Book 4, Chapter 116

From The Darkness

Hell’s fury seemed to condense in Richard’s eyes as he jammed Extinction into the floor, sheath and all. With his other three weapons left in his residence, this left him completely unarmed. However, sparks started to fly all across his body as his aura strengthened, a dreadful killing intent enveloping Mito and Nyra.

Countless thoughts rushed through the grand mage’s head, but he eventually just waved his hands and returned to his seat under the tree. Richard paid it no mind, focused instead on Nyra’s currently grey eyes that seemed to spin like a vortex. A formless power started to tug at his soul, as though to separate it from his body.

However, this only served to further Richard’s fury. It seemed like an invisible cyclone had struck the residence; he only swayed a little, but Nyra was blown back into the courtyard wall. His soft groan was contrasted by a high shriek as lines of crimson formed in her eyes, blood slowly dripping onto her cheeks.

Astonishment flashed across Nyra’s expressionless face as she stabilised her body, bowing towards Richard in allegiance. However, he only snorted and picked up Extinction once more, making his way out of the courtyard, “I’m letting this go because of Flowsand. Turn on me again and your end will not be pleasant.”

Nyra wiped away the blood with her sleeve and left the courtyard as well. Her expression had turned neutral once more, but her mind was in chaos. Even with her expertise in the field, the brief clash of souls had felt like charging head-first into a cliff!

As Mito was left behind by the two, seemingly forgotten, he felt the mana in his body quickly recovering. It was only a few minutes before he could cast grade 7 spells, enough for him to fly away from this place. Although he had accepted the slave contract, betrayal would at most make him lose a level or two.

Acting on this thought would mean freedom, but the grand mage did not move as he took a few small sips of his now-cold coffee. An invader like him would be hunted down wherever he went in Faelor, and even if he somehow made it to the portal and performed a miracle that let him get past the Dragon Mage and Richard’s other powerful followers, there would be no respite in Norland either. The loss of this expedition army would certainly have left the Josephs on the verge of annihilation, and no other family would want to protect an old grand mage from a future saint runemaster’s wrath.

Even if he returned to Norland and avoided all other families, just going on the run there as well, how long would that last? He was already old, while Richard hadn’t gone through even a tenth of his life. Mito let out a deep sigh. He was an old man, exhausted by the world. Any personal relationship with the Josephs had been because he watched Raymond grow up with his own eyes, but that was not enough for him to sacrifice his life. Richard promised generous compensation, and even if the Archerons were poor, grand mages like him never worried about gold.

……

Flowsand was leaned into the couch as she lazily combed through her overgrown hair. Having returned to Faelor only a few hours ago, she had wished to get some rest but Io had barged into her room and started pacing around angrily.

“Flo— Your Excellency,” the battle priest barely managed to catch himself, “You once promised to increase my level cap after I reached level 16. I have been stuck at this level for a long time, but… but… you go and create another heavenly guardian instead!”

“I recall no such promise,” Flowsand said indifferently, not even turning to face him.

“You… You…” Io’s handsome face had turned a bright red, his fury so great he was almost unable to speak. Strictly speaking, Flowsand had never explicitly told him that she would upgrade him once he reached the maximum level. However, all this while he had fought hard in Faelor on the assumption that helping Gangdor keep order would give him exactly that.

Gangdor was admittedly smarter than it seemed. His natural ability at command and his courage had won them some battles that pure rationality never could. The battle with Salwyn had been much worse than the fellow made it seem; if he hadn’t personally fended off five of Salwyn’s generals while rushing over to the prince like a psychotic killer, the Iron Triangle Empire’s sturdy army would have engulfed and kill them all. However, none of it would have been possible without his spells constantly being poured into the troops to assist them as much as possible.

Although he wanted to rant, Io saw that Flowsand’s expression brooked no discussion and simmered down. It was partly because he knew he could not oppose her, but also because he and Gangdor had grown a strong bond over their time together. Now, even if Flowsand refused to upgrade him at all, he would just grumble and carry on with his tasks. It had nothing to do with Richard’s ambition; he just couldn’t stand the thought of the big brute fighting alone.

“Alright, Your Excellency, I respect your decision. However, you could have just created a random heavenly guardian. Why did it have to be her? She—”

“She what?” Nyra’s calm voice seeped in from outside, sending shivers down Io’s spine. The priestess entered the room and closed the door, her eyes that had returned to being black and white glaring at Io.

The battle priest grunted, his own eyes sparkling with golden light. Black, white, and gold met in mid-air, dissipating after a quiet collision.

“I’m not afraid of you!” Io said sternly.

Nyra smiled faintly in response, “Likewise. I am no fool like you, battle priest who was beaten up by a mage.”

Io’s face warped in an instant, “Try me, let’s see what the outcome is!”

As the two started arguing, Flowsand stopped combing her hair and glared at them, “What secrets are you two hiding? How do you know each other?”

“That—”

“We come from the same place. All we can tell you is that it is a world controlled by the Eternal Dragon; all our memories of the place are suppressed and we are forbidden from describing it. If you wish to know more, you could perhaps sacrifice an offering or use some divine grace to ask the Dragon himself.”

Flowsand nodded at Nyra, ignoring Io who was raging once more, “You aren’t planning anything behind my back, are you?”

“I fought a battle of wills with Master Richard just now.”

“WHAT? What happened?” Flowsand stood up from the couch, a frown adorning her face. On the other hand, Io started laughing with delight that he had not known since he was brought into this world. Having seen the strength of Richard’s soul first-hand, he knew exactly how such a duel would turn out.

“I suffered heavy injuries, but he is fine.”

Flowsand’s imminent rage tapered off, but she still looked sternly at the two heavenly guardians, “And do you lot have any more plans like this?”

“Once is enough,” Nyra answered, while Io just groaned and kept quiet.

Flowsand shook her head and sat back down, stretching lazily like a cat, “Good. This will be the last time you test him. Keep your positions in mind; if you disappoint me again, I have no problem with summoning a third guardian. The grace I’ll lose sending you back means nothing.”

This time, Nyra’s expression was no different from Io’s. Being sent back was another countless years in the dark void, a horrifying punishment that neither wished to bear.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA