Book 9, Chapter 54

To Follow

“Wait, what? You want to become Richard Archeron’s follower now?” the grand mage almost jumped in surprise, “Are you insane? You’ll have to fight the reapers! We aren’t even legends, killing these demons is hard enough! Are you hoping for your family to collect the compensation or something?”

Despite his friend’s attempts to dissuade him, Romney’s eyes glowed with determination, “No, I’ve decided to do it. Doesn’t matter if I die in battle, but if I pull through my name will be written down in Norland’s history!”

“You’ve… actually gone insane, haven’t you?”

“No, I haven’t. Join me!” Romney wanted to pull the man along.

“Nope, there’s no way. I’m not coming with you, no matter what you say.”

Romney gritted his teeth in response. He really wanted to speak about the gorgon head, but he had sworn himself to secrecy on that front. Instead, he held the man’s hand sincerely, “You know I wouldn’t harm you. I feel like this is our only chance; if we miss the opportunity to sign a contract with Lord Richard, we’ll never get it again. Come with me!”

"Of course not!" the grand mage stood his ground.

Romney looked at the grand mage with regret, eventually turning around to leave. Looking at his departing back, the man panicked for a split second and wondered whether he truly had made the wrong choice in the situation. However, that fear was quickly suppressed by the much greater terror he felt when it came to the reapers. The casualty reports from Faelor’s battlefields froze him in place.

……

In the celestial laboratory in Sharon’s demiplane, Richard was working on an analytical model of the reaper warships. He had just finished with the medium-sized ones and marked some finishing touches when a bell rang in the hall, signalling a medium-priority request for his presence. Stopping his analysis, he left the demiplane to return to Bluewater.

In the guest chambers of his residence, Romney was walking about nervously as he awaited his fate. He tried looking outside to calm his stress, but he was met with the sight of two enormous portals that seemed like they led to other planes. He was surprised to find that it was commoners entering these portals, not troops; with hundreds walking through every minute, a quick estimate told him that Richard was spending hundreds of thousands of gold every hour to teleport them out. 

“It’s called the Bridge of Hope; its a way for my citizens to retreat to safer planes,” Richard’s voice suddenly rang out from behind him.

“Y-Your Grace!” Romney jumped in shock, quickly turning around to bow.

Richard pointed at the sofa and smiled, “Sit. I hear you wish to become a follower of mine? You should know what that means, right?”

“I do,” the assassin picked up his courage, “I’ll need to sign a contract to the death, and battle the reapers.”

“You’ll probably die,” Richard maintained his smile.

“I… I know.”

“Huh. Alright, my time is precious. Give me one good reason for me to accept you.”

“I know that you’re an incredible person, I want to follow you so I can leave my own mark on history!” Romney clenched his fists, but seeing Richard continue to stare at him he explained, “I know you’re someone who can produce a saint rune in twenty days, a brand new one… That’s why…”

As the assassin collapsed into his seat with no strength, Richard nodded, “Thought so, but it’s good that you could say it out loud. I appreciate honesty here, and I’ll give you a chance. But you should know there will be no preferential treatment.”

“I understand! I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity; the war against the reapers will be my test!”

“Alright, here’s the contract. This war really is a test, but I sincerely hope everyone can live through it to the very end.”

Romney bowed in response, opening up the slave contract and signing his name with gritted teeth. At that moment, he abandoned his past life to embark on a new road, one filled with sunshine and thorns.

……

Once Romney left, Richard returned to the demiplane to continue analysing the reapers. Around the same time, a ball-like unit arrived at each of the primary battlefields against the reapers and hunkered down, growing into what looked like a large castle of flesh. These were improved flesh furnaces, much smaller than the original but with the sole purpose of working with reaper wreckage to reduce Richard’s workload when refining the ember essence. They more than doubled the speed at which he could gather the essence, giving him a full twenty bottles in only a few days.

Hundreds of thousands of people were retreating to the Forest Plane and Goldflow Valley in the meanwhile, but in order to maintain stability the portals could only accommodate so many transmissions at a time. Thankfully, those lying in wait didn’t cause too many disturbances. Once those that were causing trouble were executed without a second thought, nobody tried any underhanded means to push themselves ahead on the list.

As time passed, Richard eventually decided that the reapers had been inactive for too long a time. He contacted the broodmother to have the scouts head deeper in, and despite a large number of losses they quickly found out that almost the entirety of reaper territory had been abandoned as they withdrew towards their base.

The lands the reapers left behind were completely devoid of life, with criss-crossing trenches dug up everywhere in their search for resources. Richard was shocked when he first saw the sight, knowing that this damage was far greater than even that from the larval forest that was tearing the Land of Turmoil apart.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA