Book 3, Chapter 43

Just Youth

Richard’s rune convention had made island 7-2 the focus of the entire Sacred Alliance once more. The event had barely come to an end before invitation cards were piling up on Richard’s desks like snow. Powerful families with great status hoped for him to attend their private banquets, guaranteeing the presence of elders with power. Those with lesser status even hoped to visit him at his convenience.

The old steward was shocked by it all. He ignored his injuries and forced himself off his bed, personally going out to accept and arrange all the invitations and name cards. He brought along two literate attendants and had them record the appeals of each family, organising the invitations into separate categories to make it easy for Richard to go through them.

Most surprising was that the Wellinburg Family had an invitation in there as well!

This family had the highest status amongst those sending the invitations. Those with more power, like the royal family, would rather send representatives of sufficient status to contact Richard privately and extend an in-person invitation. It should have been the same with the Wellinburgs, but this invitation represented a change in their attitude. The family’s silhouette had once been present amongst those who supported the Archerons’ enemies from behind.

The old steward carefully placed this invitation right in the middle of Richard’s desk, positioning it very neatly.

……

Just as the convention ended, Richard had been worried about how he would leave the Temple of Glory. Fortunately, a group of royal guards squeezed into the eastern hall and solved his problem. At the helm was Prince Mordent, the representative of the entire royal family and a mouthpiece for His Majesty Philip. The Prince announced that Richard was officially a royal runemaster from that day forth, and that he would report directly to the Emperor.

This news was shocking in a way, but in another it was not. It sounded unbelievable for a seventeen-year-old boy to become a royal runemaster, but one who could build rune sets definitely qualified for the position.

The guards escorted Richard out of the Temple of Glory, bringing him to a small and quiet building on the mountain behind Faust. Although this wasn’t a floating island, it was still royal territory. Some of the lesser royals lived here, so people could not just come and go as they pleased.

A fine feast was prepared on the top floor of the building. When Richard walked into the room, he saw two people sitting on opposite ends of the table stand up to welcome him.

One of them was a handsome boy who looked to be under twenty, his eyes shining like morning stars. The initial impression he gave others was that he was very normal, without any aura of power, but Richard felt a faint pressure coming from him. His most eye-catching characteristic was that he looked so delicate and pretty that one couldn’t tell his gender. If he changed into female clothing, he would look like a top-class beauty that surpassed even elves. In this regard, he beat even Richard himself.

Next to the boy was a tall young man who seemed 24 or 25. He was well-built but not too much so, his proportions flawless with his valiant aura exposed for everyone to see. Every muscle on his body seemed able to call forth a thunderous power at any time.

Richard felt a sting in his eye when gazing upon him, as if he was shot with a tiny amount of electricity. Most attention-grabbing were the faint patterns on the youth’s exposed chest and forearms. Such numerous and complicated arrays, covering almost all of his body… If it wasn’t a grade 4 rune, it had to be some kind of set.

“Welcome, Richard! I’m Nyris, the fourth son of that moody Emperor Philip. You can just call me Nyr.”

Richard bowed in respect, following the most stringent of noble etiquette, “It is an honour to meet you, Your Highness Nyris.”

The prince waved it off with a smile, “Don’t be so restrained. The thing I hate the most is all this complicated etiquette, it’s all just a waste of invaluable time! This fellow is always chiding me, saying wasting time is no different from wasting divine grace. To waste fifteen years is a waste of a Torrent of Life.”

Richard greatly sympathised with Nyris’ words; he wished he could put every second he was in Norland to use. Countless issues were waiting for him to deal with them, and every day he spent here was ten days passed in Faelor. He was losing divine grace!

Nyris pointed to the tall young man, “This guy is called Agamemnon. He’s amazing, normal people can’t beat him! He’s the youngest son of the Ironblood Duke.”

Agamemnon stretched out a hand, “Agamemnon.”

“Richard.”

The youth’s palm was neither soft nor hard, but it was incredibly warm with a constant aura of strength. Even with Precision, Richard could not confirm his level. This was extremely rare: ever since both of his blessings had reached grade 2, few amongst even Norland’s saints could hide their strength before him.

However, this handshake conveyed a lot of information. Agamemnon was confident, strong, and full of interest in him. There was also a hint of appreciation and friendliness.

But a shiver ran through Richard’s heart. This wasn’t because of Agamemnon himself, but the name of Ironblood. Grand Duke Orleans, the Ironblood Duke, was the ruler of island 5-5, adjacent to the royal family. And he had the power to match; forget the Sacred Alliance, he was a colossal figure across all of Norland.

Agamemnon stared at Richard for a while before flashing a smile that could hardly be seen, “I like you, Richard, but I don’t represent my family.”

This was only the first time they had met, and this fellow threw out such a direct declaration of his position. Richard, who was starting to grow familiar with the rules of the aristocracy, was left a little unsure of his answer. “This… I can understand.”

Nyris laughed, patting Richard’s shoulder with some force, “Alright, there’s no need to care about this guy. He doesn’t talk at all, sometimes you won’t hear more than a few sentences from him in an entire day. He’d probably compress an entire paragraph into a word if he could. Come, let’s eat before the dishes grow cold. Wasting time is wasting divine grace!”

Only Nyris, Agamemnon, and Richard were left in the room. All the attendants left, carefully closing the door.

It seemed that there would not be any more guests. Richard took a seat at the table and waited for Prince Nyris to explain the aim of this meeting. His intuition gave him a good feeling about the two young men— they were strong, straightforward, and sunny.

Of course, given their identities and status, there was no need for them to play dirty tricks. Most of the time, such ploys would not help grow their status.

Nyris started to sweep up the food on the table the moment he sat down, his manners so elegant that he even seemed a little graceful as he gobbled up the food at an unbelievable rate.

He ate and spoke at the same time, “Richard, I was the one who arranged the time and location of the convention. Father really wanted to see your talent and ability, and I felt this was the best method to force out as much of you as we could. As expected, you didn’t disappoint. To be exact, you actually exceeded everyone’s expectations. A lot of eyes in Faust are now focused on you, paying attention to the results of the convention.”

His voice was clear, crisp, and sweet. If one closed their eyes, they would only hear a smoothly flowing paragraph. However, Richard could not understand how the youth managed to speak with his mouth full of food. Nyris was eating fast and talking fast, both at the same time with neither disturbed by the other.

Seeing him still in a daze, Nyris called out to him, “Eat! Why aren't you eating? Food is the source of energy, you can only battle if you eat! That’s the most accurate sentence dad has ever said. Aren’t you from the Deepblue? Her Excellency Sharon is famous for being able to eat well, even my dad admires her very much.”

Richard didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He turned to look, and even the silent Agamemnon was buried in his food and eating hard. It seemed like these two had a common hobby. In fact, he himself had built up an appetite that didn’t match his appearance in the Deepblue, it was just that he couldn’t show it during a formal meeting. Seeing how quickly the two were sweeping through the food, this large table might possibly not be enough for all three of them.

“Nyris, isn’t Lunor the royal great runemaster? Why is your arrangement… Let me be a little more direct… It seems like you want to use me to suppress him?” Richard had been influenced by the other two, throwing away any probes and hints that he would normally have opted for in the situation.

“Lunor? Hmph, he’s just a borer, and an especially fat one at that!” Nyris huffed, a wry smile on his face, “We give him enough materials every year to create hundreds of powerful runes, but he gives us less than ten. That isn’t even 10%, even a normal runemaster wouldn’t have such a low success rate! His greed is endless. Every year he gets a huge sum of gold and resources from the family, but the number of runes he’s giving us is actually dropping. If the number doesn’t change, the quality will. Being greedy isn’t much, but his greed is already affecting the ability of the powerhouses of our Alliance. This goes past our bottom line.”

Richard nodded, waiting for the next part.

Nyris continued, “So this was Father’s idea: as long as you could bring out a rather decent rune at the convention, we would immediately make an exception and have you become a royal runemaster. This would create pressure on Lunor and restrict him, and at the same time, we could use resources to train you instead of letting them fall into his pockets. This way, we might also have a saint runemaster in the future. Even if you no longer served as the royal runemaster, we would at least be friends.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Pei

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA