Standing in the study of Deepcliff Castle, Richard seemed to feel the presence of Duke Bevry nearby. He talked and joked aloud as he went through the place, looking for materials to read.
A gentle knock sounded on the door and a beautiful young maid walked in, “Lord Richard, everyone has been brought to the meeting room and are waiting for you. When do you plan to go over?”
Richard didn’t respond immediately, walking over to the girl and caressing her chin, “You don’t look too bad.”
The maid blushed but did not evade him, instead sticking out her breasts and thanking him for the compliment.
“So, how many of those in the meeting room have used you before?”
The girl’s raunchy thoughts dissipated in an instant, Richard’s calm gaze leaving her forehead beading with sweat. Her mouth hung open for a moment before she eventually decided to tell the truth and listed three names.
Richard nodded in approval and threw a few gold coins to her, “Good, I like honest people. You may leave!”
The maid was still dazed as she left the study. Richard hadn’t taken liberties with her, nor had he punished her. Was the question just asked in passing? She couldn’t understand just what had happened, only able to clutch the gold in her hand to remind herself that she hadn’t dreamt it up.
The question really had been in passing. Richard couldn’t help but feel bad about the current state of the castle. The maids when Bevry was around hadn’t been selected for their looks. They looked alright, but their strength was in their awareness and skill at the job. Bevry also wasn’t the type of person to allow his subordinates to take liberties with the maids. How bad was it that the place had changed so much in just two months?
Those in the meeting room immediately quieted down when Richard entered, gazes filled with terror and raged fixed upon him.
However, it was quite obvious that those present were not content with the arrangement. They wanted to try and have Richard back down. However, Richard only felt annoyed by this. These so-called ‘elites’ of society were just ants wasting his time.
His gaze eventually landed upon Lord Moonbear. This saint had formidable might and passing ability at command, once a trusted aide who guarded the Dukedom when Bevry’s armies were out at war. The rune knights in the room ensured even he was seated quietly— fighting so many in such a closed space was basically suicide— but his posture revealed his alignment.
“We meet again, Moonbear. I’m disappointed in you. What was this, a play for power? I’m sorry to say you will always be a titled knight and nothing more. Whoever you align yourself with in the future will be pitting themselves against me.”
This was not a declaration of war, just an expression of absolute contempt. Moonbear’s expression warped, but as he grunted in anger the rune knights all over the room released such powerful auras he was pushed back to his place.
Richard lifted his hand to stop those who wanted to comment on the matter, “I’m not here to listen to your opinions. Toffler is becoming the next Direwolf Duke, and he will inherit all of Bevry’s lands. And before— I said I’m not here to listen. That’s better. Now, let me remind you all once more: Duke Toffler is an ally of mine. Any provocations towards him will be considered a declaration of war against Richard Archeron.”
The nobles who had been shut up turned pale. Declaring war on Richard?
As dusk arrived, many of the nobles who had come to play politics were booted out of Deepcliff City. The army was reorganised, the new soldiers who had been added from these people dismissed and sent out of the palace. Only one of the soldiers who followed Marquess Meecah was left behind, the obese officer who had changed his stance swiftly. Richard immediately appointed him to the post of defence commander, turning the officer into a respected general. The fellow was still pinching himself every few minutes to ensure that he wasn’t dreaming.
Those who were chased out were indignant, but they wouldn’t take any concrete actions in response to their predicament. Richard ignored them completely as he implemented the rest of his plans for Deepcliff City, crowning Toffler the Duke then and there.
Dawn the next day, he bid goodbye to the city and headed for Earl Duisburg’s territory, one of those who had been stripped of their share of the Bloodstained Lands. He had prepared 5,000 soldiers in response to Richard’s arrival, clearly unwilling to roll over and allow Richard’s army to pass through.
The battle only lasted thirty minutes, and most of that time was spent chasing the fleeing soldiers to round them up. The first strike of the rune knights had splintered apart the army completely, and the earl himself was knocked unconscious with a single slap from Tiramisu and captured alive.
Richard’s 500 soldiers sustained a single casualty in the form of a level 10 humanoid knight, while about ten-odd soldiers had been lightly injured. 200 of Duisburg’s soldiers had been killed, while 4,000 or so were taken captive. Only a few hundred were fast enough to escape their fate. The unlucky earl had decided to test Richard’s prowess before deciding whether he would surrender, but he had grossly underestimated the strength of Richard’s troops. Even just the humanoid knights were far more powerful than the rabble that he had rushed together.
The army completely destroyed, the castle naturally fell into Richard’s hands as well. Richard directly announced Duisburg’s sentence: for the crime of opposing the troops of the three Goddesses, he would be stripped of his title and sent into forced labour for the rest of his life. The lands and title would be inherited by his offspring, but Richard didn’t care how the three boys split it amongst themselves.
Following Duisburg was Viscount Dima. This one was very compliant, expressing his full surrender to Richard’s demands. As such, he only lost his share in the Bloodstained Lands and nothing else.
Then it was time for Earl Lohr, a last-minute addition to the list. Richard was met with 20,000 private soldiers, a combined force from nearly everyone who he had named. Still, he just pointed out the black horde in front of his 500 soldiers and mocked them, “Look at how pathetic they are!”
His followers bellowed with laughter. Deploying 20,000 men against only 500 showed just how frightened the nobles were. This was likely just a show of might to force him to the table, but he had no intent to negotiate.
The 500 soldiers went into spear formation, digging right through the enemy with no problems at all. They went in one side and out the other before circling around a little and charging once more. It didn’t even take ten charges for the enemies to fall into chaos, beginning to retreat.
Sadly Richard didn’t have the sheer numbers that he would need to pursue the enemies. However, what he did have were two grand mages. Lina and Mito flew high above the enemy camp, raining down spells of mass destruction. The spells and arrows that were shot back in retaliation barely even made it to their location, unable to damage their barriers at all. When Lohr was dragged out from the debris of his destroyed castle, a thousand soldiers had perished and 13,000 had been captured.
Every noble who had joined this resistance was captured and sent to forced labour in the Bloodstained Lands. However, their possessions were left behind for their successors. Even Lohr’s castle was left in its half-destroyed state, and Richard had announced that his wife and children could take what they wanted before leaving. Once that battle ended, nobody on his list dared to resist his passage.
Richard’s army was currently at its last destination on this tour, the Oakly Barony. This fief close to the Land of Turmoil was rather large for a barony, but most of it was barren hills. Its one saving grace was the beautiful scenery that turned it into a tourist attraction of sorts.
Richard had deliberately made a detour here so his followers could enjoy a brief vacation. They had been fighting almost all the time recently, and while it was something most of them enjoyed, a little break would do wonders. Since the broodmother’s drones didn’t understand the concept of pleasure, they were left to scavenge and hunt for food while everyone else toured with no regard for the lord of the place.
The most popular location in this barony was the Sapphire Lake. Formed atop a dying volcano, its crystal-clear waters remained pleasantly warm even in the dead of winter. Constantly fed by a small glacier nearby, the lake waters overflowed into a hundred-metre long waterfall that gave way to a meandering stream.
This lake left even Richard marvelling at the wonders of nature. Unlike the suffocating flora of the Forest Plane, the majestic view here felt extremely soothing.
However, just as he started to relax a sudden feeling of annoyance come over him. A threat was approaching quickly, but he could not identify the source. This was an individual, and they had great power!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Jessa
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA