Book 4, Chapter 58

Honouring Promises

The annual imperial auction had thus come to an end. This one was especially celebrated by its attendees, the fruit of life and blood crystal sold off for tens of millions of gold. The spear of the child of the forest was determined to be a legendary item, but it was only sold off for two million because of a slew of constraints on its might. These goods were impossible to buy based on wealth alone, normally only making their appearance in certain private auctions. Most prouder nobles disregarded any issue that could be resolved with gold, not even bothering to bargain on such matters.

Richard’s single runes had sold for about 2 million gold in total, a rather unexpected value. However, the final price of the Guide of Secrets was only 5.5 million gold. His enemies were secretly relieved, thinking he would do great just to break even. The pressure his potential was starting to put on them was growing greater and greater by the day; what they had believed to be a pawn to target Gaton over had turned into a suffocating threat in itself.

Calculating his income from the auction, Richard was astonished to find that he was nearly 15 million gold richer than before. This wasn’t even considering the sale of the latest batch of woods and other resources from the Forest Plane. Even he couldn’t help but wonder just how he had grown rich once more so quickly.

If a runemaster was a gold mine, then someone like Richard was a surface-level quarry that was manned by an alchemic machine designed by gnomes and powered by dragon blood.

He directly purchased 3 million’s worth of materials through Nyris once more, sending 2 million to Blackgold and buying enchanted equipment worth 8 million. Eventually, he realised his funds had dwindled once more; the coin flowed out just as rapidly as it flowed in.

However, Richard wasn’t someone looking to try and save money. He quickly threw his grouses to the back of his mind and gave the old steward some instructions before summoning Fuschia into his study, “Pack your things, we’ll be leaving for Earl Alice in an hour.”

Fuschia was confused at the suddenness of it all, “On such short notice? Why are we visiting my Lady?”

“What do you mean?” Richard replied with a quizzical look, “I want to honour our agreement, of course.”

“What?! I– I mean, you’re always so busy. How could we trouble you to come all the way for something so trivial?”

“This is related to the Archerons’ goddess of war, how could it be trivial?” Richard laughed, putting a small magic sealing chest on the desk and opening it up. The dazzling lights of seven full Savage Barrier sets within almost blinded Fuschia.

“These are…” the woman’s throat seemed to dry up immediately.

“Seven sets of Savage Barrier, effects even better than the original ones I showed you earlier. I’ve made some special improvements to these, they’re all grade 2 rune sets.” When it came to his own creations, Richard was naturally filled with confidence.

“Alright, seven sets… Master Richard, are we really leaving now?” Fuschia asked another strange question.

Richard looked at her as though she had gone senile, asking, “Was I not speaking Norlandese?”

“Well, I was thinking in elvish,” she deflected.

“Ha, you understand elvish?”

“Only a little, I was hoping to learn from you.”

“Where would I have the time to do that? Go find another mage to learn from. Alright, pack quickly. I’m only going to be waiting for an hour!” Richard had already pulled out a map of Norland, starting to plan their route.

“Why don’t I arrange for a carriage?” Fuschia still held on, “The ride should be very comfortable, why don’t we leave tomorrow morning?”

Richard’s brows furrowed and the smile faded, replaced by a grim look that was indescribably majestic, “Fuschia. Was I negotiating with you?”

The woman shuddered slightly and bit her lower lip, struggling with despair, “Then… How are we going there?”

“Griffins, of course. I prepared four to carry us in shifts, we can reach the Earl’s castle in six hours.”

“Six… Six hours!” Fuschia’s mouth now gaped so wide a duck’s egg could fit in.

“Yes, that’s why you only have an hour to prepare! Go quickly, and don’t forget to notify Alice. I’d like to dine with her tonight.”

“I’ll need two hours!” Fuschia gritted her teeth.

“And why is that?”

“Notifying my Lady will take time. Besides, I haven’t bathed, my clothes need changing, and I need to pack as well… I’m a woman!”

“An hour and a half or I leave alone!” Richard said. This was his bottom line.

“… Alright,” she replied in defeat.

An hour and a half later, Fuschia hurried to the griffin stables. She was still late by five minutes, claiming some interference in the communication channel between her and the Earl that delayed her message. Richard furrowed his brow and pointed at a griffin by his side, “Get on, we leave immediately.”

Fuschia tightened the straps of her pack and hopped onto the griffin’s back before turning to look at Richard. Carrying a backpack with the chest containing the runes, he slung his two swords across another before hopping on himself. His body stuck strangely close to the creature, movements containing no elegance but managing to seat him with minimal action. This was the style of someone used to efficiency in combat. The sight shocked her, a shadow of Beye converging in her mind.

Still, even as she was distracted clear screeches rang out as the four griffins took off from the floating island in unison, flying in a great semicircle before heading towards Alice’s earldom. Richard took the lead, studying the landscape along the way and comparing it to the map he had memorised as he made the necessary adjustments to their flight path. With great confidence in his own abilities, he didn’t need Fuschia’s guidance.

As such, the woman following behind was left utterly hopeless without a single chance to lead him astray. Seeing the towns pass by underneath she wanted to tell him that they were headed in the wrong direction, pulling him off course for a portion of the journey, but looking at him forging ahead with no hesitation she couldn’t bring herself to utter the words.

The four griffins flew with no rest, almost within touching distance of the clouds overhead. The wind was harsh and cold, leaving even a level 19 warrior like Fuschia quite uncomfortable, but Richard didn’t seem to be affected at all as he didn’t so much as move save for the occasional adjustments to his posture.

Three hours later, Richard had the griffins land on a patch of grace and fed them some vitality potions, tossing in some fresh meat he had prepared beforehand. Giving them twenty minutes of rest, they changed mounts and continued along for the rest of the journey.

……

Earl Alice’s castle was named the Undying Volcano. The stone used to build it was a deep red, but as time flew by it had faded to black in some spots. As the sunset covered the castle and the city sprawled out underneath in a lazy crimson, it looked the walls were made of solidifying lava.

In the uppermost level of the castle, the goddess of war who was worshipped in the hearts of all her citizens was pacing back and forth in frustration. She suddenly grabbed a piece of paper on her desk and looked over it once more before crushing it into a ball, tossing it angrily into a rubbish bin. However, that did not placate her; she summoned the crushed paper back with an outstretched hand and then rubbed it between her palms. A green smoke wafted out from within, the paper turned to nothing but ash.

However, the contents of that letter were already etched into her mind. It was a simple code made of magical symbols, translating to: ‘Richard is estimated to arrive in 7.5 hours. He has seven grade 2 rune sets with him.’

“Seven sets!” Alice was on the verge of tearing her crimson hear out, gnashing her teeth in rage. How could he send over seven full sets so easily? Since when were rune knights so worthless that he could make so many in less than a year?

She desperately wanted to believe everything she had read was an illusion. As an undefeated general who had fought for many years, she had no more than thirty rune knights herself. A good portion of them were even a mix of grade 1 runes, completely unremarkable.

“How could there be seven sets? Fuschia must have made a mistake, she’s always careless!” the Earl clenched her jaw, face just as red as the setting sun.

Eventually, she remembered to check the time and glanced at her clock, jumping in shock. Even in her first battle at thirteen years of age when the head of an enemy she had decapitated brushed past her face she hadn’t felt so helpless. Even when those empty eyes had just stared into hers, she hadn’t panicked. She finally resolved herself and grabbed a red rope on the wall of her study.

*Ding Dong! Ding Dong!* The bronze bell in the clock tower rang out. Everyone in the castle, barracks, and even the city immediately stopped in their tracks, looking towards the castle and silently counting the number of rings. Alice tugged on the robe one movement at a time, the steely composure of the war goddess returned to her face.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: JH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA