Book 8, Chapter 67

The Church Appears

Fear had overcome the hatred and jealousy in Steven’s heart. He clearly understood what the pit he was currently in signified; Richard could crush them all with pure strength alone. Richard didn’t even need an instant spell to kill him.

A strange situation thus developed. The Archerons were still massacring the Solams on the frontlines, but the core of the Solam army was completely silent. No one dared to make any rash moves, just letting Richard stand there in thought. Outside of Steven himself, most of the other generals were in Richard’s range as well; fearful of an attack, they stopped commanding entirely and let the troops fall into further chaos.

“Surrender,” Richard eventually returned from the trip to his memories, his one word prompting a sigh of relief from most of the generals.

Every gaze focused on Steven, but the warlock seemed to find some courage out of nowhere as he asked angrily, “What if I say no?”

Richard laughed, “Then you all die. I’m not sure if anyone here is confident in surviving a Death’s Decree.”

The generals paled. Death’s Decree was already a grade 9 spell, and cast by a legendary mage no one would be able to escape. Steven himself gulped in fear, “I… surrender.”

“Mm. Don’t worry, you two can leave. Just tell Solam to send the ransom quickly; one top-tier offering and I’ll release your warriors and generals. He has three days, but he can just send someone else if he’ll still be too hurt by then.”

Steven was shocked. Too hurt? That meant Richard had fought his father and won!

The battle thus ended quickly with Steven’s soldiers suffering some minor casualties before surrendering. Richard noticed Minnie struggling to say something to him, but she eventually looked at Steven and went quiet. He didn’t particularly care, focusing on the other two armies that Solam had nearby, but a short while later his scouts reported that they were too far away already. The other dukes still weren’t close enough for a raid to make sense, and once they received news about this attack they would never approach.

All of the armies focused on the Brahms Marquessate thus gave up on the offence, but to Richard this wasn’t even a factor. After all, the Sacred Tree Empire had clearly recognised the seriousness of the situation and wouldn’t be helping Brahms in his foolish decision to start a blood feud. This was what allowed him to kill Brahms’s relatives with no issue, caging the Marquess up in his own land and taking over the land and sky.

……

When Richard led his troops back to Sunset City, he added 70,000 prisoners of war to the existing 80,000. This was worth a huge ransom; even at 20 gold per soldier, this would equal the value of the batch of divine gold.

Steven and Minnie had been let go; these two former rivals were now so far beneath him that he didn’t even consider them high-priority prisoners. He actually hoped the foolish warlock would still waste the potential of Solam’s army, but he didn’t think that was particularly likely after such a high-profile failure.

Once back in the castle, Richard continued his basic training while admiring the armour in the study, awaiting a new battle. It didn’t take long for that battle to present itself, either— it took three days for news that Saint Thomas was leading 50,000 paladins into war and was less than 50 kilometres from the Brahms territory. The private armies of three dukes who had retreated had met up with his, bringing the army to a full 300,000 strong.

With this army picking up numbers by the day, even Richard couldn’t ignore the difference in number. He gathered his troops, planning to confront the new opponent head-on. Just before leaving, he executed two of Brahms’s uncles that were both earls before hanging them on the front gates of Dragonwing Castle. The Marquess’s study and bedroom were thrashed completely, but he still refused to surrender.

……

Richard eventually met Thomas’s army at a river valley on the northern end of the Brahms Marquessate. 300,000 soldiers seemed to cover the entire area, with the paladins and holy knights right in the middle. The white armour, red ribbons, and capes looked extremely imposing when lined up together.

In comparison, the 30,000 troops Richard had behind him were outnumbered but not outclassed. Their combined aura was pushing up against the divine army before them, refusing to budge an inch.

Once the two armies were in position, Richard and Thomas went forward to meet in the middle of the battlefield. There were a few red-robed bishops behind the man, including a cardinal, but Richard only had Senma.

Age had left deep traces on Thomas’s face, each wrinkle showing a bit of history. The paladin was currently over 300 years old, having lived through six different emperors and nine different popes. However, his expression was resolute and gaze determined, as though nothing could affect his judgement.

“Richard Archeron, stop your invasion and retreat from the Brahms Marquessate immediately. This is your last chance, or I will destroy Blackrose Castle!”

Richard was a little shocked. Thomas’s tone was excessively threatening and arrogant, rude even to a normal lord. It was obvious that the man had no plans to settle things peacefully.

Not hearing a reply, Saint Thomas bellowed, “Why, do you wish to challenge the royal family and the Church? If not for your collusion with heretics, do you think you would even have a chance to retreat? Scram now, or I’ll consider it a rejection of our grace!”

Richard beamed at this point, but the paladin continued, “Leave behind your rune knights as collateral. Once you repay the Church to satisfaction, we will return them.”

“Oh? Does this condition come from the Church of Glory, or from you?”

“You don’t need to know that!”

As bloodlust filled Thomas’s face, Richard turned calmer, “It makes a big difference, you know. If this condition comes from you, I suggest you withdraw it right now. You don’t have the authority or the capacity to represent your church.”

I don’t have the capacity? Then I’ll let you know, my decision is the Church’s decision. Now, make your decision; leave your rune knights and go away, or I’ll help you leave.”

Richard’s expression suddenly changed, a charming smile appearing on his face as a melodic voice filled the battlefield, “Saint Thomas, your decision most certainly does not represent the Church.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: WQ

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA