Chanton suddenly spoke up on their way back, “Sir Richard, why are you only giving the prisoners half a portion of food? That goes against the customs of nobility.”
Richard had expected this question, so he waved his hand as he answered directly, “My own men number less than half these prisoners. Restricting their food is just a precaution; if they don’t eat enough, they won’t have the energy to run. I know this doesn’t quite match noble tradition, but it’s a special circumstance. Besides, isn’t it enough for Viscount Zim to be fed well?”
The titled knight nodded in approval, continuing solemnly, “Richard, this is a personal suggestion. No matter what you feel about Viscount Zim, do your best not to harm his body. In the last four generations of the royal bloodline, he is the only one to have awakened the blood of a powerful sacred beast. He is extremely important to the royal family. I’m informed that His Majesty and the elders have plans for him to leave at least twenty children behind.”
“So I should let him just attack my territory?” Richard retorted.
“Did you?” Sir Chanton wasn’t someone so easily deceived. The answer he gave with a smile left Richard speechless for a moment.
Indeed, he had won both clashes with Zim completely, and he was the one who had egged the Viscount on. Just as he had told Flowsand, Zim was an enemy that was hard to come by.
Chanton didn’t press much further, “As long as you avoid hurting his body, you will not hit the bottom line of the royal family. Your clash with the Viscount will remain a purely personal grudge, and Duke Grasberg and the royal family will remain neutral and not intervene. The worst case is for Earl Yatu to enter battle, but I don’t think he’ll do so publicly. At most, he will sponsor Zim’s war activities in secret.
“Looking at your ability, Yatu may be a threat but he can’t shake your foundations. As well, the moment he joins the battle you’ll have the right to invade his territory as well. I don’t think he wants that,” Chanton said with a chuckle, “Viscount Zim’s territory is well known for the daffodils, while Earl Yatu’s lands are known to have a lot of lafite steel.”
Richard nodded at the Knight, “Alright, I know what to do. I won’t yield easily in the ransom discussions.”
Chanton’s residence was a single two-floored wooden building. It was a temporary construct just like Richard’s own, and seeing how desolate Richard’s lands looked the Knight didn’t get fussy. He cleaned himself up before inviting Richard to the drawing room for some afternoon tea. The black tea and even the snacks had been brought by the Knight himself, and looking at how he handled the tea he seemed to enjoy the activity greatly.
Once the tea was served, Chanton had the servant leave the room. He then produced a letter, passing it to Richard. “This is a letter for you, penned by the Duke himself.”
Richard opened the envelope to find two pieces of paper enclosed. Bevry started off with a polite greeting as per etiquette, before mentioning the relationship between the three dukes and the royal family.
Duke Grasberg had royal blood in him, making him a natural ally of the royal family. The Direwolf Duke and the Duke of Tulips were occasional allies, united by a common interest against Grasberg and the royal family. However, the royal family clashed with all of the dukes on occasion, which was why politics was extremely important in the Sequoia Kingdom.
The royal family was in power on the basis of their unique and mysterious bloodline abilities. However, their bloodline had thinned from generation to generation. Zim’s appearance was very important; if he succeeded in having children with powerful bloodlines, then the royal family would nurture them with care to bring up a generation of powerhouses that would guard the kingdom. The Duke mentioned, however, that it was something that could only be accomplished in two or three decades. Reading between the lines, he was hinting that someone who only had a chance to become a guardian, and that too only in decades, had no ability to change the current situation.
Richard understood exactly what Bevry was saying. Zim himself was good for nothing, completely useless. The chances of him having a child with a bloodline ability, and that child then growing up to be powerful enough to defend the kingdom, about the level of a saint from Norland, were less than 1%. Richard didn’t even bother himself with a genius like Perrin, so why would he kill Zim over the minuscule possibility of a future saint?
He continued reading the Duke’s explanation of Viscount Zim’s importance. Bevry obscurely mentioned that the royal family prized him for his bloodline, not for his reputation. Richard couldn’t help but raise his brows, reading those words once more. They seemed to hint that there was no need to worry about a saint appearing to resolve internal conflicts.
The words on the back of the letter were even more interesting. Bevry hinted that the Viscount’s existence was actually a burden to Duke Grasberg and the royal family, one that could not be harmed. This was, to some extent, in line with Richard’s own thoughts.
At the end of the letter, the Duke mentioned that he had sent Richard supplies as payment for the next batch of runes. These supplies included four ballistae, as well as enough equipment to outfit 200 warriors. While the ballistae weren’t enchanted, they were more than enough for Richard’s crude little castle.
The Duke also mentioned that a battalion of 300 swordsmen was stationed not far from his territory. Nominally, they were to impose a border on Richard’s territory, but if there were any issues he could not deal with he could seek refuge there. The battalion would defer to him for some time, protecting him until he could reach Deepcliff City.
Once he saw that, Richard skimmed through the rest without halting. The second page was just a list of the supplies that Chanton had brought, as well as the steel components for the castle’s defence that would be sent later.
Richard lit the letter alight once he was done reading it, burning it to nothingness. “I’m very grateful for His Grace’s generosity!” he said to Chanton, “Is there anything else he wants to tell me?” There were many things that could not be written on paper.
“Yes,” Chanton smiled, “His Grace wants me to tell you that he’s preparing to go to war against the Whiterock Dukedom. The army will set out in less than half a month, targeting Earl Jayleon. The Duke’s true target is a dragon skeleton displayed in the Earl’s castle.
“Alright, that’s it. Once you’ve taken inventory of the supplies, I will need to rush back to Deeprock City. His Grace needs to know Viscount Zim’s current situation. Once the army sets off, I will send the second batch of materials.”
“Thank you. However, I have one more question. How will the young Baron Fontaine be dealt with? He’s currently blocking the path between my lands and the Duke.” The Fontaines had cut ties with Duke Bevry, and were now sitting at a major crossroad. However, Twilight Castle was currently still too weak to defend itself.
Knight Chanton muttered to himself for a while and then said, “I have no personal advice for you. However, I discussed this matter with the Duke before I set off. He has given you full authority; handle it as you wish.”
“Full authority?” Richard frowned. That was a very broad power.
“Yes, full authority! Do whatever you think is necessary to deal with the Fontaines,” Chanton repeated.
Richard frowned once more, understanding the hint.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA