Book 2, Chapter 9

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A moment later, Richard returned to the base alongside Flowsand. He’d already understood the situation, having sorted out his priorities. The first and foremost task was to gather information, both about the incoming baron and their environment. Next was to boost everyone’s morale, and finally was the problem of forming an army in this plane.

Everyone contracted to Richard rushed back to the base as well, making sure that he was safe. Richard reassigned their roles, sending Olar out alongside Gangdor and Waterflower to inspect the terrain. The trolls, now awake, would help the knights clean up the battlefield and repair equipment.

Tiramisu would get to showcase his skills, transcribing a large number of language proficiency scrolls. The first step to root themselves in this plane would be conquering the language barrier.

With Olar’s progress on the interrogation being lacklustre, Richard decided to interrogate the captives himself. Flowsand would assist him, keeping them from dying if he lost control.

Olar had already found out some information, but he was so gentle that he was slowed down at key points. They gave him illogical, contradicting statements on the number of soldiers and knights the baron had, and even their original follow-up plan as well as the relief of the Baron’s territory. With the intense sense of crisis enveloping his heart, Richard had already lost his patience.

Every passing hour at that point signified growing danger. Perhaps the baron’s army was already on its way, or the deities had sent out a new order through their oracles. How could he afford to let these captives waste any more of his precious time?

Richard was still in a daze as he walked into the small but well-equipped interrogation room. The two captives originally felt like they could bear more punishment, but they shriveled with cold as he walked into the room. The very light in the place seemed to have dimmed.

The duo were covered with injuries, but none of them were serious. They both looked to be in their thirties, of strong build and seemingly of decent skill as well. Level 5 warriors as they were, their sharp gazes indicated that they were determined to just survive whatever they were put through. They were likely veterans.

With just one look Richard realised that this would be relatively difficult to handle, but there were no solutions for that. Two kinds of people could not be defeated by torture: ones with strong faith, and those who would protect something no matter what.

These soldiers were observing Richard as well. He’d walked in expressionlessly, and the sight of his, long, exquisite, and stable arms, their gazes changed. When they saw Flowsand walk in behind him, the two who could tease the elven bard finally had a change in expression.

Richard quickly went through the tools in his hands, inspecting the warriors’ injuries. His movements were swift and skilled, practised countless times when he was at Naya’s tavern. The procedure had been drilled into him so well that he could be accurate without even thinking. That was one of the most authentic skills of the underworld.

Richard didn’t speak a word from the moment he walked into the interrogation room, just taking care of his tasks silently. That scared these soldiers.

“Hey. Hey!” one of them shouted as Richard chained him up, “What are you trying to do, kid?”

Richard turned a deaf ear to any threats and howls, just hanging the man up and reaching for his tools.

“AH! CURSE YOU, HERETIC! YOU SHALL BURN IN FLAMES!” The warriors cries penetrated the interrogation room, spreading out into the rest of the base. Richard remained quick and steady, not stopping regardless of the volume of the man’s screams. One by one, all his tools were stained by blood and thrown away. Flowsand had already begun casting lesser heals, having to cast the spell a total of seven times by the time Richard went through his entire repertoire once. The soldier had lost all energy, his former rage now just soft moans coming from his throats.

“Next.” This was Richard’s first word since he stepped into the interrogation room.

“No! Don’t touch me, I’ll tell you whatever you want to— AAAH!” The first warrior had been let down, and the second hung up instead. Richard didn’t even consider listening to the man’s words, repeating the process once more.

Five minutes and six lesser heals later, the tools had been exhausted once more. This time, Flowsand had even needed to cast a greater healing spell to keep him alive. The two were returned to their original positions, still covered with injuries. They looked about the same as they had ten minutes ago, but the arrogance in their eyes had completely disappeared.

Richard threw the blood-stained tools into a pail of cold water with a loud crash. He conveniently washed his hands as well, sitting in front of the soldiers, “Now, what do you folks have to say? Just so you know, the cleric has only used a third of her mana.”

Minutes later, Richard had gathered everything he needed to know. He’d ‘questioned’ them several times, ensuring that they were not lying. The soldiers fainted a few times throughout the process, but were awakened by splashes of cold water, keeping them from losing their consciousness.

Cold water was the best thing to use in these kinds of situations, not magic. Bone-chilling moisture enveloping one’s entire body was the most refreshing of ‘medicine’, the streams of water trickling down the back and droplets falling off the hair keeping one awake.

By the time they were sure they couldn’t get any more clues, Richard and Flowsand met gazes. Both sensed the worry in the other’s mind. They had confirmed that this was an intermediate plane, with great military might. Their reconnaissance base had ended up in the Whiterock Duchy, a land of complex terrain that was made mostly of mountain and forest. There was a river flowing through this land, more than ten kilometres away, keeping the land outside the mountain range fertile and arable. At the bend of the river was Baron Forza’s castle, alongside a port city. Kojo had been one of five knights subordinate to him.

The plane had plenty of rain and fertile soil, allowing them to develop their agriculture to a level where food was abundant enough to support a large population. There were nearly 200,000 people living in a few hundred square kilometres, with a corresponding standing army of over a thousand people with dozens of knights in training.

The tradition in this plane allowed any commoner to be knighted on the basis of merit and power, granting them a small fief with a manor. However, one had to be over level 10 to be afforded such treatment. Forza was only level 8 at more than fifty years of age, but that didn’t lessen the danger Richard was facing. The Baron’s huge army could extinguish Richard’s tiny party that had less than twenty men.

Moreover, the Baron was the ruling noble of this large territory. If there was a crisis he could mobilise retired veterans, freemen, mercenaries and trained youths into a militia that was twice the size of the army. Of course that still meant less than two hundred leaders that were over level 5, with the rest weaker than that.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: YT

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA

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