Just a few days passed, and yet, Moonford was much more alive than before.
The immaculate soldiers were famous in the whole Porfield Kingdom. Their strength was verified many times in History, and their price deeply engraved in the minds of the noblemen. When news of Drake purchasing a hundred immaculate soldiers spread within Blackwater City, everyone was shocked.
It must be said that 2000 gold coins represented a fortune. A commoner might not even earn three gold coins after a year of hard work. Even wealthy merchants only had about a hundred gold coins after a lifetime of savings. Armies cost a lot, but compared to Immaculate soldiers, they were very cheap!
Over forty Immaculate soldiers were practicing the same move over and over again. It was a thrust that pierced the wind and whistled. Others were sparring in small groups against guards, Dark Legion trainees or Drake himself.
Since Drake became a knight, he had trouble finding a good sparring partner.
Hence, he decided to use quantity over quality. Taking on a dozen immaculate soldiers by himself, his training became much tougher, and much more fruitful.
[Beep! Repeat this vertical swipe 1 288 more times in order to earn +0.01 points of strength!]
From times to times, Drake's actions while sparring would increase his attributes. And yet, no matter how much he exerted his body, it seemed like his stamina had become endless. Even when he was completely exhausted, he could eat a chicken leg and near instantly recover to his peak.
'Becoming a knight isn't just about having higher control of internal energy, or higher attributes…It is a qualitative change in physique.'
However, his training was suddenly interrupted. The Viscount has successfully returned from his expedition. He survived, and even took down the infamous barbarian king, feared by all citizens of the Moonlight Territory, an existence that could wreak havoc on them at any instant with its army.
It was the official story, which led the whole territory to be more joyous than ever. And yet, only the high-circle of the Moonlight Territory knew the truth. The Viscount had been gravely injured, and didn't show any signs of waking up.
In a well-decorated room, the smell of wood could be smelled in the air.
The old man, Gallan, was shaking his head. Turning to Drake, who was standing and waiting for hopeful words, the old man muttered:
"I did everything I could. I even warned your father never to use this technique in his life, but he didn't listen to my warnings."
"What is that technique?"
"A Grand-knight secret technique consisting in igniting internal energy for a sudden boost in strength, which was passed down by your family's ancestor. It was a heirloom forgotten by your family, and which would have most likely been forgotten if it weren't for your father's curiosity, asking me to decipher it for him. I never thought that satisfying his curiosity would lead to such a result."
"Will he survive?", Drake suddenly asked, unable to avoid the unavoidable question
"It will depend on the backlash. It seems that he only stayed in that 'state' for a few seconds, limiting the strain on his body. I am afraid that even with my spells, he will only recover after a few months of rest."
Drake bit his lips. He was feeling, like always, an impeding sense of weakness. No matter how hard he worked, no matter how stronger he seemed to get, he couldn't avoid the disaster looming over the Moonlight Household.
[Name: Allan Moonlight. Age – 45 years. Rank: Knight (Peak)
Strength – 5.8 | Dexterity – 1.5 | Constitution – 5.2 | Internal Energy – 19.8
Status – Gravely Injured – Coma (-100% dexterity, -90% strength, Hibernating state)
Skills: Moonlight Shield Mastery (knight-level, proficiency: Intermediate), Porfield Kingdom Swordsmanship (Knight-level, proficiency: beginner), horsemanship (proficiency: Advanced), …]
Drake analysed the situation. The city was well-guarded, and the knights who returned were more than trustworthy. They followed the Viscount for a lifetime, and wouldn't betray him so easily.
However, heated time were on the horizon.
First, the rebellion.
Second, the spies that Lewis and the city guards secretly caught red-handed and executed in the deepest parts of the dungeons.
Thirdly, the Viscount's injuries which could spread at any moments.
These were the three factors that led Drake's biochip to give such a result:
[Beep! Task completed after 388 hours of analysis and simulations! Odds of a war breaking between the Frey Household (Viscount Frey) and the Moonlight Household exceeding 88%!]
Basing its estimations on historical records and the truth provided by the spies and Jonas, the biochip was able to run thousands of simulations on what could possibly happen, with the most likely outcome being war.
In the past fifteen years, Drake didn't have the opportunity to join a battlefield, so he was akin to a beginner when it came to tactics and such. However, he knew one thing: the first party to strike would have an overwhelming advantage.
He had an army: over a hundred immaculate, who were tempered since their birth to become elite soldiers, and hundreds of weapons and armours to equip them. He only needed horses to create the heavy cavalry unit he was dreaming of creating.
Heavy cavalry was the strongest military force of the kingdom, apart from the mysterious acolytes. After all, heavy cavalry possessed mobility, strength and high survivability. In a charge, the odds of a member of the heavy cavalry unit dying were very low, though injuries were frequent. The battles were often one-sided, the only issue being the cost of raising such a unit in the first place.
The soldiers would have the horsemanship skill, something that took up to five years for average people. The horses needed to be strong and well-fed, something that Drake couldn't currently afford. Last but not least, the weapons, and the soldiers themselves, had to be hired.
The Viscount Frey was a Peak Knight, a foe that Drake could not hope to rival. However, the Viscount would not get out of his castle so easily, considering the tensions between his household and that of the Faraday Household. The slightest mistake of the Viscount would lead in the Count Faraday bringing an army and taking back the Frey Castle. As the saying goes, a noble who loses his castle is only an inch away from losing his fame, wealth and power.
However, the biochip only confirmed Drake's suspicions.
Since a war was unavoidable, he might as well play his cards well.
"Tyrion, let me pass"
Tyrion was a 40-years-old high-ranking official of the Moonlight Territory. Born as a peasant, he was well-known for his intelligence and genius when it came to social interactions, maths, and ability to make money. A decade ago, the Viscount Allan recognized his talent and named him Silversmith of the Moonlight Territory.
Over the years, he not only managed to revolutionize the Moonlight Territory's economy, he also made applied many long-term reforms that transformed the daily life of citizens, with trading routes providing more goods at disposal, more security, and less taxes, which paradoxically led to more earnings for the territory. Since the citizens had more money to spend, the earnings coming from taxes increased as well.
The low taxes attracted more merchants, which multiplied the commercial exchanges, thus replenishing the territory's treasury with hundreds of gold coins every month: over 800 on average. It was truly an absurd amount for a mere Viscount like Allan, a sum that would make Counts and Marquis jealous.
It was not very surprising to see someone like the Viscount Frey, known for his grudges with the Moonlight Household and the greed of a bear, to be about to start a war.
Most of wars had economical roots after all.
"I cannot refuse your wishes, young master. But the treasury is not something you can casually walk into", Tyrion said in a low voice.
He might have succeeded in life, becoming a model for all aspiring youths in Blackwater. In front of someone like Drake, a true knight, he could only lower his eyes.
"Tyrion, you are one of the few people I can only praise. However, you must be aware that a war is unavoidable. It is no secret that my father's expeditions weakened his troops. I have immaculate. I just need more gears, more funds to create an army and strengthen the territory. I am not asking for the impossible. I will only take 5 000 gold coins."
5 000 gold coins.
Tyrion almost fainted upon hearing the number.
It was a sum that could bankrupt most of baronies.
"You…You want 5 000? You must be talking about silver coins, right?"
"Tyrion, don't take me for a fool. You are smarter than that. I have my father's approval."
Drake handed a letter with his father's seal. It was something that Drake obviously fabricated, but in this context, no one could object to him. The fabrication was simulated hundreds of times and perfectly executed by Drake.
Faking a seal was a crime punishable by death. However, it was the quickest way to earn money, considering Drake's position. Even if the Viscount learnt it one day, he wouldn't do much about it. Perhaps Drake would get scolded, but the latter had other priorities.
Tyrion opened the door, quickly gave Drake a chest full of gold coins, and started to pray.
Drake didn't even look behind him, taking the gold coins and leaving.
Little did he know, as his actions would cause his fate to completely shift. Whether this bold act would bring him fame and strength or misfortune...only time could unveil this mystery.