Book 7, Chapter 89

Dead End

Rislant was a formidable man who had struggled to do something in turbulent times, but unfortunately he had stood opposite the tide. Whether it was a piece of paper or a sturdy rock, the waves could weather anything into dust.

One could hear the faint sound of warhorns from the distant imperial capital, sounding like an elegy for the Empire. The gates were slowly opened as platoon after platoon of cavalry in full black armour surged out, moving to try and investigate. Richard had 400 cavalrymen under him, but the capital sent out a full 3,000 of their elites.

Seeing the incoming soldiers, Richard knelt beside Rislant’s corpse and flattened a crease on his collar, “You deserve more people buried with you.”

He then stood up and climbed up the cloned brain, but this time the bug-like creature didn’t take to the skies. Moving like a horse on land, it quickly crawled across at a speed not significantly slower than the magic mounts. The 400 knights followed behind him, crashing into the incoming imperial guards head-on.

It was a one-sided slaughter. In less than ten minutes, only a few dozen imperial soldiers managed to escape the battlefield. Richard lost 11 shadowspears, while a handful of rune knights suffered light injuries.

Some of the rune knights wanted to chase down the stragglers, others wanting to break down the imperial gates right away, but Richard held them all back. He looked at the enormous capital on the horizon, more than half hidden in darkness as the sky turned dark. It looked like a behemoth watching every move before it, but the impression of profound and dignity was replaced with bleak desolation today.

He waited into the night, but with no movements from the capital he climbed the brain and floated into the sky as his cavalry regrouped with the rest of the army. Most of the battles had come to an end, with only a few thousand in total managing to flee; all of the toughest imperial soldiers had given their lives in battle.

Almost every usable soldier belonging to the Iron Triangle Empire was now scattered. Withdrawing from the East would cause them to lose their wars on that front immediately, and the only other soldiers were the ones in the imperial capital right now. The lesser nobles of the country could perhaps come up with a few divisions’ worth, but such a disorganised army wouldn’t last against Richard, especially with both Salwyn and Rislant having been lost.

The battle at Godstear Pass had crushed the Iron Triangle Empire. Although this was the expected result, the other rulers in the region wouldn’t be able to believe just how little of a fight they had put up.

Richard had some shadowspears and the rune knights head out in search of a suitable location for a camp, while a large group of humanoids and the remaining shadowspears stayed behind. Once the rune knights were gone, these drones immediately dragged the horse carcasses together and started tearing into them; they didn’t need their food to be cooked and didn’t care for taste either.

He flew all over the nearby area before selecting a place about ten kilometres from the battlefield, landing and observing his drones silently eat their meals. Anyone near this location already knew of their identity, so they had stopped faking conversation entirely and communicated through their internal connections.

A long neigh rang through the silent area as a unicorn darted past it like a ray of silver, appearing before Richard in a flash and rubbing up against Richard. This creature, just like Phaser, was different from the rest of the broodmother’s drones in that it had a soul of its own. He could sense its annoyance with him having used the cloned brain all day, forcing it to roam round just like the rest of his followers while killing opponents.

The unicorn was no longer a pony, its back alone coming up to two metres in height while its horn was almost a metre long. As he played with the tip that sparkled with a peculiar silver glow, Richard suddenly felt a strange instability in spacetime and whipped his head around towards the imperial capital. The unicorn did the same, growling in a low voice.

Richard’s eyes lit aglow with Insight, capturing the instability of the laws in the area. The clouds above the imperial capital were starting to swirl slowly, a sign of an immensely powerful being crossing planes.

Norland had an established system for planar war, with almost every spatial mage capable of borrowing the power of the Eternal Dragon to minimise the energy ripples caused by planar travel. If not for this assistance, most portals would cause violent fluctuations in the target area even if a Lighthouse of Time already existed within.

But Faelor was completely sealed off to the outside world. How would someone be travelling here? Richard shook his head and sent out an instruction for Salwyn to meet him at once.

It didn’t take long before a cloned brain zoomed over carrying Salwyn, the prince vomiting the moment his feet touched the ground. It took a few spells for him to calm himself down, and even so he dry heaved a few times. Without the strength to stand atop the cloned brain when it was going at such speeds, he could only let it carry him all the way.

“Do you have any legendary beings or special gods you can contact that are outside the plane?” Richard asked immediately.

Salwyn was taken aback, and after he was told the reason for the question he turned serious, “The Empire has many secrets, but only the sitting Emperor and the elders of the family know them. I’ve only heard that we’ve been preparing emergency measures in case astral beasts invade again, but there hasn’t been anything mentioned about it in a century.”

Asking a few more questions and determining that Salwyn really was clueless, Richard nodded and allowed him to return to his new troops. He would find out what was lying in wait soon enough.

……

Deep in the imperial palace, the old Emperor was walking down a long corridor with heavy footsteps. He moved at a snail’s pace, taking half an hour to reach the end of the passage and open a huge door into a towering hall.

This hall was fifty metres across and ten metres tall, countless metal beams interweaving between jagged natural rock to form the domed roof. Along the walls were huge metallic pillars that were a metre thick and more than ten metres tall, supporting the entire structure.

In the centre of the hall was an altar with more than a dozen people busy working around it. A young man with a pale expression was bound atop it, struggling constantly, but with his mouth stuffed all one could hear were unintelligible whines.

“Everything is prepared, Your Majesty,” an old man said in a low voice.

The Emperor nodded and took huge steps towards the altar. The young man’s eyes lit up with a trace of hope at the sight, and he tried to break free and rush forward, but two burly men held him down tightly.

The Emperor walked over to the youth and looked at him intensely before sighing, “Let us begin.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA