As he read through the letter, Richard could only think about one thing: Flowsand’s Book of Time. He didn’t really care about upgrading the Book of Creation and Holding, let alone sacrificing Flowsand’s Book of Time for it, but the letter had led him to consider a train of thought buried at the back of his mind.
A small fire lit up in his hand, burning the letter until not even ashes remained, “Has the messenger left yet?”
“Not yet, Master,” the old steward replied.
“Good, tell him that I read it.”
“Yes, Master,” the steward turned around and left.
Richard sat alone in the room, unable to return to his previous train of thought. His heart was suddenly beating fast and heavy, but he couldn’t think of any reason why.
His gaze landed on a few exquisite magic-sealing cases in the corner of the hall, containing those top-tier offerings that he had received immediately after the rune convention. These offerings came in various shapes and sizes, the largest being the skeleton of a beast in the void that required a full chest. Suppressing his annoyance, he pulled out a few of the tattered Midren design pages and started poring over them.
The world of runes was tranquil and serene, and before he knew it Richard was immersed completely. However, his focus was eventually broken by a barely audible argument between a man and woman, and hearing the familiar voices he stowed away the papers and heightened his perception.
Since he preferred the room atop the keep, this meditation hall was normally quite deserted. Wennington and Venica had likely come here to keep their dispute private.
“Shouldn’t this be trivial?” Venica asked in a hushed voice.
“To you, maybe. I won’t give up my honour,” Wennington answered calmly.
“You’re already qualified to train on Brother’s planes. Besides, you’ll only be losing once; there aren’t any implications even if you lose, are there?!”
“We Archerons don’t let others win without giving them a fair contest.”
“Can’t you do it for my sake?” Venica’s voice softened.
Wennington didn’t respond initially, but after a bit more pestering he raised his voice, “Venica! You know I wouldn’t choose you as my partner, I have someone else in mind already.”
“So you’re like that too… Just because of Lucian?”
“Just find someone else, there’s always someone who won’t mind… helping you complete the family obligations.”
“Think about it again, Wen, please! I’m begging you! This… this is extremely important to him.”
“He’s a level 16 bard and level 14 swordsman, his overall strength is actually higher than mine. What are you worried about?”
“But you’re much better at actual battle, and this will be a competition between mounted knights. He won’t be able to display his true strength. Why do you want this championship when you already possess the Archeron halo? He wants it so bad!”
“If he wants it, he should get it himself. Richard is back, you’d better keep a low profile. There won’t be a happy ending if he learns you’re still with that man.” This was Wennington’s last reply. Richard heard heavy footsteps as he left the corridor.
A loud thud echoed through the halls a few moments later, as though something had been broken. Richard sat unmoving on his chair, waiting until everything outside had returned to tranquility. When he stood up, having recovered a good portion of his mana and energy, he returned to his study and summoned the old steward once more, “Give me an update on my siblings. Also, has there been anything in Faust targeted at youths?”
The steward took a minute to organise his thoughts before beginning a report. Demi was undoubtedly the most outstanding of Richard’s siblings. She was currently attempting a breakthrough to level 18 with Agamemnon’s new plane, but her current situation for unknown. Wennington had grown much more powerful recently as well, almost reaching level 17 as a blaze warrior. He had trained as much as he could in both battle and leadership, and was starting to show a gift for command.
It was Venica who showed no progress at all. She had only visited other planes twice, and each for a pitifully short time. At eighteen, Richard himself was the only one physically younger than her; of course, he accomplished that due to his blessings. Just playing around in Faust all day, she was still stuck at level 12.
As for events, the royal family was currently hosting the eagle-hunting expedition targeted at young nobles to display their prowess. This was a contest where they showcased their personal might in battle, their leadership of troops, and tactical capabilities as well. The battles were fought with real weapons, and winners were ranked with different rewards based on position.
Those ranked in the top ten would be granted extra soldiers, and given the chance to lead them into a special secondary plane to battle each other. Any loot won in these battles would belong to the individual, and there were prizes for the champion as well.
This hunting expedition was hosted every three years in Faust, and was one of the best ways for talented youths to distinguish themselves. Those without the appropriate backing and resources would find a way to pull ahead of the pack here, infusing fresh blood into the upper echelons of the Sacred Alliance. The other two empires held these sorts of activities as well.
Wennington was only average amongst the youths of Faust, but he had actually managed to get into the top ten. He was showcasing real ability, especially at leading troops. Of course, the truly outstanding powerhouses of the younger generation wouldn’t join these expeditions; they were busy conquering new territory. Richard himself qualified to participate, but he would just sweep through the competition and end up wasting his time.
Considering that Wennington wasn’t all that talented naturally, alongside the fact that he didn’t receive much resources from the family, it was a great accomplishment for him to be able to reach his current position. The family right now was much different than in Gaton’s time; where Gaton had distributed his limited wealth to everyone, Richard controlled all of his vast resources and used them to fuel his own growth. The so-called elders who tried to take power from him were now a pile of bones, and nobody else dared to ask him for more than what he gave them.
In fact, even those vassals who had tried to become independent had changed their minds, obediently falling in line. Richard had planes to make them suffer for the betrayal— he would never tolerate such a thing— but he had constantly been sidetracked by other things. Now, he realised he should have diverted a bit more attention to developing the family’s youth.
Thinking over it for a moment, he told the steward, “Buy two secondary planes, those with only a forward base are good enough. Leave one in storage, and open the other up to the family. Make plans for an expedition similar to the royal family’s, it should help us pick worthy talents to develop.”
“… Yes, Master,” the butler replied, but he couldn’t hide his surprise.
“What’s wrong?” Richard asked.
“Nothing… It’s just that the spend would be massive,” the old man said tentatively. Having served Gaton for most of his life, he still couldn’t get used to Richard’s style. Any single plane was worth a greater offering at least, and Richard wanted to buy two at one go. In addition to the upkeep and costs of running these new competitions, this was almost ten million gold.
Richard smiled softly, “It’s nothing, there’s more than enough money for it. I’ll be leaving soon; if Wennington can win the expedition, make sure to give him a squad of rose knights and another fifty footsoldiers.”
“Master?” the steward was taken aback, “Even when Lady Alice became a Viscount, she didn’t have so many rune knights under her.”
“Doesn’t matter, we’re Archerons. Our youths need to learn how to command rune knights, they’re the one thing we don’t lack.”
Once the steward nodded and left, Richard contacted an elite shadowspear in his mind, “Check in with Sauron about the intel I asked for.”
The shadowspear left quickly for Marquess Sauron’s territory, giving Richard time to deal with some paperwork and trivial matters. For example. someone had just become a marquess and that necessitated a renegotiation of their relationship. Each single issue was minor, but it required careful management or it could impact his network.
Hopefully, he would have some actual news to look forward to when the shadowspear returned.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Choco
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA