Book 2, Chapter 190

Dilemma

Earls were amongst the highest nobles in the Sequoia Kingdom. If Layton were to enter full-fledged war with Richard, he would definitely attract the attention of the nobles of the kingdom. Most importantly, there seemed to be no reason for this war. Richard was a destitute noble with no wealth, his territory void of people. And one had to get past the Direwolf Duke to actually take over his lands

Internal friction was unavoidable in any country; to a certain extent, it was a process of self-adjustment that followed the law of the jungle. However, civil war for no reason was something no leader with a clear mind would allow.

Besides, Richard was the vassal of a powerful law. Layton would still have to consider the Direwolf Duke’s reactions to all this and would have to make some deals in the shadows. That was all a part of politics.

However, Bevry was currently at war with the Whiterock Dukedom, and this war would take a few months at minimum. Since he could not return to his lands at this time, it would be difficult for Duke Grasberg and the rest to discuss Richard with him. Now was their only chance.

Placating the Direwolf Duke, gathering an army, mapping a route, ensuring the troops were rested, even borrowing clerics from a church… These were all troublesome tasks, but necessary to finish. And with their constraints, they had to be done quickly.

Time was the one thing Richard lacked the most. As long as he had time, his power would only grow. The broodmother would continue to create battle drones, and the level 4 throwers were already comparable to elite knights. Richard himself would continue to turn materials into runes, a part of which would strengthen himself and his army. The rest would turn into ten times the gold as the material costs. The gold would then buy more magic materials, and the cycle would continue.

Less than half a month had passed, and only a few thousand gold coins remained from Zim’s ransom. Richards new troops had completed elementary training, only needing to experience actual battlefields. That day, when another elite thrower brought a dozen or so of its brethren to his camp, Richard felt the time was right.

When night fell, he gathered all his core followers and had them make preparations to depart for the Bloodstained Lands two days later.

“Boss, how many people are you bringing? Who’s going to watch over the territory?” Gangdor asked. Ever since Richard had left the training of the troops to him, this big lug had diligently started learning about war. Of course, he didn’t have a great foundation. Outside of getting two novice knights to cram all the knowledge they could into his brain, he still had to learn to read. Elementary language spells could only give one the ability to understand and speak a language, not to read or write.

“Everyone. There won’t be a single soldier left behind.”

Richard’s decision left everyone shocked. The castle was still being constructed, the roads still being levelled, and residents were being recruited to clear the barren lands of the territory. Everything had only just begun, and the young Baron Fontaine was still eyeing these lands covetously. If nobody was left behind to guard it, then wouldn’t others be able to take over their nest?

Seeing everyone’s expressions, Richard knew what they were worried about. He smiled and nodded at the map, looking over them as he asked, “Tell me, is there anything worth guarding on this land?”

“The castle’s foundations have been completed, and then there’s the roads and lumber…” Gangdor’s eyes rose at that point in his speech; he finally understood.

“Yes, that’s it,” Richard said with a smile, “That’s all they’ll see when they come. These things are not valuable, or cannot be moved away. More importantly, this is still my rightful territory. Even if they march in with an army, they have to return it to me later. Unless I die, this place has no use to them whatsoever. That is a fundamental order of nobility, and cannot easily be flouted. So my most precious wealth on this land is my army, you! As long as I take all my men out, Zim, his father, his uncle… everyone will be left at a loss. Would they occupy my land? If they leave once they find nothing, that’s fine. If they don’t, the more troops I leave behind the worse it will be. If I don’t leave anyone behind, we can come back at any time and destroy them!

“That’s why,” Richard emphasised with a knock on the map, “We’ll be going out at full strength!”

Early in the morning two days later, Richard took his army and set off from his territory, disappearing into the red world of the Bloodstained Lands.

Days later, an army of about a thousand people entered Baron Fontaine’s lands. This army had a mix of heavy infantry, longbowmen, and even arbalests who were there specifically to deal with cavalry. The army was full of elite veterans, the forces coming directly from earl Yatu.

At the army’s head was Sir Hogan, commonly called Old Hogan. The titled knight was already fifty years old, with an illustrious military career spanning more than three decades. He was cautious and reliable when leading troops, and had suffered few losses in his life. Old Hogan had been born a commoner, starting as a common footsoldier and slowly accumulating a reputation until he gained his title. Although this ageing knight did not qualify to join the ranks of the high nobles, Earl Yatu still thought of him at crucial times.

Richard was a tough enemy to deal with. No truly intelligent noble would target him if all they wanted was glory. Only extreme egotists or masochists would fight him instead of a group of brigands or bandits.

Amongst the army that had just arrived in Baron Fontaine’s lands were two great mages and two level 10 clerics, as well as six weaker ones. The reinforcements were still gathering. This follow-up army had 200 elite heavy infantry, 600 light infantry, and 200 paladins from Cerces. The Highland Wargod’s church had also dispatched its own legion, led by a level 12 cleric. There were great mages amongst that army as well.

The one commanding the reinforcements was Sir Odom, a saint warrior who was Earl Yatu’s younger brother. Odom was violent and merciless, not knowing when to give up. Some years ago, he had raped a noble lady from the royal bloodline and was demoted from being a baron to a mere titled knight. However, his power as a saint left the punishment minor. As for the noble lady, her family considered her a disgrace and sent her off to the countryside to be the wife of a remote knight. Odom chased her all the way there, and that titled knight soon met an ‘accident’ that left her to become Odom’s mistress.

Ignoring those ‘tiny’ imperfections, Odom possessed great individual strength and was a talented commander. The powerful nobles still had a use for him.

Once these reinforcements arrived, Baron Fontaine would have a balanced army of over 3000 soldiers, all with high-quality equipment. There would be four great mages, a legion from the Highland Wargod, and a saint amongst their ranks, as well as the reliable Old Hogan in command. Even if they attacked frontally, they would be able to crush Richard’s army. Even the Direwolf Duke couldn’t wipe them out without effort.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA