Book 2, Chapter 69

Favour

Richard held up the hide once more to closely examine it, before carefully placing it back on the ground. “I have an idea, but I need a bit more inspiration to come up with a rune that I can call my own. This rune has many memories that make it worth keeping, but I’ll just give it to Gangdor.”

“Alright. Also, what next now that Mark was destroyed?” Flowsand asked, “Are we taking control of his lands or do we have a discussion with the rest of the powers here?”

“There’s no hurry, let’s just wait. Stormhammer will look for us,” Richard carefully tucked the rune away as he set up the tools to build a slot.

“Why Stormhammer? Why not someone else?” Flowsand was relentless.

“Because he’s the boss.” Richard wasn’t distracted by the conversation, continuing to use both hands precisely and smoothly as he built the slot.

“Are you going to talk about an alliance?”

“It isn’t necessarily an alliance. We might just strike a compromise, or merely sound each other out. We’re foreigners; if we want to carve some space out for ourselves we need to observe what the bloodstone leader is like.”

“Why not just wipe out the bloodstone orcs and take the camp for ourselves?” Flowsand made a murderous suggestion.

Richard broke out into uncontrollable laughter, hitting her once on the head as he said, “Why would we want to take over such a lousy space? For those few springs? Stormhammer is a level 14 warrior with more than a hundred level 7 or 8 half-orc soldiers under him. If he had the right equipment or a bloodline ability, even with a sneak attack we’ll lose more than half our troops. Who do you suggest should die first?”

“Me.” Flowsand’s words always made him both love and hate her.

Richard clenched his teeth and grabbed hold of her collar, but on her end she actually propped up her chest and seized the opportunity to wiggle her waist, loosening her robes. It seemed like she had spoken the truth— before they were sure about their return, she would fully cooperate. However, her actions were too much for Richard to take. Was it a sort of rebellion?

When that thought came to mind, he could barely control himself. It took a while for him to return to normal, chasing the priestess out before going back to the work he had on hand. Gangdor was large and strong, so the slots themselves didn’t need much work. Roughly two hours later, he’d finally finished it.

At that moment, Olar walked into Richard’s room. The news he bore wasn’t surprising, but it came faster than he had expected. Bloodstone orcs had come to their inn, inviting Richard to lunch the next noon with Stormhammer himself.

“It was quite the etiquette for a bunch of half-orcs!” The elven poet did not forget to add his own derision after the report, looking down on the creatures who tried to act noble but never even cleaned themselves.

……

The meeting with the most powerful leader of Camp Bloodstone was held at the central castle. Unlike the rest of the bloodstone orcs, Stormhammer looked more human than orc. He was roughly half a head shorter than the average warrior of his tribe, but one could see his muscles were dense and hard as iron. His head was almost bald outside of three black and white pigtails, and from outward appearances he seemed to look like someone who was over fifty years of age.

However, this was only due to the tough conditions in the Bloodstained Lands making its residents look older than they actually were. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for Stormhammer to only be in his early forties.

The two seemed like real nobles having lunch, both seated at opposite ends of a long table. However, this was where the similarities came to an end. The table only had barbecued meat and strong alcohol on it. This was considered a feast in the Bloodstained Lands, but even a titled knight from the human kingdoms could host a banquet that was infinitely grander.

Still, Richard maintained impeccable manners that wouldn’t lose out in the parties of the most prestigious nobles. Most unbelievably he looked calm and joyful, completely unbothered by the fact that the plate was chipped, the table had holes in it, and even the wineglass hadn’t been washed clean. He completely immersed himself into the act, as though this was a real grand banquet.

Yet, the entire demeanour was a facade. He was already watching the half-orc on the other end of the table through his peripheral vision, bracing himself for whatever may happen. Stormhammer had been radiating a strong sense of danger from the start— if he ignored his own safety to launch an attack on Richard, his knights would not have the time to save him.

It took until they were halfway done for the man to finally ask, “Mr. Richard… You’re a mage yourself, but you also have another mage in your party?”

“That is right,” Richard nodded in acknowledgement.

The half-orc’s face stirred with emotion, but he quickly suppressed it to continue his questions, “I hear that great mages are skilled at manufacturing magic artifacts?”

“I’m no great mage,” Richard said with a smile, “But I’m almost at that level. As for your question, the world of magic is very vast, and no mage is skilled enough to understand all forms of magic well. If you wish for magic accessories, that is the job of alchemists. If you want something you already have enhanced, that falls under the purview of an enchanter. Even roughly, there are more than ten main divisions of magic.”

Stormhammer was startled, not expecting there to be so many different and complicated fields of magic. The half-orcs did not have any traditional inheritance in the field, and what little knowledge they did have came from passing visitors. He had been under the impression that any mage could manufacture magical equipment.

He paused for a while to look at the graceful smile of the young mage seated across him, deciding to get to the point, “I am 41 years of age this year, and growing my power through exercise has become a difficult task. I need a magic item, whatever it may be, to put me on par with a level 15 warrior. Is there a way you can help me with this?”

Richard muttered to himself for a while before speaking up, “It isn’t implausible, but such a thing would need a lot of materials. In addition to that, it might require a lot of time—“ he paused at that moment to notice that Stormhammer had waved the need for materials away. It would not be a problem. “Also, I would like to know what aspect of your abilities you need to enhance. This is crucial, it will allow me to tailor the item to your requirements.”

The moment Richard brought up his need for resources, Stormhammer’s eyes had lit up with unconcealable glee. In the Bloodstained Lands, a high stakes proposal signified the possibility of a successful partnership. He wasn’t worried at all about being cheated— the mages of this world had an excellent reputation. Any powerful mage treated promises and trust more seriously than their own lives. Moreover, he himself had an absolute advantage in strength, which would make for the cornerstone of a successful partnership.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA