The young man hesitated at Fenlier’s question, “Both Earls Robert and Silitus have stopped at the border and are showing no signs of continuing. There is no news of the other reinforcements either.”
“Those bastards…” Fenlier’s expression warped.
“They think they can just wait at the border and clear their relationship with us? Richard will destroy them too!” Fouen chimed in.
“Border… Border…” Fenlier’s eyes suddenly went round, “Those old coots really are sinister. They aren’t reinforcements anymore, but enemies. The moment Richard leaves, they’ll try to tear into us! Hmph, their messengers are probably meeting with him already!”
Fouen and the other lords immediately shuddered. Richard had come from afar and possessed no foundation here. Even the worst result of a war with him was abject humiliation and compensation for “starting” the war. He might own the land in name, but he would allow them to keep it at the cost of a yearly tribute or something of the like. In fact, it would even be an opportunity to build a long-term relationship with the Archeron Family. However, the other two earls could potentially swoop in and take that deal instead, dividing up Silversword territory amongst themselves.
Feeling the terror in the air, Fenlier snorted hard, “What are you afraid of?! As long as Swordwind City stands, as long as the family’s rune knights survive, we haven’t lost our foundation! Let those bastards take a few plots of land, we will recover quickly and repay the debt!”
These words inspired a bit of morale, refreshing everyone’s hearts. However, another burning question entered their minds; was it really right to hide the rune knights in the city to avoid losses?
That was the same question Nyris had just asked Richard.
“What would you do if you were him?” Richard countered.
The Fourth Prince frowned for a moment, “Hmm… I’d distribute some scouts throughout the territory and minimise the number of soldiers put in castles. Focus all my elites together and manoeuvre in the field, finding a good spot to ambush you…
“No wait! Your cavalry would be breathing down my neck before my army could even assemble. I’d lose most of my troops, and you have too many rune knights and shadowspears for my elites to charge you down. Those javelineers too… Their explosive javelins are gone, but still… Then there’s Tiramisu, there’s no way of dealing with him… Hell, even if I tried to fight you, Phaser will probably cut me down before I even realise it!”
Seeing Nyris grow more and more excited, Richard laughed and patted him on the shoulder, “Don’t worry, why would I need Phaser? I’d cut you down in half a minute myself.”
Nyris’s face immediately swelled red with anger, “Half a minute? Do you want to try?”
The prince grew so angry that Richard was forced to pause and look away, “Hey, I’m front-loaded. If my first few attacks don’t win me the fight, I’d be in danger.”
“But I’m the same!” Nyris said awkwardly before grabbing and shaking him, “Don’t change topics, how should one deal with your forces?”
“Eeeehh… You’re right about one way, gathering your elites to fight, but if the armies are even remotely equal I’ve never lost a battle before. You could try to find a place that gives you an absolute advantage and defend it, something like Blackrose, but then this territory doesn’t have such a place… The best way is probably to send a number of powerhouses to try and assassinate me. Are you happy now?”
Nyris snorted, his hands still on Richard’s shoulder, “I guess. I’ll let you go this time. What do we do now anyway? Are we just camping in this boring old town?”
Richard didn’t know why he grew a little nervous, but he snatched Nyris’s hand and answered softly, “Of course not. Let the troops rest another day, we’ll be heading to Swordwind City to meet Fenlier. I’ve wasted a week here, I’m already at my limits.”
They were currently camped at a small town called Maplefire, surrounded by mountains and rivers with over half of the town itself being full of maple trees. The place was only a hundred kilometres from Swordwind City itself, less than two hours of travel with his current force. Maplefire was originally a baron’s territory, but the man was currently locked up with others of his ilk and 2,800 of his 3,000-strong army had surrendered.
Richard and Nyris were currently living in the baron’s castle, an exquisite work of art with sculptures, gardens, and landscapes everywhere. The only drawback was quite a major one, however; there were basically no defences to speak of.
As the two continued to talk, a rune knight suddenly rushed into the room, “My Lord, there are two people here to see you. They claim to be messengers from Earl Robert and Earl Silitus.”
Richard sneered, “Those foxes can’t wait any more. It seems like they’re even less patient than I expected. Let’s go have a look.”
They met in the beautiful lobby of the castle, but the two messengers weren’t in the mood to appreciate the beauty. Already shocked by Richard’s military might that had lost less than a hundred men to decimate tens of thousands, they tried to begin negotiations immediately.
The offer was quite simple: they knew that important people like Richard didn’t like wasting time, so the earls were expressing their goodwill and a desire to split up the Silversword territory in exchange for a regular tribute and loyalty on the western frontier.
Once the messengers were done talking, Richard smiled, “Go back and tell those coots that I’m attacking Swordwind the day after tomorrow. If they want a piece of the pie, I’m expecting their armies to join me; I won’t take any tribute at all. If not, all the interests of the Silversword Family are mine. They’d be messing with my things if they try to come in afterwards; I’ve always been a bit of a vengeful guy.”
One of the messengers shuddered at the proclamation, “Lord Richard, cooperation is good for all sides. Aren’t you being too harsh?”
“Heh. You want to eat prey you didn’t hunt? I’m large enough of a beast, I’ll swallow this family up myself. If your masters want some of the benefits, then they’ll have to pay the corresponding price. If they want to do nothing but still share in my victories, then tell them to get off their high horses. Repeat this word for word: If I don’t see your armies at the walls of Swordwind City day after, then you better not step into this territory at all!”
Once the crestfallen messengers left, Nyris asked, “Are you really going to attack?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“It doesn’t make sense. Even if you take it down, the losses will be heavy.”
Richard smiled, “Let’s make a bet. I’ll break the city in the siege, and my losses won’t exceed 200 men in total.”
Nyris snorted, “What are we betting? You want a kiss?”
Richard immediately felt like something got caught in his chest, his mouth open but unable to speak a word. His breathing grew quick and erratic, but he took a few moments to calm down as he stared Nyris and looked over him from top to bottom.
Looking at his glowing eyes, Nyris shuddered as though he had been looked at by an ancient beast. He immediately frowned and shouted, “What are you doing?!”
Deactivating Insight, Richard wiped the sweat off his forehead and forced a smile, “I wanted to see if you really were His Highness.” He still felt a little off-put, not even realising the respectful address he had used.
The Fourth Prince growled in anger, “You think I’m fake?”
Richard started stroking his chin as he said thoughtfully, “Probably not…”
Nyris truly was someone with astonishing charm, but looking as he did now the prince was no less beautiful than Sharon or Rosie. While most people lost their attraction when angry, his appearance only grew more difficult to resist. Richard felt extremely conflicted by how he felt at the moment, a mix of pleasure and torture.
Noticing Richard’s thoughts drifting, Nyris suddenly stood up from his seat and leaned over him, staring hard with fire in his eyes. The two’s faces slowly drifted closer; Richard desperately tried to retreat, but his back quickly hit the sofa and there was no place left to hide. Nyris’s eyes took up all of his vision, and as he grew breathless he could hear his heart thumping.
“OI!” he called out.
“You’ve taken the joke far enough… Do you really want to kiss me? I’ll resist!”
“Heh. Resistance can be suppressed.”
Richard shuddered, recalling the night of destiny all those years ago in the Deepblue. It had been similar then as well; Sharon had wiped away any notions of formality he would have had, bringing out a deep-seated attraction that had been covered up with respect and fear.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA