Book 7, Chapter 88

For The Empire

Richard raised his hand and a thousand shadowspears broke out of formation, charging forward at the few imperial soldiers left.

“FOR THE EMPIRE!” a veteran shouted loudly, his brethren quickly joining him. However, a black wave crashed across and drowned them all; the veterans showcased surprising grit in their attempt to hold on, but in only a minute there was no one left standing.

Richard had the cloned brain turn around, heading northeast. At the same time, the Thinker commanded all of the magic mounts to activate their bloodline abilities, increasing their speed, power, and endurance substantially. The price for this boost would be half a year of lifespan, but it allowed the cavalry to sustain a speed that was normally only reserved for full charges.

……

Rislant had travelled at a sluggish pace for less than ten minutes before a new thought struck his mind; just why hadn’t Richard sent anyone to chase him? Was it really because he didn’t have the resources to spare, or was it because he had full confidence in being able to catch up?

The second idea quickly dominated his mind, and he immediately instructed the troop to head straight for the Ice Fortress at full speed. A messenger was dispatched to the assembly point, telling the soldiers there to start heading to the fortress as well. This was a sinister command; by the time the news got to them, they would be just in time to intercept Richard’s chase; their lives would be forfeit, but he would live instead.

After hours spent at a gallop, the Ice Fortress was finally on the horizon. The imperial generals let out long sighs, but they suddenly felt the ground underneath them trembling abnormally. Turning around, they saw a line of black in the distance surging towards them from the south, looking like the prelude to a storm.

“HOW CAN THEY MOVE THAT FAST?” a few of them cried out in surprise, the same question also stuck in Rislant’s throat. A quick calculation told him that Richard’s pursuit had been faster than what they could manage during a charge.

This was the disparity between Norland and Faelor. Even with the Ice Fortress right before them, Rislant’s army didn’t have the ability to go all the way.

It looked like a grand battle between two cavalries, nearly 50,000 soldiers of different kinds in a bloody fight here in the cold north, but Richard was showcasing his flawless command once more. His soldiers moved around seamlessly like their beasts weren’t even a factor, while the tired imperial cavalry were extremely pathetic. Every humanoid knight could kill four to five opponents, especially the mobile corps who weren’t used to fighting on horseback.

The victory wasn’t surprising, nor was Rislant’s escape. As expected, the man had made the decision to leave behind the last of his own soldiers as he withdrew with his personal guard. The generals understood this decision; his life was perhaps one of the most important things to preserve on this battlefield. As such, a small unit of a thousand bypassed the Ice Fortress and headed straight towards the imperial capital that was only ten kilometres away.

Richard was in no rush, staying in battle for another fifteen minutes to defeat most of the imperial cavalry before having his cloned brain fly in Rislant’s direction. At the same time, 300 shadowspears and 100 rune knights split off from the main contingent and followed close behind.

Rislant felt the biting cold of the wind much more fiercely than he had ever done before, as though axes were tearing into his face. On top of his flagging warhorse, the man tried hard to recall just when he had been chased around so humiliatingly before, but no memory was forthcoming. And yet, there was no trace of shame in his heart, only an icy despair that threatened to drown all of his senses.

Salwyn’s voice rang in his ears from a decade ago, advocating using the entire might of the Empire to thoroughly destroy Richard before he unified the Bloodstained Lands. Because of their rivalry, he had been the loudest voice of opposition and even helped drive the prince out from the capital to sever any hopes of succeeding the throne. Now, he couldn’t help but regret that decision. The battle at Godstear Pass had been another victory against Salwyn, but Richard had crushed him instead.

As he thought of this, Rislant felt pinpricks in his heart. The wind grew colder and his horse more bumpy; it was a good thing that the silhouette of the capital could be seen in the distance.

It was only then that he noticed a cavalry troop speeding across the icy plains at an unbelievable pace, cutting in right between his unit and the imperial capital. The last of his chances to retreat had been blocked off.

A horrifying aura suddenly covered all of them as the sinister bug-like cloned brain floated down from the sky, landing amongst the cavalry of the Crimson Dukedom. The imperial war horses reared up in fright, and Rislant who hadn’t rested for a day and night felt his limbs go rigid as he fell from his mount.

Stood atop his cloned brain, Richard silently stared at the imperial commander who was struggling on the hard ground. Rislant’s helmet had been misplaced long ago, so his grizzled silver hair was now full of first. It was only with the aid of a guard that he struggled up, coughing crimson onto his breastplate. Taking a minute to catch his breath, he raised his head and forced a smile, “Richard?”

“Mm.”

Rislant pushed the guard holding him away, making his way closer to capture Richard’s indifferent expression, “So young… You and that legendary mage supposed to be teaching you… You’re not of our world, are you?”

“Nope,” Richard drew closer himself, until they were almost face to face.

“Even we mortals can tell this, why don’t our gods react? How could the three goddesses align with you?”

“They probably would react, if they could. Master fought them all into sleep, so they don’t really have the strength right now.”

Rislant’s eyes went wide, but after a moment he returned to normal, “So that’s what happened to all the gods. Then the three likely switched sides fearing your master or their own peers. Sigh.”

Richard turned around to glance at the imperial capital, “I didn’t bring many soldiers, but I can still kill all of yours in a single charge. Don’t put your hopes on the Emperor saving you.”

“Heh, I might have hoped for that at some point, but it’s just wishful thinking. Come, then; I might be old, but I can still swing my sword like a warrior!” Rislant unsheathed his sabre, displaying a stance used commonly by the imperial troops. As someone who had grown up in the army, he had trained their techniques to near perfection.

Richard barely even felt the man’s murderous aura, simply floating back as he gestured forward. His soldiers charged forward around him, killing Rislant and his troops all at once. This was the first major defeat in Rislant’s life, and it would also be his last. The man was steady and dignified, possessing a ruthlessness that Richard or Salwyn never could, but it was a pity that he was just outclassed in every way possible.

At the end of it all, the commander lay crouched on the field with a bloodstain spreading across his chest. The wound was something Richard was familiar with, coming from a halberd’s pike as it drove through. The rune knights preferred impaling a couple of weak enemies at a time before sweeping out to throw them away. Rislant was perhaps the most imposing figure in the Iron Triangle Empire, his name famous across the entire west, but in the eyes of Richard’s rune knights he was just an old man without any significant ability in battle.

The commander’s chest heaved with a lot of difficulty, his eyes losing focus as they stared at the dark sky. The man’s lips quivered as he spat out his last words, “For… the… Empire…”

Richard jumped off his cloned brain and walked to the side of the commander’s corpse, personally adjusting its posture to make it look like he was sleeping on his back. He then took Rislant’s sabre and plunged it into the earth beside him.

This loss wasn’t a shameful one. 500,000 against 80,000 might seem shameful, but those 80,000 included drones from a creature meant for war and rune knights who showcased tremendous power. This army could defeat half of the families of Faust, even most legendary beings no match for the combination of Richard and Nasia. The biggest threat to an invading army, the local gods, weren’t even involved in the defence here.

In fact, Sharon had been acting mysterious and secretive as of late, still noticeably pissed about having been hurt to the point of needing to hibernate. Some clues showed that she wanted to come back to Faelor and finish her job, but Richard had followed Blackgold’s advice and not given her coordinates that adjusted for the regular drift between planes. Still, it was only a matter of time before she found the place and returned for her vengeance.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA