Book 3, Chapter 28

Return

Phinbar and Chuck retreated stealthily. There were many reasons for this, some hidden from their subordinates. The sniper had observed that Richard’s army had the power to kill a saint. In a situation where both sides had an equal number of saints, Richard had enough power to decide the outcome of the battle.

Chuck’s astute sense of danger had actually saved them. The assumption of equal numbers was actually wrong; Lord Moonbear’s presence would have overwhelmingly changed the tides of the battle.

The situation in the Bloodstained Lands grew even more chaotic over the next month. The fundamental balance had been uprooted, with several huge caravans from the Golden Warflag looted in quick succession. They soon started targeting Red Cossack in return, both sides erupting into war in every corner of the Bloodstained Lands. The complete chaos did no good for either side, rendering all the traditional trading routes far more dangerous than normal. Both sides were losing at least 10,000 gold every day.

Richard himself had attacked only once in this period of time, annihilating a group of bandits that were only a hundred strong. Most of his time was spent preparing the teleportation gate that would lead them back to Norland, as well as designing a rune set for his return.

A mysterious fleet of carriages arrived at Bluewater at the end of the month, moving directly into his territory. Richard had already marked out a zone at the centre where his slaves had dug a pit. After about half a month, a strange stone tower was built there.

This was a Lighthouse of Time!

All the materials had come from the one at the original Archeron base. The broodmother’s humanoid drones had taken it apart, moving it all to the Bloodstained Lands. With more than a month since she last sent soldiers his way, she had amassed more than a hundred humanoids as well as a few dozen throwers and wind wolves.

Baron Forza had heaved a sigh of relief when he received the news that Richard was in the Bloodstained Lands. Only a few dozen people were guarding the Archeron base; after all, he was beaten so badly he couldn’t afford to send any more. They had been nothing when compared to the broodmother’s army, easily annihilated by the humanoids and throwers.

The dismantling of the lighthouse was a sufficient display of the advantages of giving the humanoids high intelligence and dexterity. They were already no different from more foolish humans, and the two elites could even be considered smart by normal standards. Over a hundred of them working together had managed to quickly take the entire thing apart, transporting it away.

As the Lighthouse of Time was made of many precious materials, the cost of building one was just far too immense. Thankfully, the people of Faelor— or at least Baron Forza— did not know of its function. He had no interest in a stone tower that did not match his aesthetics in the slightest, which made things easier for Richard.

However, a small uproar had erupted in Bluewater. Although it looked a little too small to live in, making integral facets like a laboratory, spell boosts, and defence unlikely, it still appeared to be a mage tower from the outside. A mage tower appearing in the city was not a good thing, even if it was at the border. It would gift a lot of control over to Richard.

It took some effort for Richard to make it all go away. He ended up pretending to unwittingly reveal that the strange thing was meant for prayers, able to transmit faith more distinctly. He didn’t mention whether this was for ancestral worship of something else, but it was enough to pacify his old friends who had come calling. Amon and Devon had also sent over mages when the tower was being built, and they concluded that the patterns on the tower were some sort of unknown divine language and not a magic formation. Since the tower was only as high as a regular archery tower and posed no threat to their territories, the matter was soon forgotten.

Richard was finished with the teleportation gate by the time the Lighthouse of Time was completed. He calculated it could only send three people back to Norland, using up all 300 magic crystals he currently possessed. At least in the short term, he could not get any more.

……

Late in the night. With the Book of Time in hand, Flowsand ascended to the top floor of the lighthouse. A silent chant caused the book to emit a golden ray of light, the torches nearby starting to burn with a pale gold flame. Blurred scenes seemed to flash in these flames on occasion.

The Lighthouse of Time had finally been ignited once more.

A two-storey building had been attached to the lighthouse, housing Richard’s teleportation gate. The building had a massive amount of soldiers stationed to protect it, and a large number of magic materials were stored as well.

A large formation with strange patterns had already been prepared in the hall, a standard planar teleportation spell. These patterns contained information about Norland’s coordinates, their main function to embed Faelor’s own into the spatial channel. That way, he could effectively isolate himself from the senses of the local gods.

Looking at the undulations from the lighthouse, Richard took a deep breath and crouched down to place his hand on a magic crystal. The crystal slowly brightened under the guidance of his own magic, pure mana turning into blazing streams of light that flowed through the formation as they set off all the other crystals along the way. A moment later, all the crystals dumped a great amount of mana into the gate, slowly forming a portal in the centre of the formation.

Behind this portal was Norland! Flowsand had said the destination would be the Church of the Eternal Dragon in Faust.

Richard was beside himself with joy as he looked at the gate, wondering how everyone back in Norland was doing. However, he quickly began to have second thoughts. Given the Blessing of Unhurriedness that slowed time in Faelor, less than a month had passed back in Norland. Even if he’d been drifting around in spacetime due to the turbulence for a long time, not more than two months could have passed. What could happen in two months?

When Flowsand entered the hall and saw the portal glimmering splendidly, she was dazed. Inadvertently, she revealed a hint of sorrow.

“We can return!” Richard said, his elated voice booming.

“Yes, we can…” her smile was forced.

Richard looked at Flowsand, puzzled, “What’s with you? Aren’t you happy?”

She immediately hummed and returned to normal pushing back, “I’m only feeling bad about these offerings and magic crystals! The lighthouse is damaged, so they’re only enough for a single round trip! It’s impossible to bring someone else! Just hope you can earn the costs back with your runes and those goods, or we won’t have enough money to return in the future. Also, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Upgrading the passage will be an even larger expense!”

Richard’s excitement completely died down. Amidst all the massive risk that came with planar war, one of the most important aspects was the huge cost of building and maintaining portals. A temporary gate like this one, designed to be hidden from the gods of the plane, would be even more expensive. A hundred magic crystals were needed for a single person’s round trip. By Norland’s standards, this was 75,000 gold! This was why he and Flowsand were the only ones returning.

Richard had already made all sorts of preparations. He gathered all of his followers before leaving, leaving them with instructions for when he was gone. Carrying two specially-made magic sealing boxes, he entered the portal after Flowsand.

As the light enveloped him, only one thought was left behind, ‘Norland… I’m finally back!’

……

Planar teleportation could be instant or it could take some time, the largest known duration in history being a month. However, no matter how much time passed the person being teleported felt like only an instant had passed. The grand mages of the Deepblue that studied this phenomenon labelled the time difference stolen time. However, nobody knew who the thief was.

Spacetime turbulence was extremely complicated, hiding far too many secrets. This was the domain of the Eternal Dragon; at the very least, one needed to be able to shuttle between planes to perform research in the field. Not even every legendary mage had this ability.

Even as Richard was preparing for the teleportation, the situation in island 7-2 was quickly losing balance. The Archeron branch families were mostly at the bottom of noble society, most of them unworthy of their titles and living the lives of commoners. In Faust, however, they had seen true luxury and prestige, the privilege of the upper class. This change in position was not something everyone could handle; all the children of the branch families wanted such lives.

They hated the influential nobles, hated their privileged and luxurious lives. However, they did not hate privilege itself; the root of their dissatisfaction came from the fact that these privileges did not belong to them.

Now, however, right before the eyes of these vulgar children of the branch families, was a chance at instant success.

Offerings!

Something they had never even dared to think about was lingering before their eyes, resounding in their ears, shaking their very hearts. In the eyes of the branches, even the lowest of ceremonies was a path to success. They had no idea what offerings did, nor did they understand how the gifts of the Eternal Dragon were things that left most people unsure of whether to laugh or cry. In all their ignorance, they felt like offerings were the most effective way to solve all problems. Perhaps the only way.

Large quantities of offerings were sitting on the island, and the barrier to entry was just a feeble old butler. Temptation was always around, and for those who desired a better position this one was irresistible! Every day’s wait was a huge test of their patience.

The representatives of the branch families, those monkeys who carried the Archeron name, banded together once more. With a list of the offerings in hand, they requested to enter the warehouse to check the quantities of the offerings.

And amongst the people leading them, the most enthusiastic was the newly promoted leader of the foot soldiers, Erwin.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA