Book 3, Chapter 93

Path To Power(2)

Richard didn’t find anything new even after looking through Lifesbane multiple times. There was one suspicion that he had never managed to resolve. Beye was a terrifyingly powerful individual, why did she care so much about this rune? The Ironblood Duke was a wealthy man; forget grade 3 runes, he had to have many grade 4 runes in stock. And given her strength, Beye definitely wasn’t an ordinary child.

Why did she have to have Lifesbane? Was it just for the ability to stack?

He suddenly thought back to those pure white eyes, that terrifying aura that left people wanting to scream. That power, that lethal presence… Who knows how many people one had to kill to get to that level?

Looking at Lifesbane again, his gaze was now somewhat different. He no longer tried to analyse the structure, instead trying to peer into the thoughts behind its design. In other words, he was searching for the rune’s soul.

An unknown amount of time later, Richard shut his eyes. Beye’s silhouette appeared in his mind’s eye, a Lifesbane rune already on each arm. She was going through many attacking motions, her movements and power enhanced by the runes. He then began to simulate the true power of the Lifesbane rune, overlaying them one after the other. A second, third, fourth, and even fifth rune suddenly made its way onto each hand!

He didn’t realise when exactly his expression had changed. As the simulation progressed, Beye’s lethality far surpassed what could be encompassed by just ‘terrifying’! Every opponent she faced in the simulation had turned into a rain of blood that filled the sky. She moved forward step by step, her pace not changing in the slightest as she left a trail of blood through countless enemies.

He suddenly opened his eyes, only to find sweat dripping down from his forehead. That path of blood had finally shown him the soul of Lifesbane. He knew now that his biggest priority was lethality!

He immediately made some adjustments to his second mind, focusing it completely on analysing the clerical martial arts. He would combine the elven secret swords with his bloodline abilities, even fusing some magic within. What he needed most was to defeat the enemy, the method unimportant. The martial arts from the Church of the Eternal Dragon far surpassed the elven swords in terms of profundity. They would serve well as a foundation upon which to build all his other techniques. However, few people in the past had done things this way.

He had finally sorted out his future path. Externally, he would continue to establish his own influence with his followers as the foundation, developing on his army control with the broodmother’s drones at the core. Internally, he would pursue the path Mordred and Beye did, growing his level while strengthening his lethality before anything else. With this clear, he could ignore many matters that were of little importance.

Richard got up, taking a deep breath. His confidence had been regained.

……

Only after walking out of the tent did Richard realise that it was already dawn. He had actually spent an entire night pondering. The brilliance of dawn was gradually filling the horizon, some of the early-rising nobles already walking about the camp.

While Richard was up to his ears in work regarding their next move, these nobles weren’t idling either. The fight over the troop distribution had already turned white-hot; the negotiation table was another battlefield to these trained men, in fact one that they were better at fighting in. However, every noble knew that everything on top of the table changed hands underneath; there was a lot of effort put in outside of the actual discussions.

Two nobles were walking in his direction, privately discussing something in whispers. Contrary to expectations, both of them had dark circles under bloodshot eyes. They evidently hadn’t slept well. The pair greeted him warmly when they approached him before leaving in a hurry; it seemed like they were looking for a place to continue their discussion.

All the nobles had come to understand Richard’s style during their association with him. He always gave them an overall plan, leaving the specifics of the distribution for them to fight for. Instead of wasting their time on him, they might as well form cliques in private.

Although the nobles contributed a majority of the troops, Richard still took a quarter of the profits. However, now there was nobody expressing unhappiness; they all thought it was only right.

Richard called over two elite humanoids, having them take a hundred of their kin and fifty throwers to load the orcish idols as well as other junk from the altars that were contaminated by divinity into big carriages. He soon sent them to escort these carriages to the borders of the Land of Turmoil.

This caravan held more than fifty idols, able to provide at least twenty units of divinity for the broodmother; she only needed one to get to level 6. He just had some doubts in his mind: why did the broodmother need divinity for her evolution at all?

There was a certain implication behind it, but he hadn’t figured it out yet.

Now, there was only one idol left to settle.

The other nobles hadn’t even bothered with discussion when Richard had taken these statues, allowing him to have them all. In their eyes, these crude constructions of wood and stone only had a little worth as art pieces. Even then, orcish and human aesthetics did not match well; these idols would not sell for a high price. The nobles just assumed Richard had a peculiar taste.

Of course, Richard and Flowsand weren’t collectors. The worth of these idols could be reflected in just one word: offering.

He inspected the idol once more before returning to his tent. Muttering to himself for a moment, he eventually started writing a letter to the Direwolf Duke.

‘Your Grace:

‘I presume you’re still worried over Perrin’s condition. Luckily, I found an orcish idol during the Bloodstained Highway Project that has been worshipped by tens of thousands of orcs for a long time. It barely makes the standard of an offering, but it can be used for a sacrificial ceremony.

‘Indeed, a sacrifice. I will be returning to Bluewater in the near future, where I will await reinforcements. I believe we will have the time then to hold a sacrificial ceremony. If Perrin is present and is lucky enough, he might receive another extension of time.

‘In addition, I am very interested in purchasing any rare minerals you have in your warehouse. I will provide adequate compensation in the form of high-quality magic equipment, equal in grade to what Lord Moonbear returned with recently. I strictly control the flow into most hands, but of course, there will be no such restriction on you. I hear you were drained a lot in the recent war; hopefully, this equipment can strengthen your army further.

‘At least for the foreseeable future, our interests are tightly bound together. I hope for our alliance to be unbreakable.’

Finished with the letter, Richard sent a few light cavalrymen to deliver it back to Bluewater at top speed. A long-range communications array had been incorporated into his residence, able to transmit this letter immediately to the Direwolf Duke for 10 magic crystals.

Having sent the letter, Richard heaved a long sigh. He had finally changed his tactics, deciding to arm the Direwolf Duke. With the situation in Norland as it was, it was extremely important for him to form powerful alliances in Faelor. The only way to save himself on both sides of the portal was to expand his own power as much as possible. The Direwolf Duke’s support was currently crucial to him.

Richard finally regained the mood to study the situation. Having rested and reorganised at the Cracked Canyon for an entire week, the nobles still hadn’t come up with a proper distribution for the spoils of war. He was appalled by the lack of efficiency.

He could easily set up an optimal distribution based on the contributions of all parties involved, but the problem was that these nobles definitely would not accept it directly. To them, every hundred soldiers was a large heap of gold! Only after a long period of draining negotiations would the split-up possess any real credibility. Of course, they would find that the final result hardly differed from his original suggestions.

He shook his head, returning to his own tent to meditate. He saw a small violet ray this time, so quick and agile that it was extremely difficult to capture. His meditation technique had records of it; this was a grade 3 astral ray, more than ten times as effective as an ordinary blue ray. A sufficient number of rays could possibly even unlock special effects, but it was near impossible to find these without luck.

Richard tried to catch the ray a few times, even emptying his mind once before trying again, but the wisp was just too fast. It disappeared every few minutes after it showed itself, unseen for an unknown period of time.

He quickly changed tracks, no longer futilely relying on luck as he instead tried to calculate the trajectory of the ray’s flight. With his profound achievements in mathematics, he would be able to figure out the trajectory in a moment of its arrival. He stopped chasing the ray with his soul, instead positioning himself to intercept the ray’s flight.

The violet ray was thus pulled into his consciousness, but he couldn’t manage to direct it towards his astral affinity trunk. It fused into his mana pool instead, but then he felt a sudden burst of energy in his second mind. The power of his new consciousness seemed to have actually increased! The grade 3 astral rays could actually upgrade the new mind? The discovery practically made him wild with joy!

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: XE

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA