Book 4, Chapter 138

Gamble

Richard kicked the guard on the floor coldly, “Stop playing dead unless you want to be!”

The guard’s body shook as control slowly returned to him. Even though every muscle in his torso stung, he was overjoyed just to be alive. He immediately turned around and got up, trying to shake off the numbness of his limbs.

However, that would never happen. Cardiff’s guardian saint noticed that all of his power had been broken apart, his aura completely destroyed at Richard’s hands. Without a priestess of Noelene’s standard healing him, he would never cross level 10 again in his life.

Cardiff suppressed his anger and called out to Richard, “Who are you? How dare you harm my guard? Explain yourself, or this will not end well!”

Richard smiled softly, “You don’t even know who I am but you dared to disturb one of my followers?”

Malice flashed across Cardiff’s face, but looking at Nyris behind Richard he suppressed it into a sneer, “I was wondering who could be so arrogant, so it’s the Archeron fellow. Lina is one of Marquess Gaton’s knights, when did she become your follower? You’re quite something.

“But this is Faust, who are you to attack a guard of nobility in public? The royal runemaster? That’s a title given to you by the royal family, not the entire Alliance. You are nothing more than a commoner without a title, you will suffer corporal punishment.”

Richard ignored the ranting youth completely, just beckoning Lina over. This time, no one stopped her from moving. Facing a grand mage was bad enough, but with someone capable in a melee protecting that grand mage, it was completely different. It wasn’t a good idea to do anything with the Fourth Prince and his guards here anyway.

“Don’t be afraid to fight off pricks who annoy you like this in the future, your life is precious. If you can’t kill them, just delay them and wait for my arrival. I’ll save you when I get there, and if I’m too late…” He paused at this moment, snapping a finger as he looked at Cardiff and group. A dull explosion rang out as the guard who had just gotten up fell to the floor once more, this time truly dead. Cardiff’s expression soured further.

“Richard Archeron, you have killed one of my guards. How are you going to compensate me for this?” Cardiff asked coldly.

“He—” Richard tapped Lina twice on the head, pulling her behind him as he turned towards the earl, “Who are you again?”

Cardiff’s face turned red, but he suppressed his rage, “Earl Cardiff of the Tuescher Family.”

Richard looked up for a moment, “Hmm… Tuescher… Ah, right, one of the fourteen. Alright, now who are you again?”

“RICHARD!” Cardiff felt the blood rushing to his brain.

Richard just laughed, staring this opponent down without a hint of fear, “What, you want to fight?”

Cardiff’s rage immediately halved. “Lord Richard, you hurt one of my guards. The least you could do is give me an explanation,” he gritted out.

Richard stopped smiling, “I don’t leave dogs who try to bite my people alive. If you’re dumb enough to take this to court, be my guest. But just remember one thing, Faust isn’t your family’s back garden, and you don’t even represent the Tueschers as a whole. You don’t want to suffer the consequences of making an enemy of me.”

Cardiff paled; Richard had obviously overheard his pursuit of Lina. He knew himself that a thorough investigation would not benefit him, and he definitely didn’t have the amount of clout Richard did. The Tueschers could suppress the Archerons, but that meant nothing when it came to Richard and himself. Prince Nyris was right here, he couldn’t even bribe this shop’s employees to lie.

All he could do in the end was grunt angrily, “Take this piece of trash up, we’re leaving!”

“Oi!” Richard called out.

“What more do you want?!” Cardiff screamed, his face as white as a sheet.

“You want to bully one of my followers and just leave? Do you think I’m going to let you off just like that?”

The grunts immediately turned into a burst of cold laughter, “Very well, let’s see how vicious you can be!”

Richard turned to Nyris, “There’s an auction going on upstairs, right?”

Leant against the railing nearby, Nyris lazily nodded his head. The answer was obvious, that auction was what they were here for. Nevertheless, he joined Richard’s performance and added innocently, “I heard valuable magic items and offerings are going to be auctioned off today.”

“Offerings? That’s rare!” Richard feigned exaggerated surprise, turning to face Cardiff once more, “The idiot behind you tore up Lina’s pocket money, are you going to forget that so quickly?”

The middle-aged noble who was pointed out gulped audibly.

“Just 200,000, I’ll give her double that!” Cardiff sneered, reaching into his pocket to pull out some pieces of goat-skin parchment the size of his palm. It looked to be a standard promissory note.

“I said that was her pocket money, are you deaf?” Richard looked at Cardiff whose teeth were bared with disdain, “I heard someone say earlier that the Archerons are poor, I guess they wouldn’t mind a contest of money with one. Since there’s an auction upstairs, that will be our stage. Whoever spends the most wins, and everything they buy is donated to the Church of the Eternal Dragon. How does that sound, Carduff?”

“It’s Cardiff!” the earl said with bloodshot eyes, “Alright, let’s do it! And what are we betting?”

“Gambling is a skill all nobles require, and it’s all about image and wealth. Let’s bet on those two things; the stakes are three million gold and two slaps to the face. You ready, Garduff?”

“IT’S. CARDIFF!”

Cardiff had never seen Richard in person, and even though he had some information on how the Archeron successor looked this attire was completely different from what the mages of the Deepblue normally wore. He hadn’t factored Richard into his plans when he pursued Lina in the first place; grand mages, especially those so talented, were not beholden to the families they served. However, now his hatred for Richard was second to none. It wasn’t just because of the dead guard; this fellow in front of him was exactly what the Archerons were infamous for; vulgar, arrogant, and impetuous.

He would have hesitated if it was any other sort of bet; after all, there was no good reason to incite war with a royal runemaster. However, a competition of wealth was completely within the law and he wasn’t afraid of any Archeron in that regard. However skilled runemasters were at making money, Richard hadn’t crafted a single grade 4 rune yet. He was still far too young; only when his skills reached a bottleneck and he wasn’t wasting expensive materials for practice would he be able to turn a decent profit.

Lifesbane was admittedly rare, and would sell for a pretty penny, but Richard had only shown one during his convention and hadn’t put any up for sale either. Considering this, the Tueschers and most other families had come to the same conclusion: this success was just a flash in the pan, and he would take much longer to be able to craft it consistently.

Runemasters like Richard were a well of potential. If Gaton were still around, he would quickly have made his way to dukedom and perhaps even pushed the Josephs down a level. However, Gaton was no longer around and nobody knew how much longer the Archerons would last either.

Potential didn’t mean wealth in the present. Richard’s bet of three million gold wasn’t absurdly high. It would certainly scare away many weaker families, but the highest class of society could afford it if the stakes were right.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA