Book 1, Chapter 76

Banquet

The hands of the magic clock indicated nightfall, and Faust was shrouded in the shades of dusk. Nighttime in the city of legends wasn’t the normal black and white, instead being bright and colourful. The fourth and fifth moon hung high on either end of the sky, the soft blue and violet mingling together to illuminate the night.

If one were to walk out of Faust’s gates and look up at the night sky of the Eternal Plains, the two moons would be much more distant. Perhaps because of that distance the colour of the moonlight was unable to make it across the great distance, leaving night in Norland a black and white affair.

The belts of light hung high overhead, revolving ever so slowly along their wondrous orbits. The seven moons followed along in a certain pattern, but humans had never been able to understand the secret behind the Rainbow of the Moons even since they settled in Faust. Tonight was the turn of the pale blue and violet moons to illuminate the sky, so the two were duller in the rainbow. Yet, no matter when it was, the gold moon was always the dimmest of all. Throughout the year, with the exception of a few days, people could hardly even spot its presence.

Surrounding the cloud layer of Faust was an incomparably large spell formation that kept the city tropical throughout the seasons, regardless of the harsh cold in the Eternal Plains. Threads of magic light could occasionally be seen through the mist, indicating its presence, and countless of these very same threads coloured the clouds like a splendid rainbow. It made Faust’s night dazzling.

The higher islands were floating around in a lonesome silence, but the sixth and seventh layers were bustling with activity. Every building was brightly lit, indicating that this was a place where the most powerful families of the Sacred Alliance converged. Countless conspiracies and deals were hatched with every passing minute, and these exchanges were often carried out at private rooms or banquets. Thus, there were many private rooms in every building of every island, and banquets of all sorts were held every night. Even the Archerons were no exception to this.

The banquet that particular night was neither large nor small. It was held in a tower outside the castle, close to the edge of their island.

This three-storey building was originally designed for larger parties or gatherings, with even a garden built outside according to common aristocratic tradition. The north wings of the first and second floors were essentially big multi-purpose rooms, divided into several smaller areas by the activity they were meant for. On the other hand, the south wing contained rooms of various sizes. Half of the third floor was an interior balcony facing the island, and the roof was designed like a sky deck so the participants could enjoy a view of the other floating islands as well as Faust itself.

Currently, all of the separate areas in the north wing on the lower levels had been combined into one hall. The place was brightly lit, and long tables which lined up on either side of the area full with plates of food. Maids and servants were going around, delivering cup after cup of red wine to the participants before collecting their empty glasses.

There was a musical band who was performing with great fervour in the corner, though the performance did not seem so great. In any case the guests were more concerned about the chance to interact with one another than the music or any exquisite wine. 

Eight rooms of varying sizes had been opened behind the winding corridor outside the hall, with more on the second level. These private spaces provided a necessary convenience for those who wanted a private word or intimate exchange with someone. That being said, though, many actually preferred the lush outdoor garden for the latter. Even though there was a higher chance of being seen, it was much more exciting. Besides, most people did not care if anyone was watching anyway.

The banquet this night was for the younger generation of the Archerons, and Gaton and his thirteen did not show up at all. The youths were gathered together in twos and threes, exchanging pleasantries with one another while enjoying the food and wine. Needless to say they only discussed casual or partially overt topics here, with actual negotiations and deals taking place only in the rooms provided or other private rooms.

There were many families other than the fourteen of Faust who had settled down or set up contact points on the ground in the main city. However, the fourteen were the sole occupants of the floating islands, being true aristocrats with access to privileges above the rest. Although the Archerons were viewed as upstarts, it was still a symbol of high status to be able to receive an invitation to an Archeron Family party. All of the families in Faust clearly recognised the Archerons’ military capability, especially after Gaton conquered both the seventh and third islands of the lowest level single-handedly.

Having spent all their money on their plans to make use of the Archerons and stop upstarts from joining Faust, the ancient families had grown divided. Many had turned towards Gaton and tried to rope him in, attempting to reel in this beast by trying to have him attack targets outside the Alliance.

It was only after Gaton had successfully established a presence in Faust that the Archerons appeared more like a family clan. Many Archerons who were on expeditions had sent youths from their branches to Faust. This would allow them to broaden their horizons, and would keep them secure and give them more opportunities to develop. Ultimately, that meant more opportunities to choose partners as well. However, those willing to send their youths here were not doing very well on the mainland. Those who were basking in their own limelight wouldn’t even pay attention to Gaton. Instead, some of these successful Archerons even accelerated their pace of expansion, rather keen on replacing him.

There were about a few dozen or so young Archerons in the hall, but Richard was not amongst them. He was at the top floor, in a smaller hall where the true party was being held.

This banquet hall made up for its small size with the unique style of its furnishing. The floors and walls here are adorned with volcanic lava, while the light in the room came from torches burning on the walls. Every decoration was made of metal or stone, with the wall hangings and curtains typical of aristocrats completely missing from the scene. The room was extremely hot, and had a mild hint of sulphur in the air. It was similar to the volcanic environment in the clan’s cemetery, but not as extreme in terms of the heat and its harsh conditions.

There were four young men and nine young ladies standing in the banquet hall other than Richard, all between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. They’d naturally formed three separate groups, all appearing very familiar with one another. Two of Richard’s half-brothers and three of his half-sisters were here, with the rest being youths from branch families. The commonality amongst them all was that none of them had a partner yet.

The youths conversed with ease, the topics being nothing more than war and sex. This banquet was meant to gather them together so they could choose their partners. This was because, although Gaton’s two other sons Warren and Wennington as well as his two adult daughters Venica and Demi had the right to choose their own partners as well, this was limited by certain boundaries. If they spotted someone they liked they had to first inform the higher-ups of the family, who would ultimately decide if that pairing would be allowed. 

On the other hand, Richard who was standing in the corner could choose a partner at will. Thus, they all knew that he was the main character here. That was also what made him one of the only two people who did not fit in with the crowd.

As for the other? It was a girl who looked rather delicate and weak, seated quietly on a sofa in a corner of the room.

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