A Third Ending
Richard wasn’t inexperienced with women anymore, and certainly wasn’t lacking in partners either. Given his strength, identity, and status, be it in Norland or Faelor he could have as many women as he wanted. And given his increasing power and influence, it wouldn’t be hard to court women like Rosie in the future either.
The very fact that Duke Mensa had used Rosie as a bargaining chip with the Schumpeters was proof enough that she was worth less than a broken family. Richard wasn’t worth as much as Dario right now, but even in the near future that would be vastly different. That was something even the rest of Faust’s nobles had to acknowledge.
However, Rosie was truly special. She had broken many perceptions of her, including his own. His original plan had been to humiliate and violate her ruthlessly; in his quest to humiliate the Mensas and Schumpeters, he had resolved himself to fall as far as was needed.
She stood still under his sharp gaze, expressing no intent to leave. Richard’s expression turned cold, “Do you really want to do the deed with me? I certainly won’t reject it.”
Rosie sighed, “Richard, do you really want to let me go back?”
“What else?” Richard asked in reply.
“Have you thought it through? Do you know what me returning now will end in?” she asked softly.
“Just your reputation being destroyed, isn’t it?”
A bitter smile emerged on Rosie’s face, “How could it be so simple? Dario was absolutely humiliated after this bet. According to regular practices, he should break his engagement and send me back to my family as a disgrace. I’ll just become a plaything in the family, my body a currency used to exchange for whatever they want.
“But Dario might not do that. He can’t get out of being annexed by the Mensas anyway, so he’ll proceed and might even have the marriage brought forward. I’ll likely suffer all sorts of humiliation and mistreatment in the Schumpeter Family… You… If you ask around, you’ll quickly learn that Dario is in the habit of torturing girls to death. If I return now, there are only two endings for me: as a toy for the Mensas or a toy for the Schumpeters.”
Richard had to admit that this was quite possible. Venica was quite different; her bet was still mostly secret, and at least nominally, her brother was the current family head. Richard had no intention of devolving into such a level of carnality that his sister would turn into a toy for his family. Of course, all sorts of people existed amongst the nobility; it wasn’t rare for such things to happen.
Seeing Richard not saying anything, Rosie looked at him and gently sighed, “Why me?”
“You just happened to be there,” Richard laughed while spreading his hands. However, he immediately grew serious, “Because you’re the best way to attack the Mensas and Schumpeters at the same time, especially the latter. When attacking your opponents, it’s best to dispose of the dogs first.”
“Indeed… But I’d like to ask, can I choose a third ending?”
“A third ending?” Richard was somewhat surprised once more, “Tell me.”
“Let me stay,” Rosie said without the slightest hesitation.
Richard’s expression did not change, “Stay? As whom?”
The young lady’s voice was calm yet resolute, “Anyone. Maid, prisoner, refugee… Lover, bedwife, anything is fine. However, I’ll only accept you. Let someone else touch me and I will kill myself; that would be no different from returning.”
Richard’s expression grew helpless with a trace of ridicule, “You don’t want to become a toy for the Mensas and Schumpeters but you want to become mine? It seems like I brought trouble back with me. Alright, let’s talk about your real thoughts. Why do you think I should let you stay here?”
She hesitated for a moment, “I’m smart. I also know some magic, and even have an awakened bloodline ability. I hope to be able to obtain a position through these things, not with my face and body.”
Richard smiled, “Ambitious, but unrealistic. Try again!”
Rosie paled, clenching her teeth, “Fine, add in my face and body.”
He finally nodded, “That’s more like it. Alright, you qualify for my protection. You can leave for now, I’ll have the steward arrange a place for you to stay in the castle. I have to return to Faelor tomorrow, I’ll think of how to use you the next time I’m back.”
“You can bring me to Faelor with you,” Rosie answered.
Richard sized her up, speaking indifferently, “I don’t want to take a burden with me. It’s very expensive to travel between planes, everyone knows we Archerons are poor.”
Having said that, he rang the bell nearby to summon the butler, instructing the man to find a place for her to stay and not release her no matter who wanted it. He then had the two leave.
The study finally quieted down. Richard sat in front of the table and began planning his next steps back in Faelor.
His first order of business was to sort out this journey’s results. He had gained 7 million gold from the maple amber and 3 million from the rune sets, with more coming from the ores and ingots. All in all, this was exchanged for slightly more than ten million in weapons and equipment, with the rest of the money handed over for the butler to maintain the island and Archeron territories with. 400 obsidian weapons were given to the enchanters, and in exchange for a hundred of them, he would have an entire 300 epic-grade weapons in a month’s time.
The profits from this trip were sufficient for him to arm a thousand elite knights. At least for the near future, he wouldn’t have to worry about equipment. Even counting the 200 knight equipment sets he had sold to Bevry, Richard still had 800 remaining sets in his hands. This was nearly 200 days’ worth of the broodmother’s drones.
However, Richard’s process in calculating these profits was extremely slow. Rosie’s figure flashed in his mind from time to time, the scenes risque enough to have one spit blood. The impact of her stripping was impossible to rid himself of so quickly, leaving him extremely inefficient.
Around the same time, Raymond Joseph was sitting at a window seat in a quiet bar in Faust, looking at the half-moon shift slowly across the sky as he gulped down a mouthful of bitter alcohol. The concentrated liquor burnt like fire, blazing all the way down his throat to his stomach.
Just as he was about to pour another large cup, a hand suddenly stretched out and pressed down on his own. Raymond wasn’t drinking alone; the person opposite him dressed in a hooded robe that covered half her face. “Stop drinking,” a slightly hoarse voice rang out, “Do you want to die in a few years?”
Raymond flashed a smile of defeat, “Compared to dying, isn’t it much more painful to be alive right now?”
“You could have intervened today,” the mysterious woman said slowly.”
“Intervened? How? Even if I could stop Richard, I would just have to send Rosie back to the Mensas again. Should I have let her fall into the hellhole that was the Schumpeter Family?” Raymond’s eyes turned red as he roared softly like a weakened beast. Even though he was reeking of alcohol and couldn’t even speak clearly, his voice was still low enough to only be heard by the woman opposite him.
Such was his life. Even if he wanted to drown his sorrows in alcohol, his body always gave way before his mind. His consciousness would always be awake.
He broke away from the woman’s hands a little rudely, drinking more than half a cup of the hard liquor in one gulp before spitting out a breath that reeked, “I understand her, just like she understands me. She’s a smart girl; I know she’ll find a way to stay on the Archeron island once she gets there. Regardless of who she ends up becoming there, it’s still better than returning to that old pervert’s side.”
The mysterious woman looked at him drinking up another cup, “I can help you.”
“Help me? You’re insane!” Raymond laughed in desolate grief, “Look at what happened to Kane! The Emperor finally revealed one of his fangs. Isn’t his opinion clear enough? He didn’t allow anyone to interfere with the bet, forcing them to carry it through to the end with his family’s dignity. Don’t tell me you want to confront Bloodthirsty Philip.”
The mysterious woman was left speechless. The face hidden under the hood looked very young, at most around the same age as Raymond himself. Youths like them, regardless of how talented they were, could not disobey a colossus like the Emperor.
After venting his anger, Raymond seemed to calm down a little. He heaved a long sigh, “The bottom line is that I don’t have the power to protect her. If I could take full control of the family, perhaps I could change her fate. However, no sane family would go to war with the Mensas for a child that only has a few years left to live. I don’t even have any worth as a bargaining chip anymore.”
“Destiny can be changed! There’s still time, we can go now!”
“It’s already too late,” Raymond said with a shake of his head, looking out of the window and sighing for the hundredth time, “Actually, this might be the chance she needs to change her destiny. I can’t achieve her dreams, but perhaps Richard can…”
A gush of wind blew past the bar as Raymond uttered those words. Even in Faust where all four seasons were spring, it caused one to feel endlessly bleak.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: XE
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA