“What? The brat is here?” Cyrden blurted out before stopping, putting some strength into his left eye and opening it to see Richard standing in front of him.
Asiris coughed a little, “Lord Richard just saved you.”
“He did more,” Richard said with a smile and a shake of the head.
“The Book of Darkness has limited power when healing. If you hadn’t helped in time, I’m certain the injuries would have repercussions,” Asiris explained. He was called the Dark Priest, but his work was certainly more in line with that of a fallen cleric than a true one; this meant his healing capabilities were minimal. Richard himself could bring Cyrden back to full strength, but he had just exhausted his moonforce and had to wait for it to replenish.
Cyrden looked at Richard and grunted, “Whatever, you heard what you heard. Look, this is all that’s left of Goldflow Valley, these are all the people.”
As the thief struggled to motion to the land before him, all Richard could see was a large swathe of desolate earth with deep interlocking rifts that split it into a number of fragments. Every fragment seemed to throb regularly, as though a blade had cleanly cut up the land below.
The portal and base had been built on one of these islands, with the surroundings being connected by suspended bridges. Most of these rifts weren’t too large, only ten metres across which a horse could leap even with rider, but it would be difficult to move on foot. Of course, these rifts were nothing to the giants he had just seen.
Most of the base city was destroyed, the wall blasted into pieces with many of the streets burning. Some of the buildings were still crumbling from the recent damage, one arrow tower slowly sliding down to the ground. The troops immediately set to task clearing the battlefield, moving the bodies that were crushed beyond recognition all into one lump. Looking over them, Richard couldn’t even see a thousand living soldiers; this one battle had consumed about a hundred.
He shifted his gaze closer and saw a pair of enormous eyeballs rolling nearby, something that Cyrden noticed as well. The thief chuckled, “I almost lost my life to get those things.”
He seemed to speak casually, but Richard could tell that every word hurt. Having seen the events of the battle, he knew the main giant would have dealt much greater damage had it not been blinded.
As Cyrden got to his feet, Asiris stepped forward and bowed, “My Lord, it will take some time to clear the city. Let me bring you to Goldflow Valley, the place we named this plane after.”
The eponymous Goldflow Valley was located behind the city, more than a hundred metres wide and certainly kilometres deep. There was one main rift that seemed to stretch on for hundreds of kilometres, with various smaller ones interlocked around it. A thunderous crackle filled the air as currents gushed down some of these small cracks, disappearing into the seemingly bottomless rift.
Compared to this valley, even the giants would seem tiny. Richard bent over to look down, and a sudden gust of wind almost knocked him off his feet. As he stabilised, however, his eyes went wide in shock as he turned to Asiris, “Is that…”
Cyrden jumped into the valley before Asiris could reply, vanishing into the dense clouds. A few moments later, he climbed up the cliff and handed a rock to Richard. This was a piece of cracked black ore that was gushing with mana, and something that Richard would recognise even in his sleep. He gasped audibly and stared at Cyrden, who nodded.
Within this ore was a natural magic crystal, something that was the bedrock of Norland’s economy. This single piece of ore could be worth thousands of gold by itself, but Cyrden had found it in only a few minutes.
“Is it an open lode?” Richard asked.
“Only partially. There are stray pieces like this everywhere, but only a small portion of the vein is visible. I don’t know how much ore there is, but it should be a lot. However, we’ll need manpower to mine it.”
Richard inhaled sharply. Even with difficulty mining it, a magic crystal ore was priceless beyond estimation. If stray ore covered the bottom of the valley, then the entire rift could be an enormous vein of resources beyond imagination. It was no wonder this place was named Goldflow Valley!
He looked around once more, unable to find any mining equipment nearby. There wasn’t even any rope on the edge of the cliff. This caused him to frown, “Why aren’t we mining this?”
Asiris smiled wryly, pointing towards the burning base, “We’re being attacked in our own homes, how would we have the strength to mine? Master Gaton had destroyed all the enemies surrounding the valley before he gathered our forces and left for the Rosie Plane, but none of us could have imagined that he would fail to return.”
Richard took a deep breath, shaking off the man’s image, “And why didn’t you tell me even when the situation grew this serious?”
Cyrden’s face twitched, but he remained silent and let Asiris continue to speak, “We were too embarrassed to return the plane in a worse situation than we were given it. We were hoping to stabilise the situation before returning it to your hands. In addition, we were obligated to wait and see what would become of the inheritance. You might have been Lord Gaton’s favourite child and the oldest, but he had other children and his brother Goliath could lay claim to the inheritance as well.”
“That’s it?” Richard asked.
“That’s it,” Asiris answered calmly.
Richard smiled, “I’m not so sure about that second one. I don’t think you were looking to see who in the family would inherit control, but to see whether anyone deserved your faith. You wanted a worthy lord to serve.”
Cyrden flashed a smile as well, “Worthiness is secondary. The most important thing is whether you were an eyesore or not.”
“So? Am I?”
“Heh, I don’t like people who look better than me.”
“Lord Richard,” Asiris chipped in, “The cleaning will be done shortly. Let us return to the city, and I’ll brief you in more detail about the plane’s situation.”
Richard nodded, proceeding towards the command castle with Cyrden and Asiris by his side.
The main gates of the castle were already open, but just as they went in Cyrden brushed up against his side. He suddenly felt his runecrafting pen spring up a little, as though wanting to escape. Without even thinking he stepped forward, Mana Armament and Wanderer’s Domain activating together to send him more than ten metres ahead, but just as he came to a stop the pen did manage to fly out of his pocket and lift into the air. If not for his strong perception, he wouldn’t even have noticed the thing leaving his side.
Richard turned around abruptly, seeing Cyrden twirling a finger and drawing the pen closer. The gesture clearly displayed impressive control of energy and stealth; even with his blessings, Richard had barely found out. He quickly understood that this was likely a test of sorts, so he immediately unsheathed Moonlight and flashed past the pen itself to swipe the blade towards the thief’s nose.
Two sheenless daggers appeared in Cyrden’s hands, crossing against each other to block the sword. Richard grunted in surprise and slashed again with greater force, but this attack was deflected as well. Instantly realising that his own power was being used against him, he flicked Moonlight to a side and jumped back while grabbing the pen out of mid-air. He then pointed the blade right at Cyrden, energy swirling around the tip.
Cyrden’s smile faded away completely and he crouched down, retreating slowly like a prowling wolf. However, he barely took two steps backwards before the blade was already before his eyes and heading straight for his forehead. The two quickly fell into a more drawn-out battle, neither side gaining the upper hand immediately.
Richard had both hands on his sword, but his movements were simple and direct, every strike a bolt of lightning. Cyrden showed incredible agility as he dodged repeatedly, but he didn’t manage to press his advantage of two weapons either. The long blade continued to grow faster as the battle dragged on, forcing the thief to start blocking using both of his weapons, and the soundless battle quickly grew loud and piercing.
Asiris remained by the side, watching calmly. Cyrden was powerful, but with the fight going as it was he would eventually fail to deflect an attack. While it wouldn’t affect his abilities in a singular battle much, the thief was also still wounded; his stamina would deplete much faster than Richard’s.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: HH
Edited By: Theo