The prosecutor began to read the final list of allegations, each one backed by rigorous facts and logic. Rundstedt could kill this minor noble with the flick of a finger, but the man didn’t seem afraid as he referred to three files that totalled more than 500 pages when summed together. He wasn’t elaborating on everything, but these documents would be available for anyone qualified to vote here to read through. The assembly officially gave him only ten minutes; every noble was an important personage who didn’t have so much time to spend. Of course, a majority of the viscounts here would rather spend their time on afternoon tea.
Even in the minimal duration, the prosecutor’s speech was brilliant and loaded with sound reasoning. However, Marshal Rundstedt only lifted his eyelids at the end and threw a death stare towards the man; very few people noticed the murder implied in his eyes.
This wasn’t particularly because of the contents of the allegation. Rundstedt was left impatient by the man’s drivel, the same feeling that Richard had with Canaan. Those of actual import didn’t have the patience to let flies buzz in their ears for an extended period of time. These people were merely instructed by superiors, but that didn’t mean they were blameless in the matter. Dogs barked more when they weren’t stopped; Richard believed it was best to cut them down so fewer people would be willing to serve that role in the future. He could even ignore those pulling the strings, but these puppets would be destroyed as an example.
When the young prosecutor finished his speech, his face seemed to glow with satisfaction. Richard sighed softly at the man’s naked ambition; these people were quick to seize any opportunities awarded to them. Perhaps this could be taken advantage of.
With the prosecution complete and Rundstedt himself not providing a defence, the judges quickly moved on and requested the upper families of Faust to vote.
The patriarchs announced their decisions with cold, mechanical voices. Richard hesitated over his own choice, but he eventually voted guilty. Including the royal family, there were ten guilty votes to five not-guilties. However, most of the sixth-level families voted guilty; the final tally was much more in favour of punishment than otherwise.
The head justice stood up, announcing in a solemn voice, “In light of the poor decisions made in the defence of the City of the Unsetting Sun, the Sacred Alliance shall strip Rundstedt of his rank as Marshal and discharge him dishonourably from the armies. Furthermore, his marquessate shall be stripped down to his original peerage, demoting him to the status of Earl. Earl Rundstedt, do you disagree with this judgement?”
Rundstedt actually smiled in response, “No.”
The judge nodded, ringing a bronze bell in front of him, “This judgement shall take effect immediately.”
The bell was still ringing when the representative of the Turing Family, the Duke’s nephew, stood up and yelled, “This is a mess! Only fools would pass this judgement!”
The judge rang the bell once more, “Lord Turing, this is a judgement made by the families of Faust. Please respect the order in the assembly.”
“The order is shit!” the youth raised his voice again, “Can the order hold the City of the Unsetting Sun? Who will keep us safe when the judgement is passed? Will it be you old wastrels?”
The judge’s face started to twitch with rage, but he couldn’t speak. While he had a modicum of status in Faust, it was nothing compared to one of the fourteen families. If he offended the Turings, he would be dead before the next morning.
The youth continued his rage, turning towards Richard, “Do I not make sense, Mister Richard?”
Even as the hall fell silent to witness the impending confrontation, Richard smiled, “Earl Rundstedt wasn’t the only person who held the City of the Unsetting Sun. Also, the judges might not be able to hold the city, but you’re the same.”
The youth’s face immediately turned ashen, staring murder as he responded, “Would you like to try?”
Richard laughed once more, “You’re not worth it, kid. I killed more Daxdians in a month than you’ve ever killed anything in your life. Fight me, and you’d be a corpse in seconds.”
The youth turned green, but he had no response. Eventually, he just snorted and went away. The judges announced the end of the trial once more, and this time the nobles left the assembly in twos and threes.
Two days later, Richard was stood atop the terrace of Blackrose Castle as he watched a team of cavaliers march west from the barracks. Following them were 2,000 infantrymen and another 3,000 soldiers responsible purely for logistics. As expected, the assembly had refused to grant him the title; they would soon realise his vengeance.
It would normally take months to march all the way from Azan to the western border, but he partitioned his troops. The cavalry was going to go ahead, while the rest of the troops followed them more slowly.
He watched for a few minutes as the cavalrymen slowly crossed the horizon before turning back, “Let’s go.”
“Of course, my Lord. The portal has been prepared, we can leave at any time.”
Richard didn’t answer immediately, looking into the distance towards a caravan heading their way. Asiris followed his gaze; this was the second such fleet in as many days, and the first one had been loaded with enough equipment to arm 125 knights to the teeth. However, this didn’t cause much of a change in the Dark Priest’s expression; Richard’s military power was expanding almost all the time.
“Eight shipments in total,” Richard commented, “A thousand fully-armed knights in total.”
This number caused Asiris to pause. Even considering the normal expenditure of 3,000 gold for a knight, this still meant three million gold. It was common knowledge that the equipment of Richard’s elites was now better than most, so the actual cost was undoubtedly higher. He bowed respectfully, “The Family will shine like never before in your hands.”
These words weren’t merely flattery. A thousand sets of knight equipment actually meant a lot of things. For one, such equipment was in limited supply in the market; to buy a thousand, Richard would need the workshops of a duke or two supporting him. In addition, knights themselves were difficult to get. Richard had exhausted almost all of the supply of high-level free warriors from the family and had turned nearly 4,000 of them into real knights. How had he found another thousand soldiers worthy of such equipment?
A source of soldiers, a source of equipment, himself a grand runemaster, and also very young. Richard’s future was unmistakeable; outside of a lack of personal might, he was already quite close to Gaton.
This was something Richard knew himself. He sighed and nodded at Asiris’s compliment, “Give me some more time, and I’ll match and exceed my father. Why can you not follow me like you did him?”
Asiris smiled, “Not every subordinate is willing to be a follower, my Lord, and not every follower will feel like you are family. Every one of us had our own story with Master Gaton; to us, he is irreplaceable. However, you do not have to worry about this; our sentiments will not affect our contributions to the family going forward.”
“Sigh. Alright, let’s go.”
Goldflow Valley, one of the first three planes Gaton had fought in. The other two had lost their forward bases to the locals, having their portals cut off. The Church had even recovered their coordinates. This plane was part of Gaton’s foundational years, before his miracle swept through the world.
The sky here was a pitch black, with a number of gorgeous bands of light slowly drifting all around to illuminate it, more than a dozen stars of various sizes occupying the void. Some of them were tiny specks of light, but the larger ones occupied a huge chunk of the sky.
Richard was almost entranced at the sight, but he quickly had to calm down and take a look around. Earth-shattering screams seemed to shake the earth around him as various lights flashed in the distant sky.
The incoming breeze carried the scent of blood.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo