Book 4, Chapter 160

Coming Of Age

Faust was slowly growing more turbulent by the day. Two topics centred around the Archerons became the target of everyone’s focus: the imminent expiry of the protection from the Church in a month’s time, and the less than half a month left to the time limit Richard had given the Archeron Family Council to evacuate.

It was approaching the point where even an army pulled out from Faelor would barely be able to rush over in time. There wouldn’t be any chance to win a protracted siege before the deadline ended, and Blackrose was well-known for its powerful defences that prevented it from being overwhelmed directly. All of the Archerons’ enemies had been halted at Azan’s walls, so everyone was wondering just how Richard planned to follow through on his threats.

Everything seemed to be rather unfavourable for Richard. Earl Goliath and Marquess Sauron had mobilised troops in the vicinity of the peninsula, and even though they hadn’t entered Gaton’s lands yet there was every indication they would.

It was precisely in the middle of this chaos that Richard returned to Norland. When he walked out from the Church building, news immediately spread through all of Faust. This time, it wasn’t just due to his being in the limelight but also for the unicorn he was mounted on; this was the first time he had openly ridden the sacred creature out in Norland.

In only a few minutes, countless gazes focused on the doors of the Church. Many people rushed over hastily upon hearing the news, faintly sensing that Richard was about to erupt.

Richard’s horse was walking slowly across the cobbled streets; he had every intention of allowing the audience to gather.

First out behind him were his followers, a motley group in various colours, shapes, and forms. In the eyes of the Norlanders, even without high level each and every one of them were brimming with killing intent. It was clear that they were experienced in battle, far more threatening than an inexperienced saint.

Following were troops of elite shadowspear knights. The absolute rigidness and exacting precision in their formation captured everyone’s attention even more than their extravagant superior-grade equipment. A total of 300 mounted elites followed out, almost causing the voyeurs to choke on themselves. Every one of these soldiers was a potential rune knight!

Some secretly started to calculate the cost of the teleportation. It was common knowledge that knights were worth double the cost of the average transport, so even with a mere 5,000 gold cost per transmission this amounted to a staggering three million gold! Moreover, it hadn’t been all that long since Faelor had been serialised by the Church. Even if Richard offered repeated sacrifices, it was almost impossible to get the cost to 5,000 a person. The cost was likely even more terrifying than that!

However, that wasn’t the end of it. More knights followed out, these in single file. They were more relaxed than the shadowspear knights, more human, but their aura was even more ferocious than their counterparts. No noble of Norland could mistake this bearing and vigour, and it wasn’t long before someone cried out that they were rune knights.

There wasn’t any commotion at the start. After all, Richard was the royal runemaster with the prospects of becoming a saint runemaster in his life. It only stood to reason that he had rune knights amongst his ranks. Many nodded to themselves, confirming the hypothesis that Richard had hidden rune knights away on his private plane, and these ones were clearly grade 2 set knights on top. The mounts that were beginning to grow famous in the Sacred Alliance were clear for all to see as well.

The true question was: how many of them did Richard have? Ten? Fifteen?

It wasn’t long before ten rune knights had walked out of the Church, causing some of the smiles to become forced while others still maintained the knowing looks. When the next five passed, the smiles of the latter group turned stiff as well. The former couldn’t even smile anymore.

However, rune knights continued to stream out one after the other. Once the twentieth had walked out, the crowd had started to turn restless. Some were agitated, others pale, even more infuriated. More people received the news, and all the spots along the path from the church to the teleportation temple started to get crowded as the nobles sat down with tea and snacks. They naturally couldn’t be as worked up as ordinary people, but their expressions were thoughtful.

……

Duke Mensa crushed the teacup in his hand, snarling with fury, “Is he showing off? Twenty rune knights? We Mensas will not be intimidated by a mere twenty rune knights!”

The attendant’s entire body shook in fright and he swallowed up the ‘so far.’

……

Dario Schumpeter went silent for an entire ten minutes after hearing his servant’s report. He then bellowed in rage, tearing the servant to pieces and bathing in the rain of blood.

……

Old Joseph was having tea with some of his friends. Several expressions flashed across his face as he heard the news, but eventually he didn’t utter a single word about it and continued to discuss politics and territories. However, everyone seemed to understand not to mention the word Archeron in front of him.

……

Duke Tuescher and Duke Wellinburg merely instructed their subordinates to continue observing, reporting back with the exact numbers.

……

Emperor Philip stopped in the middle of his meal, thinking deeply for a long time before asking his aide, “What do you think of this?”

The aide was taken aback by the Emperor’s interest in his opinion. Thinking hard about it, he took a moment before stepping forward to answer, “I am under the impression that Lord Richard is showing off his military prowess, Your Majesty.”

“Oh?” Philip wiped his oily fingers with a handkerchief, “And who to?”

“The Schumpeters and the Mensas.” Sweat began to form on the aide’s forehead.

“If Richard had the ability to intimidate these families, he would just start a war. Their differences can’t be settled without one side being destroyed.”

“Maybe…” the aide braced himself, the sweat now eminently visible, “The Wellinburgs and Tueschers?”

Philip shook his head, leaving the aide on the brink of a breakdown. He lowered his head deeply, “Then… I do not know.”

“Sigh… You should spend more time studying politics.”

The aide jolted in surprise, “Your… Majesty? There isn’t any need for me to study politics, is there? Taking care of your daily diet is my entire duty!”

Philip smiled without his usual imposing nature, the Bloodthirsty Emperor surprisingly jovial today, “You’ve followed me for more than twenty years now, and all this while you’ve been cautious enough to make no mistakes. You don’t need to prove your loyalty anymore.

“I have a small piece of land on the border for you. The resources aren’t bad, but you’ll have to work on developing them into a place fit for an earl. Take care of me for another year, and then you can go focus on developing it.”

“That… Can’t… Why…”

“You deserve it. How many things did you neglect to plan my diet every day over all these years? Even this year, it’s just a transition. Nobody will dare touch your territory as long as you serve me, so build yourself up well. However, once you take up your new position I won’t be able to help you any longer.”

The aide suddenly kneeled down, choking with emotion, “Th-Thank you, Your Majesty! But… What if you want to eat something?”

Philip gently rapped the table, his gaze landing on the vibrant skies of Faust, “Sigh, it’s alright. Suddenly, I feel there’s no need for me to continue getting fatter. Perhaps all these years were just wishful thinking…”

The words seemed somewhat random and ominous, but the aide knew better than to ask. However, Philip just glanced at his expression and chuckled, “Don’t be nervous, I was just nostalgic for a bit. The kid is already twenty, right? He isn’t showing off his military prowess; this is a ceremony to celebrate his adulthood. It’s just like when Gaton took down Evernight Forest to declare his entry to the stage of the Alliance, what a vigorous youth! He’s tempting me as well, perhaps I should take a stroll in case some people forget my existence and get a little too bold.”

“How many rune knights do you think he’ll bring out, Your Majesty?” the aide suddenly asked.

Philip flashed a mysterious smile, declaring a number that completely shocked the soon-to-be earl, “Fifty.”

“Fifty! That… That… Lunor hasn’t even given the Alliance fifty rune knights in the past dozen years or so. No matter how powerful Richard is, how can he have so many after only four?” Rune knights couldn’t be created just with runes. One also needed suitable candidates with enough capacity, which implied good connections. The tremendous cost of upkeep and salary had to be factored in as well. All this could not be achieved overnight.

“Wait and see,” Philip smiled.

The Emperor had barely finished his sentence before an attendant rushed in and exclaimed, “Your Majesty! Fifty rune knights have already walked out from the Church!”

Philip laughed rather childishly, turning to the aide, “See? My judgement is still more accurate than yours, eh? Haha!”

However, the attendant’s next words put a stop to the laughter, “That isn’t all, Your Majesty! I rushed over at the count of fifty, but more are coming out. I left people behind near the entrance to send news back when there are updates.”

The entire palace fell silent. Even Philip didn’t know where to place his knife and fork.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hestia

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA