Book 9, Chapter 62

Blood Before Dawn

Richard was devastated at the losses in Bluewater Oasis, but he didn’t get a single moment to mourn. At least five more armies were sweeping through the east and south, turning tens of thousands into flesh bags day after day. If they were allowed to finish, the only population left in Faelor would be the ten million or so still in the Crimson Empire.

While the broodmother had maintained control of the Land of Turmoil, it had come at a great price as well. She had lost her pseudo-divine army, and had been forced to call upon a trump card of a number of strange bugs that could fight the reaper warships with an actual advantage. There were only a hundred or so of these level 16 bugs, but they had managed to ensure that the core of the larval forest wasn’t touched. The reapers themselves seemed to have been more keen to restrict her than kill her, and while they had tried to increase the pain she felt she claimed that the problem had been dealt with entirely.

He didn’t have the time to ask her why, instead assembling an enormous team of powerhouses, rune knights, and these bugs to chase after the next target on an astral chrysalis. He had sensed that their forces were starting to get bottlenecked, and couldn’t afford to let them build up another large army lest his army be wiped out. This was a tiny sliver of light after a long, dark night, but he didn’t know just how much blood the Archerons would have to spill before the sun truly dawned.

……

While Richard was busy with an endless slaughter in Faelor, the Sacred Alliance finally made its move in the Land of Dusk. Empress Apeiron personally entered the Fort of Dawn, with Hasting and Rundstedt now in her retinue.

This was Apeiron’s first time in the stronghold that Philip had given his life for, the pinnacle of his existence. Daxdian influence was still everywhere, from the walls to the buildings themselves. The fort hadn’t been able to rebuild properly under the endless assault of the Daxdians, with a near-breach at several instances that had only been alleviated by the presence of Beye Orleans. While Richard didn’t directly send any combat potential here, he also contributed enough to hire ten powerful saints that strived to maintain a balance around the area.

“Who’s that?” the Empress asked as she pointed into the distance, staring at a horde of Daxdians that had run away the moment they felt her presence. What appeared to be a small black dot was floating high in the sky, but those with good perception could tell that it looked like a Daxdian demon with a pair of giant black wings and three long tails.

The demon was only three metres tall, which was quite small considering the scale of most Daxdians, but Rundstedt frowned at the sight, “That is Blackwing, one of Daxdus’s ten epic beings. The Land of Dusk should be his responsibility for now, but I can’t tell why he would appear here. It seems like they might be targeting the Fort of Dawn.”

“My bastard brother beat two of them to near death, but one of the Daxdians wanted to appear here alone? Is he tired of life? Julian!”

Julian stepped forward from the shadows, going down to one knee as he held his hands out to receive Apeiron’s cloak. The Empress herself had already turned into a purple streak that appeared next to the demon in moments.

Blackwing flared the entirety of his aura as he stepped forward, refusing to be humiliated into running away. Black energy quickly formed a shockingly large tornado around him, but in comparison Apeiron curbed her aura until she was almost impossible to notice. A minute seemed like ten years as her presence flickered within, but after an ear-splitting scream a black figure shot out of the tornado and tore open a way to the void to escape. The tornado dissipated half a minute later, revealing a purple Empress holding an enormous black wing that was mangled at the base.

After a moment of quiet, cheers suddenly filled the vicinity of the Fort of Dawn. All Daxdians nearby immediately scattered in their flight, but Apeiron was completely disinterested and simply flew back to the fortress. The wing was thrown down below, only to be caught by Rundstedt who bowed to her before lifting it proudly in the presence of all the warriors.

Blood immediately started boiling with passion. Blackwing’s presence had barely been kept in check by Beye, but that gave the Daxdians the freedom to do whatever they wished in the vicinity of the fortress. They had almost seemed like they were toying with their food for an entire year now, but all of that had been paid back in less than three minutes. Apeiron’s dominance was obvious for all to see.

“Tell Hasting that he can begin,” the Empress said to Rundstedt.

“Yes, Your Majesty!” the formal marshal answered, going down on a knee to express his fealty for the first time.

Apeiron nodded and turned to Julian, “Let’s go. We’ll come back for a look when they start.”

“As you wish, Your Majesty!” Julian flew up gracefully, placing the cloak around Apeiron before following her into the distance. Hasting had cleared a large space in the portal to build his portal, but it would take time for his army to begin moving through.

……

The disputes in the cabinet of the Sacred Tree Empire started to grow more intense. A motion had been brought up to test the waters against the Archerons who had suffered heavy losses, taking advantage of the moment to destroy Richard entirely. The two sides were already enemies, and many believed that this would be the only opportunity to snuff out the growing threat.

To these people, Richard’s status as a divine runemaster was more bad than good. He had completely broken the myth that only those with the blood of the dynasty could use Heaven’s Armour, and while this didn’t mean much to the Church of Glory itself the royal family was no longer irreplaceable. The voices seeking battle were now dominant, if for no other reason than to ensure that the threat to their lineage be wiped out.

The main reasoning of the warmongers was that Richard currently couldn’t get away from Faelor. Without him, the reapers would destroy the entire plane and cripple his forces. A sole epic being was not omnipotent, and they had their own ways to deal with that. Martin was the sole member of the cabinet that always opposed going to war against Richard, but he was currently participating in civil war in the heavens. The Pope was never someone to give his own opinion, so Archbishop Hendrick was the only one opposing the war.

Hendrick knew that war would be declared if things were brought to a vote. This was his last chance to take a meaningful action before Martin returned, and it would determine his standing with the divine child. While he had taken Martin as his master, this would be when he gambled as to whether he proved that he was serious.

As one of the dukes was about to ask for a vote, the Archbishop spoke up, “Your Majesty, Your Excellency. Do you all not know where His Excellency Martin went?”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA