Gold. That was the primary colour that filled Richard’s vision as he shook off the darkness, eyes slowly opening up. The golden bed he was in was large enough to fit an elephant, giving way to glittering furniture that was carved from gold embedded with gems. He wasn’t small by any means, but this room made him feel like an ant. Just the pillows and blankets on this bed were large enough to drown him entirely.
His body felt like jelly as he tried to move, so lacking for strength it took excruciating effort to even prop himself up. His head started throbbing immediately as he tried to make sense of the situation, but when he called upon his secondary consciousness the sudden rush of simulations about the Church’s martial arts threatened to split his head apart.
His mouth opened up in a silent scream as he punched his own head a few times, only to stop as a few tiny flakes flew off in front of his eyes. He looked to the back of his palm only to find that almost all of his nails had fallen off, the mere two that remained slowly slipping down as well to leave behind squirming pink flesh. Still his throat refused to work, forcing him to watch silently as new crystal clear nails slowly grew out. However, the moment they crossed the support of his flesh, they sagged down.
As he tried to touch these new-grown nails of his, a part of his skin suddenly flaked off his hand. It wasn’t just the palm, however; his forearm that had chafed against his thigh also moulted a large stretch of dead skin.
Watching his body moult and reform itself, memories suddenly flooded back to his head of the meal he had just shared with the Emperor. He managed to calm himself and look around, finding a bottle of water atop the cabinet nearby that he chugged down in one go to relieve himself of his burning throat. As his body continued to shed, he made his way to the attached bathroom to clean up.
The tub within that could fit half a dozen people was already filled to the brim with warm water that continued to flow in from a tap nearby. As he stepped in and allowed his skin to shed completely, he noticed the water still didn’t overflow. There was likely a mechanism in this tub that redirected any excess to keep the water constantly at the perfect temperature.
Finally able to relax and think straight, he immediately started examining his body. Delving into his sea of consciousness, he noticed that both his bloodlines were still perfectly alright. A quick circulation of his mana revealed that his mana pool had actually grown, and his runes activated without issue as well.
It was when he tried to throw a punch in the air that his arm almost popped off. Grunting in pain as he pulled back his fist, he was surprised to find that the punch had exerted twice the force he could before. Although strength had never been his forte— even with this doubling he was nowhere near as strong as an ogre or barbarian or any such thing— his muscles felt much firmer than before.
This was a blessing in disguise. His power when using Mana Armament was boosted greatly, and many of the martial arts techniques he had been simulating for years now would grow easier to train in. The headache slowly drifted away as all of his secondary mind’s analyses were assimilated, but that only told him how far he was from actually mastering what Flowsand had taught him. Still, even if he was worse than Flowsand he could now compare to Io even in a fair match.
As he lazed around in the bath, his head cleared up and the discomfort vanished. He quickly realised that he had fainted fro, bloating himself up with those energy-rich foods, so all his worries faded away. However, a question suddenly popped up in his mind.
Why had the Emperor given him that much precious food? Was it a reward for succeeding with Lifesbane? The thought was immediately struck from his mind. The finished Lifesbane rune wasn’t even going to the royal family, and even if he would be giving them such runes in the future they would be paying for it then as well. Food that could improve one’s body to such an extent was far more precious than a single rune. However, he couldn’t think of any other reason.
He eventually crawled out of the bathtub and towelled off, wearing his clothes once more before looking out the window. The view of Faust from here told him he was still in the imperial palace on the fifth level.
It was only a little past midnight, but he found himself bursting with energy. However, when he rang the bell to summon a servant he found Philip’s personal aide responding to the call instead. “I have been waiting outside for some time, Sir Richard. His Majesty mentioned that you would rouse about now.”
“Does His Majesty have any orders?” Richard asked. He barely remembered a conversation about a hundred mounts, but couldn’t recall all the details.
“His Majesty mentioned that you need to be more cautious from now. The conspiracies within the Alliance will settle down, but those of the other two empires or even other races might start plotting against you instead. He also wishes to buy a hundred mounts from you, but on the condition that the life expectancy is revised to about ten years at a minimum.”
It was all Richard could do to keep his body from trembling. How had they managed to figure out the life expectancy of the horses so quickly? How did they know it could even be changed?
The attendant continued, “We are willing to pay 120,000 gold each for these revised mounts, and a hundred is only the first order. He has plans to form an entire battalion of such knights, but that will have to be discussed another day. His Majesty is in the midst of supper, we cannot disturb him. He instructed for you to be sent back once you woke up.”
It was only then that Richard remembered Ferlyn had called for him as well, but considering the time he requested to be sent to the Archeron island instead. As he arrived on the island and headed straight for his study, he bumped into Coco. The girl seemed a little unnerved, shocked at his sight, but she just stuck herself to the wall without daring to say a word.
Richard was a little confused by her presence here, remembering that he had authorised the steward to send her back home. However, he couldn’t be bothered with such little things and only gave her a nod before heading upstairs.
As he looked at the map of the Sacred Alliance on his study wall, Richard felt an undue amount of stress. Seeing his father’s territories scattered all around Blackrose Castle, he wasn’t certain he would be able to accomplish the same things that Gaton had; just holding onto the foundation the man had left behind was already stretching him to the limits.
However, this map also helped him see a little into that man’s qualities. Gaton Isaiah Satanistoria Archeron was a dauntless man, someone who had the courage to take great risks in the pursuit of everything he desired. His brother Goliath had inherited the family earldom, leaving him with only a small peerage that was worth very little.
Gaton’s first act upon his father’s death was to sell off his fief and castle, only taking his weapons and armour as he willingly became a free warrior roaming the lands. The young warrior had then demonstrated excellence on the battlefield, slowly amassing an army, powerful followers, and expansive territories. He had left behind a legend as he grew into his own, taking on many responsibilities as he worked his way up to becoming a marquess.
Many parts of this map had been tagged with question marks, indicating that the particular vassal in charge there was wavering in their loyalty or beginning to resist orders. The land that was already out of control had been greyed out, with the mark of a chest on those who had participated in the theft of the offerings. Some were marked with skulls; these were the families that would be rooted out when he had the chance.
He grumbled to himself about the costs of planar travel. If he could have brought over his troops from Faelor, he would have flattened all those tiny territories a long time ago. All this time he’d felt free to let them act as they wished so they could tie their own nooses tighter, but now he wasn’t so sure. The display of Lifesbane guaranteed to everyone that he would become a saint runemaster in the future, so it was unlikely for these people to expose their hidden masters so easily.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Karen
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA