Book 3, Chapter 50

To Cherish(2)

A new thought slowly came to Richard’s mind, ‘This man’s ambition can’t be so small.’ Perhaps Gaton really didn’t want to see anything when he sat here.

He thus closed his eyes and gave in to the surroundings, feeling the strong wind hitting him in the face. He slowly started to feel something, but couldn’t place a finger on it. Still, he maintained his patience and returned to a state of peace. A strong foundation in meditation was finally put to use, slowly turning him tranquil.

However, this wasn’t meditation exactly. He was just sitting there calmly, emptying his head and heart.

When the heart was emptied, one could finally put in something new. How much could be put in depended on how large the place was. Richard felt like he couldn’t put too much inside: just two images of the future and it was almost full.

But that man? That man seemed like he could hold the entire world within him… Or perhaps only one silhouette.

Richard finally opened his eyes after what seemed like an eternity, breathing out a puff of turbid air before standing up with a sigh. It was already the next evening.

He leaned against the windowsill, looking at the lights of the city below. The green moon hung high in the sky, the faint moonlight dancing amongst the stars to paint an endless picture. However, behind this facade of glory lay an entire world of conspiracy, of luxuries and desires darker than the night. Below the beautiful sky lay a city of sin.

He was originally engrossed in this darkness, fighting to the best of his ability as he hoped to emerge at the top of this chaos one day. And yet, time and time again, he was proven wrong. The end of his journey was oh so far away. However, that man was standing at the top of this mess already.

Richard knew his journey had only begun. As long as he trudged forward without end, he would reach it someday.

……

The steward was standing by the staircase, clearly waiting for him for what seemed to have been a long time.

The old man still hadn’t recovered completely from his injuries. Even though divine spells could heal the wounds, the damage to his muscles and bones needed time to fix. It was still rather hard for him to move about. And yet, despite all that pain, he insisted on getting off the bed to fulfil his duties the moment Richard came back. At the very least, his back was still ramrod straight.

“Young Master, two visitors are waiting for you in the lounge. Fourth Prince Nyris and Agamemnon Orleans.”

“Nyris and Agamemnon? That’s strange… Alright, bring me to them.”

Nyris stood up the moment Richard stepped into the lounge, laughing, “How primitive is your lounge?! Don’t the Archerons have nine… wait no, ten personal planes now? Still so stingy, you can’t even bear to decorate this pathetic place.”

Richard was rather speechless as that. He understood that luxury was a part of royalty etiquette, but Gaton had never been too particular about such things.

“This wasn’t what we came for,” Agamemnon cut the prince off.

Nyris could only yield, “Right. Richard, I heard there’s a rebellion in your Forest Plane and it’s pretty obvious the Dragon Mage couldn’t handle it herself. Or should I say she doesn’t want to handle it herself? Anyway, you’ll definitely be going there to help her, which is what brings me here. We want to fight alongside you.”

“In the Forest Plane?” Richard looked confused. This issue had nothing to do with either of them, so he couldn’t understand their interest in it. Were they war maniacs?

“Well… this is a family affair,” he eventually said tactfully. He wasn’t too worried about them looking into the plane— after all, both the royal family and the Ironblood Duke possessed so much more than the Archerons in terms of wealth; their problem wasn’t in finding planes, it was in finding people to develop them. However, inviting or even just allowing members of other families to participate in a private war held a lot of significance as well.

“Don’t worry too much about it, just think you’re helping me okay? I’ll owe you one after this! Hey, are you doubting my ability? Even though I’m more handsome than you, my fist is pretty tough too!” Nyris’ voice was getting louder, almost like he was growing angry.

Richard was rather dumbfounded at the overreaction; he almost couldn’t fathom this royal’s way of thinking, “Alright, alright! We’ll be leaving at six in the morning tomorrow. The portal is right here.”

“Got it, we’ll be on time!” Nyris grew uncharacteristically cheerful, dragging Agamemnon out the door.

Richard shook his head. The two were treating this as a game; although both were outstanding individuals that could compare to saints when fully armoured, wars were different from duels. Extraordinary fighters were helpful, but they weren’t everything.

It was early into the night when he moved to Gaton’s command centre, switching the magic table to a map of the Forest Plane again. He rested his chin on his hand, thinking over war plans repeatedly. Of course, the scenarios in his mind mostly involved Lina’s troops, himself, and Flowsand; he didn’t include Nyris and Agamemnon at all. This wasn’t so much distrust of their abilities as the fact that he was used to relying on people he had full control over.

He was so focused he didn’t notice Lina’s shadow pass him by. The Dragon Mage was heading for her room— every one of Gaton’s knights had a personal suite on this level— but she immediately turned back and fixed her gaze onto him.

The command centre was dimly lit, magic light spilling down from the ceiling to be reflected off the map. Richard stood right between the two, deep in thought. The angles of his face were carved out perfectly by the shadows, revealing a hint of the stone-like will hidden in his boyish features. It gave him another layer of charm.

In a flash, it was as though she’d seen Gaton himself standing there.

Gaton always pondered over every little detail before a war. This rough brute had a rather meticulous side to him— every miracle carved by his hands was a product of endless preparation.

She hadn’t thought Richard’s involvement in the Forest Plane would help improve anything drastically; the only goal was to put the pretty little boy in a difficult spot. The backup plan was already in place; once Richard failed, she would abandon the troops and chip away at the rebel army herself until all of them were vanquished. She could grievously wound the enemy saint in a single blow anyway; the protection of the magic towers would only prolong the torture.

Such a victory would greatly delay their development into the plane. It would also force her to recuperate for a while. Nevertheless, in the current situation guarding the plane was much more important than developing it.

The request for his assistance was only an excuse so she could witness him in the middle of adversity. The boy was still young and with a promising future, time was definitely on his side. He was already beyond outstanding when compared to anyone else of his age.

But somehow, looking at him right now, a strange idea popped inside her head. Would Richard actually win this war? Was he, too, a man of miracles?

Who knew? Hadn’t miracles already been formed at his hand? Everyone knew he had the gift to be a runemaster, but two rune sets in his first conference? That alone put his reputation on par with runemaster Lugatti!

Perhaps, just perhaps… He just might win.

Time passed quickly as Lina was lost in her own world of predictions. In the blink of an eye, it was time for them to leave. The Dragon Mage built a small portal in the castle’s chambers, gathering Richard, Flowsand, Nyris, and Agamemnon.

Richard’s friends seemed to be sufficiently prepared. Both were covered in legendary armour sets, their weapons even stronger than that. Agamemnon had a spatial box with who knows how many supplies, while Nyris himself had a bangle and two rings as well.

The equipment was over the top, so much so that even Richard was shocked, “How long do you guys plan to stay there?”

“Don’t we need at least a month or two to put down the rebellion?” Nyris patted Richard’s shoulders as he laughed heartily, “Don’t worry ‘bout me! I packed enough for all four of us for three!”

Richard was rendered completely speechless. Instead of responding, he just jumped into the portal head first.

The first thing he saw on the other side was an endless forest. Forest Plane, a fitting name indeed. There was seemingly no end to the trees, their thick canopy covering the sky as they breathed incomparably fresh air into the surroundings.

Richard took a breath of the damp air and his heart immediately started beating hard. He instantly fell to the ground with a loud thud, his body stiff and still.

A sharp arrow hissed its way through the air above him, burying itself into the trunk of a big tree. The rear end was till vibrating from the impact.

He immediately leapt up and whipped out two fireball spells to constrict the attacker. What followed was acidic fog covering the area the arrow had come from.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA