Book 6, Chapter 33

The New Mana Armament

Crafting this upgraded Mana Armament was far more difficult than Richard had expected, taking an entire month of work that involved eleven total failures. The new rune was a sum total of sixty different magic arrays, and the failures had almost cleaned out his entire warehouse to the point that he couldn’t even bring himself to be too happy with the finished product in his hand.

Realising that the original had been built with a mage’s physique in mind, he had decided to greatly relax the limits on the energy output of the rune. This was a risky modification that could potentially even kill a frail mage, but his own physique was equipped to handle it. However, this fundamental change to the thought process meant a majority of the magic arrays needed to be changed, and with minimal experience in some of them even he went through a few failures to get it right.

With the success of Mana Armament, he was finally at the level of a grand runemaster, amongst the pinnacle of runecrafting in all of Norland. Just this one rune was worthy of a convention all unto itself, and would even be lauded by many for its ingenuity and power.

Richard had almost withered away by the end of the month, losing an entire ten kilograms. The first thing he did after he attached the rune to himself was to clear out an entire table full of dishes made by Rosie before spending a good hour in the bath. Well-fed and freshened up, the two naturally ended up in bed; this time, he was much more loving and tender than the last.

It was almost dawn by the time they were done, and unlike with Flowsand Rosie was just laying against his chest like a sleepy kitten while he looked out the window at the morning rays. She slowly stretched and yawned, turning around to face him, “What’s on your mind?”

“I’ll be one of the most accomplished people in Norland someday soon,” he said calmly.

“Yawn… And why are you saying that with sadness? Isn’t it wonderful?”

“It’s not good enough.”

“What is?”

Richard went quiet for a few moments before speaking up, “Perhaps… When I’m on top of the world.”

Finally awake, she sat up to look at him, “Why push yourself so hard?”

“Because… Sigh, there are some things in the future that I can only prevent if I’m the best of the best.”

Rosie lay back down on his chest. She knew that she would never be on par with Sharon, Mountainsea, or Flowsand in his mind. She had her moments of glory, but even in the depths of intimacy she was never the only one on his mind. After all, she was a nobody outside of Faust and definitely unheard of amongst the true hegemons who ruled the myriad planes.

She knew she only had Richard for a brief time; now that he was finished with his rune, he would be gone once more. The thought of not seeing him for years sent shivers down her spine.

“Hmm?” Richard immediately noticed her starting to tremble, “What’s wrong?”

“Something bad…” she sniffled, “I think I’ve fallen in love with you…”

He could only stroke her hair and sigh.

……

As day broke, Rosie quickly got up and busied herself with running a bath, preparing clothing, and getting breakfast ready. He finished getting ready and headed towards the command centre, but seeing her still at the door he turned around and bid her goodbye with a large hug and deep kiss.

“Any problems at the borders?” he asked as he entered the meeting hall, looking at Gangdor and Raymond who were both ready and waiting.

“Nothing at all, Boss!” Gangdor waved it off, “They were all little kittens, I couldn’t even bear to bully them!”

“As if!” Richard laughed, “How much did you annoy them really?”

“Well…” Gangdor chuckled as well, “I couldn’t help myself, I wanted to test their patience.”

“And? How was it?”

“Impressive!”

“Good to hear.” Richard then turned to Raymond, “What about the Iron Triangle?”

“Quiet. Hardly any movements at all, not even routine mobilisations. There are no signs of them being ready to go to war with us.” Raymond stole a glance at Richard, trying to read his expression, but found nothing. Richard hadn’t told anyone about the events at the Valley of Darkness, so nobody knew there was an impending war against one or more gods.

Rapping the table, Richard looked through some prepared reports as he asked, “The Norlanders in our army should have fulfilled the requirements to be released from service?”

“Yes, Boss.”

“Alright, let them return to Norland if they want. Give them all an extra year of pay too, and tell Master Mito he’s free to leave as well.”

“What?” Gangdor was shocked, “That’s so many rune knights!”

“Rune knights I recruited for a certain number of years. I need to fulfil my promises.”

“But… They’re very competent warriors…”

“And they’ll stay if they want to. Now go, give them the news.”

“Alright… I’ll miss the old man, you think he’ll stay?”

“In the army? I doubt it. He’s an old man, and he’ll want to focus on research instead of battles. Hopefully he’ll be a friend, though. Anyway, I’ll be away for half a month. Send a message to the Land of Dusk if someone decides to attack, and try to delay things until I return. In the meanwhile, maintain the status quo at the ancestral plains….”

Taking care of the important things, Richard packed up and left Faelor for the familiar Land of Dusk.

……

With the war having simmered down, the Sacred Alliance had returned to dropping people a ways off from the fortress itself. Richard checked his position when he stepped out of the portal, finding that he was about eight days away from the City of the Unsetting Sun. As per usual practice, he checked his equipment and runes to be ready for any situation before picking up speed and heading for the city.

Racing across the vast landscape under the crimson sky, Richard realised that this sort of life roused the warrior within him. This plane was the exact same as before, with powerhouses from the two primary planes fighting each other constantly. Although the Daxdians had lost the last war, their casualties weren’t far apart from Norland’s. Overall, it could even be considered a draw.

It didn’t take long for him to meet the first challenger, but the skaven that dashed at him from a nearby boulder found itself biting down on a sword blade instead of flesh. Before it could even realise what had happened, its head was almost bisected and Richard was already cleaning the blood off his blade. He turned to walk away at first, but after a few steps couldn’t help but stop and turn around, unwilling to let go of the harvests from the carcass.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Hazel

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA