Book 6, Chapter 145

Free Of Debt

A sharp whistle rang through the forest as the astral chrysalis sped along, rows of old trees being bent away in its wake. Richard was standing silently on its tip, but after a while, a seemingly bored Noelene walked over and pointed at the trail they were leaving behind, “Isn’t this a bit too arrogant?”

“Those bastards should know I’m coming,” Richard said coldly.

“If we’d snuck there, we would have caught them by surprise. You’re just scaring them away.”

Richard snorted at her words, “I gave them a hundred chances to do that already. If they didn’t want to fight me, they would have left Melia alive. What, you think they’re going to run?”

“I would,” Noelene said seriously.

……

The astral chrysalis flew uninterrupted for more than a day before arriving at the Clover Tribe. However, the Tree of Life had already disappeared; the entire tribe had fled. The empty meadow and broken earth were the only indications that there had once been an elven tribe here.

Richard’s face immediately warped with rage. He jumped down and looked for any traces of their direction, but the forest seemed to be untouched in all directions. The tribe’s druids had clearly done work to hide their tracks.

“DAMN IT!” he roared, summoning a lightning bolt to strike the empty land. Quickly jumping onto the chrysalis, he directed it straight towards the Duskword Tribe.

Another day later, Noelene’s guess was proved completely. There was no tree of life here either, only empty land. Richard visited three other tribes over the next few days, but all of them had fled as well.

Eventually, he just had the chrysalis stop and hover in mid-air. Every elven tribe he knew had relocated, and there were almost no traces to be found. Even using his laws of nature, all he could determine was that all of the trees within range had been controlled for some time. Ten thousand kilometres away from Emerald City and with the increasing strength of the will of the forest, finding these elves was like looking for a needle in a haystack. The world tree couldn’t move, but it was still very far away and too strong for him to attack.

He sighed, invisible flames heating up the air around him. From one perspective, every tribe that migrated had suffered major losses anyway. This showed just how scared they were of him; for decades from now, they wouldn’t dare to even show themselves to his troops again. He had destroyed their spirit. Suppressing his pent-up rage, he looked towards the direction of the world tree, “Next time.”

……

This event confirmed that there were now no big elven tribes within ten thousand kilometres of Emerald City. There might be one or two small ones hidden about, but they couldn’t change the overall situation.

Melia was buried right under the golden world tree, and the evernight elves were placed with the tribe that had originally occupied the tree of life. The world tree itself was sprouting its third leaf, while the broodmother continued to create worker drones under the premise that she wouldn’t change to combat drones until she had more than ten thousand. A large number of soldiers were still taking turns woodcutting, but the factories meant to process the stonewood had been shifted back out into Azan. The environment of this plane had been affecting the craftsmen too adversely, and it made more sense to have them performing at full capacity.

Richard approached the golden world tree the moment he returned, staring at the patch of earth where Melia had been buried. Burying the Skylance next to her, he set up a workbench nearby and began producing Mana Armaments. All of the materials he needed were shipped by the astral chrysalis, and nobody dared to disturb him and his work.

Producing Mana Armaments was time-consuming, but he poured all of his focus into it, even forgoing sleep for a few days. Phaser had appeared at some point, lazing around, while Waterflower sat on an old tree branch lost in thought. Tiramisu had gotten a huge elephant from somewhere and was barbequing it, a lovely aroma wafting through the air and attracting Noelene from her residence. All of his other followers had returned to their respective planes, while Nyris and Agamemnon left to manage their new venture.

Life seemed to be calm and peaceful.

By the time the Mana Armament approached completion, the golden world tree could provide some shade. As a sapling that had been awakened with his blood, it was closely linked to his soul from the moment it broke the earth. The surrounding forest was extremely quiet owing to Tiramisu hunting down most big animals, leaving him in a state of comfortable peace as he worked.

There were a few small episodes over these days. The aura of the young world tree had attracted a lot of mutant elves, but as instinctive creatures with no minds of their own, they weren’t a threat at all. The worker drones would flood them every time they came, only adding to the broodmother’s analysis of this variant.  

Perhaps he had experienced far too much in this plane, but Richard found an astonishing level of focus within himself. It took less than ten days for him to complete the first Mana Armament, an enormous feat even for someone as fast as him. On top of the main rune, he had also crafted a Wanderer’s Domain rune and a grade 2 strength rune during his breaks.

Calculating that it was around time for the rune convention in Norland, he brightened his expression a little and returned to Norland with his followers and rune knights. Faust had grown extremely lively as it anticipated the formal announcement of another grand runemaster in the plane, and with the large number of attendees, the royal family had decided to hold an auction as well. The fruit of life, leaves of nature, treant fortress, and other spoils from the Forest Plane were sold as part of the finale; Nyris and Agamemnon had played a hand in organising the auction so they could liquidate their assets faster.

The rune convention itself was rather grand, but not all that crazy. The appearance of Mana Armament reminded people of Saint Lawrence once more, but the former runemaster had difficulty even with grade 2 runes now. Richard was still the star of the show, awing everyone with the quality and intricacy of the rune.

In terms of design and manufacturing difficulty, Mana Armament was almost at the level of a grade 5 rune. However, Richard had explained it calmly as though it was nothing. Was he going to become a saint runemaster before even hitting thirty? Nobody present could recall such a thing occurring in the entire history of the plane.

Mana Armament was really powerful, but it was also so expensive that even a legendary mage would hurt for funds if they wished to buy one. On top of that, Richard already owed a number of powerhouses after he had traded all those offerings for the flame potion. Most who could afford it already had one lined up, so there wasn’t much demand. The few mages that did approach him were rejected on the basis of him lacking the time.

Beyond Mana Armament, Wanderer’s Domain and his Spell Penetration were extremely popular as well. So many people wanted them that he had to force a limit on the number he would make, sending the prices skyrocketing to double the actual worth. Even with Mana Armament announced at the head, everyone stayed all the way to the end and didn’t lose enthusiasm at all. The event allowed him to reevaluate his own prices: from now, even standard runes from his hand would be at least 50% more expensive.

Such was Norland, a world of runes where one could never have enough.

The auction itself was extremely lucrative as well, the number of high-level materials piquing the interest of a number of influential families. The final price of the treant fortress had even reached two beyslace spider crystals, halving his debt in one go. After some negotiations with the parties involved, Richard ended up owing only five Mana Armaments.

He then returned to the Forest Plane once more, continuing to work under the world tree. Three months later, the sapling had grown to a proper tree that was more than ten metres tall, while Richard himself had finished all of the Mana Armaments he owed. He breathed a sigh of relief at being freed of his debt, but even more importantly he had entered level 19 in the meanwhile.

When he returned to Faust once more, he received two notices from the assembly of the Sacred Alliance: one for a discussion about his title and the other for Marshal Rundstedt’s final trial.

It was tradition for the head of every family on the floating islands to be a marquess at minimum, while those on the sixth level had to be dukes. Honourary titles didn’t count; one had to have the territory to match. A noble had moved the assembly to review Richard’s ducal qualifications.

Richard himself hadn’t thought much of getting a title before. His goals were developing his private planes and expanding his rune knight army, all the while growing his own strength. However, the motion to consider his title was extremely malicious; it wasn’t simply an acknowledgement of his might, but an accusation that he didn’t qualify for his island. At the end of the day, the Archeron Family was only held aloft in the sixth level by his wealth and his wealth alone.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo