Book 4, Chapter 156

The Ultimate Choice

It was only in the second month of conflict that Richard’s followers pulled him out of his seclusion. He checked the general situation through the cloned brain and laughed at the delay, unable to decide whether to reprimand them or let it be. Of course, the main reason his followers were at a disadvantage was that his rune knights, clergy, shadowspear knights, and other such elites had been reserved. Unlike him, they couldn’t overcome a sheer numbers disadvantage with ordinary troops.

He started passing down orders from the moment he exited the meditation room, transmitting commands across the Bloodstained Lands to gather his soldiers as he equipped himself. All the branches of his army started to march towards the designated battlefield.

With Camp Bluesquare being the target of the Iron Triangle Empire’s troops, Richard decided it would serve well as a grave for the attacking army. On the day of war, 30,000 elites from the Empire faced off against 5,000 on-duty guards and an 8,000-man army.

In the higher altitudes above the battlefield, the cloned brain was consolidating the images from the elite bats into a single image stream that it transmitted directly to his mind. This setup reduced his burden significantly when it came to intel, allowing him to focus more on command.

This time Richard wasn’t at the frontlines he always occupied. Instead, he positioned himself at the tip of the city walls and sent out commands. The 13,000 soldiers had organised themselves into companies of a hundred soldiers each, every company led by an elite from the broodmother. With that, Richard could command the army as 130 separate units, a number he had never tried since his blessing of wisdom had advanced.

When the enemy commander led the imperial army into the battlefield, his eyelids twitched. The 8,000-strong army felt extremely threatening to him, so neatly organised that there was hardly any space between the rows of cavalrymen. Every single one of those soldiers stood still as a statue, not making the slightest of movements. The soldiers within the formation seemed a little more relaxed, but they exuded an almost tangible killing intent that indicated they were veterans at war. For the first time, this general lost confidence even with an overwhelming advantage.

Richard was being very open about his military strength this time, not intending to conceal any soldiers at all. If the enemy didn’t have the guts to attack an army less than half their size, they truly would have lived for nothing.

As expected, the war did eventually begin. Richard’s army charged out from the city, crashing directly into the front lines of the enemy with the assistance of the camp’s defences. They immediately started grinding through the imperial elites, breaking through time and time again to reap countless lives. The battle only lasted the morning; by noon, the border army was completely devastated.

The red-eyed imperial commander suddenly let out a wild roar, leaping out from the army to rush straight at Richard who was at the tip of the city. He knew this was a suicide mission, but just the sight of the calmness on Richard’s face as the imperial army was slaughtered left him unable to contain his rage.

Richard just raised his hand to stop Zangru from attacking, even having his army part to allow the man access to the city walls. The vengeful commander was a little stunned at how easily he had made it to Richard’s side and hesitated for a moment, unable to decide whether to press the attack. He could already tell that Richard was a mage; how would a mage dare to let him come so close?

However, Richard stretched his arm out and wagged a finger at the man, a gesture everybody understood. The prickly hairs on the commander’s beard went ahead as he grew enraged, charging like an elephant right in Richard’s direction.

Only when a harsh glare from a sword flashed in his eyes did he finally understand why Richard had the courage to wait for him to attack.

A bloody pulp flew into the sky, the commander’s lifeless body falling off the city walls to crash into the dirt. His armour broke apart to reveal blood pooling all over his body from an untold number of slashes.

By this point, the sun was high in the sky. When the warring soldiers turned to look at the battle on the city walls, all they could see was the silhouette of Richard’s hands crossed under the chin as he leaned against his sword.

……

Just as spring arrived in Faelor, the fifth division of the Iron Triangle Army was exterminated in the Bloodstained Lands. The two sub-legendary experts and seven saints were all killed, but Richard’s losses were unknown. The loss severely weakened the Empire, and those restless individuals of the Sequoia Kingdom were frightened once more. One of the most prestigious armies of the Empire that had wrested Walvis Bay into their control was actually defeated by Richard’s forces; this was incomparable to the private soldiers that Salwyn had brought forth before.

It was said that the very next day, the Empire had urgently sent a message over a long-distance transmission circle to summon Salwyn back to the capital to discuss methods to defeat Richard.

The aforementioned prince was fishing by a mountain stream when he received the news. It hadn’t been enough time since winter for many fish to be present, but he didn’t really have anything to do. If the soldiers he worked hard to train would just be poached anyway, what was the point? It was already hard enough to provide for his current army with the meagre income from his territory.

Having read the message, Salwyn silently crushed the paper and threw it into the stream, watching as it drifted away with the moving water.

“Y—Your Highness!” the messenger stammered in shock, “Isn’t… Isn’t that wrong?”

“What is? It’s already too late to drive Richard out.” Salwyn just swung the rod in his hand once more, continuing to fish.

The messenger was the last general who remained loyal to him. This tough fellow had been willing to bear the worsening treatment just to stay by his side. Salwyn had once thought five of his generals would stick with him through thick and thin, to the point that he could even trust them with his descendants, but only one had actually remained by his side.

The general creased his brows, “Your Highness, is there really no way to defeat that bastard? I can’t sleep well if he isn’t killed!”

Sawlyn flashed a bitter smile, “How? He’s got groups of saints and sub-legendary experts surrounding him, and his elite troops are unbelievably powerful. We’ve fought him multiple times with military advantages but we’ve been sent running away. Our scouts say Richard can mobilise a total of 30,000 men, but less than half of that decimated the Fifth Division. It’s already too late. We’d have to send out our entire army to even hope to deal with him.”

“ARGH!” The general smashed his fist into the rocks with rage, causing them to split into numerous pieces.

“Actually, we might still have one last chance”

“What?” The man’s face immediately lit up.

“A war of the gods!”

……

Following the big battle, Richard led 4,000 soldiers to strike at the border guard like lightning. A nocturnal ambush defeated the garrison the imperial army had retreated to with only a few hundred managing to escape, and tens of thousands of captives fell under Richard’s control. In the end, he ransomed them back to the Iron Triangle Empire at the cost of millions of gold.

Now confident that there wouldn’t be any large wars to fight in the human countries, he pointed his followers northwest to explore the paths leading to the barbarian ancestral plains. This was a race of beings he was extremely curious about; despite their average level being higher than even dwarves’, they had barely any potential to speak of. Normally a barbarian could reach level 10 without any training, but very few even managed to grow to level 14. This went quite contrary to expectation, and Richard was sure there was some sort of secret hidden in the plains that explained this. After all, any other race with an average level of 10 would likely cultivate even level 20 legendary beings with enough numbers.

He was quite interested in the potential existence of a phenomenon that hindered the development of an entire race. This would be a great tool in many ways, especially for his understanding of Faelor’s laws.

Having let his followers loose to explore, Richard himself remained in Bluewater to continue honing his craft and meditating. Most of the troops were sent on the expedition, leaving only 3,000 elite defenders. Of course, anyone thinking the defences were weak would be in for a bad surprise; they would end up facing 30 rune knights, more than 2,000 Norlanders, and a regiment of shadowspear knights guarding the fort with a large unit of throwers backing them. Of course, his own presence was the greatest threat of all.

Unfortunately, none of his enemies threw themselves into this obvious traps. At least he had some time in peace to work.

In the blink of an eye, three months had passed since Richard had returned to Faelor. Within this short span of time, Richard’s powers had grown significantly once more. A hundred elite shadowspear knights and another hundred infantry drones had been produced, and with Rosie’s help he had crafted an entire twenty rune sets.

One day, the sound of his alarm resonated through the room. Richard knew that it was time to return to Norland and sent out a mental message for his followers to be careful before heading back without a sound.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA