Richard wanted to defeat the armies of all three empires! It was a simple strategy in theory, but anyone who heard it could only call him insane. How was one noble to stand up to such combined might?
One of his generals gulped and asked hesitantly, “Your Grace… Would that be alright? They still haven’t started or even declared their attack; if we send out our troops, won’t we be giving them the perfect excuse?”
“To attack us?” Richard chuckled, “They’d do that regardless.”
Over the next few days, Richard locked himself in his laboratory and never left. However, tens to even hundreds of orders were given out every day, some going to the soldiers around Blackrose while others were sent to his various planes. Exactly five days later, the portals in the castle all lit up for his followers to pass through one by one, each possessing an imposing aura. Senma, Asiris, Tiramisu… outside of Olar and Gangdor, basically everyone had showed up.
Behind these followers were an endless stream of warriors, those from Faelor coming in the greatest count. The tall, muscular winter soldiers were especially adept at drawing attention, taking the limelight from the arrowbeasts who were just as powerful. Other drones had joined as well, with the humanoids being the weakest of the lot and still a powerful troop that was rare in Norland.
Most important was the numbers; the long line of soldiers stunned even some of Richard’s generals; all major nobles hid their core battle power in their private planes, but for it to reach this quality and quantity was unusual at best.
Once all the soldiers were out, Richard showed himself as well. Taking a glance at the gathered troops, he summoned the unicorn and rode it down the hill. His followers immediately tagged along, with the rune knights, regular knights, and footsoldiers all getting into formation right behind. In only minutes, an army of a hundred thousand was following Richard northwards.
The troops of the Sacred Alliance got wind of Richard setting out before his soldiers were even in formation. Duke Turing immediately called an emergency meeting to discuss strategy, a full hundred people squeezed into his command tent with some of them forced to stand. This was despite a limit of two people per family joining in; almost everybody had found some reason or the other to bring extras along for the pure status.
“He actually dares to attack us?”
“He’s out of his mind!”
“We should take him head on!”
The tent grew chaotic, many considering Richard’s initiative an unacceptable provocation. The nobles were all furious, almost having forgotten the power and aggression of the Archerons when and even before they owned a floating island.
Duke Turing knitted his brows together, realising it was all hot air. Those screaming right now didn’t possess the ability or resources to do anything meaningful, and there weren’t any strategies being suggested either. They were all just venting their feelings with hollow words. However, he couldn’t just dismiss them either. This was a very loose alliance, and those who had brought their troops could just as well leave at any time. He was the commander, but he didn’t possess absolute control over everyone.
The Duke turned to a middle-aged mage and asked softly, “What do you think, Mister Cassius?”
Cassius wasn’t very high in level, not even a grand mage yet, but Duke Turing was still extremely respectful to him. The man pointed at the nobles and smiled, “Look at them, the situation has already come to this. Can we still not fight this battle? Do you really believe we stand a chance to lose?”
Hearing this, Duke Turing’s tightly knitted bows finally relaxed. There were more than 150,000 soldiers gathered here by the Sacred Alliance, with twelve full squads of rune knights backing them. Although most of the soldiers were from lesser families and not elites, the numbers were more than enough to make up for that gap. Meanwhile, they had far more saints than Richard as well. If they didn’t dare to take the challenge despite these advantages, it would be a joke.
Turing suddenly realised he had actually been scared of Richard’s undefeated legend, but looking at Cassius once more, his confidence grew immediately. He had recruited the mage more than a year ago; despite being personally weak, only level 15, this was someone with unparalleled leadership and management abilities that was an asset to any family. In only a few months, Cassius had broken a years-long stalemate in a private plane and defeated the two strongest empires there to conquer the entire plane. The Duke trusted him greatly.
Still, he had to make sure to give the man a warning, “Richard isn’t an easy opponent.”
“I know,” Cassius chuckled, “Trust me, I never underestimate my enemies.”
Nodding, the Duke walked up to the podium and gestured for silence. Once everyone quieted down, he stated clearly, “If Richard dares to challenge our dignity, let’s give him a fight!”
After a short moment of silence, the hall was filled with loud cheers.
To the north of Azan was a large plane dotted with some mountains and rivers. This was a natural battlefield, suitable for both large-scale engagements as well as tactical guerilla warfare. When Richard led his army into the plains, he saw a long row of tents on the distant horizon already waiting for him. Cassius had chosen this place as the battlefield as well.
The war started the very next day. Richard placed 30,000 soldiers on the wings and led 60,000 directly into battle, staring down the 120,000 under Duke Turing.
“He’s definitely going to lose,” Cassius stated calmly.
Turing nodded, “He already has a numbers disadvantage but he still dares to split his troops. This is a full battlefield with hundreds of thousands, not a small skirmish. Ha, the so-called king of the battlefield doesn’t understand the difference at all.”
“You shall be the new king of the battlefield from now,” Cassius said in flattery, prompting a poised smile.
Richard stopped his unicorn and looked at the army of the Sacred Alliance that was a kilometre away. They had been on the same side not long ago, but they were now opponents on the battlefield. He felt his heart stir and stopped his troops from advancing, riding forward alone. From the opposite side, Duke Turing galloped over as well.
“Richard, you can’t fight the entire Alliance by yourself. As an acquaintance, I’m giving you one last chance. Surrender immediately, rejoin the Alliance, and swear your loyalty to the Empress. This is the only way for you to avoid destruction!” Turing said firmly.
Richard smiled, “Took the words right out of my mouth. Surrender immediately, and your family will still be able to hold on to your island.”
The Duke’s expression darkened, “So be it; we have nothing to talk about.”
As the two returned to their armies, chilling war cries reverberated above the battlefield and the huge armies started to move. Turing glanced at his platoon of rune knights, the full 120 present leaving him excited. He didn’t hope to defeat Richard with them— it was public knowledge that the Archerons had more than 200— but with many tied down in other planes he expected to hold Richard’s higher-level soldiers at bay while his army won the war. With Richard’s advantage in terms of rune knights, the battle was half won.
Or at least, that was what he thought. As the black tide of Richard’s cavalry started moving, the vicious mounts, black armour, and boundless auras of the shadowspears going into full effect, he still felt a chill in his heart. The other nobles around him paled as well, thinking of what the shadowspears were known for— these were rune knight killers.
“Don’t worry,” Cassius reminded him promptly, “We have the elites to match.”
All of Norland’s families had started discussing ways to deal with Richard’s shadowspears the moment he showed them off. While some families had their own special troops to fend them off, Cassius had identified two key points. One, a large number of rune knights would be able to crush them regardless. Two, a troop of specially-trained elites would be able to hold them at bay and target their actual weaknesses.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: WQ
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA