On stage, Baron Canaan immediately froze up in the middle of his speech. He glared hard at Richard who had interrupted him with the obnoxious yawn, but no matter how much he wished it his looks couldn’t kill.
Richard didn’t even look at Canaan, instead looking over the other nobles seated nearby. When he finally saw Earl Fenlier, he showed a cold smile. The Silversword Earl had been watching him all the while, and his face immediately blanched.
Canaan finally regained his composure, grandly proclaiming to the assembly, “I ask for the assembly to award the title of Duke to Lord Richard, matching the glory of the Archeron Family and their floating island!”
The assembly hall went silent the moment this proposal was heard, all whispers stopping as every gaze focused down on Richard to hear his response. These old aristocrats knew that Canaan held no goodwill towards the Archeron Family, and this conspiracy seemed to be of little use except for annoying the Archerons, but even a blatant conspiracy was still a conspiracy. Richard’s response would affect their evaluation of the Archerons.
Richard yawned once more and stood up, heading towards the podium. Canaan didn’t give way immediately, but a flick of the hand formed an invisible force that sent him flying off stage.
“You… You used force in the assembly! You…” The Baron wanted to call for disciplinary action, but he eventually swallowed his words. The nobles and powerhouses in attendance were all stirred, not by Richard’s tyranny but by the exact manner of execution. Richard had sent Canaan flying from a few metres away, but the power didn’t feel like pure mana or internal energy. In fact, it had the nature of both. There was no shortage of even saints here, but even they couldn’t tell just what type of force Richard had used. The only given was that his movement was simple and precise, indicative of someone who always killed with one blow.
Every veteran of battle knew one fact: when two opponents of equal power faced off, the one who could minimise his movements always won. For Richard to achieve his simplicity meant he had waded through a sea of corpses during his rise. It brought flashbacks to news from the Land of Dusk about his frightening achievements.
Getting up on the podium, Richard looked around at everyone before speaking, “Distinguished lords and ladies, I believe Baron Canaan is being quite reasonable and agree with him. It would be dishonest to say that we Archerons deserve a ducal title just because we occupy a sixth-level island, but our lack of qualifications is only temporary. We will soon meet the territorial requirements for a Dukedom, so if the noble members of the assembly are willing to give us this honour in advance, we will accept it. If you do not wish to break traditions, then that is as it should be. However…”
He paused for a moment, glancing across the silent hall once more before raising his voice, “No matter what decision the assembly takes, we Archerons will be taking on the corresponding duties matching our stature. Ever since Emperor Charles the Great, the nobles of the Alliance have constantly fought foreigners to win territory for ourselves; this is the duty of nobility. My family will join this effort, our goal the vast territories to the west of the Alliance. We will send our men all the way to the ocean!”
The lion was finally showing its teeth! Many nobles shuddered at Richard’s proclamation, relieved that the lunatics of the Alliance had pointed their blade outside. Gaton was a known war fanatic, and his son was clearly cut from the same cloth. However, the assembly was confused by his choice; even fertile land wouldn’t be of much interest to the Archeron Family, but all that lied to the west of the Alliance was rolling mountains. There was no real reason to expand in that direction.
And yet, Richard had a meteoric rise in the past few years. Anyone who thinks a fool could achieve all that he did was bound for humiliation. The Mensas, Josephs, and Schumpeters had all paid the price for underestimating him. The assembly thus waited patiently for his follow-on.
Richard flashed a charming smile, speaking in a sweet voice, “However, our existing territory does not border the western frontier. For this upcoming war, my army will need to pass through the territory of a few nobles. I have already scheduled a marching route, passing through the following lands: Viscount Tren, Baron Eibik, and Earl Fenlier. I must thank Baron Canaan once more, you have reminded me of our duties as one of the fourteen.”
The entire assembly was shocked silent, Baron Canaan left stunned and speechless. An angry scream broke the quiet, “I object!”
All eyes were drawn below, where the silver-haired Earl Fenlier had just stood up and was throwing his fists about, “The Silversword territory will not allow any army to pass!”
Richard looked at Earl Fenlier with a smile, “So the Silversword Family doesn’t want me to become a duke?”
“Of course we do! I just disagree with your troops passing through my territory!”
“Heh,” Richard chuckled before turning serious, “So what do you expect me to do? Have my troops fly?”
Fenlier blushed with anger, “You can pass through the lands of someone else!”
“My title was a suggestion made by Baron Canaan. Is he not your vassal?”
“Canaan is Canaan, he does not represent the Silversword Family!”
“You expect everyone here to believe the dog doesn’t come from the kennel?” Richard stepped off the stage, walking right up to the Earl.
“My army has been assembled and the route set. I’m not asking for your consent,” Richard patted him on the shoulder, erupting into a bright smile before the pale-faced earl could protest again, “What exactly are you scared of? My troops aren’t marching on you, they are just passing by.”
“Passing…” The Earl was left completely speechless, and as he looked around for help there was no response. Several members of the assembly wanted to say something, but the moment Richard’s gaze fell upon them they shut up. The situation was clear; whoever spoke up first would be the new target.
Politics had to be backed by military might. In the face of Richard’s hidden threats of war, few were willing to stand up for the Silversword Family. Fenlier hurried out of the hall, filled with horror at the thought of what would come next. He had to rush back home and deal with Richard’s “passing by”.
Richard allowed the Earl to leave, not even looking at Canaan as he returned to his seat. The representative of the Wellinburg Family leaned over towards him and whispered, “Are your men really just passing by?”
Richard laughed, “Really, we’re just passing through.”
The man flashed a faint smile and stopped asking. Richard had revealed enough.
After a few more minutes discussing inane topics, the bells of the assembly hall rang out and a team of knights walked in, escorting a group of judges to their seats on a high platform. All nobles at or below the rank of baron were escorted out; the next topic was only for viscounts and higher, while decisions would be made almost solely by the giants of the floating islands.
Another team escorted Marshal Rundstedt over as well, sitting him down on the same high platform opposite the row of judges. The Marshal was still a legendary powerhouse; even if convicted, he had to be treated with courtesy.
The temperature of the entire hall seemed to drop a few degrees upon Rundstedt’s entrance, the laughter and whispers all fading away as gazes gathered upon him. Richard stared at the man as well; even now, he looked like a soldier cast of iron who ate his enemies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The long investigation had failed to dull his edges, and having fought by his side before Richard clearly knew of his terrifying power. Although there were other legendary beings hidden in the hall, he could still kill all of the judges and most of the remaining members in this hall before he was put down. This was someone who had guarded the City of the Unsetting Sun for decades; there was no way for an ordinary legend to compare to him.
And yet, the old man was quietly sitting in the dock and allowing the judges to go through their trial process with no signs of change. Richard felt like these justices were simply looking for death, and those who planned to vote were no better. It was like a group of sheep trying to put a lion on trial.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo