Book 9, Chapter 63

An Endless War

The meeting hall went silent at the mere mention of Martin’s expedition. Everyone present was at the highest echelons of the Sacred Tree Empire, and that meant a certain level of knowledge about the situation in heaven. However, all of them viewed his decision as strange, even foolish. A mere mortal had decided to participate in a battle where even the Radiant Lord had fallen; there was simply no realistic chance of him returning.

Many actually rejoiced at his departure. Although he was an outstanding citizen of the Empire, his style was completely foreign to them. His actions were all predicated on his faith alone, a hard stance that meant he took many decisions that simply weren’t rational. This had garnered a number of quiet enemies who would rather he stay out of politics and war, but he refused to bow to political pressure and did things his own way.

True nobles were never liked in high society, but the fact that Archbishop Hendrick had brought up the topic forced everyone here to consider the consequences of Martin’s return. He was almost certain to become the next Radiant Lord at that point, and displeasing him could result in the death of the entire Sacred Tree Empire.

However, the chances of that happening were non-existent as well. The duke that had tried to bring up the vote muttered to himself for a while before deciding to go through with it anyway, calling for everyone to make their stance clear.

Hendrick sighed deeply, pushing away from the table and standing up, “Since those present are so insistent, I have nothing to say. But I will not be participating once the war begins, nor will my clergy and knighthood. I shall also be withdrawing from future meetings of this cabinet… Take care.”

As the Archbishop turned around, the Pope’s eyes gleamed for a scant moment before returning to their normal gloom. A stunned Emperor and his aides did not know what to do; Hendrick was currently the only confirmed epic being in the Empire, and one of the few members of the Church of Glory who hadn’t significantly weakened in recent times. He was the first hope to face Richard in a true war against the Archerons, but that plan of action was clearly infeasible now.

All gazes eventually congregated on the Pope himself. The Sacred Tree Empire currently had a total of four epic beings formally under their banner, but three of them were Archangel Michael, Archbishop Hendrick, and Saint Martin. The real Michael had returned to the heavens long ago, and there was no celestial in the Empire powerful enough to compare. Martin was away for the same reason, and with Hendrick’s decision the Pope was the only one left behind.

The old man hadn’t given his all in a fight for entire decades, leaving no one able to estimate his true strength. However, he continued to seem listless under the expectant gazes of the crowd, with no signs of stepping forward. All of the leaders were left helpless; theirs was the only empire in a unique situation where the Church controlled all the epic beings. The royal family could only rely on the Church’s goodwill.

The Emperor eventually caved in, “Your Holiness, would you be willing to assist in a battle against Richard if he appears?”

The Pope shook his head slowly, “I feel the angels are a better recourse. I am growing old, and my confidence has withered in recent years.”

The Emperor almost swore in response. Everyone knew that the four angels of the Empire had been crushed by Richard previously, and even if they were alive Midren was something that could even suppress the armour set for Michael. There was simply no point in sending angels to such a fight. All of the angels were currently in the Church’s grasp anyway; although the royal family had managed to replicate two rune sets at a high cost, those were only normal angels that could not contend at all.

The meeting thus reached an impasse. The Pope left with the same lethargy he had walked in with, seemingly ignorant of the expectations of those present as he returned to his little shrine. With this, any hopes of going up against Richard were dashed.

……

Martin was currently resting against a tall tree, surrounded by a dozen soldiers wearing the same regular armour he himself was covered in. This was a common low-end squad in the war, made entirely of celestials except for him. With the citizens of heaven willing to go entire days without a word, his habit of muttering to himself as he rested drew a number of questioning gazes.

He was currently in the process of removing one of his pauldrons, but the dried blood caused the metal and undershirt to stick to his wounds. He gasped in pain as the flesh parted to give way, glaring at the armour as he examined it, “This is supposed to be celestial armour? Bah, so disappointing!”

Despite the harsh criticism, however, he placed it gently to the side. Heaven was different from Norland; if the armour came into contact with the wrong things, it could be eroded in moments. While this was standard issue armour in the celestial army, it would be considered a full sub-legendary set in Norland. While he had an oily attitude at times, he still needed this thing to keep him alive.

Martin grabbed a random ball of light from around him, condensing it into divine energy that he sprayed onto the wound. However, that energy was countered by a different light within the wound itself, slowing the recovery greatly. Entirely unfazed by this, he simply put the pauldron on once more and looked into the distance, “I’ve done what I can for you, you incarnation of stupid. I hope I don’t have to go to your funeral when I come back.”

“Stop chattering if you have nothing to do!” a rough voice cut him off, “Pick up your sword, rookie! There’s an enemy squad incoming!”

Martin jumped up from the ground in an instant, putting on his helmet and pulling out his sword. Even as the bugles rang out, the distant horizon was filled with a scarlet radiance. The dozen resting warriors jumped into the sky and spread their wings of light, flying towards the threat. Celestials flew up from every corner of the battlefield, becoming points of pure light that converged into a current of energy that opposed the crimson tide. He was just one point among the many, lost in the sea of light.

Both sides were composed of celestial warriors, their armour the same as well. It was only the light they emitted that was different, and as the two currents collided thousands crashed and burned.

……

Back in Faelor, Richard had just destroyed the last warplane of another batch of reapers, unable to even float properly as he crashed down and panted on the ground. Without even the strength to tend to his injuries, he merely wanted to lie down and sleep. However, he knew that meant his injuries were growing more and more severe, to the point that his own impressive natural regeneration couldn’t keep up any longer.

Nasia walked over and patted his shoulder hard, “Is this all the Archeron King can handle? Come on, stick your chest out!”

However, the pat sent him straight to the ground. Grunting with pain, he barely eked out, “Who cares about being a king? Just five minutes… Please…”

Richard immediately fell asleep, not even bothering with the blood on his body. Nasia sighed and called for Waterflower, the two combining to peel his armour off and tend to his injuries. Five minutes was a short time for normal humans, but it was enough for the duo to treat all of his wounds. It was exactly five minutes later that he sat back up as well, moaning softly as he stretched his body.

Seeing his wounds treated, Richard stood up and laughed, “Guys, this means there’s only one… Wait, what? Broodmother, is this accurate? Fucking hell, they just sent out ten more squadrons! This… Heh, whatever. This is perfect. See? They’re almost done. They only managed ten more this time, and next time it’ll be six. Then four, then nothing. We’re getting there!”

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA