Small castles could normally be built with just seven or eight thousand coins. Richard had some additional requirements regarding the strength of the defences, so the costs here would exceed 20,000. The addition of rebuilding roads and the like was no small expense either, but still the initial stages wouldn’t take more than 5,000 coins.
The knight respectfully saluted Richard upon saluting him, but that etiquette did not improve his mood in the least.
“What’s going on here?! Why aren’t there more workers? Are you planning to build my castle with just these fellows, little by little? Where’s Pierce, where did he go?!” Richard’s voice became increasingly stern.
The knight broke out in a cold sweat, realising that this handsome and gentle-looking young master was enraged. The imposing aura Richard was giving off made his heart palpitate. “Sir Richard, you wanted Pierce and I to go to Baron Fontaine’s territory to hire craftsmen and procure stone and wood…”
“That’s right.” Richard nodded his head, seeing the knight’s expression. He furrowed his brows, asking with a sneer, “What, did I not give you enough gold coins to purchase the items and hire the craftsmen?”
The knight laughed bitterly, “Logically speaking, the gold you gave us should have been enough. However, we truly could not buy the items or hire people. The new Baron increased the cost of all construction materials tenfold, and did the same with the masons’ salaries. We didn’t dare to make the decision ourselves, so we could only wait until you returned from Deepcliff to decide.”
Richard looked slightly stunned, “So the new baron has no intention of selling to us…”
The knight spoke carefully, “We were of the same opinion, but since it was your command we had to continue to fight. Pierce is still at Twilight Castle, and I returned first to recruit men. However, there are only so many people here, and we can only mine and chop for the materials.”
Richard nodded wordlessly, slowly circling the construction site once more before speaking deliberately, “It seems like some people don’t wish for me to build a castle here…”
“My Lord, then…” the knight asked cautiously. He had followed Richard for quite some time, but he felt increasingly unable to see through this young great mage. Even now, Richard’s stern expression frightened him greatly.
“Continue to take care of things here, and don’t stop the construction. I’ll take a trip to Twilight Castle myself tomorrow.” Saying that, Richard returned to a two-storey wooden residence set up for him in the barracks, spreading out a copy of the map he’d obtained from the Duke and looking up the neighbouring nobles from the list Bevry had given them.
He wasn’t engrossed in thought for long before a soft knock sounded on the door.
“We’ve been travelling an entire day, why aren’t you resting?” Richard put down the list in his hands, smiling as he pulled Flowsand towards him.
The cleric huffed, smacking his hand hard, “Business first!”
Richard didn’t let go despite the pain, but at least there was no further action. “Alright,” he said, “Let’s talk. What business? We have our own business to attend to later.”
Flowsand grew furious, viciously biting down on his shoulder as she spoke through clenched teeth, “Every day and every night! Aren’t you afraid your level will drop?”
“How could that be?” Richard laughed, “My mana surges during ‘business.’ It’s the perfect time to understand many principles of magic and runes.”
“Hmph! You’re growing more and more obscene. Are you really a great mage?”
Having spent a long time with Flowsand, Richard was starting to grow more brazen as well, “According to Norland’s standard, I’m far from being a great mage.”
Hearing about Norland, the faint smile on Flowsand’s face suddenly disappeared. She sighed softly, straightening her back, “About returning to Norland… Do you have any ideas?”
“I don’t have any concrete methods, but I do have some ideas.” Richard loosened his grip, bringing her before the map as he spoke with a smile, “We’ve already taken the first steps. Now, we need to raise our strength and increase our chances of survival. The key to that is resources and military. If nothing else, as long as we have a stable channel I’ll be able to sell runes to keep the flow of gold steady. That wealth can be exchanged for materials, slaves, territory, or even mercenaries.
“We would also do well to establish some trade lines. Now that we’ve fought so many battles, I can guarantee victory in any small battlefield. As long as we’re about a thousand each, and the quality isn’t far too disparate, we won’t lose. If we continue to defeat more enemies, we can get the two materials we need the most: magic crystals and worship idols. With them, the broodmother will grow stronger and stronger.”
He then jabbed a finger at the Bloodstained Lands, “In less than three years, we will control all of this land.”
Flowsand stared at Richard’s profile, realising that this youth had slowly grown confident and decisive over time, starting to take on more responsibility. She sighed in her heart, focusing on the map as she said, “Idols aren’t as effective as the statues of a god.”
Richard was taken aback, speaking hesitantly, “That would cause an open war with a church. Even if we can do that, we should at least wait until we’ve opened a passage to Norland first. Only after we return to Norland will we have the backing to resist legendary beings.”
“Maybe going back isn’t as difficult as you think,” she said gently, caressing his face.
This time, Richard was the one that was truly shocked. He raised his head, startled, “What? We can go back right now?”
“Of course it isn’t that easy,” Flowsand smacked Richard on the head with her small fist, “The main reason we cannot return to Norland is that we lost the coordinates. Our own strength is not great enough to determine our location in the myriad planes. However, I thought of something when we were telling Bevry about that divine grace that is impossible to get. It’s difficult, but not out of the question.”
“Hmm? Can we really offer sacrifices to the Eternal Dragon through a random altar?” Richard was shocked once again.
Flowsand ran out of patience, rolling her eyes at him before smacking him again, “Of course not. The Eternal Dragon has no use for an altar without a mark. However, the Book of Time can connect to him and we can ask for the coordinates of Norland. We already know the locations of two Lighthouses of Time here on Faelor, so we can take them apart to build a new one that leads back home.”
“What?! Why didn’t I think of this method before?!” Richard said after a shout.
Flowsand looked at Richard and sighed again, “Richard… it isn’t as easy as you think it is.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Hestia
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA