Book 4, Chapter 16

A Knight’s Fate

Nyris watched on as his aide left in a hurry, “Richard, I know I’m being meddlesome, but you’re a runemaster. You need to spread your name, and the best way to do that is to have frequent rune conventions. When the conditions are right in the future, it will be best that you hold regular conventions in Faust. However, you’ll only have that privilege once you can craft grade 4 runes. Even Lunor doesn’t have that qualification yet.”

Richard nodded, seriously pondering over what sorts of runes he could sell at an auction. He never restrained his style of crafting to the standards, instead basing them on his goal. This was why he was always building custom runes to fit into his vision. Even the grade 1 runes he made were quite unique, and given what Nyris was saying about the rune market those individual runes were more than enough to act as the supporting cast for a convention even if they weren’t worth one alone.

While he was busy thinking these things through, a cleric from the Church hastened over to tell them that the portal had been stabilised and they could proceed with the transfer. Having learnt his lesson from the previous time, Richard sent a group of heavy infantry with tower shields ahead and arranged for everyone else to enter group by group.

……

Lina was reclining against a sofa, lazily looking outside the window. She occasionally grabbed a fruit from a silver basin in front of her, stuffing it into her mouth. The fruit here was crisp and delicious, but all she could taste was a dull blandness. There was only one type of fruit here, and no matter how good the taste was one would still grow tired of eating it day after day after day.

It was very dim inside the room, just like the dark sky outside the window. The mist hanging over it was almost thick as fog; as the plane was right now, a magic device to alter the climate was far too luxurious an item. Even if she could buy and install one, they didn’t have the energy to keep it operational.

The terrible environment meant nothing to the grand mage’s body, but it would still affect her mood. She sighed again and again, staring outside in a daze. The sky was full of a greenish grey, so dull one couldn’t even tell where the clouds were. There were only bundles of fog floating down from up above, the difference being in how dark or light they were.

Green seemed to be the only colour of this plane. It was supposed to signify vitality, but in such abundance it left one feeling suffocated instead. Lina shifted her body slightly, feeling incredibly sweaty. It was so stifling she almost felt herself rotting away.

The fog suddenly parted in the corner of her vision, a long arrow piercing through it like lightning towards her neck. She snapped her fingers and a translucent hemisphere formed in front of the arrow. It broke through the shield, but it had slowed down greatly. An S-shaped ring on her index finger shot out a bolt of lightning that broke the mana on the arrow, allowing her to catch it mid-flight.

This arrow that was nearly two metres long was made entirely out of a dark green material, with the feathers on the tail dyed a lighter shade of the same colour. A thin vine was twined around the arrow, the source of its magic, while the head was ground from some creature’s teeth. The hollow tip emanated a bitter smell of almonds.

The poison inside this arrow was very powerful, able to kill an elephant within a minute. Even Lina herself would be in trouble if struck, but that was a very big if. This arrow had been launched from 800 metres away, and with her sitting in a magic tower it was impossible for it to hit its target. If she hadn’t been trying to conserve magic crystals by leaving the tower turned down sometimes, she wouldn’t even have had to move a finger to stop it.

She only glanced at the arrow once before tossing it into a corner. Attacks like this happened twice or thrice a day; even knowing it was futile, the enemy would not give up. This was perfectly in line with the resilience of the natives and their hatred for the invaders.

She had pursued the attackers and killed them off at the start, taking out quite a few archers, but the natives eventually grew smarter. The fled the moment they shot their arrows, and in the vast forest it would be difficult for her to catch up even if they were only a few hundred metres apart. She eventually just stopped bothering, merely returning a long-distance burst fireball in the direction. A fireball without a tracking effect would not reach the archers at all, but using a more powerful spell for a mere archer was a little too much. She was just venting her anger. Right now, she had reached the point where she didn’t have the energy to even do that.

The natives were truly resilient, and the fact that the Dragon Mage could take care of surprise attacks did not mean the others in the city could. People had to be dressed in full armour and shields whenever they left their houses, on guard at all times.

For the most part, the city walls had lost their use. The forest that tightly surrounded the city was growing quickly, and the tops of the trees were even higher than the walls. Lina had burnt them away many times before, but that only brought about a few days of peace. With these wretched conditions, fire-type magic was much less useful than anticipated.

The natives were exquisite archers. They could even shoot arrows in an arc that crossed above the walls, activating nature magic that allowed for target tracking.

No matter how vigilant the soldiers were, people were dying by the day. Some days it was only one, but others six or seven warriors would be sent to their graves. The rebellion and the counterattack left less than 10,000 residents in the city, including less than 2,000 soldiers and a few thousand commoners. Many of the commoners were the soldiers’ family, while others were workers that the city needed to continue functioning. They were mostly people who had stayed behind from the time of the Schumpeters’ rule. The last group was the captured native slaves.

Nearly a hundred men had died in the past month. For a city of such a small scale, this was enough to terrify the populace. If not for Lina intimidating them with her absolute strength, many would likely be fleeing for their lives.

They obviously couldn’t escape into the forest; everyone knew the natives utterly despised invaders and would end them with an incredibly painful death. Their greatest hope was to flee back to Norland through the teleportation gate.

The city still had some magic crystal reserves, able to send about a hundred people back to Norland. Without them, the soldiers would likely have given up on the city defence. However, with these reserves, many hearts began to waver. The officers were worried that they would not get the opportunity to return, while the footsoldiers knew there was almost no chance for them to get back. An atmosphere of injustice and hatred was building up against those who had a chance of being able to escape.

This change in the mindsets of the people was something Lina could not control. If not for those here not knowing about the situation back in Norland, they might already have started a revolt over the magic crystals. Thankfully, many of the soldiers who stayed behind had experienced the prior rebellion and still possessed reverence towards the Archeron Family.

She had already requested reinforcements thrice. Lina knew the Archerons were very vulnerable right now, and Richard was far too young to support them entirely. The very fact that he had stood out at such a critical time and taken on the burden of the family was great enough, she couldn’t bring herself to expect any more. She just didn’t want to make the choice of giving up on defending the plane herself. A knight’s destiny was to be buried in planar battles. She was not afraid, but Gaton had yet to return.

She knew that Asiris, Senma, Ward, and Cyrden were doing no better than her. Gaton had only left behind enough to maintain the situation for a short while, planning to wipe out the Mensa forces on the Rosie Plane at the speed of light before returning quickly. Nobody had expected the accident with the gate.

Truth be told, Lina didn’t expect much even if Richard did come with reinforcements. Although he had shown extraordinary ability when reclaiming the city, the situation now was different. They were already encircled by the forest, and the environment made it difficult for a commander to have much effect. What they needed now was absolute power. Flowsand was the only one last time who could qualify to be called such, while Nyris and Agamemnon could only be considered helpers. This showed just how hard-pressed Richard was; he just couldn’t bring in enough people to assist things in the Forest Plane.

She placed her hand on the crystal stand in front of her, checking the situation near the teleportation gate. The silence in the vicinity was something that brought relief; she wasn’t waiting for Norland to send troops, instead worried about her subordinates rebelling. Those guarding it right now were her most trusted soldiers, but the situation could not be held on for long. Even with her power, she could not keep them in line forever.

At that moment, a wave of powerful energy suddenly erupted from the portal. Lina immediately stood up, both surprised and delighted; someone was preparing to pass through the gate! Was Richard really coming? But then she remembered that there hadn’t been any reply from Norland to her most recent letter; all sorts of conjectures started flashing through her mind.

She didn’t even bother with the stairs, flying straight out the window and heading for the teleportation gate. However, still in mid-air, she abruptly paused and stared at the sky in bewilderment. A strange feeling had suddenly overcome her, as though the laws of this plane had suddenly changed slightly. This was a change that dealt with the very roots of the plane, affecting the flow of time.

Blessings?! Lina almost couldn’t believe her own senses. If someone used blessings on the Forest Plane, then this wasn’t a small party coming over.

The Schumpeters!

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA