Despite their chilled hearts, the spies from the nobles continued to count the number of rows of shadowspear knights walking out. The final count they arrived at: 400 rows. Richard had a total of 2,000 shadowspears!
Many people recalled the first series of battles with the Mensas. That week of war had cemented Richard’s prowess as a commander, but more importantly it showcased the terror that was the shadowspear knights. These soldiers had become known as the death of all rune knights, ignoring danger and death itself to ensure the enemy’s destruction. Even if they lost five to seven times the number, they could still wipe out any rune knight platoon.
From any noble’s perspective, losing ten level 13 soldiers was more than worth it to take out a single rune knight. This didn’t even consider the fact that the broodmother made these drones with nothing but time and food. They would immediately decimate the enemy rune knights’ morale, greatly increasing their propensity to flee.
The rune knights weren’t nearly as much of a shock; two hundred was still a large number, but it had been expected from earlier reports. However, rune knights were the core of any Norland army; all of the Archerons nearby were fired up at the mere sight, youths burning with passion while the elderly smiled with nostalgia for the wars of their own time. Even the civilians didn’t remain quiet.
Following behind the rune knights was Richard himself, mounted on his eye-catching unicorn. The creature had been strengthened twice by the broodmother in this time, growing to more than two metres tall with proportional strength and speed, and its defences had been enhanced as well. Even a shadowspear’s full blow wouldn’t strike too deep.
It was at that moment that the earth suddenly trembled, those watching from the roofs of nearby homes almost falling down. An enormous figure jumped out of the portal, five metres of blubbery green flesh crashing into the earth and leaving deep footprints behind with every step.
“How is it so big, is it a mutation?”
“That armour, it’s fifteen centimetres thick! How strong is that thing?”
“Forget the armour, look at its hammer!”
Tiramisu’s mere presence brought a sense of pressure to the crowd. Some people backed up in panic, and screams started resonating from the crowd. In the midst of the chaos, an old man who looked quite plain narrowed his eyes and muttered, “An ogre lord… How many years has it been?”
Tiramisu was followed by Phaser, Zangru, Gangdor, Waterflower, and the rest. Some looked ordinary and others looked frightening, but each one radiated an aura of pure danger. Nobody even spared a second glance at Mountainsea and Rosie when they appeared; the barbarian girl didn’t look out of place in the team, while the former pearl of the Mensas had fallen out of public perception for a long time now.
After the followers came 200 more knights, these ones carrying the crest of a golden rose erupting from a volcano. It was different from Richard’s volcano and world tree crest, but looking at the equipment and aura one could tell that they were all rune knights as well. Although significantly weaker than those at the front, they were still stronger than the shadowspears.
“These soldiers… Are they also rune knights?” a noble whispered to his aide, prompting the old mage to squint for a while before nodding, “Yes, they are all rune knights. They seem weaker than the first set, but all of them are sets; these are no worse than first-order knights.”
“So Richard has 400 rune knights?”
“… Yes,” the old mage nodded.
Last time he fought, Richard had showed the strength of his elites. Now, he clearly had numbers as well.
“He has too many rune knights!” someone said in a hushed voice in his companion.
“He’s a runemaster,” the companion replied.
“So? He has enough to become a Marquess directly!”
“No, you should remember how effective he was when he fought the Mensas. I think this should be enough to make him a duke.”
“Oof… This strength is too great, make a report immediately. Master will be interested.”
Back in the field, the unicorn suddenly neighed as it pointed its horn into the crowd. Richard felt signs of magic as well, and from the mount’s response knew that there was some hostility there, but his eyes just narrowed as he calmly walked with his army. He had known that the Sacred Tree Empire would have spies planted here by now, but he didn’t care. He was planning to humiliate them thoroughly, and a stealthy approach would not be effective at that.
Instead of meeting in her command room, Richard and Alice patrolled the camp side by side as they spoke.
“Dukes Solam and Jasper are the biggest targets we’ll have to go through,” Alice commented as she looked around, nodding occasionally at the more excited soldiers that stopped to bow.
Richard smiled, “I can beat two dukes. I heard Solam’s been legendary for some time now? If I recall, it should have been just before I turned ten or something.”
“About then, yes. He isn’t particularly strong, but as an antimage he has a number of tricks to fight your kind with. You have to be careful.”
“Heh, shadow antimage specifically. He has a number of tricks when hidden away, but what can he do when I’m charging him down in the open?”
Alice nodded, gesturing towards Richard’s room as they entered the castle, “Get some rest early, you have to hurry tomorrow.”
“You too. Remember to keep the shadowspears close to you at all times, I’ll be able to find you if there’s a problem.”
“I didn’t know you were so annoying,” Alice chuckled before walking off.
Early morning the next day, the land around the castle trembled as the army marched out on a long journey. Alice took 20,000 soldiers up north towards Duke Jasper, with thousands of Archeron warriors and 150 rune knights in her ranks. Richard took most of the shadowspears alongside Rosie’s rune knights and the remaining fifty of his own towards Duke Soram, but from the looks of it he was meant to be a guerilla force until Alice finished her battles. Duke Solam could mobilise 100,000 men himself, and there were a dozen smaller nobles along the way to the Saint Louis Cathedral that could match that number in total.
When news of Richard’s march arrived at Duke Solam’s millennium-old study, the man sneered and muttered to himself, “Only 2,000 people? You think they’re all rune knights? Such a joke!”
2,000 versus 200,000. This was Richard’s war.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo