However, Richard had only met Alice once, and barely spoken to her— he didn’t understand her in the slightest. He didn’t know how to start the simplest of alliances, forget an agreement to become partners. Fuschia’s stance was unpredictable as well; sometimes she was suddenly respectful, and at other times she would play around. It made it difficult for him to make sense of the Earl’s intentions.
In the midst of figuring this out, Richard suddenly felt the three crystal plates in his pocket pressing up uncomfortably against his body. Flowsand’s words came to mind, reminding him that these plates were supposed to be able to resolve all his difficulties. If that was the case, would this small matter not be trifling to fix?
He thus reached into his pocket, calmly crushing one of the plates into pieces. The crystal fragments immediately transformed into pure energy, flowing into him through his fingertips. A voice rang out in his mind, ‘Alice is a natural ally, an unrivalled partner whom you cannot afford to ignore. However, you are the same to her.’
He was instantly shocked. No matter how powerful prophetic magic could get, it should never have such an effect! This was already beyond the domain of normal magic, the ability to grasp another’s mind and soul. The words themselves wouldn’t be unusual if someone knowledgeable like Gaton spoke them, but formed from the crystal plate’s energy they were astonishing.
Even with his profound knowledge, he did not have any idea of spells that had such a miraculous effect. As far as he knew, there was practically no magic that could achieve this.
The words may have been simple, but their importance could not be underestimated. People often merely needed an indication of direction when trapped in difficult circumstances. Richard was now sure of how to handle his relationship with Alice; being partners was only a bonus, the most valuable aspect was a secure alliance.
In the midst of all this shock, Richard’s hand trembled in his pocket and accidentally crushed another of the crystals!
The voice rang out in his mind once more, ‘Rune knights are a foundation to all battles. However, they are a double-edged sword that could come back to hurt you. The most important attribute of a rune knight is not potential, it is loyalty. Take more knights along to Faelor, if only as porters.’
Richard was shocked greatly once more.
This advice was just as significant as the last. Not only would it help determine his choices in going to Faelor this time, it was also a principle that he could apply in the future.
Runes were a precious few, outnumbered by rune knight candidates thousands to one. Any decently able level 11 warrior with the carrying capacity could become a rune knight. As for the upper bound, level 15 and level 17 weren’t all that different to Richard right now. What he needed was a core army that was absolutely loyal, not young talents like Erwin who could betray him at any time. Besides, potential was only useful if one could survive long enough to take control of their lives.
These two crystals had completely settled Richard’s most pressing problems. His hand trembled a little once more, coming into contact with the third. He was immediately startled, pulling his hand from his pocket as though he had just touched fire in the fear of crushing the third as well.
These plates were indeed miraculous, just like Flowsand had said. With two already used up, he had to keep the third safe no matter what. If he was caught in a deadlock in the future, it would be the saving grace that rescued him! Although Flowsand had played it down when she gave him the plates, that did not mean they weren’t rare or precious. One could not obtain these sorts of things endlessly. Perhaps these three plates were the only ones he would ever come across.
He carefully retrieved the last plate from his pocket, covering it with a handkerchief woven from antimagic cloth before placing it snugly against his body. Noticing his curious behaviour, Fuschia couldn’t help but ask, “What amazing thing is that?”
Richard decided to tell the truth, “A protective charm that can see into the future. It’s very precious, with the power to change one’s destiny when crushed in times of need.”
Fuschia scoffed lightly upon seeing the solemn look on Richard’s face, believing something like that could never exist. Such charms would have saved many noble figures from their deaths. She simply took Richard’s words as a joke, meant to stall for time as he carefully deliberated over his decision.
This was a common tactic many nobles used during negotiations. Fuschia wasn’t so anxious for the answer that she couldn’t even wait a few minutes. Richard’s current predicament didn’t leave him with too many choices, so she was confident she could fight for her Lady’s welfare. In her eyes, Earl Alice’s minimal standards had been a little too low.
Of course, this was precisely the effect that Richard wanted to achieve. He knew that Fuschia wouldn’t believe him even if he told the truth. After all, he himself had been sceptical but a few minutes ago.
Set on his decision, Richard took out the box with the remaining magic crystals and handed it to Fuschia, “This is a gift for Earl Alice. Consider it to be the down payment.”
“Ten high-grade magic crystals!” Fuschia exclaimed after opening the box, “How generous. But still, it seems a little inadequate. This is only sufficient for a single grade 2 rune knight.”
“This is already sincere enough,” Richard stated.
“But we asked for grade 2 rune knights. Of course, set knights would be best—”
Richard raised his hand and interrupted Fuschia’s words, “My time is precious and limited, there’s no need to waste it haggling. This is my bottom line. Whether Alice accepts it or not is up to her, not you! Of course, if the Lady allowed you to bargain on her behalf and you feel like it’s not enough, then the agreement ends here. Take the crystals anyway, consider it my thanks for keeping my siblings safe all this while.”
Fuschia sighed, reluctantly stowing the box of magic crystals away. “Pettiness is unbecoming of a man,” she remarked.
“It’s worse to be extravagant beyond one’s means,” Richard countered with a smile.
She huffed in reply, “My Lady is surely worth more than just twenty grade 2 rune knights!”
Richard nodded in reply, “I suppose she has more hopes for her ally to grow formidable rapidly.”
“Her partner,” Fuschia corrected.
“Right, partner. That’s certainly even better. Alright, let’s take a look at the people you selected. I think I should bring more people to Faelor, the ones on the list aren’t exactly enough on their own.”
“Suit yourself. But don’t forget, you need 20,000 gold to transport one person to Faelor,” she reminded him. She had already been informed about the upgrades to the passage.
“It’s worth the money,” Richard answered.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Hestia
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA