Book 4, Chapter 112

A Painful Struggle

The Mensas and Schumpeters felt ominous dark clouds looming over them when they heard of Richard’s recruitment drive. They knew this would be the beginning of his retaliation. It had taken all they had to send his father away, and he was far more wealthy than Gaton.

The Josephs maintained absolute silence. Richard’s safe return was proof enough that their expedition had been wiped out, which meant their forces were greatly weakened.

Many overnight meetings were conducted within the various noble families of Faust. Many who weren’t on hostile terms with Richard wanted to join his side, hoping to gain his favour and the goodwill of the royal family that backed him. However, even if they wanted to there was no way for them to set up an alliance; Richard had already gathered his troops and left for Faust.

However, that did not mean he was done with shocking the Alliance. New information spread through at an alarming pace a few days after he’d left, this news even making its way to the other empires. Allies and enemies alike were unsettled upon hearing the news, and some even hurried back from the battlefields of despair to confirm its authenticity.

Richard’s butler had declared that he would be holding a mini-auction ten days after the recruitment drive for the rune knights came to an end. There would be only one item going on sale, but it was something almost nobody could neglect: a custom-designed grade 2 rune set!

It was a devilish temptation, one that forced all powerhouses to reconsider their stance once more. Those who weren’t yet at the legendary realm would be greatly strengthened by such a set, and those that were could always use it to groom heirs or subordinates. Even the Sacred Tree Empire and Millennial Empire would have to step into the fray, trying their best to keep something like this from remaining within the Sacred Alliance. At the same time, Emperor Philip had to consider how best to ensure it did.

The Guide of Secrets had already dispelled any doubts anyone had with regards to Richard’s ability as a runemaster. The nearly nameless assassin that had managed to win it in the auction had since grown into a formidable killer, bringing Richard’s fame up with his own. And while the Guide of Secrets represented Richard’s talent and creativity, the recent reveal of Lifesbane represented his pure skill. It was only a matter of time before he could craft grade 4 runes.

Everyone that wanted to help kill Richard off at Blackrose Castle now had to rethink their options.

……

“My patience has a limit. Once some opportunities are lost, the doors will never open away.”

Fuschia had struggled a lot over the past few days, those last words from Richard haunting her mind. However, she eventually came to a decision and lifted her pen, writing a short few sentences onto the paper in front of her and sending it to the Archerons’ wargod through a transmission circle.

……

It was about dusk when Alice received the letter. She had grown visibly more haggard over the past few weeks, her fiery red hair losing all its lustre as her eyes lost their unerring focus. She sat behind her desk and looked through the stack of documents she needed to go through, but the letter would not leave her mind. Her mouth that could shout a hundred commands to her army in only a few minutes was trembling; all she wanted was to tear that letter apart, but she knew she could not afford to do so.

Every time she thought of the letter, an abnormal blush rose up her face. However, she would turn pale immediately after. No matter what, she didn’t dare to touch that envelope.

Hours slowly passed as the demons fought within her mind. The crimson glow of her castle faded into the beautiful moonlight, but she couldn’t bring herself to do anything.

“ARGH! Isn’t it just a letter?!” she suddenly roared, reaching out for it, but the moment she touched the piece of paper it felt like a shock ran through her body. She jumped back in fright, landing in a corner of the room.

She stayed in this position for a long time as well before eventually walking over to a large box nearby and opening it up with force. In here were twenty bottles of brandy, one of which she grabbed and opened before downing all of its content like water.

That was not the end of it. A second bottle was emptied in only a minute, followed by a third, fourth, and fifth. Even saints normally could not avoid being intoxicated at this point without using their internal energy, and she was only level 17. As she tried to reach for the sixth, it seemed to grow its own wings as it floated to and fro to avoid her grasp.

The earl suddenly felt like she was extremely laughable. Many emotions that she had kept bottled within herself for a long time now surged out, leaving her face extremely warm. She touched her cheeks to realise they were wet, but looking up all that greeted her was the ceiling. There was no rain, why was her face wet? This water was even hot and salty…

“My Lady, are you alright?” a light knock sounded on the door.

“I’m not drunk enough, scram!” An incoherent response came from her lips.

However, the door was still pushed open slowly. A handsome young officer walked in and looked at her with worry, “My Lady, should I bring some water?”

However, all he got as a response was a dagger pressed against his neck. The blade had already pierced his fair white skin, Alice’s eyes now clear as ever without the slightest sign of intoxication. The smell of sulphur filled the air.

The officer turned pale as a sheet, his entire body starting to tremble, “My Lady, you… Why…”

Alice snorted loudly, the killing intent in her eyes so thick it threatened to drown him, “What, just because your father’s a marquess you think you can get me? I thought you were a decent person all this while, but this… Scram! Tell whatever relatives you have that I’ve had enough! If any of them has a problem, they’re welcome to meet me on the battlefield!

GUARDS!” Hurried footsteps sounded from outside the room as fully armoured guards appeared at the door, “Throw him out.”

Two ferocious guards immediately lifted the officer from the ground, dragging the man away. The officer’s wails rang through the castle halls, “Alice, you can’t treat me like this! Wait and see, nobody will sell you mounts or equipment anymore! Even your rations won’t be replenished! You bastards, what are you doing? Hands… off… NO!”

As his screeches disappeared into the distance, she waved one of the guards that remained over, “Tell General Tiden to come to my office tomorrow. Tell him I have the things he wants most.”

She then slammed the door shut before leaning against it. The energy seemed to drain out of her body as she slowly slipped to the ground, both hands grasping her short locks as she cried softly. However, the floodgates had been opened and could not be stopped; eventually, she lay bawling across the floor.

Several guards were still outside the room, but they looked at each other and nodded before leaving quietly. They started talking once more when they were several metres away.

“Damn it, I’m not taking my salary for the next three months?”

“Just three months? Scram! I’ll do without for half a year!”

“One year for me!”

“Hmm? Don’t you have three kids?”

“Oh, right… How much do I have… Okay, three months.”

These words didn’t reach the ears of their lord. Alice struggled to stand up, a strong odour of alcohol emanating from her body as she went over to the desk and grabbed Fuschia’s letter before falling down again. She laid down completely on the floor, borrowing the courage granted by the brandy to open the letter up.

“The day would have come sooner or later, you might as well get the eight rune sets for it.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo