Book 4, Chapter 87

A Runemaster Turned Commander

Raymond sent out order after order, the army from Norland slowly turning into a cohesive whole. A bird’s eye view would show it form up like a saw with numerous teeth, grinding the enemies down to pieces.

The rune knights demonstrated their prowess once more. No matter how disciplined the Faelorians were, regardless of their morale, they were shredded apart like paper in the face of the steel hooves. Even the elite soldiers only managed to fend off one strike before they were pierced through.

As for the fight of the powerhouses, Zangru’s escape and Anwod’s death had suppressed Faelor completely. The combined army was decimated in a battle that lasted from noon to dusk. While they had started with 120,000 soldiers, only 30,000 had managed to return.

A total of thirteen country guardians and three grand mages had died alongside many priests and clerics. More than a hundred of Faelor’s saints had been wiped out alongside nobles of various lineages, and even the champion of Lutheris had died in the war alongside many of his high-ranking officials. The Shrine of Lutheris had suffered enormous losses from this one battle alone; it would take them tens of years to recuperate.

However, the Norlanders hadn’t made it out unscathed either. Only 17,000 of the initial 30,000 troops remained, with a mere four saints and five grand mages still alive. Even these powerhouses were injured to at least some degree. Eleven of the fifty rune knights had died in battle, and nineteen more were maimed. Only twenty battle-ready rune knights remained.

Many torches were lit as night fell, the invaders using the moonlight and the flames to scour the battlefield for their injured. Raymond walked aimlessly around the mess, his face sunken in worry. He hadn’t expected to lose so many men just upon setting foot on this plane.

Faelor was not on par with Norland in terms of powerhouses or resources. To have the will to amass an elite army of over 120,000 troops right at the portal… If not for the decisive move to have the rune knights break through the encirclement and use the Faelorians’ lack of information on rune knights to take down Anwod at once, the casualties would only be worse right now. However, that would not work again.

……

The stench of blood permeated the battlefield, groans ringing out everywhere. The Norlanders had already set up camp nearby, with tens of thousands of prisoners of war herded together in an empty field. Their bleak faces were filled with horror as they stared into the sky.

Not far from Raymond, two of his soldiers visibly wept as they ended the suffering of a comrade with a sword to the heart. The beginning of any conquest in a foreign plane was the most brutal part. Without any priests and clerics, wounds that could normally be treated were deadly. Although the army did bring healing potions with it, the number was far from adequate to save everyone.

Raymond had experienced his fair share of such scenes, but it still felt like a dagger to his heart. He started coughing once more, blood masked by the darkness of the night. It took many minutes before he could recover, wiping his mouth with a handkerchief and throwing the stained cloth to the ground.

He then returned to their camp, entering the tent of a grand mage, “Magister, have you discovered the Lighthouse of Time?”

This grand mage who was an expert at spacetime smilewd wryly, “I deduced the rought location, but it’s more than 300 kilometres away.”

Although he had guessed that something went wrong when he first walked out of the portal, Raymond was still astonished, “Three hundred kilometres? How could the error be so big?”

“I’m unsure, but my calculations aren’t wrong.”

“Show me where it is,” the Joseph youth immediately took out a map of Faelor that they had salvaged from the battlefield.

The grand mage’s finger traced across the map, eventually resting at one point, “It should be here.”

Raymond looked at the map and was surprised to find that there was a marking of a city within, “Bluewater Oasis, Bloodstained Lands… That’s strange. How far has Richard developed here in such a short period of time?” His eyes were fixated on the map as he furrowed his brows. His fingers quickly traced back to their current location, meticulously planning a marching route. This army did not have any way to return to Norland without capturing Richard’s gate. Only with the Lighthouse could they replenish their resources and bring in some clerics.

The army would have to move along the borders of the Land of Turmoil. There was an eye-catching mark on this area indicating fragmented spacetime, which was something even Norlanders were unwilling to pass through. Even saints could die instantly to a random rift.

The route itself was rather smooth. Having defeated an army that was over 120,000 strong, he did not expect much troubles from three dukedoms. Hiwever, as his gaze landed on the border between the Bloodstained Lands and the Land of Turmoil, his brows furrowed.

At this crossroads that led to the Bloodstained Lands was a natural battlefield, one that would be easy to guard. He could sense a difficult battle lying in wait here; if he were Richard, he would definitely give up on Bluewater and put most of his troops at this border to gain an advantage in battle. However, Richard was just a runemaster. Was he also a remarkable commander?

……

What Raymond didn’t know about was the tens of thousands of slaves digging up the earth he was pointing at on his map, working through the night under torchlight. The deeper the trench dug, the higher the walls would be. A nigh-impregnable stronghold had already been created on the hillock in the area, its walls tens of metres tall. The soldiers of Richard’s army had already started building their garrison, while the slaves tirelessly transported materials over from other places nearby.

Richard had placed 20,000 men on or around this hill, with the rest waiting nearby. When the incoming enemies failed to take down the stone fortress, they would find themselves flanked on all sides with no path of retreat. He had amassed an army that was 40,000 strong in a comparatively small region, his decision to build the stronghold revealing his alarming intent to fight a drawn-out battle. More and more troops continued to be sent to this location.

The biggest flaw of the invading army was their lack of priests and clerics. Richard planned to make perfect use of that weakness, using his own to start a war of attrition that would be their demise. Were Raymond to know of this plan and the ability to deploy such a large army, he would have to rethink his assessment of the Archeron youth’s commandership.

Richard stood atop his new fortress, surveying the entire hill. He could see the flickering flames on the ground far below, slaves and soldiers alike completing their duties to the best of their ability. News of the Baruch Kingdom’s defeat had already travelled over, invigorating those working here to give their all. The tales spreading about the brutality and might of the invaders had already been made known, and these tasks were the only thing that could ensure their survival.

There was one more person atop the stronghold alongside Richard’s followers, exuding the aura of a powerhouse. This was the Direwolf Duke, already covered in ashen green armour. He surveyed the flames below, speaking slowly, “Richard, is there a connection between you and these invaders?”

Richard didn’t even turn towards him, continuing to stare down as his lips curled up, “How did you know?”

The Duke harrumphed, “The invaders appeared in the distant Baruch Kingdom, and even with multiple targets for them to choose from you deployed everyone you could to this place and started building a fort. Although everyone else might think you received a prophecy from the goddesses, but I know better than that. No matter how much of a genius you are, you’d never be able to know their destination.

“Unless, of course, you knew they were coming for you.”

Richard smiled, “Right on the mark. These invaders are from my homeland, and are definitely here for me. However, I’m not certain which way this war will go. My suggestion is you think about Perrin’s issue and quick. This is the time to make your decision about the ceremony.”

The Duke remained silent for a long time before sighing, “It is a difficult choice. A chance for ten years or four guaranteed…”

“There isn’t much time to choose.”

The Duke exhaled loudly, nodding, “The time granted by the Dragon is reaching the end…”

“So then, what will it be?”

“… I’ll take the four years.” Bevry had to strain to utter these words.

“Alright, I’ll tell Flowsand. The ceremony will be tomorrow at dawn.”

Bevry wavered for a while, “Richard, is there no way for Perrin to be healed completely? The Dragon of Eternity and Light can grant whatever blessing we desire so long as the sacrifice is worthy, no?”

Richard understood the vexation behind their words. The Duke had spent three years of conquest beating down four of his most powerful opponents to scrimp together another sacrifice. This had already pushed him to the brink; if not for an endless supply of equipment and even troops from Richard’s end, he would have fallen to those wars.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo