Richard’s demands were absolutely unacceptable to the Mage Association, and that was what he wanted as well. He wanted the war to be unavoidable.
He had already shown his talent as a tactician during the Bloodstained Highway project, However, the Mage Association was no ordinary organisation. Just the thought of sixteen grand mages would leave anyone with a heavy heart; even the nobles who had followed Richard through his campaign in the Bloodstained Lands were not optimistic of his chances this time.
The smarter ones thought he was posturing so he could retreat more gracefully, his final motive being to talk things out with the Mage Association and settling on a compromise. This was a normal thing in politics. However, the declaration from the Association Chairman the next day utterly crushed these conjectures. Theodore’s statement was concise and left no loopholes, “The Mage Association will go all out to annihilate those who disrupt the order!”
Richard himself thought nothing of it, merely asking the nobles of the Sequoia Kingdom for access to their roads. He wanted to move freely in his fight against the Association, and any who hindered his army would be considered enemies.
Within a few days, the flames of war began to rage within the Sequoia Kingdom. The scale of this sudden war was huge, affecting many people. Io was burning with excitement, the fanatic battle priest now feeling like Richard wasn’t too much of an eyesore. The Mage Association themselves gathered an army of 40,000 men from thirty or so allied nobles, with an entire regiment of nearly 2,000 royal knights amongst them. Although the lieutenant in charge of the troops stated that they were acting of their own accord, it was quite obvious that this was a silent show of the King’s support.
With the influence gathered by the Mage Association over the years, more than half of the Kingdom’s nobles had joined their cause. This included many who had fought alongside Richard in the past; although they now had the profits of the trade route, they were not optimistic about his chances against the Association.
Unexpectedly, the three dukes maintained absolute silence. Even Duke Grasberg, who was closely related to the royal family, made no move.
When the Mage Association formed its alliance, Richard immediately sent people back to Bluewater to monitor the nobles there. He informed them that all military power in the city would be requisitioned; the nobles could bow out, but to do so they would have to abandon all their weapons and horses before returning to their territories. No prisoners would be taken if a resistance was put up. One could remain neutral in this war, but if they wanted to do so they would have to lose all offensive strength.
Most of the nobles in Bluewater had fought beside him in the past, and his power had long since left a deep-rooted fear within them. Many chose to watch on as neutral parties, but still there was a small number who were overconfident in their might. Richard and his subordinates were not in the oasis city, only leaving behind Flowsand who was just a girl. Thus, they brazenly chose to resist.
Flowsand personally joined this battle, fighting the rebels with a hundred humanoid knights. The drones charged back and forth a few times to utterly decimate an enemy three times their size, only losing a handful to wipe out every single enemy. This did speak of the drones’ power, but it was mostly due to the torrent of divine spells protecting them. She had been left behind to teach them exactly how much of an effect a powerful cleric could have in smaller battles.
Once the situation was stabilised, Flowsand took the remaining troops and left to join up with Richard. Only a thousand or so former slaves had been left behind to guard, the nobles present outnumbering them ten to one. However, the death of the vanguard had cowed the rebellion completely. Killing these guards would be easy, but how would they deal with Richard’s vengeance? On top of that, Bluewater still had a council full of Richard’s allies. The Golden Warflag, Demon Hunting Spears and the like would keep an eye on the place.
Richard himself started reorganising his army. There were some nobles in his camp, but they numbered less than ten and only four had any real power. Outside of Baron Schachter, it was Viscount Zim who sided with him resolutely. The pale, fat slob was now like a bull in mating season, jumping around and clamouring that he wanted to feed the old mages to the demons of the abyss. He seemed even more agitated than Richard himself.
Still, Zim wasn’t a Viscount for nothing. He brought out all of the soldiers from his territory, not even leaving a basic defensive force, and even captured a hundred Golden Eagles. Using his own safety as a bargaining chip, he got them to obey orders.
Outside of that, although the Marquess of Strength Anrick hadn’t publicly declared his position Rolf was still following by Richard’s side. Following the swordsman were all of Anrick’s forces in the Bloodstained Lands; the saint’s faith had long since tied him to Richard’s warship.
Lastly, Richard’s most powerful and also surprising ally was actually Countess Katrina. She didn’t just support him publicly, also personally leading 5,000 elite soldiers armed to their teeth to join Richard’s camp.
The Countess participated in the name of protecting the father of her future child. No matter what, she would not give up her hope of having a child with the unicorn bloodline. This was understandable, but what left Richard speechless was the fact that she said she admired his lineage as well. To ensure her child was outstanding, she wouldn’t mind letting him have a go as well.
But Richard did.
Katrina’s participation meant there were more external soldiers in Richard’s army than his own troops. This didn’t align perfectly with his plans; if they wouldn’t listen to his commands it would be better for him to fight alone. His army was thus organised quite simply: he separated the soldiers from the nobles into numerous 2,000-strong regiments, each headed by a crimson-armoured knight. The troops only needed to obey the knight, whether it was during marches or in battle. He personally took some of his troops and charged straight towards Lausanne.
Troops were still gathering at Lausanne. The war had come too suddenly for the Mage Association, and the alliance had too many people. Only two-thirds of the participating nobles managed to rush to the meeting in time, and the army itself wasn’t completely mobilised.
Richard’s territory was less than 400 kilometres away from the Association’s headquarters. He had advanced very quickly, covering 150 kilometres in four days. Six fiefs had been passed along the way, and regardless of the strength of their lords or their ability in command, they had been destroyed in the blink of an eye. The only exception was a baron directly subordinate to one of the three dukes, who just accepted the token fee for borrowing his roads and left Richard to move on.
Richard’s momentum immediately left these mages in disarray. The Association’s elders and the nobles were still arguing over command, but with the immense pressure of the impending war they hastily chose grand mage Jack to be the general with the assistance of two others. The nobles elected the lieutenant of the royal knights from their end to be second in command.
The Association sent out dozens of mages to assist, while the Church of Valour also dispatched a squad of twenty as well. However, outside of a single level 14 priest, the rest were all clerics who weren’t even level 6. In such a large battle, they were almost useless.
The alliance hurriedly came up with a grand army of 30,000 to face Richard’s attack, sending out 500 light cavalrymen and 2,000 infantry as the vanguard. When Richard’s spearhead of 200 knights met this troop, they immediately turned tail and ran. Seeing that they had an advantage in numbers and were faster as well, the 500 light cavalrymen pursued vehemently and quickly left the footsoldiers behind. They were never heard from ahead.
The first battle of the war had been lost, but that still didn’t alarm Jack. Instead, he was furious, cursing at the uselessness of the royal lieutenant. This was because one of the lieutenant’s subordinates had been in charge of the vanguard. The Association’s troops continued to advance, but the vanguard was now 3,000 strong.
Richard was stopped on a tall mountain, watching the enemy troops on the horizon. Next to his small unicorn were two huge warhorses, their backs alone nearly two metres long. They were completely black, fine purplish scales dotting their necks and bodies. On the heads of these horses were bent horns; unlike the long, slender cone of the unicorn, they looked far more demonic.
Atop these magic horses were Gangdor and Tiramisu, who had finally gotten rid of their fate of running behind the army. The ogre mage buffed his eyesight with a spell before looking over the distance, speaking in a low, hoarse voice, “Just 3,000 of them. Master, let’s end them!”
“The one in charge is a saint,” Richard smiled, “And there’s also a grand mage amongst them.”
“Faelor’s saints are nothing!” Gangdor spat on the ground, brandishing his giant axe, “My axe is thirsty for… Umm…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA