Book 5, Chapter 4

The Patriarch’s Duty(2)

This was a special day to Richard, the Archerons, and everyone related to either. His words today would spread as far as his strength did, invoking respect and reverence alike. Those hostile to the family would no longer be able to live with peace of mind, because he had established a terrifying armed force within Blackrose Castle. More than 3,000 knights and nearly 200 rune knights were added onto the shadowspear knights and 150 rune knights he already had, bringing his military power close to Gaton’s.

The most frightening part about this army was that its prowess had already been demonstrated. The complete destruction of Earl Berino’s forces had proved that Richard’s leadership was remarkable on the field as well. The only thing he lacked now was in the absolute top end. Nobody would dare to provoke Gaton and his thirteen lunatics, but Richard’s team hadn’t yet reached that level. Lina had basically shifted allegiance completely now, while Asiris and Senma acknowledged him. Cyrden and Ward completely disregarded his orders.

Richard was frighteningly busy for the next few days. All of the duties of the family head that neither Sauron nor the family council had worked to resolve were now on his table. On top of that, he needed to reorganise the army and create new channels of supply for equipment and materiel. Guards had to be arranged for the castle as well.

The last problem was particularly sensitive. In many ways, Azan was almost worth as much as another plane, requiring a formidable guard force. However, the coups when Gaton had left made it obvious that he could not afford to leave someone random in charge.

Repeatedly weighing the pros and cons of it all, he eventually decided to place Lina in charge of the castle given that she would also be able to use Discra’s Ire to its fullest potential. On top of that, as someone who had lasted since Gaton’s reign even the lords nearby showed her the proper respect she deserved. On top of that, she would be able to focus on building new portals from the castle to places like the Deepblue and his personal planes.

At the same time, he also dispatched envoys to the smaller aristocrats nearby to see if he could purchase their lands. This would allow him to merge Azan with the viscounty he had won from Cardiff and create a buffer where he could station more defences. The land he had chosen was almost the size of an earldom, only worth so little because it was mostly barren.

……

When news finally spread from Faust, Richard dropped all his work and remained in his room for half a day. He then hurriedly allocated his work to his followers before gathering four griffins and flying straight towards Faust. There had once been a teleportation gate directly from the castle to Faust, but it had been broken during Gaton’s absence and wasn’t yet repaired.

As the griffin landed on the Archeron island in Faust, he immediately jumped off and rushed towards the Church of the Eternal Dragon. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for him to be allowed to meet Ferlyn directly.

“High Priestess—”

“You’re here about the news regarding Mordred and your father, correct?” Ferlyn interrupted him right at the start.

“I’m here regarding the news about Marquess Gaton,” Richard corrected her.

Ferlyn looked at him and sighed, “Richard, everyone knows there are problems between you and Gaton. However, your father has done so much for you. Can you not forgive him, even in death?”

Richard’s face blanched, his body starting to sway about. His voice remained steady, but his words were far slower than normal, “You’re saying… he’s dead?”

“From what I saw, yes.”

Richard went silent, looking down and starting to ponder over something. His heavy heartbeat rang throughout the silent hall, thumping like the battle drums of ancient barbarians.

When he raised his head again, he had regained his calmness, “Alright, what about Gaton’s corpse? Did Mordred take it away? Where is he now?”

Ferlyn hesitated to answer, and Richard noticed it immediately. “What are you apprehensive of?” he asked, “I need to know this news and I am willing to pay the price for it.”

The high priestess sighed once more, “If you really want to know, the price will be a top-tier offering.”

“No problem.”

“Richard, is there any meaning to this? Even if you know their destination, you won’t be able to go there now.”

“It’s fine, I will be able to do it one day. I’ve been to a battlefield of despair alone, there aren’t many places capable of killing me off,” Richard said calmly.

“That place is more fearsome than any battlefield of despair.”

Richard smiled faintly, “Doesn’t matter, I’ll go there once. Gaton was once the ruler of the Archerons, he deserves to be returned to the family tombs for his eternal rest. As the current family head, that is a responsibility I must fulfil. You don’t have to worry about me, I’ll send the offering over immediately. Now, tell me where Mordred took him.”

“… The end of the abyss.”

The end of the abyss? Richard grew a little absent-minded. Norland was no stranger to the abyss. He had read that it was similar to hell in that it was divided into multiple layers with their own lords, these lords possessing power making them capable of fighting gods within their levels. In fact, Sharon was a regular visitor of both, something that made her an eyesore to most of the powerhouses in those planes.

Nobody knew how many layers hell and the abyss were divided into. Some said hundreds, others thousands. Common consensus was that the actual number of layers in the abyss was ever-changing at its depths, while the nine hells each accomplished multiple small layers.

However, most of these assumptions were just conjecture backed by vague accounts in ancient texts. They were basically myths and word of mouth; even the legendary beings capable of surviving those planes only saw a small corner of the boundless worlds. Sharon herself hadn’t been able to accurately estimate the number of layers of these planes, only having visited a few dozen in total.

“What kind of place is that?” he asked eventually. The mainstream hypothesis was that the bottom layers of the abyss constantly changed, how would anyone know what it was like?

“It is said that the place is a world of crystal, somewhere untouched by the powers of even the Eternal Dragon himself. It is a peculiar world with its own laws, and expansive as well. That is all I know; if you want to learn more, I suggest you look for and analyse a crystal called the tear of Anubis that is only found within the depths of the abyss. However, that crystal is extremely rare; even legendary beings fight over it whenever it appears, and it’s worth about ten beyslace spider crystals.”

Ten beyslace crystals was a suffocating sum, but Richard just nodded his head and bid Ferlyn goodbye. Not long after, a top-tier offering was sent to Ferlyn’s hall.

Many nobles had sent envoys or even come personally to seek the same information both before and after Richard, but Ferlyn saw none of them and refused to answer any questions related to Mordred. This attitude of hers actually had a wondrous effect: everything in Faust operated as per usual, and people just assumed the incident didn’t mean anything and moved on. Some family heads had only started to wonder whether they should put more resources into researching Faust itself; there were far too many unsolved mysteries in this city of miracles.

Not long after Richard walked out, a messenger from the court arrived at the church as well. He met Ferlyn and bowed humbly, “High Priestess, His Majesty has decided to go on a stroll. He will be leaving Faust in a few days.”

Ferlyn only hummed in acknowledgement.

……

On the Archeron island, Richard wasted an entire day in his laboratory. He refused to see anyone and handle any work, just bringing over a crate of liquor and going through it like a breeze. A dozen bottles caused his head to throb like it would explode, his body completely out of control, but his mind refused to dull. Vivid memories were flashing past his eyes, starting from when he had first started forming memories to when he had received the news.

When the last of the bottles was emptied, he tossed it away and just stared blankly into space for the rest of the day.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA