Book 2, Chapter 180

Negotiation

It wasn’t all that easy for Baron Fontaine to break away from being the Direwolf Duke’s vassal, joining Duke Grasberg’s ranks. Thankfully, Duke Bevry was about to go to war. He obviously wouldn’t deal with the problem of the Baron anytime soon, especially since it concerned a special character like Viscount Zim. However, even if the Duke didn’t mind for now, Richard had to step in.

With his barony being in such a key position, the young Baron was going to be a huge threat. Once Richard obtained the ransom and released Zim, he would have no bargaining chips to keep the youth at bay outside of his own military might. Zim’s side may be peaceful for some time because of an agreement as the losers of the war, but the barony would soon be reinforced.

Richard didn’t express anything to Sir Chanton, immediately taking his leave from the titled knight’s residence. Returning to his own, he headed to the rudimentary laboratory to find a way to complete the last part of his spell penetration rune. However, no matter how many times he tried to concentrate he kept failing. Almost writing the entire thing off, he eventually just stood up and headed to the window for a view of the lush forest outside.

Every detail from the short period of interaction between him and the late Baron flowed through his mind. Twilight Castle was elegant and exquisite, dazzling in the old Fontaine’s hands. The finest of details in the castle were still impeccable, showing the Baron’s taste and meticulous care… 

The wind brought along the fresh smell of vegetation with a hint of smoke. The smell came from the masons burning the shrubbery nearby, tainting this primaeval scenery with the scent of war.

‘Your son is causing big problems, Fontaine!’ Richard thought with a wry smile. ‘When you handed Caesar to me, had you already foreseen this situation? But… I’d rather believe that you’re someone who does things based on intuition…’

His imagination ran wild for a long time before he slowly cleared his mind, thinking quietly to himself, ‘Alright, you win. I’ll protect the castle you left behind, and help your son root out the black sheep in your family. Bah, who let me owe you a life?’

At that moment, he suddenly didn’t feel like he was only two years older than his friend’s son.

With new determination infused in him, Richard’s mood settled down and he completed the grade 2 spell penetration rune in one go. He also fixed the rune slot onto his chest. Concentrated on his work, he had quietly transitioned from an elementary runemaster to a true runemaster.

Now, all he needed to do was wait; to wait for Zim’s family to ransom their people.

It took a little longer than expected, but when Earl Augen, Zim’s uncle, appeared before Richard with a caravan of twenty heavy wagons, he understood why the Earl was three entire days late.

The Viscount clearly understood his people. He didn’t panic in the least when he was told that his family’s envoy was late, proudly and arrogantly stating that they were bringing a ransom suitable for his noble identity as the Highland Unicorn. He claimed it would be eye-opening for a mere titled knight, finally remembering to at least call Richard by his correct title. However, Richard did not know whether to laugh or cry; he couldn’t help but wonder, was the Viscount’s family so used to paying ransoms?

The wagons were especially heavy, making Richard very curious as to what they contained. It seemed like these goods would be a part of the ransom.

Earl Augen had pale skin quite similar to Zim’s; this was a visual cue of the Sequoia Kingdom’s royal blood. The man had just passed forty years of age, his magnificent noble robes adorned with fine jewels.

The Earl had brought along a group of 300 men, all light cavalry from the royal army. This cavalry would possess shocking deterrence even against a duke’s army.

Once he received the report, Richard brought along a group of barbarian warriors and throwers to welcome the incoming party. The Earl was sat high on his horse, the cavalry behind him already forming three rows. Their armour glimmered in the sun as they assumed position, ready to charge.

Behind the light cavalry was the Earl’s own army. Although their red and gold armour was equally bright, one could tell at a glance that they had only chainmail and most of the soldiers weren’t even level 5. This was worse than even Forza’s elite troops, incomparable to the light cavalry that had an average of level 9.

Had this private army not appeared, Richard might have held Augen in higher regard. But now, he did not plan to lose to the man in imposition. He stopped his warhorse a hundred metres away from the earl, waving his hand behind him to cause fifteen barbarian warriors in heavy armour to fall into a steely defensive line. Behind them were about seventy throwers. These creatures who looked like troggs could not compare to Augen’s private army in terms of looks, but only Viscount Zim who had personally experienced their terror had the right to say anything about their might.

Seeing Richard put on such an aggressive stance, Earl Augen snorted loudly and spurred his horse forward to the central point between the two armies. “Sir Richard!” he yelled.

“Earl Augen.” Unlike Augen’s deep and majestic voice, Richard seemed calm and easy-going. However, the cold arrogance in his voice would not lose out to Augen’s.

Augen’s anger clearly showed on his face. “Sir Richard,” he asked coldly, “I still don’t know which family you’re from.”

“Archeron.”

The man lifted his chin slightly in response to that, stating proudly, “I have never heard the Archeron name anywhere in the continent.”

“The Archerons were never famous, the family doesn’t have a long history.” Indeed, the Archerons weren’t even a thousand years old. They couldn’t be considered a historied family, but in a Norland that was constantly burning in the flames of war the most important factor when weighing a family was its military might. History only mattered when both parties were equal in power.

Augen clearly didn’t know the differences between Norland and Faelor. He laughed coldly when he heard Richard’s answer, “So you’re a country upstart!”

Richard maintained a charming smile on his face from beginning to end. However, he had no intentions of being cowed. In the face of the provocation and humiliation, he made a single, indifferent reply, “Indeed. I’m just a country upstart who captured a viscount.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA