As much as he hoped for it, Richard didn’t come across another violet ray during his meditation. The tome for the Deepblue Fantasy had already made it clear that these kinds of astral rays were rare and short-lived, but each one increased his mana at an unbelievable rate. Unlike most others, he could also calculate the trajectories and catch basically every ray he saw.
Given enough time, it was possible to catch up to Sharon’s footsteps.
However, this aspiration was suddenly dampened by the realisation that the legendary mage who often wandered between planes was far more capable then him. How was it possible for her to miss these grade 3 astral rays?
He just sighed in dejection. At this rate, it was difficult to tell just when he would manage to catch up to her. But then another thought filled his mind, drawing a laugh. There were tens of thousands of mages on Norland; how many of them could stand side by side with her?
Another day passed, making for eight consecutive days of rest at the Cracked Canyon. Richard finally gathered all the nobles, holding another meeting about the Bloodstained Highway project.
Someone brought up increasing the army size, causing the nobles to erupt into an argument once more. But this time, he finally raised both hands to quiet them down, “It seems like the army size is a sensitive topic, we have enough time to discuss it in the future. However, we have suffered massive losses at the Cracked Canyon; I’ve decided to return to Bluewater first. Once the reinforcements join us, we will continue the project.”
The nobles were somewhat surprised, but nobody opposed his decision. Richard’s eyes flitted across the map, resting on Bloodflag Valley and other key areas as a slight grin appeared at the corner of his lips. If Salwyn wished to make a move, there would likely be troops lying in ambush.
The Golden Warflag wasn’t just in charge of resupplying the army; they were also gathering information on the neighbouring countries at his behest. Although the royal family of the Iron Triangle Empire did not seem to care about the ruckus he was making, Prince Salwyn had started gathering his army at the east of the empire. Soldiers were also grouping up in the south, basically screaming out Salwyn’s target.
Despite remaining at the Cracked Canyon for eight whole days, he had not discovered Salwyn’s location. This was very unusual; the later the prince appeared, the more fierce his attacks would be. Richard did not believe an opponent who had nearly forced him to his end would let go of such an obvious chance. Salwyn was likely preparing a trap somewhere, waiting for him to get caught.
It seemed like the merchants’ information network wasn’t viable, and there were restrictions on just how far the bats could scout as well. He currently had no clue of where Salwyn’s main forces would attack him. Since he couldn’t find the enemy, however, he would abandon his initial plans. A return to Bluewater would definitely be out of Salwyn’s expectations. Since the enemy couldn’t be found and wasn’t making a move, then he would be the one to do so.
Such was his final decision. After arranging for appropriate defences, the army set off on the return journey. With the enemies in the middle all cleared out, a journey of a hundred kilometres only took two days.
Richard prepared to await the Direwolf Duke’s arrival, finishing the sacrificial ceremony. This way, the Duke would be tied to his own chariot in this charge.
Bloodflag Valley. Sir Aer, the Iron Wall, had waited seven whole days but he did not see Richard’s army at all. His infantry had packed lightly to make it to the valley on time; in fact, he had even given up some rations for more equipment. The day before he arrived, news of Richard’s resounding victory at the Cracked Canyon spread throughout the Bloodstained Lands. The army had then started reorganising, so based on his predictions Richard should have arrived in three days. Aer had even pulled away his scouts in order to prevent Richard from discovering him.
However, he had waited seven whole days! This was far beyond the time taken for even a large army to rest, and Bloodflag Valley was only fifty kilometres from the Cracked Canyon. The army should have been there by now.
While Aer was waiting anxiously, Sawlyn was the same. News of Richard’s charge into the Cracked Canyon had surprised him; what was there besides water and a small plot of arable land? Outside of the mushrooms in the underground caves, the only presence in the entire canyon was the stench of the orcs. Richard had actually gone to war with tens of thousands of orcs for this useless land? Had he gone senile?
The Cracked Canyon had always belonged to the orcs. Although there were many powerful human organisations in the Bloodstained Lands, nobody had focused their attention here for one simple reason: the losses far outweighed any potential profits!
Every adult orc was a powerful warrior. With tens of thousands of them… Even with his army, this was a tough bone Salwyn was unwilling to chew. Richard seemed to be intelligent and decisive, considering all factors before going to war. The frontier knight planned far ahead and never did anything he was unsure of. Even more terrifyingly, he had yet to lose a single battle!
No matter how difficult it was to understand, Richard truly had battled the orcs at the Cracked Canyon and won. However, his losses were immense enough to force him to remain near the canyon for seven days!
Hidden a hundred kilometres away in a border city of the Iron Triangle Empire, Salwyn was put in an impossible situation. Richard’s camps were spread out wide in a complicated terrain. Although this was a disadvantage in battle, it made it easy for a bulk of the army to flee. The canyon was not an ideal place for the final battle. He had intended to attack them when they were a hundred kilometres in, striking like lightning and ending Richard at once. Who could have expected that he would actually stop to rest?
A few days later, the new information reached the hands of Salwyn and Sir Aer at about the same time. Salwyn felt speechless and dizzy at what he had heard; Richard had actually withdrawn his troops!
While the first reaction was disbelief, Salwyn immediately asked for General Hinton to withdraw. While the man could also lead battles, he was already at a numeric disadvantage; Salwyn did not believe he would be able to win against Richard.
When Hinton received the order via messenger hawk, he hastily withdrew from the Flintstone Forest. These movements were naturally discovered by Richard; it was impossible to hide the movements of thousands of soldiers. However, Hinton’s army marched extremely quickly; Richard could not catch up, or he would have ended them immediately.
Thankfully, this verified Richard’s suspicions. Salwyn truly was watching the situation in the Bloodstained Lands, waiting to pounce. Next would be a battle of wits and patience.
And patience was a virtue Richard had in abundance for now. With the broodmother around, his power would grow every minute and second. Since he was not completely sure of victory yet, he was willing to play this game of cat and mouse. The Prince hadn’t achieved anything of note ever since his defeat at Sinclair’s hands.
The night he returned to Bluewater, Richard brewed a pot of tea and spent some time lazing around on the balcony alone. He stroked his teacup as he stared at the round moon in the sky, thinking to himself, ‘Salwyn’s definitely more anxious than I am.’
When the prince couldn’t wait any longer, Richard wouldn’t mind surprising him in the same way Odom had been.
Just as Richard was pondering over the next course of action, he saw a group of people entering his courtyard, five or six of whom were in clerical attire. A servant soon walked up to him, saying that clerics for the Goddess of Spring Water and the Goddess of the Forest wanted to see him.
Richard was slightly stunned. Two viscounts from from the Sequoia Kingdom had indeed sent clerics to his army, but they were only level 5 or 6. That was only level with Caesar; strictly speaking, they were only acolytes. Their spells hadn’t left any deep impressions either, his only memory of their existence being that there were quite a few. Since those of the clergy rarely participated in battles between nobles, he had noted the names of the gods they worshipped. However, on the battlefield even a dozen weak clerics like that couldn’t compare to a single one of Flowsand, Io, or Kellac. They weren’t worthy of further attention.
Whatever it was, they still represented two churches. These clerics could not be ignored, even if the Goddess of Spring Water and the Goddess of the Forest were known to many as trash deities. Richard instructed the servant to lead them to the meeting hall, entering himself after a short while.
When he walked into the hall, the six clerics were already seated. To Richard’s surprise, one of them was the highest level he had seen so far in the Bloodstained Lands. She seemed about thirty years of age, holding a refined charm that made her seem younger than she was. On top of that, she was actually a level 10 cleric— no, at that level she could barely be considered a priestess.
Richard immediately walked over to her, greeting her with proper noble etiquette, “I have never seen you before, esteemed priestess. May I know which deity you serve?”
The priestess stood up, “Lord Richard, my name is Faylen. I serve the almighty Goddess of Spring Water, and am currently in charge of the church in the Sequoia Kingdom. I only reached Bluewater today.”
Richard’s smile immediately grew more sincere, “I welcome you! The clerics of your church played a very important role in the recent battles. Thanks to them, my men suffered far fewer casualties! May I know who accompanies you?”
Next to Faylen were a man and woman, both around the same level as her. They were also people he had never seen before. The two had different auras from the priestess at the front, so they were likely not worshippers of the Goddess of Spring Water.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA