Book 7, Chapter 18

War Advent

Richard only regained some of his peace when the light drone of Mountainsea’s snoring rang in his ears. The tiny squeaks of her bones adjusting were still present, her long sleep continuing, but there seemed to be no signs of fatigue or hunger to her at all. He sat down beside her, stroking her thick hair for a while as he whispered, “We’re going to be in trouble… But I’ll handle it, you don’t have to worry about anything. Just continue to sleep.”

Mountainsea mumbled amidst her snores, turning around and going back to sleep. It was unclear whether she had heard anything, but he didn’t really care either. The words hadn’t been for her so much as for himself; having regained his drive, he crossed his legs and slowly entered meditation.

A few minutes in, Mountainsea had managed to crawl up and rest her head on his lap. The warmth of her body only made him even calmer and more peaceful; sometimes, such simple trust was all one needed to gain happiness.

Meditation that day was far more efficient than he could have expected. His troubles seemed to vaporise in an instant as the pressure turned into a driving force, compelling him to gather as much energy as he could. The new hearts were unfathomably hungry, even eating into his reserve mana, but he managed to appease the new structure of his body and started adapting to the changed energy stores.

His time right now was really precious. Even doing nothing for a month, he could still craft two Lifesbanes and sell them for 20 million gold in total. This was 15 million in profit after deducting all his costs, so a single off day was equivalent to wasting 500,000 gold. With his strongest backer in Philip— one of the main reasons he had managed to come so far— now about to step down, he had to take on more responsibilities than he’d originally planned for. One of those was Nyris; regardless of changes, this was still a friend who deserved his greatest efforts.

Meditation only ended early the next morning, and by the time he placed Mountainsea back down and left the practice room Coco had already prepared breakfast. There was a certain amount of longing in her eyes, her wish for him to free her from the hell of being a sexless partner clear, but he ignored it completely as he scarfed down a hill of dishes while catching up on any news.

One special invitation quickly caught his attention, bearing the style of the royal family. However, the specific crest itself was unknown to him, causing some confusion. He was quite familiar with most of the heraldry of Faust, just like any proper noble, and he was certain that he had never seen this specific coat of arms before.

The contents of the letter were quite simple, not even bothering to address him by name: All of the fourteen are to gather at the royal island tomorrow, in the War Advent Hall. There will be a discussion about the succession of the throne.

Richard immediately fell into thought. The royal island was quite large and had the equivalent of a semiplane attached to it, so not all of the place was under Philip’s sole control. While the Emperor was the master of the central palace, many of the core members of the royal family could access other parts of the island and the War Advent Hall was one of them.

Someone was making a play for the throne, but he had no idea who it was. This person could seemingly send letters to all of the fourteen in the name of the royal family, and the venue for this gathering made it clear that this was someone powerful. Even Neil and Nyris didn’t have these rights.

Richard searched his memory, but the only vaguely important figure that came to mind was Thor. However, the legendary mage was far more focused on research than politics; it was well known that he wasn’t the kind of person to covet the throne.

Whatever it was, he would find out tomorrow. Recent events had made him keenly aware of his lack of information, but that was a product of his short reign that could only be fixed with time. It wasn’t like he had many allies to turn to either; most of the other families hated his guts while the Anans were still consolidating his own position; the royal family and the Ironblood Duke generally remained neutral as well.

As he headed out for the study, he reached forward to pinch Coco’s butt once. Mentioning that he still remembered his promise, he told her to gather all of his followers. Unfolding a traditional paper map as he waited for everyone to arrive, he readjusted the defence plans for his territories in Norland. At the same time, he decided to tell Alice to go all out in her offensives.

Richard was someone who believed that offence was the best defence. One couldn’t achieve real victory by holing up in a fortress and staving off enemies; dominance could only be achieved when the opponent’s army was in shambles. Alice was the best person for that, far exceeding Gangdor. While Olar’s own abilities at the helm of an army were a little higher than that of the brute, he couldn’t compare either and most people wouldn’t defer to a weak bard anyway.

The army that he had dispatched to Maplefire City would soon be ordered to speed up, taking root in Silversword territory to exert his control. All planar wars would be put on pause, any extra resources being siphoned back to Blackrose Castle and ready to support Faust at any time. He also planned to get started on a new set of portals as well, increasing the numbers he could send through in a short time.

As he chalked out these plans, his followers quickly gathered in the study. Nasia now joined them, but it looked like she had no plans to mingle as she remained completely indifferent. Conveying all of his orders, he gathered a squad of his ten strongest rune knights and headed back to the royal island to participate in this mysterious gathering. Although he had no rights to vote, he wanted to see what would become of this.

He entered the War Advent Hall an entire half hour earlier than the agreed time. Although he didn’t get any useful information from the servants who brought him something to drink, he wasn’t much disappointed by their expected discretion. He spent the free time looking around at the murals on the walls and dome, as well as a large number of exhibits. It all detailed the deeds of Charles the Great during his expedition into the Abyss, with the exhibits being souvenirs from the attack.

This hall only lost out to the round table itself in historical significance. This was where the Emperor had sent down the order declaring the war. The expedition took an entire ten years to prepare, mobilising all the resources of the royal family as well as their most powerful generals and allies. Everyone had gambled their entire investment on Charles, prepared to lose their very lives for his cause.

Millions of soldiers had died in battle, thousands of saints never returning to their homes. The number of fallen legends was in the double digits, and the sheer material cost of the invasion couldn’t be calculated. The end result of it all was a mere head hanging over the gates of Faust.

The war had caused a great deal of controversy, many political opponents claiming that Charles had been too arrogant and exhausted decades of war potential for a symbolic gain. Humans could not survive in the abyss, so the conquered level would recover to normal in only a few centuries.

However, this was the biggest victory Norland had ever achieved in the abyss. For the first time ever, an entire level had been destroyed, with Daramore’s death proving humanity’s potential in war. It had prompted a flood of new planar invasions that caused the human empires and smaller countries to flourish greatly, putting great pressure on the three other empires of Norland. It had pushed the entire plane to improve.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: OMA

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA