Richard was full of fresh energy as he walked out of the forest with Flowsand, no longer feeling like this plane was perpetually shrouded in grey. He thought back deeply on his relationship with her, finding that it was full of accidents and mistakes.
On the eve of returning to Norland… That wasn’t just a promise he had made, it was an agreement between the two. However, how was he to get to that step?
He kept thinking it over on the road, but couldn’t come to a clear conclusion. This was a problem even his gifted intellect couldn’t solve, so engaging even the broodmother’s messages didn’t come to his attention.
‘I’ve already captured the troggs. Two-thirds of the prey escaped.’ That was news from ten minutes ago.
‘I’m having the third batch of raptors continue to follow me, it will increase hunting efficiency.’ That was five minutes ago.
‘Found the nest of a whiteback devilbear.’ One minute ago.
Lost in his own thoughts, Richard didn’t even notice the sheer increase in the broodmother’s hunting, and that it was only giving him news of the difficult targets. Perhaps it was just as it had said before, and the mountains really didn’t have any natural predators for it to be wary of.
Returning to camp, Richard finally ceased his thoughts on what transpired just earlier and put out his manhood. However, it felt extremely uncomfortable and he ended up unable to sleep, instead continuing to study his map. It felt like the twists and turns of the night had expanded his plane of thought, and his eyes began to trace back and forth along a series of small towns on the map.
Time passed quietly. Although Richard and Flowsand both acted as though nothing had happened, Olar seemed to be aware of something. He didn’t engage with Kojo’s mistress again, although he still took the opportunity while on shift to give her some extra food. However, Richard pretended not to see that.
Noon of the third day, Marvin returned to the lakeside camp. The schematic of Baron Forza’s castle came as a surprise to Richard— while the fallen cleric was terrible at the divine, he was not without merit. He was a master of conspiracy and negotiation.
After some thinking, Richard decided to take the letter of introduction from Sir Kocat, going to Baron Fontaine to see if he could get in touch with the Direwolf Duke.
On the fourth day, Gangdor brought back the news Richard had been waiting for. Forza refused to pay a ransom for Sir Kojo’s family, even publicly executing Richard’s messenger. The corpse was hung high up on the entrance to Joven, with a sign set up prominently next to it. Written on the sign was a warning in crimson blood: anyone who dared collaborate with the demons would suffer the same fate.
The news quickly spread through the temporary camp. The captive women and children immediately burst into tears, not stopping until several knights shouted in a bid to silence them. The soldiers had more varying expressions, but most of them were shocked into silence while a few were whispering to their neighbours.
The area was filled with an oppressive air of despair. These men had never been fearless, at least not in front of the enemy. Now there was no way to retreat, and faced with the terrifying might of Baron Forza and Earl Jayleon they naturally lost all colour in their faces.
“What do we do now, boss?” Gangdor asked casually, not caring that his voice resonated across the entire camp.
“What do we do?” Richard laughed, “What else can we do? Of course we’re going to teach Forza a lesson he won’t forget! And on the way, we’ll find more distinguished and beautiful ladies to take as companions!”
Richard immediately started assigning roles, leaving only two knights and ten soldiers to guard the captives. Everyone else left the camp, their first destination being Joven with the veteran Yomen leading the way. The forces were strangely silent as they marched along, everyone aware of Richard’s unusual determination and bloodlust.
However, anyone who knew Richard as a person would know he wasn’t angry for that one soldier’s death. He’d already estimated that anyway. Thus came the question: how had this change come about?
That question was near impossible to answer.
Following the troops were nine raptors. Seeing these savage beasts move silently caused even Gangdor to tense up unnaturally, the only ones unaffected being Flowsand and Waterflower. Flowsand knew the origins of the broodmother, while Waterflower sensed no hostility from these creatures.
Nine in the evening was a time when most people in remote villages went to sleep. Joven’s inns were still lively, but the houses had no lights coming from them anymore. These days, even families not in the habit of sleeping early shut their doors and blew out the lights early.
The Baron had stationed almost a hundred soldiers in Joven. Although these energetic fighters were helpless against monsters, they were good at oppressing and bullying the townsfolk. The core epithet of this plane’s government was that people fulfilled their obligations to their lord while the lord had the responsibility to protect his people. With the lord missing and his family kidnapped, the town was free for the taking.
‘I hope you will not let me down when I return…’ When the bloodshed and screaming began once more, more than one resident of Joven recalled Richard’s words. Those words were still ringing in their ears, but nobody had expected him to return so quickly.
However, things were different from his first time here. The people now felt a little relieved, some even overjoyed, except they found it difficult to express. At least they could witness these soldiers receive a proper lesson.
Nearly a hundred soldiers still posed some amount of threat to Richard’s army, even if they were only ordinary warriors without a single knight among them. Even their leader was only level 6, but as an army they were relatively complete. If the infantry and archers could take advantage of the town’s defences, it would cause them some trouble.
However, such trivial obstacles never came to be. They weren’t prepared to fight, and more than half the soldiers were drunk in the tavern. When Richard rushed in with his men, they weren’t even able to escape. It was a massacre.
A third of the soldiers were captured, another third killed, while the remainder fled. Richard had anticipated this when he called the attack, having grown more capable now of reading the battlefield. As long as he had enough information, the results wouldn’t deviate much from his expectations.
However, those who fled were not fortunate. In the dark fields were nine raptors, and Richard had decided to let only ten go. They would spread the news everywhere, letting Forza know that he had returned.
The so-called battle had ended as soon as it began. Richard’s army had struck down ten men like they were falling leaves, and the rest of them had completely collapsed. Even the thirty deaths total was mostly because a certain few people couldn’t restrain their violence, Richard himself being one of the culprits.
The first thing he’d done when he rushed into the barracks was to cast a fireball with a five second delay. Even though he’d immediately felt that something wasn’t right, absorbing the second one before he could cast it, the delayed explosion lit a patrolling squad head on and lit them aflame. Of course, Gangdor and the trolls were savage as well, every swing of their weapons taking the lives of several men.
Joven was occupied once again. Now, none of the townsfolk dared to go out onto the streets, and Richard simply called for someone to take down the corpse of the executed soldier and burn the Baron’s signpost. They left quietly with their prisoners, leaving only the dozens of bodies and a strong stench of blood.
While the Baron’s territory was not small, all major towns were connected by road. Fast horses could reach the capital in under three hours, and there were enough escaped soldiers to bring news of his real power to the Baron.
However, the commander overseeing the standing army refused to dispatch forces to provide assistance. He insisted on waiting for the Baron’s command, or at least for dawn to send troops.
However, dawn? By then, the demons would have fled far away. The Baron had ordered that he not be disturbed while he slept, since he hadn’t rested well recently. Any matters would have to be discussed with the butler, and any intelligent people would know to ignore the light coming from Forza’s study room window.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Joshua
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA