Fight For Honour
“Protect? No, there’s no need for that,” Prince Tumen laughed, “It’s normal for young people to make a little fuss. With Macy’s temper, it’s about time somebody taught her a lesson. Who knows, she might even be able to give me a surprise this time.”
Within the imperial palace, Empress Gelan was currently sat on her throne as she looked towards a mirror in the centre of the throne room. She was dressed in dazzling long robes with a dignified metal mask on her face, carved with a beauty second to none, but the edges and upper portion of her mask had a few long, slender, and curved horns similar to those of devils.
The mirror was clearly formed purely of magic, with nine female mages covered in thin veils knelt around in a circle to power the spell. It showed Richard’s figure, but that figure was warping constantly; sometimes young, sometimes old, wearing different clothes and in different environments. Yet, whenever he grew significantly older, the image grew extremely murky and sometimes went completely black.
Sweat quickly soaked through the clothing of the nine mages, and eventually they had to stop the spell entirely. The mirror scattered the moment the first of them cut off her mana supply, evaporating into thin air. Their leader walked up to the Empress and went down on one knee, “Your Majesty, there is always a strange force interfering with out probes; it feels impossible to see Richard’s future beyond scattered fragments.”
Gelan nodded calmly, “You’ve done your best. You may leave.”
Her voice was very unique, a strange mix of hoarse and tender with an element of metallic friction. It was impossible to say whether it was pleasant or terrible, but those who heard her felt their very bones itch, and listening to her for too long made it feel like their hearts would jump out of their bodies at any moment. Having been given permission, the nine mages immediately took their leave without wishing to linger around her for too long.
The Empress waited until all of them had left before speaking, “What are your thoughts?”
A middle-aged man with an elegant appearance walked out from behind a nearby curtain, the Sword Saint’s voice gentle and pleasant as always, “I don’t believe it’s a force blocking their probes. It feels more like Richard himself doesn’t exist in the river of destiny, he is a variable that is outside of the laws.”
Hearing this, Empress Gelan’s expression changed, “How sure are you?”
“Only a guess.”
She sighed, “If he really isn’t bound by destiny, then this is interesting. Why do you think he’s suddenly here at the Emerald Lake?”
Hidden Sword chuckled, “One obvious reason is the materials we put up. I checked the list, and he essentially took two-thirds of that batch. He might also want to duel some of our legends; put simply, he’s here to establish himself.”
“Haha, a gutsy one. But even if we don’t do anything, there are enough people in the Empire that can teach him that becoming legendary is only the beginning. How is Mountainsea doing?”
“The child recently entered her resting period; she’s probably sleeping all day long. Do you mean…”
“Yes,” Gelan nodded, “I’m quite interested in finding out what’ll come out as a mix of the Beast God’s bloodline and the Archerons’.”
Realising the anticipation the Empress was feeling, Hidden Sword couldn’t hold back a few coughs, “Well… It seems like Richard has yet to touch her, for some reason.”
“Huh?” she frowned, “Then there’s only one way.”
“Heh, let’s hope Her Highness won’t cause trouble for me after she grows up.”
Once the auction ended, Richard returned to the inn. It was called the Forest Nymph and wasn’t particularly famous in the Emerald Lake, owned by a mere knight. Hierarchy was extremely strict in the Millennial Empire, with each stratum of society almost isolated from the rest. Nobles, commoners, slaves, soldiers… they rarely communicated. Thus, neither the guests nor the residents of the Forest Nymph had realised who it was that currently occupied one of the rooms.
Richard quite liked the innocent and quiet environment, feeling refreshed and invigorated by the simplicity. Once he returned to his room, he organised his spoils before starting on meditation, slowly regaining his mana. The Emerald Lake was a city blessed with a great environment, and mana regeneration here was almost a third faster than in most other parts of Norland. A tremendous magic array underneath the city absorbed all the energy within a hundred kilometres, pumping it up to the surface for its residents to use.
The Emerald Lake, Faust, the Deepblue… all of them could enhance meditation and training speed. The benefits of staying in such a city weren’t only in terms of status and glamour; there were practical side-effects as well.
Richard only awoke from his meditation when the clock indicated that it was two in the afternoon, walking over to the window and pushing it open to look at a girl below. The beautiful young lady was covered in a powerful aura, bloodlust radiating from both herself and her armour.
“Richard?” she asked coldly.
“I’m Macy Tumen, come with me.”
Richard didn’t move, “I have a lot of valuable things in my room. If they were to disappear…”
“I’ll make it up to you!”
“Oh? This is ten top-tier offerings’ worth.”
Macy suddenly felt suffocated, her ire promptly dying out. Ten top-tier offerings? Even her father Prince Tumen would have trouble getting that!
“You…” she got annoyed almost instinctively, wanting to tell Richard off for exaggerating, but she quickly remembered that he had spent six top-tier offerings only recently and likely had other goods in his bags as well. Ten top-tier offerings suddenly didn’t seem impossible; he was a saint runemaster anyway.
Unable to scold him, she just flicked her wrist and shot a gold dagger towards the door frame, “This is a token of my family. Anyone who dares to touch your things will be chased down and killed.”
Richard nodded and just leapt out the window, following her into the distance. Walking by her side, he suddenly questioned, “What if my stuff disappears? You know, some thieves like to walk on the edge of danger.”
“I’ll…. I’ll compensate you!” she gritted out, but this time she no longer sounded so confident.
He nodded, “Alright, I’ll believe you.”
Macy’s footsteps slowed slightly and she discreetly sent a message somewhere, but Richard pretended to see nothing. The two walked together to a small duelling ring, looking ordinary on the outside but filled with luxury and even a spatial magic array. She tossed a magic crystal to the manager and walked in, “This place can take the attacks of legends, feel free to fight at full strength.”
However, Richard didn’t enter and instead asked calmly from the side, “But why should I fight you?”
The girl’s expression immediately warped into one of rage, “Because Nyris broke off our marriage!”
“But that has nothing to do with me,” he shrugged.
“He’s under your protection now, and you withdrew from the Sacred Alliance for him! Don’t think I’m oblivious to everything!”
“But that’s a problem between you and Nyris, or am I wrong?” Richard asked as he spread his hands in a question.
Macy suddenly drew a large sword from her back and planted it firmly into the ground, speaking with a cold tone, “Cut the crap! If you beat me today, I’ll let things go. If you lose, hand Nyris over! Humiliating my family has consequences!”
One of Richard’s brows went up, “And what will you do if I hand him over?”
“I’ll rape and kill him!”
Richard immediately shuddered, a small frown appearing on his face. The girl before him seemed almost innocent, but he could tell she wasn’t joking. Her words made it clear that this feud was serious. Nyris had broken off their marriage, which was effectively a resounding slap in Prince Tumen’s face and humiliation to the entire Millennial Empire.
Having experienced the Emerald Lake now, Richard understood just how rooted the Empire was in its glory and hierarchy. The more apparent the difference between the classes, the more attached the higher classes were to honour. It didn’t help that these were the people who succeeded the almost ludicrously rigid elven traditions; Nyris would definitely have to pay a huge price for what she’d done. Macy would likely have blamed even Apeiron herself, but he was a much easier target.
Of course, the vengeance was just beginning. Macy could still see the bigger picture, and even with her hatred of Nyris she still wanted to rape him just to get his bloodline. These were good ideas, but thinking of Nyris as she was now, Richard could only sigh, “Well… I’m afraid things can’t go as you want them to.”
The young lady brandished her sword, “I knew you wouldn’t agree to this. Hmph, as long as you beat me, I’ll be too ashamed to drag this on.”
However, Richard smiled, “But you’re not saying others won’t.”
“Of course, I only represent myself!”
“You do realise I’m a legendary mage.”
“A recently-ascended one. That doesn’t mean you can beat me.”
“Heh. Alright then; if you want a duel with me, that isn’t enough. Let’s add some stakes.”
“Stakes?” Macy ground her teeth, but her response was rather quick, “How much?”
“One greater offering.”
“Fine!” A greater offering was still a little difficult for Macy to source, but with her status it was doable.