Book 2, Chapter 97

Expedition

Lunch had turned into an unexpectedly successful deal, but the gold didn’t stay in Richard’s hands for a long time. It only took him a day to give it back to the various powers of Bluewater. In fact, spending 50,000 coins in a single day garnered unordinary respect and envy, except from Red Cossack.

There were no secrets in Bluewater. News of the enmity between Richard and Red Cossack had quickly come to the attention of the local hegemons.

Richard was cruel and determined, defeating Schitich over a series of battles in one night to scare many people. Barely two days later, a business deal involving magic artifacts had given him a connection to the biggest powerhouse of Bluewater, sword saint Rolf. He also had a business relationship with the Golden Warflag, a group even more powerful than Red Cossack. This made Red Cossack somewhat worried, but the didn’t dare to strike outright.

These worries were mostly limited to the confines of Bluewater. Once Richard left the city, it would be hard to predict what would happen.

Two-fifths of the gold had been exchanged for an array of magical materials, allowing Richard to make a total of seven more runes. And that was proper runes; he could now make more than twenty of the inferior ones. As for the rest of the coins, they were traded for a hundred desert people and fifteen snowpeak barbarians.

All of the desert people were adult males. They weren’t particularly strong, but they had dark skin and a habit of keeping thick beards. They were mostly level 5, nothing special, but like Devon had said their survivability and horsemanship were unordinary. As long as they had a horse and a machete, they would make for dangerous enemies in the desert.

The desert folk were naturally fierce and skilled in war. They were extremely dangerous, news about slaves killing their masters not uncommon. Thus, they were mostly sent to labour in mines or sent out as the first wave of a battle to act as cannon fodder.

As for the fifteen snowpeak barbarians, they swore loyalty to Richard on their ancestors. This gave him full control over them.

There were many ways of controlling slaves. The barbarians had theirs, but Richard chose something else for the desert folk. He split them into ten groups, each having one of the stronger men as the leader. If someone tried to escape or rebel, both he and the leader would be killed. In addition to that, two other members of the team would be selected at random and sacrificed as well.

On the other hand, Richard promised that ten kills in battle would immediately give them freedom along with ten gold coins. If they chose to remain thereafter, they would be rewarded with two coins for every kill.

As for the barbarians, Richard was much more careful with arming them. He spared much more gold for them, giving them proper weapons and armour. He promised them that they would be set free after twenty kills.

He wasn’t sure whether this method would be effective, but that would be tested in future battles.

Stopping at Bluewater for a few more days, Richard finally finished preparing his supplies and equipment. He then brought the entirety of his troops out of Bluewater, heading to the depths of the Bloodstained Lands.

His forces had grown stronger, and he now had allies in the Bloodstained Lands who could give him certain benefits. Richard had gotten a small piece of land on the fringe of Bluewater, complete with a residence, a training camp, a jail, and much more. Servants were arranged for him as well.

All that wasn’t cheap, having come as a combined present by Devon and Rolf. The land was both a treasure and a sign, a sign that he had carved out his own niche in Bluewater. The gift was due in some part to the runes he’d sold them, but most of it was because of the imaginary demigod backing him.

Richard wrote Red Cossack a letter before he left Bluewater, asking for them to hand Red Hook over and compensate him with a hundred warhorses. Their leader flew into a rage the moment he read the letter, smashing half the items in his room to pieces and vowing to dismember Richard’s body. The irritating kid didn’t know what was good for him.

It wasn’t a hard vow to fulfill. As long as he assembled the hundreds of guards he had in Bluewater, it was only a kilometre’s march to the inn Richard was living in. However, he eventually decided to confine his anger at the mage to his office. He didn’t respond to the letter.

However, that did not mean he would completely ignore it. He spent the entire afternoon writing eight letters out to people he knew well, successfully putting Richard’s name on Red Cossack’s blacklist. If Richard was found in the wild, their border guard would kill him on the spot. He also sent a bounty out to bandit groups through dark channels, offering 10,000 coins for Richard’s corpse.

The mage himself remained unaware of the sizeable bounty on his head, taking his army into the depths of the Bloodstained Lands.

Nobody knew the purpose of this expedition. Those of Bluewater just assumed Richard had some other covert mission. He’d left a deep impression on everyone who attended the meeting, especially with the conduct during the sale of the rune that showed wisdom beyond his age. People speculated that he was acting under the influence of a powerful family or backer. They’d originally thought he was a child of a noble clan with a bright future, but now they believed he was a core member in the line of succession.

However, Richard and the few people closest to him knew that they had no exact destination. This was nothing more than a hunting expedition, using war and massacre to grow their strength. It was something common across all planes.

Their team was quite unique, with a hundred desert people led by his footsoldiers and knights all on horseback. Although the half-orcs weren’t skilled riders, they could still control the horses at the pace of a trot. The trolls and barbarians could only walk, with no warhorse able to carry their weight. It was a good thing that they were used to running; be it while sprinting or over time, they were not inferior to the horses.

Richard, Flowsand, and Zendrall rode ahead on their horses, with no carriage in sight. Most of their equipment was placed in boxes on the backs of the reserve horses. 

The team of a little more than a hundred had close to 300 warhorses, guaranteeing their mobility. Surrounding the troops on the outside were wind wolves.

……

On the fifth day, another strange team appeared in front of Richard. Over twenty knights that were distributed in various teams were slowly advancing through the desert, almost a hundred barbarians huddled close together in between. There were both adults and children, men and women, but there were no elderly. The barbarians were all injured, but they pressed on. If they walked any slower, they would be whipped viciously.

This was Richard’s first encounter with a slaving team. Most concerning was the flag the slaving team carried— they were from Red Cossack. As such, it took him only half a minute to make the decision. He pointed at the slaving team, speaking icily, “Kill them all!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA