Early in the morning the next day, Richard personally led 2,000 cavalrymen out to battle all the way to the north, heading straight for the Iron Triangle Empire. They immediately destroyed a border guard consisting of 4,000 footsoldiers, not even bothering to follow as they swept across the territories at 200 kilometres every day. In just one week, an earl, three viscounts, and seven barons lost their personal armies, a dozen castles wiped out before the army left just as abruptly as they had arrived.
The Empire’s reaction was quite fast. They quickly gathered 3,000 heavy cavalrymen to pursue, with two more balanced armies on their tail. However, just before they would leave the Empire’s lands, Richard suddenly had his troops turn back to battle the heavy cavalry at Papen Valley, decimating the soldiers that they had always been proud of.
Richard had left far too quickly, leaving the armies no chance to chase.
A day later, Salwyn found out about the battles and coughed out blood, turning gravely ill. The 3,000 cavalrymen were numbered soldiers who served him, but the battle had been organised directly by the empire without giving him any notice. The battalion hadn’t even been led by one of his own generals! Even though he knew fully well that none of his generals had the ability to beat Richard either, losing those soldiers was a huge political blow.
His various enemies in the Empire were starting to make their moves. Rislant had already criticised his failures numerous times, blaming him entirely for their depleting army. Although he wasn’t faring well in the battle against the Dragon Church, he had still managed to siege a city and take over its land. He at least had some wins in the midst of his losses.
Everyone in the Empire was now aware of just how big of a threat Richard was. Their criticism of Salwyn came mostly from political motives; they knew just how able the Prince was and that someone else would have suffered a much harsher defeat. The powers that be were starting to discuss heading south after settling the battles in the east and west, but Salwyn knew that this would likely have nothing to do with him.
Richard had announced his arrival with incomparable grandeur, but he silently left with Flowsand one afternoon. This short campaign would be enough to shut down the nobles of the Sequoia Kingdom, ensuring they wouldn’t dare to scam him in regards to taxes.
When he left, he brought along a dozen mounts specially created by the broodmother, more powerful than those the Schumpeters had bred for the bearguard knights. Even in the Sacred Alliance, these would be first class mounts for ordinary rune knights. These drones even lasted ten years, not the ordinary three, making the runes on them much more significant and useful. He also transferred out six more free Archerons.
Although the sheer cost of the teleportation fee left him in low spirits— the mounts cost the same to transfer as the soldiers— Richard had six more rune knights when he was back in Norland. Taking into account the four still defending the Forest Plane, he now had a full squad.
Night arrived in Norland and Richard headed to the cemetery on the floating island. With no pressing need for him in the Forest Plane, he had decided to spend the day here instead.
He still remembered Gaton sitting on one of the six tombstones at the top, telling him many things and demonstrating the secret swords of Silvermoon. Thinking about it, outside of Annihilation that he had somewhat mastered, he still needed experience in the other stances. His use of them in times of crisis was mostly led on by the power of his moonforce and nothing else; there was still a ways to go before he could truly exhibit their power.
He walked around the volcanic crater for quite some time before he finally chose a spot higher than the tombstones of the Archerons who had awakened their truenames, leaving a mark on it. This was where his mother would be placed.
Standing at the very top of the volcano, he surveyed this independent space. Magma was still bubbling in the crater; if he were to jump in, he had no doubt that he would immediately turn to ash. However, the passage did not seem to be closed; there was likely an unknown space on the other side. Sadly, he lacked the power to cut through the magma and explore it.
He looked up at the sky, only to see a shifting red without any specific source of light. Staring at the dome for any length of time would leave one nervous. The Archeron tombs definitely hid a huge secret.
But then which family that managed to establish themselves in Faust didn’t? Richard just found a spot near the crater and sat down. He only planned to think over some things, but in a few moments he was naturally pulled into a state of deep meditation. This time, his Archeron bloodline felt exceptionally powerful; outside of the astral affinity branch, his elven bloodline was greatly suppressed.
The number of astral rays that should have been appearing all around him had dwindled greatly, but they were replaced by fiery clouds that he had never seen before. Thinking it was just something to do with the foreign space, he casually spread out his awareness and started grabbing what he could. Those dark red clouds seemed to be a little more powerful than grade 2 rays, but the power they contained was far too fierce. The moment his consciousness came into contact with them, he felt an acute burst of pain that caused him to grimace.
However, there was a trace of familiarity in that pain, making it easier to endure. He naturally did the same as he did every meditation session, leading the fire cloud into his body. The moment it entered him, the energy immediately dissipated into the Archeron bloodline to leave the lava boiling even fiercer.
He reached out and caught another cloud. He didn’t have any specific goal or target, his mind a fishing line he threw out randomly, but every cast reeled in more of the red clouds. Still, the number around him just continued to increase, to the point that there were more clouds than he could feasibly absorb. He soon realised this was not due to luck. Every time his mind was sent out those fire clouds were drawn closer, the chaotic energy attracted to his consciousness.
A long while later, his body suddenly trembled and he slowly opened his eyes. He was finally level 14.
With his mana pool passing this bottleneck, his Archeron bloodline gradually rose in temperature. Soon his blood was boiling, the blazing heat within growing difficult to endure even as his breath seemed to catch on fire. Strangely enough, this heat wasn’t as difficult to tolerate as he had anticipated.
The lava within the mouth of the volcano surged, strangely weightless black rocks flying into the air. One of them floated past Richard, and he instinctively blew at it. A wisp of fire exited his mouth, immediately burning a hole into the rock; the molten core slowly dripped down.
He gazed silently at the black rock, taking a moment to realise that the terrifying scene in front of him was a result of his own actions. However, before he could even feel any shock a series of symbols streamed out of his Archeron bloodline. It seemed to have no end, and outside of a dazzling golden-red at the start the rest were murky and dull. When that leading symbol floated into his mind, he naturally understood its meaning.
Dizmason… Destruction. He realised that this was the first portion of his truename, a bit of power that brought him into contact with the laws of existence.
There were thousands of paths for him to take, but he had chosen lethality as his primary focus. Now it seemed like this decision had affected his dormant truename; perhaps that was why he managed to awaken Sacrifice.
As he recalled the excessively long remainder that had yet to be awakened, a sudden thought struck his mind. Would there perhaps be a day when he would compete with Mountainsea over who had the longer name? He couldn’t help but smile.
However, the period of delight was brief. Richard felt a heat erupting from within his body that was growing impossible to bear; the force hidden deep within his bloodline didn’t seem all that hot, but it would burn him upon contact. He lifted his hands to form a fireball in front of his eyes, spiralling without dissipating at all. He could already control the grade 3 spell like it was one of his limbs. However, this fireball was rather different from those before; there was a sort of darkness flowing inside that made it heavier, more condensed. This fireball seemed to have substance.
He flicked his wrist, sending the fireball flying across the cemetery. It slowly crossed dozens of metres before exploding into dark red waves of fire that dissipated in all directions, wisps of flame gently falling everywhere. Most of the flames fell into the volcanic crater, while the rest hung onto the stone walls. Despite the distinct lack of fuel, they only dispersed after a long time.
He shoved his hands into his pockets and stood at the mouth of the volcano, gazing down at the boiling magma. It felt like he was in two worlds at the same time; one part of his mind was hot as boiling lava, the other encased in freezing ice. A fiery wind continued to surge from the crater and blow at his hair, two volcanoes reflected in his dark eyes.
Richard didn’t know whether he was fast or slow in awakening his truename nearing nineteen years of age. However, now that he had the Archeron brand was carved deeply within him. It would be difficult to wipe off.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA