Book 1, Chapter 104

Preparations

“What kind of preparations should I make,” Richard asked, “I’ll also need a batch of magic ingredients to craft elementary runes.”

“That we have, but no more. Planar teleportation requires a large amount of magic crystals, and tunnels aren’t stable to a new plane so powerful magical objects might harm the connection. The plane you’re going to explore this time will only be a low-grade one, so your party will be more important than the gear. Most of our magic crystals will be allocated towards the teleportation.”

Richard nodded his head in understanding.

Gaton harrumphed, and then solemnly said, “Kiddo, you’re already grown up. There’s something I have to tell you. When you were younger, your mother performed an awakening ceremony with you, no?”

Richard’s heart skipped several beats. Pure instinct told him that the secrets of this ceremony could not be revealed to anyone. Having obtained the blessings of wisdom and truth from the Codex of Alucia, he felt a need to keep mum about it.

However, Gaton did not wait for his reply, “I heard that there was a small hiccup during the ceremony, one that will change your life from those of regular humans. Nightmare creatures are likely to disturb your life in the following years, appearing randomly with unknown numbers and strength. Dealing with them will be fairly simple: just blast them to shreds with your spells. Just remember that fire and ice aren’t very effective against them.” There seemed to be a twinge of regret in Gaton’s gaze.

“Remain vigilant, and constantly try to grow in power. Tomorrow will be the first stop of your journey, the death training camp of the Archeron Family. The commoners and slaves of the family are trained there, groomed into experts through the law of the jungle. Choose anyone you wish to be your soulguard, but pay heed to the choice you make. I only have one soul contract with me, and normally the only way to obtain one is a blessing from the Eternal Dragon. Don’t think of getting a second copy any time soon. Head to Mokoff Port afterwards, and find portmaster Morfan and tell him you’re there to pick some slaves. He’ll arrange everything for you, and you can choose the best suited warriors. Remember to pay attention to quality, not quantity.”

Gaton seemed to realise he was growing long-winded, “Alright kiddo, do you have anything to tell me?”

Richard thought in earnest, but eventually shook his head. “Let’s talk about it again when I return alive.”

Just as Richard was about to leave, Gaton called out to him. “Right, I’d forgotten something! The first rule of the Archerons! Before you go to a different plane, you must choose a companion. At least one. And do it for your old man by today! As for packing your items, leave it to the housekeeper. Come, tell me, who do you want as your companion? Don’t be shy, just say a name! Ah, that’s right, as a spectator, I have a pretty good suggestion, want to hear it?”

“Who? Demi?” Richard asked. Amongst the teens that he had seen, Demi had the most potential.

“Of course it’s not that lass! It’s your cousin, Earl Alice.” Gaton grinned.

“What?” Richard almost cried out.

In recent times, Alice had become a rising star amongst the Archerons, second only to Gaton. Having become an Earl only recently, her rank and feudal lands were second only to Gaton and Marquess Sauron.

Alice was different from Gaton who relied on his thirteen knights. She had overwhelming strategic might, and great command over the battlefield. There was unspoken agreement in the family that she would exceed even Gaton if they had equal firepower.

Richard had met Alice once, when he’d been caught up in that conspiracy with Faulk. Beautiful with fiery red hair, her scars and the killing intent displayed with that giant sword had left a deep impression on him. Alice Archeron was a stormy blaze of a woman coupled with a pair of ice-cold eyes. If he were to describe her on instinct, she was ice wrapped by fire and lightning.

Nobody would even think of becoming the partner of such a god of war.

Richard smiled bitterly, “This… Earl Alice wouldn’t agree to it, would she?”

“She will. Because she won’t be able to find a better companion than you. If she doesn't agree, that’s very easy too; just start an elders’ conference! Okay, I’ll partner you two up now! Your old man has the final say in the council anyway!” Gaton was brimming with confidence, but Richard felt like his father’s smile held a trace of conspiracy.

“Hurry and choose someone for now, though. You can have more than one anyway, As for your elder cousin, we can put that aside, she has already returned to her land. I heard the place she just conquered is in turmoil. If only she’d waited two more days to return!” Gaton said with disappointment.

Richard could feel that being paired with the earl would end in tragedy. Right now, he still had apprehensions and contradictions welling deep in his heart. He didn’t feel close to the Archerons yet, even if he could never sever his relationship with them.

After pondering for a bit, a figure flashed in his mind, and he spoke immediately. “I choose Coco, and I’ll pick the next one when I return.”

“Coco?” Gaton was taken aback. This was a completely foreign word to him.

“Coco, Mary, Archeron.” Richard spat each word out. His cool demeanour let Gaton know that no further discussions were needed on this matter.

Gaton did not dwell on the matter any further. Instead, he looked at Richard deep in the eye and said, “Kiddo, remember this. After you have arrived at the new plane, every decision of yours will affect your followers’ life and death. There is no place for impulse when you make a decision! Housekeeper!”

The door opened slightly, and the old housekeeper walked in. Gaton pointed at Richard and instructed, “Bring this kid to… umm… Coco. She will be his companion henceforth!”

The housekeeper was startled, but he quickly returned to his normal calm before taking Richard with him.

*BANG!* After Richard had left, Gaton smashed his fist on the table.

He still couldn’t recall who Coco was! That could only mean one thing: that girl had no special ability whatsoever. She was no different from an ordinary member of the family.

After some time, Gaton’s green face resumed a normal complexion. He sighed, and shook his head.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translation/TLC By:  OMA

Edited By: Theo