Book 8, Chapter 34

Hidden Threat

When Sharon returned to the Deepblue, she locked herself into her bedroom and refused to see anyone, not even Richard himself. He wanted to find out why she was so depressed, but with her refusing he was helpless and couldn’t afford to squander more time. Packing his travel clothes, he prepared to return to Faelor; Runai’s divine kingdom should have fallen, which meant it was time to clean up.

However, he felt a tug on his heart as he walked to the portal, as though his back had been pricked by a needle. This was a sense of hostility that could only have been picked up by Intuition, which meant this threat would have a substantial impact. He slowed his pace and scanned through the surroundings, but outside of the occasional great mage there wasn’t anyone significantly powerful nearby. Even with the Field of Truth that at this point could identify anyone even at the legendary realm, there was no response. He quickly dismissed the possibility of an epic being that was bored enough to come up to the Deepblue, which left one prominent option in his mind.

The threat had to be coming from an ordinary mage without hidden powers, and there was only one type of such mage that could form a threat to him: a Scholar! He slowed down further, an invisible domain extending from his body and paralysing the dozen mages in his surroundings. Even as they cried out in shock trying to figure out what happened, he stretched out a hand, “Silence!”

“What are you doing? Let go of—” one mage raised his voice, only to be silenced by magic. The rest immediately shut up and looked at Richard with fear; at this point, it was public knowledge that he was a legendary mage.

Richard looked over the faces of each of the paralysed mages, “One of you is a Scholar. No, no need to be too eager to prove your innocence, the professors will be able to identify who it is.”

“A Scholar of Soremburg?” a young mage asked, “How are you going to deal with them?”

“Soremburg has antagonised me repeatedly; any Scholar found in the Deepblue will be executed immediately.”

The young mage seemed to have more to say, but a chill ran down his spine as he met Richard’s gaze and turned silent. Professor Fayr had appeared by this time, and after enquiring about it he had the mages taken away. He hesitated a little, but after meeting Richard’s determined gaze and seeing the nod he decided to launch the investigation.

To most mages, the Scholars of Soremburg were scary monsters with the knowledge of ancient spells and an affinity for stealthy and underhanded means that made them fatal. Castle Soremburg was known as a hallowed ground for mages, controlling the famed Mystic’s Set that was the pinnacle of all mage rune sets. Richard was a saint runemaster himself, but he still hadn’t publicly displayed anything at that level; even a grand mage like Fayr had to be cautious when dealing with the millennia-old behemoth.

Richard hesitated as he watched the mages being taken away, but after a moment he continued to the teleportation gate. Given Sharon’s strength, it was impossible for the Scholars to harm her significantly with any simple plot.

……

Once he was back in Faelor, Richard immediately went through a series of portals before arriving at his office in Dragon Valley. He threw himself onto the spacious sofa and covered his eyes with both hands, deep in thought.

At this point, it was clear that even Sharon wouldn’t be able to stop Apeiron from killing him if she wanted to. Her frightening speed and unrivalled technique were almost beyond understanding; perhaps Sharon or Philip could suppress her with their sheer might, or Ferlyn could use her laws of time, but he had no such recourse. She clearly didn’t seem to have any intent to murder him yet, but he just couldn’t forget the deep purple in her eyes.

He spent a long time pondering, simulating more than a thousand battle scenarios, but each one ended in a crushing defeat where he couldn’t withstand a single attack. He just had no response to her full might. He eventually grunted and jumped up, grabbing a bottle of wine from his liquor cabinet and breaking the neck off with a finger before swallowing half of it in a single go. Cursing under his breath, he threw the wine bottle into the wall!

Shattered glass rained down on the room, some even striking Richard’s face, but he didn’t even bat an eyelid. Just the act of destroying something left him feeling a lot better, as though a knot in his chest had disappeared. When the doorbell rang, he didn’t even move from his spot, “Come in.”

Olar went stiff after he took a few steps inside, shocked at the sight of the room. He immediately activated his own strength as he looked around for an intruder, but Richard waved him down, “I’m fine, come in.”

“Alright, my Lord,” the elven bard nodded and walked in, activating a map of Faelor and giving a concise summary of recent events.

Runai’s divine kingdom had finally collapsed a month before Richard’s return, the burning landmass falling into the depths of darkness like a meteor streaking through the sky. Her fall had shaken all of Faelor, drastically changing the attitudes of the pantheon to the three goddesses and, by extension, Richard. Some had grown friendly, but even former enemies now just remained neutral.

On the other hand, Gangdor’s forces had finally occupied the eastern coast, wiping out the last of the armies the coastal alliance had cobbled together. He now controlled over a dozen dukedoms and one kingdom that had been resisting strongly, the royal lines all eliminated. He was now probing Walvis Bay, trying to look across the Stormfront Ocean that had no recorded crossing till date.

The Stormfront Ocean was said to be an endless expanse forbidden even to the deities, with even divine avatars not daring to pass through. However, Gangdor was just the type of person that such a description roused into action. The brute had thought of many plans while Richard wasn’t around, even getting into contact with the broodmother to see if she could create giant sea creatures that could traverse the ocean.

“Right, he also wanted to give you this letter,” Olar said as he handed over a sheet of paper, almost shuddering as Richard skimmed through.

As he’d expected, Richard snorted blue fire. Gangdor had dared to ask for a few high elven warships, hoping to couple that with the broodmother’s creations to form a combined fleet that would attempt to cross the ocean. If the risks were too great, he had a plan B where he would lead the fleet southwards and vanquish anyone who refused to pledge their allegiance. In his final line, he stated pompously, “Whoever rules the ocean, rules the world!”

“Did you read through this letter?” Richard asked, eye twitching as he stared at the paper in his hand.

“Yes, my Lord.”

“And you still passed it to me.”

“I had no choice! That shiny head bastard said he’d beat me up if I didn’t give it to you!”

Richard helplessly shook his head, a blue flame burning the paper to ashes. The warships of the high elves came from when they still ruled all of Norland, each one a colossal construct spanning 1,300 metres. They possessed unfathomable strength, a pinnacle of magical civilisation that were no less complicated than saint runes. Only seven had been built in three hundred years, but they allowed for a stranglehold on all naval activity that managed to kill nineteen legendary creatures before discovering Lithgalen itself. The warriors of the fleet had wiped out all of the natives and turned the continent into an administrative location. The war that had burned down all of the locals was what gave the continent its Norlandic name: the Ashgreen Continent.

When they met their steep decline, the most powerful elves of Norland had retreated to Lithgalen and sealed themselves off with the help of their warships, using their naval superiority to preserve their lives. Almost a thousand years had passed and seven had been whittled down to three, but they hadn’t been able to build another yet. And Gangdor wanted him to source a few and somehow transport them to Faelor!

Even ignoring the outrageous request for the elven warships, the sea drones were a problem as well. After a quick consultation with the broodmother, Richard had to stop himself from teleporting over and beating some sense into the brute. The requirements had been extremely high, asinine even; even the broodmother herself would only meet them when she was level 13, forget her drones!

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA