Book 3, Chapter 63

Behind The Scenes

All the free Archeron warriors and the knights in training were quickly gathered in one of the training fields. There were over 300 people for Richard to choose from, and as usual, he walked to each of them to ask about their skills, family, and unique traits.

The process took more than an hour, leaving the spectating Fuschia the same as Nyris and Agamemnon when they first saw his incomparable patience and meticulousness.

He wound up picking 26 candidates, 17 of which were Archeron warriors. All of them had at least four rune slots as necessary for a rune knight, but they weren’t the most talented group. Half of them were limited to level 15; even in the best case, they would only end up as elite rune knights that could compare to a normal saint.

However, that was what made them suitable to be the core of an army. Any more powerful and they would grow difficult to command, just like Gaton’s thirteen.

Richard had the old steward equip all these soldiers with the spare equipment in the family warehouse. With another day left until he returned to Faelor, the family craftsmen would be able to make any adjustments needed as long as they worked a little more than normal. When he returned to Gaton’s study once more, he had finally dealt with every pressing issue.

He took out a piece of magic paper, carefully writing down a list of the people and items he would be bringing alongside him as a final confirmation. Looking at the goods on the list, he already had a rough idea of the huge profits he stood to make upon his return. It almost exceeded his profits from the royal family.

One had to note that a set of materials for Savage Barrier cost less than 200,000 coins, but given that it was more powerful than a mix of grade 2 runes it sold for over a million. The royal family would provide him with five sets of materials for every one he made, close to a million coins in materials for a single rune set. A runemaster’s profit margin was defined by their success rate, and his was abnormally high. Even any runes outside of the nominal agreement the royal family would buy only slightly lower than the market price.

Richard was basically guaranteed to spend less than 200,000 coins to craft one Savage Barrier set. A royal runemaster’s profits from their runes might seem lower than through auction on the surface, but the true profits came with the added status, privilege, and endless rare materials that one could not purchase on the market. Richard would make crazy profits from the royal family.

This was why he had been in such a rush to return to Norland. The true source of profit in any planar war was through trade. And he needed a lot of money to expand his power and influence as quickly as possible.

Of course, there was nothing without its cost. This return had sparked an eternal enemy in Lunor. The royal runemaster had accumulated stupendous amounts of wealth over the past decade, his numerous students giving him extensive power. Although some could be drawn away with other benefits, long-term relationships could not be shaken with money alone. He needed time to break Lunor’s influence apart, the one thing he lacked the most right now.

There were far too many things to do, but the Rainbow of the Moons came and went at a constant rate.

Richard’s greatest advantage was that his rate of profit was perhaps tens of times higher than Lunor’s; when his power and wealth reached a tipping point, the grand runemaster would be nothing in his eyes. Not only was his success rate far higher, he also took much less time to draw a rune. According to the information Nyris had given him, Richard estimated he only took half the time to draw a grade 2 rune.

Efficiency. that was also a source of profit.

Richard was immersed in calculating the profits of the trip, figuring out how much of it could be turned into battle power and how much had to be retained for growth. Maximising one’s profit in a given timespan was a complicated issue that was affected by many factors; even with his ability, Richard needed a few hours to go through everything.

……

While Richard was lost in a world of calculations, Coco stood anxiously in the steward’s office. The man had a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles on his face, carefully reading through a piece of paper filled with numbers. When he finished reading the last line, he inked a number on it and handed the paper to Coco.

It only took the girl a single look to realise the paper held details of her family’s recent income and expenditure, as well as some other important matters. The butler had just marked the family’s financial deficit. As for the major events column:

Cencil Archeron, Coco Archeron’s half-brother from the same mother. Currently does not hold any position in the Archeron Family, living in his father’s territory. Two months ago, he tried to woo a local farmer’s daughter and ended up raping her, severely injuring the girl’s parents in the process. The case is being heard in the local court.

Sir Pierre Archeron, Coco Archeron’s father. Is the owner of a small fief, with a meagre income. His salary as the vice-captain of Blackrose Castle’s guards is far from enough to support the luxurious light he is living right now. Even the salary of three knights combined would not be enough to make up for the losses.

The only reason Sir Pierre hadn’t gone bankrupt was an allowance from the Archeron Family, specifically from Gaton. This allowance had been granted for an entire year, multiple times Pierre’s normal salary. The quota had been raised again in recent times, and a quarter’s funds had been paid in advance.

This allowance was in exchange for Coco being in Faust and on the shortlist of potential partners. She barely even qualified for that position, but Pierre’s many years of service had given her a leg up. After all, the Archeron Family was a collection of untameable brutes; someone willing to avoid the battlefield and take on the role of a watchman for any length of time was a rare find.

Traditionally, becoming a partner had only been an obligation for those Archerons with a strong bloodline. It was when Gaton successfully established himself on Faust and acquired a stable income from his planes that he started to increase the number of potential partners and started training so many knights.

Ever since then, the warriors training on the floating island as well as all the women that qualified to become partners were granted a quarterly allowance. The amount may not be much to a baron, but to most commoners it was a vast income. The Archerons were peasants but a few centuries ago; to them, the quarterly sum was an extravagance that would completely change their families.

Gaton thus trained a powerful force of knights, but unexpectedly many people started to send their daughters to the island in exchange for an allowance. Most branch families without a noble rank actually had very thin blood; anyone who could actually awaken a bloodline ability would be granted knighthood and their own fief. Still, Gaton encouraged this practice in the hopes of seeing more Archerons with awakened bloodlines.

On the other hand, the knight training was meant to give the young Archerons better opportunities to display their talents, at the same time securing jobs for the poorer members of the family in their later years. Most of the instructors were free warriors who were either disabled or too old to risk their lives on the battlefield.

Both of these initiatives focused on the prosperity of the entire Archeron Family, but all of the burden fell on Gaton’s shoulders. Any branch family with even the tiniest blood relation to the main line started sending their sons and daughters to the floating island for the sake of the allowance. There were so many of them that Gaton had been driven to the point where he had to set a minimum standard to screen out those who were truly unqualified.

Most of the dissent directed at him in the family meeting had come from those branches whose children had been screened out.

Even after the screening, an astonishing figure had been paid out to the various branch families in the two years since Gaton had entered Faust. It had become a heavy burden, one of the few points of dispute between him and Sharon. The legendary mage believed her money was an investment, not something for him to donate to his clansmen at will.

Coco was one of the many girls who had wound up on island 7-2 in this way. Then she was selected to be Richard’s partner, directly tripling the allowance her family received. The sum of money one’s family was granted was directly related to how thick their partner’s blood was. With the density of Richard’s bloodline, Coco’s income had increased greatly.

The old steward pushed up his glasses, glancing at Coco, “Sir Pierre’s expenditure has increased by 30% this quarter. Just the interest on his debts has reached 3,000 gold; at this rate, the allowance might not be enough.”

Coco’s anxiousness showed on her delicate face. She didn’t pay attention to the allowance, instead pointing at the major events column and asking impatiently, “How is my brother now, Sir?”

“This issue is a little difficult to handle,” the steward said slowly, “I’ve heard Mr. Cencil keeps bragging that his sister is the partner of the family’s runemaster, constantly mentioning that Richard is the student Her Excellency Sharon is proudest of. And his way of doing things… Hmm, very inappropriate. He’s already stirred up public outrage.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA