Book 1, Chapter 91

The Cornerstone Of Heroes

News of the trial within the Archeron Family quickly spread out to Faust’s nobility. Some were shocked by the news, while others were left deep in thought.

In a private library within the Joseph Castle on the sixth island of the sixth layer, Raymond was in a rare state of deep thought as he listened to a report on the trial. After a long time, he turned to Valen, “Gaton isn’t just disciplining his family with this; he’s also telling all the nobles of Faust that this matter isn’t done yet. His own son is dead, but Faulk is still alive.”

Valen fell silent, a grave expression on his face. With their assassination attempt failed, it didn’t seem like the Archerons had suffered any losses. In fact, they managed to cripple Faulk and several youths from their subordinate families as well. Although those other youths weren’t from the fourteen, they were still children of nobles who’d settled down permanently in Faust proper. Even Earl Goliath had to bear an entire week of suspicion and enquiry for that— although Gaton was also a member of the assembly, being in the seventh layer only gave one the power to vote, not veto.

Alas, the matter was fated to reach no conclusion. The Sacred Alliance Assembly was just that— a place where the members of the alliance met to discuss affairs. Whether the results of the votes were executed depended on the checks and balances of the various powers behind the scenes. An Earl as tyrannical as Goliath couldn’t possibly be sentenced to anything severe just for harming a few noble children.

Besides, even though the public was allowed to sit in at the assemblies, only the fourteen families actually possessed official seats. The members of these families at least knew everything, including inside information about the issue with Faulk. The week spent on making things difficult for Goliath was simply to help the average families feel better about themselves and keep their reputations intact after he hurt their children. Without any major infighting in the Alliance right now, some covering up was necessary.

Still... Not only was Gaton able to find evidence against Warren immediately, he’d also called for an internal trial on the same night and executed Warren in front of the entire family. It was impossible for a trial of such scale to be kept secret, but it wasn’t like he wanted it hushed anyway.

The conclusion now would be that, since Gaton had lost a son, Duke Joseph had to as well. However, that son could not be Faulk. On the other hand, he’d also transmitted a clear message to all the nobles of Faust— Richard Archeron was the one person that was completely off limits. Anyone who even wanted to touch him had to be prepared to face a war with all the Archerons.

Valen stood up, responding solemnly, “Young master, the status of Richard in the Archeron family is much greater than we had anticipated. This time around, Gaton even directly declared that he is one of the core members of the family, though he hasn’t even made a real rune knight yet. There must be some inside news that we did not get. I think we have to prepare for war.”

Raymond sighed, feeling helpless, “The war between us and the Archerons never stopped. However, this means that we can’t attack Richard in Faust anymore. If we do something like this again, then that’s a provocation not to the Archerons but to Bloodthirsty Philip himself. Master Valen, you need to make some preparations. We need to move to the Mason plane as quickly as possible— the war there needs to be ended quickly so we can free up our elites. We have a troop stationed in the family territory already, but we need to increase our vigour in espionage. I need information on Gaton’s privately-owned planes so that we can attack as soon as circumstances permit.”

Valen nodded, assuring him, “Don’t worry too much, Young Master. The Archerons have Richard, but that can only bring everything back to square one. Aren’t you a runemaster yourself?”

Raymond shook his head, “I can’t produce compound runes of that quality yet. My runecrafting is definitely inferior to his.”

“But Young Master, Richard definitely can’t compare to you in knowledge, and leadership and governance. You are the hero who will bring the Josephs to the fifth layer!”

“Hero?” Raymond laughed mockingly, “With a body as weak and frail as mine, how can I become any heroic character? I doubt I’ll be able to cross level 5 as a warrior in my lifetime.”

A faint look of sorrow flit across Valen’s face. “But you still have the gift of magic. It is a great feat to be a level 12 mage at your age, and you’re a Mage of Soremburg on top!”

“You’re not wrong!” Raymond burst out laughing, as if his world had suddenly filled with sunshine.

Though Valen was smiling along with his master, he knew in his heart that what Raymond lacked the most was time. If he couldn’t break through as a warrior, he had less than twenty years left to live. Twenty years was but the blink of an eye in the planar wars. But with the innate flaws in his physique, it would be a miracle for Raymond to achieve any such thing.

In the endless planar wars, with the chaotic and turbulent times, the one cornerstone for a hero to rise was mere survival.

Be it in reality or the void, the fifth layer was always up high in Faust. The islands were far above the level of the city proper, the highest points of their orbits almost reaching the Church of the Eternal Dragon. It would take more than a century to push the Josephs to the fifth layer. Compared to all of history, twenty years was as insignificant as a small flower in a long river.

There wasn’t much land even on the fourth island of the fifth layer, where the valiant emperor of the Sacred Alliance, Bloodthirsty Philip, lived. At a kilometre and a half in diameter it was the biggest of the occupied islands, but it was still difficult to put something as magnificent and vast as the Sacred Alliance’s Imperial Palace into such a small place. Despite prevalent use of spatial magic, a lot of the space needed for gardens had to be given up.

The palace was built into the mountain itself, with the main hall sitting on the top which had been flattened out manually. Every window, every balcony, and every pillar of this seventeen-storey-tall building was adorned with innumerable exquisite carvings. Individually, every part was rich in historical and artistic value, yet when piled together, they did not seem to be in harmony.

When the pale golden light of dawn gradually filled the dining hall of the palace at breakfast, the long table was already filled with light refreshments and wine to whet the appetite. Ten maids stood by the side in attendance, carrying silver trays of food. Several court officials, dressed to the teeth and with wigs on, also stood by in preparation to report the happenings of the day before.

A crisp and melodious bell started to chime in the breakfast hall, and a bird larger than a mountain falcon suspended from a copper stand on the ceiling started to chirp, “All hail the Emperor! All hail the Emperor!”

A door on the other side of the hall opened, and a tall, strong-looking man walked in. He stood over seven feet tall and had a curly blonde wig, his skin glowing like Faust’s sunlight as well. A shiny flush radiated from his cheeks— which trembled as he walked— as well as his moustache that was shaped like a smile. A weaved satin top concealed a shockingly large belly, outlined in gold and secured with a wide golden belt. The belt was embedded with all sorts of gems; the buckle of the belt was even embellished with an Azshara star diamond! This jewel was precious enough to be included as a core component in a level-five rune or legendary item, yet it was being used purely as a powerless ornament on this belt.

This man, who was dressed so extravagantly it was almost amusing, was none other than the supreme emperor of the Sacred Alliance, Bloodthirsty Phillip.

Moving his enormous body to the dining table, he barely managed to squeeze into a chair three times the average size with great effort. Panting roughly, he exclaimed, “The chair became smaller again!”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: SY

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA