Book 4, Chapter 117

Towards The Light

“… And Toffler still hasn’t inherited the Dukedom. Rumours are that the royal family and other nobles are planning to divide the inheritance amongst all of Duke Bevry’s heirs. There have also been several requests to share our trade routes; some of these people are even threatening to block our goods if we don’t lower the toll. It looks like they want to kick us when we’re down.”

It was just past dawn, and Richard was listening to a report about the political climate from Gangdor who had just finished organising his new troops. He looked at the map as he stroked his recently trimmed beard, “Kicking people when they’re down, you say? That’s nice, I was planning to do the same.”

He reached out towards the border between the Bloodstained Lands and the Sequoia Kingdom, making a mark across it with his pen, “Guard this border; no soldiers from the Kingdom are allowed to enter our territory. Don’t be afraid of a fight, we’ll take them on if they come. I’ll be working on something for the next month, so don’t disturb me. You have full authority to command all of our soldiers in this period, and I’ll tell the others to follow your instructions as well.”

“What about the rune knights?” Gangdor asked.

“They’re at your disposal too.”

“Then let’s fight! I can take the army all the way to those idiots and cut them down!”

Richard shook his head, “No, we don’t have enough cause for that yet. Let them have their little song and dance, they’re just tying the noose tighter around their necks. In fact, the more people that decide to threaten us, the better.”

A sudden look of understanding arose on Gangdor’s face.

……

Richard locked himself up in his laboratory for the next month, not stepping out at all. Those living nearby saw hundreds of thousands of gold in magic materials disappear into his lab every day, a strange sight to behold even for those who didn’t really care for money.

This was especially true for Lina who had served by Gaton’s side for a long time. Richard was spending his father’s yearly income in a matter of days, and all she could see was gold being melted away.

The month passed by without issue. When Richard stepped out of the laboratory, he was five kilograms lighter with a head and face of scraggly long hair. Only his eyes remained sparkling, full of depth. The warehouse was now completely empty, the millions of gold in materials having vanished into the bottomless pit of his runecrafting. The end result was four runes just thrown into a simple enchanted box he carried around without a care.

It was Tiramisu’s turn to guard the lab today. The ogre mage was sitting against the wall, the main head snoring loudly while the second one was looking in all directions. “Oi, Tiramisu!” the second head woke him up, and the ogre mage jumped with fright. “Master, you… Umm…”

Richard’s aura was vastly different than it had been a month ago. Even then this master of his was frightening when unleashed, but now it felt like millions of invisible pins were poking at him constantly. The murderous aura wafting off Richard’s body made him feel like he was in mortal danger.

If Richard was an unsheathed sword a month ago, now it felt like the sword’s tip was at one’s throat.

Thankfully this situation had played out once before. Richard immediately realised the problem and flashed a smile, curbing his aura to the point that no traces of danger remained. Although he hadn’t added any new runes to himself in the past month, the entire crafting process had allowed him to analyse Beye’s abilities even further. Her realm of controlling death was still far beyond his capabilities, but he had started on that path.

That improved understanding of the power of the rune helped him grasp the root of the design better as well, refining his attempts at crafting it. His success rate had gone up slightly, as had the power of the final result. At the same time, this improvement also allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of how to use the rune, making for a cycle of continuous improvement that tempered his aura greatly.

He patted the ogre’s belly as he walked past, “Go gather everyone, I have some things to say.”

Tiramisu was now close to four metres tall; even seated on the floor it was difficult for Richard to touch his shoulders. As the ogre grew larger with age, it could reach the point where he had to just pat the thigh instead.

……

It didn’t take long for all of Richard’s followers to gather in his residence. All his followers were present, although Tiramisu had to stand on two boulders in the garden outside and look in through the window. Thankfully the window had been designed wide and tall; what had once been for aesthetics now had a practical use.

Lina was also present, as were Io and Nyra. Some other people like Rosie and Kellac had been summoned as well.

Richard was sitting in front of the meeting desk, holding a piece of paper in hand. He tapped the table lightly once everyone arrived to garner their attention and smiled, “So, good news first. Both Faelor and the Forest Plane are decently stable now, and we’re earning good sums of money. The stigma about the Archerons being poor shouldn’t be a thing anymore. You guys have been fighting beside me for the longest time, but I haven’t really given you a chance to enjoy yourselves. Now, it’s time to share. I’ll be handing out your salaries for the year, depending on how long you’ve been with me.

“So let’s start with our beautiful priestess. Flowsand, why don’t you take a little less this year. Would a hundred thousand be enough?”

Flowsand just snorted, “What do I need money for? Supplies?”

If one thought about it, all of her equipment came from the divine grace of the Eternal Dragon. Any ordinary equipment she had access to for free, either from Richard himself or the warehouse at the Church of the Eternal Dragon. However, right after her snort she looked up at the ceiling and started muttering calculations under her breath. She was silently calculating the price of pearls and beautiful dresses; by the time she was done, all of the gold had been allocated already.

Richard followed up with the salaries of everyone else. His core followers all received anywhere between 80,000 and 100,000 a year, while Lina received another 100,000 as well. Everyone wore pleased expressions on their faces. Although he generally took care of their armour and weapons, there were other simpler ways to spend money that made them happy.

The only exception was Phaser. The uncovered part of her face seemed completely blank as she heard she would receive 70,000 gold. She knew that gold was a resource so she would take and protect it, but she didn’t need weapons nor equipment and her food tastes were simple as well. She only cared for how much energy a meal could provide her and nothing else, and she hadn’t seen any high-energy foods for sale in Faelor. Perhaps her indifference would change if she visited Faust’s restaurants.

The most surprised one in the room was probably Rosie. When her name had been called at the end and she received 50,000 gold, her eyes started to redden a bit. The actual amount of money she couldn’t care less about, but the very fact that she had been allocated anything meant Richard considered her someone close to him.

Done with telling everyone of their pay, Richard put the paper back on the desk. It was an ordinary thin sheet of sheepskin, but it held a lot of significance. This was the first time he had established his core properly, and their rewards in the first year had exceeded a million gold. This was almost all of Gaton’s income in the past year!

“I have 800,000 gold in the warehouse right now, distribute it yourselves proportionally. The rest of the money is in Norland, you can go collect your share from the steward at any time.”

Cheers erupted within and without the meeting room. Tiramisu and Medium Rare were already arguing over which hotels they would visit, the latter roaring about wanting to hire a few personal chefs. The gourmet ogre was already deciding which specific meats he wanted to buy.

Richard had more news to share, but he waited the few minutes it took for the celebration to die down. He then started allocating his followers between Faelor and the Forest Plane, formally making Flowsand his second in command.

That announcement immediately hushed the room completely. Everyone grew serious as they realised that these arrangements were being made for a period of absence.

Richard nodded at the unasked question, “I have a promise to fulfil. I’ll be visiting a battlefield of despair for some time, and I expect you to manage things until I return.”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA