Where Dreams Begin

With the image diamonds embedded into the case, Richard could have a grand mage from Norland engrave a spell formation to activate their power. The case would thus turn into a spatial magic sealing box, able to hold about two cubic metres within. The isolated space of the image diamonds would also make whatever was put within weightless to an extent. As long as the case didn’t exceed two tonnes in weight, he would only be able to feel the box’s own weight.

The case itself was at the epic grade. Forget the material, even the workmanship alone would be worth a great amount. However, Bamor considered this to be a symbol of Forgefires’ friendship with Richard; he refused any payment.

By this time, Richard’s caravan had made it all the way to Forgefires Stronghold. To the tune of thousands of dwarves cheering, barrel after barrel of liquor and sack after sack of foodgrains were unloaded from the carts. Large quantities of weapons, ingots, ores, guns, and gunpowder took their place.

The alcohol and grain had given Richard nearly a million gold coins, most of which came from the food. The dwarves paid 150 gold coins for every tonne and had done so willingly. They were a strong species with a much larger appetite than the average human, every adult consuming at least one tonne of food in a year. Richard’s 3,000 tonnes would allow Forgefires to feed exactly as many more citizens. Besides, this was only the beginning; he would continue to transport more as time went on.

Faelor was an extremely fertile plane, so it wasn’t short on food; a tonne of grain could be purchased for merely 20 gold in agricultural areas. Of course, transportation was also a huge factor; it took 50 coins’ worth to transport every tonne. On the other hand, the prices of the supplies he had bought in bulk from the dwarves would grow severalfold when they returned to the human countries, the final price reaching about five million gold coins. Although one needed to cross thousands of kilometres to cut through the Bloodstained Lands, large caravans could make the entire journey two to three times in a year.

With a point of access established, these caravans could transport kilotonnes of produce and other trade items with every trip. Richard even intended to set up two large supply points at Camp Kvensen and the Cracked Canyon, allowing the travelling caravans to rest and restock. Troops would be garrisoned there to safeguard the entire trade route.

Even disregarding the profits from future caravans, the revenue from the project was 5 million gold, something that dropped down to about 2 million in pure profit once food, transport, and army costs were considered. Richard received a quarter of that 5 million, but his losses in combat were much lower than those of the rest. Most of the dead under him had been former slaves or combat drones, so he didn’t have to pay much in the way of compensation for death in service. His expenses added up to a total of 500,000 at most, leaving 750,000 gold in profit. This was a lot higher than the other nobles.

However, the true advantage lay in what came after. Two caravans could now constantly shuttle between the Sequoia Kingdom and Forgefires, making the trip five times a year between themselves. These caravans wouldn’t be as large as Richard’s, but they would also suffer fewer casualties at the same time. There would be no need for them to pay a large sum for relief and compensation. Thus, every caravan would still reap a profit of about 2 million per round trip, making for a total of 20 million gold. It was impossible to fully assess this value.

According to their initial agreement, Richard would take a quarter of the ultimate profits from the trade route. In other words, as long as he controlled the channel towards the Ashen Plateau, he would reap a profit of 2.5 million gold every year.

Of course, he actually earned far more than that. The rare materials he had found at Zhubvar were worth six to seven million on their own, with the Page of Holding, the blood of the sacred spirit, and the soul jar having immeasurable value. The statues from the orcs and various other tribes were priceless as well; if one had to find a way to measure them, it would have to be the difference between a level 7 broodmother and one at level 6.

An insane idea like the Bloodstained Highway had finally succeeded, and its rewards were equally outrageous. The large army slowly made its way back, a thousand men each left behind to guard Kvensen and the Cracked Canyon. Orders for slaves had already been sent to the large merchant organisations of the Bloodstained Lands; there would soon be 10,000 slaves working on building forts at each of these camps.

By the time Richard returned to Bluewater, it was nearing three months since they set off on the journey. The oasis was bustling with life once more, simple houses constructed on a large scale. Numerous adventurers were rushing to Bluewater from the human kingdoms every day, hoping to begin their own adventures in the Bloodstained Lands. Even before Richard had arrived, news of the project’s immense success had already spread through the Sequoia Kingdom and its neighbours. The news had turned to gossip quickly, and after passing through a few mouths become absurd legends. The ore in Richard’s caravan had turned into rubies and gold, the length of the caravan extended severalfold.

The Bloodstained Lands had turned from a place of death and danger to a country full of riches and gold. People were saying one might uncover gold wherever they placed their shovels, attracting countless criminals, thieves, robbers, and adventurers who could no longer stay in the human countries. This place had turned into a land of dreams.

The moment they returned, Richard was immediately faced with the problem of dividing their gains from the expedition. The project’s tremendous success and huge profits were enough to make anyone go crazy, so dividing the delectable fruits of their labour became a huge issue. It wasn’t just deciding which of them got how much; Richard also had to consider how to keep these gains from other hands. Fortunately, everyone who had participated in the plan shared his interests.

Another problem was the Mage Association. Richard believed their last meeting was sufficient to express his stance. If they were willing to back down to some extent, then he would actually be willing to make some concessions as well. He did not wish to really cooperate, but time was something he needed a lot. Norland’s greatest advantage over Faelor was in powerhouses and mages; he could easily recruit tens of mages at level 10 or above and purchase superior-grade equipment for enchanting in bulk. With both of these in his hands, he would have taken over the source of the profits the Association needed to survive. He saw no use in keeping them around for any extended period of time.

He had already taken his share of the profits from the project in advance, mostly in weapons and ingots of obsidian. These weapons made from quality obsidian were even beyond those made of lafite steel that he had gotten from Norland. There were a total of 400 weapons in this batch, all of which he intended to take back to Norland for enchantment before returning to Faelor to sell. Other than that, he also received five epic-grade weapons from Faelor as personal gifts; two warhammers, two one-handed axes, and one two-handed axe. They were also made from obsidian, but had been forged with Toro’s hammer and anvil. This bestowed them with enhanced durability, while Bamor’s mastery of smithing gave them added sharpness. This was a unique advantage of dwarven mastersmiths; all of their items were enhanced in one or more properties by nature. Magic could then be layered on these devices, making them much more powerful than ordinary enchanted items.

Quality goods with dual-enhancements like those from Bamor would easily become epic-grade goods after only two enchantments. Bamor’s best items even held three properties instead of two, forming the basis of legendary equipment.

Richard hadn’t idled around in the past three months himself, especially during his month-long stay in Forgefires. He had used the period to complete the three Savage Barrier sets he needed to finish his deal with Nyris, while advancing his own mana pool to close in on level 13. Even fully focused on his astral affinity, he would surely advance in level within a month or two.

He would be nearing eighteen years of age by the time he reached level 13. This was hard to come by even in Norland, but he was still unsure of his limits. He could stop at level 18, or he could go all the way to level 20 or even surpass that to enter the legendary realm.

Either way, his top priority at the moment was to return to Norland once more. He needed to convert the large sum of wealth on his hand into power, and offer the soul jar from Zhubvar in exchange for divine grace. Discussing things with Flowsand, he had decided to hold the ceremony at the church building in Faust, limiting the loss in grace due to distance. Of course, things could be looked at from another perspective: the more the offerings that were made in Faelor, the more the power that would be channelled into the Book of Time. Its connection to the Eternal Dragon would thus be strengthened, reducing the cost for future offerings every time.

After returning to the oasis city, Richard had a hundred humanoids and three elite bat scouts rush over to the Land of Turmoil to deliver the blood of Zuka and all the divine items they had found in Zhubvar and Kvensen to the broodmother. He then left Olar and Kellac to deal with the negotiations as he brought Gangdor, a few strong Archeron warriors, and Flowsand to quietly return to Norland.

You'll Also Like