Book 5, Chapter 42

Devilfish

Richard was startled by Lawrence’s exclamation, looking towards the block of wood-like material in his hand. The former saint runemaster lunged forward and snatched the grey block out of his hands almost immediately, tossing and turning it as he observed with interest.

Only then did he recall that this was the piece of skin he had torn off from that fish-like monster with the tentacle. Most of the resources he had harvested from his encounters had been dropped while on the run, but this thing wasn’t very large nor heavy so it had been left behind.

“I cut this off a monster,” he commented, “It doesn’t seem to be worth any money, though…”

“Monster? What kind? I’ve dissected and studied all kinds of Daxdians, but this is completely new to me.” Lawrence’s flippant attitude faded completely into solemness.

As Richard recounted the events of that battle in detail, answering the occasional questions, the old man turned more and more serious. He took the skin sample to his laboratory and sliced a few paper-thin pieces off, dropping a dozen-odd chemicals on them. Richard eventually finished and just watched as minutes turned into hours.

“Hmm…” Lawrence eventually spoke up once more, “Extreme resistance to all normal mana, and the bones form a magic array of sorts that absorbs mana. If the spells used to target this thing are weak, it will actually heal from them.”

“Mm… Even grade 8 lightning spells couldn’t hurt this thing,” Richard said with a sigh. Had he not possessed Lifesbane and Mana Armament, there would have been no way for him to defeat the creature, “Could it be a new race of Daxdus?”

“No way! We would have seen these things by now,” Lawrence said firmly, pointing to the shelves on the wall where chunks of organs and flesh were preserved in some translucent liquid, “Daxdus is a plane ruled by chaos and darkness, similar to the abyss. They don’t have any mages; the closest spellcasters are their dark sorcerers, and those fellows cast spells by instinct and not training. Only legendary beings there can actually study proper magic, but even then it’s magic of darkness. This type of creature wouldn’t evolve in such conditions.”

Richard nodded in understanding. This was similar in principle to how the Forest Plane didn’t have fire mages.

“Daxdian magic resistance is based around their toughness,” Lawrence continued, “In fact, most of their resistance is focused around dark and chaotic energies. Elemental spells work much better on them, and they have almost no resistance to pure magical energy like with lightning. But this one…”

Richard suddenly felt a chill run down his spine, “Wait… Could there be another plane entering the Land of Dusk?”

There were precedents of three primary planes joining the same battlefield of despair. The Rainbow Lands had been one such place, but in merely a century of constant battle the plane had been completely destroyed. The name came from the various colours of blood that had seeped right into the earth, dying the world the colours of the rainbow.

However, that was when all three planes were fighting each other. If any two allied… There was no telling what would happen next.

“Shouldn’t be, but the other option isn’t much better. Come, I have to talk to a few old fellows about this. Seems like we might have big trouble on our hands.” Lawrence’s face was still solemn as he carefully wrapped the block of skin and activated a communication scroll. The next moment he started to drag Richard all the way to the top of the city.

Right below the Church of the Eternal Dragon was the Sunset Shrine. Once belonging to the plane’s overgod, it was now a meeting hall where important matters relating to the city were discussed. Only a dozen or so people were qualified to enter this hall in the entire city; Richard hadn’t expected Lawrence to be one.

The communication scroll clearly wasn’t ordinary. By the time Richard and Lawrence reached the shrine gates, they could already see rays of light rushing towards them from all directions. A powerful aura was radiating from within, as though a dragon was lurking within the depths of the shrine.

Lawrence seemed to be delighted, “Let’s go in. We’re just in time to meet Marshal Rundstedt.”

……

Shortly after, nine people were seated around a table in the midst of a discussion. Richard had been given a seat himself, both because he was the bearer of the information and because of his position. The royal runemaster of the Sacred Alliance was a title that carried great respect, especially after Emperor Philip’s recovery of the Fort of Dawn meant the Sacred Alliance controlled two of the now four strongholds in the Land of Dusk.

Everyone’s attention was focused on the small piece of skin in the middle of the table as Saint Lawrence explained his analysis.

While everyone was concentrating on the piece of skin, Richard was looking through these people who had supported the City of the Unsetting Sun all this while. Light shone down on the table from the 30-metre-tall ceiling, but the people around were shrouded in darkness. At the seat of honour was a tall, strong old man with his back ramrod straight; Marshal Rundstedt. Beside him was a middle-aged man who seemed quite ordinary outside of looking a little cunning, but anyone who could sit at ease beside the Marshal without being affected by his aura was clearly a powerhouse as well. Rundstedt clearly wasn’t an ordinary legendary being, but even outside of him everyone else gathered was at least a sub-legendary expert as well.

Once Lawrence was done, Richard then recounted his battle with the creature once more. Everyone listened attentively from start to end, this time with no interruptions as Richard included the aspects the old man had asked him about the fist time. Once he was done, one of them turned back to Lawrence, “Master Lawrence, what do you think of this?”

“We cannot exclude the possibility of a third primary plane being involved, but I believe the possibility is quite low. A more likely answer is that this creature… Let us call it the devilfish for now… was specially bred by the Daxdians for this war.”

This idea caused a momentary silence to envelop the room. Even with Emperor Philip retaking the Fort of Dawn, Norland was already losing in the land of Dusk. The Daxdians had high-level legends of their own that could at least keep Philip in check, and terrifying monsters that were almost immune to their biggest strength would be able to reap countless lives in the meanwhile. The most frightening part was the idea that such beings nearing the level of saints could be mass-produced.

Perhaps nobody here understood this better than Richard himself. The broodmother could already produce elite soldiers that were at level 14, capable of fighting off Faelor saints when grouped up. A large number could even kill a saint from Norland if the conditions were right. This creature hadn’t been too much of a threat to himself when they met, just hard to kill, but if there were two or three more flanking it would have been near impossible to survive. Besides, just how many mages had Mana Armament and four sets of Lifesbane to help them in battle?

Even with the monster’s current flaws, it was still close to a saint in power. If these things could be mass-produced, Norland would be in serious danger.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: YJH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA