Richard returned to his study and quietly examined a map of Norland, pondering his next move. The Sacred Tree Empire most certainly hated him for ruining their plans in Klandor, but now that he knew what had happened behind the scenes he wanted nothing less than for them to be wiped out.
This was one of the three greatest powers of Norland he was up against. Even combined, the Schumpeters, Mensas, Josephs, and Wellinburgs wouldn’t be worth a fraction of the Sacred Tree Empire and the Church of Glory. And yet, he felt no fear of this impending war. No, his blood was boiling with rage and excitement as he examined the melting pot of small and large nobles that was the border between the Sacred Tree Empire and the Sacred Alliance.
The political maps of the area were constantly changing, betrayals and conspiracies mixed with open wars ensuring that these lands regularly switched rulers. The biggest changes in recent years had been with respect to Duke Solam and Earl Alice. Richard had almost doubled her military power with 2,000 heavy cavalry, 5,000 infantry, and a hundred rune knights, but her progress still continued to stall. With her growing so powerful, all of the smaller aristocrats in the area had put aside their differences to keep her out. At the same time, too great of an offensive could invoke the ire of the Empire itself, which was someone she didn’t want to fight yet.
Defeating the pope of the Sacred Tree Empire was impossible with his current strength. No matter how he tried to justify it, Richard couldn’t find any way to make a dent into the Church of Glory without taking on great risks. His own control of the family was still rather unstable, and a retreat at this point would greatly affect his position as king of the Archerons. Eventually, he sighed and decided to give up. He would need to spend some time amassing a more powerful army for this.
Just as he was about to go sleep, his eyebrows rose for a moment as he said softly, “You can come out.”
A figure appeared from the shadows of the night, drifting in through the window. The man was wrapped in a black robe with his face completely hidden, but he had the rough and fierce aura of a general, not an assassin.
The moment he entered the study, the man silently walked to block off Richard’s path to his sword case. Extinction, Carnage, the elven sword, and the Twin of Destiny were all within; the hostility was obvious.
Richard’s eyes started glowing, but the man just snorted and used the black robe to form a strange force field that blocked most of his vision. However, a lot of information could still be gleaned, including general level. The man was somewhere between the saint and legendary realms, and his aura reeked of the power of time. This was one of the most obvious features of the paladins of the Eternal Dragon.
“If it’s not pleasant, I advise that you leave immediately,” Richard grunted, “I’m not in the mood to leave people alive.”
“Not going to ask who sent me?” a coarse voice rang out.
“You would’ve said if you wanted to. Besides, any enemy that’s sending assassins has no confidence of beating me face to face.”
“You’re confident,” the man said with a smile, “Let me see ”
He stabbed forward as he spoke, a shortsword appearing in his hands out of nowhere. The original grey colour of the weapon was quickly enveloped by golden light, and with a single glance Richard could already tell that he was stronger than most sky saints from the Land of Dusk.
He had no sword himself, but Richard still brought his right hand in a slashing motion. A blood-coloured arc of energy shot out from his extended index finger, hitting the shortsword and immediately shattering it to the hilt.
The man immediately stopped in place and retreated, starting to look alternately between Richard and his empty hilt before sighing, “Such great power. Is this from your truename?”
Richard slowly lowered his blood-coloured hand into his pocket, one of his eyebrows rising up, “Can you tell me about your intention now? I don’t think I’ve made an enemy of the Eternal Dragon just yet.”
“Smart,” the man smiled as he offered a pale purple hourglass, “I have a message from Ferlyn.”
As he took the hourglass and broke it, Richard could instantly tell that something was different. Purplish-black energy filled the entire study, giving him the same strange feeling as when he made sacrifices at the Church. This study had just been pulled out of this spacetime into another.
Ferlyn’s figure appeared within and she looked him in the eye, “Richard, this is the only way I can mention what I want to say next, and I can only say it once. Flowsand gave this thing to me before leaving, saying it was yours. I’ve been studying it for some time now, and have analysed enough of the laws within to confirm that it is a Doomsday Imprint.”
“Hmm?” Richard remembered the orb she was holding up from the statue of the Highland Wargod. Flowsand had once mentioned this before, but refused to explain much as she instead took it away to study it. He hadn’t heard from her about it since then.
“In the depths of the void is a mysterious race. Some people call them pillagers, others reapers, but whatever they are they have been the death of countless planes. They completely invade their target plane and conquer it in a short time, breaking it away from the divine realm of the Eternal Dragon and pulling it into the Darkness. These things have been present for as long as we can remember, but we do not know much about them. They cut off the dragon’s connection to the plane so there is no way to tell what they do and how they do it.
“These Doomsday Imprints are precursors to such an attack. They only target one plane at a time, and every plane they target ends up with one or more such marks. It can be a piece of jewellery, a weapon, a piece of art, even a creature. So long as the law signature matches, we can confirm that they will appear to harvest it soon enough.”
“Faelor will be destroyed?” Richard was shocked.
“Yes, it’s only a matter of time.”
“Is there no way to deal with them?”
“There should be, but we have no idea. Thankfully, we’ve learned to identify Doomsday Imprints; we can at least evacuate from the targeted planes.”
Richard went silent for a while before asking a question, “How long?”
“Not long at all by my standards, but for you it should be a significant amount of time. Ten years.”
“Ten years… It’s not enough!” he grabbed his hair in annoyance, “How could this be? Why Faelor?!”
“Fate. Just like Flowsand having to go to the Darkness.”
“Fate?” Richard sneered.
Ferlyn sighed at his response, “Richard, the power of fate is not something we can resist.”
Richard didn’t answer, just whispering to himself, “Ten years it is…”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo