Devon had already agreed to join hands with Amon, seeking more power in Bluewater’s new order together, but that was nowhere nearly as crazy as Richard’s plan. The mage wanted to kick Red Cossack out, a group that held a fourth of the influence in the Oasis on the whole!
When Richard explained the details, Devon immediately pointed out two problems, “Even if Lord Falcao was here, both he and Rolf would not be a match for the two saints of Red Cossack. But let’s ignore that for a moment, say we can hold up the opponent’s saints, can you sweep away all of Red Cossack’s forces? These men are known throughout the Bloodstained Lands for their ruthlessness and ferocity!”
Richard smiled calmly, “I have a solution to the first problem, at some cost of course. As for the second… Yes. Yes, I can.”
The fellow’s eyes sparkled. “Interesting!” he said as he rubbed his hands together, “Interesting!”
And thus, the deal with Devon was sealed. The fatty had his own logic to things: if Richard could convince Amon of the feasibility of this operation, then he would trust the boy as well. The mage already had great military successes that inspired confidence, and the Golden Warflag was not afraid of Red Cossack anyway. Falcao definitely wasn’t as good as the opponent’s saints, but Lord Trey, who was handling affairs elsewhere, could destroy one of them without issue.
The contract was thus finalised, but it still required some steps on Richard’s part to bring it into effect. The mage needed to bring back thousands of slaves as proof of his power.
Neither Amon nor Devon considered Richard’s current army to be worth even a mention. Although they didn’t want to force the cards from this friend’s hand, he still needed to prove his ability on the field if he wanted to ally with them.
When the sun rose the next morning, Richard and his entire army took off for the slave camp. The sun was setting when he returned to Bluewater, an enormous group trailing behind him. Although there were less than 8,000 slaves, the number wasn’t too far off. The group looked magnificent from a distance, the 1000-strong army at the helm looking extremely weak in comparison.
The 8,000 slaves all entered Bluewater, alarming almost everyone within. Many were still unaware of the origin of these slaves, but any fool could understand the benefits they represented.
Most people were envious, some even thinking of snatching the batch of slaves away. However, the appearance of both Devon and Amon in a welcoming position caused the restless crowd to calm down.
Only a small number of people could see what was really going on. The composition of Richard’s army spoke roughly of their marching speed. Given how long it would take to travel to and from the battlefield, and adding in the time it would have taken to reorganise the slaves, one would come up with an astonishing duration for the battle.
Richard’s friends were stood side by side, unable to help but glance at each other to notice the shock in their eyes. They understood the strength of that Red Cossack camp well, and that the number of cavalrymen guarding it had increased recently. Even if the battle was extremely short, they had expected Richard to be at least two hours slower. After all, he still needed to let his soldiers eat and rest before the attack.
The fact that Richard returned this early proved how little time they took for both rest and the attack itself. It gave them a brand new understanding of his army, especially since he had returned with almost the same numbers that had gone out.
Since when was Red Cossack so weak that they collapsed with a single blow?
The question emerged within the minds of the two at the same time. However, these sly old foxes realised that such a thought would be mistaken. Red Cossack’s might only grew and grew, never waning. This was an accomplishment of Richard’s army alone.
Did he have some other troops he did not expose earlier? That couldn’t be. Supplying, garrisoning, and dispatching an army was a big affair that was impossible to hide perfectly. Moreover, how could their information networks miss an army hiding out near their own headquarters?
Even if Richard held the numbers advantage, the slave camp was on defensible terrain. With 500 strong defenders and a troop of a few hundred horse bandits on top, it wasn’t easy to wipe them out in a single attack. Both of them knew one thing in their hearts: the high-ranking generals they knew might not be able to get the job done with even two or three thousand people, nevermind the 1,000 men Richard had taken with him.
Looking at Amon and Devon from afar, Richard stopped his horse and waved to them from a distance. After that, he pointed behind himself with a smile on his face.
Devon patted his head repeatedly, turning to his subordinates and roaring, “Why aren’t you lot preparing?! Those are our slaves! Camps, guards, food, and doctors, is everything ready? Did I not make myself clear to you this morning, why are you all still standing here like idiots?!”
Since when had this fatty told them anything? Forget 8,000 slaves, he hadn’t even brought up 80! A few of his subordinates had doubts in their hearts, but how could someone stupid be able to rise so high in the Golden Warflag? Every one of them just repeatedly said ‘yes’ with a terrified face, rushing off to handle their tasks.
Richard returned to the inn alongside his party; naturally, there were some subordinates who could take care of the complicated matter of handing over the slaves. He believed this display would leave enough of an impression on the Golden Warflag and Marquess Anrick.
Red Cossack didn’t just rely on their saints and ferocity to rule the roost. Their guards were widely known for great strength, their army comparable to that of a Marquess.
Powerhouses and elite soldiers were two sides of the coin of war, both were indispensable. One or two saints could not match up to an entire army; it would be like pitting a lion against a pack of wolves. However, an army without a powerhouse would falter under the attack of saints. The slightest gap in their defences would allow the saints to decimate them with guerilla tactics.
Richard didn’t want to put on a display of personal power, or of the power of his runes. He was showing off his ability at the helm of an army. He was the only one who could destroy Red Cossack’s defences without much of a military advantage. That way, both Anrick and the Golden Warflag would go all out to support him. The army would not be an issue; either of them could give him enough soldiers and equipment.
Richard had become the centre of focus in the entire oasis. Hundreds of gazes were fixed upon him, a mix of envy and curiosity that did not lack hatred. Although nobody discussed it publicly, the rumours spread very quickly and soon everyone knew where those slaves had come from. The Red Cossack camp was the only place nearby with so many slaves, and the fact that they were his enemies was already a public secret.
Riding his tall horse, Richard could overlook the majority of the people in the city. He had already become someone with a modicum of infamy. Workers were already beginning large-scale construction in his lands and refurbishing the existing buildings, with everything that used to belong to Schitich now falling under his name. His territory in the Bloodstained Lands was now large enough to build a large camp that could house 3,000 slaves.
The new camp would be completed by the time Red Cossack was eliminated from Bluewater, just in time to consolidate his new status as one of its key influences.
However, none of this was what he desired. All the power, all the reverence, the surging wealth, the ability to kill as he pleased… nothing mattered. He couldn’t bring himself to be happy with these achievements.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: XE
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA