Book 4, Chapter 115

A New Lease Of Life(2)

One of the level 17 rune knights took two steps forward and knelt down on one knee, “Lord Richard, we do not wish to disobey you. However, it is tradition to treat us better than the normal soldiers.”

Richard didn’t mind the man’s bold words; kneeling was an act that proclaimed loyalty. Most rune knights were proud, and this one was no different. He only chose to kneel in obeisance because he was facing a runemaster.

Richard’s expression relaxed as he looked at all the remaining knights, “All of you feel the same way?”

They looked around at each other before nodding.

“Very well. Those who are only rune knights in training must still serve me for five years, but you will be treated well and allowed to return to Norland a year early and finish the rest of your service there. Those who are already rune knights will need to serve for four, but they may return a year early as well. Additionally, anyone willing to pledge your allegiance to me using the power of magic will have their service reduced by half a year. You will also be treated the same as any of my other troops.”

The knights and rune knights present heaved a sigh of relief and expressed compliance one after the other, ten of them even swearing the oath on the spot. All of them were focused on the reduced time in service instead of the equal treatment; the Archeron armies were known for being underequipped and underpaid. Of course, none of these soldiers knew that Richard and Gaton were different from the other Archerons in that regard.

Surprisingly enough, even the level 17 rune knight pledged himself under magic oath. Richard was delighted, calling out to Gangdor, “Reorganise these people and set up a single battalion under your command. Leave a hundred beetle knights with them to enforce law, and give them any equipment they need from the warehouse. Give me a list of whatever is missing, I’ll pass it on to Noelene.”

Once rumours had started circulating that the broodmother was the Beetle Queen Aquila, Richard had christened the humanoid knights the beetle knights to the outside world. Although only a hundred of them wouldn’t be enough to suppress a full rebellion, their name alone brought along nightmares that would cow any dissidents into submission.

These 2,500 Norlanders more than doubled Richard’s core army. With the humanoid knights and his rune knights, he now had more than 4,000 elite soldiers that could crush any enemy in Faelor at equal numbers. The core was now so powerful he was confident he could walk over most of the Iron Triangle Empire without challenge.

Done settling the affairs of the camp, Richard walked in front of a lone building nearby and announced his presence, “May I enter?”

“Sir Richard?” an aged voice sounded from within, “Please, anything you wish. I am but your slave.”

“A grand mage deserves respect, no matter their position.” Richard smiled and pushed the gate open to see an old man sitting under a tree in the courtyard, a cup of coffee in one hand and a book on Faelorian history in the other. The moon was hidden away by the clouds tonight, but a spark of magic flame suspended in the air projected an abundance of light.

The mage smiled bitterly and shook his head, “I am only a regular grand mage, and you are already level 16. I hear you aren’t yet twenty? You will surpass me in the blink of an eye, how could I have any pride in your presence?”

Richard laughed and sat in front of the mage, “Such courteous words are unnecessary, Master Mito. I am here today to request your service.”

The old man only chuckled, “Would me being sincere put you at ease?”

Richard pulled a scroll out of his robes as he nodded, “Indeed, a grand mage is far too powerful to allow by one’s side unless they are loyal. I am no exception to that; this is something that can out both of us at ease.”

Mito’s brows scrunched up as he scanned through the scroll from afar, “An enslavement scroll? Is this not a little too much?”

“This will allow me to trust you. Besides, my followers have taken up such contracts as well. You can see for yourself how I treat them.”

“Heh, that is true. Alright, suppose I accept becoming your slave. How long will this contract last?”

“Five years. For the duration, I will treat you just the same as how the Josephs did.”

Mito sighed, “The Josephs trusted me.”

Richard smiled and pushed the scroll across the small coffee table nearby, “And here’s me trusting you.”

Mito nodded, a melancholy expression covering his face, “I was just lamenting the downfall of the family I used to serve.”

“That isn’t guaranteed.”

The unexpected response caused Mito to frown, “Do you intend to spare the Joseph Family?”

“Ha, of course not. We’ve already reached a stage where one of us has to die. It’s just that I don’t like predicting things I haven’t accomplished yet.”

The grand mage didn’t know why he felt a slight chill from those words. He couldn’t help but be reminded of the bloody battle where Richard’s body had been shrouded in sparks, of the flashing swords that reaped countless lives. Even with his expansive knowledge, he could not understand how Richard had done so. Mages of the Deepblue were known for being sturdy, but that did not mean a level 16 mage could fight better than a level 16 warrior in melee.

Prodigies with talent in both magic and the martial arts had repeatedly popped up throughout the history of Norland. However, talent was all they were limited to. With limited time and energy, it was impossible for one to excel in both. Some people started off as jacks-of-all-trades, but they eventually found a single path to explore deeply as they furthered their abilities.

Richard kept silent as the old man made his decision. Mito knew the time had come, and smiled bitterly as he took the enslavement scroll and vowed upon its power. The scroll immediately lit aflame, the link beginning to form.

Richard nodded before standing up, “Flowsand should be arriving in Faelor sometime soon. Once she’s here, I’ll send her to heal you… Wait, SHOW YOURSELF!”

Richard’s hand leapt to unsheath Extinction as the gates to the residence opened once more, letting in a priestess in black and white robes. “I am Nyra,” she said monotonously, “Miss Flowsand sent me here to heal the grand mage.”

Richard looked over Nyra’s holy robes which were black on the left and white on the right and noticed the hourglass symbol of the Eternal Dragon. He then looked up to see her contrasting eyes that were black on the right and white on the left, “A priestess of the Church? Why have I never seen you before, and why is your timeforce so weak?”

“A priestess of the Dragon does not necessarily need the power of time. My strength is in the soul; you will be seeing me quite often from today.”

Staring at Nyra, Richard’s brows locked tightly as he sensed something was amiss. However, he could sense a trace of Flowsand’s aura on her quite similar to Io. This woman was uncomfortable to look at, like a ghoul floating around the human world, but she didn’t seem to be an enemy. He stood by the side, allowing her to work, but his sword was still in hand in case she tried anything funny.

As Nyra looked at him, Mito saw her eyes starting to spin until they reached a deep grey. It felt like the entirety of his body was exposed in a moment, all of his secrets revealed. He yelped in fright, jumping off his chair.

However, just as he fell back to the ground, the priestess walked over to him and put both hands forward. A blinding light flashed forth from within as tiny motes of energy flowed out of her hands; it was almost like she was birthing a tiny galaxy with her hands. The motes of divine power landed on Mito’s injuries one by one, healing them from within and without. Even the impact to his internal organs slowly faded away.

Richard had already noticed that the power of her healing art wasn’t spectacular for a priestess of the Eternal Dragon. However, she had exquisite control over her abilities and made sure to only target the parts that required healing. This allowed her to put more of her power into the important injuries instead of wasting it with a larger spell.

Mto took a few steps back in shock, back bumping against the tree before he slid to the ground. However, he quickly found himself able to stand steadily once more. The countless tiny injuries that had littered his body from the wars had completely vanished.

*Pop! Pop!* Two soft worms that were about a few centimetres long fell out from within Mito’s sleeves, landing on the ground and wriggling for a bit before going still. Mito’s face flashed with pleasant surprise, but Richard tensed instead.

These two unremarkable-looking worms were the products of the broodmother. They could tunnel into one’s body and constantly draw out their mana, disrupting any attempts at spellcasting. With two of these parasites being nailed in, Mito had been limited to grade 2 spells and below.

Richard suddenly erupted with an icy killing intent, glaring in Nyra’s direction, “You did this on purpose?”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA