man approached them with grin on his face.
"We should clarify some things to prevent conflict in the future..."
Shokuhou Misaki chuckled with a sarcastic smile.
"You are standing here menacingly in order to establish good relationships with us?"
"Lady Shokuhou, you should know this was an inevitable outcome..."
Another representative spoke. He's the one who looked the oldest. He sighed as he continued with a frustrated tone.
"The Misaka army is one of the strongest forces around. However, you refused to submit to our management, by doing so, you placed us in a very awkward situation..."
"Why do we have to listen to your orders?!"
Mikoto chimed in with a pair of antagonistic eyes.
"We are not sent here by the empire nor do we belong to any faction here. Form and substance wise, we do not need to oblige by our orders!"
"Since you girls are here, you have to follow the chain of command!"
The mean-looking man roared back.
"We are ones tasked with protecting this base, our actions affect the safety and well-being of the ones back home. The gravity of which is something you rebels don't understand. You take what you want, you don't pay levies, but you enjoy the safety granted to you by the kingdom. You're desecrating this base with your greedy attitudes!"
Indeed, that's why this conflict started.
All the powerful clans and faction sent their men here to obtain resources for their clans back home. The ones who got the biggest share of this pie is of course, the three strongest noble families in the empire.
After accounting for operational usage, there are always surplus resources.
Who wouldn't want to get their hands on these sweet sweet loot.
They entered the forest, hunted beyond their given quotas and they stashed the extras away, supplying it back to their clans. They also made sure to pay more than their fair share of levies, that's why the empire gave some of the resources back as a type of kickback incentive. This is why all the factions silently tussled with each other.
Again, the three strongest noble families had the largest shares among the factions.
However, how would they feel if an army on par with them turned up to hunt in the forest, they don't have to pay levies and they get to keep all of the loot. Naturally, they wanted their loot, and, more importantly, their unwritten ability to hunt without paying levies to the empire.
Who wouldn't want such a huge gold mine?
The three great noble houses worked in tandem to confront them. They wanted to integrate Mikoto & co by using the obligation to one's own empire as the excuse.
Maybe, in their eyes, a squad so powerful and so numerous are just a bunch of greedy cats who mooched off the safety provided to them by others who worked hard to stay and defend here.