Book 2, Chapter 163

Unexpected Developments

The battle with Sinclair had been the final push that allowed Richard to advance to level 11, making him a great mage on Faelor. The two trolls had levelled up as well. Phaser was only born at level 1, but with all of Sinclair’s abilities as well as that dagger for her left hand, she was equivalent to a level 5 or 6 elite. In fact, she could even maim level 10 fighters if she managed to sneak up on them.

On top of all that, he had eliminated the biggest threat and formed the basis of an alliance with the Direwolf Duke. Despite the many losses, Richard felt that everything was clear.

He was in no hurry to leave, instead staying over at the Duke’s for a few more days. Borrowing the chief mage’s laboratory, he picked out the most damaged of the runes from the bearguard knights and repaired ten of them. This ended up with runes that offered between 10 and 15% boosts to strength, all active runes run off magic crystals unlike the passive one he had given the Duke.

All ten were sold to Duke Bevry for a total of 200,000 gold coins. 50,000 coins were given in gold and jewellery, while the rest was substituted with magic materials and enough equipment to outfit 200 soldiers.

As for whether the Duke would give these runes to his subordinates or resell them for profits, that was none of Richard’s concern.

Richard had been careful in setting the price of these runes. Back at the Bloodstained Lands, he had sold two for 25,000 each. Although he knew that those people could resell the runes for twice their price in profit, the key idea was to keep the price bearable for a level 15 fighter or any great mage.

Although the runes sold to the Duke had some disparity in power, Richard had used other factors to make up for the difference. He extended the duration of the boost for some and reduced the mana drain on others, extending the lifespan of yet some more.

Any rune would lose its effects as the arrays faded. Some would die out in as early as a year, while most lost effectiveness in three years at most. Norland had already resolved this problem, but centuries ago when runecrafting was in its infancy it had been an issue for every runemaster. Only the talented saint runemasters who were like shooting stars managed to overcome this problem, building arrays that could be sustained indefinitely. Thus, few rune sets had been passed down from ancient times. However, every one of those ancient sets was of exceptional quality.

After careful consideration, Richard had decided to use the Duke as a channel to sell his runes. On one hand this allowed him to hide the origin of these runes, while at the same time giving Bevry a host of benefits that would only strengthen their alliance. Building these defective runes that were far below Norland’s standard didn’t take much time and energy; Richard could make two or three in a day. He had even managed to reduce the cost of production to about a thousand coins. As long as he had a stable channel to dispose of them, money would make its way into his hands.

Gold was just a symbol, but a stable channel like the Direwolf Duke could quickly transform that symbol into useful things like materials, equipment, and horses. This gold he was earning held a lot of power.

Once the transaction was completed, Richard took his party and returned to his own territory. He used 20,000 coins along the way to hire a bunch of masons and buy metal that wasn’t produced nearby to build a new castle on his territory.

This castle was to be built on the river bank at the foot of a mountain, not far away from Bran Village and close to the Bloodstained Lands. A castle here would protect the fertile river banks from horse bandits coming in from the Bloodstained Lands, and as long as those were blocked there was no need to worry about opening his lands up to agriculture.

Most of Faelor was tropical, and the lands were much more fertile than on Norland. The plane was thus rich in natural resources, needing two-thirds of the land to produce more food than Norland. Famines were thus extremely rare, most of the deaths being due to endless wars. Humans were gradually expanding, occupying more and more of the main continent as they forced the other tribes off to the larger islands. Although the population loss was stemmed due to this, as long as the unused arable lands were developed there wouldn’t be any famine on the plane for centuries. Food was the basic driving factor behind a large population, an efficient labour force, and an abundance of luxuries like alcohol and meat. This was a basic principle.

The desert warriors and barbarians had already been sent ahead, clearing a basic path and building a simple barracks and stable. One of the two surviving knights was negotiating with the successor to Baron Fontaine, hoping to hire workers and purchase basic construction materials such as stone and wood. These materials were cheap, bulky, and needed in large quantities; they could only be sourced locally.

When Richard arrived at the castle’s construction site, he was surprised to find a mere outline of the boundaries. Outside of about a hundred people from a nearby village, there were no workers at all. These were all his own subjects, but based on the situation in his fief this was as many as they could recruit. How long would it take to build a castle with just a hundred people?

Richard took another round around the construction site, realising that most of these people were handling stone and wood. The stone was mined from a nearby mountain by the powerful barbarians, cut and ground by the commoners. The lumber came from the nearby forest as well, needing a long time to peel, dry, and chop.

Even this little progress was because the knight in charge of building the castle had prior experience, with skill in masonry and carpentry. The commoners definitely didn’t know how to prepare or treat raw materials.

It wasn’t just a lack of labour. If even the stone and wood had to be made from scratch, then it would probably take 3 to 5 years to build this castle.

Richard wasn’t a small, countryside knight who could only rely on taxes to accumulate wealth. He had a lot of hold on hand that would turn into materials and labour, so it should not have been difficult to build a small castle. He had already given his knight 5,000 coins, but he definitely didn’t see a corresponding labour force or materials.

A single round around the place caused him to grow a little gloomy, and he immediately called the knight in charge of the construction over to ask what was happening. This man was one of a mere two left under his command.

The knight was in his early thirties, with strength corresponding to his age. This meant that there wasn’t much room for him to improve in the future. However, the man had followed him through many battles and was familiar with managing a noble’s territory. That was why he had been put in charge of the castle’s construction.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: XE

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA