Duke Whirlwind looked at Shang. “That message was a good idea. Do you have anything else planned, or did you just want to give me an opportunity to strike?”
A smirk appeared on Shang’s face.
“I do have something in mind,” he said.
“Tell me,” Duke Whirlwind said.
“While traveling through the Blackshadow Kingdom, I noticed that my Affinity has given me a peculiar ability.”
“Oh?” Duke Whirlwind uttered in interest.
“My Affinity is very similar to the Abominations’ Affinity, which makes me their perfect counter. I have heard from some people that the occurrences of Abominations have increased. That’s correct, right?”
Shang didn’t actually know that, but he assumed that they did.
He had already realized that his increase in power was also increasing the power of the Abominations.
Duke Whirlwind nodded. “Yes, they now appear more frequently and at increasingly random places.”
Shang also nodded. “Surprisingly, I didn’t see a single Abomination in the last ten years, which is a bit unusual. That makes me think that I have a deterring effect.”
“Deterring effect?” Duke Whirlwind asked with a raised eyebrow.
Shang nodded again. “Yes, and not only that. I can also slightly feel where they will appear. It’s not perfect, but I can feel them sometimes before they appear.”
An interested gleam appeared in Duke Whirlwind’s eyes.
“And, with my deterring effect, I can somewhat control where the Abominations don’t appear.”
Now, Duke Whirlwind understood what Shang was suggesting, and he took a deep breath.
“Shang, I’m not sure if I’m a big fan of your suggestion,” he said. “You are sending the enemy of the entire world to a place with innocent civilians just to hurt your enemy.”
Shang only looked evenly at Duke Whirlwind with an even look. “Didn’t you do the same thing when you claimed the battlefield for the Ice Wyvern?”
“No, I didn’t,” Duke Whirlwind said. “The Abominations would appear regardless, and I had no hand in where they appeared. I simply put more Ice Mana at the place where they would appear. Literally not a single life was ended under my order. This is very different from actively deterring the Abominations from appearing in one place and making them gather at another.”
“So what?” Shang asked.
“So what?” Duke Whirlwind asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Yeah, so what?” Shang repeated. “Enemies are enemies. I don’t see Duke Mithril any different from the Abominations. Both things want us dead. What’s the difference between dying to an Abomination and dying to Duke Mithril?”
Duke Whirlwind could understand Shang’s point, but it still didn’t sit right with him.
Yes, Duke Mithril was his enemy, but Duke Mithril was a human with a human mindset.
Abominations were mindless monsters that only destroyed.
“Where would you prefer they appear?” Shang asked. “Your territory or his territory? They will appear regardless. If a calamity is unavoidable, why not, at least, make the best of it?”
Duke Whirlwind was not a fan of that idea.
It felt dirty.
It felt a bit like betraying humanity.
But then, Duke Whirlwind thought about the Storm Eagle Zone and all the people he saw there every day.
He didn’t want them to get hurt.
And now, there was a solution to this issue.
Duke Whirlwind took a deep breath.
“Fine,” he said.
Shang nodded once more. “By traveling a bit around in the Storm Eagle Zone and the Empress Cobra Zone, I think I can focus the Abominations’ appearance on the Adamantite Behemoth Zone. Do you want me to do that?”
Duke Whirlwind took another deep breath.
“When will it be?” he asked.
“About two weeks,” Shang answered.
“Fine,” Duke Whirlwind said. “Please keep this a secret, and I also want you to remain hidden for a while longer. Your sudden return won’t go unnoticed due to your new power, and I don’t want your reappearance to be connected to the sudden increase of Abominations in Duke Mithril’s territory.”
Shang nodded. “No problem.”
“I would suggest that you remain hidden for about six more months. After that, you can come back openly. In the meantime, I will make it seem like your message came from a Mage, not a warrior. That will pull suspicion away from you.”
“Regarding the border guards that saw you, you don’t need to worry,” Duke Whirlwind added. “Those guards are on my payroll, and their degree of loyalty is high. Even if someone came to investigate, they would only say that a relatively powerful warrior came back.”
“They wouldn’t be lying, but Duke Mithril won’t suspect a thing. He doesn’t take warriors seriously, and he will refuse to believe that a warrior could kill his Mages so quickly that they couldn’t even give off a warning.”
Shang nodded again. “Thanks,” he said.
“No problem. You have helped me far more than I have helped you already. The intel you brought back from the Grandmountain Kingdom is very valuable, which will make it harder for the Council to take my territory away.”
“Additionally, you’ve dealt with the ambushers. They will quickly be replaced by new ones, but this is still a strong blow to Duke Mithril. After all, you killed Kiva Orvis and three True Mages.”
Then, a smile appeared on Duke Whirlwind’s face. “I think it’s only appropriate for me to give you something in return. Do you want anything in particular?”
Shang already knew what he wanted.
“A new set of armor,” he said.
“Obviously,” Duke Whirlwind answered with a chuckle. “It was already planning on giving you a new set, but that isn’t even nearly enough to repay everything. Do you need anything else?”
Shang looked at Duke Whirlwind.
“There are a couple of things I need.”
“What do you need?” Duke Whirlwind asked.
“Ore,” Shang said.
Duke Whirlwind looked at Shang’s sword with a thought.
“I need more of that special ore,” Shang added. “I can feel that it becomes harder to use my actual Affinity with my weapon. I think it’s because it has become too powerful for the General Stage ore I received back then.”
Duke Whirlwind nodded. “The ore isn’t common, but there are a couple of people that are interested in these unique pieces of ore. It shouldn’t be too difficult for me to get you quite a bit.”
“Thanks,” Shang said.
“However,” Duke Whirlwind added. “It won’t be easy to get you the True Path Stage ore.”
Shang hadn’t asked for True Path Stage ore, but Duke Whirlwind could already tell that Shang needed that too.
“I can’t purchase all of them at once, and they also cost a lot of money. Additionally, the Darkness Affinity ore will raise a lot of eyebrows.”
“The best I can do is to get the Light Affinity ore and the Ice Affinity ore within the next decade, but that will already cost me a lot of my wealth,” Duke Whirlwind said.
“I can pay for it,” Shang answered.
“Do you have True Path Stage materials?” Duke Whirlwind asked in a flat tone.
“No,” Shang answered. “But I have-“
“Then, it doesn’t matter,” Duke Whirlwind said, interrupting Shang. “Trades on this level are no longer conducted with gold. The people that have these things are only interested in things at the True Path Stage. No amount of gold will get you what you want.”
Shang could only sigh when he heard that.
He had so much gold, but apparently, the gold was only useful for Commander Stage things.
‘At least I’m not alone anymore. I finally have someone I can talk to again.’