Richard had his own set of troubles during the time he spent at the Fort of Dawn. Without impending doom to distract him, a certain part of his body went completely out of control. He was especially sensitive around Waterflower, getting aroused by the smallest of her actions— something that made it especially difficult when she cuddled up to him at night.
Of course, Waterflower always noticed his erections. However, so long as he didn’t act upon his urges she was content to just put a leg on him and leave him straining with pain.
The Fort of Dawn was quite different from the City of the Unsetting Sun, and Richard felt this change every time he hunted. With the remaining enemy fortresses being much closer, the number and strength of the enemies encountered here were far greater than before. The city defences weren’t perfect either; there was only one legendary being left here outside of Philip, and that mage was an array master focused on building up the city defences.
The Emperor was currently resting within a palace built out of the nest of Maranos, access to him completely restricted to the point that nobody knew the extent of their injuries. However, so long as the food was flowing into the palace, nobody would dare to assume he had sustained any lasting damage. The Daxdians had just suffered great losses, and another attack would drain them to a dangerous point. Their strategy had now changed into a constant battle of attrition as before, trying to wear out the limited guardians of the Fort of Dawn.
Fighting was an indispensable part of life at this fort, but both Richard and Waterflower were almost bored by the routine nature of it all. However, they were both improving by the day, so much so that it felt like the enemies constantly grew weaker. Both of them had started to amass a sizeable reputation amongst the powerhouses of this fortress, the respect getting to the point that Richard started feeling awkward.
Of course, Waterflower only had two classes of people in her life: Richard and everyone else. She continued to remain cold to those she met.
There was a big old magic chest in Richard’s room, something that he had bought from a powerful saint who was about to leave. It looked like a dilapidated piece of metal, but it could fit a large number of items of great power within. Every time Richard returned from his hunts, he sold off the harvest for some offerings and threw them in the box. Every time they amassed a certain number of lesser offerings, he traded them in for a top-tier offering to save space.
Eventually, this work fell into Waterflower’s hands. She showed suprising skill at organisation for her background, carrying out the duties perfectly. Buying a few additional chests from the market, she classified everything into lesser, intermediate, greater, and top-tier offerings and slowly converted it all.
Soon enough, this metal chest was no different from Lawrence’s rusting box of offerings. It looked extremely commonplace on the outside, but the inside was the dream of any saint.
Richard quickly approached the threshold of trying to comprehend laws. He started spending more and more time on runecrafting and meditation, only going out when he had new hypotheses to test in battle. Waterflower continued to grow more powerful as well, honing her sword strikes until she could kill most enemies with one well-timed blow.
Months passed by in the blink of an eye. One day, Richard rose from meditation as his nature world tree finally reached the fourth level, resuming work on and finishing the new rune he was designing.
Floating Phantom was an upgrade to Master of Wilderness, enhancing Waterflower’s ability to pass through difficult terrain and granting her the ability to fly freely in the air for short bursts. Both this and Instant Assault were technically grade 3 runes, but they were borderline grade 4 and incorporated many complicated and powerful arrays within. They were also specifically designed for Waterflower and her swift, unpredictable strikes, amplifying her strengths greatly.
With these two runes, Richard was certain that crafting grade 4 runes was no problem for him. Even without becoming a grand mage, he could sustain the consumption using his truename and craft a proper grade 4 rune. However, he never once considered going down that path as he continued to perfect what he was already working on. Just like with his mana pool, he was specifically restricting himself so his abilities would be greater once he did take that final step.
As month after month continued to pass, Richard continued to hone what he had been taught was one of the most powerful abilities of a powerhouse: patience. His understanding of laws continued to grow as he captured stray streaks of the plane’s origin, enduring the hours of pain as he performed his research. Bit by bit, he accumulated power.
One day, he had a flash of inspiration and designed an upgrade to Dark Sight. The rune now offered more expansive darkvision, and added on a rare resistance to soul and nature magic. It was all inscribed on the narrow piece of flesh behind the ear, approaching a crafting difficulty comparable to Lifesbane.
Months passed once more as he continued to design new runes for Waterflower, ignoring himself as he slowly upgraded her to a full custom-designed grade 3 set. He faced multiple difficulties along the way, but he was in no hurry as he lived day to day and continued to improve himself holistically. The result was a rune set that even a legendary being would drool over.
It felt like the road forward was neverending. Only when he occasionally looked back upon his past self did Richard realise just how far he had come. It still felt like only yesterday when the Fort of Dawn looked like a monstrosity, but now the pure darkness was constantly broken off by bright human constructions. The enemies he faced had turned from disdaining him to running away at his sight.
Looking at one particular centaur captain’s escape, Richard couldn’t even bring himself to suspect a trap. The sheer terror on the centaur’s face, the moment of freezing in shock before turning around and running at full speed… It looked absolutely real. He couldn’t even recall such good acting from a Daxdian before, almost feeling like he was facing a brand new race.
“Why not chase?” Waterflower asked from next to him, confusion filling her face.
“Huh? Why chase?” Richard asked.
“It’s getting away!”
“Oh, that… Maybe there’s a trap ahead…” Richard didn’t seem confident in his own hypothesis. The centaur disappeared over a distant ridge without once looking back to see if it was being followed. However, he eventually shook his head, “Nevermind, let’s go somewhere else.”
“Okay,” Waterflower agreed immediately, not dragging the topic. This immediately caused Richard to smile with relief, something that caused the girl’s feelings to soar as they continued the hunt. He didn’t know that Lawrence’s words were echoing in her heart: ‘Men like to feel in control. If it isn’t important, just give him the illusion of authority.’
Some time a year later, Richard suddenly opened his eyes with excitement as the tree of restoration finally advanced to the fourth stage. He immediately stopped suppressing his mana pool, and over that very night absorbed a hundred times as much mana as he ever had in the past few years.
When he opened his eyes at dawn, there was a faint glow in the depths of his eyes. He raised his left hand and looked at his fingertips, willing five small fireballs into existence. The flames burned quietly, seemingly with no temperature or density, but they caused a smile to rise up on his face. Just as quickly as he had summoned them, he had them wink away with just a single thought.
After three whole years since he had entered the Land of Dusk, he was now a grand mage.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Theo: Book 5's done! As always, what do you guys think, both of the quality of the book itself and the translation? Have we improved? Same old, same old? Are we worse?
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo