Chapter 52: Complications (2)

Brock was hesitant to speak at first when noticing his young master’s expression. He was worried that Aleks would do something rash due to his hatred of the gods. It was quite apparent to him already that Aleks had blamed all of his misfortune on them and even though he wasn’t aware of the extent of the influence the gods had in the destruction of his home, he knew they had some part to play in it. Such a major event and the immense scope of the war was something surely influenced by numerous gods, but Brock wasn’t privy to the ambitions of such lofty beings. He wasn’t like Aleks and his anger was only partly aimed at the them. 

Most of his anger was aimed at the nations involved in the conflict, especially the Federation. For the Federation, he felt no amount of compassion and he strongly hoped they would fall. However, for Brock, his main desire was to see his young master survive and live on even if it meant ignoring the atrocities committed during the war that destroyed his home.

“Tell me.” Aleks’s words were a command that didn’t allow for any defiance. He sat down on a cushioned seat and leaned back, placing his right hand on his chin with one finger resting on his left cheek. He patiently waited while Brock collected his thoughts before speaking.

“So be it. You would find out soon either way. A few weeks ago, after you left for Andor’s Edge, clergyman for several gods arrived in the city. They sent out notices looking to recruit influential and wealthy individuals for expeditions into the Orgren Steppes. It turns out that a few months ago an alliance of churches sent a vanguard force into the Orgren Steppes to build an initial settlement. It appears to be a forerunner expedition for a fully sanctioned crusade. The higher ups of the churches have decided that it was time to begin preparations to bring the light of faith to the heretics and heathens of the Savage Lands. Or at least that is the word being spread throughout the city and word should have been sent to other cities throughout the continent by now as well. Most likely word was delayed to Andor’s Edge because of the civil unrest there and so it isn’t a surprise you haven’t heard of it. Many minor nobles, third and fourth sons of powerful noble families, and wealthy merchants have been hiring out every mercenary company in the region as well as bringing their own private forces to take part in the expedition. This is an opportunity to carve out new land, perhaps even develop new nations. It is quite appealing to those who have little other future prospects or those seeking titles of nobility.”

Aleks listened intently with a frown, “This is out of my expectations and could hinder our plans. I didn’t expect that the churches would be preparing for such a grand crusade. It has been a few thousand years since the last one. As a matter of fact, the Federation was one of the nations carved out of the last crusade.”

“I had hoped to send word to you, but of course I had no idea where you disappeared to.” Said Brock with a hint of sarcasm.

Aleks ignored his attempt to chastise him and soon fell into deep thought.

“Because of this, I haven’t been able to hire a mercenary company. Every company has already been hired out. I was at least able to contract a group of adventurers and while you won’t be able to hire a mercenary company, there are still plenty of slaves for purchase. Of course, battle slaves are no match for trained soldiers.”

Alek’s nodded considering his words.

“That can’t be all.”

Brock sighed, pacing back and forth for a moment before grabbing a bottle of wine on a nearby table. He poured himself a glass and slowly said, “I may have caused you a bit of trouble.”

“Hmm, it must be wearing on you for you to start drinking wine so early in the day.”

Brock gulped the wine down and glanced towards Lenia who was curiously walking around the room and occasionally lifting one thing or another. She seemed absorbed in her exploration of the room and the objects within.

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“No need to worry about her. As I already said, she can be fully trusted.” Aleks said after noticing Brock’s wary gaze.

“I caught the attention of one of the bishops unintentionally. He has been trying to entice me to enter his service for a week now. I have of course, clearly refused him several times but he is persistent. Now that you have arrived, he will surely notice you. If he can’t get through to me, he will certainly try to get through to you. I don’t know how this will affect your plans and the bishop is clearly someone who doesn’t give up until he gets what he wants. I didn’t mean to draw attention to you.”

Brock seemed frustrated with himself. He had been practicing one day and let his full power flow out and had been noticed by the bishop unexpectedly. This had made him a target of acquisition for the bishop who was looking for talent. He was supposed to be lying low, but his impatience and worry for the safety of his master had pushed him to a point where he needed to let off steam. This caused him to be noticed and he was aware that the bishop had clearly left some of his people to keep their eyes on him and anyone he comes in contact with. Brock couldn’t do anything about this other than kill them, but that would have brought other problems.

Aleks frowned after considering Brock’s words. He wasn’t afraid of a bishop or the churches, but he couldn’t draw attention to himself at this time. There was no way to know how many gods were involved in the events that led to the destruction of his world, he only knew for sure that Tihr and that god who oversaw reincarnation were involved. There was also the Devil Sovereign which placed the curse on him. Other than that, he could only speculate. Nonetheless, if other gods became aware of him even if they hadn’t been involved in those events then it still would be problematic. Within his body was the power of the Origin of a world, this was an enticement to any god. Only with enough strength could he protect himself and carve out a place for himself in the world. He was not quite there yet and still needed to be careful. Killing a bishop or two, even the destruction of a church, wasn’t a big deal as long as he didn’t get caught.

“I don’t blame you, what’s done is done. We may even be able to use this to our advantage. As long as there are no legendary beings within the city, keeping my aura hidden isn’t a problem. We were already planning to head into the Orgren Steppes anyway and this could be a good opportunity for us to keep a low profile. There will be many adventurers, fame seekers, nobles, and others looking to take advantage of this situation. We are just one more out of many others. Not only that, but we may be able to gain some legitimacy without having to expose ourselves. As for the bishop, let’s play with him for a while. Most likely he is searching for those of influence to gain benefits and I doubt you are the only one he has approached. The ambition of these bishops is easy to understand, they seek souls to worship their gods. He is clearly trying to attach himself to powerful individuals in order to establish his church’s influence in the new lands which will be carved out.”

Brock had already understood this of course but he wasn’t sure exactly what his young master had planned. He was already against this idea of heading into the Orgren Steppes. He felt it was too dangerous, but no matter what he said he couldn’t dissuade Aleks.

“There’s another issue, we are out of money. The letter you left had instructions to hire a group of adventurers and a mercenary company but didn’t explain how exactly you planned to pay for their services. I was able to somehow gather enough to put the deposit down on the contract for the adventurers, but the rest of the money has gone to room and board. This hotel is not cheap, I don’t know exactly how you expected me to pay for everything. I hope that your disappearance has at least led to a solution for this.”

Aleks smirked while he observed Lenia curiously looking around the room and touching everything. Although she had matured, there were still many things she was not familiar with. She would occasionally pick up an object she wasn’t familiar with and smell it while checking the object thoroughly. This of course looked quite strange to Brock who thought this girl might have some issues with her brain.

“You don’t have to worry about that. Do you remember those chests I arrived with? They are all filled with gold and silver ducats. Money is something we currently do not lack.”

Brock raised one eyebrow at Aleks’s words. He had many questions but he decided to keep them to himself. He couldn’t help but wonder at how he had obtained so much wealth though. Just what exactly had his young master experienced over the last month? He had a feeling that if he found out the answer to that question, it would only make him feel even more anxious than he already did. His young master was beginning to become even more mysterious and incomprehensible.

“The day is still early and we have much to do Brock. I don’t know what the future has in store for us, but I won’t stop moving forward towards my goal. I will carve out a place for myself in this cruel and brutal world and I will get my revenge for all the suffering I have had to endure. Not even the gods will impede my path. The day is still early and we have much to do Brock. Since we can’t hire mercenaries, we will need an army of slaves. This is fine too, not only did I return with a good deal of wealth but I also brought many weapons and armor. Enough to equip a small army and we can buy whatever else we need. I will take Lenia with me to the slave market. You remain here and oversee our possessions.”

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Aleks stood up from the cushioned seat and motioned for Lenia to follow him after instructing Brock, but before he made it out the door, he suddenly turned back and curled his lips upward in a fiendish grin before speaking, “Oh, and as for that Bishop. Contact him and set up a meeting. I think it’s time we had ourselves a little chat.”

Brock had never seen his young master make such an expression and it somewhat startled him although he didn’t show it. He was feeling as if he was truly beginning to understand him less and less.

“Just what could have happened to him?” Brock said under his breath while watching Aleks and Lenia leave the hotel room and close the door behind them.

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