Book 3, Chapter 36

Subdue

The first thing Richard did was to walk around the castle’s basement, looking through every room before stopping at the warehouse. He slowly swept his eyes across everything.

He then walked to the second floor, but this time the quiet Archerons that had been protecting him all this while did not follow him. They instead scattered to every corner of the castle, taking up guard duty.

The small number of guards left behind by Gaton were now concentrated on the second floor and beyond. Still devoted to their lord, they were prepared to guard the most important parts of the castle to their deaths. He met the old steward in his room, finding the man bedridden and incapable of moving freely. A crisp sound of knuckles cracking rang out from his clenched hands.

Seeing Richard arrive, the old man forced his injured body up. “Young Master Richard!” he shouted, his entire body trembling, “You’re back!”

Richard walked to the bedside and said softly, “I’m back, safe and sound. I’ve also built a base on another plane.”

The steward nodded forcefully, “Master always thought about you before he left. We never expected… You don’t need to worry, Master was only hit by a small trap. He will definitely return.”

Richard patted the old man’s hand gently, “I know he won’t die. Rest well… I’ll take care of everything here.”

The steward suddenly thought of something and took off his necklace, revealing a golden key tied to the tip. He passed the key onto Richard, “Master left you something on the highest floor of the castle. Her Highness Mountainsea sent a present as well, which is placed in his private room. This is the key; it needs to be soaked in your blood before it is used, or it will trigger an extremely powerful lightning trap that would kill even a saint. I feared those people would rush into the restricted areas, so I sealed it off after putting the gift from Her Highness Mountainsea inside.”

Richard took the key, leaving the room to continue looking through the castle. He took a deep breath after gently closing the door, releasing a hint of sulphur into the air.

On the third floor, he saw his own siblings. Wennington and Venica were pretty good blaze guardians, while Demi was already a level 11 cursemaster only slightly weaker than himself. However, the latter looked very weak, her collar pulled up.

Richard frowned, reaching out to pull down her collar until almost the entirety of her breasts was exposed. On her collarbone was a ghastly patch of a bruise.

Richard’s pupils narrowed and he asked dully, “They violated you?”

“No! It’s not what you think. It’s just…” Demi somewhat avoided Richard’s eye before finally sighing and said helplessly, “Alright, I was too careless at the time. They snuck a hit on me and I was beaten heavily. The bruise on my shoulder was from the fall, only a scratch. It’s very embarrassing, but…”

“Where were you hit?”

She helplessly pointed to her abdomen.

Richard gently traced his hands over her abdomen. Although she didn’t make any sound, her eyebrows clearly furrowed for a moment.

He didn’t say anything, quietly leaving her room to continue upstairs. The fourth floor was Gaton’s exclusive work area, with the core servants and his followers normally entering the place from a separate staircase.

Having followed behind Richard all this while, Fuschia stopped and shrugged her shoulders, “I shouldn’t be going upstairs, I’ll wait for you here.”

Richard nodded, “Alright. I’ll come down and look for you after a while. I think there are many topics we need to discuss with regards to the Earl.”

The work area combined Gaton’s study, his office, and command centre. Similar to before, Richard looked through everything before making his way up. However, at the end of the staircase was a locked door.

Richard slid the key across his wrist, tainting the gold with a spurt of blood. The key seemed to absorb all it could get for a few moments, beginning to emit a crimson radiance. He then put it in the keyhole, opening the door with a slight twist. The lock clicked open, the door silently opening inwards.

The first thing he saw inside was the skeletal remains of the ancient beast. He also saw the astral beast head that was wrapped in many layers of cloth. A single glance told him that they would both serve as great offerings; the exposed remains were emitting an aura of aeons, while whatever was wrapped within the cloth gave him an intense feeling of danger. If sent to the Church of the Eternal Dragon, it would be amongst the highest level of offerings.

Richard came to a decision in no time. He would hold a ceremony with these two items before he left for Faelor; they were the most valuable things in the castle, and he felt like he had to convert as much of his wealth as possible into ready power. Only during sacrifices would offerings reflect their true value.

He walked to the huge, dusty package and recognised the texture of magic cloth. He wasn’t in a hurry to undo the rather familiar knot, instead looking over it to find words in a familiar handwriting scrawled on the side with a magic pen. “Be careful” were the only words Sharon had left behind, but he still stared at them for a long time.

Lastly, he came to the Archeron cemetery. The mountain still had a sunset sky, the smell of sulphur permeating everywhere even as the crater regularly spouted bursts of thick, smoking lava. The dark tombstones everywhere stood quietly, conveying the history of blood and fire.

He now knew that this was an independent space, only accessible to approved Archerons. Anybody without access would need to use pure strength to suppress and eliminate the owner’s mark, making him the only one on the island able to enter the cemetery. He lifted his head, looking up at the volcano towards the uppermost level of the graveyard. He still remembered that his mother would eventually rest there.

And Gaton… If that man didn’t die in some other plane, he would also be buried on that level one day.

Richard stood there quietly, trying to expel his father from his heart. He absolutely didn’t want to think about anything concerning the man. In his heart, the Archeron cemetery originally didn’t concern him at all.

Still, as his gaze swept past every corner of the graveyard, he decided to ensure that this place remained undisturbed by any bandits or enemies. It had nothing to do with the Archeron Family; he was just protecting his mother’s final home.

At least that’s how he convinced himself.

……

The cemetery was the last part of the castle that Richard visited. He finally returned to Gaton’s command centre, standing quietly in front of the large map of Norland. He remained there for an entire hour, his thoughts unknown.

It was only when the sun set that he finally moved. A pull of a rope sounded a bell that summoned two attendants, faces he had once seen beside Gaton and knew had served him for many years. There was no need to doubt their loyalty.

“What are your instructions, Young Master?” one of the old men asked. These attendants had droves of knowledge, and were individually decently strong as well. In fact, they were equivalent to the steward who handled Gaton’s daily affairs.

“There are five knights stationed in other planes right now?” Richard muttered.

“Yes, Young Master. Blood Paladin Senma, Berserker Ward…” the attendant quickly started to rattle off their names, but Richard interrupted him, “There’s no need for details, it doesn’t matter. Find a way to inform them to rush back to the island as fast as they can. I know every plane has a portal leading here, so if there aren’t any accidents I should be able to see them around this time tomorrow. All of them!”

The attendant agreed, but then followed up, “Young Master, they still need to guard their planes. It might not be convenient for them to come back…”

Richard interrupted the man again, “The situation here has already devolved this far and they still can’t come? Besides, they can still return later. Tell them that I’m taking over the family until Marquess Gaton returns. They have to come and see me! If they’re not here around this time tomorrow, whoever is absent doesn’t have to come back anymore. I’ll personally pay them a visit in the future!”

“This… It might not be a good idea. Perhaps after some time, say a year or two, it might be more appropriate,” the attendant said worriedly. He remained tactful while trying to point out that Richard perhaps wasn’t strong enough right now, that his wish to replace Gaton as the Archeron protector wasn’t mature yet. At the very least, it would be difficult to intimidate those generals under Gaton who originally wouldn’t bow their heads to anyone else.

Richard sensed his actual meaning, putting on a smile, “It’s alright, go and pass down the news. At least in smaller wars, I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Advice given, the attendant had done his duty. He thus transmitted the news to Gaton’s four planes through the magic circles.

……

The reactions of the five knights were each different from the other.

Blood Paladin Senma was lazily dozing off on a balcony, the bright and beautiful sunshine causing her eyelids to grow heavy. She swept through the message once when she received it, mumbling, “It’s that restless guy again, trying to make us declare our positions… Hmph, it should be for those even more restless fellows to see. So silly!”

She simply tossed the paper to one side, closing her eyes and continuing her sleep.

A gentle breeze brushed past, picking up the piece of paper and wanting to carry it far away. However, a beautiful and slender hand suddenly caught it and picked it up from the wind.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: XE

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA