“Is this my path?” Richard muttered, unable to even smile at the revelation. The combination of soul hunter and saint runemaster sounded amazing, allowing him to gather a number of legendary abilities very quickly, but it also put him in great danger. Gods would hate him even more than they already would, while other legends would think it best to get rid of someone so dangerous. Of course, there might be some who would take the risk to cooperate with him as well.
“That’s all I’m saying. Since you have this talent, just walk down the path. You’ll face more legends and gods in the future, there’s no need to waste such excellent materials.”
Excellent materials… Nasia said this with ease, but it left Richard in a cold sweat. Once she left, he stood alone in the courtyard through the night pondering over things.
The ability to sense the remnant soul came from the blessing of truth. Nasia’s wording of it reminded him of when he had first chosen this blessing, all those years ago; whatever entity granted it to him had told him; at the end of the path, he would see other things. From the beginning with his numeric vision to Field of Truth today, the blessing had been growing stronger and stronger with this end; without it, he wouldn’t be able to visualise the working of laws and analyse them so early in his life.
On the other hand, Wisdom only sped him up; it didn’t add much that he didn’t already have. It was an outstanding weapon to aid him in his climb to the top, but Truth allowed him to look at the very basis of the world.
Nasia’s words kept ringing in his ears, and he couldn’t find any way to refute them. Someone who had won against so many other powerful existences to tamper with the Eternal Dragon’s system and come over to his side definitely had a basis to her words. Was this really the best path for him?
The most obvious advantage of becoming a soul hunter would be that he’d have a plethora of magic souls on hand, each of differing types. He could even control which ones he wanted, even if that meant more legends to kill. Powerful beings like astral beasts and even gods could become targets as well.
While all this was shocking, the most frightening revelation came just before dawn. He had started to fiddle around with the Kingsteel rune while deep in thought, but there was a point where he managed to manipulate metal without the rune even being active. It was very limited, certainly not to the level of control someone like Lyos had over iron, but it showed him that his basic grasp of the laws of metal had improved greatly. What would have taken three years was completed in less than two weeks.
Truth was beginning to show just how terrifying it was. With it, Richard was allowed to basically skip any initial contact and training, beginning straight from analysis and moving on to control.
The first rays of dawn felt so bright that his eyes hurt, but Richard barely even blinked. As they broke through the deep darkness, he looked up and watched as the sun slowly peeked out from the horizon to bring new warmth to the cold north.
It was daybreak. For some reason, this word filled his mind and led him to someone, a girl that had travelled to the Darkness for his sake. Visions of the future suddenly filled his mind, reminding him of oaths he had sworn long ago. Those were scenes he had to stop at all costs.
Richard sighed deeply. The morning warmth seemed to melt away the last of his hesitation; if his destiny was to become a soul hunter, then he would grasp it with both hands!
Roughly cleaning up the laboratory, Richard notified his followers to gather in the castle. With the month since the city had fallen, Richard’s army was already done with resting and reorganising for the next campaign. Salwyn had properly taken on his new life as emperor, spending his time placating the public, reorganising the imperial army, and making plans to rebuild the Frozen Throne.
Richard’s followers and the Dukedom’s generals gathered in a side hall at exactly nine in the morning, reporting about the situation. The Crimson Army was scattered all around the Frozen Throne, with only a few stationed in the city itself. Thousands of flying beasts were scattered across the Empire, dozens of cloned brains commanding them in turn. They had formed an enormous network that made it impossible for anyone to cause harm to his supply lines.
Raymond had done a great job with the logistics. As someone who had even manoeuvred Gaton towards his death, the Joseph definitely was capable of the task. At the same time, he was also a ticking time bomb; Scholars of Soremburg were far too erudite and could cause great damage before one could even realise it.
Richard had always felt like Raymond was planning something behind his back, but the broodmother kept him reassured that he was under control. Even if Raymond allowed his physical body to die and tried to escape via the soul somehow, Zendrall could stop the process.
Expelling the thought from his mind, Richard continued listening to the reports as he stared at the map of the Empire’s territory. A piece of news caught his attention, “Duke Zabal wants me to attend a banquet in his territory?”
“Why are you bringing up something so dumb? We already have the Frozen Throne, and he’s just a puny duke. He wants to invite Boss to his lands? He’s forgotten his place!” Gangdor snorted, glaring at the general who had made the report.
However, Richard waved a hand, “No. This guy’s got guts to stay away from the Frozen Throne and ask me to go to him. He probably has something up his sleeves, send someone to check things out.”
The general quickly sent an aide to gather information before continuing with the rest of the report. After a while, an imperial official was led to the hall to answer any questions Richard might have.
The official revealed that Duke Zabal wasn’t someone who was easy to deal with. His territory was at the northern edge of the empire, bordering the frozen wastelands to the north. Spanning hundreds of thousands of kilometres, his territory was extremely vast and comparable to a kingdom in itself. However, only a narrow ring in its south was free of the frozen deserts that blocked agriculture. With the limited space to grow, his development had always been curbed.
However, the territory was still self-sufficient in terms of food. It was also a major exporter of minerals, especially its famous ice mithril ore that had generated a lot of wealth for the ducal family over generations. Zabal might formally belong to the Iron Triangle Empire, but he was basically an individual ruler who was a vassal only in name. The Empire had basically no control over either his military or politics.
Most importantly, it was said that the Duke had very close ties to the Dragon Church that had plagued the Empire for more than a century. While the Iron Triangle Empire had two famed generals in this generation, they still didn’t have the wherewithal to start a war against him.
“The Dragon Church, huh… So do they really have a dragon backing them?” Richard muttered.
Wiping off a layer of sweat, the official responded, “Rumours are that they do, but nobody has actually seen this dragon. The lunatics talk about a primordial dragon living in the skies, possessing unthinkable power.”
“Where’s their headquarters?”
“Nobody knows, Your Majesty. They seem to come out of nowhere, and no matter how many we kill new ones always flow in.”
“Mm… Interesting… Inform Zabal that I’ll make a visit soon, he should prepare,” Richard sent the official away.
“Are you really going, Boss?” Gangdor asked.
“What, afraid I’ll be in danger?”
“N-No…” the brute immediately recalled the terrifying Kingsteel rune and shook his head hard, “But if you just go to his territory, won’t you seem weak?”
“I just want to take a look at his territory anyway. The Dragon Church has always been an issue; don’t you think they operate too similarly to us when we started out?”
“They’re invaders too?” Gangdor’s eyes brightened. Having stayed in Faelor for so many years, he’d never felt truly challenged by many fights. He was thirsting for individual battle, but with his skill at the head of an army Richard was adamant in not letting him go to the Land of Dusk.
“Perhaps. I’ll know once I take a look. Now,” Richard returned his gaze to the map, “The time limit has passed, right? And these are the dukes that haven’t made it here yet?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA