Book 7, Chapter 30

Still Young And Beautiful

You’re probably tired, aren’t you?” For some reason, these words didn’t make Apeiron angry. She only sighed, looking on as the rest of the letter showed itself.

It’s been thirty years in Norland. I’m unsure how much time has passed for you, but it’s undoubtedly long. You’re back because Philip doesn’t wish to wait any longer; he came to see me. He’s already merged into the flood of time, returned to nothingness. Even I won’t be able to find a single trace of his existence again.

“Thirty years ago, I used everything I had to get him a century. Who knew that he couldn’t wait that long, coming back after only three decades? It was only when I saw him that I understood; these thirty years have been unbearable torture. The methods we thought best for him… they weren’t what he wanted.

“Is this the result of that battle? I’ve been in this church a thousand years now, wondering that one thing over and over again. If I yielded him to you, would things have been better?

“But then, he came over to me last night, and I was certain that my decision was for the best. Two people peaceful and happy is better than three suffering together. There might have been better choices, like killing you, but he never let that happen. You didn’t know this, but I could use the Gaze of Eternity even then. If only…

“When you see this letter, I will already be in the Lightless Void. It shall be my home for the rest of all eternity.

“It’s all over. Do you feel empty now?”

The last line slowly vanished and the letter burned, disappearing from Apeiron’s hands. She slowly wiped a finger across her hot cheeks, finding a now-unfamiliar liquid sticking to her hand. She hadn’t thought she would ever tear up again.

As the letter turned back into spatial energy, the golden rain continued to flow down. It came from nothing, and as it flowed across her it returned to nothing. The resentments of the three greatest talents of the previous generation were being dissolved into the long river of time, as though they had never occurred. Just like three comets moving across the horizon, the bright spots in the sky would only last a moment.

Only the void was eternal.

“Do you feel empty?” Those last words continued to ring in Apeiron’s mind.

Do I… she questioned herself silently.

It was impossible to know how long she remained motionless, but the Empress suddenly burst into laughter and shouted with all her might, “Empty? What rubbish! I’m still young and beautiful, watch me live life to the fullest! Hahaha, HAHAHAHAHA!”

She turned around and appeared back at the doors of the Church, kicking them open and leaving abruptly.

As she left, a blurry figure appeared within the hall, watching the woman flying into the distance with a little smile on her face, “Isn’t she just as stupid as always?”

At that very moment, Apeiron snorted, ‘That wretched old woman must be thinking I’m really stupid now!’

She found herself hating Ferlyn even more.

……

Within the Archeron island, Nasia was on the observation deck of the castle as she gazed towards Faust. Little could be seen beyond the woods that obscured her vision, but she seemed to notice something and shrugged before returning to the interior of the castle.

When Richard walked out of the portal with a grim face, he was just in time to see her standing by the training field and watching the young knights in training. He frowned for a moment; almost every time he saw her, she was just standing around and looking at the most mundane things. Did someone with her control of timeforce need to look at foundational training?

“Come with me,” he interrupted her before heading to his study.

Once they were in the study room, Richard closed the door and sat down with a sigh. His mind finally starting to relax, he immediately broke out into a sweat and felt unbearable exhaustion as though he had just fought an impossible battle. He had felt Apeiron’s focus on him ever since she appeared, and it was extremely uncomfortable. Even without facing her in combat himself, he could tell just how terrifying she was.

Wiping his forehead, he looked towards Nasia, “Why are you always on the training fields? Those people are only undergoing basic training, there’s nothing to see.”

Nasia smiled, “I’m learning the laws of this place.”

“Laws?” Richard froze up. Just the one statement spoke volumes of her power, but what laws could one learn from a group of young infantrymen? If not for having witnessed her summoning, he would have thought this was bragging.

“Those footsoldiers are training in the most basic skills, things that have been practised to near perfection over millennia. One can see a trace of the laws of a plane from their actions, unless…” she chuckled slyly, “the Archeron Family’s inherited techniques are terrible. I’ve been hearing that you’re upstarts without much of an inheritance lately.”

Richard smiled weakly, not in the mood to respond to her taunts as he fell into deep thought. It took a few minutes for him to ask, “Are there any ways for me to get stronger?”

“What time frame? I can give you a method for a month, and another for a year.”

“Hmm… Tell me everything.”

“If it’s a month, the fastest way is to bring me to sainthood. War Fanatic will evolve to Warlord, you’ll know how good it is then.”

It was offerings again! Nasia seemed to be a bottomless pit for offerings, but he had nothing on hand right now. He couldn’t even craft runes for it; all the legendary mages in the Alliance had lost a significant chunk of their savings to get Mana Armaments. Lifesbane’s price would drop if he sold more of it in a short time frame as well.

Kneading his forehead, he asked helplessly, “And a year?”

“Then you should bring me to the legendary realm, the higher the better. At that point, Warlord will become Projection of Ruin.”

“Projection of… Ruin?”

“It’s too far away right now, there’s no need to know. Just work hard at preparing offerings!”

“Argh! I should’ve known asking you would be pointless!” Richard grunted.

Nasia’s mask suddenly moved, showing the image of a smile, “One’s path to power should always be their own. The cost of my guidance is enormous, even you wouldn’t be able to pay it.”

“Fine, whatever,” he waved her away as he stood up, “I’m going to go meditate; I’m way too tired.”

……

Richard meditated for quite some time before he was awakened by the sound of footsteps. Just as he opened his eyes, Coco’s voice sounded from outside, “My Lord, there’s urgent news from the royal family. You need to come immediately.”

Thinking for a moment to realise that it was early morning, he sighed and took Mountainsea’s head off his lap before dragging his fatigued body out of the training room. He had made it clear before coming up that he was to be informed right away of any changes with the royal family; now that Apeiron was the Empress, everyone in Faust had to watch out.

“What is it?” he asked as he walked out.

“Someone called Julian is waiting for you in the drawing room.”

“Julian?” Richard frowned. His first thought was that the man was here for revenge, but he had to admit that this was also Apeiron’s closest servant; he could also be here on her orders.

The moment he entered the drawing room, Julian immediately stood up and bowed, showing a dazzling smile, “We meet again, Lord Richard.”

Richard smiled back and returned the courtesy, “Indeed. Is there anything wrong, Mister Julian? Are you still unable to forget my blue moon?”

Julian’s smile only brightened further, “I wanted the moon on behalf of Her Majesty, but it is of no matter. She mentioned that she wishes to see you; shall we go to the palace?”

Richard frowned, “Her Majesty’s ascension ceremony will still take a few days, won’t it? Why is she summoning me now?”

Julian shrugged, “Who knows? Maybe she likes you.”

The frown developed further, “Now?”

“Now. The faster, the better. Her Majesty has never been one with much patience.”

Richard nodded, “Alright, let’s leave.”

……

A short while later, he saw Apeiron in a small lobby within the palace. She didn’t look as bad as when she’d just returned from the Outlands, and with her short black hair hung down in all its jagged glory, her purple eyes and black nails were the only things connecting to the terror of the day before.

Richard recalled that he had met Philip in this little place before. The Emperor then had been sitting on the exact same couch as she was now, but he had filled it up completely while she didn’t even occupy half. She didn’t even seem to have his easygoing air for some reason; deep in thought, the mix of delicate loneliness and confusion she displayed had him doubting his own eyes.

Despite Julian announcing their arrival, the Empress took a long time to speak, “You’ve eaten with Philip before?”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA