A Painful Victory
It was the most powerful fighters that showed the first signs of panic, especially the two legendary mages still around. Those that had actually explored the void knew that black holes were the most terrifying things in existence, with virtually no escape. Some said they were connected to the alter world, which was what gave them their terrifying devouring ability, but there was simply no way for even epic beings to test this without sacrificing their lives.
Richard didn’t move, but a stream of orders were sent out in his mind. Nasia was already screaming for all soldiers to abandon their positions and retreat, and thankfully the Archeron soldiers were trained well enough to flee without leaving their backs completely open to the reaper attacks.
The black hole was slowly becoming visible to more people, now looking a little larger than a fist. Its range was now a massive thousand metres, and anything caught in it from reaper drones and warships to rocks and soil were slowly starting to spin around it as they were drawn within. A large warship closest to it started to distort as it was devoured, disappearing from view within a mere minute!
The black hole continued to grow in size, quickly increasing its draw to more than ten kilometres. The ground itself started to crack as a huge section of the earth was torn out, but as Richard’s hair started to fly Nasia cried out, “ENOUGH! STOP IT RIGHT AWAY!”
Richard nodded, summoning the three faces once more. The divine fireballs shot towards the core of the black hole, rocking it a few times but not managing to break it up. His expression turned grave; if he couldn’t stop this thing, it would consume half of Faelor before the plane’s gods could blow it apart. The faces started chanting repeatedly as a barrage of divine fireballs shot towards the small orb, only managing to disperse it after more than half a dozen shots.
As the warships that hadn’t been completely destroyed started scattering in different directions, Richard’s powerhouses heaved a sigh of relief. If Richard hadn’t managed to neutralise this black hole, only the strongest figures here would be able to escape into the void. It would soon have covered a thousand kilometres before the pantheon could finally attack it, by which point everyone in its grasp would have been eliminated.
However, even with the black hole gone there were purple ripples everywhere in the sky. Space itself had been damaged beyond immediate repair, leaking Faelor’s origin energy all over. A few powerful conscients swept across the region, making a conscious effort to avoid scanning Richard. The distant pantheon looked down with complex expressions, all shocked into silence by the sheer might on display.
The entire incident with the black hole had lasted a few minutes at best, but in that time it had destroyed everything within a few kilometres and formed a huge, smooth crater in the soil. If not for the fact that the Crimson Army had withdrawn at command, they would have been sucked in as well. Even with their speed, a few hundred warriors still disappeared alongside the enemy. Faelor’s origin was heavily damaged by this attack, to the point that the gods could hear their laws droning in pain. Even though the black hole had been neutralised, the damaged plane was leaking origin energy continuously. At that moment, every god present realised that Richard was basically invincible in most secondary planes due to this ability alone.
Most of the reaper army had been wiped out by this attack, leaving only a few hundred warships and ten thousand flesh warriors who had been on the flank. Richard sent out the night elves and powerhouses once more, finishing off the last of the enemy. He and Nasia personally ensured that none of the transport ships could escape, crashing them with various means.
As the last of the enemies hit the ground, Richard suddenly felt quite emotional. The earth here was beyond destroyed, and all around the central crater were corpses and the remnants of reaper troops. Billowing smoke covered half the sky, but behind it he could still see the less than 10,000 soldiers who were returning to camp. Less than a fifth of his army had survived, and most of the survivors this time were actually the night elves, winter soldiers, arrowbeasts, and other drones. Only 5,000 of the 60,000 living soldiers had returned from this war.
The losses were simply disastrous. Richard had lost half of his 300 rune knights, while seven saints were dead and six more unable to fight again. Almost all of the enhanced winter soldiers were dead, with only a quarter of the normal ones having survived. The evernight elves had the most numbers remaining, but even they lost a fifth of their original 4,000-strong army.
This was Richard’s first time witnessing such crushing losses ever since he took control of the Archeron Family. Even with the victory, he couldn’t bring himself to feel happy at all. Those who were lucky enough to survive seemed to feel no joy either.
Nasia had appeared beside him at some point in time, watching the bleak situation as she patted his back in consolation, “Don’t overthink it. This is war; if we want to beat the reapers back, we have to make our sacrifices. We fought for the rights to live on; if these men didn’t die, everyone behind them would.”
Richard sighed. If not for the black hole which shouldn’t have been used within the plane, their losses would be far greater, to a point of near decimation. However, there was no way to tell just how many more reapers were hidden back at their base. Looking at his surviving troops once more, he turned back to Nasia, “Looks like we’re the only ones who can go help the others.”
Nasia shrugged, “Being your guardian is such a pain in the ass.”
He smiled weakly, summoning a messenger to ferry him to another battlefield. He drank potion after potion while on it, but even so he was only back to two-thirds of his strength by the time he was at his first stop.
The troops in this battlefield were led by Tiramisu, with three other legendary beings supporting him. With far fewer reapers having attacked it, the ogre lord seemed to be comfortably in control of the situation. Richard arrived just in time to see the giant charging towards a war elephant, the earth around him shaking with every step. A deafening collision cracked the ground beneath them, but the significantly larger mechanical elephant was sent flying by the collision. Tiramisu jumped up and smashed it back down with his warhammer, at which point a tiny figure leapt off his shoulder and blew the upper half apart with another hammer that was well beyond her size.
Richard smiled awkwardly at the sight. Mountainsea normally spent most of her time asleep or very close to it, acting upon instinct even in battle, but now her sharp gaze showed that she was fully awake. Her level hadn’t been exceptional before, but that swing just now showed legendary might! This was just like Sharon, who had jumped all the way from level 24 to level 29 just through a few years of hibernation. For someone who could never slack off like Richard, it was almost as annoying as it was awe-inspiring.
That being said, Richard was not the most depressed of the lot. After all, he was still one of the youngest epic beings in Norlandic history. It was the seasoned legends who had slogged their entire lives to get to level 21 that would feel like ending their lives at this disparity. Would she become an epic being if she just slept for a few more years? It felt like a distinct possibility given the strength of the Beast God’s bloodline. After all, why else would the Eternal Dragon have been interested enough in a single tooth to offer a rank 2 blessing for it?
Richard composed himself and beelined towards another of the war elephants. The situation was already stable here, so with him and Nasia added on the reapers were quickly destroyed in a number of sections. However, these drones were completely unafraid and continued to fight all the way until the last of them was destroyed.