Richard stayed for a while to talk to Thor about his semiplane. Semiplanes were normally an important secret that most legendary mages sought to protect, so it was strange for one to be as easily accessible as this. The old man was surprisingly eager to answer, and his reasoning really was out of Richard’s expectations— he had grown tired of a life of death and exploration, so he was done and just wanted to enjoy his life. The danger wasn’t all that great either— while he couldn’t call upon as much strength from his semiplane as he would have if it were unattached, he was still the Emperor’s uncle. Attacking him was the same as an attack on the entire Sacred Alliance.
Leaving a list of materials for purchase, Richard left the Royal Mage Association to return to the Archeron Island. Silently calculating his profits on the way, he realised that his overall revenue was nearly 50 million gold for a cost price of only 7 million. He would even have to modify the Mana Armament a tiny bit back towards Lawrence’s original design, which would make it easier to craft. Two months of work for more than 40 million gold was more than worth it.
At the same time, however, he would also spend it like water. At nearly 30,000 gold now to equip a single one of his most powerful elites, he would burn through it all with only a little more than a thousand men.
This was hardly a problem for older, more established families. The weapons and armour they gave their soldiers was passed down generations, and all they had to pay was a paltry sum for maintenance. However, without much of a warehouse prior to his takeover of the family, Richard had to pay for it all first-hand. Two Mana Armaments was also fifteen fewer rune knights.
Thankfully, he had enlisted the help of Rosie’s workshop. After simplifying his standard rune sets a little, he had brought it to the level where Rosie and her assistants could craft everything but the core arrays and connections. This gave him an output of twenty rune knights a month, each a tenth weaker than normal but also a fifth cheaper. The difference was several million gold every year.
Even with his high standards, the 43 million gold would be enough for him to arm an army 30,000 men strong with a good mix of all types of soldiers. While rune knights were powerful, thirty of them certainly weren’t as powerful as a force a thousand times their size. Powerful elites could be transformed in battle under his command, becoming far more effective than a larger army with less skill.
If he just wanted to make money, Lifesbane was still the best rune he could craft. It took much less time, effort, and resources, and the demand for it was much higher as well. Since it was a stacking rune, he could sell a hundred over the next year without much of a drop in the market price; on the other hand, he would be lucky to sell even fifteen Mana Armaments. Of course, his set knights had basically unlimited demand; worse comes to worst, the royal family alone would be able to buy everything he could produce.
Once he returned to the Archeron island, he sat down to recalculate the effectiveness of his current military direction. Now that he had more funds, he had to consider where the investment would serve him best. A few quick calculations told him that a legendary being was equivalent to 200 rune knights, who in turn were equivalent to an army of 10,000 elites. These 10,000 elites cost the same as an army of 150,000 men, each of whom were level 5 or higher. Each force on this list would be beaten by the force immediately below it, but there would be heavy losses to both sides.
He ruled out spreading his investment across hundreds of thousands of soldiers. While such a number looked frightening, even he could just fly into the sky and cast his thunderclouds to eliminate the entire army without breaking a sweat. Despite a number of simulated battle scenarios, the intangibles of guerilla warfare and mobility that higher-end warriors brought was well worth the cost. Deciding his top-down approach was still the best option, he moved on to other tasks.
“I haven’t seen you for a long time!” Blackgold’s image smiled from ear to ear the moment the communication circle lit up. It was clear that the Deepblue was doing well financially.
“Were there any signs of Voidbones?” Richard asked the same question he would every time.
“No, the device is still stable.”
“Good,” Richard nodded, “You can stop running it from tomorrow.”
The Deepblue had brought a special magic item once Ensio left, feeding it Voidbones’ energy signature and thus having it alert them in case he was opening a portal. The item could give an advance warning of a few hours to many days, and a teleportation gate would allow Richard to bring over fifty rune knights and chase him away. However, the item would only work for a year before breaking apart, and it could not be reused.
“What do you mean?” the grey dwarf asked.
“I talked to the Shadow King, he’s sending over three antimages to act as guards.”
“SHADOW KING? ANTIMAGES?! RICHARD, WHAT AR—”
“It’s the best solution for now,” Richard laughed bitterly.
The grey dwarf immediately quieted down, pacing back and forth with anxiety, “The Shadow King is a neutral entity, but our interactions haven’t been positive in the past. The antimages are natural enemies of us mages, what happens if you can’t control them?”
“Won’t happen, he swore that they would remain loyal to their duties and guard the Deepblue for two years. His word is his worth, he wouldn’t go back on it.” Richard understood Blackgold’s feelings. The Shadow King was a gnome with vampiric blood, and the antimages he created were all transformed by dark spells that made them feed on mana. Putting them amidst mages was like putting wolves amongst a flock of sheep.
“Don’t worry,” he added, “I’m stationing twenty rune knights just in case anything happens. If they act up, you’ll also be able to teleport over the thirty rune knights we have on hand in Blackrose.”
“Mm. By the way, how are my projects going?”
“I have some good news. The old elf finally got results after delaying things for months and spending an extra 200,000 gold. He’s developed a catalyst that can burn a tonne of stonewood with only a kilogram.”
“And the cost?”
“About twenty gold a kilo. If we mass-produce it, it should drop to about eight. Half a ton of the wood is enough to last the normal person an entire year, and the current yearly cost on fuel is about 10 gold per person in the Alliance. Even including the cost of the stonewood, we can easily make a hefty 40% profit.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo