The past four months had only been twelve days in Norland. That wasn’t a long time, but it was certainly enough for news to travel through all of Faust. The city of miracles had grown turbulent as news of the Josephs’ alliance to attack Faelor was made known. With Faelor’s timeflow being ten times that of Norland, everyone knew the result had already been determined.
There was more exciting news than just that. The Archeron Family had publicly announced that it was recruiting rune knight candidates; this could only mean that Richard had more rune sets than he had qualified candidates.
As Faust was burning with anticipation, the portal to Faelor in the Church of the Eternal Dragon quietly rippled as Richard’s group exited from it. Rumours would soon spread that old Duke Joseph almost fainted upon hearing the news, and another duke, two marquesses, and four earls had turned so irritable some of their subordinates had wound up dead.
Richard’s first act was to announce a small rune convention that would be held in two days. As there wasn’t much time, he had only extended the invitation to the noble families of Faust. At the same time, he announced that some lucky participants would be given mounts fit for rune knights. However, the details about what would be shown were kept to a minimum; the only information was that a grade 3 rune would be showcased and there would be no sales.
Could a grade 3 rune on its own merit an entire rune convention? The obvious answer was no, but there were certain conditions that allowed for a low standard of runes. The most common of them all was an apprentice’s first showcase; there would obviously be no grade 3 runes, and most runemasters weren’t monsters who showcased entire sets during their first convention. Normally, even great runemasters needed to have two or three innovative designs to present before they would be allowed to hold a convention.
All of Faust had received the invitation, even the Schumpeters, Mensas, and Josephs. This told those paying attention that this rune being showcased was likely very unique.
Many nobles also expressed a great deal of interest in the mounts Richard had brought back. Rune knights were incomplete without powerful steeds to carry them into battle. In the midst of a warzone, the charging power of a warrior was miles apart from that of a mounted knight. Because there were few warriors qualified to become rune knights and fewer runes still to equip them with, a lot of nobles chose instead to focus on the mounts. Many creatures had been bred for the purpose of strengthening rune knight platoons, varying in shape and power. Attempts had even been made to use wyverns for this purpose.
Although the impromptu convention was enough to shock Faust, Richard seemed to have no end to his surprises. The news that he was a level 16 great mage quickly found its way to all sorts of ears, and some calculations told those present that it had been less than half a year even in plane time when a level 15 Richard had left for Faelor. This speed was absolutely unimaginable!
There were many geniuses in Norland, and Faust was one of the places they gathered in. There was no dearth of level 16 great mages under the age of twenty, but all of these talents had been trained rigorously from when they were babies to reach that level. However, everyone already knew that Richard had spent the first half of his life as a village boy with no instruction in magic at all!
Before learning of this, everyone was tunnelled in on Richard’s talent at runecrafting. Although his strength as a mage was a slight thorn to others, few people were actually afraid of him even if he was a mage of the Deepblue. Connections were often only a shortcut on the path to power, unable to strengthen one’s foundation. Now, however, people had realised that the pressure he exerted himself was growing stronger as time passed.
Faust was destined to be sleepless this night. Many people were agitated by the rune convention that would be held the next day, some anticipating it while others were completely frustrated. One person of note amongst the latter group was the royal runemaster Lunor Leyfar. He had received the invitation as well, but unlike the previous time, he had managed to stop himself from tearing it to shreds.
He sat on his chair for a long time, just staring at the letter. The thorn in his flesh had now poked into one of his eyes. He wasn’t the only one who felt this way; Foster standing behind him was enraged beyond reason. His handsome face had warped into a terrifying expression as he wanted nothing more than to tear the letter apart and stuff it into Richard’s face.
However, the arrogant boy now knew better of how such a thing would turn out. He had seen Richard’s battle with Duke Mensa’s youngest son and knew that an actual confrontation with Richard would just be sending himself to his death.
Even a year ago the royal family had stood by Richard, but things had changed greatly in this time. The nearly unknown mage from the Deepblue was now a great runemaster on par with his own teacher, while he could barely craft any grade 2 runes. He could do nothing to Richard on his own.
However, that did not mean he could do nothing at all. He decided to fuel Lunor’s wrath further, “Master, this fellow is far too arrogant. How dare he call for a convention with a mere grade 3 rune, even calling all of Faust’s nobility? You are a great runemaster who has designed dozens of grade 3 runes in your life, but you never showed off like this!”
Lunor’s eyes started blazing, but the many lessons he had been taught over the past year had him quell his rage, “There might be something special about this rune.”
“But do you really plan to go? I feel like he just wants to sell those mounts he got from the plane.”
Lunor didn’t utter a word in response, continuing to stare at the invitation letter. This letter’s design was unique and it contained a list of important characters that had been invited. He was on that list, as were Priestess Noelene and Priestess Jacqueline, alongside deputy captain Ferdinand of the Eternal Dragon Paladins.
“I will be going,” the runemaster said eventually, but it felt as though he had aged ten years in an instant.
Foster immediately stopped feeding the flames, but then he spoke again as though he had just recalled something, “Master, the royal family sent someone over yesterday to inform you that your material allocation has been reduced.”
“WHAT?!” Lunor slammed his fist into the table, bolting up in anger.
As a royal runemaster, his wealth was built upon the surplus materials he was granted from the royal warehouse. The Sacred Alliance had offered much better conditions than the other two major human countries back then, so while he didn’t have as much ability as the royal runemasters of the other empires he did have great wealth. His talents had already been stretched to the limits; the only way to craft a grade 4 rune was brute force, hoping for the small chance of success to work out.
Lunor knew that the amount of runes he had been giving the royal family had reduced by the year, the quality also lower than when he started. However, he hadn’t bothered with their dissatisfaction for the sake of attempting to craft a grade 4 rune. He hadn’t expected that the family that had endured his brazen actions for so long would finally react.
This information made the Emperor’s stance clear.
“It’s all because of Richard!” he gritted his teeth.
“Yes!” Foster was quick to follow up, “I heard the salary he asked for was astonishingly low! He’s just a dog licking the royal family’s boots!”
Lunor was enraged once again, “Let’s see just what he’s managed to make.”
Richard returned to a flourishing Archeron island, seeing many workers transporting construction material through the portal on heavy wagons. Many parts of the island had been fenced up, slaves hard at work. With the newfound financial support, the old steward finally had the means to build new facilities on the island. The defences had been boosted greatly, the castle now littered with magical defences. Another uprising would be decimated the moment it showed itself.
The barracks was improved as well, but it was still too small. Every inch of the floating islands was as precious as gold; the Archerons were the only family in Faust that actually put a training camp on theirs.
Although Richard had only been gone for a little over ten days, a new pile of documents had found its way to his desk. There was information about the various branches and vassals, as well as details about the barracks on the island. The Archerons had multiple training camps, but these camps were normally loyal to the branch that owned them. The camp in Faust was the only one Richard had full control over, so he had to preserve it at all costs. Only once he secured his foothold in the family could he expand back out from Faust.
The old steward had concluded that the rune knight recruitment and the new fortifications would run into at least two million gold in expenses. However, the taxes from the vassals only added up to 700,000. This was less than half of what Gaton received when he was around.
Richard quickly browsed through all the documents and made his decisions about them before reclining into the chair, putting his legs on the table as he began to ponder how to tackle the mess his father had left him. The news from the vassals was still mixed. More of the fiefs were paying taxes now, but fewer were paying the full amount.
Then there was the issue of Blackrose Castle and the family’s elders. The shadow of Marquess Sauron could also be seen behind the scenes. He was rather interested in what Sauron would do after his convention tomorrow.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo