Book 1, Chapter 81

Conspiracy

Luckily, Gaton didn’t choose a partner for Richard himself after the banquet. In fact, the father-son pair almost never met if not for special occasions and events.

Richard was assigned to a rather small room near the family library, a place where he spent most of his days undisturbed. He flipped through dozens of books that illustrated the history of the continents, or the doctrines of different faiths.

Of course this was no deterrence to Venica and Demi. The two had visited the very next day, but thankfully they hadn’t stayed for long because they had an important asceticism course to attend. He thanked lady luck, because they didn’t bother him for the next four or five days.

Their second visit was focused on a discussion about runes. The two girls were beyond excited to witness the crafting of such an amazing thing first hand. Before Richard could drive them away with an excuse of not having enough ingredients, the girls suggested that he first ‘familiarise’ himself with the locations where he would have to tattoo the runes. This was an important tacit understanding between them.

That was a rather dangerous thing to accept. Were Richard to familiarise himself with them, he would need to be joined to both by marriage. It was law for all Archeron girls to remain virgins before their first partners, to maintain the purity of their children’s lineage. Of course this wouldn’t be in effect if they were marrying out of the family.

Dismissing the overly enthusiastic girls, Richard finally got some well-deserved rest for a few days. Other than one time where Wennington brought him the ingredients for his rune, Richard didn’t meet anyone else. He couldn’t care for the rest of the girls present at the banquet anyway. It didn’t matter whether they were qualified for him, or had let go of any ill thoughts regardless of their status to make moves on him.

It was like he was back in his days at the Deepblue. He drew up another schedule, as precise as a magic clock, and went about filling his mind up with tons of informations. Planar wars, the history of Faust, the Church of the Eternal Dragon… once he was done reading for a day, he didn’t have much leisure time remaining— he still had to go about making Wennington’s rune, planning his future equipment, and meditating.

Nonetheless, the peace was only on the surface. Elsewhere in Faust, undercurrents were rumbling.

The sixth floating island on the sixth layer was the territory of Duke Joseph. His family was amongst the top ten of the Sacred Alliance, neither advancing nor declining for a long time. And yet, it remained like an ancient oak tree, its foundation stabilised over the many years such that it was almost impossible to shake them. They were rooted deeply into the soil of the Sacred Alliance.

Joseph’s family was vastly different from the Archerons on the third island of the seventh layer, who were brimming with war and conflict. His island, the sixth of the sixth, corresponded more to the aesthetics of human aristocrats and royalty. Centuries of efforts and hard work on this island that was a kilometer wider than the third of the seventh had made its architecture and greenery iconic.

Viewed from a vantage point, the whole island was shrouded in faint purple dome shield. It was rather hard to distinguish under Faust’s brilliant sky, but if a foreign object strayed too close the shield would trigger and ripple outwards like a blooming flower.

The ground was mostly covered in lush vegetation, the leaves and grass crisp and green. Flowers bloomed and trees flourished at the prime of their lives under the constant tropical climate. Stepping on this island was like stepping into the legendary garden of the gods, Clearwater. The buildings were evenly spread out and exuded an ancient elegance, surrounded by pergolas, pavilions and carefully trimmed thickets.

A stream flowed from the southwestern side of the island’s mountain, emptying into a small lake at its foot. There was an ancient castle beside this body of water, and at the centre a field faintly lit by magic light that showed off an exquisite statue standing atop a beautiful fountain. It attracted the attention of all visitors.

Somewhere in the study of this castle, several calculative-looking men were seated in a row. They all looked sleek, the atmosphere filled with the power of their auras.

Before them was stood a lean aristocrat, who looked rather young in age. He was hugging a book close to his chest, seemingly looking for something within. The boy was dressed casually, and had a pair of crystal spectacles on. A pretty good-looking lad, one would say, that exuded wisdom and intelligence. The one downside was that he was a little skinny.

“Is this news confirmed?” he asked as he flipped through the pages of the book.

An experienced-looking middle-aged man on the far left spoke up, “We’ve already verified through many avenues that Richard Archeron is an elementary runemaster. But we’ve been unable to gather more information from the Deepblue, so his current standard is unknown. It’s bizarre; there’s exceptionally little information about the boy in the Deepblue. The traders were behaving quite strangely as well— they either said they didn’t know anything when asked, or only gave us trivial and unimportant information. None of us were able to get our hands on any details.”

“What more do you need? A runemaster at the mere age of 15, do we still need further verification?” another man quipped before waving his hand aggressively, “Even if Richard remains at his current level his whole life, how many more rune knights will the Archerons have as he grows older? We should have killed him while we could! Even if he was only a mage, he deserved to be killed for studying at the Deepblue for 5 years! That means he’ll become a grand mage in the future!”

Someone who looked like a mage laughed, “You say that as if everything is so easy, Cybil. Do you think it’s easy to just kill him? Gaton sent that demon Mordred to pick Richard up! Even if you could locate them through the complex terrain, what price would you have to pay to kill Richard under his watch? What’s the point if this boy was just going to be a grand mage in the future? There are all sorts of capable people in every family, do you want to kill them all too? Or are you telling me you can kill Mordred? Nobody can do that if the man is set on running away. Don’t you think it’s too late for you to say all this, now that we know Richard is a runemaster?”

He laughed cynically before adding on, “Naseby, why don’t you take a team to kill Mordred? Getting rid of that demon would be much more useful that getting rid of a future runemaster!”

The man named Naseby flushed immediately and bellowed, “Kevin, what are you trying to say?”

The said mage only sneered, “I’m trying to say what you were trying to say just now! Since you have doubts about my planning, why not be of some help and lead your troops to do something? But perhaps Mordred is too tough for you to handle, just kill any of the other twelve knights of Gaton. Cyrden? Caryn? Lina, maybe?”

This was when the old man on the right end decided to speak out. “Kevin, Naseby! It’s pointless to fight now. It’s without a doubt that the Archerons birthed another talented lad. But currently, he only possesses talent. The issue is, how much priority should we put on him?”

The youth who stopped pacing around the room, raising his head, “Right, I almost forgot. Young master told me that Richard is planning to craft a rune that increases mana. That’s a custom built rune! You lot don’t think he’ll be able to craft a standard grade 2 rune, do you?”

“A custom rune?” Kevin exclaimed. He had substantial knowledge of runecrafting, so he continued on, “It seems like this Richard boy has a high chance of becoming a great runemaster in the future.”

This instantly quintupled Richard’s future value, He became the top threat amongst the younger generation of the Archerons, and one of the top ten within the entire family.

“I also found some interesting information about an auction a year ago.” The youth adjusted his glasses as he flipped through his book with grace and pointed to a line, “The most attractive item was an elementary agility rune. It could be compounded onto even a grade 3 rune slot, but the increment was upto 41%, reaching the standard of a second grade rune already. It was sold at a sky-high price of 5 million, which should be enough to prove its rarity. What’s interesting is that the Deepblue was the entity that put it up for auction.”

The young lad raised his head and smiled elegantly, “Now, we all know that Deepblue never produced runes before. It was almost impossible for ordinary runemasters to survive there given Sharon’s extreme expectations of rune quality and the hatred she has towards runemasters. So we can make a bold guess that this rune was likely produced by Richard. If that is true, then he does deserve our full efforts in getting rid of him. But even if it isn’t, it is a worthy price to pay as well for a future runemaster.”

He paused for a while before smiling, “Everything that we’re able to give right now will only be seen as another huge price in the eyes of the Joseph clan.”

Everyone got it instantly: they had to get rid of Richard at all costs!

“Should we prepare for war?” Naseby asked. He looked bloodthirsty at the very mention of it, and although he still maintained his etiquette before the youth his body was already bursting with excitement.

The young lad closed the book and placed it gently on the table, speaking with confidence not befitting of his age, “No, not for now. Our fight with them now is beyond the battlefield. As long as we make this flawless, Gaton wouldn’t want to engage in a war either. He is a smart man, he knows that a war at this point in time won’t be beneficial for either of us. The only one who’ll gain from a war between us and the Archerons will be that old maggot Orelius. Gaton will wait, he will wait till the Archerons recover from this blow and till he gains an advantage against us. But…”

He smiled knowingly, “Time, might not be on Gaton Archeron’s side.”

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Translated By: Gem

Edited By: Theo

TLCed By: OMA