Book 5, Chapter 43

Awake In A Reverie

“Things might not be as bad as they seem,” the middle-aged man next to Marshal Rundstedt spoke up, “The structure of Maranos’ body was similar to this skin, although its resistance wasn’t as great. However, this… devilfish shouldn’t be a natural creature of Daxdus either. Perhaps it is some mutated offspring of the Brain Eater.”

Most of those present heaved a sigh of relief upon hearing this, appearing a lot more at ease. No matter how many children Maranos could have, it wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous as a mass-produced creature. After all, Maranos was already dead.

“We cannot be sure,” Lawrence interjected, “You see, the resistance of this skin is extremely high, but it doesn’t seem to be able to handle too much weight. Whatever it is, it cannot grow to longer than ten metres at most; the possibility of such a thing descending from Maranos is very low.”

The middle-aged man thought over this point, “Maybe Maranos is the mutant? Or the devilfish could be a mixed-breed species they use for hunting. These are more plausible conclusions.”

“Perhaps, but let’s not act like children. We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario.”

“So what if the devilfish is a mass-produced creature? Can you think of a solution?” the middle-aged man retorted.

Lawrence was riled up, but he truly did have no solution. However, Marshal Rundstedt finally spoke up, “Alright. Whatever kind of creature the devilfish is, we can be certain that the Daxdians have thrown a spanner in the works. However, we have been through worse times and emerged glorious. His Majesty has even retaken the Fort of Dawn, there is nothing we need to fear! Now, that doesn’t mean we should just sit here like sheep and do nothing.

“Richard, I hear you can craft custom grade 2 runes now?”

“… Yes.” Richard shifted slightly in his seat. His words immediately caused a stir amongst those present; these were all experts who knew just how useful custom grade 2 runes were. Their respect for him went up another notch, especially for those who hadn’t had been to Norland in a while.

“That is great. Why don’t you craft more runes for the people of this city? This will be the most direct way of growing our power,” Rundstedt asked.

However, Richard frowned and shook his head, “I came to the Land of Dusk to hone my combat skills. I will craft runes, but that will be at my discretion.”

The Marshal smiled empathetically, “Don’t be so quick to turn me down. Runecrafting helps in growing one’s arcane abilities as well, and we need a large number of runes in this momentous time. How about this: from now on, all materials in the Unsetting Sun will be available to you at half price and we will pay 20% above market value for your runes. In addition, we will sell the sacrifices in our storage to you at half price as well.”

Richard was taken aback by the generous terms of the offer. Admittedly, one of his motives exploring the Land of Dusk was to achieve a breakthrough in his runecrafting as well.

The Marshal had no idea just how high his success rate was, but even if he knew he would have made the same offer. He didn’t care about Richard’s profits so long as he got his runes, and 20% above market value was more than worth it for him.

“Well…” Richard hesitated for a moment, “I’m sorry, Marshal. I will craft some runes and sell them to the city, but I’m afraid I cannot make that my primary activity here. I… need to get stronger.”

Rundstedt was taken aback, and even Saint Lawrence looked at Richard incredulously. Rejecting such a perfect offer was like closing the door on great fortune. With the reduced price for offerings, Richard could easily grow his own power with runecrafting alone!

Still, the Marshal nodded in understanding, “I cannot force you to do anything. The offer remains valid so long as you craft runes for the people of this city; quantity is no bar.” He then looked around at the worried faces and smiled comfortingly, “No need to worry, we can always seek help from the barbarians or the elves if the situation turns dire. This danger concerns the wellbeing of our entire plane, they will not ignore our pleas. It’s just fanning their egos a little, no harm done.”

Hearing this, everyone including Richard felt a wildfire raging in their hearts. They were all powerhouses, and they had their own pride and honour. The thought of being looked down upon by the barbarians especially stung Richard’s soul, making him recall the dream of Mountainsea in the shrine. Even being in the sword case Carnage seemed to burn in response to his hatred; he would rather die than seek help from Klandor!

Seeing the reactions, Rundstedt sighed, “I do not wish for this either. There is much more honour in dying on the battlefield than living without dignity. However, we are not the only ones on the line. Our families, friends, acquaintances, strangers… everyone living in Norland is someone we are responsible for, and that responsibility is worth more than our pride.

“Alright, make your preparations. I just hope our worries are in vain.”

And thus, everyone left the Sunset Shrine with a heavy heart. Over the next few days, life in the capital of the Unsetting Sun continued as per usual, the only difference being a slightly stifled atmosphere. The ordinary saints had no idea of the worries of their leaders, but they could sense the urgency.

Richard settled down in an empty house not far from Lawrence’s shop before going to the warehouse of the city and buying a lot of magic materials and wine. For the next few days he busied himself with meditation and swordplay.

At one point he just sat at the door and watched the occasional passersby, silently sipping on his wine. Whenever he got drunk, he would just slump down on the floor and fall asleep. Such unrestrained behaviour was common in the City of the Unsetting Sun, where one never knew if they would live to see another day.

He only awoke from a stupor at noon the following day, shaking his heavy head and yawning lazily as he looked at the dense clouds in the sky. Kicking the pile of empty wine bottles next to him, he returned to his room and started polishing his swords and staff. His drunken stupor had felt like a dream where he could not tell past, present, and future apart. Memories and visions had mixed together until he couldn’t tell reality from fiction.

He heaved a long sigh, putting the swords and staff aside before beginning to craft runes with renewed inspiration. A few more days later, he just went over to Lawrence’s house, broke the door open, and tossed an enchanted box within. He left without even waiting for the former saint runemaster to emerge.

Lawrence had been taken an afternoon nap on his desk. The loud breaking of the door had jolted him awake, causing him to fall off his chair. “WHICH BASTARD IS DISTURBING MY SLEEP?” he roared, “I’M GOING TO CUT YOUR COCK OFF, YOU BLOODY ASSHOLE!”

Now wide awake, he walked out to the hall and immediately spotted the box on the floor. Naturally recognising that it was meant to contain runes, he picked it up with trembling hands and opened it to find two runes within.

“L-Lifesba— wait…” He rushed back to his laboratory with the box wrapped tightly in his arms, laying out the runes on his tabletop and examining them with great care.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hazel

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA