Book 2, Chapter 178

Ransom

With less than a quarter of his enemy’s numbers, Sir Richard Archeron had completely annihilated the invasion of Viscount Zim, the Highland Unicorn. This feat immediately gained him some fame in the Sequoia Kingdom.

A few days after they returned, hundreds of men and dozens of carts of lumber and stone reached Richard’s territory. They were all from Baron Fontaine, a part of Zim’s ransom. The young Baron was now obligated to keep Richard supplied at low prices.

The fact that the Baron immediately sent everything over without objection after receiving Richard’s letter verified Richard’s conjecture— he had defected to the side of Duke Grasberg and Viscount Zim.

This caused Richard to raise his evaluation of the Viscount’s aides. Even in the midst of the military action, they had taken into consideration Baron Fontaine’s territory and made use of its location to block communications between Richard and the Direwolf Duke. This prevented Duke Bevry from intervening in advance and also blocked Richard’s escape route; these were decent tactics. However, decent was only decent; victory in such a huge operation would have gained Zim nothing, but the potential losses were immense. The fellow had acceptable tactics, but lacked the vision for strategy. Of course, it was possible that whoever did this actually did understand strategy but just couldn’t employ it under the Viscount’s rule.

All that didn’t matter now. Regardless of whether Fontaine now served Grasberg or Bevry, he still had to become Richard’s supply base.

Once the labourers and materials arrived, Richard could finally start construction on his castle. He headed to the construction site every few days to inspect the progress, occasionally making adjustments to the blueprints. The basic form of the castle would be completed in four days, and when the time came he could look into decorating the interiors.

Not waiting for the construction to complete, Richard sent out numerous emissaries to turn the gold on his hand into battle strength. Outside of lumber and stone, he bought large quantities of rations and high-quality weapons. Fontaine had been reluctant to supply weapons at first, but Richard brought up Zim’s ransom to change the situation. Because of that, the young Baron ended up having to supply the best quality of equipment for 200 elite footsoldiers at a low price.

The rest of Richard’s envoys headed to Bluewater Oasis, where many of his old acquaintances were located. It took a mere few days for them to return, coming back with the latest news from the Bloodstained Lands.

Although Bluewater had suffered massive losses under Sinclair’s short tyranny, that was just a loss of manpower. The soil and buildings were still undamaged, and in the blink of an eye she had met her end at Twilight Castle. All the organisations that had ruled before immediately regained stamina, taking over the oases once more. However, not all of them had suffered equal losses; some were practically unharmed, while others had suffered greatly.

The delicate balances had been tipped. Every organisation wanted different things when it came to the new distribution of power. Some of the larger oases were in imminent peril, about to face a civil war at any point. The human kingdoms bordering the Bloodstained Lands were eyeing immense benefits as well.

The situation greatly increased the price of slaves, weapons, magic crystals, and magic artefacts. On the other hand, the prices of minerals, raw materials, and any other precious good had fallen instead. Richard had wanted to employ a mercenary group to defend his territory, but now he found that their prices far exceeded his expectations. An increase in the price of cannon fodder was a great indicator of imminent war.

Richard stayed in his territory for a few days, extremely busy. He had to reorganise the rest of the troops, and the new desert warrior and barbarian slaves he had acquired needed to grow used to working with the wind wolves and throwers. They also had to learn to understand and obey the elite wind wolves, who communicated through physical actions and howls. The two wind wolves would relay orders from Richard himself.

Just organising the training took most of Richard’s time every day. Thankfully, a few days of intense training allowed the new troops to begin integrating into the singular body of his army. With the first steps taken, his army had strengthened once more.

At night, Richard would clear his mind and craft runes. Most of his time was spent on the grade 2 penetration rune, and when he ran out of energy he moved on to restoring the damaged runes from the bearguard knights. The task was simple enough not to require too much precision or mana control, so he could complete them on instinct. This kind of work that wasn’t complicated was basically his rest. By the end, he managed to recover two runes that were almost completely intact, one for strength and the other for defence. He also restored three sub-par strength runes and one for defence.

Time passed rapidly with his packed schedule. It wasn’t long before an emissary from the Direwolf Duke arrived at Richard’s territory.

This was the same envoy as before, the middle-aged titled knight called Chanton Nottling. Following him this time were thirty knights and over a hundred footsoldiers, as well as dozens of carriages filled with supplies.

Once they were done with the pleasantries, Sir Chanton immediately asked to see the imprisoned Viscount. Richard agreed gladly, because this was the Direwolf Duke making his stand clear. Bevry knew what had transpired, and would take care of any hidden threats.

With the Direwolf Duke acknowledging that his vassal had only been protecting his territory, Duke Grasberg would have no choice but to abide by the rules of the kingdom. He would have to pay a sufficient ransom for Zim’s trespassing, and any revenge would be limited to prevent a direct war between the two Dukes. In principle, the three Dukes of the kingdom were not allowed to directly wage war, or the royal family would intervene.

Zim was trapped on his own in a courtyard with a wooden house. Outside of being disallowed from leaving the courtyard, he was free to move around as he pleased. There were even arrangements for a young maid to stay there and take care of him.

Chanton took a look at Zim’s location, having a word with him and listening to his complaints attentively for an entire ten minutes. Zim beleaguered him about not getting the treatment he deserved. He wanted a dozen maids, more than ten main courses for his meals, and the like. When ten minutes had passed, Chanton abandoned the blithering Viscount and instead accompanied Richard to the imprisoned soldiers.

These 400 slaves weren’t treated as well as the Viscount was. The guard captain, the rest of Zim’s personal guard, and any low-ranking officers had been squeezed into a single wooden house. The rest of the soldiers were all crowded in tents. All weapons and armour had been confiscated, and there was a fence restricting their movements. Archers were posted on a nearby tower; if they so much as stepped outside their bounds, they would be shot dead without mercy.

The camp wasn’t large in any means, leaving all the prisoners congested. Sir Chanton took a round around the camp, conversing for a short while with some of the prisoners before he left for the accommodations Richard had arranged for him.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA