Book 5, Chapter 108

The Shadow Of The Sun

Time passed quite quickly. As soon as Richard finished the tasks he had at hand, he gathered the entire city for a round of drinks near his home.

Almost everyone in the city was invited, and this time even commoners and sky saints mingled like equals; there was nothing more effective than bringing people together than an epic battle fought tooth and nail. The din in the small courtyard was deafening, and it only grew louder as cases and cases of wine were emptied out.

A young lady was drinking her wine quietly in the corner of the yard, watching the revellers with the cold eyes of a lone wolf. Some men noticed this pretty woman every once in a while, approaching her to share a few drinks, but even the most violent of fellows was extremely respectful to this goddess of the battlefield. In the end, they were surprised by her sheer capacity as she drank multiple burly men under the table without so much as swaying.

Someone eventually noticed that the girl was sitting on two stacked wine boxes as she drank, a habit only the heaviest of drunkards had. There was no reason to do this other than to have all of the alcohol within arm’s reach.

Halfway through the revelry, Richard took out the replacement rune sections and distributed them to everyone. The three sky saints didn’t get to enjoy such special treatment, but they just cursed him jokingly and forced an entire bottle of strong liquor down his throat before letting it go. They agreed with his reasoning completely; at level 20, they had the power and status to get things done by Lunor.

Most of the ordinary saints were shocked at the sight of the runes, falling into silence. These warriors who hadn’t groaned when their flesh was being clawed away now felt their eyes grow moist; the sheer value of these runes to them was one thing, but for a future saint runemaster to spend his time on these mediocre things instead of his famous Lifesbanes was uplifting. They hadn’t even asked him personally; Richard had only memorised which of their runes was damaged when they visited him and then prepared the repaired sections with his own hands.

This was true friendship.

After a brief moment, the courtyard grew noisy once more. Everyone had learnt about Richard’s decision to leave the City of the Unsetting Sun, but no one tried to retain him. All they asked was for him to be careful and drink a little more before leaving.

As the crowd grew raucous once more, one of them suddenly sighed, “You guys might not know this, but Marshal Rundstedt is in trouble.”

““What?”” Everyone looked towards the man who had spoken. This fellow was a sky saint with one of his grandmothers coming from the royal family, so he had both power and status. Any news he had was generally reliable.

However, most of those present just couldn’t understand what the man meant. The Marshal had just orchestrated a successful defence against half of Daxdus’ power, and even led the fight into the last moment. The Daxdians had almost reached the portal, but they had been defeated and sent running back. This was an achievement that was worth writing down in history.

“I heard the royal family is planning a secret council to investigate the Marshal’s misconduct during this war,” the sky saint commented.

“What? He’s being investigated after victory?”

“This is insane! We’re fighting to the death here and those plump bastards were just sitting around doing nothing. Now we’ve defeated the Daxdus and they have nothing better to do than investigate our leader? What the hell is there to investigate?”

“Exactly! If the Marshal is supposed to be convicted, then we should have been executed long ago!”

Many people started cursing the nobility. Most of those present had received a paltry sum for their efforts under Rundstedt’s administration, and wouldn’t even be able to repair their runes without Richard, but they still had great respect for him. The Marshal was a fair individual above all else, and gave himself no free reign either. Everyone in the city had to earn their keep.

However, Richard wasn’t amongst those who voiced their ire. He immediately started stroking his beard as he fell into deep thought.

The person who divulged the news eventually sighed, “This victory wasn’t purely due to our effort. His Majesty ended up sustaining heavy wounds to drive off two of the epic-level Daxdians, while the Millennial Empire and Klandor took out the other two. The enemy retreated because they would have been caught between our two empires if they didn’t.

“Right, people are saying that the barbarian that came through the portal of the Snowstorm Fortress enraged the Millennial Empress, and she’s sent multiple envoys to the Sacred Alliance criticising us for it.”

“What? Why is she throwing a tantrum if someone from Klandor came to help?”

“Because the powerhouse is a woman from the Azuresnow Shrine. That’s all I can say.” The commoners continued to question the sky saint persistently, even forcing bottles of wine down his throat, but he remained tight-lipped on the matter after that.

However, Richard’s mind immediately started racing as he realised just what the man was saying. Mountainsea had mentioned before that her mother was the former saintess of the Azuresnow Shrine, and had captured Prince Greyhawk before eventually marrying him. As the ruler of an empire descended from the elves and still carrying many of their traditions, Empress Gelan certainly valued her status and dignity greatly. Those events were enough of a disgrace for her to rage when Mountainsea’s mother ended up helping Faust.

Of course, it was all she could do to throw a tantrum. Klandor was a powerful continent in its own right, and certainly had the powerhouses to match and even overpower the Millennial Empire. She could only vent her anger towards the weaker Sacred Alliance. That being said, the Empress wouldn’t send envoys just to complain. They likely had a set of diplomatic measures in place, one of which was certainly a threat to minimise the amount of aid they would provide if the situation wasn’t investigated properly.

Outside of that, there was certainly one more reason to question Rundstedt’s conduct. As someone with a high degree of autonomy, he had refused to call for reinforcements even when his men were on the verge of death. If Emperor Philip had been crippled or killed in his endeavour to reduce the pressure on the City of the Unsetting Sun, that would have been an enormous blow to the Sacred Alliance. None of Philip’s children were ready to take over the throne.

Outside of Richard, the other two sky saints continued to drink silently. Unlike their weaker counterparts, they had a certain level of knowledge as well. After a few more cases, one of them looked at the angry crowd and suddenly spoke up, ”Have you guys considered that we would be dead if not for His Majesty, the Sword Saint, and that powerhouse from Klandor?”

The courtyard was instantly shrouded in silence. Everyone in the city had been fighting on the frontlines so long as they could move and hold a weapon. Even Lawrence had stabbed a skaven who butted into his house with a dagger, only saved by a nearby saint who managed to notice the commotion. They all knew just what would have happened if the Daxdians hadn’t retreated.

“But we could have called for reinforcements…” a younger saint said shakily, but he was quickly cut off by an older man with grizzled hair, “Even if everyone was waiting at the portal gates, they would take at least two hours to get here.”

Everyone fell silent once more. They all knew this fact, but nobody wanted to admit it.

“Maybe we wouldn’t have lost so many people if we had just asked for help,” a soft voice attracted everyone’s attention. It came from a balding middle-aged man who was just as unimpressive as his plump body made him out to be. This fellow was a saint, but he was only in the City of the Unsetting Sun because of exquisite skill at processing materials, especially skaven-tooth arrows.

This fatty couldn’t drink much, but he really loved alcohol and attended every single session Richard held, and had slowly come to befriend the entire group. However, he wasn’t quite good with crowds and immediately broke out in a cold sweat, shutting his mouth and going back to drinking.

“Argh, alright! We still won the war and defeated those damn bastards, didn’t we?” Richard clapped to break the still air, bringing the atmosphere back up a little. However, the air of dreariness didn’t clear for the entire duration of the party.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: YJH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA