Book 1, Chapter 31A

Deepblue Aria

Every year, on the last day of April, Norland’s seven moons would hang side by side in the beautiful night sky. This day was said to be a life-changing moment for many, and was known as the Day of Destiny.

The Day of Destiny was a festival celebrated by many countries on the continent, and was also common with many less intelligent tribes, especially those who practiced magic.

It was said that this was a day when all the Gods would hear the voices of their followers, sending spokespeople or even transforming into mortal forms themselves as they roamed the streets to listen to their people. The devout would receive rewards, while the unbelievers would end up empty-handed. Only those who’d crossed planes knew that folklore would remain folklore.

Nonetheless, there truly were many life-changing things on that fateful day. Alice’s rune knights had broken through the combined ranks of Solam and Niall in a brilliant ambush, counter attacking the rune knights of the combined army. 20 against 18, the disadvantage to her, she’d lost only 5 knights to wipe out her opponents completely!

This was a battle that would decide the standing of both parties. Viscount Alice had put her knights on the frontlines, piercing through her opponents’ defences like a hot knife through butter. A large opening was made into their steel defence, only growing larger as the battle finally concluded with her victory. Tens of thousands of men were enslaved, and about a thousand cavalry had been lost as well. The Solam Family announced their withdrawal from the battle, while Niall sent an ambassador almost immediately to start peace talks.

Military law from ancient times dictated that any peace talks were determined by the outcome of the battle just prior. Marquess Niall ended up losing over a third of his territory in exchange for ten years of peace, giving Alice the land she needed to become an earl. The only thing left was the Sacred Alliance Emperor’s decree.

The battle between the rune knights resulted in both victory and losses, but the talk of the public was of course about the huge difference in the strength of both parties, which was the main reason for Alice’s victory. They would start guessing at the enigmatic runemaster under Alice from then; whoever it was, they far exceeded the famous Saint Klaus.

Alice may have been a hot topic in the southwest of the Sacred Alliance, but even more people on the continent were discussing Gaton. On the Day of Destiny, Gaton Archeron had chosen to enter the capital of the Sacred Alliance, the city of legends Faust!

The road to Faust has always been paved by metal and blood. Many tried to hinder the path of visitors, both openly and in the dark. Some just sent men to kill the new entrants directly.

This was all a rule the first emperor implemented, now a tradition of the Sacred Alliance. People without the ability to break through the defences and live through ambush after ambush had no right to step into the city of legends. It was also deemed legal for anyone to attack the territories of anyone entering Faust.

This was something that had been passed down for hundreds of years. Behind the glory of everyone who managed to enter Faust was a road filled with roses and bloodshed. People often only remembered the ones who succeeded, not those who disappeared along the way.

Gaton’s decision had evoked many discussions in the continent. The Archerons had obtained the power to challenge Faust long ago, but they had never had the unity to do it. As chief, Gaton could only represent himself. Moreover he was rising too quickly, which in the eyes of the older royals was not a good thing. They thought that he lacked foundation, a word which meant many things in contest. Secret and private planes, neverending wealth, mature rune knights, well-equipped elite troops, and talents that could be further improved. All this took time, a lot of it.

A lack of foundation why upstarts fell quickly, and in their eyes Gaton was without doubt a very stupid upstart.

The road to Faust was not a smooth one for Gaton Archeron, but he was not like the other families before him who brought all their troops to break through the defences. Instead he did the complete opposite. All his soldiers across various planes were stationed where they were to prevent invasions, and even his authority as family chief wasn’t made use of.

When Gaton Archeron set off on his journey, he only had 13 rune knights with him. It was thus shocking to the entire Sacred Alliance that he appeared before the entrance of Faust right on time at noon.

This was the first time any Archeron had stepped foot into Faust, and it also signified that from this day onwards, the Archerons would become one of the most influential families in the continent.

The Day of Destiny was special for Richard, as well. At 11 in the night he was called to meet Sharon, and his gut told him this meeting would be a special one…

As night fell upon the beautiful Floe Bay, the Deepblue was brightly lit. Waves of what looked like blue smoke flowed out of various parts of the tower, ascending its sides. From afar, it looked like a elegant and mysterious blue crystal tower stood high on the far end of Floe bay. The land around the Deepblue had thousands of bonfires lit and burning fiercely, making it seem like a starlit sky if one looked down from above. The people didn’t seem to feel the chilly spring as they gathered around the bonfires, singing, dancing, drinking, and admiring they once-a-year lighting of the Deepblue.

Most of these people lived on the outskirts, and the Deepblue was an asylum to them that served as a pillar of strength. As long as the Deepblue stood tall, their pride would never cease.

Yet on this night of celebration, the Deepblue itself was dead quiet. The grand mages had long since grown indifferent to the event, having seen bigger celebrations in the past. To them, the world of magic was already endless, there was no need to numb and lose oneself through these meaningless celebrations and festivals.

It was time for Richard to see Sharon. The huge magic puppets opened the heavy metal doors before Richard, revealing the spiral staircase that led up. Designed according to the liking of the higher-ups of the Deepblue, the doors were tall and simple, a deep red ochre with a natural veiny pattern. This primitive beauty reminded one of the origin; a savage wasteland of destruction and despair.

The stairs were fine and delicate, radiating light everywhere. At first look it seemed like nothing, but anyone who stared at the radiance would immediately feel dizzy and confused until they couldn’t make out what material they were made of. The statues on the handrails were all intoxicating, standing out even more under the dim light as mesmerising works of art. The height of the stairs made Richard dizzy, this was already the highest region of Deepblue, and any higher would mean Sharon’s personal area. Even the grand mages had no rights to enter that.

The legendary master wanted to see him in her personal region?

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