The elders of the Azuresnow Shrine were gathered in a secret room with Mountainsea in the centre. She was sitting on a mat in the middle, wet unbraided hair stuck to her shoulders. All the colour had been removed from her body, and the ornaments had been taken away as well; all she had to her appearance was a simple dress. All of her powerful totems had been washed away.
“You finally washed your totems,” the elders said with an odd mix of relief and confusion. Their expressions were extremely complicated as they gazed at the pure and clean princess of Klandor.
“Yes,” Mountainsea said softly, “You can continue preaching.”
The grand elder took a deep breath, “Mountainsea, this matter is of great significance to all of Klandor. If the sacred child can use Heaven’s Armour, it will unlock power so great that it will be at the forefront of all of Klandor! Such a powerful existence will balance the powers, forcing the Norlanders to turn their greedy eyes away.”
“If your army can’t even win over Norland’s, what’s the point of comparing experts?” she asked with a smile.
“… We have always been roughly balanced in terms of powerhouses, but in recent decades Norland has been producing a number of legends faster and faster. If this continues, we will be no match for them in less than a century. We are different from Lithgalen, we are much closer to Norland; so long as they wish to pay the price, the Norlanders can always send an army here.”
“My father really scared you.”
“Yes,” the elder admitted, “If not for your father’s expedition, we wouldn’t have realised our problems. An explorative force of a single prince of one of Norland’s three empires razed the first few tribes he came across with no issue. If not for us gathering all of our best forces and your mother subduing him personally, we would not have made it as far as we did. If all three empires join hands, they will completely overwhelm us.”
“So let’s say you have this one peak expert. What happens when they produce one more and cancel it out? What will you look for then?” Mountainsea waited a few seconds, but seeing that the elders had no response she continued, “And why do you think such a person will listen to you lot? Even I wouldn’t care about you without my circumstances, do you think he would?”
“That… is for the future.”
“Perhaps. Or perhaps it isn’t.”
The secret room was enveloped by a gloomy silence.
Sleeping in his tent, Richard suddenly opened his eyes as he saw a hidden aura sweep across his body. This energy was certainly different from that of a barbarian, softer and more stealthy than any barbarian he had met could accomplish. If not for his own fine-tuned senses, he would not have realised it at all.
He sneered, a red light converging around his right hand as he summoned Carnage and walked out of the tent. Right now, he could even fight legendary beings; no provocation would be allowed.
However, the night was the same as ever, with no unusual presences at all. The aura disappeared just as quickly as it had arrived, and even he couldn’t find any clues as to its location. Standing for a moment and shaking his head, he walked back to his camp and continued to rest.
A middle-aged man slowly stepped out from where Richard had first looked, neatly trimmed beard and brimming with mature charm. One could tell at first glance that he must have been radiant in his youth, not losing to the elves despite being human. Looking at Richard turn back, he smiled and nodded before disappearing as quietly as he had come.
Behind the Azuresnow Shrine were a number of large stone houses for the elders and their families. At this time, a fierce quarrel had broken out at one of the more elaborate small courtyards.
“This is for the good of all of Klandor!” a beautiful woman said as she paced back and forth in agitation.
The middle-aged man leaned back into the wall, crossing his arms with a sneer, “For the big picture? Why should my daughter be sacrificed for the big picture instead of you elders?”
“Don’t we make out own sacrifices?!” the woman raged.
“Of course not,” the man said calmly, “Do any of you elders have the guts to fight the Norlanders to death? You just have to show that determination and things will be solved.”
“But…” The woman was stunned, “But Norland is growing more and more powerful. Even if we are willing to sacrifice ourselves, that will only increase the disparity.”
“And what’s an epic being going to do about that? A few decades, will it be, before the gap is closed up? At that time, you won’t have any chance to fight.”
“But those are many decades!” the woman raised her voice, “Time will give us a chance!”
The more excited the woman grew, the calmer the man was, “A chance? For your incompetent lot? The elders haven’t done anything for Klandor in the past century, what will you accomplish in the next few decades? You will only be making things worse.”
“GREYHAWK!” the woman stood up, “I know Mountainsea’s heart, I don’t want my daughter to end up like this, but this is the decision of the entire council! We have no way to refuse the Sacred Tree Empire’s offer!”
“I don’t give a damn if you elders are alive or dead, my daughter cannot be sacrificed! Who cares about the big picture, you think you barbarians have any knowledge of politics? We’ve been doing it for millennia before you knew what that word meant.”
The woman deflated and sighed, “I’m sorry, but this cannot be changed. You cannot do anything about it either.”
The man smiled calmly and pointed to his own head, “Sometimes, there are better weapons in the world than your fists and swords. In fact, those things are useless a lot of the time. This is far from done, the Sword Saint is on his way to Klandor. At his speed, he will be here in three days.”
The woman immediately paled, “Hidden Sword? Why?”
“He owes me a favour.”
“What? You have a way of contacting him?”
Greyhawk laughed, “There are so many mysteries to the world of magic. Did you think talking to people was hard?”
The woman’s breathing grew rough, but she gradually calmed down, “Doesn’t matter, I can stop her.”
“Perhaps, but Richard is also the royal runemaster of the Sacred Alliance. I hear Philip doesn’t like his hand being forced. And then there’s Sharon, widely renowned for her might. Even the Sword Saint isn’t willing to provoke her. One person might not be much of a problem, but three?”
The woman’s expression turned cold, “Are you threatening me?”
“Why wouldn’t I threaten the people who want to sacrifice my daughter for some pathetic greater good?”
“Sigh. You should know that threatening the Shrine will only make things worse.”
“Dear, I don’t want the elders to give in. They just need to give Richard a fair chance and allow the sacred ceremony to continue as it should. Is it too much to ask that nobody plot behind the scenes?”
The woman looked Greyhawk in the eye, “You seem to be confident in him.”
“My son-in-law is an amazing boy. My daughter’s nose has always been very powerful as well, I believe in her.”
The woman snorted, “As if she’s not my daughter.”
“Is she?” Greyhawk shook his head, “Would a mother allow her daughter’s life to be destroyed like this?”
“You…” the woman stared at him in fury for a long time before suddenly remembering something, “Wait, since you had the means to contact the Sword Saint then why didn’t you have her take you away? It isn’t that difficult to sneak a person out of Klandor.”
The man smiled, “Why would I want to go? I used to enjoy my life here.”
The woman’s cold expression quickly melted away.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo