Book 2, Chapter 191

Dilemma(2)

The upper class of the Sequoia Kingdom fell into idle chatter once more. Of course, they had been taught a lesson to not directly ridicule the Highland Unicorn making a mountain out of a molehill, but the countless innuendos and gazes were obvious. Everyone eagerly awaited the result of this fight between elephant and ant, as if they were watching a new drama. They didn’t care about victory or loss; no, that was obvious. They were waiting to see how long the grand mage behind Richard would take to show himself.

However, there were also people calmly watching this farce. Although the Direwolf Duke was not at Deepcliff City, the more powerful of his vassals were visiting the city more and more. Bordering Richard’s lands were a marquess and some viscounts and barons. Many amongst them were silently increasing their defences.

There was a joyous atmosphere in Twilight Castle. Once Old Hogan’s army had reached them, the former gloom had been swept away.

Within the most luxurious conference room in the castle, Hogan, Layton, Booker, Senth, the cleric Bayenne, and others with power were sat discussing their next move at a round table. The young Baron’s uncle had no right to enter the conference room, treated more like an errand boy. As for Fontaine and his mother, they had been chased out of the castle. On the surface, they were on a vacation in the country, hoping for the fresh air to help the young Baron grow strong and calm his mother’s grief.

Earl Layton had already finished a brief on Richard’s territory, terrain, and troops. He also listed any important forces that belonged to Richard. He didn’t want to keep the introduction simple, but there was pitifully little information on Richard’s core party. Most had been taken from the surviving warriors from the battle with Sinclair.

They also had information from Deepcliff City, but by the looks of it it was not as reliable as that from Viscount Zim and the released prisoners of war.

Sir Hogan, whose hair was already half-grey, was stood in front of the map with a magic pen in hand, marking out a few important choke points as he chose their path of advance. The plan was already prepared, and they were in the midst of carrying out. Hogan was only repeating himself for the sake of the mage and the cleric.

These magic classes were very troublesome. They did not understand anything about warfare, but if they didn’t know the battle plan they would grow cross. Mages could normally choose their position on the battlefield; outside of cooperating with the main forces to launch bombardments, duels with the opponent’s mages were something they decided on their own.

Sir Hogan drew a wiggly line from Earl Yatu’s territory to that of Baron Fontaine, “Gentlemen, Sir Odom’s army has already gathered. We are awaiting the arrival of the Highland Wargod’s clerics and another great mage. They are estimated to be here in ten days.”

“Ha! Once Odom’s army gets here, we’ll be able to teach that Richard an unforgettable lesson!” Sir Booker said with a chuckle, spreading his arms, “Let’s hope Richard can build his magnificent castle in ten days!”

Loud laughter rang out within the conference room. Although they had been gathered into such a massive army, everyone who had come late was confused by Layton making such a huge fuss about this. The death of the Golden Eagles had already become a taboo topic that nobody was told about. Outside of the core members, most of the people here only knew that Richard had annihilated Viscount Zim’s army.

“Should we give Richard a little lesson first? That’ll exert some pressure,” a great mage suggested. This 40-year-old man had complicated resentment towards Richard.

“No! Our first order of business is to strengthen our defences. Firstly, we have to station more troops at Twilight Castle. Secondly, we have to protect the path from here to the Earl’s territory.”

“Would Richard actually dare attack Sir Odom’s army?” another great mage said with a laugh. He felt like he was making a joke, but Layton and Hogan did not laugh. The latter had been informed about everything upon arrival, and did not believe it was impossible for Richard to do something in that vein.

Sir Hogan cleared his throat, not addressing the attempt at humour, “I believe we should station 400 guards around Twilight Castle, I will decide the constitution. I hope the great mages and clerics can stay in the city for a while; I wish Richard would attack the castle over Sir Odom’s army.”

Everyone in the conference room nodded in agreement. While 400 wasn’t a large number of defenders, there would be enough mages and clerics to cause serious damage to Richard if he came knocking. Although nobody thought Odom would fail, it was still best to avoid being attacked on unfamiliar terrain.

A light knock suddenly rang through the conference room. A handsome young noble, an officer of the army, entered and saluted to Sir Hogan, “My Lord, our scouts have just sent new information. A few days ago, Richard took all his troops and left for the Bloodstained Lands. His exact destination is unknown.”

““What? All of his troops?”” both Hogan and Layton questioned, their faces warping.

The young officer looked nervous but continued, “Yes. The scout took the risk to enter deep into his territory and even saw the castle’s construction site. Not a single soldier is in his lands.”

Layton slowly fell back into his chair, looking serious, “He actually took all his men away. Isn’t he afraid…” Halfway through his sentence, he did not say any more.

What did Richard’s land have except stone, food, and the foundations of a castle? Could they move a large pit? Commoners and masons were valuable assets, but how many could there even be in his lands? Even if all of them were caught and brought back, they would not make up for the expenses of this army.

On top of that, such an act would be in direct defiance of the Sequoia Kingdom’s laws. The people were the personal property of the ruling lord, nobody could take them away. Any noble, especially one with power, would do all they could to protect the laws of the kingdom regarding land and subjects. These commoners were the cornerstone of society, the base upon which all nobles stood.

“What should we do now?” Layton asked Hogan.

“I don’t know either,” Old Hogan laughed wryly.

“When Sir Odom’s army arrives, we will have 3500 people here. Fontaine’s lands don’t produce enough to support the expenses of such a large army,” Layton said with a frown.

“We can get that kid Fontaine to give up his family’s savings,” Bayenne interrupted coldly, "after all, we’re stationed here to protect them.”

Many in the conference room were nodding. Layton and Hogan exchanged a glance, but did not say much. Little Fontaine was just a child, and his uncle’s level 11 strength was nothing. This young Baron who had recently sided with them was just a pawn in Duke Grasberg’s eyes.

It took a lot of gold to keep up this army, something even Earl Yatu and Viscount Zim could not handle. The cost of the normal soldiers itself was a part of that, but most of the money was spent on the great mages and clerics from the Highland Wargod. The greed of these magic classes far exceeded the power of their spells.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA