Book 5, Chapter 66

Complicated Choices(2)

Richard flinched at Waterflower’s clear, bright eyes, unable to face such a penetrating stare. Her expression spoke volumes of just what reward she wanted for such loyalty, but he didn’t know how to answer her.

He didn’t know when and how, but by the time he snapped back to his senses he was out of the room. The two of them hadn’t spoken a word from start to end, but their silent conversation was worth more than a thousand words. Even so, he was feeling like an escaping fugitive; he had never given her an answer.

This wasn’t the first time he had learnt of Waterflower’s feelings, but he was still completely helpless to respond. It seemed despicable, but he couldn’t afford to add another responsibility to his ever-growing list. He had no idea when he would be done repaying his current debts, forget a new one so heavy it would last a lifetime.

Waterflower’s feelings were always repressed, but they still radiated from her heart. Her method of dealing with them was as savage as a beast, but the sheer passion of it was something he couldn’t face openly. And yet, he couldn’t turn away either; the moment she had taken the blade to protect him, she had already confessed her love.

A confession that had turned him into a coward.

The next person to visit was Tiramisu. The ogre mage continued to become more and more warrior-like, fighting right in the thick of the melee. His injuries were second only to Waterflower’s, but because of his large physique and natural rejection of holy magic the effects of healing were limited. Nyra had been placed in charge of him, but she only healed the parts that would affect his might in battle; the rest would be up to his own natural regeneration.

Tiramisu’s body was so huge that there were uncountable cuts on his body. His sub-legendary plate armour was utterly mangled, and even now Nyra was busy taking off the scraps piece by piece. Even with his astonishing vitality, the treatment caused so much pain that the two heads were screaming in agony.

When the Medium Rare head saw Richard, its one eye glowed with excitement, “Master, this war wasn’t worth it!”

“What do you mean?” Tiramisu immediately rebuked, “Stop whining so much for a few injuries, you’re ruining our reputation! If we were in the tribe, I would be a warlord by now!”

The Medium Rare head snorted, “And I wouldn’t?”

Nobody would assume from their argument that they had sustained grievous injuries, but it wasn’t hard to find pieces of flesh dangling off parts of the ogre’s body. Tiramisu noticed Richard’s expression and said brusquely, “These wounds are nothing, Master. Don’t be like this sissy!”

“I’m a warlord, you mages are the sissies! Ah… Not you, Master, you’re not that bad!”

Richard could only smile wryly, leaving the room after checking up on them.

In the midst of visits to all his followers and some rune knights, the afternoon quickly faded into evening. Richard eventually decided to stay on the bridge for two more days as his men recuperated; it would give his enemies room to breathe, but his own side needed to deal with the current losses.

Although the plan had been largely successful, Senma’s troops had still suffered casualties. The maniacal Resting Orchid soldiers ambushed her repeatedly all over the fortress, taking 2,000 lives before they were gone. Their own losses were ten times as great, but that was of no consolation to soldiers who had lost longtime friends.

The biggest blow to the locals was in the form of their saints. A total of eleven saints had been killed, a number so large that it would shake the roots of the empire. However, even they had taken their toll. Although Richard could focus his elites on them to kill them the moment they appeared, most of them had tried to attack from within the ordinary troops in disguise. Such behaviour was extremely undignified in any plane, but to those fighting for their lives, honour meant nothing.

Once the two days were done, 15,000 soldiers left the Godtear Rift and ventured deeper into the plane. Richard’s men fought constantly over the next month, advancing much faster than the enemies expected as he laid siege to city after city. Many places were easily conquered, while some of the leaders even chose to surrender immediately. Richard didn’t care for the commoners or even nobles, continuing to rush forward as he hunted down the fleeing remains of the bridge garrison.

It wasn’t long before his troops were breathing down the walls of the imperial capital. The 10,000-strong army of guards was about equal to his own army in size, but in terms of quality they were worlds apart. There were no signs of Stardragon nearby, but he still took an entire day to prepare before the war drums started to terrorise the enemy.

The empire collapsed after a single day of intense battle. The emperor, empress, crown prince, and all the rest of the royal lineage were in his hands. The royals were extremely tight-lipped in interrogation, but that was an easy problem to solve with both a necromancer and a soul shepherd was on hand.

Just as he had expected, the Godnest hid many secrets of its own. The peak was forbidden to everyone on the plane, regardless of power. Even the emperor himself didn’t know what laid within, only rumours that it held a repose of gods that would kill any mortals that stepped foot within.

There was a holy city at the foot of the mountain that housed the true powerhouses of the plane, called the City of Saints. The Resting Orchid Empire was only a representative for this holy city, enacting their will upon the rest of the plane. There was even mention of a mysterious ritual within the city that could bring a sub-legendary expert to the legendary realm.

The eyes of everyone within the hall started glowing. Every powerhouse dreamed of entering the legendary realm, and the biggest blockade was at level 20. A method to bridge that huge gap would be earth-shattering!

All of Richard’s doubts over the past month faded away, and a smile rose up in confirmation of his doubts that this plane was an anomaly. Whatever ritual this was didn’t matter to him personally, and Flowsand, Io, Nyra, Tiramisu, and Waterflower had their own paths to the legendary realm— the ogre was even advancing by the day despite not really caring about his strength— but it was definitely a great benefit to his other subordinates.

Looking around at the expressions on his followers’ face, Richard said to Nyra, “Find out how powerful the City of Saints is, and make sure to extract anything we need to take note of.”

Nyra nodded, continuing to delve into the emperor’s mind. The burly man grabbed his head and started to scream, but he quickly delivered all the information he had. Still, Richard only let him go after an entire day and night of interrogation, stopping the next dawn.

A gust of cold wind blew through the opened windows, causing him to shudder a little as he looked at the towering Godnest outside. The mountain was shaped like a conch, spiralling upwards into the clouds with its peak perennially shrouded in a haze. To a casual observer, it seemed like the mountain was spinning in tune to the movement of the sun.

Richard had seen such clouds multiple times before; in Faust and the City of the Unsetting Sun. However, this spiral pattern suddenly piqued his interest and he started some rudimentary calculations, trying to piece together the working of the ecosystem. As he continued to figure out just how this place worked, activating his blessing of truth, he suddenly found himself with a mathematical model that left him almost cross-eyed.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo