Nighttime had arrived, which meant it was time for the meeting. Derrick convoked William, Eloise and Jack in the town hall.

Once everyone was around the table, Derrick proceeded right away.

"Eloise, report"

The fiery woman's behavior slightly changed, which was noticed by Derrick. It seemed the news weren't all good.

"Out of the 50 groups sent, 37 came back without injuries. They secured migratory deals representing 10 000 people, which will move during the next few weeks. They are also asking for an escort, which we agreed to.

Out of the 13 remaining, 8 came back severely injured, and some had even been stripped naked out of their gear. They are currently being treated and their life isn't in danger. The information gathered point to those 8 villages representing 8000 heads, with decent militia behind them. They didn't manage to obtain an estimate, but we roughly think that they have around 100 to 130 soldiers in each village"

She paused, took a deep breath, and continued.

"We do not have any information on the 5 missing groups except for their location. Moira is also among those who are currently missing"

Derrick's tamper greatly changed when he heard the last part, and he involuntarily let out a heavy murderous aura. Its appearance was sudden and the people couldn't breathe anymore, the pressure compressing their airways and lungs. It took him a moment before realizing what was happening, and he stopped.

Everyone let out sighs of relief.

"What's your plan?"

Derrick's tone was heavy and Eloise gulped, before outlaying her strategy.

"I'll be sending troops to the 13 locations, and make a show of force. We won't engage right away, and we'll instead conquer them one by one, stacking groups on top of the other. It'll be a domino effect. Of course, we'll send our best soldiers to our first location, which will be Oleo to rescue Moira"

Right when Derrick was about to agree, a soldier ran in, breathless.

"Your Highness! Moira.. Moira's group is back!"

Derrick instantly got up and went towards the soldier, leaving behind everyone, who were stunned, but relieved. It was especially the case for Eloise, who felt the weight of the world disappear from her shoulders.

She knew that Derrick had accepted the possibility of Moira being injured during her mission, but she had taken every measure to ensure her survival. Her disappearance had sent her spiraling into doubt and worry, but it was finally all over.

"Lead me to her right away. Wait for me, I'll be back in a few"

The soldier quickly nodded and led the way with Derrick in tow. They moved along swiftly, and finally arrived at the outskirts of Akata, with Moira and her group being looked after by dozens of soldiers.

As the Second Lady of Akata, she was treated like royalty and nobody dared disrespecting her.

Moira's gaze fell on the incoming Derrick, and when she saw his worried expression, she couldn't help but turn away in shame.

"What are you doing here?"

Her first sentence stunned everyone present, and when the soldiers recognized Derrick, they promptly saluted before vacating the premise, leaving behind Derrick, Moira, Thomas, John, Henry, Terry and Julia.

"Can't a husband be worried about his wife?"

Derrick had already made an appraisal scan and had found no life-threatening injuries, relieving his stress, which allowed him to speak naturally. Teasing Moira was one of his favorite activities.

"Who's my husband? Hmph!"

The woman turned her head away with her chin high, making the necromancer laugh. Her pride was something that Derrick had learned to admire. He then turned his attention to Thomas and the soldiers next to him.

"I want to thank you all for the work you've done"

"My Lord, you do not have to thank us. We merely did our duty. Now that it's over, we'll leave you three alone"

Thomas was the one who spoke, and he left with the three other men. His mission was over and it was finally time to relax.

Derrick watched them walk away for a little while before turning his attention to the new party in front of him, who, he had to admit, was beautiful.

Julia felt his gaze run all over her body and immediately harrumphed in response, making him stop and scratch his head in embarrassment. Even Moira threw him a disappointed side-eye that made him feel like a kid that had been caught doing something bad.

"I assume you're the leader of Akata?"

"Yes. Whom might you be?"

"Julia, the acting representative of Oleo. Your soldier gave my husband quite a beating, making it impossible for him to travel here"

Derrick was surprised about this, and by her expression, it meant that Thomas had to intervene. This confirmed two things. One, their leader was strong and second, their population was big enough for them to come visit instead of agreeing to their proposal. They were probably thinking that Moira was bluffing in her negotiations.

"You're more than welcome to visit! Moira will be your guide. Now that I know she's safe, I'll return to my meeting. Excuse me"

The necromancer turned around and left, leaving behind a stunned Julia. Who the hell did this man think he is?! She had never been dismissed like that before, and certainly not since moving into this forest as the wife of Oleo's leader.

Moira saw her frustration and couldn't help but giggle.

"You'll understand once you really see our city.."


It took Derrick another minute before returning to the city hall where everyone still sat at the table.

"Let's continue this, shall we?"

After sitting down, he motioned for Eloise to continue laying down her plan, which had a way better expression than before.

"As I was saying, we'll dispatch 12 groups that'll posture in front of each village. The threat should be enough to make them assume a defensive stance. This will limit their movements, allowing us to sweep them one by one and letting us regroup our army after each offensive. If they engage before we're ready, the soldiers will simply fall back into the forest. With our equipment, the casualties should be minimal"

The plan was sound and it would also force their opponents to see that they weren't joking around. However, Derrick still remained sour about the success rate of the mission. It hadn't gone like he wanted at all. It appeared that reputation really was the only thing that diplomats needed when going on those types of missions.

"Okay, you can do as you see fit. Also, I've found a major weakness in our military"

The phrase sent shivers down Eloise's spine. She was in charge of everything related to the army, and if her Master had found a glaring hole, it must have been a pretty huge oversight. Derrick didn't let her agonize for too long before diving straight into it.

"We do not have any logistics for the army, and we cannot solve it all with magic. I want you to form a cavalry division and give me an estimate on how many horses we need to solve our logistical issues"

Eloise's face became ashen, unable to process how she had forgotten something so important.. She was hailed as a genius.. How...

"Master, I.."

"Enough. You're still green, and I understand you need experience. This is why I'm leaving you a lot of leeway with this situation"

Her fists were balled up, and she exerted so much strength that her nails dug into her skin, with a light film of blood slowly dripping down on the floor.

"Master, please excuse me from this meeting"

Derrick nodded and watched her leave. Horses would have to be another item to buy when he returned to Terra.


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