Derrick's plan was simple : send various divisions of his army and conquer. The risks were high, with vicious beasts lurking, but he believed they could be handled with their new gear.

On top of this, Eloise's training regimen was merciless and the cowardice they exhibited before had disappeared. They were fundamentally different from three months ago and their discipline didn't pale in comparison to the one found in Empires.

The risks were also mitigated by the presence of Thomas, a Berserker who had polished his skills and improved his control. With Derrick's guidance, he could now transform at will and focus his aggression. Besides, the necromancer had inspected the surroundings, and he didn't find any serious menaces that couldn't be disposed of.

All his corps were sent and the most ambitious campaign of the region began. In the first month, they managed to rally 20 villages, bringing their small population to 5000.

The second month saw them continuing their sweep, tallying 50 new villages under their banner. Their population soared from 5000 to 10 000.

Finally, the third and final month was when their growth reached an explosive point. Under Eloise's lead, they took control of a tenth of the entire buffer zone, which covers five thousand square kilometers.

With their ever growing army, they swarmed everyone, crushing those who resisted and welcoming the survivors with open arms. They were pressed on time, and they needed more people to fill the increasing needs of the new and bustling city.

The news of a conqueror spread in the region, even with the lack of installations to relay them. Some villages that were in a rough spot even chose to abandon their location and tried to migrate, figuring that it was better than simply waiting for death. This was the start of a movement that would amplify and exceed Derrick's expectations. Luckily for him, the news didn't leak outside, which meant he could remain anonymous for a while longer.

Even after all this influx of people, the System still refused to upgrade, rendering Derrick clueless. It appeared that he still didn't meet the criterion, but he also figured that it would bring amazing benefits.

Now that Akata controlled an area of 500 square kilometers, he had to properly 'digest' and develop it. He couldn't simply leave all this land untapped. An ambitious plan was relayed to Jack, who had taken on more and more responsibility, finally fulfilling his potential as a Minister.

The first step had been expanding the cultivatable lands. With the explosion in populace came the challenge of subsiding to their basic needs, with food being the top priority. Derrick wasn't shortsighted and it was why he had invested a lot in the sector.

Under Jack's command, the workers cleared the thick forest and slowly expanded outwards, claiming its lands and woods. These were prime materials for houses, which were becoming more and more sophisticated. The expertise was improving and their new tools made their work safer and more precise.

Now he was at the second step, which was why he called Brigand. He was a man of his word, and he promised his people a better life. Now that they had shelter and food, on top of jobs where they earned a living, they needed a place to spend it all.

The downtown area had been renovated and was full of life, with food stalls and 'clothing' stores. It was a rudimentary market, and Derrick was sure that if he gave it enough time, it would prosper. However, he wanted the best, right now. To that effect, he had a huge store built and it was currently sitting empty. It attracted many curious looks, but nobody could figure out its purpose. It was also the most luxurious building in Akata, made of polished stone and beautiful oak. Why did something like this stay empty?

He would have to go get Alma tomorrow, and he still had much to do, so he summoned everyone to discuss the next huge project.

After an hour, they were all gathered in a newly erected town hall. It wasn't fancy, but it was temporary and sufficed for now. The only party that hadn't been called was William, who was the busiest person of them all. With the continuous arrivals came more and more children that wanted to learn. As a result, the small school had been extended multiple times to the point where it transformed into an institution. The scholar even had to train teachers to solve the severe shortage of manpower, and the outcome had been better than predicted.

Derrick cleared his voice and started.

"This meeting will have two points to its agenda" (wall and aggression on Terra)

Before saying the next part, he turned to Jack, who shivered. He knew that look...

"I want to build a wall around Akata"

Everyone present tensed up. If Derrick held a meeting to announce this, it meant the wall he wanted wasn't something simple at all. He didn't let them speculate and continued shortly after.

"It will be made of stone and its dimensions will be 15 meters high and 5 meters wide. It will surround Terra, which should make it at least 15 kilometers long. I also want towers every 500 meters"

There it was! The bomb that shook them. They knew he was an eccentric man, and this simply reinforced this belief. Jack's face twitched when he heard the request, but he quickly resigned himself. There was no point in trying to convince him a man like that to be more reasonable.

"How long will the task take you?"

Jack crunched the numbers and factored in the influx of workers that a conscription would have. It was inevitable for such an undertaking. Of course, the salary would be increased as well as the benefits.

"Three months"

The necromancer was surprised by the short timeframe, but he didn't question it. If his Minister said it, it could be achieved.

"Good. Make the announcement and start your recruitment"

Jack left and immediately went to work. Derrick then looked at Fomamli and Reyna with a smile.

"You two have finished armors for all the soldiers right?"

The two nodded and a bad feeling washed over them. What task would they be assigned?

"You'll both be in charge of making the front gate. It will consist of two iron doors that are 10 meters high, 3 meters wide and 1 meter thick. They have to be enchanted with magic that make them lighter and stronger. Can you achieve the task in the same timeframe as Jack?"

It was the turn of the dwarf and high-elf to sweat. Their workshop was small for such an order, but they would have to somehow manage.

"Yes. If you'll excuse us, we'll get to work as well"

They hurriedly left. Derrick knew that this entrance would put a heavy stress on Akata's iron reserves, but they would have to cope. Defenses were a necessity for the growing hub. They couldn't wait for Empires to find them because if that time arrived, and they weren't ready, it would be too late. The wall would also protect them from monster attacks.

"Now that this is under control, let's proceed to the second part of our meeting"

The people left in the room were Eloise, Lacha and Moira. The unruly woman had finally come to term with her situation in Akata, even if she still refused to recognize Derrick as her husband. It was always funny seeing her reject any type of physical contact with him. The two women also became close friends, relying on each other when they were in trouble. Their personalities surprisingly meshed well together.

"I want a plan to invade Terra"

Silence. Shock. Disbelief.

The three women couldn't utter a word. They knew the grand ambitions of Derrick, but to formulate a plan right now was nothing short of suicide!

The necromancer laughed when he saw their faces, confusing them even more. Was this a joke?

"I know what you're all thinking, but trust me. I wouldn't go forward if I didn't think we were ready. We lack a lot of information, and this is one of the things I'll be remedying tomorrow"

Alma's arrival was a blessing for Derrick, who could finally try to shelve his blind spots. As an assassin, she surely knew a lot about Terra's inner-workings and military affairs.

Eloise was the first to get out of her daze.

"Master, what you're asking is impossible with our current capacities, which leaves only one option : you want to completely assimilate the entire region. However, you also don't want to conquer more territory because you wouldn't be able to completely control it. It's difficult for me to see how we're supposed to control it without conquering it"

A smile crept on Derrick's face. He had also been racking his brain relentlessly, trying to solve this issue. It took him several weeks to finally realize he had been dumb all along.

"What about ambassadors?"


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