Book 7, Chapter 68

Ransom

Once he realised that Apeiron might not be petty after all, Duke Myron changed his attitude completely. His killing intent faded away as he sheathed his longsword, silently turning to his soldiers and having them leave despite the weird stares. Once he was gone, Richard’s rune knights retreated as well.

With everything settled down, a pleasant hum rang through the teleportation temple and two puppets walked over to the Archeron alcove, one of them pulling out the sword while the other shone a red beam onto the ground from its chest. The floor in the area started to bubble and froth, slowly filling up the rupture until it was smooth as silk once more; all the damage was recovered. The two puppets then returned to their original positions, turning back into statues.

Nobody batted an eye at the sight.

……

It didn’t take long for Duke Myron to send another envoy, this one respectful enough to actually warrant an audience. The man first asked how Rosie was doing, and learning that she was unharmed he argued that Link had too bright a future to be killed off. As per tradition, he requested a chance to pay a ransom for his life.

The envoy then passed over a list of items that would be included within the ransom, the final figure quite significant even considering Richard’s wealth. Including a barony in the northwest, the total value offered was far more than what Link was worth.

While the show of force had been one form of diplomacy, this display clearly demonstrated that Myron was anything but brutish. The barony had been carefully picked out to be of great use; although it wasn’t large, the place was fertile and on the same road as Maplefire City. It would make for a good supply point and outpost for a marching army, becoming a base for Richard’s western endeavours.

However, Richard raised his head and looked the eager envoy in the eye before shaking his head with a smile of regret. The man immediately panicked, his lips quivering as though to say something, but he stopped himself. Richard then placed a palm on his forehead and continued looking through the list, acting as though he was still considering it although his decision had already been made.

His thoughts had already sidetracked. The Link problem was representative of an endemic issue with the current state of the Archerons; their own population couldn’t sustain any further expansion, so he had to turn outwards instead. Although external recruits signed strict contracts that divided responsibilities from the start, the only thing that mattered when things went south was power.

Looking back at the list, Myron did present a generous ransom, far more than an ordinary runemaster was worth; the list made it clear that he hoped for Link to become a great runemaster at minimum. Richard was well aware that the youth was already at his limits and wouldn’t advance much further at all.

But it mattered far more that a potential ally had tried to stab him in the back. Link might have degraded himself to enter Rosie’s workshop, but even so, the only reason he had learned many core secrets of their design philosophy was the backing of the Myron Family and the potential alliance. All chances of a proper alliance had been decimated, and they were about to become enemies instead. He didn’t know what the precedent was for dealing with betrayal like that, but while he waited for Noelene to gather the intelligence he needed he didn’t mind showing Faust how he handled these issues.

He looked up and beckoned to the envoy who now looked uneasy, passing the list back to him, “This tiny ransom is too small for a future great runemaster.”

…

The envoy returned as quickly as he had left, this time bringing a new barony alongside a huge volume of magic materials and uncommon metals that were a specialty of the Myron Family. This was an enormous list that was worth an entire year’s revenue from the whole family.

Richard frowned to himself when he first saw it. It was impossible for the Duke to be unaware of the worth of what he was giving out; this one transaction would set them back for a few years at minimum. It was a bet of current assets for future potential; Myron was hoping for a miracle like Richard himself. After all, not just any family could summon hundreds of rune knights for a rather minor scuffle.

However, the man didn’t understand the situation in Richard’s main source of income. 150 rune knights being used on a secondary plane wouldn’t be a wild number, but Richard saved most of that with the broodmother’s drones. He himself wasn’t an ordinary runemaster either, while Rosie was starting a revolution in the industry to which the Archerons were the direct beneficiary. Anyone estimating Link Myron’s potential using Richard Archeron’s display was being a fool.

Richard smiled, beckoning to the envoy once more. However, this time he didn’t return the list and instead tapped it softly, “This still isn’t convincing enough. Also, Link’s been in my personal plane for a long time now, and he knows some things I don’t want him to disclose. We need to solve that problem. Now, my specialty is with fire and the other elements; I don’t deal in the soul. I’ll consider the offer if you present a good solution, but if you can’t Link will be executed right away.”

The envoy left and returned swiftly, placing two magic-sealing cases in front of Richard. He opened one to find ten divine crystals within, all standard unit power. This wasn’t too great an amount; with the broodmother around, no amount of divinity was adequate. However, the other case contained Duke Myron’s solution to the problem that left even Richard taken aback for a moment; it was a Camarilla’s Silence scroll!

Camarilla’s Silence was a legendary spell that prohibited the target from revealing information, holding similar power to a deity’s restrictions on their pope. It was near impossible to break this compulsion, but the spell hadn’t been seen in hundreds of years. A scroll containing it was an invaluable treasure. This truly was a way to give both sides what they wanted. Link would be unable to discuss anything related to Faelor while the Myron Family would still regain their future great runemaster. Richard smiled with satisfaction, noting the envoy’s sigh of relief.

He closed the case and looked towards the envoy, “Alright. If Duke Myron can hand over the ransom by dawn tomorrow, we have ourselves a deal.”

The envoy bowed respectfully, “His Grace has already prepared everything, the items will be here shortly. I will inform him immediately.”

Richard nodded and let the man leave, looking at the list on the table and two magic-sealing cases with a strange smile. Things were getting even more interesting; the fact that Myron had placed so much value on a single runemaster showed his ambitions. Reading through the list for a while longer, he eventually laughed and sent a guard out to inform Rosie to return immediately.

Myron acted very quickly. The first batch of goods was in Faust before noon, consisting of the magic materials and metals. Following that, a batch was sent out every hour or two and placed in the plaza of the Archeron island. Richard didn’t have any of it moved in, instead letting the shipments pile up in the open for everyone to see.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA