Book 5, Chapter 17

A Convention Of Love And Hatred

As the sun and moons cycled through the sky, the day of Rosie’s convention seemed to arrive in the blink of an eye. Early in the morning, Richard exited the teleportation temple on his horse with his numerous followers right behind. Rosie was silent as she rode next to him, attracting many gazes in her mage robes.

Coincidentally or otherwise, they came upon Duke Mensa on their journey to the auction house. Sparks seemed to fly from the three pairs of eyes.

“Richard, what a delight it is to see you!” Mensa was the first to speak. Without adding any titles behind the name, he was just mocking Richard’s lack of formal status.

“Ah, Duke!” Richard laughed heartily, “Unfortunately, I don’t share those sentiments. When are you going to get out of Faust?”

The Duke’s expression changed at Richard’s crudeness, but he maintained his sarcastic tone, “You’re not the only one who’s wondered about that, but everyone’s been waiting for hundreds of years now.”

“Of course!” Richard laughed, “But then again, you haven’t met someone like me in that time either.”

At this point, Mensa’s own entourage was enraged as well. They pushed aside their robes to reveal hands on the hilts of their weapons, but Richard just scoffed at them, “What, you want to give him even more problems? Well, step forward, let’s get it over with.”

The Duke’s face immediately turned green. A fight right outside the auction hall? Losing would be one thing, but if they won then every powerhouse waiting within would add the family to their list of enemies! Besides, His Majesty had warned them that any more actions against the Sacred Alliance or its allies would be met with lasting consequences.

Richard likely knew of this, which was why he was trying to provoke them. However, seeing Rosie next to Richard and even holding his hand, Mensa couldn’t control his rage at all, “If you want to fight, I’ll arrange for someone after today.”

“After today?” Hahaha!” Richard’s loud laughter drew shocked looks from the passersby, “Why would I bother about you later? You should concern yourself with your castle first, Duke.”

These words were strange, but before anybody could understand their meaning Richard had led his followers into the building.

……

The auction had been arranged at Faust’s second largest temple, but the many people present at the venue almost filled up the place.  As the prelude to the auction, Rosie’s rune convention enjoyed a similar level of popularity.

The huge volume of people in the audience made Rosie’s heart beat violently, but many years of training in etiquette allowed her to maintain her grace and style regardless of nervousness. Her three custom grade 2 runes were nowhere near comparable to Richard’s two sets at his first convention, but given her sensitive status and beauty, many amongst the crowd didn’t feel like their time had been wasted. Everyone was discussing her change of allegiance and the enmity between the Archerons and Mensas.

Most of those present were here for Richard’s custom set, so they were more informed about runecrafting than normal. The fact that he had transformed someone of little innate talent into a runemaster spoke volumes of his achievements in the craft, boosting their confidence further.

As Rosie was introducing her runes to a mixed reaction from the audience, a burly man in the corner of the hall was laughing about the foolishness of the Mensas and Schumpeters. His scathing words pierced through the low din, and many of those listening were nodding along. The brighter Rosie glowed on stage, the more humiliating it was for the two families.

However, the burly man suddenly turned around while grabbing the hilt of his weapon, frowning as he searched for the source of the killing intent he had just felt. He saw a grey-cloaked man of the same build as himself, large hood covering the face. “The Schumpeters are a powerful family who live on one of the islands,” a hoarse, low voice rang out, “Are you not afraid of death?”

“From those pussies? Fuck them! If they want to fight, the Geist Family will be happy to send them to their deaths!”

The gazes on the burly man were instantly filled with respect. The Geist Family was a powerful clan from the Sacred Tree Empire that far exceeded the Schumpeters and the Mensas in terms of power and influence. In fact, the reigning emperor’s favourite concubine was from their family.

Even in Faust, the Schumpeters couldn’t do anything to a Geist. War between families was one thing, but the Sacred Alliance wouldn’t tolerate the possibility of causing a war on the scale of empires. The hooded man kept silent for a while before snorting loudly, turning to leave while ignoring the continued mockery from behind. Only after entering a narrow alley did Dario Schumpeter reveal his sinister face.

Duke Mensa had left the venue long ago. He could tell from the sheer number of people that Rosie’s convention would be an unprecedented success, and he could not bear that insult. Even though most of the people were there for the auction, Rosie Archeron’s name would definitely spread throughout Norland anyway. His heart had bled as the pearl that should have belonged to his family now glowed in Richard’s hands.

All logic would state that this was Richard’s achievement more than Rosie’s, that she would have been nothing without the guidance of someone of his calibre. However, that only hurt the Duke even more. He had only stayed as long as he did to save his reputation; more than half of those in the hall did not lose to the Mensas in power and status.

There was another dejected person in the audience: Foster. His face was warped with hatred and bitterness, glowing eyes looking upon Rosie with utter contempt. He had already trampled over her a million different ways in his mind, but that thrill could not wash away the pain of his dreams washing away.

He once had countless halos around his head. Having been born into an influential family, he was slated to be the next royal runemaster of the Sacred Alliance. Being tall, handsome, talented and in the future extremely rich, he was the dream lover of more than half of Faust’s young ladies. All these dreams had been ruined by Richard’s arrival. The bastard son of an upstart family had blown him away in the midst of a meteoric rise to the top. This was a mountain boy whose presence was unknown for the first ten years of his life!

Still, he had tried his best to ignore Richard, working on his own craft to forge a position for himself. He cursed whenever news of Richard came up, like with the announcement as a royal runemaster or the crafting of Lifesbane, but he poured himself into his work. It was when Richard had arrogantly surpassed Lunor that a flicker of hope arose in his heart once more: he and Richard were no longer on the same level, so he was powerless to change the facts. What was to say the Alliance could only have two runemasters? He would realise his dream one day.

But now, Rosie’s appearance had destroyed that hope as well. An ordinary mage with middling talent in the arcane arts had suddenly turned into a runemaster. Her past glory and disgrace meant nothing; her abilities were proof enough of her value. All three runes she announced were custom designs; they might not be as astounding as Lifesbane, the Guide of Secrets, or even Savage Strike, but they far surpassed his creations. Even if the Sacred Alliance appointed a third runemaster, he would not be the one they chose.

A familiar figure popped up in Foster’s vision. Even though the person was wearing a thick cloak, he could immediately recognise his master anywhere. However, the bulk of his anger suddenly focused onto Lunor. How was a runemaster who couldn’t even craft grade 4 runes qualified to instruct him? It was this old geezer’s inability that kept him back.

As he watched Lunor’s back, several ideas started floating around Foster’s mind.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA