Blood, war, and death were a way of life in the Origin Expanse. They have always been there and will never disappear. After all, everyone desired wealth, influence, and strength.

All records about the Origin Expanse made it clear that the Origin Expanse was a golden opportunity to break past your natural limits and grow truly powerful. However, it was also a tremendously dangerous place where death was like a close companion. Death was like a constant shadow in the Origin Expanse.

A life full of war and danger was what everyone living in the Origin Expanse had to accept. Awakened could escape the dangers by staying outside the Origin Expanse, but the same didn't apply to Summons. They had to survive by adapting to the Origin Expanse and its rules, or they would fall and die again.

One could avoid fighting in the front lines by doing other jobs. Even those who had been summoned as Warriors and Knights could stay in the base to focus on being Guards, or training newly promoted Warriors. Their decision to stay away from the frontlines wouldn't be frowned upon. On the contrary, everyone would be thankful for their decision to guide the new generations and ensure that the crime rate in the settlement remained low.

However, those Combat Summons who grasped their weapons tightly and were ready to fight next to Michael had to accept their fate, whether it was their fate to become a War God on the battlefield or to turn into a corpse. All they – and Michael – could do to ensure that they lived longer was to give their utmost to train and consume various resources to accelerate their growth.

"I think everyone is too shocked about the death of their friends and future family to understand that our Lord is not at fault. Has everyone forgotten the past incidents where our Lord gave his utmost to protect and strengthen his people whenever he got an opportunity? Our Lord would never abandon his people in the Elementals Cave!" One of the Scholars, who had been summoned as one of Michael's first 1-Star Summons, spoke loudly.

"Well…that's true. I couldn't really believe it when someone said that our Lord would abandon his people in the Elementals Cave… That doesn't really make sense," Another Summon added, starting to doubt those who blamed Michael for the death of his people.

"Our Lord treats us nicely. He tries the hardest to increase our strength and produce more high-quality Armaments for his combatants. He is not like other Lords who throw their subjects onto the battlefield mindlessly. No…our Lord always fights on the frontline, never paying attention to himself. He might not look like he sustained an injury, but has anyone seen the bags under his eyes? Our Lord looks like he didn't sleep for a whole week!" A Soldier whom Michael had trained once in the past, declared, pointing at Michael's exhausted face that had deep black bags under his eyes.

Michael didn't even know that he looked like he didn't sleep for a long time. He had just woken up from a long sleep, after all.

'Rather than sleepy, I'm hungry. The rations I ate in the last few days were…not exactly nutritious.' Michael thought, unsure when it had been the last time he ate a proper meal. It had probably been a few days.

Now that the Scholars, Soldiers, Librarians, and other Summons took his side, Michael felt much better. He had been worried that everyone would go against him, but it seemed like he had been too worried about their reaction.

More and more of his subjects began to speak in support of Michael, resulting in those who had questioned his leadership and intentions growing more silent as the minutes passed. At some point, only two to three Summons remained adamant at finding fault in Michael's actions. They were 100% certain that Michael would throw everyone onto the battlefield sooner or later, and that he would abandon them once his territory would be near destruction.

After a long time, Michael spoke again. He cleared his throat and stared at the crowd of people.

"I will store the memories of what happened in the Elementals Cave in a Memory Crystal for everyone to access. That should be more than enough for everyone to see what I did and form their opinion of the situation," He said, retrieving one of the many Memory Crystals he had wanted to use to store some martial arts techniques and the information he had collected in the last two days.

However, he believed that it was more important to show everyone his point of view through his memories. Of course, that also included his little conversation with his army and the fact that he told them to stay behind. It would show that Michael had sensed early enough that something was off yet his people had still been adamant about following him.

'It's a bit cowardly to do that, but those who want to find fault with me will take advantage of me if I skip some memories. I cannot leave out this conversation.' Michael thought a little bit regretfully right before he filled the Memory Crystal with his memories.

The next thing he did was to throw the Memory Crystal to the subject who had blamed him first for the death of the 1,500 militants.

"Look at it and tell me clearly how I could have saved my people after we were stuck several hundred meters underground," Michael said.

He then turned around to face everyone else, "Some might say that I made a grave mistake in the Elementals Cave, but all I can say is that I have always given my best to strengthen my people and to protect them. Of course, I am not perfect. Of course, I will make mistakes. However, everyone present here can be certain of one thing; I will always give my best to learn from my mistakes and ensure that such incidents won't happen again. I will invest more into the protection of our military force, and make sure that my orders will be meticulously thought through and executed properly. Your trust in me won't be broken again!"

Michael could say a lot more, but he was pretty sure that a longer speech would have a negative effect and sound like a sorry excuse. So he let his words resound through the heads of the Summons around him for a whole minute before he began to speak again.

"Since I have been on the battlefield since the incident happened, I wasn't able to pay homage to their souls yet. I have yet to bid them a proper farewell and allow their souls to the afterlife," He said, his tone changing slightly. His voice grew louder and more emotional as the heavy weight weighing down on his heart crumbled ever so slowly, "Therefore, we shall feast in the name of the brave soldiers who succumbed to the treacherous Kitsun Lord's traps. May they rest in peace!"

Regaining the trust of his subjects wouldn't be an easy task. But Michael never considered it to be achievable just in one short speech either. He knew that his achievements as a Rookie Lord created the image of a Lord who always had an upper hand, someone who could win against all odds.

Of course, he wouldn't be able to win every single time. Michael would fail again. Not because he was too weak, or because he was too young to know better. No. He would face losses because that was normal in the Origin Expanse or even in ordinary life. In large-scale wars of hundreds of thousands of soldiers opposing a force with equal numbers, thousands – no, tens of thousands – would die.

Of course, Michael would give his utmost to ensure that the enemy forces would suffer bigger losses, but the future that awaited them was bound to lead to the death of many. This included the lives of his people. Something like that couldn't be avoided.

Both Michael and his subjects had to be prepared for the future.

Thus, in a way, it was better to face a setback now than later. It was still possible to argue with his subjects right now and to explain everything thoroughly. Once the population in his territory surpassed 100,000, or maybe even one million, it would grow increasingly more difficult to explain 'mistakes' or the death of the citizens' friends and family members.

Michael had to set up the foundation of understanding to not be blamed or live in guilt in the near future.

Luckily, when he mentioned about a feast to honor the deceased, everyone regained their composure. The Summon, who had blamed Michael for the death of his friends, was the only one who stared at him intently. He had seen a few glimpses of the memories stored in the Memory Crystal and finally understood what had happened.

Michael had warned his people that it would be dangerous in the Elementals Cave and that he got a bad feeling. However, his people pleaded to him to let them follow him inside the Elementals Cave. Even if one wanted to blame Michael for the death of 1,500 Combat Summons, it was hardly feasible.

Michael noticed that the Summon's gaze was lingering on him. However, he didn't pay any more attention to him. Instead, Michael focused on the preparations for the feast. He was starving.

The preparations took a while, but Michael helped without thinking about complaining. He used Extraction to help the cooks purify the water they used and to remove as many impurities from the meat and vegetables as he could. Several hours passed in the blink of an eye and a wide variety of dishes had been mass-produced for the entire population of the settlement.

36,000 citizens could feast on the wide variety of dishes until they would fall into a food coma from eating too much.

Of course, Michael wouldn't make the amateurish mistake of falling into a food coma. He wouldn't waste this opportunity.

No, he would eat as much as possible and continue until his stomach burst.

If not now, when else would he treat himself to feast until he would drop dead?

Michael deserved to treat himself to something special.

He survived fighting tens of thousands of Kitsun, and he killed the Kitsun Lord. In the meantime, Michael wanted to give something to his subjects as well. Not everyone was ready to fight near the front lines, but everyone gave their utmost regardless. There were only a few lazy subjects in his territory.

Of course, those lazy subjects had been the loudest when it came to complaining about the Elementals Cave incident.

But that didn't bother Michael too much anymore. The subjects who were important regained a firmer Link of Loyalty and that was all that counted.