Book 5, Chapter 100

Growth

Once he returned, Lawrence couldn’t help but peek into the courtyard beside his own. Richard had already returned, and was now sitting in the courtyard cleaning his three swords from time to time. Unlike normal, there wasn’t even a hint of him drinking, something that only caused Lawrence more worry. He greeted Richard and wanted to console him, but before he could speak further Richard interrupted him, “Don’t worry about me, old man. I’m okay.”

“This is okay?” Lawrence rolled his eyes. He knew that Richard was no less stubborn than Rundstedt. That demon likely didn’t matter at all before, but now it had become a humiliation that would dig into his heart. However, he knew that there was no way to help right now. Whether Richard was more or less successful in the future, the City of the Unsetting Sun would be a stain in his memory.

“Wait!” Richard called out as Lawrence headed back to his own house, “I need two top-tier offerings, here’s some stuff in trade.” He went into his house and came out with two big sacks that he dumped on Lawrence’s floor.

Lawrence didn’t even need to know that inside the sacks were the lesser offerings that had been given as payment for making and repairing runes, alongside the materials collected from Daxdian bodies. Richard killed far too many enemies to feasibly process himself, but even so what he did have was impressive. It would be worth three top-tier offerings on the market. However, the former legend knew that this wasn’t a good place nor time to sit and calculate worth; not even bothering to check the inside of the sacks, he went straight to his chest and threw two pieces of grey ore Richard’s way.

When Richard returned to his courtyard an hour later, a young lady was following behind. She seemed extremely timid, like a child who had been caught doing something wrong.

Once they entered the house, Richard sat down and started rubbing his forehead, sighing with exhaustion. Waterflower stood quietly against the wall even after he told her to take a seat.

“Alright, why are you here?” Richard asked. His tone was surprisingly peaceful, as though she had done something insignificant, and their restored connection seemed to be radiating tranquillity as well.

“Umm… I wanted to follow you, but you didn’t let me. Someone found out about it and helped me get here. I can feel that this place is great for me, I’m becoming stronger and stronger. Master… as your soulguard, I should always be with you.”

“Someone?” Richard smiled faintly, but that only caused the girl to feel uneasy as she estimated the distance between herself and the window, “It was Nyra, wasn’t it.”

“… Yes… and Io. He saw that I was sad and asked me a few times, so I told him… Then he told me to come find you, even if to get a taste of the battlefield of despair. Nyra blocked the power of our contract and strengthened my soul protection, and Io filled me with the divinity to sustain it for a year.”

Richard finally frowned, “Do the rest know? What about Flowsand and Gangdor?”

“Nobody else,” the girl said with a shake of her head, causing Richard to sigh once more. Unlike the heavenly guardians, most of his other followers would have stopped Waterflower from doing something so foolish. However, they were normally in different places and didn’t contact each other for long stretches of time.

“Alright, so why did you come here?” he asked again.

The girl looked down at the floor, “I’m your soulguard, I should follow your footsteps. I’m already a year late…”

“You…” Richard didn’t know how to react, feeling a load on his mind. He just stood up and walked around the house for a bit before stopping before the food shelf and starting to cut up some strips of skaven meat for dinner. “You’ve just recovered, you’re not allowed to move today or tomorrow. Even if you have to join a battle afterwards, don’t leave this block. That’s an order. We’ll talk about fighting once I fix up your runes.”

Waterflower gently nodded her head.

……

The clock showed that it was night, but there was no darkness in the City of the Unsetting Sun. The light of the Eternal Glory formation was still shining upon the entire stronghold, protecting its inhabitants and scaring its enemies away.

Lying in bed, Richard was staring at the ceiling. Try as he might, he couldn’t bring himself to fall asleep.

So many years had passed since he first set off on this journey, a stubborn little child with no knowledge of the world’s workings nor any idea of how to lead. But now, he and his followers were growing rapidly. Everyone started to come to their own opinions and ideas, and had the ability to put their thoughts to action. They were no longer shy and unsure, able to take the lead with regards to their own lives.

Wasn’t this what he always wanted, for his slaves to become full-fledged people of their own? He had always known Waterflower’s desires, a love that had erupted before they were even certain of their own lives. He had his own debts to pay and refused to add another weight to his heart, but now she had come all the way to a battlefield of despair. With Nyra’s soul protection, he might not have even realised she was fighting by his side until she wound up dead.

Waterflower was always a simple girl, so simple that she almost acted upon instinct. Her arrival here was just that, an instinctive desire to stay close to him. However, this simplicity was precisely what made his heart feel so heavy.

Perhaps the demonic youth was still crouching there in the corner, looking at him with awe and curiosity. As he thought of this, Richard muttered a few curses under his breath. His damned blessings wouldn’t give him even a moment’s respite. He knew that Hasting would have started his “research” work, so Blacklight’s torment had begun.

And yet, what could he even do? It wasn’t like he could run into Hasting’s shrine and take Blacklight by force. Regardless of ability, that would put him at odds with a leader of his own race for the sake of a demon who had killed countless of his kin. There wasn’t even a point. The juvenile demon couldn’t just lay crouched in the shade for the rest of his life. The war had to end some day, and prisoners were never released in the battlefields of despair. There was one truth in Rundstedt’s words— neither the Norlanders nor the Daxdians considered each other equal life.

He looked outside the window at the bright light, gently brushing the sweat off his forehead. It was through this very window that he had seen a human almost become food for Daxdians a few days ago.

It was just… The damned requisition… Unable to suppress his agitation, he eventually got out of bed and grabbed his sword case and staff.

“I can’t sleep,” he told the girl that was curled up on a makeshift cot, “I’ll go out and kill some enemies, you stay here and rest.” He ignored the stare of shock as he habitually walked out of the door, jumping straight across the city walls to disappear into the dark.

The girl curled up further. Without Richard around, the room seemed to suddenly turn cold.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: YJH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA