Book 5, Chapter 22

Sincerity

The battle between the Anans and Schumpeters was overshadowed by the glory of the Eight Day War. It was only once everyone grew tired of talking about Richard’s exploits that they realised the Anan Family had won.

However, the road to Faust was never smooth. When Dupont Anan finally managed to see the city of miracles with his army behind him, a total of 6,000 soldiers lay dead on the road. However, the Schumpeters now only had a month to leave island 7-7, after which it would be handed over to the incoming family.

The aforementioned island seemed to be covered in a dark cloud. Everyone was busy scurrying around as they packed and demolished, unwilling to talk too much. Duke Dario just lazed in his study for days on end, staring at the ceiling. The Day The City Fell, a mural from a master artist that he had always favoured in the past, now stung every fibre of his body. Even the image of a young lady being carried away by fully armoured soldiers that he used to enjoy failed to arouse him.

Being forced out of Faust was not the end, but it was the beginning of a terrible fate. The Schumpeters would now have to go through other powerful families to present offerings, but they were too poor to even rummage up any real offerings in the first place. The ravenous enemies that had been awaiting their fall would now pounce forth, with one specific name that was especially terrifying in the mix— Richard Archeron.

The Eight Day War had shown the Sacred Alliance a side of Richard that few had known of before. He was no longer just a runemaster, but also a valiant general that could not be defeated by any common powerhouse. At the very least, the Schumpeters had no warriors capable of guaranteeing Richard’s death. Dario still had a distant relative, a younger brother of his grandfather, that possessed legendary might. However, it had been decades since this grand-uncle’s name had even been mentioned; considering the flow of time in the Battlefield of Despair, it wasn’t impossible for the man to be long dead.

Besides, which legendary powerhouse would even dare to lay a hand on Richard? Sharon’s might was known to every expert of Norland; nobody wanted to awaken the sleeping dragon.

For the first time in ages, Dario Schumpeter set aside his hubris and started to consider the fate of his clan.

……

“The Schumpeters? What can they even do?” Lina asked Richard with confusion. Richard had just informed her to look out for the Schumpeters’ movements while he was off in Faelor. He had just convened a meeting of his followers in Blackrose and set a time for his return.

Richard laughed in response, “If I’m not wrong, they’ll be sending some people over soon. See what they bring; if it’s valuable, let me know, if it’s not, accept the gifts and chase them away.”

“You… You’re too…” The Dragon Mage didn’t know what to make of Richard’s order. It wasn’t consistent with the style of nobility at all.

“It’s nothing. Don’t forget, we’re upstarts.”

……

Richard thus left, leaving Lina to what he presumed would be a life of boredom on the floating island. She was technically in charge of Blackrose Castle, but as a spatial mage of great skill she could easily craft a portal to get there whenever she wanted.

However, it only took two Norland days for the Schumpeters to send their envoys. Seeing what had been sent as a token of ‘sincerity,’ she immediately called him back from Faelor.

When Richard rushed back to the Archeron island, a look of irritation could be seen on his face. When Lina had asked him to return, she hadn’t mentioned just what the Schumpeters had brought along. She kept mum even when they met, just bringing him to a small room and asking him to see for himself.

Within the room was a black-haired young lady kneeling on top of carpet, staring blankly out of the window in a daze. It was someone who had left a deep impression on him before, partly because of his past and partly because of a fight.

“Sisley?” His questioning tone startled the young lady, causing her to look towards the entrance, but the dazed look remained in her eyes.

Richard wanted to question the Schumpeter envoy at the stairs about just how he was supposed to control such a dangerous woman, but the moment she turned around he noticed an exquisite scroll clasped in her hands.

He couldn’t help but sigh in marvel at Dario’s ingenuity. Not only had he sent Sisley over as a peace offering, but he had also attached an enslavement scroll as well.

However, the only thing Sisley reminded him of was Sinclair, of that cruel and twisted girl with a cruel and twisted past. His heartstrings tugged as he caressed Extinction which was at his waist, unsure if this one had suffered the same fate.

That action seemed to snap Sisley out of her reverie. She shook her head once, flashing a pained smile, “I can protect myself better than my sister. Besides, the elders are trying to please you right now; they wouldn’t do something so stupid.”

Richard didn’t dignify her words with a response, instead pulling a chair over and sitting before the girl who was still kneeling on the floor, “Sinclair’s last request before her death was for me to kill you and the Schumpeter elders.”

Sisley maintained her bitter smile, “Yes, I betrayed her for my own safety. However, if I hadn’t done that both of us would have been forced to attend that goddamn ‘party’ night! At least one of us managed to escape!”

“Oh? And why were you spared instead of her?” Richard asked softly.

The girl’s face paled as she recalled the past, “Sigh. She was just too naive, so I sacrificed her to save myself.”

Richard shook his head, “So you betrayed your naive little sister instead of protecting her. Okay, let’s put that aside for now; what use does Dario think you have for me?”

“I’m pretty, talented, and can command troops in battle. Sinclair wasn’t as good as me in any of these aspects!” All of it was spoken in a single deep breath, Sisley’s eyes filled with the fear that Richard wouldn’t see the value in her.

Of course, Richard remained cold and unimpressed, “Now, better than Sinclair is hardly good.”

“I can do anything you want me to! Besides, you don’t need to doubt my loyalty!” Sisley lifted the enslavement scroll up high, moving to rip it apart and invoke the contract.

However, Richard snatched the scroll from her before her second hand even touched it. He then passed it to Lina who was standing by the door before turning back, “I’m not wasting something so valuable on you.”

For a moment, Sisley’s hands were still frozen mid-action. Enslaving a beautiful and dangerous woman such as herself should have been an irresistible offer to any man, but Richard seemed unwilling to even use a free scroll on her. Had she lost her allure? Was she worth less now than a mere scroll?

She forced a smile, “Aren’t you worried about me betraying you too?”

“And what can you even do?” Richard asked bluntly before turning to Lina, “We should be done here, go tell the envoys that this gift isn’t sincere enough. If Dario wants me to leave his family alone for the next two years, I want the heads of half of the Schumpeter elders. If that’s too much of a price to pay, he can look forward to guarding his territories.”

“What about me?” Sisley asked. Her smile still remained, but one could see the tremendous dread in her heart.

Richard looked at her before waving for Lina to stop, “Right, take this one with you and give her back. I don’t need a woman, I need lands. You, can I exchange you for an earldom?”

“An earldom?” Sisley’s petite face was almost as red as her eyes, “Lord Richard, you think too much of my value. I’m only worth a knighthood at most.”

“Well, that’s something. If Dario doesn’t understand my meaning, then he can’t blame me for what’ll happen.” Richard waved his hand, signalling for Sisley to leave.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sisley’s face turned white as a sheet while her eyes flooded with tears, voice starting to tremble with pain as she fell to the ground, “Please, no! Sending me back will be like throwing me into the abyss! You don’t know how much I’ll suffer there, it’ll be even worse than Sinclair! Please, save me! I beg you!”

“An abyss, you say. Why would I trust someone who destroyed her own sister? Lina!” Richard turned around and walked towards the exit of the room. However, Lina was still stood at the door, blocking his path.

“Lina?” he asked in confusion. She didn’t seem to want to move.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA