Book 5, Chapter 3

The Patriarch’s Duty

Gaton’s face was expressionless, eyes shut as though in eternal rest. However, Ferlyn vaguely felt a faint shadow surrounding the body. It was extremely blurry, not even overlapping properly with the corpse as it swayed with Mordred’s footsteps.

“The depths of the abyss… Why?” Ferlyn stood before the hourglass for a long time, starting to grow a little uneasy. She couldn’t understand the feeling in her heart; neither Gaton nor Mordred were particularly important to her, and even if they had died she would only remember them as people who left their mark on history. However, Mordred’s emergence had the ability to halt all of Faust’s activities. Was his fate intertwined with the Church of the Eternal Dragon?

She started to think that the Devil King’s appearance in Faust was a coincidence. Even the toughest of legendary beings needed coordinates to travel between planes, and Faust was likely only a familiar stop on his way to his destination. The deepest part of the abyss, the origin of all chaos.

She eventually raised her hand and shot out another beam of timeforce, hoping to take a look at the direction of Gaton’s future. However, as the hourglass absorbed her powers it vibrated a little and the image formed of sand suddenly broke apart. Her body trembled as a few drops of blood streaked down the corner of her lips. A searing pain covered her body, and she could instantly tell that this damage from timeforce would be extremely difficult to heal.

However, the agony of her body was nowhere near comparable to the shock experienced by her heart. She had paid a huge price in the Hall of Dawn but could not see Gaton’s future at all. Either an extremely powerful being was protecting his destiny, or he was no longer within the reach of the Eternal Dragon. Both options were frightening.

Ferlyn sighed softly. At this point, things had progressed beyond what she could control. The images in the sand had told her a lot, but that knowledge was quite limited. What happened in the Rosie Plane? Why was it destroyed? This was a riddle that would only be solved when she met Mordred again.

As she replayed the scene in her mind, she suddenly noticed an overlooked detail that gripped her heart. As Mordred had appeared and disappeared, part of Daramore’s skull had been in the corner of the image. A faint glow had flashed across the abyssal dragon’s many eyes. Her brows locked together, but she couldn’t confirm whether this was something she had just imagined. Completely drained of timeforce, she didn’t have the power to summon the image once more.

The power to look through the past was an incomparably special ability that only a few of even the chosen priestesses of the Eternal Dragon ever unlocked. As with all other formidable abilities, it had its own strict restrictions as well. One could only use the timeforce they had gathered prior to the event in question, any that was gathered afterwards would be useless.

……

Richard was currently patrolling all corners of Blackrose Castle as he looked through the aftermath of the family council’s existence. Only the exterior of the castle remained the same as before, the artwork and antiques within completely taken away with even the counterfeits not left behind. Surprisingly the twenty ballistae and their bolts hadn’t been touched, but he assumed it was partly because of the guard captain’s obstinance and Sauron’s hesitance to become the ruler of the Archerons.

Blackrose Castle was the traditional seat of the Archeron patriarch, while Discra’s Ire was a symbol of Azan’s power when under Gaton’s control. Sauron knew that taking away the ballistae or Discra’s Ire would cause an inevitable feud with the future head of the family, a position he himself didn’t wish to take.

Truth be told, there weren’t many benefits to becoming the chief of the family. Azan wasn’t particularly large nor fertile, and the precedent was of the family head spending more on the family than they earned in revenue from their vassals.

Richard was currently facing that very duty. Once he was done patrolling the castle, he made his way to a balcony that overhung the training grounds and announced the details of the recruitment to the tanned Archeron warriors before.

A little over 3,000 free warriors had come to enlist in Richard’s army, most of them high enough in level to be a cavalryman and the rest strong enough to qualify anyway. Richard had promised to recruit as many qualified soldiers to the army as enlisted, and he had also guaranteed that they would be treated with the standard of a proper noble family. Given the 1,000 gold cost of arming every soldier with decent equipment and a 300 gold yearly pay as well as an equal amount in food, he realised he needed to allocate another five million gold to his military budget for this year and two million every year after. During Gaton’s time, the same number would only have cost 800,000 a year including training.

A pleasant surprise came in the form of nearly 200 rune knight candidates. Most of them were level 15 while ten were level 17, and although a majority had already reached the limit of their potential that only made them the best of candidates. Based on their levels, Richard assigned a yearly wage of between 5,000 and 10,000 gold for these candidates; not spectacular by any means when placed in Faust, but miles beyond what they used to be paid.

Archerons gathered more for blood and glory than they did for wealth. They only wished to be acknowledged by those of their bloodline as brave warriors and thought about salaries second. This was why Gaton had managed to employ so many at dirt cheap prices. However, even so they had their own costs to bear. They would not fight for free, and Gaton had very limited funding.

Now, however, Richard’s hands were paving the path for an entirely new era of the family.

Upon hearing the numbers Richard announced, the free warriors below almost couldn’t believe their own ears. Some got confused and thought Richard was using a numbering system they did not understand. However, as they looked at each other and verified that they had heard correctly, they burst into a cacophony of cheers that immediately drowned out the training grounds!

The cheers resounded for a long time. Eventually, a man with an X-shaped scar across his face walked out from the midst and turned around, raising both arms and slowly bringing them down. The warriors immediately started to quiet down, making it evident that this was a well-respected figure among their ranks.

Richard recognised him as well. This was Brolin, someone renowned for his outstanding bravery and wisdom. His potential should have run out at level 15, but year after year he had braved countless battlefields to slowly break through two bottlenecks to reach level 17. His true ability in combat was far beyond others of his level as well, even matching some weaker saints. This was someone not respected for their sheer power but for their tenacity and spirit.

Brolin turned back around, looking up at Richard as a deep voice filled the entire plaza, “My Lord, I do not wish to challenge your authority but I have a suggestion of my own. Most of us might be here in hopes of a salary that will allow us to get by, but just a quarter of what you are promising is enough. We only hope you can follow through on your promise yesterday, to lead us as we plant our warflags on countless planes!”

The moment Brolin finished his sentence, all the soldiers behind him started howling a chant for war. Killing intent almost materialised on the plane, just the auras alone causing the flag with a volcano and a world tree to flutter without the wind.

Richard waited a while for these warriors to vent their desires before gesturing for them to quiet down. He then flashed a charming smile, “Archerons, from this day forth our pride is not the only thing you can rely on. You will also be able to provide a proper, dignified life for your families, making your children proud for something other than your bravery!”

The soldiers were immediately dazed. Many of the older warriors felt an indescribable pain in their chest, eyes glazing over as the tears they dreaded more than blood threatened to spill out of their eyes. Some closed their eyes a little, others pretended to be blinded by the sun. Even more started acting like dust had gotten into their eyes. The only commonality was that all their efforts were clumsy.

Richard saw it all, “I dream that one day all of you brave warriors will be free of your worries for food and shelter. We should be able to step on the battlefield and charge towards our enemies without constantly worrying about our families. Even if we die a glorious death, our families will not have to grow up in poverty! Our children should be able to grow up in dignity, to be able to reach for their dreams! We may still be upstarts, but from this day we Archerons shall never be paupers again!”

It took some time for the words to sink in, but after a few dazed a volcano erupted within the courtyard of Blackrose Castle. Brolin shook his head, returning to blend into the crowd.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA