Book 5, Chapter 101

Wild And Charming

Moments before she went back to sleep, Waterflower suddenly sniffed at the air and all her hair stood on end. She sprung up from her position, crouched and ready to pounce.

A wrinkled face appeared outside the window, waving at her with an enigmatic smile, “Hey kid, I’m one of Richard’s neighbours and half a teacher. I’m a runemaster too, you can call me Saint Lawrence or Your Excellency.”

Waterflower’s face relaxed a bit, but her back archer further as one of her legs finally made it to the edge of the cot to grab the Shepherd of Eternal Rest. Before Lawrence could even react, she had dashed out of the window and had her sword resting on the old man’s neck.

“OI! NO! DON’T DO THIS TO A PURE MAN! It’s very dangerous to put your sword on a saint runemaster’s neck, you might end up causing trouble for Richard!” Lawrence huffed.

Waterflower started to hesitate. She knew that a saint runemaster was far beyond Richard’s current status, but as she sniffed at the old man she couldn’t find any threat from him. Of course, this was the weakest being in the entirety of the City of the Unsetting Sun. Even a Daxdian slave ant could kill him without breaking a swear.

“Lie,” the girl said gruffly, almost growling at his face. She hadn’t ever met a saint runemaster before, but she knew that one had to be level 20 to become one. How could this frail and weak old man be a saint runemaster?

“Nonsense, of course I’m a saint rune— wait, wait. I’m just kidding, hehe, calm down! I was a saint runemaster once in my life, and you can call me Lawrence if you want. Now don’t do anything to your neighbour, I was just here with some gossip about Richard!”

“Speak!” The Shepherd of Eternal Rest had already been turned around, seemingly to knock Lawrence out with the hilt, but as she heard the last sentence Waterflower immediately let him go.

The old man just laughed and started talking non-stop, from Richard’s history in the Land of Dusk to how Blacklight had been requisitioned and he gave up the vote for her sake. The girl’s expression slowly turned into a daze, and when Lawrence started to get up she didn’t even stop him. However, he didn’t run away as he continued to tell Waterflower about all the events of the past year.

At some point, the two had returned to Richard’s room, wetting their throats with wine. The old man couldn’t stop talking, vividly describing every wound Richard had sustained in the past year, explaining each of the battles as though he had been the one present. The girl grabbed the table whenever things got intense, leaving deep scratches in the wood. At other times she would sigh, taking a swig of wine. The old man drank a glass with every battle.

As time went by, the old man went deeper and deeper into the conversation. Besides talking about what Richard had done, Lawrence even started to analyse Richard’s personality and way of doing things, giving her suggestions on endearing herself to him. His eyes shone with excitement while his gesticulations grew even more exaggerated, as though he was the conductor of an opera and not a storyteller. He even started to comment on Waterflower’s attire, accessories, and manners, criticising her for her lack of grace.

“Who would like a girl who spends her entire life in the trees?” This comment caused her to pale. 

……

The City of the Unsetting Sun was surprisingly peaceful today, so much so that it was filled with an almost-deathly silence. The magical light that illuminated this lifeless area felt warm yet apathetic. As he walked across the unmanned gates to enter the city proper, his clothes torn and body riddled with wounds, Richard bled with every step he took. The two skaven heads hung by his waist were little justification for his present injuries; those were caused from an encounter with a full squadron of centaurs.

This part of the city was completely abandoned as a result of a particularly fierce fight between the legends of both sides, an active spatial rift constantly absorbing and spewing strange energies. If not to escape the hunt of the centaurs, he wouldn’t have taken this long route around.

Richard almost laughed to himself, but a terrifying gash that marred his handsome face started throbbing in response to the attempt. As much as he shook his head, the feeling of loneliness as though he was the only person in this world started to suffocate him. His steps slowed and slowed until he came to a stop, looking into the sky that had no humans, no beasts, and not even birds.

This time, he did laugh despite the pain. He was becoming sentimental, lonely, and agitated in this god-forsaken place. This wouldn’t be a bad thing if he was relatively safe— just like artists, runemasters could find inspiration in the darker emotions of life— but in a battlefield of despair where death was around every corner such sentimentality was nothing more than stupid. He hadn’t concentrated during his hunt and accidentally fallen into a trap, forced into a battle far beyond his mana and energy reserves as he ran for more than half a day. If not for the restorative power of his truename, he would have become a delicacy for the Daxdians.

Eventually, he dragged himself back to his house. The rundown place felt particularly warm as he approached, making him go faster and faster. Lawrence and Beye were his neighbours, and now he had Waterflower as a housemate; he suddenly realised that he didn’t want to feel lonely anymore.

Was it time to go back to Norland or Faelor? Back to his followers and citizens? It was a tempting idea, but he dismissed it as soon as it appeared. He hadn’t done enough yet, and the trials he would soon come across were far too difficult for him to break through with his current strength.

“… Yes, that’s how a perfect woman should be. You should be pretty to your man! Your build and character are amazing, and your rune capacity is so great! It would be a pity to waste a talent like you!”

Lawrence broke into a peal of laughter before continuing with pride, “How about this, I have a masterpiece that I crafted in my early years. It doesn’t take up much of your capacity, and can be added on top of most other runes. Once you put it on, I promise you it won’t be more than two months before you become the dream of any man including Richard!”

‘What’s the old man doing now?’ Richard wondered as he headed in, recalling the so-called jelly legs rune that Lawrence had once talked about. It seemed like Lawrence was hitting on Waterflower, but he couldn’t be sure. At the very least, the old man did have a moral basis that he would not flout. Perhaps the coot just thought he didn’t care about her…

“Hmm? Why are you here?” Richard asked as he looked towards the courtyard, his brows locking further. It had taken him a moment to realise her presence himself; she had concealed all traces of her aura until she felt no different than a piece of stone.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: YJH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA