Secret Of Bloodlines
Everyone in the theatre stopped breathing as they realised Auro had lost an arm, the legendary sword that had accompanied him through countless battles now twisted into uselessness. In a single blow, Richard had gravely injured a sky saint with crushing power, and it was clear that he could have just ended Auro’s life if he wished. Just what flames could have such destructive ability?
Many had also sensed the dark, desolate aura in the air from the moment the blue flames exploded, a feeling of pure destruction at the end of all things. Auro himself remained frozen in mid-air, taking a moment to process what had just happened. It was only after he heard the gasps below that he looked down and screamed, “MY ARM! MY ARM!”
The blue flames atop Lyndoch’s sword finally died out as well, but the blade was now a third shorter than before. Richard tutted as he returned it, “Pity. It was a good blade. I’ll compensate you for it.”
Lyndoch smiled, sheathing the weapon as he shook his head, “Seeing that attack more than makes up for this sword. It just couldn’t contain your strength.”
By this point, Auro had calmed down, clutching at the cauterized stub on his shoulder as he exclaimed coldly, “You… You’ve become a mortal enemy of Master Fazelok! You’ll soon learn the consequences of offending a future saint runemaster; who are you?”
Richard stretched back into the comfortable chair, “Why do you think I left you alive? Go, tell Fazelok that you’ve made him an enemy of Richard Archeron.”
Everyone in the theatre immediately went crazy, standing up and pushing around just to see what Richard looked like. Outside of a select few, most of the nobles present had never seen Richard before, and with his youth there weren’t many portraits circulating either. Outside the Sacred Alliance, he was actually a mysterious figure with all sorts of secrets, the youngest saint runemaster who had turned the tables during the Archerons’ weakest moments. He was also a wargod second to none, the favourite student and lover of the legendary mage Sharon. He was also the thief that had gone to Klandor and stolen away its princess… Just the exploits in the public eye were more than enough to discuss for a full month.
However, the Millennial Empire truly lived up to its name. The commotion died down in mere minutes, all of the nobles turning back to look at the auction. Auro had left amidst the confusion, knowing that staying would only make him a bigger joke than he already was. He had already paid a huge price for his foolishness; even if he managed to regenerate the arm that had been burnt to ashes, it would be off balance from the rest of his body. The legendary sword also made for a majority of his wealth. While Richard hadn’t killed him, there wasn’t much of a difference.
Before he left. Auro looked back at Richard and carved his appearance into memory. He knew just how important the valley lord’s heart was to Fazelok, and knew fully well that the grand runemaster would tolerate no obstacles on his path. There would be no compromises.
The auction continued on, the steady stream of high-quality goods leaving everyone excited. Having been placed at the mid-section, the heart certainly wasn’t the most valuable item up for grabs. It was only the desires of an experienced grand runemaster and a fresh saint runemaster that had brought the price up so high.
By the end, Richard had spent two more top-tier offerings to buy the five hundred units of divine crystals and another top-tier offering’s worth on numerous precious materials. This one auction had wiped out all of his savings, even leaving him in debt for two top-tier offerings. However, that was just a year’s worth of work even for a normal saint runemaster; he could even do it in less than half the time.
Auro had been right about one thing; in terms of wealth, almost no one could compare to runemasters.
Once the auction ended, Richard left the theatre in the company of Lyndoch. Many nobles used the Earl to try and get close to him— after all, he was famous for his ability to make custom designs— but he politely cut them off and headed back to the inn.
Many of the powerhouses present were left with other questions in their mind. While there had been rumours of Richard’s strength in the past, they had thought them to be exaggerated. All runemasters were mages— that was common sense— and for Richard to be a legendary mage wasn’t all that shocking either. It wasn’t strange for a mage to be capable in close quarters, but Richard had shown a level of pure skill with that attack that was typically the domain of legendary warriors.
The very next day, startling news spread throughout the Emerald Lake. one of Norland’s four saint runemasters, Richard Archeron who had recently announced his secession from the Sacred Alliance, had arrived at the decennial auction and displayed his astonishing wealth by spending six top-tier offerings. He had outshone one of Fazelok’s closest aides, even cutting the man’s arm off in one stroke when he had gotten too aggressive for his own good.
Not long after, even more exciting news spread in a small circle. The imperial master appraiser at the auction believed that the blue flames Richard had displayed were very similar to the flames of the Star of Destruction, and could even come from the same source. This was even more startling.
Tumen was one of the four princes of the Millennial Empire, once famous throughout the land, but he had now grown much more plump and was starting to lose his hair. He looked almost like a regular merchant instead of a powerful politician who controlled a good section of Norland in his palms, but his beady eyes occasionally flashed with a glint of confidence that betrayed his capabilities.
The Prince heard the news during the breakfast report, and once he learnt of it he surprisingly put his cutlery down and started to ponder over the situation carefully. A while later, he looked over at one of his aides, “Call Lyndoch and Master Yeondu, I’ll be waiting for them in the drawing room.”
The room they met in was clearly in the style of the elves, most of the furniture grown naturally on the spot. Prince Tumen leant against a reclining chair made of interweaving vines and closed his eyes, listening as Lyndoch and Yeondu explained everything they knew and peppering in his own questions.
An entire hour later, he sat up straight and looked at the two while sighing, “So it’s likely that Richard can control flames from the Star of Destruction. This shouldn’t come from runes, so it has to be bloodline. Does that Archeron bloodline really have such great ability?”
Master Yeondu ruffled his white beard in frustration, “I believe so. That also means the Archeron bloodline is one of Norland’s best, beyond even Lady Macy’s golden moonriver and the lightning destroyers of the Sacred Alliance.”
Tumen’s eyebrows were trimmed extremely thin, but one could still see as they locked together. The Prince didn’t say anything, but Lyndoch eventually spoke up, “Based on our current information, Richard’s true age is around 25. It’s been nine years since he turned of age, but he’s yet to have a child. That might be more proof in itself.”
The Prince smiled in thought, “Interesting, an ancient bloodline that hides such great strength. To my knowledge, the Archerons can barely be considered amongst the upper classes of the abyss.”
“But we also only know less than a tenth of the upper levels,” Yeondu shook his head, “Not many can reach its depths, and there just isn’t any way to get the information easily. The Archerons on the surface levels might just be a distant branch, and Richard could be awakening the source.”
Lyndoch added on, “We have to remember his father as well. Gaton had power far beyond his level, and I’m starting to believe an interesting rumour I had dismissed long ago. It’s said that Gaton was initially a mage, but he became a warrior after coming of age.
“Thankfully, he never reached the peak of his strength and died to the fools from the Alliance. Imagine having to deal with two of those monsters.”
Tumen nodded, “Then it might be a bloodline worth investing in. Help me find some Archerons with dense bloodlines, we can test what sort of children can be created.”
“Why not try to convince Richard to join us?” Yeondu asked.
The Prince grinned, “That’s an issue for the Empress to worry about. If she loses interest in him or fails, that’s not our responsibility. At the very least, it isn’t our time yet.”
*Knock!* The steward’s voice sounded from the other side of the door, “Your Highness, Lady Macy heard that Richard is in the Emerald Lake and has left to confront him. From the looks of it, she is planning to cause trouble; should we send people to protect her?”