A Conflict That Cannot Be Resolved
Given his skill at appraisal, Richard knew that any piece of enchanted equipment was a high-quality item in Faelor, making the craft of enchanting one of the most profitable on the plane. The swords that cost 1,500 gold in Norland required at least 3,000 gold to manufacture in Faelor. Still, despite the vast price disparity, there was also no guarantee of a steady supply.
Thus, when Richard dumped hundreds of superior-grade magic items into the market, it had garnered the attention of the Mage Association. Some preliminary investigation easily led them to the source of this new batch of high-quality equipment.
Richard had basically affected the Association’s primary source of income, which was why so many mages had come to his door. The Association in the Sequoia Kingdom prioritised preserving the status quo, followed by bringing him under their control. In other words, exterminating the variable was the most beneficial to their interest. As for the equipment he had already sold, they would naturally collect it all. They hoped such quality equipment would never be sold in bulk ever again; that way, they could maintain their exorbitant prices.
This was why Kamy had come with such harsh conditions. If Richard bowed, he would turn into a labourer for the Association. If not, it would give them a reason to exterminate him. As for whatever teacher was supporting him from behind, the Association with eleven grand mages felt like they had no need to fear any single mage. Of course, these so-called ‘grand mages’ were Faelor’s grand mages, not level 18 like in Norland.
Richard himself would definitely not give up on such a profitable venture. The standard weapons and armour were only a start; truly precious goods like epic or even legendary-grade items were soon to come. They could be sold for an astronomical price on Faelor, allowing him to buy even more resources. These resources would be turned into wealth back in Norland, used to grow his strength. This would form a foundation of income that strengthened him by the day.
Thus, there was a fundamental conflict of interest with the Mage Association. He had only two options— be taken advantage of, or destroy the enemy. There was no room for discussion. The only reason he’d allowed Kamy to return was to delay the war as long as possible. Regardless, mere gold and silver mages were terribly weak and wouldn’t be much of a threat at all.
A total of 15,000 men followed Richard on his second campaign, of which a full third were his own. However, most of the men this time were slaves from the fight in Bluewater. Outside of the 150 new humanoid knights, there were only 200 humanoid warriors and a mere 150 throwers left. The losses to his drone army during the defense had been dire.
Still, there was good news to be had. Phaser was level 10 already, and Waterflower was showing signs of advancing herself. He himself had a ways to go before he reached level 13, but his focus was currently on his astral affinity from the elven bloodline. The two existing branches had been strengthened, while a third was beginning to form.
He was excited to see what new ability he would be able to unlock. Even the two existing branches now had dozens of leaves on them, allowing him to see a dozen or so astral rays every time he entered meditation. The large grade 2 astral rays were showing at a much higher frequency, to the point that he couldn’t even catch them all. On top of that, his body was starting to refine the ambient energy in his surroundings into mana, increasing his regeneration rate. He already recuperated his mana pool at twice the rate of an ordinary mage.
Thankfully, the Mage Association’s visit was not without benefits. Richard had actually found close to a hundred mana crystals combined on all the mages present, a huge sum of wealth that equalled about 500,000 gold in the human countries. It would allow the level 6 broodmother to create a new type of drone for 60 crystals, leaving 40 more for her to enhance her abilities with. This was a tremendous investment unto itself, but the broodmother was just like war itself; she devoured gold with an unending appetite. He would need more than a thousand mana crystals to create a drone with magic abilities, but right now he didn’t have that kind of money. He needed a way to strengthen her own level as well as her production.
The 100 mana crystals had allowed her to increase her daily output of knights to four. She could also create eight humanoid warriors, nine throwers, or eleven wind wolves as well. Of course, all this couldn’t be done together.
Richard gathered all the knights the broodmother had created during the wait, planning to rely on his current numbers to plough through the enemies. However, the troops under Earl Layton and Countess Katrina didn’t quite agree with his authority in battle, so he only retained the thousand best men. The general leading this army, Lady Anna, was someone who left Richard with a bit of a headache. The woman was beautiful and arrogant, her level 14 strength giving her a boundless confidence that ensured she didn’t so much as spare a second glance at others. Worried she might not follow his instructions in the coming battles, he had to reduce the number of troops from her to a minimum. Thankfully, she wasn’t here to participate in the project but to keep an eye on Viscount Zim; she had no objections to this arrangement.
Their first stop was Camp Kvensen. This was the base of the various non-human tribes in the Bloodstained Lands, similar to a capital in a human kingdom. This camp that occupied somewhere around a dozen square kilometres held tauren, orcs, ogres, goblins, grey dwarves, evil dwarves, large monsters, cavemen, and even goblins and the nari people amongst dozens more races. There were a hundred tribes here, each with their own interests. Some tribes even had blood feuds with each other, so there were duels, battles, and massacres every day. The place was thus also a gathering point for non-human bandits. If all the warriors here were pulled out, they would quickly turn into a formidable army.
Camp Kvensen was the natural enemy of human slavers. Any merchant group passing nearby would be turned into food for these tribes who would band together to kill them off. The goods of human caravans had immense value, while humans themselves were delicacies to many of the tribes present. Thus, outside of first-class caravans with over a thousand guards, no humans dared to approach Kvensen. They would rather take a detour of more than a hundred kilometres than be eyed by the beings here.
Of course, the vanguard of Richard’s army headed straight for the camp. The various races of Kvensen came out at full strength, creating a huge army of over 40,000; this was basically every able adult in the camp. Here, they began a decisive battle against Richard’s troops at the Gravel Desert that was ten kilometres away from the camp.
This was a direct battle with nothing fancy. An organised formation of 15,000 human soldiers supported by overqualified clerics and mages fought fiercely against a mob of 40,000 scattered tribal warriors. It truly tested Richard’s ability in head-to-head battles; there were no schemes here, no trick to surviving except drawing the lifeblood of the enemy. Powerhouses were suppressed to the limit in this expansive battlefield, turned into the smallest components of an enormous alchemic machine that behaved like a robot. They blocked, brandished their weapons, blocked once more, brandished their weapons once more… Time flowed like blood as these men fought until they were cut down by an enemy.
With the passage of time, the army’s discipline, equipment, and spellcasters finally began to shine through. The enemy morale rapidly faded away as the number of dead increased, while Richard imitated Sinclair’s tactics in mixing his knights up with heavy cavalry to create small teams that broke apart any resistance. These men constantly created cracks in the enemy formation, allowing Richard’s infantry to fill the gaps. The spellcasters’ focus was incomparably spectacular, dozens of fireballs flying through the sky to tear open spaces in the tribal army.
The first battle ended with Richard’s victory. The tribal warriors left behind nearly 10,000 bodies as they retreated in panic to the camp.
The second battle occurred at Sweetwater Valley, five kilometres away from Kvensen. Now there were elderly and children amongst the tribal warriors, many fighters only barely able to pick up weapons. 35,000 men took on Richard’s army of 13,000, suffering a crushing defeat in under three hours. Richard’s knights pursued the broken army, dying Sweetwater Valley red with blood.
The third engagement was no longer a war, but a massacre. Richard encircled half of Camp Kvensen, obtaining the upper hand and burning it down with blazing fire. He also chased anyone still hidden in the camp out into the open wilderness. The huge fires blazed for an entire day, taking thousands of lives.
When watching the fire, Richard and the nobles who followed him on the campaign felt no sympathy. Buried under the soil of Camp Kvensen were more than 10,000 human skeletons. Here, humans were like livestock that only served as a source of wealth and food.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA