Book 8, Chapter 76

Protection

“How… dare… you…” Steven barely voiced as he stared at the dagger in disbelief. He managed to shift his gaze to Minnie with great effort, then looking back at the dagger as a powerful chill swept across his body. He suddenly calmed down, coldly glaring at his killer.

“Di you oh? I waet u hab you fom da firs hime you fuck e.” Minnie’s tongue was swollen to the point that her words were basically gibberish, but her gaze was bright and calm as she stared at her abuser. Steven couldn’t believe his own ears, but his vision slowly darkened until everything around him blurred. The cold seeping into his bones was amongst the very last things he experienced, followed by a few heavy thuds before the darkness consumed him.

……

With many wounded soldiers on his side, Richard’s army couldn’t move very quickly. It took two days for them to cover the distance back to the Brahms territory, and along the way a surprising guest showed up at his camp. Minnie wouldn’t be a threat to him even if she was a legend, so Richard met her in his own tent with only Senma by his side.

However, the appearance of the person that came before him left him shocked. Minnie’s face was battered and bruised all over, her nose evidently broken and left eye so swollen that it could barely open. The corner of her eyes had dried blood on them, and her right arm was hanging limp by her side with the forearm trembling unnaturally.

His eyes narrowed as a green moon appeared above his head, its radiance starting to heal the damage done to her, “Did Steven do this?”

“Yes.”

“Looks like I’ll have to teach him a better lesson.”

“No need, he’s dead,” Minnie said calmly.

Richard’s eyes immediately went wide, “You killed him?”

“Less than a day ago,” she dismissed almost trivially, as though she hadn’t just killed the successor of a legendary being.

“Mm, so what do you want from me?”

“I want to be your woman.”

“Heh, impossible.”

Seeing Richard chuckle, Minnie laughed as well, “Oh, well. It was worth a try. So my actual request— I want your protection.”

“Protection, huh…”

“Duke Solam won’t let me off for killing Steven. You’re not afraid of him, so this is the only way for me to survive.”

“And what do I get in exchange? Protection from a legendary assassin doesn’t come cheap.”

“I know! I’m only at level 16 because I didn’t dare to overtake that bastard. Give me the resources, and I’ll become a grand mage soon. You know how picky Her Excellency is, she wouldn’t have taken me in if I didn’t have talent.”

Richard nodded, “That I acknowledge. And what else?”

“If necessary, I can come to your bed whenever. My technique is pretty good.”

Richard sighed, turning to Senma, “What do you think?”

“Eh, Solam’s given us a fair bit of trouble. If we keep the person who killed his son, he’ll probably go mad with rage.”

He immediately burst into laughter, “True! Alright, Minnie, you can stay. I can never have enough mages anyway, that’s enough from you. I’ll send some men to notify Solam that I have you; let’s see if he has the guts to try anything. He won’t escape this time.”

Minnie felt her entire body shiver at his words; she’d known he was powerful, but not to the extent that he was confident in killing an antimage.

……

Within Dragonwing Castle, Marquess Brahms was feeling uneasy once more. His intelligence network had already revealed that Richard had left Sunset City to confront the combined army of the Church and the Sacred Tree Empire, and the difference in forces was significant as well. Saint Thomas was an experienced legendary paladin; even though he was still level 21, his three centuries of life made him a formidable opponent  The 10,000 paladins he led were reinforced by hundreds of thousands of knights, bringing their force to a staggering tenfold the number of Richard’s troops.

Brahms had been awaiting good news, but for some reason the communication circles in the castle had gone completely silence ever since he spoke to Archbishop Ruford. After two days of no information at all, he’d resorted to bringing a chair over to the messaging hall and just waited there for the result. However, it was his own guards that eventually sent him a physical letter: their sentinels had seen the Archeron army!

The Archerons had less than 10,000 people as they headed in the direction of Dragonwing Castle, looking like they had just gone through a terrible battle. With only a third of the forces returning, it was clear that they had suffered a massive blow. However, the Marquess started to grow more doubtful instead of excited; how did the enormous army let these people run?

“Let’s go, I need to see this myself,” Brahms got up, summoning his personal guards. He hastily climbed up the keep, getting to the observation deck right in time to see Richard leading a full charge of knights towards his castle!

The Marquess paled at the sight of more than a hundred rune knights leading the assault; Richard still had the strength to fight! The Archerons seemed to be in proper formation as well, and one couldn’t see the imperial army no matter how far they looked!

Even with these diminished numbers, Richard had more than enough soldiers to take Dragonwing Castle easily. The battle was almost symbolic; a three-minute chant to a legendary Core-Melting Explosion destroyed the castle gates and killed hundreds of guards, which was followed by an immediate announcement of surrender.

When Richard arrived at Brahms’s meeting hall, his rune knights surged in like a tide and occupied their positions next to the walls. In the meanwhile, he walked up the red carpet and sat down on the throne, watching as Brahms’s family were brought into the hall one by one. Every noble that entered had a look of terror in their eyes as they saw the sheer number of rune knights around them, the aura alone making it difficult for the weaker ones to breathe.

However, the Marquess himself didn’t appear immediately. He sent a guard to ask for half an hour, and for some reason Richard chose to humour him. Half an hour later, Brahms appeared in luxurious clothing as though he was attending an imperial banquet, standing before Richard with his head held high.

Resting his chin on one hand, Richard looked down at the man before him, “We meet again, Brahms.”

“I wish the circumstances were different, but what are you going to do? This is the Sacred Tree Empire, and I am a Marquess. Your actions here are a challenge to the royal line, and they will certainly punish you for the transgression!”

Richard stared at the Marquess with interest. Even now, the man was unwilling to admit defeat, “Sigh. Admirable courage, but without the intellect to match. Yes, this is a challenge to the Sacred Tree Empire. Yes, the Empire does want to punish me. Unfortunately, I already beat them back once.”

“You… what? How?!” Brahms was truly shocked.

“Mm, don’t expect any help. Thomas is dead, as is Ruford.”

“Thomas… Ruford…”

“The news should come here soon, but it’s a pity you won’t be around.”

Brahms didn’t even hear Richard’s last words, already having turned deathly pale with his eyes glazed over as he muttered the two names to himself repeatedly. These two had been his final hope, the last anchor he had held onto with all his might.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA