Book 6, Chapter 1

Picking Fights

As Richard walked out of the meditation room, Waterflower opened her eyes and jumped off her ‘bed’. This so-called bed was just three swords with their hilts buried into the floor, the sword tips being where she slept. She spent her time there whenever Richard was meditating through the night, a method she had come up with herself to constantly maintain the perfect balance between rest and vigilance. The idea was to train her control over the smallest part of the body.

The base idea had come all the way back from in the Archeron death camps, but of course she only slept on a branch there. It was nowhere near as difficult as sleeping on sword tips.

The girl actually jumped backwards as she saw Richard, her aura flaring up in response to the sheer threat she felt emanating from Richard despite the comfort of their soul bond. It took a moment for her to come to her senses, glee rising in her eyes as she exclaimed, “Grand mage?”

“Yes, there was no need to wait any longer.” Richard smiled.

“Oh…” Waterflower’s expression darkened.

“Oi, don’t think so much about it!” Richard ruffled her hair, understanding just what she was thinking, “Go pack, we’re leaving.”

“Alright,” the girl purred.

There wasn’t much for the two to carry. Richard only had two boxes in total at the end, one containing all of his offerings while the other smaller one held the runes he had drawn in his free time. He and Waterflower walked side by side up towards the centre of the city, meeting quite a few saints along the way who greeted them enthusiastically. Some even bowed with respect.

Guarding the portal was a burly man with a stiff beard, one of the most powerful sky saints in the entire fortress. “Richard! You’re returning to Norland?”

“Mm,” Richard nodded with a smile, “I’ve stayed here long enough.”

“Alright, give me a moment to activate the portal. No need for any procedures, everyone knows who you are.” The man inserted the magic crystals in a practised manner, sending a quick message to the other side of the portal before waving the two in.

As he returned to his post, a confused expression crossed the man’s face, “Strange… Why did he feel different from before? Even I felt a little afraid this time… Wait, it can’t be!”

The sky saint immediately turned to look at the portal once more, his eyes going wide, “Did he just… God.”

The man gasped in shock, immediately recalling just how long Richard had spent in the Land of Dusk. Such information wasn’t difficult to find for someone of his status, but Richard had been in the Fort of Dawn so long that he had almost completely forgotten about it. Cold sweat started leaking from his entire body as he realised that Richard had suppressed his growth for an entire three years. Try as he might, the man couldn’t recall even one other person in recent history with such a record. At the very least, the Land of Dusk had no such individuals.

To suppress one’s strength for so long and not die in the Land of Dusk was a miracle in and of itself. This was a place where even most saints wouldn’t dare walk out of the defensive range of the fortresses at will. However, it was also extremely difficult to force oneself down for that long without nature taking its course. Few people could withstand the burgeoning growth of their own bodies without negative repercussions.

The sky saint immediately recalled the fear he had just felt of Richard’s aura, suddenly starting to turn red. He was someone known to have a slight chance to break into the legendary realm, but he was afraid of someone who had just become a grand mage? Although he had secretly placed Richard on the list of people not to provoke long ago, this still felt like a great insult.

“Bah, I only respect him because he’s a runemaster. I’m not really scared of him!” the burly man tried to persuade himself seriously.

“Runemaster? Scared? What’s wrong?” a voice suddenly sounded near the portal, causing the guard to snap out of his reverie and realise that three people were standing in front of him.

He almost turned purple at the realisation that an acquaintance had heard him mutter that, but the sky saint managed to maintain his calm and respond, “Why are you here?”

The saint who had asked the question looked confused, “To return to Norland? We’ve been cooped up here for more than two months, we need to return and get some rest.”

“Alright, register yourselves. I’ll notify you once you’re approved.”

“Register…? What?” The three were stunned.

“Of course!” the burly man said grimly, pulling out a stack of papers and smacking them down on a nearby desk, “Twenty sheets each, fill them all up!”

The three exchanged glances, and the one leading them put on a smile, “Friend…”

“‘Friend’-ing me is useless, just follow the rules! Fill in the forms and wait for approval, or go to another fort!”

With the special circumstances in the Fort of Dawn, one needed to acquire permission to go through the portal. However, this system was meant for strangers from the other empires, not long-term citizens of the Sacred Alliance. With Philip still recovering, this system would minimise the risk to Faust. Nobody had objected to the idea, but the noble who put it to practice was one of the council members in charge of writing laws. He had made the process long and drawn-out, but that didn’t draw too much ire because everyone knew that known residents would be allowed to go through regardless. It was only when the guard grew serious that the bureaucracy reared its ugly head.

The three finally understood that the man was offended for some reason, so they could only grunt at their bad luck and fill in the forms obediently.

……

As Richard and Waterflower walked out of the portal, the prepared guards dissipated the spells prepared in their hands as they returned to their posts. The captain immediately grew solemn as he bowed, “Lord Richard, welcome back!”

While he hadn’t appeared in Norland for a long time, Richard was still the head of one of Faust’s fourteen families. It was a basic requirement for any competent guard to know his face.

“Yes, it was about time I took a look at home,” Richard smiled. 

“Mm,” the captain nodded, his eyes narrowing a little as he looked towards Waterflower, “And this is?”

“One of my followers.”

“Then I won’t keep you. Is there anything you need of me?” the man asked respectfully.

“No, I’m fine.” Richard and Waterflower headed towards the island’s regular portal and reappeared in Faust’s teleportation temple, heading for the Archeron island. Back on the imperial island, the guard captain finally realised that his palms were sweaty and wiped them off. Those returning from the battlefields of despair normally couldn’t control their bloodlust for a few days, but in the year since he had started his job at this post, he hadn’t seen anyone with more concentrated bloodlust coming through. The sheer killing intent almost left him suffocated.

……

 

“Are we going to Faelor?” Waterflower asked as the two arrived at the Archeron castle. After having lived with Richard for such a long time, this wolf-like girl could now predict a lot of things. Flowsand was currently in Faelor.

“Nope. But I just became a grand mage and you’ve been a saint for some time. What do you think about our strength now?

Waterflower was secretly relieved at his answer, but the follow-up question only left her confused, “I can’t beat a legend, and I can’t beat Beye either, but… the others don’t seem to be much. Oh… does that mean we’re already amazing?”

Richard chuckled, “Yes, it does. And since we are, why don’t we do some amazing things before going back to Faelor?”

“Like?”

“Hehe, let’s pick some fights.”

Waterflower only grew more confused, but she was a simple girl. If Richard wanted to pick a fight, then that was exactly what they would do.

……

News of Richard’s return created a moderate ruckus in Faust. Not long after he returned to his castle, Agamemnon visited the island and talked with him in private. They talked for an entire hour before he left, just before lunchtime.

……

A long caravan proceeded across the Eternal Plains towards Miracle Peak, only consisting of a total of ten carriages but with twenty cartfuls of guards following behind. The escort was a mix of cavalry and footsoldiers, making it clear just how precious the supplies were.

Right in the middle of the caravan were two extravagant yet light carriages that were clearly meant for those of special status. These carriages didn’t just have the Mensa crest engraved upon them, but each also had its own extra circle of decorations. Anyone experienced in reading crests would know that one belonged to a grand mage and the other to a saint.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: YJH

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA