Book 8, Chapter 64

Fighting An Antimage

Hearing that Richard’s offensive was for the sake of his bloodline, Brahms immediately shivered at the magnitude of the situation. Such a reason definitely tipped the scales in Richard’s favour, and even the Church would have to back off a little.

However, that wasn’t the end of the bad news. Archbishop Ruford continued, “I’ve heard his child’s bloodline is very powerful, showing signs of manifesting within a mere month. Whoever interferes with Richard will be an enemy to all Archerons.”

“What? What sort of coincidence is that?!” Brahms exclaimed in shock.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s true; the problem is that Richard’s stance is clear and justified. Saint Martin seems eager to make a move as well, so I can’t support you completely. This decision was far too hasty, and Yowen has always been sly; I’m afraid we’ve been played.”

The Marquess opened his mouth, but he didn’t know what to say. He had only wanted to give Richard some trouble and make sure he didn’t create a saint rune this year, but the matter was now completely out of his control. Richard could very well destroy his entire territory and the royal family would still hesitate to go to war against him.

It had to be an excuse. It just had to be! No matter how many times he told himself this, Brahms couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of a blood feud with a saint runemaster. One of the reasons for the theft of the divine gold was as a favour to a grand runemaster named Yowen. The man was planning to exhibit a few borderline saint runes this year, but Richard’s conventions had wiped away all interest. On top of that, Yowen also had a feud with Sharon.

“I… I just wanted to make sure Richard couldn’t support Martin with new runes,” he eventually muttered, trying to justify himself in front of Ruford.

The Archbishop shook his head, “This might just be an opportunity. We aren’t prepared just yet, but neither is Martin. Your situation can’t be dragged further either… I’ll have Saint Thomas lead 50,000 men down to help you, and convince the lords around you to help as well. That should give you about 200,000 men; we’ll discuss things further after we force Richard back.

You need to endure things until then. Even if Richard spits on your face, just take it until the spittle dries.”

*BANG!* As the hologram faded, Brahms left a deep hole in the wall. He would restrain himself, but that was far from an easy thing to ask. Richard definitely wouldn’t make things easy.

……

That very night, a nephew of Brahms was executed after a conflict with an Archeron soldier. The man had only struck the warrior in anger, not even killing him, but Richard had shown no mercy!

Before the Marquess could even make sense of this, a group of soldiers forced their way into the four watchtowers around Dragonwing Castle and kicked down the family flags on top. Their reasoning was that the high flags somehow blocked their view of the passage.

……

In sharp contrast to Brahms’s fury, Richard was completely relaxed. With Moonlight in hand, he was training in a few simple sword exercises while admiring a suit of exotic silver armour on the wall. The armour was elegant and beautiful, with intricate golden patterns all over and a design that screamed of the Celestial Plane. His smile only grew wider and wider with every glance.

At some point, he stretched lazily, “Why are you still hiding?”

“Your senses are sharp,” a low chuckle sounded from outside the window, “Looks like you aren’t an embarrassment to your teacher, boy.”

A middle-aged man in black leather armour seemed to meld out of the darkness, a smug expression on his face. Any experienced fighter would be on guard at the mere sight of the natural patterns all over the leather, knowing that it was made from the hide of an adult black dragon. This set of armour was just as tough as darksteel, with outstanding magic resistance that other materials couldn’t compare to.

Oh nooooo!” Richard’s voice oozed sarcasm, “An antimage! Should I run for my life? Oh wait, should you really be underestimating mages like that when Master did what she did to you?”

The man’s face warped with fury for a moment before he controlled himself, “Losing to Her Excellency isn’t an embarrassment.”

“You’ll learn that losing to me isn't either,” Richard turned to stare out the window at the old acquaintance. Solam seemed to have forgotten about the crushing defeat only a short while ago, and he could already guess that the man’s thoughts had to do with battles of attrition and being outnumbered.

He wasn’t particularly wrong, either; Richard had made sure that Solam was almost exhausted before they’d crossed blades before, and now he didn’t have the time to cast any long spells. With the proximity and walls all around in the middle of the night, this had to be the best battlefield for a shadow antimage, and Solam seemed to know it as he drew his twin blades, “Duelling isn’t just about laws or mana levels. For Sharon’s sake, I’m willing to let you go if you leave the Empire; I’ll pretend I never came here tonight.”

“Let me go?” Richard snickered, jumping right out the window to face the would-be assassin, “It looks like one mage giving you trauma wasn’t enough.”

“Then don’t even consider leaving!” Solam growled, his figure blending into the darkness once more. The very next moment, he was right behind Richard with a dagger aimed at the back.

Only a few feet away from Richard, the dagger suddenly sparked as it hit a barrier. However, Solam just sneered as he covered the weapon in black energy, immediately ripping through multiple layers with increased speed. The barriers exploded with none of their usual power, and in a moment the weapon had made contact with the clothing on Richard’s back! This was Magic Break, the most important legendary ability for any antimage. It could destroy barriers almost instantly, which was what made antimages a nightmare for all spellcasters.

Before the dagger could hit flesh, Richard had blinked a hundred metres away. Two streams of fire shot straight for Solam’s chest, but the man suddenly charged right through without caring. A smile was on his face as he appeared before Richard once more, reaching a similar point of almost making contact before the mage could flash away. The two streams of flames were each equivalent to a grade 7 spell, but Solam was almost completely unharmed. It was clear that the dragon leather wasn’t the only thing keeping him safe. Now, it made complete sense why he had decided to fight despite being drawn out before.

But these were the wrong tactics at the wrong time. A smile formed on Richard’s lips, partially from pity at the man’s timing, but also due to what would be revealed in a moment.

“What? You want to chant something?” Solam asked calmly, striking his weapons against each other to create a shrill keen.

Richard suddenly felt a bout of dizziness as his vision seemed to distort, making spellcasting extremely difficult to focus on. A normal mage would be out long enough to be killed several times over, but he managed to recover and blink away before Solam could strike. He remained nonchalant as when they had first started, “Nice swords.”

“Just the swords?” Solam’s smile disappeared, “Then here’s a whole other experience!”

Before the antimage could pounce on him, Richard cast a slew of curses towards him. Solam gasped in shock as his movements actually slowed down, but the black energy covered him once again as he recovered his sneer and continued forward, “That’s your plan to traumatise me?”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA