“You’ve been needing more and more high-quality weapons and armour these days, your expeditions are clearly going well. The business is a profitable one, and you buy from me regularly, so I plan to give you half the profits of all my workshops if you can invest in another production base in your lands or mine.”
“You’re far too generous.” Richard was still distracted, but he smiled softly and nodded. This offer truly was a great one, reducing his war costs greatly. He had considered building his own production base a long time ago, but had to shelve the idea because of time restrictions. This joint venture would solve all of his problems; after all, money was the one thing that came easily to him. It was skilled craftsmen and enchanters that took decades to nurture.
Of course, that didn’t mean Noelene didn’t have her own profits in this. Although she would lose out in the short term, the increased production capacity and the fact that she would then become Richard’s primary source of arms would narrow the gap greatly. Still, sharing her core resources was a very significant thing.
Watching Richard go silent once more, Noelene watched his expression and continued, “Flowsand took both her heavenly guardians with her when she left, but even so the clergy of the Eternal Dragon is quite powerful. I will allow four of my students to follow you into war, all of them level 14 and quite useful on the battlefield. Just as well, if and when necessary, I can step forth myself. Of course, I would need compensation for the divine grace I lose.”
While he had been half-hearted in his gratitude before, Richard’s eyes lit up ever so slightly. The four students weren’t worth much in a large-scale war, but Noelene’s personal aid would greatly help his biggest battles. At the same time, he realised this agreement could get him something else he wanted urgently.
“What do you want from me?” he asked.
“Three things in total. One, I would like to be the host for any future sacrifices you make in this Church. Two, I have the coordinates of some especially difficult planes that promise to be very rewarding. I do not have the ability to develop them myself, but I can share them with you instead of selling them and we can split the profits. Lastly, I hope you can prioritise me in terms of some rune needs.”
Richard nodded, “It can all be done, but in order to reach an agreement I have one more request myself. It’s also the most important one.”
Noelene strangely went red, pouting in obviously faked anger, “You… You don’t mean you want to.”
Richard immediately frowned, “No! I…… I want to know why Flowsand suddenly entered the Darkness; what did she do for me that took so much?”
This time, it was Noelene who went silent. It took a while for her to speak, “You know these are things I cannot say.”
“Cannot say normally,” Richard countered.
The grand priestess stared him in the face for a while before sighing helplessly, waving her hand, “Yes. I can trick the artificial mind the Eternal Dragon has left behind here. However, I believe you don’t want to know this.”
“I can’t avoid it forever,” Richard said coldly. He already had many conjectures running through his mind.
“If you really must know… I can find a way to tell you some of it. However, I remember you owe me a grade 3 rune…”
Richard’s eyes narrowed, “Tell me everything, and it’ll be grade 4.”
“Grade 4? You can already… Oh,” Noelene’s voice faded away as she saw Mana Armament come to life, taking in a deep breath as she went red with excitement, “Then it’s settled! Any rune is fine so long as it’s grade 4. Still… ”
“Tell. Me. Everything,” Richard enunciated.
A short while later, Richard knew everything there was to know, finally understanding why the fair environment had come up after the poisoning. He had already expected Philip’s assistance, but the fact that the Church pressured the Sacred Tree Empire was completely unknown to him. Had Flowsand not made this sacrifice, he would die and Mountainsea would commit suicide. Noticing her death, the Beast God would likely have ravaged all of Klandor.
However, now that he had Mountainsea it was possible that he had lost Flowsand forever. Who knew when he would be able to enter the Darkness and bring her back?
Seeing Richard sit there expressionlessly for half an hour, Noelene finally caved in to the terror of the silence and spoke up, “Don’t blame yourself too much. This was fate, all Chosen of the dragon end up in the Darkness at some point. That is the mission they are born to fulfil, and it will come about some way or the other. Even if you can slow the stream down, you cannot stop it forever. She would have left regardless.”
Richard finally turned to look at her and smiled bitterly, his eyes red with visible streaks on his face, “So Flowsand would have ended up in the Darkness even if I didn’t go to Klandor?”
“Yes, that is the mission of all Chosen,” Noelene reiterated.
“But didn’t the High Priestess return?” A tiny trace of hope started burning in his heart.
“The High Priestess is— Argh!” Noelene suddenly lost her voice and panicked, her face turning pale and aura starting to weaken before she started coughing heavily.
“Noelene?” Richard immediately stood up, starting to mobilise some of the life energy within him, but she waved him away and smiled weakly, “Did you see that? That was his power, it’s everywhere. I was about to say something that could not be revealed, and that was the punishment.”
Richard nodded, not asking why she hadn’t used the same method she had used to tell him about Flowsand. Cheating the dragon was certainly not that easy.
“Alright, I understand. I hope we have a good partnership,” he stretched out his arm.
Noelene didn’t take the handshake, instead leaning forward into a very slight embrace that was more formal than intimate, “We should become the firmest of allies. Time will tell.”
The two discussed things further for a while before Richard walked out of the church. Mountainsea jumped over from the shady rock she was sitting on, “Everything’s done?”
He nodded, slightly tired, “I know everything I wanted to.”
“It has something to do with me, doesn’t it?” She watched him without blinking.
“Kind of. I have a friend… no, a lover called Flowsand who was a Chosen of the Church of the Eternal Dragon. If not for her, I would have died trying to reach you…”
Richard spoke non-stop as they walked, and by the time they were back at the Archeron island Mountainsea knew everything. As they stepped through the portal, she put an arm on his shoulder and nodded seriously, “Once we become epic beings, we’ll go to the Darkness and find her.”
“Epic beings?” Richard was a little startled.
“I’ll definitely become one, and you can with enough luck.”
“But this is my—”
“It’s our problem,” she said as she pulled him along, leaving no room for argument.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: Ying
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA