Book 5, Chapter 9

Settling Things

Almost a week later, Richard’s followers all popped out of the portal armed for combat. Following them were the fifty most powerful rune knights currently in his army. Richard started cursing again. Having relaxed and turned to focus on runecrafting for a bit, he had completely forgotten the gold cost of having soldiers come back.

However, he couldn’t turn back time. With things as they were, he gathered a thousand humanoid knights alongside the barbarian infantry and the few hundred javelineers the broodmother had created so far, leaving right for the capital of the Sequoia Kingdom.

Once Richard’s troops started to mobilise, envoys from all over the plane reached the Bloodstained Lands. The dukedoms who had participated in the attack were represented, as were Cerces, Runai, Lutheris, and multiple other gods. The envoys were only there for one thing: to persuade Richard to stop after he got what he wanted. With both the divine and mortal wars having come to an end, they wished for him to stop while he was ahead.

These envoys didn’t really care about Neian himself or the Sequoia Kingdom. The instigator of the war obviously deserved to be hurt by it the most, and the Kingdom had betrayed one of its own vassals. In fact, they would love for Richard to just vent all his anger on these two enemies so long as the damage was contained.

Many of the envoys had plenty of experience. Considering that Richard’s current force was a decent blend of all the pillars of the army instead of purely cavalry, they knew he planned for war. His numbers were far larger than usual as well, so it looked like he would break right into the capital.

And that was exactly what he did. His army followed the road straight to Sequoia City, completely crushing the 10,000 men that remained of the royal army before heading inside. With Bard and the other royal knights having been wiped out some time ago, there was nobody left to stop him.

The proceeding events went just as expected. Richard walked right into the palace and kicked the king off his throne, gathering the assembly and announcing that his younger brother Marquess Ushur would be taking the throne.

Richard didn’t make any further demands, instead heading straight for the Church of Valour. He had been too fast, giving the priests no time to react. They hadn’t even managed to gather their important documents before he kicked down their door as well.

Another short yet intense battle culminated in another massacre. However, the paladins did not flee in fright; even the apprentices charged straight into Richard’s soldiers and used their very bodies to try and block the advance.

The captain of the paladins was surprised when he made it all the way to Richard, but not thinking much of it he stabbed out with a zealous roar. He could almost see his blade going straight through Richard’s heart, but before he could rejoice he felt a dull thud and his body fell to the floor.

Richard pulled back the Twin of Destiny, satisfied by the toughness of the legendary staff. Normal wood couldn’t knock a seasoned paladin unconscious through their helmet without taking on any damage. He then took a look at the priests and clerics and smirked, thrusting the staff forward to have his knights surge ahead like wolves.

……

With the battle finished in mere minutes, Richard walked into the heart of the church and looked at the glorious statue of Neian residing within. He called over the head priest of this church and had him stand before the statue, assigning a few knights on guard.

Before Neian’s divinity withdrew from the statue, defiling it was a taboo that would turn anyone into an enemy of all gods. This was true even despite the current war between Neian and his three patrons. However, Richard was someone who had studied under Theodore in the Deepblue, someone who could fool even Norland’s gods. He didn’t need to desecrate the statue itself to harm Neian.

He called over another group of knights and had them search the surroundings, shouting out every single thing they found. These knights that looked strong yet boorish took away almost everything that could be detached. This was flat-out robbery, but there were no taboos restricting it. It was just that most nobles had more grace than Richard when looting the spoils.

The display had the desired effect. Neian, who had been watching everything from his divine kingdom, immediately withdrew all of his divinity from the statue in sheer rage. Richard snickered as he watched the glow dim, patting the priest’s shoulder, “Is there a secret compartment?”

The priest didn’t even bother denying the fact, allowing Richard to search the statue thoroughly. Richard hadn’t expected any great thing to come of it, but when he saw what was within his eyes opened wide in pleasant surprise. It was a page from the Book of Holding!

Richard had never expected that something so valuable would be anywhere but the central church, but thinking over it he remembered that without enough pages one couldn’t cast high-level spells at all. A sole page was magical by Faelor’s alchemical standards, but it only able to accommodate one spell up to grade 5 it had little use. However, three gathered together would allow for a total of five grade 7 spells. This was immensely useful.

“That—” the priest darted over as he saw Richard take the page, but Tiramisu just patted him lightly and pushed him to the ground.

Richard dangled the page in front of the priest, “Isn’t this a spoil of war? It doesn’t seem like much.”

“… Alright,” the priest eventually huffed, “You are within your rights to take it.”

The paladins of the God of Valour were all incredibly courageous, but the clergy paled in comparison. The priest pointed at an ordinary book that was also in the compartment, “Lord Richard, this item holds no meaning to you. May I take it?”

Curious about its location, Richard picked up the book to look at it. The cover read Sin and Punishment, and after a few moments browsing through the contents it seemed to be a record of those that had broken their faith and heretics. Every name had a meticulously drawn picture next to it, with details about their sins and the results of the trial. Flipping through it casually, Richard saw a familiar face. It took a moment to recall, but he remembered the priest called Essien that he had fought to the death just when he had arrived at Faelor.

He still remembered the deep impression Essien’s notebook had given him. That was a genius of this plane, someone who could greatly advance its power in the future if he hadn’t been defeated so horribly.

Looking at the details, it seemed like he had been sentenced to three years of penal servitude for sheer negligence that resulted in the loss of a church and its sacred relic alongside all the paladins present. It would be served in a location called the Valley of Darkness.

Richard remained expressionless as he waved the book around, “Where is this Valley of Darkness?”

The priest’s hand rose up instinctively to snatch the book away, but he forced down the impulse. However, he hesitated to answer Richard’s question; the consequences would be dire. The Valley of Darkness was the location where most penal servitude sentences by the Church of Valour were carried out. There was a complicated mix of people banished there, and its location being found by the other churches would definitely spell trouble.

Richard sighed, handing a map to the priest, “See, there are two ways we can do this. I can either add a few more bodies to the death toll, or we can come to an agreement to end this war. You pick.”

“… Fine, I understand.” The man took the map and marked a location on it, an uninhabited corner of the Iron Triangle Empire. Richard could tell how terrible the environment was from a single look at the location; nobody would ever explore it without reason.

He nodded and continued to flip through the book, “It’s not like we can’t stop fighting. My terms are simple; withdraw from the Sequoia Kingdom, and cede all control here to the three Goddesses. This arrangement will last for three decades, after which you may return.”

The head priest pondered over it seriously for a moment, but his face was filled with hesitation.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA