Book 4, Chapter 22

Retaliation(2)

“Burn all these trees,” Richard instructed with a sigh, “Treat them as coffins for our brave soldiers!”

A moment later, a dozen blazes lit up the morning sky with a crimson glow. The trees in the fire actually shouted with pain, twisting their branches as they tried to escape, but without the support of the elven druids they could not leave the soil. The only reason they could even react was the excruciating pain caused by the raging inferno.

The humidity of the Forest Plane made it difficult for the trees to catch fire, but that meant nothing in the face of this magic blaze. A few enraged shouts rang out from deep within the forest; the hidden elves could not control their wrath.

Richard watched silently for some time before waving his arms, “Alright, let’s return. We’ll be continuing to cut trees.”

The soldiers were particularly fired up that day, felling nearly 20,000 stonewood trees before they tired out. They piled all the excess wood up unprompted, lighting a dozen bonfires around Emerald City that burned through the evening and into the night.

……

It was near midnight when Richard knocked on Lina’s door, “Let’s go see the walking woods.”

The two quickly made their way to the city walls, and Richard cast a featherfall spell on himself before jumping off. This was extremely dangerous, but surprised as she was the Dragon Mage quickly followed after him.

The two walked side by side in silence, only stopping once they approached the boundary of the forest. The nightly woods were the elves’ haven, making this place extremely dangerous. However, the two had no fear; to them, the elves could not pose a fatal threat.

Peculiar noises echoed deep within the forest, the strange sound of wood rubbing against earth. The sound grew increasingly loud, the earth even shaking slightly as a giant black shadow shuffled out from deep within the forest. This was a large tree with its roots drawn out from the earth, moving forward like a multipedal beast. However, this was not a treant; it did not have their signature human face.

The ancient tree walked past right before Richard and Lina’s eyes, heading out of the forest until it came upon a suitable spot and set its roots deep in the soil.  Following it were numerous others, shifting out into the open space outside the forest and embedding their roots in the earth as well. The buzz only faded after a few hundred had made their way to their new positions.

The druid hidden within the forest had likely used up all of their mana; the number of trees they managed to send out over the past two days was far lower than the number that had been cut down. There were others urging more trees on, but even working together they only managed a few thousand.

“Wanna kill the druid?” Richard suddenly asked.

Lina was quite taken with the idea, but she shook her head after considering it, “This is the forest in the night, they’re the rulers here. It’ll be impossible to find the druid right now, let’s not waste our strength.”

“There’s no harm in trying,” Richard smiled and went straight into the forest, the Dragon Mage hastening behind. She wasn’t afraid of the elven druids, but Richard’s safety was something she worried for. Even though he was peak strength and mages normally had a great advantage over most other classes, things were different on the battlefield. Swords up close were still the bane of magic.

Lina soon found that it was difficult to catch up to Richard. His movements were relaxed, but each coordinated light step covered a great distance. It was as though he had merged into his surroundings, minimising his wastage of energy. The more she watched, the more surprised she grew.

This was the movement technique he had worked on with Beye in the Battlefield of Despair, a mixture of his previous techniques from the underworld and the martial arts of the Church. He still wasn’t as efficient as Beye herself, each shift concise and with no excess movements at all, but in Lina’s eyes this was already shocking.

The two of them walked through the forest for an entire hour, but they managed to find nothing. Left with no choice, they got out while cutting a sorry figure; their bodies were covered with dew. Elven druids were the children of the forest, and it was extremely difficult to find them. The fact that no druid had been killed ever since Gaton took control of this plane was enough proof of that.

Richard and Lina exchanged glances, each seeing the other soaked through. They even had a few leaves on their heads, looking pathetic as could be. Smiles gave way to uncontrollable laughter.

Lina suddenly felt much better, the depression she had been feeling fading away. “Thank you,” she said to him abruptly.

Richard shrugged in response, “I’m just helping myself.”

The two then headed back towards the city, the distance they had to cover not particularly large. “I want to ask you something,” Richard turned to Lina midway, “What do you think… Well, if Gaton was here, how would he deal with this situation?”

“Should be the same as what you’re doing, chopping trees. He was convinced this forest was the natives’ haven, so he wanted to cut it all down.”

He turned to look at the dark forest once more, “The thing is so large. It feels impossible to finish cutting it down.”

“No matter how big it is, we will have gone through it all one day. That’s what he told us when he first decided on it.” Lina looked at Richard, all sorts of thoughts running through her mind, “To be honest, you’re very similar to him. You both look very restless, but when it is needed you’re more patient than anyone else.”

“Is that so?” Richard did not express any opinions. Under the cover of the night, the Dragon Mage could not see his expression either.

……

The woodcutting continued day after day with no rest. Richard truly did become extremely calm, smiling all the time with even his stride slowing down. It was as though he planned to cut wood for all his life. Olar had returned with the ten elite humanoid knights; outside of the humanoids having the same delay passing through the teleportation gate as Phaser— the ten minutes’ wait had left the elf panicking— and the high fee, there were no other troubles. In the meanwhile, the bard had also brought quite a few resources Richard had instructed him to.

Everyone had assumed the war would begin once Olar returned, but things continued to stay the same. Even a week later, Richard refused to make any drastic moves.

The runemaster himself had a large number of things to do. He hid away to hone his craft, Rosie accompanying him as his assistant. Nobody knew what went on within once the laboratory doors closed; Flowsand really wanted to smash them down, but naturally wouldn’t do so herself.

However, even if she was prepared to incite others to do it there were no fools amongst the troops. Even the hot-blooded Nyris was unwilling to get caught in this trap, so she found herself in a predicament she had never encountered before. Here she was, a titled priestess, jealous of a servant and bedslave? That just wouldn’t do. However, Rosie wasn’t an ordinary maid either. Flowsand discovered that the role of life assistant the girl had set for herself was very subtle.

Since they couldn’t fight in the open, the only idea left was to punish Richard in secret. Flowsand’s first instinct was to stop letting him into her bed, but she immediately rejected that moronic thought. That would only be making things easier for Rosie. ‘Then how about dragging Richard to mine?’ she thought, but couldn’t even decide whether that was a punishment or a reward.

Flowsand cupped her face, struggling miserably.

The others were nowhere near as relaxed as Richard was, particularly the Fourth Prince who was eager to do something substantial. It had been an entire month since they had arrived, but he had only really fought once. This did not align with his expectations. When he had participated in planar battles in the past, he was always fighting unending battles from the moment they landed on the plane. It was the cries and blood of the battlefield that could make him feel alive.

The month had passed in the blink of an eye. Richard had made ample use of the extra time, completing two Savage Barrier sets at his leisure. Because of how calm he was while making them, the added bonus effects of the set were raised slightly as well. The rest of his time was spent researching the Mana Armament runes, and he had some breakthroughs in that department too.

The first day of their second month back in the Forest Plane, Richard wandered around the city unhurriedly while watching the actions of his soldiers. A few dozen men had spread armour out and were oiling its surface, an important step to prevent it from rusting in such a humid environment. While derusting spells were useful, they were also far too expensive to cast. Manual work was always cheaper.

Richard had asked Olar to purchase several tons of special oil from Norland just to help with equipment maintenance. There were many other similarly necessary goods, the expenditure for which was immense. When Lina had been barely hanging on to things, such scenes were impossible to see. Gaton hadn’t left her much money, not even enough to replace the older weapons, so how could she have been so extravagant as to spend on such logistical supplies? The only consumable resources she bought were bolts and rations.

While Richard was watching over the soldiers maintaining their armour with interest, Nyris suddenly hastened over towards him. His face was lit up, “Richard, I finally found you! This can’t do anymore, we have to do something!

Richard turned towards the Prince and smiled, “Why are you so impatient now?”

“Look, we’ve spent such a huge sum getting here but we’re just hanging around in the city.” Nyris knew Richard’s grasp of economics was very good, so he tried to persuade the runemaster from that perspective.

However, Richard had a counter prepared, “Didn’t we transport a batch of rare wood back last week? It can sell for at least 100,000 in Norland. Our profits aren’t half bad, we’ve earned so much in the first month. It’s rather uncommon.”

Nyris was at a loss for words for a moment, and then became slightly frantic, “Fine I’ll be honest. I want to fight! This wet weather is making all my bones ache!”

“Sure!” Richard expressed his agreement gladly, asking with a smile on his face, “Question is, where’s the enemy?”

“Ah, that…” Nyris was rendered speechless once more, having to force himself to say, “We can look for them in the forest. Those green elves aren’t any threat to us anyway.”

“Haven’t you looked there already?”

“Well… I didn’t go deep enough into the forest,” Nyris defended himself.

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OMA's Thoughts

Theo: Tomorrow will be a triple

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA