Book 5, Chapter 88

An Unexpected Decision

Many people said that Lifesbane was a rune with soul, but that wasn’t exactly accurate. No rune actually had a true soul below grade 5, and even the grade 5 ones that did just had a powerful soul sealed within or mimicked the effect with divinity. A rune capable of cultivating an actual soul would likely be able to kill gods! With Lifesbane, the word soul was used in the sense that this rune was crafted with intent.

However, Richard felt a vicious aura radiating from the Lifesbane in front of him. It seemed to be roaring without end, causing a resonance with his very soul. He started to reach out for this rune, but suddenly hesitated as he realised his hand was shaking with fear. The crimson glow seemed to lead to an entirely different world, and the roars slowly gave way to many other noises.

Beads of perspiration appeared upon his forehead as he worked his mind to the fullest, confirming with a sweep of his consciousness that he wasn’t hallucinating. However, he couldn’t understand just what had changed this rune so much.

Richard forced himself to remain cool, starting to replay the entire process of crafting within his mind. The glow from the Lifesbane started to grow denser, with the faint roars sounding more distinct with each passing moment. This only made him more nervous, causing him to go through things faster.

Just as Richard was nervously recalling events, the Daxdian demon lying by the corner of the wall began to regain consciousness. It struggled to pick itself up, but despite its weakness Richard’s train of thought was interrupted. He grunted in annoyance before kicking an enchanted case towards the thing’s head.

The scenes played like lightning within his mind until he finally stopped on his last stroke. This was just after he had returned from retrieving the corpse, a few drops of blood had dripped down his hand and mixed with the ink. Having lost himself in the killing intent, he hadn’t realised it at all.

He quickly traced the blood back to its source, finding that it was his own. It partly set his mind at ease, but he was still conflicted as he reached out to grab the thing. Even activating Analytic, he couldn’t tell just what the difference was between this and any other Lifesbane. However, he could feel the vast difference in power.

The demon crawled to its feet once more; it never could choose the right time to wake up. Richard didn’t have the mood to waste any time on it, simply stomping his foot and causing a metal jar on a nearby shelf to fall on the creature.

Just as he touched the Lifesbane to start inspecting it, the four existing runes on his forearms lit aglow. A thread of crimson light joined them to the new rune, which immediately burnt up and formed two blood-like balls that sank into his arms.

Richard was startled, but before he could even try to stop it the new rune had completely merged with his body. His first instinct was to inspect his condition, and he did sigh in relief after finding nothing abnormal, but soon after he started looking for just where the new rune had taken root but failed.

His forearms still only had the four stacks, with no trace of a fifth. However, there were some changes to the ones that did exist; they seemed to be more blurred out than before, more inset in his body. If they were formerly like a sharp dagger, they were now like rusted cleavers. The blade itself wasn’t as sharp, but the power it could summon was much higher.

Richard’s heart skipped a beat as he slowly activated the runes, finding his energy being absorbed faster than before. His nails also turned a bright red, and as he continued the activation the colour spread across his fingers to his entire hand. It looked like he had just dipped his arms into a puddle of blood.

Small yet complicated patterns started to appear from the wrist upwards, joining into the existing mana lines of the Lifesbane runes. The entirety of his forearms turned crimson before the expansion stopped, and the lines started to glow. Richard almost couldn’t believe that these hands were his; the long fingers now looked even more elegant and pretty, but the red glow seemed to urge him to tear things apart!

Richard just tapped his workbench with a finger, but the wooden desk was immediately cut apart like butter. The spot that had been pierced started to decay, turning ash grey before it scattered across the ground. The hole continued to widen until the entire bench lay in cinders.

“What the…” Richard couldn’t believe that his hands had such destructive might. However, the truth was in front of him and the scattered materials on the floor reaffirmed that he wasn’t trapped in an illusion.

“Lord Richard!” a voice outside the door suddenly snapped him out of his shock, “Today’s corpses?”

Richard’s walls were crumbling while his door was half-destroyed, but these guards maintained a respectable distance and avoided peering in. The residences in the city this close to the walls were always in danger of attack, and the Eternal Glory formation just couldn’t stop every single enemy from entering. Only Beye, Richard, and two other madmen remained in the area, and a few corpses could be found in each at the end of every day. These guards normally collected these corpses and processed them for Richard, taking a cut of the profits for their work.

Richard deactivated Lifesbane and composed himself, answering with an affirmative before picking up the corpses around the house. There were more ‘visitors’ today than normal, so he tossed a total of four corpses out the door.

People started whispering about how a runemaster could kill four Daxdians in a day, and one person started narrating an eye-witness account of Richard and Beye heading out of the fortress to grab a comrade’s corpse.

“Is that all?” the captain asked out of habit, already starting to leave. Richard went blank for a moment before recalling the demon he had yet to kill. He immediately headed back in to see the creature awake once more, cowering in a corner as it looked at him with eyes of despair.

Richard had killed dozens of demons in the past year, and this one was clearly younger than those he had seen in the past. Despite its malevolent face, all he could see within the depths of its clear red eyes was fear. This one wasn’t like the other Daxdians who only grew more vicious as they were injured.

Were the Daxdians so low on numbers that they were sending children?

“Lord Richard?” the captain asked once more.

“Ah, yes. Yes, that’s all. You may leave.” Richard himself didn’t understand why he said those words.

“Alright, please let us know if there’s anything you need. I’ll be back tomorrow ni— at this time.” The man scratched his head. Ironically, the Eternal Glory formation gave a new meaning to the name ‘City of the Unsetting Sun.’

Richard walked back in, looking outside the window silently for a few moments before turning to the cowering demon in the corner. This demon seemed to be terrified for some reason, dodging by pure instinct the moment Richard looked in his direction. However, the movement exposed his skin to the light from the Eternal Glory formation.

The demon screamed in pain as its skin sizzled, emitting black smoke to counteract the green that was starting to form. However, Richard’s killing intent instantly flooded the room, “If you don’t want me to call those people outside back here, it’s best you don’t use any force. Stay hidden in that corner like a good little boy.”

The demon looked Richard in the eye for a second before going back to the corner.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo