Book 6, Chapter 53

Poison

“At the very least, I believe the possibility of you leaving in my presence isn’t very large,” Hendrick glanced at the elders of the Council, specifically at Mountainsea’s mother, but she was expressionless and made no move to help. This caused him to frown; without her help, it would be difficult to kill the Sword Saint. It was one thing to defeat a person of such power, but another entirely to kill them.

“Me leaving? You misunderstand. If I don’t return from Klandor, my Empress will immediately come bearing down on your Sacred Tree Empire.”

“Do you think the threat of war can let you do whatever you want?” Hendrick asked softly.

“No, but it can stop you from doing whatever you want. Mountainsea is still a student of mine, I have to take care of her.”

Hendrick fell into thought for a moment, “Sigh. Since you are here personally, I believe I cannot continue with my original plans. How about you step back, and I won’t attack personally?”

Hidden Sword said softly, “I am more powerful than you. If you want a fair trade, your assassin here steps back as well.”

“Alright,”  Hendrick agreed immediately. Although he would lose his hand in the dark for now, that would be worth the Sword Saint not erupting.

The Sword Saint nodded and pointed to the mural of the Beast God on the wall, turning to the elders of Klandor, “Do you lot wish to continue being a disgrace to the Beast God? I hope you will not support Hendrick in turning his back on this agreement.”

Having said this, he left the silenced room behind and headed away.

It took a good five minutes before Hendrick broke the silence, “Elders, this is a major event that affects the vital interests of both parties. We cannot be bothered with Hidden Sword. Me and my subordinate cannot do anything, but there are still a number of ways we can assist. For example…”

Hendrick took off a ring and unscrewed the gemstone, pouring a little powder on a piece of paper and wrapping it up, “This powder can temporarily dissolve mana. Richard is a grand mage, mana is vital to him. You only need to put this in his food and water.”

The elders’ faces immediately turned ugly, and Mountainsea’s mother raised an eyebrow. However, the Archbishop just smiled, “Don’t forget, this is for the big picture! You’ve already agreed to a lot of… bad things. If you want to give up now, it will just be a joke!”

Seeing them still hesitating, Hendrick leaned forward, “You’re exchanging a broken rune set for Uriel and the future child of the Beast God. What are you losing in return? Mountainsea’s purity? Her dignity? What a joke! The shrine’s traditions would have arranged for someone to have a child with her anyway, it was never her choice. But nobody you choose can use Heaven’s Armour. Think about it, an epic-rank legend in the future alongside the most powerful rune set in existence to pass down from generation to generation. All that for a piece of useless debris and a few nights of a woman? Do you still need to hesitate?”

One of the elders frowned, “Is this even necessary? Is Richard Uriel’s match?”

“The difference between you and me,” Hendrick stared into the elder’s eyes, “Is that I don’t deal with variables. Take it, go poison Richard’s water and food. Everything will be simple!”

There seemed to be a magic in the Archbishop’s voice; the elder gritted his teeth and reached for the powder. Mountainsea’s mother suddenly reached out to stop him, but he turned to look at her, “Asa, this… is for Klandor.”

For Klandor… Asa suddenly felt like her heart was being weighed down by lead, and Greyhawk’s words resounded in her mind, but the elder had already used her momentary daze to take the powder away.

Hendrick showed a satisfied smile, “A wise decision. You will not regret it after seeing the power of Heaven’s Armour. I hope the next decision will be just as enjoyable.”

“The next decision?” all the elders looked back from the powder.

“Of course. You have to arrange for someone to fight Richard next, and who it is will be very important. Richard… should die in the hands of the barbarians.”

“What?!” Asa stood up, “Why kill him?”

Hendrick sneered, “What else? Keep him alive and wait for his vengeance?”

“I am not afraid of him!” Asa raged.

Hendrick swept his hands across the room and smiled, “You might not, but would the Council’s reputation not be at stake? If Richard lives and the truth comes out, will any of you still be elders?”

These words made Asa look foolish. The deal with the Sacred Tree Empire might be for the future of Klandor, but it could not be revealed to the public.

“Richard is just a small person, not worth mentioning. Hidden Sword will not affect the overall situation, there is no need to worry about killing him. Aaah… I’m tired, I need rest. I believe you elders have many things to discuss.” The Archbishop returned to his residence.

Asa continued staring at the elders, but they had stopped paying attention to her and were concentrated on the powder they had been given.

……

The sky was already bright when Asa returned home, and she saw Greyhawk playing chess with Hidden Sword.

“You’re back?” he smiled and waved at her, “I heard everything. This Archbishop is really tricky, all we can do is give Richard a fair environment and let him fight. That’s the only way he’ll be worthy of being with my daughter anyway.”

“Yeah,” Asa smiled faintly and walked up to her room.

Hidden Sword stared at her receding figure in thought. Greyhawk frowned as well, just dropping the piece in his hand, “Well, the Sixth Prince wasn’t much worse either.”

Hidden Sword shook his head, “Things cannot be so smooth. Don’t you feel it strange? We all know Midren isn’t so powerful as to warrant this kind of investment.”

“That is true… Sigh. How about we wait for this to end and kill them on their way back? Maybe it’s better that way, and we can figure out their plot once they’re dying.”

“Then what about Richard?”

“I like the kid, but there’s only so much we can do for him. I hope he’s come here with contingencies. The Sacred Tree’s actions have been very strange, I need more information on the matter.”

Hidden Sword nodded, studying the map of Klandor with Greyhawk to see where best to intercept the returning forces. In the shrine, these people would have the protection of Asa and the other elders. That would not be the case during their return.

……

As the two men continued planning, a servant boy knocked on Richard’s door to hand him breakfast and the schedule for battles for the day. There were only eight fights in total scheduled today, and he would meet two opponents who were both recommended by the shrine. He didn’t know who the opponent was, and the barbarian youth refused to talk about it either. Brushing it off, he returned to his analyses as he ate his food.

Finishing off an entire pot of roasted meat and half a waterskin, he acknowledged the shrine warrior that came to notify him of his battle and headed outside. However, just as he stepped out of his door his face suddenly warped; the mana bubbling through his body was melting like snow in the sun!

A million thoughts immediately ran through his mind, and he quickly realised there was a problem with the breakfast he had been sent. The poison was quite concealed, with no sign before and after ingestion even to a runemaster like him who specialised in magic materials. This meant it was at least legendary grade, and examining himself he realised that despite feeling temporary it would leave lasting damage to his body.

Losing one’s mana was a death sentence to any grand mage, but he had to fight in less than an hour. He was being sent to his death!

“Those… MOTHERFUCKERS!” he raged, abyssal flames flowing from his mouth. It had always been an option to rescue Mountainsea stealthily and escape, even if it was very dangerous, but with the rate of his mana drain he would lose his strength within a few days. He could still run away now, but that meant nobody would be able to save her!

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo