Richard sprayed some solution onto Duke Bevry’s shoulder, quietly reciting the spell to slot the rune as he carefully put it in position. The skin started to sizzle the moment the rune came in contact with it, a thin layer burning off to allow the rune to fuse with him. Half a minute later, the magic arrays started to glow, the skin at the shoulder looking somewhat different from the rest of the body.
Flowsand waved her hand, casting a lesser healing spell to eliminate the pain of the attachment. The damage was insignificant to anyone with a modicum of power; the main purpose of this act was to let the Duke see her casting spells.
Bevry stretched his body, feeling no signs of discomfort. In fact, he felt a surge of power that gave him an unexpected surprise. “Let’s go!” he said as he wore his robes, “We should head to the training grounds to see this thing’s power.”
Very quickly, the Duke’s personal guard had set up three practice dummies in the training ground, one each covered with chainmail, light plate, and heavy plate. The last one was built to simulate the capabilities of enchanted armour, while Bevry himself only wielded an ordinary two-handed axe. There was no enchantment on the weapon, while the material was just ordinary steel.
The Direwolf Duke wielded this giant axe with a single hand, making it look as light as a piece of hide. He didn’t hesitate in the slightest, taking large strides forward and instantly cutting the first two dummies apart. He then walked over to the one with thick plate armour, taking a deep breath and swinging the axe with pure strength alone. Even without the support of his energy, a devastating strike landed on the armour!
A deep crack immediately appeared on the thick plate. The hardwood dummy was crushed in an instant, the armour deforming into scrap metal. However, it did not break; on the contrary, the axe in the Duke’s hand bent completely while the surface was distorted. The steel handle twisted up as well, ruined beyond recognition. This ordinary axe could not withstand the Duke’s tremendous strength, thoroughly reduced to scrap metal.
Having felt that burst of power, Bevry casually threw the axe to the ground as he laughed heartily, “Good! No, great! I would love to see what that old fool Whiterock can use to resist my axe now!”
The evening’s banquet was exceptionally noisy, bustling with excitement. Everyone could sense the sheer joy of the Direwolf Duke.
The Duke spoke with high spirits, talking about a direct assault on the Whiterock Dukedom. His powerful body language and penetrating voice got even Richard’s adrenaline pumping. This was the first time he had seen Bevry’s skill as an orator and leader.
The banquet was much larger than expected. All of the Duke’s adult sons, the chief mage, the treasurer, prime minister… even the court marquesses who had no territory corresponding to their status, and several commanders of the army… there were a lot of attendees. Basically every power of Deepcliff City was present.
In the face of such a fervent atmosphere, Richard could no longer be sure whether it was the rune that had brought him joy or the hope for Perrin’s survival.
The banquet only ended when it was late into the night. The Duke’s butler rapped on his door shortly after, having two servants bring in a leather box that was sealed with magic. Informing him that it was a gift from the Duke, the butler retreated from the room.
Richard opened the box to find that there were more than ten small compartments within. Each compartment had a different type of magical material, with a note indicating its name, uses, origins, and standard price. Some of the compartments only had the note; the materials they talked about were far too precious to just be lying in the Duke’s treasury. Such materials were traded by the gram.
This box of samples was much more important to Richard than a single box of magical materials. Gathering and sorting the natural resources of this plane was one of Richard’s most important goals, something that would allow him to find ways to maximise profit once the portal between the two was formed.
Such things were crucial to planar conquest, and formed a cornerstone of strategy. Blackgold had previously given him a real-life example as a vivid illustration on how important the quality of management was in interplanar trade. Two extremely similar planes had more than an order of difference in profit! This box of samples from the Duke would halve Richard’s work in the future.
Richard spent almost all of his time over the next few days meeting various officials. A true noble position was completely different from that of a frontier knight, which only required a nominal document. It was extremely complicated and tedious to verify the borders of his territory, reporting to the Kingdom’s council to confirm his crest and symbol.
Contrary to expectations, Kars was actually a capable assistant. Although he was a little incompetent and lazy, he still had the basic poise and ability of a true noble. He did a good job of taking care of the documents, especially with the formatting of the texts.
Marvin, who Richard hadn’t seen ever since he arrived, also showed up after the banquet was done. He said he had been living in an inn under the Duke’s control all this while, treated like an official envoy by Bevry’s subordinates. However, everyone was aware that the fallen cleric would likely never see light again if the negotiations fell through.
With two nobles of Faelor under him, all of the tasks were progressing in order, although they were still difficult to accomplish. The biggest problem was that Richard had to report a complete family tree: in the eyes of the upper class, it was unthinkable for a powerful family to have no history. Marvin had already claimed that Richard had come from a dead house, thankfully, so all he had to do was fill in some details.
Once the tree was finally prepared, Richard hesitated for a long time before penning down the Archeron name. The work afterwards would be taken over by Marvin and Kars, where they ingeniously added this as a branch of a true ancient clan. The Duke’s officials were smart enough to ignore the minor discrepancies.
It took a full week for all these procedures to be completed. News had already arrived from the troops who had been sent back to his territory, stating that the villagers of Bran were all dead. Richard sighed at the knowledge; no wonder Sinclair had shown up at Twilight Castle.
Citizens were indispensable to the development of a territory. The lands given by the Duke were rich and fertile, but most of the place was forests, mountains, or grasslands. Bordering on both the Land of Turmoil and the Bloodstained Lands, the place was susceptible to a two-pronged attack by magical beasts. The place was thus desolate, with few signs of human habitation. There were only three to five villages in the entire area, the total populations hovering around 2000 people.
Farming, mining, rebuilding the roads, constructing a castle, manufacturing weapons and tools… Even building the altar to the Eternal Dragon required a lot of people. The one thing Richard didn’t have to worry about was a military; the broodmother would take care of that. However, even on that front things weren’t too well. He had less than a hundred desert warriors and around thirty barbarians remaining under him, with fewer than twenty of the surrendered human soldiers still alive. Zendrall had only four warriors of darkness remaining as well, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. Almost all of his knights were dead as well, robbing him of a trustworthy chain of command.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Hestia
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA