A day later, a portal opened in front of my mansion and Garnet walked through beside Salicia.
“It’s been a long time.” I greeted the dwarf girl with a smile.
“Ah, but we’ve been together all this… ah nevermind!” Garnet blushed.
“They have no clue I’m on your side, Master. I will continue to infiltrate them.”
“Good. Is there any chance you can win anyone else over?”
“Miki, possibly.” She frowned.
“Well, just keep doing your best.”
“Yes, Master.” She bowed, and then went back into the portal and let it close behind her.
“Now, Rub- ah… it’s Garnet now, right?”
“Mm… although I’ve been considering changing it.”
“Yes, it’s customary for dwarves to change their names upon each major chapter of our lives. The name I was born with was Jasper. When I came to the surface, it became Rubee. When I became a Slave, I called myself Garnet.”
“Really? What’s the occasion for changing it now?”
She blushed, “I’m not saying.”
“Okay, so what will your new name be?”
“If and when I decide to change it, I’ll let you know.”
“Don’t worry about such things. You invited me to work with you promising Orichalcum.”
“Yes, Bernice claims you’re a magic blacksmith. You must have leveled quickly in the dungeon?”
“Please… becoming a decent blacksmith involves more than just leveling. Although leveling can certainly speed things along, it becomes practice. The time within that dungeon moved differently than time out here. I had been within that dungeon for over five years.”
“Bernice mentioned something like that in her rambling, but I didn’t realize it had been so long. Is it the same for Carmine and the fake?”
“Deek? No, they were tossed in there much later than me. They had only been in there for about two months.”
“Two… no wonder my levels suddenly jumped.”
“Nothing. Let’s just focus on your tasks, shall we?”
I escorted her to a nearby blacksmithy. It was set up using the recommendations of the current blacksmiths in town. We had numerous, but none of them were at a particularly impressive level. Attracting opportunists was a lot different than attracting skilled laborers. It should also be pointed out that most people skilled to a certain level didn’t usually end up as slaves on a slave block. The recruitment process that Faeyna started a month or so ago worked splendidly for the infrastructure of the city, but when it came to my own personal strength, we were still lacking.
I had hoped to recruit that powerful blue mage Siti and her Master, but one was dead and the other was under the control of a psychopath. In the end, Aberis was just too small of a country to recruit too many experts. That I ultimately needed to depend on Garnet showed how few magic blacksmiths there were in this country. Even she’d just be considered a fledgling when it came to how strong they could become. God-tier equipment was still a long way away from us.
“Wow… is this place all mine?” Garnet ran around the shop excitedly.
“Mm!” I nodded. “And you can take your pick of assistants too.”
“I want you!”
“Eh? I don’t know anything about blacksmithing!” I said that before realizing that Apprentice Blacksmith did appear under my job list.
“Right… that was him…” She frowned.
Not wanting her to dwell on what she lost by joining my team, I ushered her out of the shop and across the street. The other reason the blacksmith was set up here was that it was just across the street from Terra’s workshop.
“I’d like you to meet someone I think you’ll get along with.” I escorted her into Terra’s shop.
Terra stood up when we entered, and Garnet gasped and took a step back.
“You don’t need to be alarmed. She might be an Earth Golem, but she is also a person.”
I assumed she had been surprised to see a golem in the shop. I hadn’t told her much about Terra and I didn’t know if the other Deek had said anything. As a dwarf, she probably had some kind of sensitivity to such things.
“Th-that’s not it… it’s just… true… this is the flat-chested Master!”
A week passed by quickly. By the time I returned from the church, Salicia had already sent Garnet away. I was surprised to see that she remained, but it was fine. I knew she was the spy, so I wasn’t going to reveal anything to her. Instead, I kept myself busy by getting the army together.
I had spoken with Mary, the Tibults, and numerous lords and ladies who had previously fled the west. Although I could look down at them and call them cowards for fleeing the west, I could say the same thing about anyone who refused to enter a dungeon, which were many people. Calypso had been on a rampage conquering the south to wage a war against Aberis. It was just a shame she had her eyes in the wrong direction.
Anyone she captured could have been dragged into a dungeon and fed to it, so in the end, it was probably right that these nobles fled. The nobles that hadn’t fled from the west were now all dead. However, she was gone now. It was as good a time as any for them to reclaim their lost territory. The trick behind that had been for them to sign an allegiance to me.
I thought this would be difficult, but I was already at the rank of count, and most of them were viscounts, barons, and knights. Adding to that the power of the Tibult household, the father being a Duke and the children already reaching the level of counts and countesses, and the support of the church, and they quickly all fell in line.
“Lord Deekson!” A man lowered his head. “It’s an honor to serve.”
“I sent my daughter to warm your bed, but she said she was rejected.”
“You’re the hero who tamed the wilderness, right?”
“I see it’s true you’re surrounded by great beauties.”
“I heard you’ve defeated dozens of dungeons. Err… I don’t see the blessings. Perhaps it is an exaggeration?”
These kinds of comments filled the last few days, and in many ways, they were more exhausting than battling dungeons. However, at long last, all of that elbow grease had finally led to this army. If compared to the Chalm militia that I started, it was far grander. These were nobles, heroes, paladins, priests, and knights all dressed in their finest armor and given their best weapons. They had the experience that the volunteer army couldn’t possibly have after only a month or two of preparation.
“Are we ready?” I asked my hands behind me.
“I wish I could send more.” Prince Aberis sighed. “The Demon Lord Aberis is a true threat. I’m glad to see you’ve been able to raise such an army. It’s almost as large as the army on the southern border. I’m a bit jealous.”
“First things first, we’ll be conquering this so-called Deeksville. I’ll be launching our attack on Chalm from there.”
“Ah… right… you’re attacking her… the other Deek.” Aberis’s expression grew awkward.
“There is only one Deek.” I sighed. “You’re just going to have to trust me, okay?”
“I will.” He nodded.
“Please… be careful.” Eliana appeared next to Edward, her eyes wet with worry.
I grabbed her and gently kissed her. “I will be back.”
“That reminds me… after defeating the demon lord, I will put in to have you promoted again. No one will be able to deny that after.” Edward added while scratching his cheek.
“Marquis… you said after he was a Maquis we could get married!” Eliana cried out.
“Hah… well, you will be the ruler of the west. You should honestly be a Duke at that point, but your promotions are occurring a bit too rapidly, I fear. Also, you still need to officially reach rank S as an adventurer.”
“That will come.” I nodded, and after saying my goodbye I turned to the waiting army. “Let’s move out!”
Everyone stared in surprise as I naturally commanded the army. I had absorbed the karma of numerous leaders and even taken on running some armies in the Twilight Dungeon. At this point, this was somewhat natural to me. That was another reason I felt like I could take on Deedee. She had no experience in command.
Under my direction, the army started to walk through the portals we created. It was time to end start the invasion of Chalm!
Shao was busy in the north trying to get a sight on Lord Reign’s army. Raissa was working on training soldiers in one of the wilderness dungeons. Garnet was busy making armor and weapons, while Terra worked on her own project. The golem printer was up and running, and a few hundred golems had been created and were being run by Celeste as they prepared the battlefield. I had put Bernice on it too, as I wasn’t sure how much I could trust her. Celeste would make sure Bernice didn’t do anything untrustworthy, while Bernice would make sure Celeste didn’t do anything dumb.
As for me, I spent my time strengthening the magic spring. By continuing to fill the spring with water’s life, I was continuing to make it stronger and stronger. This mana already fed the entire city, as well as my dungeon. The greater it’s strength, the greater our strength. I had already discussed things with Xin, and she was preparing a little surprise for me, but she had to pull heavily on the mana spring to do it. I had Xin’s agreement that she wouldn’t interfere in this fight between Deek and me, but I convinced her to do this much. I felt like this was the best way to prepare for the inevitable showdown.
“Mistress! Mistress! He’s moving on Deeksville!”
“What?” I cried out loud, causing the fairies who had been relaxedly bathing all around me to suddenly flutter away.
I had been casually checking on everyone, but when I got to Salicia using my Slave Communication, she dropped such an announcement.
“He dares!” My eyes narrowed as I realized what he was doing.
“I didn’t find out about it until he already moved. We’re going through the portal now!”
True to her word, a few moments later the slave bond suddenly grew much closer. Although I could Slave Communicate with her from quite a distance now, it still was a bit tiresome. It felt easier to establish the connection with the distance suddenly cut to one third.
“We’re going to stop him!”
“Hurry! We’ll be marching on the city in less than an hour!”
With a curse, I began to use slave communication. I recalled everyone immediately, and then left the fairy garden and ran straight to the front of the mansion. By the time I arrived, portals were already opening by the girls who could make such, and everyone was returning home.
“What’s going on, Master?” Shao demanded worriedly. “I was just starting to get a visual on Lord Reign’s army.”
“That’s not important right now!” I responded, throwing back my hair. “It’s that fake Deek! He’s begun his attack!”
“It’s just that?”
“What are you all saying? This is extremely important. He’s conquering Deeksville.”
“Yeah… but he’s Deek… he’s conquering it from himself…”
I let out a growl and opened the portal. “We’re going to stop them! That’s an order!”
All of the girls filed through the portal, which appeared at the entrance to the city.
“Ah! Wh-what’s going on?” The elder cried out.
He was at the gate and had been looking out as a large army seemed to be approaching. When I saw the army, even I was taken aback. He had made something this large in only a week? I shook my head. It was time to have our showdown. That was all that mattered.
“Close the gates! They’re enemies!”
“Huh… but isn’t that lord Deek?”
“It’s a fake!”
“And who are you?” The elder frowned.
I had always been under a potion when I dealt with them in the past, so they weren’t familiar with my female form. I shot a look to Shao, who sighed and then began to toss our orders. She had spent some time over here and they were familiar with her, so they accepted her words. By the time the army stopped out in front, the gates to the city had been closed. They weren’t nearly as formidable as Chalm, but they’d have to do.
I was standing in front of the city, all of the girls lined up behind me. It was time to face the fake Deek.