Was death inevitable? Richard’s mind immediately rejected that thought. He could use his rune knights and followers as a shield, having them take on the brunt of the damage to secure his own life.
He actually came up with many plans to do so on the spot, each sacrificing different people. However, he immediately blocked his own thoughts and screamed out a simple command:
“STAND YOUR GROUND!”
The command had been sent both mentally and with an amplified voice. Over the years, Richard had slowly amassed such great prestige amongst his followers and knights that their first instinct was to obey. Moments later, everyone watched dumbfoundedly as he flew into the sky.
The beam of light changed its trajectory once more, still aimed right at his body. The adjustment was almost instantaneous, and there was no drop in speed to speak of. Even if Richard moved twice as fast, Richard would not be able to dodge this attack.
Most of those present were confounded, looking on blankly at this change without any idea of what to do. Flowsand immediately flew up to follow Richard, but she only made it a few inches before she was stopped in her tracks. Chains of timeforce formed out of thin air, binding her to the ground. Her contract with the Eternal Dragon limited her from doing a number of things, and this was one of them. There was no way for her to survive this incoming attack head-on, and the old dragon’s contract managed to figure out her intentions despite the Godnest disrupting their connection.
She almost went berserk, but no matter how violently she thrashed she couldn’t even scream. Every inch of her body and soul had been frozen in time, currently under the control of the Eternal Dragon.
By this point, the beam of light had already turned into a pillar that streaked across the sky. Richard could only see white light around him, his very existence overwhelmed by an intense aura of death. However, he continued to cast layer after layer of defensive spell; although he knew they wouldn’t be enough to stop the incoming attack, miracles were often born of refusing to accept one’s fate.
In the face of certain death, Richard found himself to be surprisingly calm. The year spent in the Land of Dusk had changed his mindset and strengthened his will, allowing him to remain sane in this moment.
However, this beam would blast him into smithereens. His genius and his runes would slowly turn into a myth, sang of in tales that would slowly be eroded by the streams of time. The prospects of the future saint runemaster would quickly fade away. No matter how amazing he was, he would only be remembered for his work on Lifesbane, a rune that wasn’t even grade 4. There were innumerable geniuses throughout history, but only those who managed to survive were lauded for their greatness.
His glory was at an end. Richard turned cold as ice, making his final preparations. This was a struggle to escape the grasp of death, but unlike others his would be calculated and efficient.
*Whoosh!* As he turned around to face the incoming attack, Richard’s eyes went wide. A figure was stood before him, obviously intent on shielding him from his impending doom.
“LI—” his scream was drowned out by the rumbling energy in the pillar of light. The Dragon Mage’s teleportation had been far too sudden, capturing him unprepared. It was too late to direct the attack away from her.
Richard could only see Lina’s back, and those stood below could barely see her feet within the light. However, the massive amount of mana she was pulling out of her body moved the hearts of everyone present. She had basically destroyed her mana pool to reach the absolute limit of her strength!
The pillar of light enveloped Lina and Richard, continuing to move forward for a few moments before all the energy bundled up into a ball of pure light. The hundred-metre-wide orb exploded without a sound, pieces of shattered energy fluttering about the sky.
The pillar of death disappeared, and when the fragments dissipated it felt like it had never existed before. Lina and Richard came into view once more, still flying across the air in the same positions as before. The Dragon Mage’s back was slightly arched, but her hands were still outstretched and she covered most of Richard’s body. Richard’s hand was outstretched, but he was a metre away. He had tried his best to catch her and throw her away, but even the one moment that took had been too long. He could only watch as all of her mana and life force had been burnt away before his eyes, defending him from the pillar of light.
*ROAAAAAR!* A heart-wrenching cry of pain rang out as Kaloh flapped his wings, trying to get close to Lina but hesitating to do so. However, the dragon’s roar had broken the equilibrium and Lina’s arms drooped down, dozens of points on her body exploding with pillars of blood. Richard’s helpless expression faded away into nothingness, and he went limp as well. Both began to fall.
His followers finally regained their senses. Some cried in despair, while others immediately flew out to approach. Flowsand’s bindings had disappeared, but she just stayed floating in mid-air, staring blankly at the scene as she bit her lips in absolute loss.
Kaloh finally swooped down, flying back up with Lina on his back. Richard was slowed down by a featherfall spell, and Senma dashed forward to catch him before he hit the ground.
“GET THEM HERE! NOW!” Nyra shouted, bounding over as fast as she could.
Having experienced Nyra’s healing abilities before, Kaloh immediately landed on the ground. The dragon knew that the soul shepherd was capable of resurrecting his friend even if she had truly died. Asiris bounded up the dragon’s back the moment it came to a halt, flashing over to Lina’s location before bringing her down in front of Nyra.
Nyra quickly assessed Lina’s wounds, finding that the burnt life force had negated most of the impact. The Dragon Mage was still breathing, but her face was flushed and the beam had pierced through her body. Her heart had been completely destroyed, so only resurrection would be able to save her.
Richard himself had a number of wounds, albeit much smaller in scale. The beam of light had pierced through Lina’s heart and then destroyed his defences before getting to his body.
“How are they?!” Flowsand’s voice sounded behind Nyra, lacking even a hint of her normal grace.
Nyra’s hands trembled as she thought back to the relationship between her mistress and Richard. Although the other followers weren’t speaking, she could sense the heat in their gazes. Richard wasn’t just a commander, he was a master that they had followed from dirt to glory. He had painted an incomparable future in front of their eyes, the awkward youth having transformed into a true leader both within the battlefield and without.
This was the new king of the Archerons, the man who had promised them greater heights than ever before. Every rune knight here had absolute faith in him, as did Senma. The Blood Paladin acted like she just wanted better armour, but that was just a token request that only came up after he had earned her loyalty.
“I’m looking!” Nyra said in a shaky voice, her hands tearing apart Richard’s clothes almost savagely as she hurried to check him. Everyone nearby was shuddering; the winter of the Resting Orchid Plane seeping into the spring in their hearts.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo