Book 6, Chapter 69

War

When they were called for the first time in more than a year, all of Richard’s followers rushed to Bluewater in the blink of an eye. All of them grew excited at the prospect of battle, cheering loudly the moment he announced it.

He’d wanted to leave Gangdor behind as per usual, but hearing that they would be fighting the Sacred Tree Empire the brute would have none of it. He refused to be left behind at all costs, even shedding crocodile tears in an exaggerated manner to get his point across. Still wanting to leave behind someone to monitor Raymond, he eventually assigned the task to Olar. The elven bard was useful in battle, but he still hadn’t broken through to sainthood. He was better suited to politics anyway.

The broodmother had been continuing to create shadowspear knights and magic mounts, but when he called for her to transfer them all over Richard found a pleasant surprise waiting for him. The astral chrysalis came to Bluewater with two special combat units. One of them was a reworked Phaser, now equivalent to a human saint in total power, but the real benefit was the large-headed man with a blue helmet.

Just like Phaser’s natural armour, this new drone’s helmet was actually bone. He didn’t seem much different from a human outside of his head, and outside of decent speed he was almost useless in head to head combat. However, that wasn’t his purpose at all; the broodmother had condensed a cloned brain into a nearly human form and granted it a soul crafted from divinity— just like phaser, this drone was sentient and capable of growth. He could be directed and taught to control sections of armies, greatly easing Richard’s mental burden during large-scale wars.

A short while later, he met Rosie alone. Her appearance hadn’t changed much over the past few years, but she seemed more fatigued and quiet. She had been holed up in her lab almost all this while, but her mana pool had reached level 15 before it stopped growing further. Knowing that she had hit the limits of her talent, she’d plunged herself into the world of runecrafting in the midst of her loss; in her eyes, magic was the only hope.

The operation had already expanded past the original building, with more than 200 low-level mages just there to assist. She still continued to do most of the final assembly, but looking at the mountain of enchanted cases Richard could see just how hard she had been working in the past year. He was also shocked by the sheer scale of the workshop itself, depressed by her efforts.

Once the tour was over, he hugged her softly, “Follow me back to Norland, we’re going to war.”

Rosie trembled visibly with excitement, but eventually she started hesitating, “But I can’t leave…”

“You have those two assistants now, leave Perrin in charge of them and we can go. Olar will take care of any potential issues. Experiencing battle first-hand is really important to learning to craft runes.”

The girl wanted to say something, but as Richard’s hug grew tighter she just nodded silently.

……

At night, Richard sat alone in front of Flowsand’s former residence.

The city outside the window was still lit up. Bluewater had grown immensely to over 100,000 residents that couldn’t even be supported fully by the original oasis, but it had grown famous as a paradise for adventurers. Many people came here every day, looking for a chance to fly.

But the people of the city did not know that their end was approaching. Those in the other parts of Faelor did not know either. This was the plane he had fought for with Flowsand, the room where she had lived for years. It was right where he was sitting that he’d first kissed her when he returned alive from the Land of Dusk.

Now she was gone, with almost no chance of meeting her again. Some things you had to lose to understand the value of, but this felt just like his heart was being ripped apart. Losing Flowsand left an enormous gap in his existence. Even when poisoned and sent to die, he hadn’t regretted his decision to go to Klandor. Now… he wasn’t sure whether he would do so again, knowing what danger Flowsand had put herself through for his sake.

Sitting in the dark, all he felt was the bleak cold winds of night.

He finally stood up when the sun shone through the window, glancing around the room once more. The place was neat and tidy, with everything removed. Flowsand didn’t like luxury, and the few things she did have had been taken away. He wanted to look for a keepsake, for something he could hold to feel even a tiny bit closer to her, but there was nothing. She had been through here thoroughly, erasing anything that could be taken away. Even Io and Nyra had done the same.

The Twin of Destiny was summoned from his sword case, and he hugged it silently as he returned to Norland.

……

Perhaps it was because of better luck or his new title, but the two top-tier sacrifices he made upon his return granted him exactly what he wanted. The portal to Faelor was strengthened, and with the 20% boost the cost had fallen to only 900 gold’s worth in magic crystals. War would finally arrive.

This time, he had his spatial mages build a portal directly in Alice’s castle. All of her citizens had squirmed out of bed early to see the courtyard in which the gate was set up; rumours had spread that the King of the Archerons was mobilising his army for war with the Sacred Tree Empire.

Richard had long since established a reputation after his war with the Mensas, and in recent times had come to be known as a powerful mage, skilled runemaster, and tactical expert. Many nobles wanted to see just how strong his army was, and the few that caught wind in time sent people to observe in secret. Alice knew this, but all she did was to increase the prices of the inns monumentally. These people could always find one reason or the other to put themselves nearby, so she would just fleece them as payback.

When all the nearby viewing spots were occupied, the sun had just left the mountains and risen into the sky. A strong magical aura burst out from the teleportation gate and filled the courtyard with light, and a dozen mages quickly rushed to positions and started pouring mana into the portal.

“It’s started!” “Oi, don’t push!”

The crowd erupted into chaos, some people even betting on the number of rune knights Richard would bring out. 200, 300… they were all astronomical figures that only old nobles with deep history could have.

As the light grew stronger yet more concentrated, the audience finally saw the first row of knights walk out. They were all tall and strong, with black armour and faces hidden behind sturdy helmets.

“Magic mounts, they’re all magic mounts!” There was another commotion in the crowd.

Richard’s magic mounts were growing famous because of the royal army. These rides were extraordinarily strong and fierce, but at the same time completely obedient to their riders. One couldn’t even get them on the market.

However, those riding these mounts clearly weren’t rune knights. Someone shook his head and whispered, “These are only level 13, such a waste!”

“No, these are shadowspear knights that only serve Lord Richard. They are willing to fight to the death!” One of Alice’s vassals pointed out.

More and more people started recognising the shadowspears as well. These black knights were extremely famous, and in some ways more terrifying than rune knights. They didn’t know any fear at all, fighting to the death even when they were bound to lose. Even worse, they were far greater in number than the rune knights. Most nobles staunchly maintained that the shadowspears couldn’t be human, but few knew just how right they were.

As row after row of the shadowspears walked out, each riding one of the magic mounts, the audience started to go numb.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo