Book 6, Chapter 64

Trust

With Richard draped over her shoulders and her hands filled with luggage, Mountainsea couldn’t run all that quickly. However, her stamina was practically boundless; even when the first rays of dawn broke across Klandor, she still continued to run towards the coast. It was Richard who eventually jumped off her back, his strength having returned with the sunlight.

He tripped the moment he landed, tumbling to the ground— while Mountainsea was strong, she wasn’t all that good at carrying people. The constant jolting had left him sore all over, as though his bones had been scattered apart.

Finally able to look over her properly, he froze up. Hair hanging off her shoulders with a loose dress on, it was almost impossible to tell this beautiful woman was the same mischievous girl he knew. All of her decorations and totems had disappeared with her braids, and the only thing linking her to the person he knew was the powerful carefree aura.

“You… look different,” he commented in surprise.

“My totems are gone, and my ornaments are things I had because of Klandor. I don’t plan on staying here anymore, so there was no need to bring them,” Mountainsea answered with a faint smile.

“You mean…”

“I’m coming with you.”

“Uh… What?” Richard had never considered this possibility, only hoping to reach her to ensure she could at least live freely once he was back to his wars. How could the elders let her go?

“The elders can’t wait for us to leave,” she seemed to read his mind, “The further we go, the better. This way, they don’t have to see you.”

“That… That… Sigh, whatever.” He shook his head in a strange mix of annoyance and joy before looking her up and down, “Wait… You’re only—”

“Level 10 by Norland standards? I know, I don’t actually train my internal energy. Normally I just used the power of my totems, most of my time is spent sleeping in Zykrama. One day sleeping there is equal to half a month’s practice from a normal warrior.”

“That’s actually possible?” Richard had no idea of what to say. If she could gain strength just from sleeping, she was nearly the same as an ancient dragon.

“Not just anyone can sleep there,” the girl flashed a cheeky smile, “A lot of people die on the peak every year.”

“Alright, let’s leave for now. We can talk on the way.” He took his belongings from her and determined their direction before charging towards the coast. He had no interest in fighting any more barbarians— Klandor’s Carnage had already become Angel’s Demise— but he was sure the elders wouldn’t actually tell the barbarian youths about everything that had happened behind the scenes. Even if Mountainsea was right, that information would not spread to the populace. There would be no dearth of people trying to find him and ‘recover’ Mountainsea.

His current priority was to prepare for war. He wasn’t sure how far Hendrick would go in backing up his threats, but one certainty was that he had disrupted important plans of the Sacred Tree Empire.

By the next sunset, the two had passed the crocodile river; their dinner was grilled crocodile. Along the way, Mountainsea had revealed the story behind Zykrama to him. This snowy mountain was rumoured to be the land where the Beast God had killed the Lady of Winter, leaving divine power flowing through the land. So long as one could withstand the debilitating cold, their bodies would grow tougher very quickly.

However, the cold wasn’t just physical; the power there could freeze the very soul. Even worse, this freezing power would grow more focused the longer one trained. It even numbed the mind, leaving one unable to tell the danger they were in until it was too late. Thus, only those with a powerful will could last there for any stretch of time.

As the princess of Klandor, Mountainsea was protected by the Beast God itself. The divine power flowing in her blood allowed her to sleep within Zykrama for extended periods of time, and the energies in the peak slowly strengthened and refined her body with no end. In theory, she would eventually have a body rivalling a god’s if she just slept there endlessly.

Richard had sighed deeply at this revelation, feeling immensely jealous. Just the last night had shown just how boundless her stamina was. With her body, she had absolutely no need to worry about energy reserves.

Next to the warm bonfire, the huge crocodile quickly turned into a pile of bones. Both man and woman had incomparably huge appetites, and even with the meat they only felt half full. However, Richard stood up and stretched a little before extinguishing the flames, “It’s time to go.”

Mountainsea just yawned like a little lioness, far too lazy to move. Only with much effort did Richard convince her to let him pull her up. However, just as they were about to leave the soft breeze turned into a sudden gale. Some birds and smaller animals were blown away as the winds whistled through the forest, and the earth started to shake.

Mountainsea sniffed hard at the air and frowned, “Beast!”

Just as she spoke, Richard looked up at the sky to find ten or so specks of light flickering up above. He squinted to look through the dense mist, finding that they were all eyes!

“HYDRA!” he shouted as he pulled Mountainsea and began running, “WHY IS THAT HERE?”

Mountainsea’s expression changed as well, “It’s come for you! Run!”

“Me?! Why me?!” Richard was panic-stricken. Powerful magic beasts had intelligence that would not lose out to humans. If he had been marked as a target, he would be chase every time he came to Klandor.

“Why wouldn’t it? You ate its child!”

It was only then that Richard realised just why the hydra was here, dismissing all hopes that it was just blind luck. He and Mountainsea ran at top speed with the huge serpent flying behind, weaving through the forest to get to the plains. The chase lasted day and night, with the hydra only giving up with a reluctant roar once it could smell the sea. The two still continued running for hours even afterwards before they finally slowed down. Both were sweating from head to toe, but they shared a laugh and continued on.

……

Once they were back in the Salsons’ territory in Norland, Richard immediately took a few wyverns and headed to Blackrose Castle. Nothing seemed to have changed in the month he was gone, with the Archerons both delighted at his return and curious about the girl he had brought back, but he only stayed in the castle for a few hours as he quickly wrote Alice a letter to watch out for the Sacred Tree Empire before taking a portal back to the Archeron island in Faust.

As he entered his study, he found a letter sitting on his desk. The old steward informed him that it had been waiting for a month already, and from the words on the envelope he could tell immediately that it was from Flowsand.

For some reason, his heart started to pound before he even opened it:

“You know, I still remember that scrawny little mage that I met all those years ago a little outside Faust, heading north to the coast to pick out your followers. Maybe it’s how long I’ll live, but those days where we were running all over Faelor are still fresh in my mind. Somehow, the bookworm’s diligence and focus actually got to me, and I fell in love… Strange, isn’t it?

“But—”

Richard immediately put the letter down, his hands trembling as his heartbeat started to sound like a hammer. As much as he wanted to ignore it, the contents were weird and the elegant handwriting started to grow shaky at the end.

“Flowsand…” he whispered to himself, trying to steel his mind but failing repeatedly. Frightening scenarios started running through his head, and the trembling started to spread to his entire body. There were many times he had cursed his blessings in the past, but this was the once where he truly wished he had never gone through that ceremony all those years ago.

Richard slumped to the floor before picking up the letter once more, his eyes already misty and red.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA