Chapter 315– Tier 3 Trial Part 11.
“Is it time?”
“Yes, they are waiting.”
“Good… let’s get this over with.”
Roland looked at the large room with various decorations in which he wasn't alone in. Time continued to pa.s.s and everything moved towards the last confrontation with the Woodlanders. Everything would be over after the final battle was over, that is if this trial didn’t throw any more wrenches to stop his plans.
Even though this place wasn’t as big as the real world, for one person it was gigantic. More than a year had already pa.s.sed since he started this little game. Considering that he was forced to take several time skips, more than a couple of years in trial time had gone by. His faction had become a small country with an actual force that reached into the multiple thousands. With this army, he was now planning to head towards one location where the tides would shift.
‘Things haven’t been going too well lately and convincing those Foresters took a while. If I knew I’d be forced to do those things I would have chosen violence instead…’
Roland wanted to save up on some resources by going into an alliance with one of the remaining nations, the Foresters. This was a resounding success as after aiding them with some of his resources they were able to drive away their enemies and were actually grateful. A pact was formed between him and this nation to clear up the Woodlanders that soon had control over half of the map.
There was one tiny thing that he didn’t realize when he was forming a pact. He did not think through what an alliance entailed when he made it. His original preconceived notion was that he could automate everything as this had been a trial. However, he had been mistaken and his presence was actually required at a few venues where he had no idea how to act.
“Hear ye, Hear ye! Today in our nation and throughout the lands, we are celebrating the union with our lifelong allies, the great Timberlings. Lord Commander of the Timberling nation has joined us on this grand and joyous occasion…”
‘Uh… how much longer is this guy going to announce my entrance…’
At this moment he was standing behind a closed door with two wooden soldiers on his side. His usual armor wasn’t on as he was forced to switch to more traditional attire. This day he had to attend something that resembled a royal ball. Something like this was somewhat above him as he had never taken any training in n.o.ble affairs.
His only reference was some conversations with his family members in the past he overheard or some of their own training. Most of his sisters were somewhat forced into attaining n.o.ble get-togethers where they were expected to look good and act as proper ladies. The men on the other hand usually had this mentioned somewhere during their knight training. Even dancing lessons were a requirement as the n.o.ble sons and daughters had to take part in what to him was a diplomatic charade.
“Without further ado, let me present you the Lord Commander of the Timberlings!”
‘Uhh… I guess this is my cue…’
The wooden people in this trial referred to him as Lord Commander just as the cla.s.s of the leaders of each of the factions. It was the same for the Foresters, their leader was just the Lord Commander of the Foresters. The large door was opened for him and Roland took a few brazen steps outside into the large open ballroom where he was on top of the stairs.
“Greetings people of the Foresters, I am honored that you would accept my presence.”
‘Ugh, they are looking at me in a weird way…’
Roland was presenting his speech that he was forced to run through one of his Aids. Luckily they were competent enough to write it out for him. With his heightened intelligence it didn’t take much time to study it. The only hard part was presenting it in a competent way without stuttering or misp.r.o.nouncing anything. He had even gained a new skill while he was practicing before it which made things easier.
Better’s the ability to physically move the tongue, lips, teeth, and jaw to produce sequences of speech in a more regal and n.o.ble fashion.
The skill literally made him into a smooth talker. It even helped him come up with more posh-sounding words and replace the ones that he commonly used. He had previously heard of the regular articulation skill which a lot of public speakers leveled up. The Lordly variant was probably due to his Lord Runesmith cla.s.s or perhaps the Overlord variant.
This was also part of the trial, becoming an Overlord seemed to take n.o.ble diplomacy into account. By allying himself with another faction he was given more work. Just like this time he was waving at the people down below and shaking the hand of the Forester Commander. Something like this was certainly out of his comfort zone but thanks to everyone appearing as a wooden person, it made things a lot more bearable. The speech didn’t have to be the best and after finishing it everyone began clapping.
“Lord Commander. I must thank you for accepting the betrothal proposal.”
“Make nothing of it, Lord Commander. It was required to tighten the bonds between our two nations.”
The leader of the Foresters spoke out and the conversation between the leaders finally started. There was only one reason that he made the journey here. The war was upon them and he needed all the help that he could get. A treaty was already signed between their two factions but this didn’t mean that everything was set in stone. Roland was aware of the possibility of betrayal and this is what he was hoping to avoid by coming here.
Not much had been explained to him besides all of the basics but he was somewhat confident in figuring out how this place worked. There were some hidden numbers considering his approval rating with this foreign nation. If he was able to keep this number high then the chance of betrayal was quite low.
He had invested time in cultivating a relationship with this faction in several ways. One was the more basic one by sending in resources or aid in the form of soldiers against their enemies. Then there was the whole side with the n.o.bility, one tried and true method was by marriage. Some of his commander units had been placed on the wedding table and been instructed to form bonds.
Roland didn’t like this way of functioning between nations but at the moment he could not find a better alternative. The only way of keeping a healthy relationship with the foresters would be by offering even more resources instead. The marriage between wooden people didn’t really concern him as he could look past their fate of being forced into a political marriage.
Perhaps this was how all the kings, emperors, and n.o.bles saw their own people. Nothing more like wooden men and women that could be sold? This was beginning to be the reality of this world and this test that he was part of. While he didn’t like it, this was the best way of getting through this trial. The ties in marriage would keep everyone together and to make things even worse he was actually offering himself to a similar fate.
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“Will you accept those terms?”
While he wished to use his crafting advantage as much as possible, his enemies would not allow it. Soon they pulled together all of their forces and attacked the borders of the Foresters. It was a ma.s.sive push for their capital city which without Roland’s help would not be able to hold out.
Now, he had a final decision to make. Either he could keep to the contract and help his allies or he would offer them up on a silver platter to gain an advantage. It would have been possible to let the Forester capital fall while he himself invaded the lands of the Woodlanders. Normally this would force them to backtrack with their armies that would have been tired from the siege. There existed some spots that would be good for an ambush and even others for a guerilla tactics approach.
Then there was a secondary tactic that was somewhat more gruesome. While the Woodlanders were invading the Forester's main capital he could rain magical attacks down on them all. With enough firepower, he could potentially bury the enemy leader in the ruins of their castle. That is if he took the bait which wasn’t set in stone.
However, there was one thing that he had to consider, the Lord Commander of the Woodlanders was making the push. This trial put a focus on the commander units that when defeated would create chaos in the midst of the entire faction. If he managed to take this unit down victory was more than a.s.sured.
‘I can end it with one potential battle but I’ll have to meet them on the field myself… it would be the end of all of this…’
After spending so much time in this world he was still surprised that he was managing to hold it together. This was certainly not for people without an iron will and persistence. It was as if he was stuck into another world entirely without another real living being by himself. He was alone against the world, somewhat similar to his arrival in this world of swords and magic.
Perhaps thanks to his prior experience he had been fine with this place but slowly it was becoming daunting to his very soul. The more he spent here the more he wanted to return to the place he called home. The closer he got to the end of this test the more Elodia’s face showed itself in his dreams. Even Bernir and Armand with his silly shenanigans made their appearance, at least when he spent time with that idiot it was never boring like it was here.
The wooden people could hold conversations but they were nothing more than cold automatons without any real feelings to speak off. The more he was forced to converse with them, the more he feared that he was becoming more like them. Perhaps this was what would have become of him if he didn’t find some companionship but now he felt like this fate would not be part of his future.
‘I’m not sure that a proper Lord would do a thing like betray his allies. It could be possible that if I do that, the trial will make it harder for me to finish it.’
Just like back when he bunkered up and made his first city into an almost impenetrable fortress, a similar result could transpire here. What if the Lord Commander of the Woodlanders made it back into their main faction region? Roland already examined that place and it was a natural fortress. Even if he could defeat the somewhat tired army he would take a huge blow to his own forces as well.
The more honorable thing to do would be to face the enemies out on the open field with all of his allies present. A word of an Overlord should probably not be taken lightly and breaking those words would perhaps disqualify him from the race. Sometimes these trials could be won by other means than force. Obscure ideas like honor and humility did appear in them from time to time.
‘Should I risk it or not…’
Roland wasn’t sure but when thinking about what this trial was truly about, this path seemed like the one toward victory.
“Well, a proper Lord should stay true to the word that they give and not betray his subjects. They are allied with me so I should probably consider them as my own people too…”
A decision to take up arms formed in his head and soon enough he was looking at where the main battle would take place. After spending so much time here he didn’t really even need to form a strategy. Everything was already set in stone and the time for the final battle was upon him.
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