Book 5, Chapter 47

New Normal(3)

A few hours later, Richard had found a safe place to tend to the wounds on his body. Some crushed rocks were embedded deep in his abdomen, causing the deep gash to burn with pain. Every object in the Land of Dusk was toxic to noth Norlanders and Daxdians; even though the will of the plane itself was dead, its remnants absolutely rejected those that killed it.

He pulled out a small dagger and tiny blade, starting to pick his wounds clean of all the junk before paring off the rotten flesh that was already corroded. The entire process was calm and unhurried; he had learnt a fair deal from Lawrence over this visit to the Land of Dusk.

It took a few hours for the wounds to be cleaned, but it was only the next day that Richard stretched his body and cautiously moved out under the cover of the various landforms nearby. A tomiller devil was in search of prey a little less than a kilometre away, but after an exhausting battle he left behind a corpse and started trudging back towards the city.

It was only now that he was feeling the loss of his astral affinity world tree; without it, he couldn’t use Sacrifice wantonly to amplify his spells anymore, nor was his mana recovery nearly as high. He was forced to be extremely patient, calculating every bit of energy usage in battle like the most annoying of misers.

Another day passed, and after reaping the lives of two more skaven and another devilfish he was finally done with this outing. Now he made a beeline straight for the capital of the Unsetting Sun, avoiding any fights along the way.

However, he only made it a few days into the journey before he was waylaid by a black sorcerer with four more skaven. Even worse, a devilfish had flanked him from behind! It took nearly every fibre of his being to deal with all of these enemies and return to the city, and he spent a very long time atop Lawrence’s operating table once more.

It was only with the cold steel to his back that he realised just why Beye hadn’t seemed bothered at all when she was on the table herself. It was already his third time here, and he was certain that this was not the last. There was no need to be fazed by a routine occurrence.

“You little rascals, what do you even know except causing me trouble?!” Lawrence raged for a long time, but even so he was turned his head to the side every time he spoke. He was worried that even the tiniest bit of saliva would worsen the wounds.

“Rascals?” Richard asked.

“You and that other lunatic Beye! There were three other madmen just like you. You know what? They’re all dead now!” Lawrence said coldly.

Richard thought over it for a while, “These battles are the easiest way to improve ourselves. You get hurt at your weakest points, so you can improve yourself for future battles. Their fighting styles are different too… There are some blind spots I—”

“ENOUGH!” Lawrence finally erupted completely, “A FEW MORE IMPROVEMENTS AND THEN WHAT? YOU’LL BE DEAD! DO YOU REALLY THINK YOU’RE THE SAME AS BEYE? SHE HAS ONE OF THE MOST TERRIFYING BLOODLINES IN THE ENTIRE SACRED ALLIANCE, AND SHE’S BEEN TRAINING ALL HER LIFE! WHAT’S SO IMPRESSIVE ABOUT THE ARCHERONS? AREN’T THEY ALL OVER THE PLACE? DO YOU THINK YOU’RE COMPARABLE TO THE ROYAL FAMILY? TO THE IRONBLOOD DUKE?”

Lawrence continued to scold him for a long time, starting to huff by the time he was done. Richard immediately felt wracked with guilt, smiling bitterly, “I’m not actually taking risks… I’m actually certain I can return alive…”

“OH REAL— Argh… Oh really? Then… Why are you… in such… a condition?”

Richard had no way to explain his blessings of wisdom and truth, so he could only remain silent while allowing Lawrence to curse to his heart’s content. A few hours later, he was thrown out of the clinic with an enchanted box in hand. Within was a greater offering bought with the money that remained of the rune sales.

Richard shook his head as Lawrence slammed the door shut, turning to return to his residence. Even in the short distance back to his home he met several people who greeted him with enthusiasm, stacks of letters placed on his porch. The runes he had crafted this time were in the vein of one of the letters he had received before, causing a huge reaction from the powerhouses of the city who started to list all their requirements in letters that they hoped he would read.

Every single letter was a lamp illustrating a potential path forward. Ideas constantly emerged within Richard’s head one after the other, immediately inspiring him to craft more runes, but he patiently finished going through everything before picking the best ideas to work on.

The days seemed to cycle in this new normal as Richard just went between meditation, runecrafting, and drinking at his porch. His drinking companions initially rocketed in number, but after people found out that he didn’t talk about runecrafting at these times it stabilised. Some impatient fellows still came to try and ‘coerce’ him to craft runes for them, but the others nearby always taught them their lessons.

Time was like a sieve, filtering those who were not fit to be friends and letting the rest join together. Richard constantly journeyed in and out of the capital of the Unsetting Sun, and eventually his drinking friends stabilised as well. Most of those willing to spend the time with him were common saints, those who didn’t mind spending time on things that didn’t entirely profit them. They grew used to Richard’s messy ponytail and unkempt beard, cultivating an odd sort of friendship.

Sometimes Richard laughed through these drinking sessions for hours on end, other times he kept quiet for entire days. However, all of his new acquaintances didn’t mind and just spent the days he was in the city in revelry. The number of sculptures in his warehouse started to grow, and they became more and more lifelike with every attempt. The marks on the wall now seemed to be impossibly precise, none any different from the other. A number of enchanted boxes with offerings inside were also thrown inside his bedroom.

Sometimes, Richard just lay in bed staring blankly at the ceiling, pondering about unknown things. It felt like he had fallen into an entirely different world, himself completely different from whoever had come in. It was like he was drowning in mud but couldn’t feel it, yet even in the midst of this submersion something was constantly on the verge of breaking through. In the eyes of the rest he seemed to be content with this new, dangerous routine, but the fire within his heart continued to burn bright.

Time could change a person, and it could change an entire world. Time could turn peasants into gods, or it could turn dragons to dust. .

He started venturing further and further away from the capital of the Unsetting Sun, spending increasing amounts of time there and bringing back more precious items with every trip he made. An unsettling number of devilfish were appearing in the wild now, forcing most mages to travel with a warrior for support, but he continued to go it alone.

Over the past few excursions, he constantly had the vague feeling that something or someone was spying on him. It was extremely fuzzy, making him wonder whether he was just being paranoid. 

But one day, when he stopped in place and the winds stopped with him, he knew that he wasn’t wrong. A total of five devilfish jumped out of cracks in the earth and surrounded him, while a lofty devil floated up from afar. He was very familiar with this hideous face; it was the same one that had noticed him from across the fissure all those months ago.

“I’ve been following you for a long time,” the devil called out in Norland common, his voice extremely hoarse and grating.

Richard didn’t so much as raise an eyebrow, “Do I look particularly tasty?”

“No, it’s because you’re full of potential. You are also possibly the type of person your kind call a rune master. Once I capture you, I will receive great wealth and fame.”

“Heh. And you expect me to surrender?”

“I believe you are clever enough for us to at least have a discussion. Don’t resist, and I won’t hurt you. You are of no value to us dead, so I would have no choice but to eat you up.”

Richard started scanning through the surroundings, but the devil just sneered, “Don’t even dream of it. I brought five sasormas to deal with you, you won’t be able to escape.”

Richard’s brows lifted up for a moment; this devil had just confirmed that the Daxdians could control the devilfish. He placed his sword case down on the ground, starting to tidy up his equipment while throwing anything unnecessary to the side.

“You still plan to resist? Even three grand mages would barely be able to escape,” the devil commented.

Richard laughed, “And you think I’m not that strong?”

A crisp ting resonated from deep within his body, as though an exquisite piece of porcelain had just shattered. The astral world tree that had remained silent all this while shook off the withered portion of its bark, quickly growing to triple its former size!

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Karen

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA