Book 4, Chapter 13

Collaboration

The fact that Countess Katrina’s aide was obstructing him left Richard a little surprised. His only impression of Anna was her long legs and straight posture. Her commandership was quite normal with nothing memorable. Of course, any general would seem lacklustre in his presence. Even if they had any ability, they wouldn’t be able to showcase it properly.

“My Lady would be very happy to see you,” Anna stated expressionlessly.

Richard was forced to stop, unable to help but eye her up and down and sigh, “I’d be glad to see the Countess, but you’re blocking my way. Do you really think that’s appropriate, or that you could even try and stop me with force?”

The young lady took a step back and bowed, but still did not make way, “I know I am offending you. Once you see my Lady, you may punish me however you like.”

Richard’s heart throbbed a little at the sight of the icy beauty telling him he could punish her however he wanted. It would instead be abnormal if he wasn’t. However, this slight bit of seduction was nothing compared even to Katrina herself. He smiled wryly, “The Countess can see me whenever she wants to, I have no interest in punishing you. Make way!”

Anna still refused to give way, stating bluntly, “My Lady cannot see you at all, you always come up with some sort of excuse.”

Richard was already beginning to stretch his fingers, sighing in her direction once more, “You’re quite the loyal one.”

“If you wish to know the reason for my undying loyalty, please wait to see my Lady. I can discuss things in detail with you afterwards.” Nothing seemed to be able to get through to her; she was ready to go all out for her cause.

“Richard!” a voice suddenly rang out behind Richard, filled with pleasant surprise. A burst of fragrance then assaulted his nostrils.

He had no option but to turn around and bow with etiquette, “Lady Katrina.”

Katrina smiled before saying anything, the lewd smile of a fox that had seen a little chick. When she stopped laughing and spoke up, her voice held the hint of a spoilt child, “Lord Richard, it really is quite difficult to get a meeting with you!”

Richard smiled, “My level is too low. I have no choice but to work hard.”

“You’re such a joker!” Katrina covered her mouth as she giggled, eyes curving like crescents, “You aren’t even 25 yet, are you, my Lord?”

He thought it over for a bit, deciding to keep his true age to himself. However, the number he did throw out was still enough to awe anyone, “I’m twenty years of age.”

“Just twenty!” Katrina’s eyes flashed. Looking at her expression, he didn’t think it was due to his level.

He immediately felt a headache coming on, knowing he had made a mistake. Countess Katrina had supported him in full force during the battle against the Mage Association, dispatching thousands of elite soldiers and even two saints. She had lost over a thousand men in those battles, having to pay out hundreds of thousands in gold.

Moreover, she was different from Zim. She was a true noble with proper influence, having both the power and background to match. The families on her father’s, mother’s, and even late husband’s side were of great renown. As one of the nobles who played a decisive role in the Kingdom, her clear stance had influenced many others as well. On top of that, she had actively spread the word after the Mage Association’s first defeat, collapsing their alliance from within. Richard was bound to treat such a helpful ally with care and gratitude.

The Countess’ eyes grew increasingly bright as she continued to laugh, almost calling him tender. He smiled wryly in response. Although his body was still growing, the Torrent of Life blessing ensured his face remained as youthful as it was three years ago. He was just about to turn eighteen, but his visage looked two years younger. Although the difference wasn’t large, it was noticeable; his facial hair helped hide it to an extent, but its effects weren’t as good as he had expected either. As someone well-versed in ornamentation herself, Katrina’s piercing glare easily saw through his youth.

She was about thirty years old. Her body was tall and well-developed, but her skin was still fair and tender. This was a mature beauty, one in the prime of her life. Unable to tolerate her unrestrained gaze, Richard tried his best to divert the topic as he asked with a smile, “Is Viscount Zim doing well, my Lady?”

It was obvious that Zim was definitely not doing well. He had only heard Katrina’s satisfied laughter from within the residence, and there hadn’t been a peep from Zim.

Katrina’s hand fan rattled as she opened it, starting to fan the large exposed region of her ample breasts; the plump peaks jiggled with the movement. Gaze clear as water, she stared at him and laughed, “Little Zim just fell asleep. The unicorn bloodline isn’t as amazing as they say it is, he turned from a divine creature to a dead horse in just three rounds. Lord Richard, may I know what precious bloodline you possess?”

Richard’s forehead beaded with sweat as he hastily humbled himself, “I’m just a regular human, how could I be fortunate enough to have a special bloodline? I still have to discuss some insights on spells with Zendrall, my Lady, is there anything else you need of me?”

Upon hearing Zendrall’s name, her expression quickly changed, “What’s the point of spending time with that fellow who deals with the dead all day? Why not have some morning tea with me instead, and discuss bloodlines and the secrets of life in detail?”

He maintained his perfect smile, “My sincerest apologies, but this is an urgent matter. If the opportunity presents itself in the future, I would love to enjoy your morning tea.” Having said this, he bowed to her and quickly fled the location.

Seeing Richard’s back fading into the distance, Anna’s eyes narrowed, “Are you going to let him escape so easily, my Lady?”

“What else can I do? Use force? Don’t forget, this is his territory. Also, don’t underestimate him because he’s a mage. You might not even be able to win against him.”

A decisive look flashed across the fighter’s face, “I’m not afraid to lose my life, but he is.”

Katrina chuckled and lifted Anna’s chin, causing the girl’s cheeks to turn red, “I will not allow that. Fret not, he can escape this time but that won’t be the same again.”

“Clack!” the fan was folded, Katrina’s charming eyes staring dazedly in the direction Richard had disappeared in, “I’ll drug him next time.”

……

Back in Norland, Richard immediately contacted Nyris. Confirming that they would conduct the offering ceremony the next day, they met once more to discuss the details of expanding into the Forest Plane.

The idea was to work together and invest equal resources, evenly splitting the profits from the plane. Any strategic decisions would be taken by committee, but because of Nyris’ status as a prince, the Archerons would still hold the right to govern the plane. 

The calculations had to begin from stabilising the planar passage. The Schumpeters had invested a large amount into the Forest Plane, and Gaton had as well. It only took 3,000 gold to teleport a person into the plane now, and Nyris was only going to be upgrading the passage a single time tomorrow. Looking at the short term, this meant Richard was actually on the losing end of the transaction. However, it was different when one noticed the big picture. Nyris had great value as a consistent supply of enchanted equipment.

Richard had already made ample preparations, clearly listing out how many resources to invest as well as the schedule of when to do so. The moment he took out this plan, however, the expressions of both Nyris and Agamemnon changed as they laughed wryly and exchanged glances. This left him feeling very confused; he was sure he had thought things through properly, taking care to divide profits in all areas. Blackgold had taught him that the lack of a clear, fair system for the division of benefits would leave even the best of friends parting ways eventually.

In the end, Nyris was the one who made the objection. He had no issues with the model itself, but there were problems regarding the scale of the investment. And there was only one reason for that. Richard planned to pour in ten million gold’s worth of resources. Did the fellow not even consider how someone earning only a million every year would feel? How could he afford to take out such a large amount of money for planar war? On top of that was the despicable note at the end of the plan, saying this was only a base investment and could go up!

It was only then that Nyris understood that there were far more princes and princesses than royal runemasters. He definitely couldn’t compete with Richard when it came to money.

Richard’s ten million investment wasn’t an exaggeration on his end at all. Given the time-differential between Norland and Faelor, he gathered over fifteen million gold every half a year. Of that, most was normally exchanged for magic equipment. One could see from this just how quickly his influence was spreading on Faelor.

Even considering the time difference, Richard was still amassing wealth at an absurd range. This left both Nyris and Agamemnon interested in his success rate and bloodline abilities, but the runemaster’s true secrets were hidden in Faelor. This was an area they could not encroach upon, and neither of them would do anything until he told them of his own accord.

After voicing his objection, Nyris should have proposed his own revisions to the plan. However, despite a long period of hesitation, he could not say a word. How could he say that he couldn’t even take out a tenth of what Richard could? Eventually, Agamemnon helped him out by saying he was willing to invest in the plan as well and take up a quarter of the total profits alongside Nyris, leaving the remaining three quarters to Richard himself.

It was only then that Richard understood how different their incomes were. Not just anyone could get an easy source of money like the troll capital. The young disciples of noble families would normally rely on fixed dividends from the family for their money, regardless of their ability. It was rare for them to be able to make any sort of money out of planar war.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA