Book 8, Chapter 14

Peace Through War

During the campaign, Richard had personally fought the legends of the Millennial and Sacred Tree Empires, all the while retaining command of the entire army. His mana had been drained countless times and he had wounds of varying sizes all over his body, but he had directed his clergy to heal the soldiers instead of himself. Mana potions only helped so much, repairing the surface-level exhaustion while leaving the deeper threat intact.

All of this stress had only been given up the moment he was back in the command centre and able to relax. Thus, he had lost control and fallen asleep.

The hall immediately went quiet. Richard’s followers and generals stared at each other for a moment before continuing the meeting in absolute silence, planning to leave quietly and let him get some rest. However, in only a few minutes, his steady breathing was disturbed once more as he recognised the strange silence, “Huh… You’re done?”

He took a deep breath and tried to keep himself awake this time, “Is there anything you guys want to talk to me about?”

“Your Grace…” one of the generals under Alice asked, “There’s something I still don’t understand. The three empires only gathered their armies at our borders and didn’t actually invade us; they didn’t even formally express their intentions. Why did we attack first?”

“For peace,” he answered.

“For… peace?”

Richard smiled, “True peace is always achieved through war.”

……

It would be a few days before the general truly understood the meaning of Richard’s words. The vengeance he had been expecting from the three empires never arrived, instead replaced by envoys. These envoys surprisingly all had similar intentions as well; they wanted to propose an armistice.

At this point, Richard had already returned to Faelor and sent Olar back to deal with the politics. He had made his bottom line clear before leaving: the three empires were here seeking reconciliation, and the best he could do was to ignore his own losses. Prisoners would be dealt with the same as any civil war and ransomed off as usual.

Strangely enough, the envoys agreed. This was a huge concession to give to a single family; even if Richard had lost some of his men, he was still technically the aggressor in this matter. However, these envoys were even trying to form an alliance. The Sacred Tree Empire and Millennial Empire both prepared long lists of resources that could leave anyone dazed, the envoys fervent and sincere in their hints that they just needed him to refrain from joining the other side. Even the Sacred Alliance implied that Richard’s return would mean everything was negotiable; Apeiron herself could possibly yield a little.

Even Olar had never expected the envoys to behave this way; he understood politics from more of a microscopic perspective through his interactions with the upper class, while war negotiations in a lesser plane like Faelor were different from interacting with one’s superiors.

The nobles of Norland experienced the lunacy of the Archerons once more, a family that was known to attack instead of defending. This time, a sea of rune knights and a powerful legendary mage had shown just how great the price for war was; one couldn’t conquer Richard quickly, which meant he had ample time to negotiate with their rivals to join the other side. The current situation where he was unaffiliated was much better, especially since he had implied that he would still take custom rune orders even from the Sacred Alliance. In that regard, it would be as though the war never happened.

……

Things had gone quiet in Faelor, Richard’s return not causing any particular commotion. In the eyes of the other countries on the continent, the vile Crimson Dukedom had suddenly grown calm and peaceful, stopping all military operations as though Richard was completely sated by the eastern coast.

However, the dozens of dukedoms around Walvis Bay all felt very uneasy, even worse than when Rislant had made his desire for them known. 20,000 knights were still stationed on the coast, the terrifying humanoids and shadowspears having been reinforced rather recently. Gangdor had shown them that this was enough of a force to wipe out hundreds of thousands of their soldiers rather easily, so they were all the more afraid of Richard’s hunger being stoked.

The situation in the Iron Triangle Empire slowly calmed down as well. The nobility recognised Salwtyn’s claim to the throne, and at least on the surface the orders of the new Emperor were effective throughout the country. All in opposition to Salwyn were already either conquered or just dead.

In the eyes of the nobility, this was governance through power and terror. However, the commoners and other countries around didn’t feel the same way. The Iron Triangle Empire had lost the war completely, suffering such a terrible defeat that it wouldn’t have been a surprise for the country to be destroyed. However, they had only lost a vassal’s land as well as some other border territory while the royal bloodline still remained on the throne. No slaves were taken, no massacres had occurred, and the overall losses were unthinkably low.

……

Dragon Valley continued to prosper. Most of the legends and sky saints had returned from the Dragon Plane at least once, bringing along their great harvests. The valley itself had become a completely self-sufficient town, containing all sorts of things like a brewery and vineyard, rune workshop, blacksmith, and even a brothel.

Forty rune knights constantly patrolled the valley, in charge of guarding the portal to prevent random dragons from poking their heads in. They still caused a bit of a commotion whenever they patrolled the manors; even legends didn’t normally use a single rune knight for such a low task.

Of course, there wasn’t anybody in the valley foolish enough to challenge Richard anymore. News of him defeating a level 22 mage when he wasn’t even legendary had spread long ago, as had the fact that he had now become a legend himself. Even though he would have to spend some time stabilising, nobody had the courage to challenge him. Some of this had to do with Sharon and Ruben, but his own power and status had made him an equal to the other legends here. At this point, his arrival and departure were considered significant events.

When Richard walked out of the portal from Bluewater, he had to squint a little to see through the strong sunlight. The sky was a boundless blue as far as one could see, and the red sun was constantly pulsing heat. He grinned, seemingly muttering to himself, “Such good weather is so rare.”

“Indeed, Your Excellency,” a voice rang by his ear, “We haven’t met before, my name is Aaron.”

Richard turned around to look at the sky saint that had spoken up, the name quite familiar. The handsome young man looked to be brimming with talent, and his bloodlust and unconcealed confidence made it clear that it wasn’t an understatement. This was someone who possessed power and the achievements to show for it; Aaron’s name was no less famous than Beye’s.

“Was it a good harvest?” Richard smiled, nodding in greeting.

“Much better than I could ever have expected,” Aaron replied.

“Great. Make good use of this opportunity.”

“I will, Your Excellency. I plan to return right after I hand everything over to my family.”

Richard nodded and headed to the depths of the valley. It was only when his figure disappeared that Aaron realised he had been bowing all this time, such respect something he only showed to his parents and other elders. His eyes filled with fear as he stared at where Richard had gone; he hadn’t even meant to bow in the first place!

Richard returned to his residence and threw Moonlight and the Judge to one side before plopping down on the sofa. Nasia had appeared by the entrance before he knew it, but he only grunted in response to her greeting as he stared down with chin in hand.

“Got something on your mind?” she chuckled as she walked over.

“Mm, I lost.”

“Oh? Was it bad?”

“It was… absolute.”

Nasia seemed to grow even more interested, crouching beside him and watching his eyes for a while in amusement, “Absolute, huh? That’s interesting. But there shouldn’t be anyone outside of me who can beat you so easily, who was it?”

Richard took a deep breath, actually flashing a smile, “Apeiron.”

“Apeiron? You mean the Empress? Wait…” the lips on her mask seemed to open up as her pitch went higher, “You actually went and challenged an epic being? Are you stupid or just insane? Absolute loss? It’s amazing you didn’t die right there! What do you think an epic being is?! Just seven or eight levels on you?! You just became legendary, do you even have a demiplane yet?! Have you finished any of your laws?! Has your mana stabilised?! Do you have your ability?!”

The barrage of questions seemed to smash down on Richard like a storm. He grinned without answer, but his eyes definitely weren’t smiling.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA