“Theoretically, the Beastsoul Necklace has unlimited uses,” the balding man answered Richard, “However, it absorbs a tremendous amount of vitality. Even a powerful warrior cannot withstand it for an extended period of time. It should be used more as a final resort, a last card played in the hopes of survival.” His introduction was genuine without any pretence, something hard to come by amongst merchants. It immediately earned Richard’s goodwill.
“Alright, I want this thing. How much?”
The old man’s gaze flashed with greed as his eyes swept past the obsidian crest in front of Richard’s chest, but he repressed his desires and flashed a sincere smile, “200,000 gold, young mage.”
Richard hesitated for a moment but eventually nodded his head. Retrieving two high-purity magic crystals from his pouch, he placed them down at the counter before stowing the necklace away. However, he had no intention of leaving just yet. His gaze swept back and forth across the other goods on the rack before he remarked somewhat casually, “You seem to have a lot of things that aren’t from Norland.”
“Keen eyes. Most of the ornaments on this rack are from Klandor, beastsoul accessories handed down from the barbarian tribes. Their activation generally requires fresh blood and life force, which isn’t an issue for their valiant warriors, but to the people of Norland, this is a huge burden. Still, they are a powerful supplement to Norland’s style in a way. In crucial moments, they could save one’s life.”
Richard merely smiled without much enthusiasm. The man’s words held some truth, but they were somewhat biased as well. The beastsoul weapons from Klandor were immensely powerful but designed for the cultivation methods of the barbarians and their tyrannical physiques. The totem warriors could take the huge consumption in stride, but even they would eventually have to pay the price. This was one of the reasons the barbarian powerhouses were often much shorter lived than those of Norland. On the other hand, humans would be severely drained by such weapons as well; these sorts of weapons came with a heavy cost.
Although Richard didn’t say anything outright, his expression told the fat man quite a bit. The merchant smiled even more modestly, allowing him to continue looking around the shop.
“I see a lot of your supplies come from Klandor. Are you quite familiar with the place?”
“Familiar? Young Mage, we Salsons even have a small fief in Klandor! We are no common traders!”
“A fief? The barbarians let you occupy their lands just like that? Besides, how do you maintain your network when you’re governing in two separate continents?” Richard didn’t beat around the bush, and the elderly man’s smile only grew more amiable in response. He took his time giving a detailed account of the family’s history, explaining their current situation.
The Salson Family was a seafaring clan, their ancestors amongst the first mariners to discover Klandor. They had developed a secret shipping route to and from the continent to grow their business for countless years, accumulating an enormous amount of wealth that allowed them to buy their own fief and become true nobles in Norland. Due to the efficiency of their operations, they had quickly risen up the ranks until the head of the family was a marquess.
One of the Salsons’ ancestors had happened upon a dying barbarian at sea and had saved his life before sending him back to Klandor. Only later did they discover that the barbarian was the chief of a major tribe, who in thanks for saving his life gave them a small island next to the continent. This island was only ten or so kilometres away from Klandor’s mainland, with natural ports on the cost. The Salsons had built a large fleet of ships to ply this ten-kilometre distance, before building a teleportation formation on the small island.
A formation that led to and from Norland! Richard’s heartbeat instantly quickened. This formation solved his greatest problem, the endless time it would take to reach Klandor by ship. The naval journey was nearly two months long, and that was only in a situation where no accidents occurred. One could only be idle during their time on the ship while Faelor and the Forest Plane continued to move at an accelerated pace.
On top of that, he had promised himself that he would take Mountainsea back, not get himself thrashed into the seas by the barbarians. He had thus always devoted his efforts into planar expeditions to grow his ability as quickly as he could, waiting for the day when he could rightfully set foot in Mountainsea’s homeland. Now, however, he had discovered a portal leading nearby.
He couldn’t hold himself back anymore. He had already experienced the battlefield of despair, and was currently armed with powerful equipment and tyrannical bloodline abilities. With quite a bit of confidence in his own capability, he was very keen on the notion of heading over to get some experience.
Perhaps he might even meet her on the trip, he told himself.
Still, Richard didn’t reveal his desire immediately. “I hear the barbarian tribes of Klandor don’t have the greatest of relationships with the Millennial Empire. You mentioned that’s where you purchased your fief, were you not pushed out and excluded later on?”
The pointed question drew a bitter laugh, “Excluded? Ha, how could that be the end of it? We Salsons were originally a part of the Millennial Empire, but when the warhawks were destroyed in Klandor the Empress asked to use our teleportation formation as a bridgehead to attack Klandor from. The leader back then eventually rejected the request.”
“That must have been a difficult decision,” Richard said with sympathy.
“Not at all!” the old man’s face flashed with determination atypical of merchants, “We Salsons depended on the connection between the two continents to make our living for countless generations. The island near Klandor and our teleportation formation there was the family’s lifeline. The Empress’ request would have completely severed our connections with the barbarians, destroying us completely. Why would we fall on the blade for the Empress’ personal wishes? Not one Salson agreed to the plan. Although we now wear noble clothing, we have not forgotten the pirate blood in our veins!”
“Courageous, then,” Richard corrected, “So, you lot sought refuge with the Sacred Alliance afterwards?”
The elderly man’s face reddened as he sighed, “This… was something that couldn’t be helped. There were just far too many imperial soldiers to fight back then, no matter how brave our men were we would not have been able to hold on. Still, it cannot really be considered seeking refuge either. We are now a completely independent territory, not a vassal of the Sacred Alliance.”
“Mm? That is… unexpected. Why?”
“For freedom!” the elderly man declared with vigour.
Richard thought over it for a moment, a smile creeping up on his face, “It was for survival, wasn’t it?” The man’s face was now red as a tomato.
Forming an alliance was intrinsically different from becoming a subordinate. Given the circumstances, it would not have been surprising for the Millennial Empire to be enraged if the Salsons defected to the Sacred Alliance, putting their full strength into wiping out the family. The Sacred Alliance itself wouldn’t really have the guts to risk a full war with the Millennial Empire for a mere marquess. With the Salsons declaring independence and continuing trade relations with both sides, both empires were forced to give them free berth.
Seeing the fat old man’s expression, Richard sighed lightly. How wise and courageous did the family head then have to be to rescue them from such critical circumstances? A connection to the Sacred Alliance would not be enough; he had to have inflicted serious wound’s to the Empire’s military for them to let go of such an extraordinary march.
The merchant let out a sigh as well, likely thinking back to those days of blood and fire. He then gazed at Richard knowingly, “You wouldn’t be so concerned about my family’s history if you just wanted some beastsoul weapons.”
“Haha, yes. I would like to rent your family’s teleportation formation for a trip to Klandor.”
The balding man glanced at the crest on Richard’s robes, “Given such a background… You aren’t interested in the trade profit, are you.”
“No, I just want to go meet someone.”
“Ooh!” the man’s eyes sparkled, “There seems to be a story here! It’s a beautiful girl, isn’t it?”
Contrary to his expectations, Richard didn’t respond immediately. Was Mountainsea beautiful? He had never really considered that fact before. He just felt that spending time with her left him comfortable and at ease.
“I… guess. She asked me to go find her once I’m stronger, if I were to go look for her now all of the young warriors from the barbarian tribes would come to challenge me. The five years she gave me are a long way off from completion, but I want to go try now.” Richard was lost in his memories, speaking more than he normally would.
A peculiar expression crossed the elderly man’s face, but it was quickly concealed without a trace, “Alright then. In that case, I won’t stand on ceremony either. I can authorise you to use the portal, but one way will be 250,000.”
“No problem!” Richard agreed without hesitation.
“When do you intend to use it?”
“Soon, I’ll inform you once I’m ready. However, I believe this calls for a proper round of introductions.” Richard extended his hand to the elderly man, “Richard Archeron, the acting head of the Archeron Family and a royal runemaster of the Sacred Alliance.”
The elderly man was instantly startled, “Ah! The rune convention in the morning was held by you?”
The merchant let out a long breath before remarking, “What an extraordinary fellow! Very well, I am Pipin Salson, the former clan head of the Salson Family. I’m the one who fought off those fellows from the Millennial Empire back then!”
Richard was startled as well, but a smile appeared soon after. The hands of the elder and the youth grasped tightly together.
“Let me know when you are ready. The gate on this end is in my family’s territory, which is a few days of travel. Keep in mind that the teleportation costs 500,000 gold, no discounts!”
Richard began to laugh, “Yoy can’t inflate the price simply because I’m a runemaster!”
“No, this is just the total price for the round trip!”
“Alright, thank you!” Richard then left his contact details behind before sauntering away from the shop.
The old man watched the receding back in wonder, shaking his head before clicking his tongue, “What should I say about you? Are you brave or just foolish? Five years… To have designs on Her Highness, such nerve. She’s the ruler of all of Klandor! But still… you seem scarred from the battlefield of despair at such a young age. It isn’t yet time for the shrine’s inheritance either. You should be able to make it back alive this time around…
“… Right?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Hestia
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA