Book 2, Chapter 169

The Next War

When Richard pulled the oil painting off the wall, that unknown noble couldn’t hold back any longer, “Young man! You may not be afraid of fighting the Fontaines, but what about others?”

Richard chuckled, “So now we see your true intentions. Let me guess… Who could it be that wants to declare war on me… If I’m not wrong, your master should be the Highland Unicorn?”

The middle-aged man’s expression changed as he hummed, not speaking further. He was a clever fellow; this was not the primary battlefield, and nothing would come of offending Richard. He was also occupied with trying to think of the reason for which Richard had managed to identify him so quickly. If the Direwolf Duke received word before they could eliminate Richard, things would become difficult to settle. Pulling away one of Bevry’s vassals and attacking another would not look good.

Viscount Zim was a special existence. If Richard was killed, the situation would end up completely different. After all, history was written by the victors.

“Enough. End the games, now. My time is precious. Bring my man out, or my mood is going to get worse and worse,” Richard stated calmly, reaching out and dragging his hand across the painting. A sharp crack sounded as the expensive piece of art was cut apart in the centre.

The uncle glared furiously at Richard, telling his servants to bring Pierce out immediately. It was a scant few minutes before the knight was dragged out, injuries all over his body. As someone who knew the arts of the underworld himself, Richard could tell that Pierce had been locked up and tortured for a few days. The man’s two attendants were even worse off; if not for Flowsand, they might even be left handicapped for life.

The servants had brought Pierce out as quickly as possible, but in those few minutes nearly ten thousand gold’s worth of antiques disappeared under Richard’s hands. Richard didn’t even bat an eyelid upon seeing his subordinate, merely telling Olar to carry them out of the castle. He then stood up, bidding the young Baron and his uncle farewell. At no point did he seem shocked or infuriated by the state of his men, not even asking anything about the obvious injuries on Pierce’s body.

However, that display only left the Baron’s uncle even more disheartened. His plans to make use of Pierce to force Richard’s hands had dissipated into thin air. Seeing the mage about to leave, he couldn’t help but get up with the urge to sound the alarm. However, seeing the elite guards in the outer hall, he had no choice but to acknowledge his situation and avoid doing something foolish.

Richard only halted once before leaving the room, turning back and stating calmly, “It’s impossible to distance oneself from the Duke without paying a price.”

Once they left Twilight Castle, Olar approached Richard and asked, “The Fontaines treated you so badly, my Lord. How are you not angry?”

“Angry? Why would I get angry?” Richard still retained a little smile, “There’s no point in that. We’ll just wipe them out.”

……

Back at the base, Richard immediately had his army prepare for battle. Since Zim wanted to battle, he obviously wouldn’t wait till the castle was built. The Viscount was acting much faster than he had anticipated; it seemed like the fat fellow really did have some skill to back up his insolence.

Pierce was one of Richard’s two remaining knights. Thanks to Flowsand’s treatment, all of his hidden injuries had been healed. Marvin and Kars would treat him over the next few days; although fallen clerics weren’t exactly proficient at healing, they were still high enough in level to cast the basic spells. With the severe lack of mid- and low-ranking officers, people like Pierce were the true supportive structure of his army.

He had the equipment he had purchased from the Duke brought out, equipping the hundred or so desert warriors. Their leather armour was replaced with chainmail, the ordinary machetes, replaced with steel falchions. The might of his cavalry was boosted immediately.

Fontaine would undoubtedly bar his way back to the Sequoia Kingdom, so Richard knew he couldn’t look for supplies and much-needed troops from there. Obviously, that also meant he couldn’t send word to Deepcliff City. However, he had no plans of asking the Direwolf Duke for help anyway. It seemed like Lord Moonbear had been pulled away from Twilight Castle although recruitment for new troops hadn’t been completed. Whether the man was deceived by the Baron or there were other reasons pertaining to Bevry, Richard couldn’t afford the distraction of asking for assistance. The most important goal now was to achieve victory in the imminent battle.

The strength of Richard’s army was steadily rising. Every three days, nine throwers entered the fold. He had exhausted basically all of his magic crystals, allowing the broodmother to create three throwers, six ordinary wind wolves, or four poisonous wind wolves in a day. The throwers were more useful in direct warfare, so he’d tasked her with creating batches of them immediately.

The increased ability to consume food had left the broodmother with constant energy reserves, to the point that there were few situations where she was below half capacity. This left Richard curious as to what exactly she was eating in the Land of Turmoil. However, regardless of what it was, her presence ensured that time was on his side.

And yet, Zim didn’t take long to arrive. Before Richard could get another batch of nine throwers, an army of over a thousand people arrived from the Bloodstained Lands. They were less than fifty kilometres away from his territory.

With his wind wolves wandering the Bloodstained Lands on patrol, Richard quickly understood the structure of this gigantic army. There were 50 elite heavy cavalry, plus another 150 light cavalry and 100 archers. That left the remaining 700 soldiers to as footsoldiers. This was a sound, balanced army; the most complete and effective that Richard had faced to date. With this balance of troops, an experienced commander would be very difficult to deal with.

Zim had no lack of quality equipment for his troops, and outnumbered him five to one. The only advantage Richard had was that he had a number of powerhouses on his end that could hold down the opponents.

An army of this scale could even siege a Baron’s territory. That alone was sufficient evidence of the sheer trauma Richard had left Zim with in the Bloodstained Lands. The more troops the Viscount deployed, the more difficult the aftermath would be to deal with. Still, he had brought a majority of his soldiers.

Richard had checked up on Viscount Zim after that day, getting detailed information about him from the Direwolf Duke. The Highland Unicorn did indeed have the right to be arrogant and rude, and Richard had guessed correctly that day as well. Most of the Viscount’s value came from the thing between his legs.

Zim’s father was Earl Yatu, while his mother was the current king’s cousin sister. His uncle was one of the three dukes of the kingdom as well, Duke Grasberg. However, background alone was not enough to justify his rashness and overbearing behaviour.

All sense of superiority was inherited. The royal bloodline of the Sequoia Kingdom was said to descend from ancient sacred beasts. The first humans of the family had only appeared after a few generations. Zim had the most concentrated bloodline in the last two decades, and it was even a powerful unicorn bloodline.

That was why he had grown so arrogant. Many nobles— including branches of the royal family— sent their daughters to him in the hopes that they would have a child with a powerful bloodline, even though history had made it clear that the chances of that happening were minute. The special favours and free reign ended up shaping the Viscount’s current behaviour. He had never lacked power, status, or women; Richard was the first large obstacle he had come across in life.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC By: OMA