Book 3, Chapter 38

Confidence

Lina picked up the magic letter, looking over it carefully. She burst into a charming smile, saying to herself, “This fellow wants us to vow loyalty to him! Pfft, he dares to take over the terrible mess Lord Gaton left behind when he’s so young? He has courage, I’ll give him that, but what about ability… Oh alright, it just so happens that things aren’t going well for me here. I’ll go back just this once. Anyway, it’ll be to ask for help. Hehe!”

The Dragon Mage’s mind filled up with thoughts of Richard’s expression when his order for reinforcements was met with a request for help.

……

Near sunset the next day, Asiris, Senma, and Lina met Richard in Gaton’s command centre. When they entered the room, Richard was standing in front of the huge magic table staring at the map of Norland, pondering over something.

They didn’t know whether it was intentional or not, but all three immediately noticed that he occupied the same position Gaton used to.

They ended up waiting for a few minutes until Richard lifted his head, his gaze sweeping past each of them, “Dark Priest Asiris, Blood Paladin Senma, Dragon Mage Lina…”

The knights each made a slight bow when their names were called out, a formal display of their stance. At least on the surface, they accepted him in Gaton’s position for now. However, the depth of their bows had meaning as well; nobody knew how long these three would actually comply.

“I was prepared for none of you to show up,” Richard said with a smile.

“You’re a handsome kid, I had to come back and look,” Senma replied lazily.

“The air in Faust is good for the skin,” Lina followed up.

It was only Asiris— who seemingly never smiled— who said, “We still revere Lord Gaton.”

“That is true!” Richard laughed. He then took out three pieces of paper, handing them over to the knights. Asiris glanced through, finding a dense list of all sorts of objects that could be used as offerings. Combined, they were almost at the level of a greater offering.

“These were all originally stored in the castle’s warehouse, sent over by my Master. Not long ago, the Archeron branch families broke into the warehouse, injuring the steward and Demi before stealing them all.”

Senma put the list down, still languid, “It seems like most of those involved are still on the island—”

“No, they’re escaping!” Lina interrupted, “Don’t tell me they were intimidated by us…”

Through the long window in the command centre, they could already see a mess at the portal leading off the island. Many of the branch family members were rushing out with the intent to leave. Most had some luggage, but there were definitely no offerings on their persons. All the loot had been transported away the moment it was stolen; voluntarily or not, it would end up converging in the hands of the real big shots.

It was only after some time that many of them would realise that offerings were only resources for the rich and powerful. To weaklings like them, they only spelt disaster.

“Do I have to go kill all of them?” the Blood Paladin yawned, “Any later and they’ll all be gone.”

“It’s alright if some people escape,” Asiris replied indifferently, “Their families will be exterminated anyway. It’s only a little inconvenient.”

“So now that we’re all here, can we start?” Senma asked.

However, none of them had expected Richard’s response. “No, let them escape,” he said dully, “I’ll naturally get them to return the offerings with interest in the future. Now isn’t the time for internal strife, our real enemies aren’t on this island.”

The three knights looked at each other, all somewhat surprised.

Richard pushed on the table in front of him with both hands, leaning forward to fix his gaze on the stubborn knights, “Most people— including you— think I’m very small and weak right now. I know you think I’m completely unworthy of Gaton’s position. The Archeron throne is built upon a volcanic crater; without the power to suppress the magma underground, one will be burnt to ashes by the flames. I admit I’m currently far from able to take this seat, but it cannot be left empty. The events on the island are proof aplenty that an empty throne would be a disaster for everyone.

“However, there will come a day when I have the power to hold this position; it might not even take that long! Still, I’ll return the throne to Gaton before I kick him off myself!”

Gaton was a rough, wild man; an erupting volcano. On the other hand, Richard had inherited many of his mother’s traits, appearing more handsome, exquisite, and reserved. They were complete opposites.

And yet, in that moment, this boy seemed to coincide with Gaton in the eyes of the three knights. Gaton too had made empty boasts in the past, but his hands ultimately gave birth to miracles. And right now, his son wanted to kick down their incomparably revered lord from his throne in the future!

It was an absurd claim, but they couldn’t bring themselves to laugh.

“Since you’re back, stay another two days; I’ll be holding a rune convention of my own then. I don’t hope for a vow of loyalty, only for you to have a little more confidence in me.”

……

Richard’s return was a major piece of news that followed right after Gaton’s disappearance. Although it didn’t shock the entire Alliance like the Gaton incident had, it still alarmed at least half of Faust.

Island 7-2 was the centre of the shock, the chaos rippling out everywhere else. The people who tried to leave were one such ripple.

However, not everyone could just leave.

The teleportation gate flickered continuously, consuming magic crystals with no seeming end. These crystals naturally came from the Archeron warehouse, from Gaton’s warehouse. It was another ultimate benefit that these children of the branches had taken for granted. They came through the portal and left through it, not realising that it needed money for its upkeep as well.

There was chaos outside the portal, with many people shoving each other to seize a better position. The gate could only allow a limited number of people through at once, and everyone wanted to leave as soon as they could. If not for the few demonic Archerons standing around the portal, these monkeys would likely start fighting to get to the front.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: XE

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA