Book 7, Chapter 7

A Road Of Battle

“Three days,” Richard nodded before walking out of the Church. He stopped right at the gates and looked down at Faust below, knowing that one more step and he would lose his shelter. Waiting for him was the greed of most of the minor nobles in Faust, perhaps even some of the giants of the floating islands.

He wasn’t foolish enough to think that the Archerons could fight against all of Faust on their own, but the blue star he had pulled into orbit was most certainly the blue moon they all desired. That was now merged into his very bloodline and truename; he didn’t know whether extracting it was a possibility at all, but even if it was his strength would drop massively. He had never heard of someone losing their truename, but the loss of one’s bloodline would limit one’s remaining life to a few years at best.

Besides, would handing over the moon even guarantee safety? What would the enemies do when he showed signs of weakness? How would he compete against all the families that wanted him dead?

Gaton’s silhouette flashed in his mind; if that man were in the same situation today, he would step out without hesitation. No matter how many enemies he was to face, he would cut them all down. There was no need to fear dying in battle, but which true Archeron would give up their own lives for the enemy’s sake?

A hundred rune knights were waiting at the gates of the Church, quietly watching his every move. They knew everything by this point as well, but they were waiting for his orders. So long as he commanded it, they would fight to the end even if all of Norland was against them.

Looking at these men who had followed him for years, Richard suddenly felt a little emotional. He knew the names of every single one, knew the situations of their wives and children. And yet, even more names were only left in his memory; years of war had hardened him to the fact that soldiers had to be sacrificed, but every death still stung. Just how many knights had he buried in the countryside over all these years?

And yet, this was but the fate of a rune knight. They were given equipment and power so they could serve him better, and as their lord his fate was to use their sacrifices to strengthen the family’s foundation and grow its glory. Norland was a ruthless world where everyone had no choice but to advance; stagnate for a moment and one’s enemies would grow powerful enough to destroy the entire family. If a plane couldn’t plunder resources from other planes, it was a sitting duck waiting for the first hunter to find its coordinates.

Morality could not stand above life and death; survival was all that mattered.

He faced his rune knights and took a deep breath, “You all know the situation. I’m up against all of Faust, and the way back will be littered with blood. You men have served me faithfully for years; if you don’t want to follow me into this massacre, then stay here. Leave once the situation dies down.

“I won’t blame any of you for choosing your families over me. This might be the last time I walk down a road, but it needn’t be yours. Those who wish to stay, move inside the gates.”

The rune knights looked straight at Richard, not one of them moving a muscle. When he asked again, the scarred knight with the greatsword stepped forward and bowed, “My Lord, we are Archeron soldiers. The battlefield is our life! We’ll keep you alive until the last of us breathes no more!”

The other rune knights cheered at his proclamation, causing Richard’s hands to tremble. He quickly walked out of the Church before jumping on his horse, beginning a march towards the teleportation temple. An orb of light floated over his head even as Waterflower appeared out of thin air, following right behind.

The rune knights followed immediately. Richard spent most battles in the back lines commanding them with his control of the battlefield, but every dangerous battle had him in the front. He always put up this orb of light as well, making himself the target for a large number of enemies. This had begun as an imitation of Gaton, but at this point it was just a part of his personality.

The rune knights weren’t fools who only knew to fight; to reach such a level required at least a modicum of tactical ability. Their auras flared up to the most violent they had ever been even before the battles would begin; they knew that the only way out of this was to cow Faust into submission with a show of thunderous force. Greed had to be broken by fear, or the families of the city would unite and crush the Archeron Family entirely.

For Richard himself, this meant only one thing. Anyone who even slightly provoked him would meet only one end.

The 100-man army was quite spectacular, attracting the attention of all of Faust. Richard saw many people on either side of the road from atop his ride, but none of them actually did anything. His senses detected a large number of saints in the distance, and as he continued to scan his perception grew fuzzy and he felt a buzz in his mind; there was at least one legendary being nearby.

No small number of sword-like gazes fell on Richard; the more powerful nobles had been caught off guard when he headed to the Church for the sacrifices, but now they’d found the time to gather their cards. In theory there was no need to fear Richard and his rune knights when they had as many or more saints; they just wanted to wait for him to go halfway before they attacked.

However, that was only in theory. Richard’s demeanour guaranteed one thing; he would fight to the death. To take his entire army down would need dozens of saints, and nobody wanted to be the sacrifices that were taken advantage of later.

Richard took a deep breath of the dreamy air of the city, a wicked smile filling his face that even the most staunch of people had to admit was quite alluring; despite only being a half, he did have the unparalleled looks of an elf. Yet, the smile did not reach his eyes; those were glowing with blue light. His sheer murderousness was so horrifying that those closest to him heard phantom howls.

The powerhouses nearby were surprised, while Thor who was watching from the distance was shocked. Just how many lives had Richard reaped to condense an aura so powerful? Even many legendary beings didn’t have such killing intent?

Despite word of his great achievements in the Land of Dusk, many still primarily recognised Richard as a grand runemaster. Now, those present reevaluated that decision; this was someone who had killed so many that counting was impossible. Richard Archeron was not a young master who shut himself in the lab all day, not just an amazing tactician and commander, but also a powerhouse who had walked his way up a hill of corpses!

Everyone who had hoped the instant death of a saint had been a fluke abandoned that idea. Richard was most certainly a sky saint at this point, and even amongst sky saints he was amongst the peak.

It was in this way that Richard’s army marched to the teleportation temple, as slow as a summer stroll. Richard suddenly recalled the night when Gaton had brought sacrifices to the Church of the Eternal Dragon, giving him the first chance to perform a sacrifice in his life with that incomparably heavy heart and skull. That night was similar as well, and Gaton’s sheer momentum as he walked past an armed enemy without flinching was still etched into his mind. Perhaps he was still a tiny bit off from that level, but he still had men he trusted accompanying him along the way.

The rune knights gradually approached the teleportation temple, arriving at a small square a short distance before it. This was the last place where they could be ganged up on along the way. There were already hundreds of warriors following, and amongst them were more than sixty saints. Although legendary beings hadn’t appeared yet, those watching could get here in mere seconds. It wasn’t a good look for a legendary being to attack one of the fourteen families in the first place, and with a hundred rune knights and Richard’s own power they had good cause for caution. If they led the charge, even they could possibly lose their lives. These powerhouses would much rather just wait until the time was ripe before butting in.

Seeing Richard and his army about to leave for safety, the mob finally couldn’t endure it any longer. Someone shouted from amongst the crowd, “We can’t let them go! They killed dozens of people, they have to be punished for their crimes!”

With that one voice as the lead, a large number of people immediately started a clamour and began entering the square. Knowing the psychology of mobs, Richard grunted; he and his men would kill all who came, but they would eventually be overrun. Living and dying would be a matter of luck, and so long as everyone faced the same risk all people thought they were the bastards of Fate and would survive.

He immediately stopped his mount, turning around to look at the gathered warriors. Seeing his cold gaze and charming smile, everyone suddenly felt a chill and subconsciously backed up a few steps.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA