Book 3, Chapter 58

Never Alone

Richard was confused upon hearing this. Didn’t the old steward not know about the relationship between Erwin and Coco? But that was impossible. This girl had met Erwin in secret before, and it was the steward himself who had told him about it.

He stood up, and Coco immediately brought him fresh clothes. He looked at her as he dressed, asking casually, “You don’t hate me?”

“Of course not.”

Richard hummed and sneered, “I had your lover castrate himself in front of you; you fainted then and there! You don’t hate me? What rubbish!”

Coco hung her head down and replied quietly, “No, that’s not it. I was surprised, because… I’d never seen anything so bloody.”

“An Archeron scared of seeing blood?”

Coco went quiet, on the verge of tearing up. Still, she gritted her teeth and refused to cry, “My Archeron bloodline is very thin, to the point you can say I don’t have it. I know I shouldn’t be on this island, but… I have no choice. Erwin doesn’t even share the family name!”

‘You were calling yourselves Archerons when robbing us,’ Richard had wanted to say, but looking at her ready to weep he skipped the sarcasm. “You should know Erwin will die as long as he serves me,” he said indifferently, “it’s just that I don’t want him to die too early. The longer he takes to die, the more torture he will endure. Conversely, the better off his family will be. If you wish to use yourself for his freedom, it’s best you don’t speak; that will only enrage me. The consequences of my anger are dire.”

Coco’s head was practically buried into her chest at this point, her voice a mere whisper, “It’s not for him, I mean it! I admit I did like him, but… Whatever happened was completely out of my expectations. I never thought he would do something like that. But I didn’t betray you! Really… At least, not with my body.”

“So you like me?” Richard sneered at her slightly.

Coco went quiet for a while, but eventually she chose to speak the truth. She knew that she wasn’t smart, so this would likely not be the most stupid choice, “No, that isn’t true either. I… I hope you can forgive me. I’ll work hard to do whatever you want from me.”

Richard headed for the mirror, beginning to tidy up, “You hope I can forgive you? There’s no need for that; you’ve done nothing that needs my forgiveness.”

However, Richard’s calmness only amplified the girl’s fear. Seeing him done fixing his clothes, she hastily held onto him, “No, I beg you, don’t do this! The more you say that the more afraid I get. I know you’re going to leave again, please, can you tell me what I need to do when you’re gone? If you don’t tell me, I… I’ll be terrified every day.”

Every word coming from this girl’s mouth was the truth. Richard’s heart lurched involuntarily, and he turned to look over her quietly. This was a little white flower, a common sight anywhere. ‘Encourage truth amongst those next to you,’ he remembered an old saying as he hesitated.

“Coco…” he finally spoke up, “If you wish for my forgiveness, it will be both simple and difficult. You only have to do one thing— make me believe you’ve truly fallen in love with me.”

“This… alright, I’ll work hard.” Coco knew her acting was not the best. However, since this was a request from Richard himself she felt much more assured regardless of the difficulty.

Richard walked to the bookshelf and picked out a book, passing it to Coco, “Here’s some help. The words on the title page will let you understand me better.”

Coco only looked at the tome once Richard left. It was Tales of the Great Charles, a biography of the founding emperor of the Sacred Alliance. The focus of the book was obviously on how he led millions of soldiers into the abyss, returning with dragon Daramore’s head. Even she had heard these stories before.

She opened the book and flipped to the title page. The words printed there were the same words the Emperor had spoken while stepping on the abyssal dragon’s head.

Those who obey me, prosper. Those who oppose me, die.

……

When Richard reached the Church of the Eternal Dragon, it wasn’t yet eight. He sent word of his arrival and a beautiful cleric came out to welcome him, guiding him to a quiet meditation room at the back of the church. High Priestess Ferlyn entered right after.

He stood up, bowing respectfully, “Esteemed High Priestess, may I know what instructions you have for me? As long as I am capable of it, I will do my best.”

Richard held true admiration for Ferlyn. She always dressed plainly, looking beautiful but not stunning. And yet, the light, ethereal aura she radiated was something nobody could emulate. As long as one was by her side, they would be affected by this aura, keeping their minds content and empty.

Just as he had returned to Norland, he had been met with the crisis of Gaton being trapped in another plane. If not for the Church being willing to protect him, he had no idea how he would have dealt with this matter. The fear of Sharon might have been able to save his life, but that was the extent of it. He would not be able to protect the Archerons in Faust, perhaps not even the lives of his own siblings. It was a common sight for powerful enemies to annihilate the roots of the families they killed.

Be it Ferdinand, Jacqueline, or Noelene, their decisions would definitely require permission from Ferlyn first and foremost.

The high priestess sat down opposite him, gesturing for him to do the same. Her voice was sweet and gentle, as calm and distant as ever, “Richard, I already looked through the offering you sent and can confirm that it is the head of an astral beast. While not yet an adult, its value is difficult to estimate. In terms of time, it can give you somewhere around fifty years of extra life.”

Richard’s breathing grew hurried. This was fifty years of life, a temptation that nobody could resist. How many things could be accomplished in fifty years? Even on an incomparably expansive primary plane, fifty years was enough to establish the foundations of a huge empire.

Time was the basis of limitless hope and possibilities.

“This is a tremendous amount of grace,” Ferlyn continued, “The time right now is critical, and the situation in Faust can change at any moment. The allocation of this grace is very important. What are your plans?”

Richard had long since considered this question, “My first choice is obviously to register Faelor with the Eternal Dragon and strengthen the passage.”

Ferlyn nodded in praise. This was a very sensible choice: an upgraded passage would be more stable and have a higher capacity. Put in simple terms, more people and items could be teleported for a lesser cost.

Ten years’ worth of divine grace would drop the cost of teleporting a fully armed rune knight to 30,000 coins while further reducing the cost of magic items. Another ten years would drop that to 20,000, a higher standard than the planes Gaton already possessed. Of course, that was outside of the Forest Plane which the Schumpeters had controlled for a long time. The passage there had already been upgraded a number of times, so even an unfixed portal would only be about 10,000 coins’ worth of magic crystals per person.

As for the Rosie Plane, things were entirely different. The Mensas had operated in this plane that was originally named Ricarweiz for centuries, establishing an empire that occupied most of the plane. They had performed a great ceremony for the thousandth year, changing the name to Rosie. With centuries of constant offerings, the passage had grown extremely powerful. Before all the issues with the plane, the cost of teleporting a level 10 warrior was a mere 200 coins.

However, Gaton’s army which was tens of thousands strong cost nearly ten million gold! He had gone all out for this, leaving no room for failure. In fact, most of the costs had come out of Sharon’s pocket.

As long as the legendary mage was around, Gaton had no need to worry about the costs of the war. Gaton only needed to focus on killing without restraint. If the Mensa Family’s territories could be burnt up and looted, she would treat the money she spent on the war as something she had never earned.

Nobody knew that the Sharon who had instructed Gaton in the art of war wasn’t the one that was always gnashing her teeth adorably. She had spoken calmly and with clarity, helping him understand her lessons clearly.

When Ferlyn asked for the rest, Richard had no idea. The blessings one would get from offerings mostly depended on luck, so any plans were pointless. Only things like registering planes and strengthening passageways would appear easily if necessary.

“I suggest you allocate twenty years of grace to upgrading the passage,” Ferlyn said gently, “Outside of that, I hope for you to allocate some to Flowsand for her own use. The girl is in urgent need of grace right now, but even officiating this ceremony won’t be enough.”

“Flowsand needs divine grace?” Richard confirmed.

“Yes.”

Richard grew silent, but his mind had immediately grown chaotic. While he had no idea why Flowsand would need divine grace, if Ferlyn brought this up herself then it was definitely no small matter.

Richard knew Flowsand very well; he knew the girl was actually extremely stubborn. If Ferlyn was here asking him to allocate some grace to her, then she definitely had no idea about this.

‘But… Why didn’t you just tell me you needed grace?’ he wondered quietly.

Ferlyn waited patiently, but a hint of nervousness appeared in her expression. Asking a noble for grace was more difficult than requesting a great amount of gold. They would throw away gold without a care for the friendship of a high priestess, but they definitely wouldn’t give up divine grace of similar value. While offerings could easily be turned to gold, gold could not be exchanged for an offering of equal value whenever one wanted.

It took a while for Richard to speak up, “You need not worry, High Priestess. I will allocate the divine grace to Flowsand.”

Ferlyn heaved an obvious sigh of relief and couldn’t help asking, “How much?”

She regretted the question the moment she asked it. However, Richard didn’t need to think about it for a single moment, “Everything!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA