When Richard left the altar, all the priestesses in the church focused glowing eyes upon him. They saw just how happy Flowsand looked, and the sheer length of the ceremony spoke volumes as well. This wasn’t the first time he had left an impression on them; these days, he was the most frequent visitor from the Sacred Alliance and never seemed to run out of high-quality offerings. Noelene’s profits from trading with his personal plane also gave insight into how far he had developed in that avenue.
And Richard was only 21 this year! All clerics beyond level 12 could easily tell one’s true age without issue. A little over five years since he had first set foot on another plane, and he was now a key figure in the Sacred Alliance. Some were even discussing whether he would bring about miracles like Gaton.
Of course, the clerics didn’t know that Flowsand wasn’t smiling because of the ceremony. There was much more mischief in her grin, and it was aimed at the coming night.
By the time the first golden rays of sunlight entered the room, Richard slumped back in relief. He had started with energy and vigour, but as always he was no match for Flowsand’s boundless stamina. Some victors let go of the defeated, but she was the kind to torture her victims until they couldn’t take it anymore and then torture them some more.
Thankfully, he had business to tend to. His followers had rushed back from their planes to Blackrose Castle, and this time he took Flowsand there via teleportation. Alice came over the moment she heard of his arrival as well, so the meeting room was brimming with people.
He looked over all these familiar faces, some who had followed him since his first expedition and others fairly recent additions to his party. Asiris and Senma were the only ones present not absolutely loyal to him, but that was their own trust in Gaton speaking. Even though it had been a long time since Mordred had walked across the sky of Faust, they, Ward, and Cyrden still believed that the man of miracles could return.
An entire year had passed for most of his followers, but they still remained at level 17 and were trying to polish their skills and bloodlines as per his request. Gangdor, Tiramisu, Io, and Olar were still guarding Faelor. With a constant stream of powerful equipment from Norland, the Crimson Dukedom had pushed hundreds of kilometres into the barbarian plains, and there had been constant conflicts with the Iron Triangle Empire as well.
When his absence had first been confirmed, the Empire had sent Salwyn himself with a small army to probe the Dukedom’s borders. It was said that Rislant’s most skilled aide had been a party to this excursion, but Andrieka had appeared once more and forced a decisive battle at an awkward time and place. 10,000 Empire soldiers had been faced with 8,000 of the Dukedom but were beaten back and could only escape with 3,000 left alive.
Legends of the battle were still being sung by bards. Both armies had constantly charged, flanked, and ambushed each other, but in the end Andrieka rose to fame as another terrifying general in all of Faelor. Salwyn had delivered a secret report to the Emperor that concluded thus: Andrika was an outstanding general, second only to Richard himself.
The only option to stall Richard’s rise at that point was to mobilise the entire Empire’s power, but nobody had been able to come to that decision. The highest of nobles had met in secret, but the only decision they reached was to gather more information about Andrieka.
Of course, that attempt would certainly be in vain. Even in the Crimson Dukedom, few knew about Andrieka’s true identity. “He” was both nowhere and everywhere at the same time; any elite shadowspear knight could wear that specific suit of armour and become Andrieka on the battlefield. All commands came from a combination of Raymond and the cloned brain.
Many more had been captured from the Iron Triangle Empire than killed. The Crimson Dukedom at this point was famous for its restraint from unnecessary murder; captives were rarely mistreated, and the injured could even be healed thanks to the sheer excess of clerics. The lightly wounded were cured completely, while the seriously wounded would survive.
This made Richard even more endearing to the commoners, but to high society this policy was a headache. The Crimson Dukedom always ransomed off their captives, and if one didn’t meet that ransom price then one’s own citizens would be inclined to revolt. However, this meant there was a huge inflow of cash to the Dukedom that put severe financial stress on the losers. Even worse, the soldiers fighting in these wars would act more reserved, knowing that they would only lose their life if they were far too aggressive on the battlefield.
Even in the battle with the Iron Triangle Empire, 10,000 enemies had been crushed but only 2,000 died.
The Forest Plane was so stable that it was almost boring. People continued to chop wood each and every day, the stonewood piling up like a mountain outside Emerald City. Just the storage pit alone was larger than the entirety of the city at this point, which also meant the city had an enormous buffer of free space that elves could not easily traverse.
Half of Richard’s 200 rune knights had been left to guard Blackrose, while the other half had been lent to Alice. In Faelor, the broodmother was producing level 10 humanoid knights every day. With the support of the worm nest, she now had 3,000 of these drones despite constantly losing them in wars. In stark contrast, there were only a hundred elite shadowspear knights prepared.
Now having a decent understanding of everything that had transpired in his absence, Richard took out a stack of enveloped and distributed them to the people in the meeting hall. Within each envelope was a promissory note from the Church of the Eternal Dragon, and those that couldn’t rush back in time would be sent one later as well. Since he took over leadership of the Archeron Family, this was the second time that he had paid his subordinates.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: YJH
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA