The City of the Unsetting Sun had lived up to its name, the glory not tarnished by Daxdian hands.
However, less than 300 soldiers survived the bloody war, and a hundred of them had been maimed so heavily they wouldn’t be able to return to being saints in their lifetime. This battle had come to an end, but all it managed was to preserve the status quo in the Land of Dusk.
The Sacred Alliance lost a large number of powerhouses in the process, now significantly weaker than both the Sacred Tree Empire and the Millennial Empire. Nevertheless, this war had won them the respect of all humans in Norland; the two empires had agreed to provide aid in the short term, and many independent saints temporarily joined Faust’s forces to tide them through the upcoming crisis.
The Eternal Glory formation was finally cut off, but the ever-burning sun had become a totem of the stronghold that would be sung about for generations to come.
Even a few days after the end of the war, the city still had less than a thousand residents. Most of them were even busy cleaning up the battlefield and repairing the city’s barriers, with no extra manpower to rebuild the fortress itself. Unfortunately, commoners could not survive the harsh conditions of the Land of Dusk. Only great mages or higher powers could be called upon for assistance.
Richard, Beye, and Waterflower were all lying in a line on Lawrence’s operating tables, each wrapped up completely in bandages. The old man was one of the busiest people in the entire city now, so he never stopped complaining about their disregard for their own lives. He would fix them up as well as he could every morning, after which he turned to the long line of wounded people outside his door. These people weren’t injured heavily enough to warrant treatment by the incoming clerics and mages.
Many of the severely wounded powerhouses had been sent back to Norland for treatment, but Richard and his group chose to be healed by Lawrence instead. On one hand he trusted the old man, and on the other he didn’t want Flowsand to see his current state. He’d relaxed a bit when he learnt that she wasn’t amongst the team sent by the Church to help in the aftermath, but was a little disappointed as well.
Although he couldn’t move, Richard was still quite jovial. After all, he had survived a battle he had no business even entering. His elemental affinity had even advanced to grade 4 as the result of repeated exhaustion of his mana pool, granting him another bloodline ability— Elemental Eruption. This ability boosted the elemental purity and impact of spells like fireball, something that came in handy against enemies with high magic resistance like the black sorcerers. After all, few Daxdians had the near-immunity to magic that the devilfish did.
With only the nature and restoration affinity trunks left to reach this stage, he was significantly closer to when he could finally advance.
It took until a week after the war ended for Richard to finally recover. Despite his own regeneration comparing favourably to that of a Daxdian, he had still taken one more day than Beye and Waterflower. There were far too many times during the battle that he had used his own body to shield the two ladies from attacks, reasoning that his body was the toughest of them all.
However, these individual injuries had accumulated to a frightening state. He had been left mangled by the end of the war, only surviving because of Lawrence’s sheer skill in the medical arts.
The moment he was out of bed, Richard found himself flooded with work. His first job was to repair all the runes damaged during the war, and just those of his group would take him three to four days’ worth in man hours. He also had made quite a few good friends in the city, and although most of them had died in the war there were still a dozen or so that survived. Most of them were normal saints who couldn’t really be considered experts, prizing their runes even more than divine weapons.
The true powerhouses and the sky saints of the city could still hunt for offerings or something else that they could use to pay for rune repair. However, injured as they were, these ordinary saints would only be hunted to the death. Even in normal times, some of these fellows had never been outside the city walls alone. These weaklings normally came alongside merchants or the army, working as labourers in this hostile environment to eke out a living and a chance to advance. Without a major change to the result-based judging for rewards in the city, they would never overcome the ever-growing disparity between themselves and the true experts.
War was a ruthless beast. It ate lives without concern, but it wouldn’t necessarily give anything in return. The defeat of the Daxdians truly had come with a large number of offerings, but most of those had been consumed just to keep the Eternal Glory formation burning. Everyone only acquired half of what they normally would have for killing a number of Daxdians, and with Rundstedt’s inflexible merit system those with no kills did not receive any acknowledgement for their efforts. The ordinary saints had defended the city to the death, but few of them even got a handful of kills. Most of Richard’s friends could only secure a basic subsidy after the war’s end, which was barely enough to repair their runes and buy healing potions.
However, these true friends had still come to visit him the moment they learned he was injured. It was the sub-legendary experts, the so-called sky saints, that only sent him cards and came to visit once he was alright. Unlike the experts who came mostly for rune repairs or replacements, his friends only came to share a drink and unwind.
There were only two royal runemasters in the Sacred Alliance. Within Norland, Lunor and his apprentices were buried in requests and it was even rumoured that he was forced to outsource some work to acquaintances to speed up the process. However, while Richard’s quality was higher, his relationship with the City was currently quite strenuous.
Two days after Richard had recovered, Lawrence walked into his house with a suspicious amount of swagger. Focused on crafting, Richard didn’t even notice the old man as he picked from his materials to repair the broken formations of the rune in his hand and integrate them back into the original. Since his runes were all originals, it took even more effort to fix them than it did to just make a new set. It was only the high cost of remaking that stopped him from just scrapping it all and starting over.
Lawrence picked up a piece of paper on Richard’s desk and read through it, finding a list of names, runes, and the estimated time it would take to finish them. It wasn’t long, not even twenty names, and the old man recognised all of them. However, one of his brows rose up, “Oi Richard, what’s wrong with your list? Why is there even an elementary rune on this?”
“Hmm? Ah, those all belong to my friends, they can’t really afford new runes and don’t necessarily have the capacity even if they could.”
“But there isn’t a single sky saint on this list! I remember you still befriended a few of those as well.”
“They have the money to pay Lunor to do it, they get priority anyway. I don’t have the time to do this for everyone, just the ones who’d be left out if I don’t.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: YJH
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA