Book 6, Chapter 156

Bad End

Ward raised both fists up high, dark red light swirling around his entire arm as energy surged forth without reserve. Richard saw the slightest hint of black as space cracked nearby, the fists falling down with calamitous force. Insight showed no route of escape, no counter-attacks. All of his spells had been rendered useless, and even with his prowess he couldn’t go up against a seasoned close-combat specialist without getting turned into mincemeat.

Richard felt the world stop as death fell from above, his brain blanking out except for what would help in combat. All three minds worked in tandem, activating his bloodlines to the point that abyssal flames started flickering on his body, powered by the destructive might of his truename. The well of stars was no longer just rippling, instead erupting in a geyser of power that shook all three bodies orbiting it.

Richard hadn’t used eruption in a long time, but now his musculature swelled up even as mana was transformed into internal energy, circulating throughout his body and forming sparks everywhere. The Lifesbanes went into full effect, turning his arms blood red even as a deep roar surged out from Dizmason.

A dull flame appeared at the tip of Moonlight, quickly spreading through the entire sword and then to Richard’s body itself, raging out in all directions and crystallising the earth all around. Everyone felt their hearts stop as Richard blinked, emerald eyes now replaced with the crimson of lava. Only Ward saw further into those depths, noticing an entire universe within.

The Boxer screamed as his fists crashed down, space continuing to crack in their aftermath. However, Richard seemed to turn into an illusion and flickered twenty metres away. The fists hit the ground in a strange silence, but the earth caved for ten metres in every direction.

*Schlick!* Moonlight was pierced into the earth, breaking the strange silence of the world. Holding his sword with both hands, Richard struggled to prop himself up as he spat out a mouthful of blood.

Ward turned to look at the now-distant Richard, his head and even body crackling in the process. Roaring loudly, he pulled his fists out of the earth and turned to face Richard again. On the other hand, Richard himself didn’t have the energy to turn around; he was barely even standing in one place.

Both armies were now holding their breaths, watching for the next developments, but the captain of the rune knights grit his teeth and grabbed a javelin from his horse. Every other rune knight imitated his actions, readying the weapons to throw if Ward took even a single step forward. This volley could kill even a legendary being at close range.

However, the shadowspears on the flank immediately formed up and intercepted, a neat line blocking everyone with Rae at the centre. Having been told of their secrets when he became a saint, Rae grunted with a sour expression and put the javelin back in place. Even so, he had made up his mind; if Richard was killed, he would decimate this rebel army with no survivors left behind. His own ruined reputation wouldn’t matter at all.

Ward took one step towards Richard, but then he stopped and laughed thunderously, looking towards the three setting suns “Kid, you really are some— Khech!”

*THUD!* the Boxer’s enormous frame struck the ground, his head still turned towards the sky. Blood spurted out from a thin line on his shoulders that was growing, forming a small stream flowing down from his back. A cloud of dust covered his body, finally prompting the silent armies to move.

Asiris headed for Richard, flashing ten metres with every step as he arrived to help heal. However, Richard stopped him after the third spell, “I’m fine now, go.”

Blades of grass were forming around Richard’s feet, white flowers popping up from between. Noticing the healing energy that Richard was generating himself, Asiris nodded and made his way over to his former friend’s side. Getting down on one knee, he opened the Book of Darkness and started reciting a few passages to send this comrade on his last journey.

Rae picked up his javelin once more, directing the rune knights to form two teams that flanked Ward’s soldiers. Despite Ward’s commands, all of the soldiers followed one general’s lead in drawing their weapons with killing intent. Looking over this army, the saint knew that it would be a tough battle. The enemies themselves weren’t specifically powerful, but they had the resolve to see this battle through to the end. Still, he showed no fear as a pale cyan energy swirled around his javelin; the moment Richard instructed him to, he would charge straight into these traitors and crush them.

However, the general looked left and right at the rune knights and snorted, raising his longsword before plunging it into the earth. The 2,000 soldiers followed suit, paying respects to their fallen commander. Looking at them, Rae almost joined in their grief; this was the greatest honour a general could receive.

By this point, Richard had finally regained enough strength to walk over to Ward’s side. Looking at the fallen warrior who was the size of a small hill, eyes still open as though marvelling in the sunset, he joined Asiris in kneeling beside the man’s body and placed his hand on the broad chest, “He restrained himself, but I’d already gone all out… Investigate all of his kin, find out how they’re doing and whether there are any threats to their lives. Someone forced him into this, and that bastard will pay ten times the price!”

“As you wish,” Asiris somehow managed a respectful bow.

Richard stood up and looked at the army, shouting into the distance, “RAE! BRING THEM BACK TO CAMP AND HAVE THE GENERALS MEET ME. PREPARE FOR REORGANISATION!”

“YES, SIR!” Rae replied before having his rune knights move into the army.

“HOLD UP!” Richard interrupted, “THEY CAN KEEP THEIR WEAPONS!”

Rae was shocked, but he still obeyed the order. The opposing forces were surprised as well, but after a while many of them heaved a sigh of relief. This meant that Richard wasn’t considering them a rebel army.

……

The evening passed and night fell, the sky growing darker. It was a little past midnight when Richard finished talking to all five of Ward’s generals, and by this time the corpse had been prepared for shipping back to Norland. He now had a decent understanding of the Boulder Highlands, and could also confirm that these men would not rebel again. This plane was under true Archeron control once more.

When he was finally alone, he slammed his fist so hard into a table that one of the legs cracked, spitting on the floor. This was not the outcome he had hoped for; even Ward seceding would have been much better than this. The soldiers would remain— he had no intention of harming them— but the images of the battle continued to play in his mind. Ward had overdrawn his powers to the point that his fists could break space, but as his fists were about to land he had slowed down ever so slightly to allow for the escape. Richard himself had forced out as much strength as he could in response to the threat, and the attack took Ward’s life the moment it made contact.

In the end, the battle didn’t end up with him suffering any significant damage. Most of Richard’s injuries had come as a result of the exertion, but Ward had paid with his life. The man was clearly looking to die, but knowing what he did of him Richard just couldn’t understand why.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo