This finally explained Kojo’s formidable forces. The soldiers following him weren’t his own subordinates, instead elites from the baron’s army. Warriors normally chose a specialisation at level 5, be that archery or martial arts, giving them the ability to rival three to five level 4s.
The situation of this plane was quite similar to Norland’s. Both planes had numerous intelligent creatures, but at least in the Whiterock Duchy humans were in control. Status was based on a line of succession or military merit, which promoted a healthy martial culture amongst the people of the plane, quite like Norland. However, that military culture only spelled bad news for Richard.
The main god of the Whiterock Duchy was the God of Valour, Neian. There were other gods that Flowsand hadn’t heard of before as well, likely including aboriginal ones. The number of devotees would put Neian at an intermediate god, with five or six other regions of similar outreach. Ancestral worship was quite common here as well, with humans not losing out to the beastmen and elves in that regard.
Baron Forza was a strong devotee of Neian, and had recently set up an altar to the deity within his castle. The priest had recently been given an oracle, prompting the baron to send Kojo on a manhunt alongside his troops, tracking down the intruders to their plane. Were he to suffer defeat, the main army would follow.
Richard and Flowsand made their way to an empty plot. Richard moved a table out, while Flowsand placed a map made from the captives’ information onto the table.
Their base hadn’t ended up in a particularly good or bad situation, about five kilometres away from the end of the mountain path. The terrain and dense forestry served to block any cavalry from advancing, forcing even titled knights like Kojo to advance to the base on foot.
The base itself was located on an abrupt miniature cliff. On three sides were steep slopes, with only the main entrance being a gentle road. With the cliffs being more than twenty metres tall, it would take a knight in training to scale them during battle.
However, if they retreated to the base they would end up trapped.
Richard scrutinised the map, deliberating over it repeatedly before he pointed at a small town about twenty kilometres from the base. “If the Baron’s troops have already set off, they’ll arrive here by tonight. This place is the last chance for them to replenish their supplies and get some rest before entering the mountains. They’re likely to try and track us down at first light, so if we scout this place out now we’ll be able to get some general details about those troops.”
“They might have brought some priests along this time,” Flowsand remarked, “Those should be our first targets. I’m not sure if they’ll have mages as well,”
Richard nodded in agreement. Staring at this map of the towns and villages under Forza, he silently made his own calculations, “It hasn’t even been a day yet, and the reaction to Kojo not answering shouldn’t be this immediate. With the upgraded equipment and levels of the troop, they wouldn’t expect the entire force to have been annihilated. Baron Forza will be unlikely to turn out in full strength tomorrow as well. The oracle should have mentioned our numbers and strength, but that shouldn’t tell them about the number of people we have that are skilled at spying and assassination. The losses we’ll suffer the first time around will be negligible, we’ll meet a third of his army at most. About two titled knights, a dozen novices, and two to three hundred soldiers.”
Contemplating over it for some time, Richard looked to Flowsand and asked solemnly, “Flowsand, I need to know how much better you are than a regular cleric. I need to accurately deduce our military strength.”
Flowsand raised her head, fixing her gaze upon Richard before going, “Sure, but let’s start with you. Don’t tell me that a normal level 8 mage can set off five fireballs within five seconds. You should have been handicapped just from the mana cost, forget how quickly you cast the spells. I would also appreciate it if you explained the four boars you summoned as well.”
Richard chuckled, nodding, “Alright. I have a vitality rune tattooed onto myself that can speed up my energy and mana recovery. I also have enhanced control of my abilities. I may be a level 8 mage, but my mana pool is close to level 9.
“My main focus amongst grade 3 spells is Fireball, and at grade 4 it’s Nature’s Beckon and Icicle Storm. I’ve enhanced the fireball spell to allow me to quickcast it in under a second, and allowed it to consume less mana than normal as well. Nature’s Beckon might be due to my elven bloodline, but it’s effects are boosted when I cast it. As for Icicle, even if I haven’t perfected it yet it has immense power. However, it takes five seconds for me to cast it, too much to be useful in actual battle.”
Richard hadn’t explained things completely. The ivory bracelet sitting snugly on his wrist had proved to have another function: it was easier for him to communicate with his summons. That’s why he managed to summon an additional boar.
“What about your bloodline abilities?” Flowsand continued to ask relentlessly.
Richard hesitated, before explaining, “I’ve only awakened one so far— Eruption.”
Flowsand lowered her head, writing in the air with her fingers. It took a while for her to reply, “Great, I think I know how to support you in battle now. Alright, my turn. I’m different from the average priest. I’m a cleric, titled Daybreak by the Eternal Dragon. You can assume I have thrice the mana reserve of an ordinary priest of my level.
“You have also noticed the rune on my forehead before. I acquired it along with my title, and it gives me a special ability called the Lens of Time. It allows me to change the time flow of a target for fifteen seconds, with half a chance of being successful if the target is five levels higher than me and no chance at all at seven levels of difference.”
“How much can you speed them up?” Richard’s eyes lit up.
“For now? About four-thirds the normal timeflow. That will increase with my level.”
“Great! That gives us a way to deal with those knights!” Richard could not contain his excitement. He took a look over Flowsand, “I’m thankful we’re not enemies.”
This time, Flowsand showed him an elusive smile, “So am I.”
Richard beamed. They could finally see a glimpse of light on the horizon.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Jessa
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA