Old Joseph hesitated for a while, but eventually nodded, “There is no need for secrets between firm allies. The central command hasn’t been set up for long, however. I’m afraid it won’t be very exciting.”
The group formed into a line as he led them into the busy hall. Most of those present merely glanced at the new entrants and continued with the work at hand, not stopping their work to greet even the family head himself.
One of the guests went up to a random desk and watched a youth who seemed barely in his twenties at work. The young man’s desk was the most ordinary of them all and it looked like he had just learnt the ropes; most of his actions took a long period of contemplation, and he hesitated before writing things down. Spread out in front of him was a partial topographic map with a few marching routes, some information on the side detailing the size of the army and corresponding data about the enemy. From the work that was already done, one could tell his mission was to calculate an optimal supply distribution route. This was one of the most fundamental parts of a military plan.
The guest walked over to another desk nearby, this one occupied by a slightly older soldier. He had the same map displayed in front of him but was calculating the needs for three marching routes instead.
The combat plans were thus separated into several smaller portions, officers assigned to perfect each detail while one of the seniors summarised it all into a complete tactical plan. This plan was then reviewed by the commanders on duty. If the commanders themselves had an outrageous but ingenious plan in mind, this hall would simulate its feasibility first.
The guests fell deep into thought. This system couldn’t substitute for a genius tactician, but it could greatly reduce the chances of ordinary generals making mistakes or misusing resources. The key to its working lay in the reliance on process instead of cleverness; geniuses were rare, but there was no lack of smart people who could be effective with enough training and experience.
By the looks of it, this planar central command was operating neatly. This made any of the Joseph Family’s generals difficult to deal with. At the very least, they wouldn’t make any ridiculous, elementary mistakes. This headquarters would easily cement the Josephs’ position in Faust; when all the generals familiarised themselves with this system, the quality of their armies would skyrocket.
The person who had thought this up was undoubtedly a true genius.
One of the guests suddenly sighed, an aged voice ringing out, “I heard Raymond was the one who came up with this idea? Such a pity.”
Duke Joseph’s expression darkened immediately as he reciprocated with a deep sigh of his own, “Ever since Raymond found out his life wouldn’t last long, he set out to build and perfect this central command. His dream is to leave behind a foundation that will allow the family to survive even once he’s gone.”
“Is there really no other way?” another guest enquired, “Given our firm relationship, I could lend your family two intermediate offerings for now…”
Old Joseph shook his head, looking more gloomy, “Raymond needs a very special blessing that appears less than one time in a hundred. It isn’t that I don’t wish to save him, but the price of doing so is too large. The war with Gaton hurt the family’s roots, even some of our core planes have been affected. Even if I wish to borrow some offerings and gamble on that little bit of hope, I cannot guarantee repayment.”
The guests sighed again, but a middle-aged woman suddenly asked, “Wouldn’t something like a fruit of life have been useful?”
“Nefarian,” someone interrupted the woman halfway. She immediately came to a realisation, apologising profusely.
Duke Joseph had already regained his bearings by that time, “It’s nothing. One cannot expect to win when against Nefarian. I hadn’t expected the fruit of life at the imperial auction, nor had I expected Nefarian to show himself and compete for it.”
Everyone went silent.
Nefarian came from the Ossa Family of the Sacred Tree Empire. This family with the blood of black dragons was one of the seven great families of the empire, not one whit inferior to the Joseph Family at its peak. He was the most powerful amongst their current younger generation, approaching legendary might.
“I heard the fruit of life came from the Forest Plane that once belonged to the Schumpeters. If there was one, there will also be a second. If you cannot buy it, just snatch the plane.”
“Hmm… I am in favour of this, but let’s see what Raymond thinks first.” The Duke led the guests away from the command centre to a room at the end of the corridor where Raymond was just putting down a thick file.
There were a few comfortable sofas in this room. The guests found their places, and a beautiful young lady dressed in military uniform went over to serve them fruits and wine before retreating through a side door.
Raymond noted that everyone was here and headed onto a platform in the room, projecting a map on the wall. He pointed at numerous yet orderly marking for battalions all over, “Everyone, the reorganisation of the army has been completed. All generals have familiarised themselves with the new command system, and this army is ready to go to war.”
Those below immediately broke out into praise. They knew fully well just how unthinkable of a challenge it was to reorganise tens of thousands of soldiers in a week and turn them into one whole entity. However, the tour of the central command told them that this was a miracle that was possible.
Raymond continued, “Right now, we have two possible targets. The Forest Plane, which we already have coordinates to from the Schumpeters, and Faelor. There are ways to get the coordinates to that plane as well, but I believe everyone here knows just what kind of price it will take. Personally, however…”
He paused, reaching out to the projection, “I would rather choose Faelor.”
“Faelor?” “Why?” “You can get a fruit of life on the Forest Plane!”
Seeing everyone start to speak, Raymond signalled downwards and everyone quieted down once more. Every one of the guests here were about par with Duke Joseph, but their attention gathered onto him as they awaited his next words.
“I’ve gone through Richard’s activities in detail, including his recent purchases. The rate at which he’s advancing is far too quick, to the point that the time differential alone cannot explain it. We know he has the potential to become a saint runemaster and the fact that Faelor runs at ten times the speed of Norland, but even so we cannot explain how he amasses such wealth. Even Gaton in his three miracle years didn’t do so much. This makes no sense unless he has an extremely powerful secret. A secret I reckon is hidden on Faelor!
“We should thus gather destructive strength and enter Faelor, completely decimating his foundation. We cannot afford the appearance of another Gaton. In the face of eliminating such a threat, a fruit of life isn’t worth much at all!” Raymond’s tone was firm as he spoke those last few words, aura strangely optimistic as though he wasn’t consigning himself to certain death. The big-shots here couldn’t help but shift their gazes from the projection, giving him another look.
He continued, “Given the information we did manage to deduce, Faelor is a powerful plane barely second to Norland. You all should know just how valuable such a place is. This is a foundation that can support an entire empire. No matter what, it cannot land in Richard’s hands. The Forest Plane is powerful as well, but its environment is far too extreme and the value is nowhere near as high. It would only be invaluable to an elven family.”
Everyone seated began to chuckle. Elves had long since been chased out of Norland, exiled to the continents across the seas.
“Based on the intelligence we’ve received from the Church, the passage to Faelor isn’t particularly stable. In essence, Richard cannot draw on large quantities of troops from Faelor. Thus, even if he realises we’ve entered, he cannot grow his army in a short period of time. He might have been able to call upon a few powerhouses, but those are the one thing he lacks right now. Even with a 10:1 time flow, he could only have been in Faelor for a few years now. That will limit the amount of strength he can gather. Once we send our entire army there, this will be a guaranteed victory that gives us the plane!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA