Still out on the expedition, Richard received an unexpected piece of news from the Golden Warflag.
It had come from Marvin, the fallen cleric who had been sent out to negotiate with the Sequoia Kingdom. Despite not showing any interest for a month, the Direwolf Duke’s attitude had changed greatly in recent times. He’d granted Marvin an audience, promising protection for Richard and his party.
Since Richard didn’t have any official title or rank, Marvin had crafted a fake history for him. He claimed Richard was from an ancient clan, finding a dead clan from eons ago and using its name. Such things were quite common in the Sequoia Kingdom, so all he needed was some gold to make it work.
An empty nobility like that was meaningless, even if one’s ancestors had ruled entire duchies. Nevertheless, the Direwolf Duke conferred upon Richard the title of frontier knight, allowing him to choose a village on the border as his fief.
This was the foundation of any noble clan. Even though his title would not pass from generation to generation, the point of the title was to legally allow him to expand. A frontier knight would be the rightful ruler of any territory they conquered.
In all of recorded history, frontier knights were the cornerstone of human expansion. They were always on the frontlines, allowing the race to slowly conquer the mainland. Frontier knights decided themselves how much land they would conquer. In theory, they could become the rulers of large countries as long as they earned it all through battle.
The title from the Direwolf Duke had actually opened up two paths for Richard. He could attack east towards their long-time rivals in the Whiterock Dukedom, or head west and conquer the foreign races of the Bloodstained Lands.
Baron Fontaine became Richard’s biggest supporter. He had wealth and fertile land, able to provide sufficient supplies as long as Richard could afford them. At the same time, he would be a point where Richard could dispose all of his stolen goods. The slave output would be quite high in the initial stages of development, something the Baron was quite interested in.
The Direwolf Duke obviously had his own reasons for his generosity. At the end of the letter, Marvin indicated that the man wanted a rune of his own in return for everything he’d done. Memories of his transactions in Bluewater coursed through Richard’s mind as soon as he read that; it gave him just a glimpse into the complicated relationship the Oasis shared with the neighbouring human kingdoms.
The last line of the letter was that Marvin had levelled up. Having completed his task he’d unexpectedly been granted more divine grace, growing to level 7. Richard pondered about that for a while before telling Flowsand, but the latter did not seem surprised.
In addition to picking his fief, Richard had to clearly state the scope of his expansion. As such, Richard wrote a short reply that picked a small village in the west of the Sequoia Kingdom, demarcating a scary scope of land for expansion.
He wanted the Bloodstained Lands and the barbarians’ ancestral plains!
Having sent the letter out, Richard left the Golden Warflag supply base once more, leading his team out to explore more of the depths of the Bloodstained Lands.
The Bloodstained Lands were full of dangers, piles of white bone littered all over the place. Richard had long since grown used to scenes of death and massacre, having witnessed several caravans being plundered by horse bandits and what the aftermath was. As such, he wasn’t shocked at discovering the remnants of a battlefield up ahead. He reined in his horse, waving for a novice knight to take a small group of desert people and investigate the scene.
The knight returned not long after, asking Richard to look at the scene himself. The battle had occurred at least ten days ago, and the corpses on the floor had already rotted away. Scavengers could be seen circling the battlefield, and a group of vultures was feasting on a corpse. Only when Richard’s horses were within ten metres did the birds fly away, but they still continued to circle in the sky.
Richard slowly swept his gaze across the entire battlefield. This had been a violent fight of a large scale, the flag and crests of one side showing that they were guards of the Bloodstained Lions, one of the top merchant groups in the land. More than 300 guards were left behind as corpses, a formidable army that would have struck fear in the hearts of the toughest bandit groups.
In the midst of the battlefield was the wreckage of ten carriages, completely destroyed by heavy weaponry to leave all kinds of goods scattered on the floor. A large portion of their goods was different kinds of ore, which were both expensive and rare. With more than ten such vehicles carrying this to the human kingdoms, it would have been worth tens of thousands of coins.
Around the carriages were more than a hundred corpses, these ones looking like merchants. They were all laid in various positions; some had resisted, some had tried to escape, while others had begged for mercy. Whatever they did, they all met the same cruel fate. Based on the number of corpses, Richard was sure that there were no survivors.
Having inspected the corpses and goods, what struck Richard the most was that there were no containers of food or water on the scene. He quickly concluded that the attackers had only gone for supplies and whatever few items had the most value. They weren’t interested in this heavy ore.
Even with the Red Cossack flag, such a caravan would have given Richard some serious consideration. However, the whole caravan had been reduced to corpses, and what about the enemies? Did they escape unscathed? Could it be that an unknown force followed the same custom as they did, collecting the remains of their dead?
It was then that his gaze landed on a knight adorned in black armour. This knight was extremely big, seemingly larger and stronger even than barbarians. The heavy armour on him was at least a few hundred kilograms, the quality allowing him to go toe to toe with even Medium Rare. Given such a sturdy body, he undoubtedly couldn’t be carried by any ordinary horse.
A short distance from the knight was another corpse, this one of a horse that was at least a metre longer than the knight himself. This warhorse had two large fangs sticking out of its mouth, with spikes of varying length jutting out all over its body. The frightening creature had traces of dried blood on its hooves and spikes, and a severed arm was held in its mouth.
Only such a horse had the strength to carry that black knight.
More than ten weapons were pierced into the knight’s body, tens of corpses scattered around him in a circle. It was obvious that they had all been killed by a single fierce enemy. The horse’s body was pierced by a few polearms as well, and more than ten of the caravan guards were laid across it.
Despite being dead for so many days, the knight and his horse still gave off an intimidating aura. Jackals, vultures… not even insects were willing to come close. Forget the corpses themselves, everything in a range around the bodies was still in good condition.
Richard frowned. This black knight gave him a very uneasy feeling.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Styles
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA