Book 7, Chapter 102

Hidden Past

“How does it look, Master?”

“There is some part of the royal bloodline that has to do with the law of metals. Are you sure you can extract the ability if you have enough specimens?”

“If you have identified the traits, I can certainly analyse them and put them into my drones. How complicated can the bloodlines of this plane be?”

“Alright, if you say so. Send over the chrysalis, I’ll have them prepped.”

“Your troops will grow stronger. I also require the Thinker to return soon, I will need to make some adjustments to the unit to improve its intellect.”

Richard was conversing with the broodmother while the Emperor gave him a trip of what remained of the royal castle, waiting for the surviving members of the royal family to gather. The Crimson Dukedom had already fully occupied the Frozen Throne, with many of the generals thoroughly searching through the building to prevent any assassinations. It was a little laughable— with Godfrey dead, nobody in this Empire could hold a candle to him in a fight— but they were just fulfilling what they viewed as their duty.

The Emperor was acting like a professional guide all the way, introducing the various sections of the storied castle with tidbits about when they were created and their history. He was calm and gentle all the way despite knowing he would be the first to die, but he shivered every time Richard’s eyes lit up.

Insight could already break things apart a full metre deep, and while this wasn’t enough to discover any deeply hidden secrets, Richard was using it to spot any traps in the area. There were a fair number all around the castle, but most were in a state of disrepair. From the looks of it, they hadn’t been maintained in hundreds of years; the Empire had grown arrogant.

It was at the debate hall that the earth trembled for a moment before the entire castle shook violently, thunderous echoes ringing through the city. It sounded like an entire mountain had collapsed, and Richard barely looked over in time to find a momentary expression of relief on Yorik’s face. Maintaining his calm, he looked the Emperor in the eye, “What happened?”

Already having returned to normal, Yorik shook his head, “I am not certain. It might be the sounds of those unresigned to their fate.”

Waterflower seemed to walk out of thin air as she threw a pair of youths onto the floor, “They just activated some mechanism that collapsed the mountain behind the castle. I was too late to stop them.”

The two struggled violently, dark energy rippling through their bodies as they took their last breaths. It was clear that they had ingested some sort of lethal poison to make sure they didn’t say anything. Richard only spared the corpses a single glance, “They arranged it quite well, let’s go take a look at the site of the collapse.”

Almost half of the mountain peak had come crumbling down, but the area of the collapse itself was quite a bit away from the castle’s rear. A few quick calculations told Richard that this would be the prime location for any secret passages, but whatever secret was hidden here had been buried deep beneath the earth. He turned to the Emperor, “What’s inside?”

“The tombs of the founding emperors. This is protocol; the guards collapsed the passage to ensure that their eternal rest would not be disturbed. Forgive me, it is just that I haven’t actively thought about this in my life. It didn’t spring to mind.”

However, a single sweep of Richard’s gaze showed the traces of timeforce and the law of metals that still lingered in the area, “False. This isn’t a tomb, it’s where you summoned Godfrey from.”

Yorik shivered, but he forced a smile, “The Son of Gold was also one of our founding emperors.”

Richard grunted in acknowledgement, “And who else?”

The Emperor pretended not to hear, going completely silent. However, Richard ignored him and rose into the sky, flying around the ruins before returning to the side, “Looks like the collapse was complete. I’d need to shift the entire mountain body to get in, which would normally take a few years. So the thing underneath is important and needs time, huh? Since you’re fucking around, I’ll just return the favour to your family. Now, keep an eye on this place; you’ll get to see just how fast I get through it.”

Once he was done speaking, he completely ignored the old man and flew back to the castle. All of the surviving members of the royal family had been gathered in the main hall now, and he went through them one by one. The Thinker was right next to him, speaking constantly.

“Useful.”

“Average.”

“Useless.”

The Thinker was sniffing at everyone they passed, evaluating their bloodlines one by one. Sometimes he even stretched out and pinched them for some reason, but it didn’t take long to go through the hundreds of people in the royal family. Over thirty were chosen in the end, demarcated to be sent flying back to the broodmother. Yorik himself had the richest bloodline of them all, but Richard planned to keep the Emperor for a while longer.

……

The Frozen Throne welcomed a special night, the surviving royals who had been pardoned gathered together to witness Salwyn’s ascension. Nobody knew what the future would hold for the Empire, but from the looks of it it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as they expected. Of course, nobody had thought that a million soldiers could be destroyed by less than a tenth of their number just a month ago.

With everyone present as witness, Salwyn went down on one knee and accepted the royal sceptre from Richard’s hands before allowing the crown to be placed on his head. For this to happen despite Yorik being alive and present showed his subservience to the Crimson Dukedom; it was symbolic, but not all oaths had to be binding.

Even as the brief ceremony signified a new start, flames shot out all over the city at irregular intervals. Screams of death broke the silence of the night as the remaining rebels tried to cause as much havoc as they could, but Richard’s troops quelled all the resistance the moment it reared its head. As a whole, the reactions was relatively calm. The princes had gone silent, and none of the dukes had dared to protest the ascension. It was unknown just how many approved of the new ruler and how many had just been cowed into submission by Richard’s show of dominance.

……

While the Iron Triangle Empire was enveloped in darkness, the night sky of the Land of Turmoil was still filled with the same beautiful colours as usual. The deadly auroras of timeforce slowly drifted through the sky, having clearly grown in number in the last decade. It implied that the space here was growing more unstable.

The larval forests had already been formed, the trees towering into the sky while their roots formed the nests deep in the earth. All of the foliage bent do the ground as the astral chrysalis descended, opening up a wide berth for it to land. Worker drones flooded out and crawled atop it, packing themselves as tightly as possible. A dozen strange ones that were about two metres tall boarded as well, these ones striped purple instead of all black with space seeming to distort around them where they went. Once it was filled, the chrysalis took to the sky and headed towards the Frozen Throne.

Three days later, the chrysalis finally reached the imperial capital and slowly landed before Yorik, several elders, and those who would be sacrificed. The transformed workers immediately rushed over to the crumbled mountain, drilling their way straight in as though the thing soil and rocks were made out of sand. The rest of the workers started to expand these small holes, cracking the rock with a few bites before carrying it out. Holes that were big enough for men to crawl through quickly formed in front of everyone’s eyes, constantly expanding until multiple people could walk through unhindered.

It didn’t take long for the purple workers to cover the full kilometre into the mountain and dig through to a vast hall. They went through the entire area once before tunneling back out, transmitting what they had seen to Richard.

Richard then spun around, looking at Yorik and the rest of the royal family, “So I found the altar used to summon Godfrey… It’ll take me a full week to dig out the passage… Tell me, which one of you is willing to spit out the truth? The first one keeps their life.”

The Emperor remained calm, but some of the elders around him started to tremble slightly. A fat shaman suddenly cried out, “I will speak!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA