Darling of Destiny(2)
“We know of three abilities from my bloodline. One is Maturation; anyone who awakens this bloodline will enter a stage of hibernation that greatly increases their strength. Once done, they will at least be at level 16. The second is War Talent; the ability greatly increases one’s strength in actual battles, giving their attacks a chance to break through magic. The last one is Nature’s Domain; it enhances a mage’s mana recovery and their nature affinity.”
Richard looked Zim up and down, asking playfully, “Then your ability is Maturation?”
“Yes! But I still don’t know when I will go into hibernation.” The Viscount had a face full of pride.
Richard sighed, his palm latching onto his forehead. No wonder the unicorn bloodline could compare to a dragon; surely enough, these abilities went beyond belief, especially Maturation. No matter who it was, they only had to sleep a little to become a Faelor saint. No wonder Zim did nothing all day, he didn’t need to put in any effort at all. It was also reasonable for the Sequoia Kingdom to attach such importance to his bloodline; every awakening of this ability was a future saint powerhouse. Who wouldn’t value something so great?
Ever since he had left Rooseland, Richard hadn’t rested for a single moment. He didn’t even dare to sleep, working tirelessly to reach level 12, but Zim just had to rest for some time and his level would far exceed his own. He finally lost his inner balance.
This was a fucking child of destiny! Richard glared at Zim’s plump face, unable to help but say sourly, “As you are, even if you hibernated and woke up as a saint you would be the weakest saint in existence.”
“No problem!” Zim chuckled with no sense of shame, “At worst, I’ll just fight people around level 11 or 12 when the time comes.”
Richard felt a huge headache coming on and interrupted Zim’s words, “Alright, I understand. Now, let’s talk about remuneration.”
“Remuneration for being your shield.”
Zim wailed, “Didn’t we already discuss that?”
“I just changed my mind. I think it’s better to hand you over to Countess Katrina now.”
“No!” Zim shrieked miserably.
In the end, Richard still reached an agreement with the Viscount. The additional blackmail netted him large amounts of quality equipment for cheap, also giving him sufficient amounts of rare minerals. Richard found out during their discussion that Zim’s family controlled three ores that could be sold for a high price in Norland, an unexpected bonus.
Zim didn’t understand why Richard had suddenly raised the price even after he left. However, he had finally obtained the two most important things he needed; a supply of magic equipment and runes, as well as escape from life as the Countess’ mate.
Richard suddenly felt a lot happier and more comfortable after sending Zim off. He now had a firm foothold in Faelor, able to gain constant profits from planar war. In absolute terms, his earnings were even higher than the Resting Orchid plane that Gaton had operated for a long time. Of course, that was essentially due to his identity as runemaster and the support of the Church of the Eternal Dragon.
In addition, the nobility of the Resting Orchid plane could not compare to that of Faelor.
The nobles participating in the Bloodstained Highway Project slowly sent over their armies over the next few days. The process was extremely long, even the vanguard needing half a month to arrive. The entire army only gathered once a month had passed.
With a rare month of free time on his hand, Richard was determined to devoting all his time to the production of runes. Any spare time he had beyond that was used to meditate, growing his mana pool.
The lack of personal strength had now started to weigh down on his heart. He had learnt during the sacrifice that the elven bloodline had a Celestial Rain ability that could double the effects of his meditation technique. This was the only method he knew to quickly grow his power.
The astral rays caught by Deepblue Fantasy could strengthen his bloodline, but then it would be used up and not affect his mana pool. This was a dilemma, but during meditation that night Richard directed the two astral rays he captured in the first hour towards his bloodline tree. However, he had limited control over these rays; only one was assimilated, the other ending up strengthening his mana pool instead.
This was the first time his elven bloodline had actually been strengthened by an astral ray. The tree seemed to glow for a few moments after absorbing the energy, but then there didn’t seem to be any further change. Fortunately, Precision allowed him to detect the subtle change in his bloodline strength. The second hour had not been so lucky, only ending with a single astral ray that he hadn’t managed to integrate into his bloodline at all.
He had captured a total of 26 astral rays over that night, successfully integrating ten into the tree. The originally barren trunk of his astral affinity finally showed a touch of green, the colour of life.
The tiny change greatly increased his confidence. Over the following month, he sent as many of the astral rays as he could to the astral trunk.
The night before the Bloodstained Highway army was gathered completely, Richard integrated his 300th astral ray into his astral trunk. What was once a dead tree suddenly shook, a leaf slowly appearing on the top branch. His astral affinity had finally been unlocked!
Richard almost jumped up in joy. The ability to successfully activate one of his affinities clearly showed the strength of the Deepblue Fantasy.
It wasn’t far from dawn. Richard restrained his excitement and continued to meditate. However, the new leaf atop his astral stem suddenly started to tremble lightly the moment he slipped away, eight astral rays appearing around him at the same time! One of them was even exceptionally large, double the size of a normal ray.
The huge surprise nearly broke Richard out of meditation immediately. The mere unlocking of his affinity had increased his efficiency by a third; the bottleneck now wasn’t in being able to find astral rays, but in being able to capture so many. Thankfully a particularly large one came along every once in a while, making the choices easy.
However, one more hour of meditation and it grew too difficult for him to maintain his calm. He withdrew; the day’s gains were huge, and it was also necessary to indulge properly from time to time.
He looked out the window, judging that there was about half an hour left to dawn. He put on a coat and left his residence, leisurely patrolling the camp in the dark of the night.
Most of the armies had already arrived, setting up camp outside Bluewater one after the other. Outside the oasis now were a dozen or so camps of varying sizes, with Viscount Zim’s the closest to Richard’s lands. The Viscount’s camp was blanketed in silence in the distance, the only visible silhouettes being the uniformed patrol soldiers under the light of their torches.
In contrast, the discipline in the other army camps was much worse. The vassals of the Direwolf Duke were the best of the lot, but there were still scattered warriors walking around from time to time. Some of the camps were actually empty; the soldiers had obviously headed into the city to have fun. Another camp was brightly lit in the middle of a party, the noise quite audible.
Seeing these troops, Richard could not help but shake his head. However, he had not planned to rely on these thugs in the first place. He was confident in being able to find some use even for these private armies without much strength.
A sudden glow pushed away the thick fog of darkness. Richard didn’t have to look to realise that it was Io, the fellow who loved making himself look brilliant and eye-catching whenever he could. Right, it had almost been a month since he had last seen this fellow. He still saw Flowsand occasionally, but the battle priest’s figure had somehow disappeared from her side.
Richard had grown more open-minded after beating the man up. However, if the priest was still petty he wouldn’t mind beating him up again. He had realised now that he had a long way to go to achieve Gaton’s incomparable tolerance. Of course, when Gaton’s temper flared the man wouldn’t let off a single grain of sand.
The light grew brighter and brighter until Io was right next to Richard, watching the interesting scenes of the various camps together. “Shouldn’t you be meditating at this time, level 12 mage?”
Richard did not grace the question with an answer, instead saying, “If you’re so shiny in battle, you’ll become a target for the enemy archers.”
“Is that so? Did you not know that battle priests of the Eternal Dragon do not fear archers?” Io smiled.
“Not being afraid of archers doesn’t mean you’re not afraid of death. You forget I beat you unconscious,” Richard said in a leisurely manner. Right now, his confidence was overflowing.
“It won’t be long before I’m level 14,” the battle priest tried a different angle of attack.
“I’ll still be level 12 for some time,” Richard responded. The words were spoken indifferently, with a strong sense of confidence that made the battle priest frown. In their last match, he hadn’t expected Richard to be so sturdy and resilient; the victory was merely one of luck. However, once he rose to level 14 he did not believe Richard could rely on simple technique to make up for the difference. Regardless, the melee abilities of heavenly guardians rose with their level.
“You only dare to fight those who are lower level than you?” Richard continued, “When Flowsand and I first came to Faelor, every battle was with enemies whose levels far surpassed ours.”
Io was not moved by Richard’s words. “Level is the one true advantage. That said, Sir great mage, I heard you have an incredibly powerful teacher who could perform the highest grade of ceremony twice in less than a year. That’s hard to imagine!”
Richard laughed, “I do have a great teacher, and I have a great family as well. My parents gave me a powerful bloodline. However, if both of us started at the same point, you would definitely be beneath my feet right now! While I work hard on meditation and spend my time studying runes to the point that I don’t even waste time sleeping, what do you do? Don’t talk as if I have any advantage over you, if you have the guts then come take me down!”
Io smiled as well, “Don’t think you’re the only one giving his best. Let’s wait and see, in any case we still have time.”
“Keep lying to yourself.”
The battle priest finally grew furious, pointing to the camps in the distance and saying with a cold smile, “You’re going to rely on this mob to cut through the Bloodstained Lands?”
“Is that not possible?” Richard shot back.
“Even a sheep can become a lion in my hands! If you want to cut through the Bloodstained Lands, you need me!” Io said loftily.
However, Richard laughed once more, “I can turn a herd of sheep into a wolf pack! Was I not fighting wars before you even showed up?”
Io could not muster an immediate response. “Well then, Mr. level 12 mage, let me see what kind of miracles you can bring about!”
Richard’s heroic spirit suddenly burst forth, nature calling to him. Since there was nobody around, he simply unzipped his pants and started relieving himself into the bushes, “You’ll see. If you’re not going to listen to my commands, then just stay here. I don’t need someone who can’t follow orders around, even if they’re a battle priest. Let me be blunt, your existence really won’t affect these battles.”
Io snorted loudly, also unzipping his pants as he snapped back, “You think those with real power are as shameless as you? Only the so-called nobles like you cheat this way!”
Thus, just before the sun dawned on the camp, a great mage and a battle priest faced off in a different kind of duel. The battle ended in a draw.
The next morning, Richard inspected his new army for the first time.
All the sub-armies were taken to a field in turns, with Richard inspecting them in the delegates’ presence. This allowed him to compare the quality of the private armies at a single glance. The Direwolf Duke’s vassals were all war fanatics, there was no need to dwell on how elite their troops were, but most surprisingly it was Zim’s soldiers that were the best!
Richard already knew the reason for this, however. Zim’s troops were actually made of soldiers from Earl Yatu and Duke Grasberg, while his mother had also transferred over some elite warriors from the royal family. To allow the Viscount to rise once more, his family had still invested a lot of their hard-earned savings.
Richard’s troops only came up at the end. He only sent in the humanoid warriors, but they managed to subdue all the other nobles in one fell swoop.