Book 5, Chapter 11

Crimson Begins

Having quelled all the rebellions, Richard gathered the assembly of lords for another meeting where he formally announced the establishment of the Crimson Dukedom under his rule. However, he did not break away from the Sequoia Kingdom and instead drafted a similar treaty to what existed with the Direwolf Duke.

Nobody could bring themselves to express joy over this development. Richard was not showing allegiance with his actions but instead demonstrating that he planned to continue interfering with the Kingdom’s affairs. It was clear that he had no plans to let the royal family go.

Another matter he mentioned was the addition of the lands he was taking over as a frontier knight. With the Bloodstained Lands already acquired, he now added the Land of Turmoil, Ashen Plateau, and the ancestral plains of the barbarians to his basket. These treacherous areas had left humans helpless for many years, but with the glorious feat of unifying the Bloodstained Lands in only a few years, nobody doubted his ability to accomplish this.

A map of the Crimson Dukedom was hung up in Sequoia City. It enveloped all of the Bloodstained Lands, the fief he had received from Bevry, and small plots of land that had been snatched from the Iron Triangle Empire and Sequoia Kingdom.

Lastly, he announced the conclusion of the holy war. Outside of the northeastern regions of the Kingdom, the three goddesses would completely replace the Church of Valour. The parishes belonging to the God of Valour would now fall under their control, also transferring the tax paid by the citizens of these parishes to their churches. Conversions would not be forced on the commoners, but a few nobles related to the Church of Valour noticed the emphasis on the word commoners.

At this point, Richard’s position in Faelor had been stabilised completely. He was now almost a tyrant of his own region, someone with astonishing military strength that could stand toe to toe with the best. However, that was a danger in the future. For now, the nobles of the Kingdom heaved a sigh of relief. Normal practice was for wars to be followed by a long period of peace as each side rebuilt.

Of course, Richard was not normal. Quickly realising that Cerces and Runai had provided no aid to their ally, his mind was already on the start of a seventh holy war. Neian’s allies could have just assumed he would be able to take care of things on his own, but there was an alarming possibility that they hadn’t yet recovered from the injuries Sharon had wrought on them. If that was the case, he didn’t mind dealing them a heavy blow that ended them once and for all.

On the surface, it didn’t look like Richard had earned much from this war. He didn’t ask for compensation nor territory, and had only snatched up the 10% share of the royal family in the Bloodstained Highway. The religious rights had nothing to do with his secular power, and people also knew by now that there was a mysterious yet formidable deity he worshipped that was not one of the three goddesses. However, those perceptive enough realised that the entirety of the Sequoia Kingdom had now become his backyard. He had annihilated multiple potential opponents over a series of wars, and more importantly crushed the audacity of the Kingdom’s nobles until they couldn’t even think of antagonising him. For the next decade at least, his authority would not be contested with any seriousness.

On the other hand, he also had absolute control of the Kingdom’s economy. Almost all of the minerals flowing in now came through the Bloodstained Highway, and he was the single most valued person to the dwarves. The slaves that the Kingdom relied on also came from what was now the Crimson Dukedom, and the trade required a hefty tax. The only thing the royal family had was food and wine, but in a world where one farmer could feed ten mouths at minimum this was worth very little.

There was an intangible benefit as well. Because Richard seemed to have given up personal profits for the greater good, he was now someone with a reputation for benevolence and selflessness. It greatly endeared him to the commoners and soldiers of the land.

……

Richard didn’t stay much longer in the capital, rushing back to Bluewater on the fifth day. Leaving Gangdor and Io behind once more, he returned to Norland with all of his remaining followers. However, this time he left behind an additional twenty rune knights just in case.

A mountain of miscellaneous work had piled up back in Norland, and he was also on the verge of becoming a grand mage. A grand mage at twenty was still fairly rare, but he didn’t feel any real bottleneck blocking his progress. However, he wouldn’t be careless enough to rush head-first either; his bloodlines were starting to resonate with his mana pool, indicating that a new ability would be unlocked as he advanced.

However, there were different levels of resonance that he had to think about. The Archeron bloodline was the closest linked to his mana, followed by his astral affinity and then the regeneration, nature, elemental and moonforce. Because of this, he had stopped his daily meditation and slowed his progress so he could analyse everything in detail. The ability he received upon becoming a grand mage was very important, perhaps second only to what he would obtain when he reached the legendary realm.

An unexpectedly strong ability could greatly change one’s powers. Take Lina, for example. When she advanced to become a grand mage, her summoning ability had been boosted into a contract with a fully grown red dragon. It made her worth two grand mages on the battlefield, and was the source of her title.

The ability one obtained upon advancing to level 18 was considered to be largely up to luck, but from prior experience Richard now knew that one’s internal affinities played a great part. He couldn’t pinpoint the exact relationship, so he wanted to learn more instead of being reckless.

And there was one place that would likely hold all the answers to his questions.

He thus took three two-legged wyverns and headed straight for the Deepblue. With the transmission circle not yet upgraded to a full portal, he still needed to make the journey physically. He could easily have consulted his teachers through the communication circle, but there was a familiar face he was itching to see once more.

Wyverns were much faster and more resilient than griffins. The only issue was their ferocity and lack of stability during a flight, and the stench of their bodies that made them unlikeable to nobility. However, now that he had the money to buy some Richard didn’t afford himself the choice of comfort over speed.

……

It only took a single night for him to complete the journey, and his landing was different from the last. The wyverns still fell to the platform and frothed at the mouth in exhaustion, not even sparing a glance at the meat a slave had brought over, but he hopped off gracefully and didn’t so much as flinch before walking into the tower.

“Little Richard!” Blackgold’s voice sounded in the distance, “Why didn’t you let me know?”

The grey dwarf had always liked Richard’s diligence from when the half-elven boy was only a youth, but now that he was the tycoon sponsoring the Deepblue’s operations his status was second only to Sharon’s in his mind. To him, Richard was basically a perfect ore the likes of which he had never seen before.

Richard pulled up the dwarf that had charged over, giving him a strong hug, “I wanted to consult with you professors about some things. I also wanted to see Master.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA