Book 8, Chapter 65

Breezing Through Battle

Richard blinked away again, but this time he saw that Solam had already changed directions and was charging towards him. His eyes twitched as he felt a hint of admiration: mind-numbing speed, high magical resistance, spell-piercing attacks and powerful stealth abilities combined to make Solam the perfect mage assassin. The man had supposedly chosen this class just to fight better against Sharon, but she had also mentioned that he was better suited to becoming a judgement warrior. It took great talent to excel so much outside of one’s biggest strengths, but one could also tell just how much of an impact she’d had on his life.

Solam’s fast charge left Richard without any time to cast high-level spells, and his specific abilities made barriers almost useless. However, he just lifted up his sword and placed it before his chest, planning to use that to stop the opponent’s double daggers.

A moment before they clashed, Solam smiled with malice as he smashed down with all of his strength. From his perspective, Richard was still a mage; even if he could somehow withstand a tempest, a physical fighter would have the advantage in close combat.

*CLANG!* Black energy twirled around the two blades as they rammed into Moonlight. Solam had used basically all of his energy for this blow, but it felt like he had struck a mountain! A loud crash echoed through Sunset City, and while Richard didn’t move an inch, the antimage dropped a dozen metres before stabilising.

“That… strength!” Solam cried out in shock, his voice growing hoarse as he started coughing violently. Blood started to seep out from the joints of his fingers and drip down his daggers, a sign of the injuries he had sustained in the engagement. With Richard remaining in place, almost all of the energy had been rebounded.

Antimages were known for many things, but energy and defences were not amongst them. Direct clashes against warriors would always end in a loss, and Solam had severely underestimated Richard’s strength. The Duke’s eyes narrowed as he gave Richard a death stare, speaking in a shaky voice, “You… You did not move!”

“Yes, I didn’t move at all,” Richard smiled. His eyes seemed to glow, but in Solam’s eyes they very much looked like those of a demon. This was a scene that defied all logic, bringing a certain concept to mind. When warriors grew strong enough, their physical might was so great that they could use the space around them as though it was solid. When a warrior reached that level, making them move was as difficult as tearing space itself.

However, such strength required at least level 25 power, and that was for warriors! It was an extraordinary level of power that crossed into the domain of epic beings, and Richard was just a newly advanced mage!

Before Solam could regain his senses, Richard finally started his counter-attacks. He showcased speed that wasn’t significantly worse than that of the antimage, but it was a stark contrast from the coarse and uncoordinated slashes. He seemed almost like a complete stranger to swords who had picked one up for the first time, his attacks alternating between fast and slow while striking all over the place. However, Solam found himself fighting an uphill battle; each wave of Richard’s blades sent black shockwaves as space was almost ripped apart. While not particularly skilled, these strikes were incredibly powerful!

The Duke was scared witless by the sight. Even though he could stab straight into Richard if he only suffered a glancing blow, he didn’t dare to take on the risk. One thing was clear to him; were it not for Richard’s lack of control, he would have been dead in less than a minute.

The two fought fiercely in the sky. Solam was afraid of opening up some distance with a legendary mage, but at the same time he wasn’t efficient at prolonged close combat. Richard was fighting like a berserker right now, and it was almost impossible to deal with. He had already dealt a handful of superficial blows, but that green sword had almost grazed him two times and he was already scared witless.

Still in the heat of battle, Richard suddenly smiled, “I’ll hit you sooner or later!”

Hearing this, the Duke immediately gave up any hopes of resistance and turned around without a word. His body melded into the darkness as he attempted to make a break for it, but Richard chuckled and snapped to push his body almost right into the ground. By the time the slowing magic was dealt with, a stream of pale blue fireballs were now whistling over.

As blue fireworks filled the night sky, a dark figure staggered out and fled as fast as possible. Richard’s eyes followed Solam’s fleeing figure, but he made no move to chase. Instead, his lips curved up in a smile, “Interesting.”

One couldn’t know just how Solam would have felt if he heard such condescending praise. The man had used his own body to withstand the blue flames, taking advantage of the resulting knockback to flee the rest of the explosions. He undoubtedly suffered, but at least he was still alive.

Not good at range and mediocre at close combat, Solam had a number of glaring weaknesses in combat against Richard. His one strength was in assassination, but at the same time he was someone who cared a lot about honour and reputation; he wasn’t the type to try and stab someone in the back. That was perhaps the reason Richard didn’t feel like pursuing either.

He didn’t know whether this battle would leave some trauma in Solam’s heart, but Richard was certain that the man at least wouldn’t pick a fight with him for the next few years. To him, that was good enough.

He suddenly felt curious; just how would a face-off between Sharon and Solam go? He remembered that she had been gloomy when she first returned from this battle, making some of the grand mages feel like she had actually met her match. Now that he had witnessed the skills of both sides, he felt like he could simulate it accurately.

Closing his eyes, he started visualising an open battlefield. Solam immediately hid and rushed through the darkness, but with her limited care Sharon would allow him to find an opening and close in. He would jump out of the darkness and stab both of his daggers towards her, and the blades would scratch her skin a little and she would scream in pain.

And then… And then she would slap him out of the way, sending him to the ground to end the battle. Richard’s pride vanished as he fell deep into thought, trying not to think about it; chasing Solam away wouldn’t end things, the true trials had just begun.

After a few minutes, all of Richard’s soldiers in Sunset City were gathered in a plaza to the north. He waited with them until it was almost dawn, flying towards an army camp at the northern borders of the Brahms Marquessate that had a hundred thousand men.

……

The commander of the army camp was quite young, but his generals didn’t even dare to breathe as he stared at the map with knitted brows. His silver breastplate scraped against his thick mage robes as he stretched, marking another crimson arrow towards the south. Of the seven dukedoms around the Brahms Marquessate, three had already sent troops out.

The youth made a valiant effort to hide his rage, but the veins popping out from a hand holding some paper made his emotions clear to everyone in the war tent. Eventually, he lost the battle to his own rage, “Retreat?! Why do we have to retreat?! We’re already here, are we just going to let Richard do whatever he wants? Where’s the honour of the Empire?”

An elderly general coughed softly, “Lord Steven, this is an order from His Grace. We are short on time, we must move immediately.”

*Bang!* The paper disintegrated as Steven slammed his fist into the table, “Are all of you so afraid of him?”

The generals glanced at each other with pained expressions on their faces, but none of them dared to reply.

…

Elsewhere in the camp, a beautiful young woman cringed as she heard Richard’s name being shouted out from the war tent. Memories flooded through her mind, bringing her back many years to when she was young and the object of desire for countless mages. She was now a level 16 mage herself, pretty good for her age, but as one of Sharon’s students in the Deepblue she had once been so much more.

As she grew in power, Minnie had come to look up to people like Ensio, Yori, and even Voidbones as she realised the freakish extent of their talent. However, Richard was the one whom she had the most memories of, who left her with the greatest regrets. While her situation had barely changed since all those years ago, the poor kid who knew nothing but work had now become a legendary mage who crushed all sorts of talents under his feet. He was now a venerated saint runemaster who qualified to be Sharon’s lover, someone whose every action sent ripples throughout the Empire.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA