Author’s Note: Final chapter of Volume 2! Well, there’s also a bonus chapter in the book only and also up on Patreon (Will post it there after Next/Previous Chapter links are up).
Chapter 17 – Regalia
The next morning, Regal is still awake with bags under his eyes. His stats have also reduced two or three points due to sleep deprivation, creating a specific debuff called ‘Mind Fatigue’.
Veronica wakes up drowsily, her clothes askew and threatening to reveal more than they should. She lifts her head and looks down at Regal tenderly. She feels some pain seeing that he has not slept, but secretly thinks that sometimes love can be selfish. It can still be considered a short time since her emotions flourished, and they fill her with a feeling she never wants go without again.
Veronica gently kisses Regal, making up for the lack of intimacy the previous night, before sliding off him and getting ready to get up. Regal then finally closes his eyes and falls into a slumber once the pressure is off him, secretly confiding with himself that he needs to have a serious discussion with Veronica and set some boundaries.
When Regal wakes up again and has removed the ‘Mind Fatigue’ debuff, he finds Veronica who had returned to his bed at some point and is curled up resting her head against his chest. She isn’t asleep however, and immediately opens her eyes upon seeing that he is awake.
“We need to talk,” Regal states first, surprising Veronica.
“When sleeping, I need to be able to sleep as well.”
Veronica doesn’t reply, instead choosing to close her eyes and stubbornly ignore the matter.
“When walking together, you need to keep at least a one foot distance from me and stop pulling me back.”
Veronica opens her eyes again and gazes at Regal with a painful expression.
“This will continue for a week. Consider it a punishment. I don’t mind when we are sitting together or resting, in fact, I quite like it. But that is a different matter.”
Veronica calmly accepts Regal’s command, but a strong resistance remains in her expression.
Although the conversation was short, Regal has expressed the points he wanted to and feels relieved. The two then got out of bed and dressed into their usual clothing, donning their armor pieces as well even if they don’t need them at the moment.
Regal and Veronica then head to the main deck where they find the rest of their squad and most of Fiona’s guild members lazing around. Regal peers out the large window panels on the main deck and sees the massive tower of Grand Theore about a hundred miles away, like an enormous pillar holding up the heavens.
“I was about to send someone to go wake you, we are nearly back home,” Fiona says cheerfully and full of vigor.
Regal solemnly nods his head. He had wanted to practice his crafting skills when he got the chance but lately no such opportunity has presented itself, causing his skill levels to stagnate. The only ones that have had any increases are ‘Forging: Bullet Casing’ and ‘Compounding: Intermediate’ which have reached level 19 and level 8 respectively. And even those have been stagnating at their current level, as he has been repeating the same recipe to create Blood Flint Bullets, which has stopped increasing his skill levels.
Regal also took over the kitchen just before the warship arrives at Grand Theore and cooks with the rare and bizarre ingredients belonging to the Immortal Phoenix Guild, the guild Piora’s mother is guild leader of, and which Regal only learned the name of recently. Due to cooking high level monster meat and rare vegetables in even more exotic spices, he finally managed to push ‘Cooking: Intermediate’ to level 10, reaching the 2nd Tier and gaining the Divine Art ‘Intermediate Recipe Arts’, a knowledge based Divine Art that instantly transferred information on more complex recipes directly to his memories.
From the windows on the main deck, Regal watches Grand Theore grow larger and larger, until it takes up his entire vision. The grand city’s dock, for airships and warships alike, they are heading toward on the third floor initially look like small specks in comparison to the massive size of the city, but as they get closer, they can start to see the details of the ship and the people milling about.
The dock is made out of reinforced steel and copper rivets as large as a person hold it all together and give it a feeling of being invulnerable. Countless airships of varying size and design, each with unique logos painted on the side are docked there. Fiona spots a pier which has the Immortal Phoenix Guild logo painted on it and commands the guild members. This is a private pier that only those who reserved are allowed to dock at, a privilege of a guild residing in the upper floors of Grand Theore. A city guard who is in charge of collecting fees for the docked ships looks over, but recognizing that the symbol on the side of the warship and matches the one at the pier, turns his head back to monitor the other ships and Immortalis milling about on the piers.
Fiona leads her guild members, along with Regal and his squad, off the airship and onto the docks. The first thing Regal feels when he steps off the airship is an incredibly strong gale threatening to blow him away until he regains his balance.
There are guardrails around the pier to stop people from falling off when they lose their balance, but they are only waist high, and if someone were to run into one fast enough, they would topple over. Likewise, if they fell down, they could also roll or slide beneath the rail.
Regal moves cautiously to the guard rail on the opposite end of the pier and gazes down at the ground below. Staring down from six thousand feet, where even the largest rocks look like specks of sand, Regal can’t help but feel queasy, as if one step will cause him to plummet toward certain death.
Veronica closes in on Regal and wraps her arms around his waist after seeing his disorientation. Regal wants to rebuke her, as it was just earlier today he told her she needs to maintain a one-foot distance from him, but a single glance toward the care and concern she is expressing causes him to swallow his words.
Hades, Lande, and Lore also climb out of the warship nervously. They are each extremely heavy and have low centers of gravity, so the wind doesn’t bother them, but being so far up in the air is without a doubt unsettling them.
Aqua, Astore, and Kilde are waiting for Regal and Veronica at the end of the deck, along with Fiona and Piora, with the rest of the Immortal Phoenix Guild members already having departed into the city.
Regal leads Veronica back to where everyone else is waiting, mentally assuring his three mutant beasts to calm their nerves as they nervously follow as well.
Fiona smiles toward Regal and asks, “What do you plan on doing from here?”
Regal doesn’t have to think about it at all, he calmly looks over his squad members and resolutely says, “We will stay here for a night or two, then we will be heading out again. Our initial purpose in joining a community was to get experience before starting our own community. Now that it is over, it is time we start.”
“Ohh?” Fiona widens her eyes in surprise and places one hand on her hip, the other still casually holding Piora like a ragdoll. “That’s surprisingly ambitious of you. Do you even have the means to start a community? You need a location with natural resources, nearby dungeons, enough strength to protect your community or coin to hire hunter mercenaries, and connections with traders to open trade routes and secure the resources you can’t get locally. You need to run a profit or it will fail miserably and you will be homeless and have all your expenses drained.”
“I know, I’ve thought about all aspects of it. I learned some of managing a community at Greyhorn Townsend, the smaller bits I will learn as we go. We already have a location to go start our community,” Regal looks toward the setting sun over the mountains in the west that looks like a giant molten ball of copper.
“As for strength, I had wanted us to be stronger before we go, then train at that location before bringing other people around to grow the community, but we came back early. Thankfully, just yesterday I had solved that problem. It will also help with trade routes as well.”
Fiona squints her eyes slightly, her gaze becoming quite serious with a trace of hostility after understanding the meaning of Regal’s words.
“So you want the Immortal Phoenix Guild to be your guardians?”
“Fiona, to be more precise, I wish to negotiate a contract to guard our community while we grow.”
“And you think I’ll agree to it?”
“Why is that?”
“In addition to the terms, Piora will be there with us.”
Regal’s last statement was truly his trump card in succeeding this negotiation, he had seen how protective her mother is of her and can only use her as the compulsion to grant their future community protection by her mother’s guild.
Fiona tightens her grasp on Piora, making it difficult for the latter to breathe, but a calm and resolute stare from Piora is enough to make her give in.
“Very well, we shall discuss the terms tomorrow. Take this, use the lift next to these docks and come to the 42nd floor first thing tomorrow morning. There will be someone to guide you when you step off the elevator.”
Fiona releases Piora and hands Regal a round copper token with the Immortal Phoenix Guild emblem and some sort of numerical code engraved onto it. She also provides Regal with three adjustable collars to signify Regal’s beasts status as being “tamed” so they don’t cause fear among any immortalis who stay in the grand city where it is safe.
Fhe then walks away from the dock and into the city, vanishing from Regal and the crew’s sight. Piora hurriedly rejoins the squad before collecting her emotions and returning to her usual direct demeanor as she looks at Regal and demands, “Well? What are we doing till then?”
“Let’s head in. I have some people to contact and we should rest and see our families,” Regal says gently, trying to push away the painful memories about how his parents aren’t around anymore.
Aqua looks at Regal complexly and timidly asks, “Umm… My father…”
Regal frowns in annoyance before replying, “You should contact him and spend some time together. I would rather not talk to him at the moment.”
Aqua understands why Regal is unhappy, he had asked for help from Tanner and was basically ignored. She understands her father is usually busy with management duties of the city, and it was only while raising her he took a break, yet still has conflicted feelings on whether to side with her father or Regal.
Aqua takes out her transmission plate and contacts her father while speaking in hush whispers, yet Regal can still make out a few words. He does his best to ignore her conversation as he leads the squad to enter Grand Theore, taking one last glance at the setting sun.
Passing through the bronze inlaid arch wide enough to fit four abreast, the outside world vanishes and the nostalgic scenery of inside the grand city welcomes Regal. Directly next to the dock’s exit is a large elevator that is currently in use. The platform is many levels above the third, which is clearly Fiona returning to the 42nd floor. The sound of gears turning and the whistling of steam can be heard faintly from deep below.
Regal presses a large button that lights up red faintly to indicate that he wishes to use the elevator and waits nearly half an hour before the lift finally returns. A few strange hunters in high level gear and equipped with deadly looking weapons are already on the platform when it arrives but they pay little to no attention to Regal and his squad when they step on it. They show a little interest in Hades, Lande, and Lore, but nothing beyond that.
The first floor has already been selected on the worn control panel, so Regal has everyone patiently wait as it descends once more. One short stop at the second floor to pick up a few more passengers, and the lift finally arrives at the first floor.
Seeing the wide cobblestone streets, densely packed houses of brick and iron, along with the large clocktower rising in the middle of the city, Regal has an instinctive feeling that he has returned home.
“Everyone, head back to your family for now and we will convene tomorrow morning back here on the first floor. I’ll contact you with the name of the inn I’ll be staying at.”
At Regal’s command, Astore and Kilde nod their head and bid farewell. They then take out their transmission plates and contact their family to notify them that they are coming to visit before heading off from the squad.
Aqua also departs, returning to the elevator and pressing the button for the top 47th floor while shyly smiling. The only two left are Veronica and Piora.
Piora is conflicted for a while before partially saying, “I’ve already seen my mother, I’ll-” before running off without finishing what she was saying. Regal had already added her back into the squad after breaking her out of prison, so he can feel the relative direction she was going. He is at a loss of words as he realizes that she is heading in the same direction as Kilde was. Regal noticed she has been acting much closer to Kilde since the escape, and can’t help but suspect if she is intending on following him back to his home.
Now there are only Regal, Veronica, and the three mutant beasts remaining. Regal takes a breath to remind Veronica to see her family, but seeing the determination in her eyes, he can already foretell the answer. Exhaling a sigh, Regal leads the way toward the center of the city where the majority of inns are located.
It is late evening so a large quantity of hunters are flowing into the city. Thankfully, the roads are wide enough that he can lead the three mutant beasts through without causing too much of a disturbance, considering their larger than average size. He is forced to weave through some crowds, but they soon make a path in fear of the beasts. It isn’t until they recognize the collars around their necks that they find some calm and observe the mutant beasts with curiosity.
Thanks to Veronica minding Regal’s one foot distance rule, they progress quite quickly and find a large accommodating inn as the city turns dark and the street lights come to life. A large sign hangs on the front of the inn with the name ‘Commodore Inn’.
The three story inn has copper figures of small mutant beasts along its eaves, which have been heat treated to create shadows on the models and give them a near life-like appearance. The rest of the building is also quite high class, made from faintly engraved bricks and polished brass décor.
Regal enters the inn with Veronica and quickly pays for a double bedroom, and for Hades, Lande, and Lore to stay in the stable out back. The three mutant beasts do not need to eat often due to their nature, but it was a considerable trip back on the warship and they have been transmitting their hunger to Regal for a while. Regal is forced to pay more to feed the mutant beasts than the room for Veronica and himself, but at least his mutant beasts go to sleep satisfied.
Regal doesn’t head to bed immediately with Veronica, as there are still some people he needs to contact. In particular, he wants to contact his crafting friends from Greyhorn Townsend. Taking his transmission plate out of his inventory, the first person he finds and contacts is the crafter he was closest to, Seref.
“Seref, how are you faring?” Regal asks awkwardly, unsure as to how to start the conversation.
“Ahh! Regal, it is not good!”
“What? What is not good?”
“How are you confused? It’s Greyhorn Townsend of course! It was destroyed!”
Regal is taken by surprise. He is unsure how he should reply when Seref’s depressed voice continues from the rectangular plate.
“Do you know what happened? I didn’t even realize what happened before everything was gone and I died!”
“I haven’t even contacted the other crafters yet, I’m too hurt by the loss. Do you think we could rebuild it?”
“Hmm… I don’t think rebuilding is possible…”
“What? Why? Do you know what happened?”
Regal then proceeds to explain the situation of Piora being captured by Lord Solace, their escape, their rescue by Piora’s mother and her guild, along with the eventual destruction of Greyhorn Townsend out of selfish vindication by said person. When Regal describes the devastation to the land where the community used to stand and how it is no longer traversable by land let alone rebuilding on it, Seref becomes even more depressed than ever.
Seref doesn’t blame Regal, he knows Lord Solace was an unscrupulous person as well as most of the community. He isn’t even sad over the destruction over it, what has been tearing him up is all the materials and effort he put into the construction of the local community crafting hall. Anyone would be depressed if years of their hard work was destroyed so simply.
“Regal, where are you now?” Seref finally asks
“I’m at the Commodore Inn on Grand Theore’s first floor.”
“I know where that is! I will be there within an hour!” Seref hurriedly says before closing the communication line.
Regal sighs to himself and then contacts the other crafters he has in his contact list. Fourteen more are also from Grand Theore and are heartbroken over the loss of the community and destruction of all their hard work over the years. The remainder are from different Grand Cities and can only express the pain in their heart through the transmission plate.
While Regal and Veronica are waiting, they leave their room and head down to order a low alcoholic drink at the public bar while waiting for their visitors. Before the two can enjoy their drink, a loud shout comes from across the room where a bunch of menacing looking men are crowded around several tables.
After shouting, the man with deep red hair and the physique of a bear storms over. Regal and Veronica find him to be familiar and quickly recognize him as the bandit leader who tried to rob them on the way to Greyhorn Townsend.
Veronica instantly cocks her ‘Warlock Penetrating Rifle’ and aims it at the red haired man’s head. The bandit leader gives her a look of ridicule and continues approaching.
Before a spark can set off the situation explosively, the laid back innkeeper behind the bar asks calmly, “Horton, do I have to call the guards?”.
Horton, the bandit leader, instantly falters before he adjusts his destination and sits down at the open chair next to Regal, causing the tension in the latter to calm down slightly. Veronica on the other hand continues pointing her gun at the bandit until the stern gaze from the innkeeper softens and he asks her kindly to remove her hostility.
Regal glances over and sees the bandit who nearly robbed them dry several months ago furrowing his brow.
Horton glares at Regal and demands, “Why are you here? Weren’t you staying at that treacherous community?”
Regal, unsure how to reply, awkwardly avoids eye contact with Horton before stating, “Well, Greyhorn Townsend has been destroyed.”
“Har Har Har! Welcome to the real world, brat!”
Regal frowns at Horton’s arrogant words, and finding courage from the safety of Grand Theore, quirks back, “What about you? Why are you here? Banditry not working out for you?”
Horton’s expression plummets and Regal’s back perspires as he can feel a storm brewing within Horton. Just as Regal is regretting his words, Horton sighs deeply, his frustration draining from his countenance.
“It was that despicable Greyholm. We chased after him to kick him out of our territory and were instead ambushed by a whole group and were killed. We came back for revenge and only got ambushed again, and the same on the third try. That pass is no longer our territory and we need to find somewhere new.”
Understanding what happened, Regal is taken aback. That was the same person who warned Regal about the bandits before he ran into Horton. It was likely that if Regal believed his words and turned back instead of pressing forward, he too would have been ambushed by Greyholm and his bandit group.
Regal also wonders if they are related to the bandit group who worked for Lord Solace, but there isn’t enough evidence to come to a conclusion. If they had run into his bandits, and they released him upon learning they were moving to occupy a position within Greyhorn Townsend, he would know, but alas it is too late now to discover the truth.
Suddenly a radical idea comes to Regal, which he becomes conflicted in emotions about. Veronica notices Regal’s absent expression and slides closer to him, wrapping her arm around his like a snake and gazing into his eyes. Whatever she tries to convey to Regal is lost in the silence and he barely notices her close proximity while he puzzles within his mind.
Horton also glares at Regal once again upon seeing him suddenly ignoring his presence, and is about to punch him, but a calm look from the bartender quickly quashes that movement.
“Horton,” Regal says curiously, “Have you ever considered giving up being a bandit?”
Horton is greatly surprised by this question and roars out in laughter, “And then what would I do? Peddle around as a merchant calculating profits to try and earn money and avoiding bandits like myself? I would rather die, such a life would not be worth living!”
“I’m talking about work as a guard,” Regal ignores Horton’s look of ridicule and continues, “Not the type that patrols the city or a community to keep the peace, but as a fighter for times of battle.”
“What are you suggesting, brat?”
“My squad and I are going to start a new community in a new location, somewhere that hasn’t been mapped yet. Hopefully we will get some protection from one of the upper guilds if all goes well, but we still need some permanent muscle. You want excitement, right? Unexplored lands, strong mutant beasts, and later potentially even assaults from other communities. I need a strong defence, and the strongest firepower possible.”
Regal can instinctually tell that Horton isn’t an unprincipled person. He is arrogant, aggressive, and highly intimidating, but he isn’t a bad person. There are many cruel and merciless bandits out in the world, but this one is extremely straightforward and currently “unemployed”.
“Sounds interesting, but aren’t you ‘fraid I’ll simply take it for myself? It’s what I do best,” Horton says with a malevolent grin, his bandit group nearby also let out insidious chuckles.
“And then what? Just wallow away by yourselves?” Regal asks resolutely.
Horton goes silent for a while before giving in.
“What’s the pay?”
“No pay, you keep what you hunt. I will provide status instead. Captain of the guards.”
The bandit leader laughs uproariously at this deal, but nonetheless still agrees to it. The enticement of starting a community in new lands and the excitement it will bring are enough for the bandit leader. Regal predicted this, as if he wanted a high paying job with little effort, Horton wouldn’t have turned to highway robbery. What this bandit leader wants more than anything else is an exciting life.
Horton grabs out his transmission plate, forcing Regal to take out his before sharing their contact information.
“Notify me when we are leaving, Lord Regal, I’m looking forward to this,” Horton then says his farewell rather crudely, summoning up his bandit group before heading off into the night to do who knows what.
“Are you sure about this?” Veronica asks with concern.
“Yes, it is for the best. We need their strength while ours is still growing. Our community will start off small and I don’t want to be a juicy steak to other communities.”
“I trust you.”
Not long after, Seref arrives at the Commodore Inn out of breath followed soon by the fourteen other crafters Regal invited. The inn, which emptied out due to Horton and his gang’s departure, is crowded once again.
Regal explains everything that happened last night to the crafters and they all have heart-broken expressions. There is no love between them and Lord Solace, and they do sympathize with Regal and his squad, but all the work they have put into their crafts being destroyed just like that makes them feel like everything they worked for was pointless.
Regal then brings up the proposition of them coming on the journey to start a new community together. Each of the crafters have a fiery passion burning in their gaze and are extremely eager to join. With everything they had previously worked on gone, a blank slate to carve their talents into is the best path forward for them.
With the plan further solidified, Regal bids good night to everyone before leading Veronica upstairs to their room. Perhaps it is due to finally having everything going correctly for once, Regal and Veronica are able to relax enough that both enthusiastically spend the majority of the night entangled together before finally falling asleep.
The next morning, Regal and Veronica both have a fatigue debuff on their stats, removing a point or two from each stat, due to a lack of sleep.
It is only a minor inconvenience however and as they don’t expect a fight, they don’t worry about the minor effects this causes. Regal senses Lande, Lore, and Hades through their soul connection and summons them out of the inn’s stable. He then contacts the rest of the squad and has a quick snack with Veronica before they reach the inn and get the whole squad together again, at which point they make a beeline towards the elevator they descended in the day before, and ride it all the way up to the 42nd floor of Grand Theore.
On the way up, Regal notices that both Kilde and Piora have dark rings beneath their eyes, indicating that they are suffering the fatigue debuff just like Regal and Veronica. Regal sends a curious gaze at the two, Piora fiercely blushing while Kilde doesn’t understand what Regal is insinuating with his gaze.
Veronica notices this too and affectionately says to Piora without any subtlety, “I’m happy for you. It seems like you also had lots of sex last night.”
This caused Piora to almost pass out in shock while wishing there was a hole for her to hide in but Kilde is the one to reply.
“We did not have sex.”
“Why do you both have a fatigue debuff then?” Veronica is confused and could only link their lack of sleep with her own experiences, unsure to what else could lead to this condition.
Kilde, unable to shake his logical thinking answers honestly and straightaway, “Piora came to my house yesterday and had dinner with my family before staying over. She climbed into my bed with me but spent half the night punching and kicking me. I didn’t have the opportunity to get much sleep.”
Veronica proceeds to try motivate Piora while Regal gives her a mocking chuckle, leaving the fiery haired girl in a mixed state of anger and shame.
The elevator by now reaches the 42nd floor. There are two high levelled city guards of over level 100 guarding outside the elevator when Regal and his squad step off, and he quickly presents the guild emblem to the guards, who then let him pass. Not far away, Regal sees Piora’s mother, Fiona, along with several other guild members here to escort them to their guild hall.
Regal gazes around curiously at the 42nd floor as they walk through it, surprised at how open the land is. Unlike the lower floors of Theore, these upper floors have vast expanses of land with gardens and hedge mazes alike. Several extremely large exotic trees also grow in the distance, each one being the property of the guild which brought them back and planted them here. The three mutant beasts also show great interest in the floor as they have never witnessed such expansive greenery before.
Fiona leads the squad to a majestic four story palace made of marble with a crimson timber décor, and stained glass windows lining the wings of the building. Regal has Lande, Lore, and Hades relax outside and allows them free reign to explore nearby while the squad head inside.
“This is the guild headquarters for the Immortal Phoenix Guild. Follow me to the war room.”
Regal and his squad come to a large room with a circular table in the centre bigger than any Regal has seen before. Across it are sprawled various maps with different markings and notes on them. The pile is quite messy, but Fiona seems to make sense of it all as she arranges it all to the side and makes room for Regal and his squad to sit down with her.
“You want us to protect your community, so what are your terms exactly?” Fiona says in a businesslike tone, but her constant glances toward Piora indicate that she isn’t overly concerned with the small details of the deal.
“As it is a new community with an existing inactive Pond of Life, we have a one year grace period where other communities can’t launch an assault on us. I want to have protection for another year following that.”
“Done!” Fiona states immediately, not even negotiating terms on her end.
“I also want to make a trade arrangement in regard to the ‘Earthen Blood Flint’ you want,” Regal continues, catching Fiona’s interest. “The materials for the Blood Flint Bullets most likely won’t be available at my new community, so I need them imported. If you can provide the goods, fifty percent produced will be provided to your guild.”
“What materials are required?”
“’Blood Flint(Low)’, ‘Rockdust Fragment(Medium)’, and ‘Rock Lizard Scale(Medium)’ with a ratio of 4:4:2. I haven’t tested with other qualities, but I would suspect a higher quality would create a more potent ‘Earthen Blood Flint’.”
“Done, but if we are providing the materials, we will be taking sixty percent of the product. We have many more people than you, so our consumption will be much greater.”
Regal considers it briefly before agreeing to it. With the quantity he must produce, it is likely that the remaining forty percent will be an enormous amount.
After working out the finer details of the arrangements, such as other necessities being delivered and goods for sale being brought back with each transaction, all that remains is the departure. The Immortal Phoenix Guild is actually a combat guild, who mainly rely on hunting strong monsters and swarms of mutant beasts for their income. For them to make a trade agreement with Regal truly shows the favoritism Fiona is showing toward the squad her daughter is a part of.
“We will depart this afternoon!” Fiona states, understanding it may take a few days for Regal to locate the Forest of Dawn toward the west that his information indicates.
Regal and his squad also have no time to make many preparations, but they also lack coin to purchase large quantities raw materials. Regal arranges for everyone to stock up on necessary food and some equipment for mining and wood chopping. Even if the rest of their squad doesn’t have the relevant skills, it doesn’t prevent such basic tasks.
Seref, the other fourteen crafters, and Horton are notified to meet them at the dock where the Immortal Phoenix Warship is stationed. Each party hurries forth to collect everything they need before moving out with eagerness.
Two days later, in the skies far west of Grand Theore, Regal is sitting in the bridge of the warship with large maps laid out in front of him. Each and every one are his creations, mapping out the entire area west of Grand Theore as they pass through it. The scale is too large, so it only contains terrain types and significant landmarks, but the quality is impeccable. A member who is responsible for the maps in the Immortal Phoenix Guild also sighs in praise and shamelessly copies it for their guild archives.
With the exception of the Veronica by his side and Piora who once again was entrapped within the grasp of Fiona, the rest of the squad, crafters, and Horton’s former bandit group get along extremely well. Horton and his gang were initially quite rough and rowdy after they boarded the warship, but a thorough beating by Fiona shortly afterwards poured cold water on their heads and forced them to be more respectful and calm.
“I don’t see this Forest of Dawn we are searching for,” Fiona frowns while gazing around through the bridge’s large window.
“The main clue in this is to search for a forest. This direction has trees with more vitality and more vibrant life. Mutant Beasts are also more abundant, so based on my understanding of the clue, we should be getting closer. It definitely exists out here somewhere.”
The world outside was indeed no longer the deprived wastelands with little life that Regal is accustomed to, and this indicates that they should be heading in the correct direction. All he knew from the book left behind by Shen Wan Xing, a human from the past, was that this area definitely existed, he just wasn’t sure where other than a general direction. The information stated it is to the west, but not how far north or south.
“Head over those mountain ranges to the north, I feel the vitality is much stronger over there,” Regal states, garnering Fiona and the other guild members’ approval.
The warship flies north toward a mountain range full of jagged cliffs and Ironwood Trees. Regal doesn’t understand exactly why, but despite the vitality of the region they are passing through, he can’t help but feel an ominous intensity from the area.
Passing over the large mountains, everyone on the bridge gasps in shock, even Fiona herself. A call quickly goes out with good news to everyone on the warship and they quickly flood the bridge, everyone dropping their jaws at the sight.
What is revealed as the warship flies over the towering lustrous mountains is an enormous valley in the mountain range. The area is more than a hundred miles in each direction and looks more like a flat forest hidden within the mountain range than a valley. The most shocking matter isn’t the dense forest of dark trees, but what is situated in the middle of it.
A dilapidated cathedral of enormous proportion made from dark grey stone blocks is built in the center of the forest. Flying buttresses, thicker than the warship is long, decorate the building, and fortifications similar to those of a castle are also visible.
It is a shame it is in such a state of disrepair, as once towering spires are now missing and sections of the cathedral have collapsed in on themselves. No glass remains unbroken, fragments of stained glass glitter in the evening sun as remnants of what they once were.
Regal and the others can’t believe that such a location has been hidden all this while. The cathedral is larger than anything he has seen before, only paling when compared to one of the great cities. Even the largest of communities would not be able to fill this location, but the mountain range surrounding this area is a natural protection to keep its presence unknown, so nobody had even heard rumors of its existence before.
The warship silently glides over the parapets and deeper into the compound, several roof tiles dislodging and sliding off from the wind generated by their passage alone. Eventually finding a large open courtyard to land in, the warship opens its compartment doors, and everyone gets off to explore the area.
While it seems a little off from the ‘Forest of Dawn’ idea Regal had in his mind, this location is truly first class. As long as he has time to build his strength, and the larger communities don’t become aware of its location, he should be able to defend it well.
The wind outside the airship is quite chilly, but the fresh scent in the air is both new and refreshing for Regal. He squints his eyes against the evening sun and looks toward the empty windows and balconies of the building wings around the courtyard. Even more towering and magnificent architectural structures of the cathedral can be seen over the rooftops, but many of them are significantly damaged and in need of repairs.
Lande, Lore, and Hades, the three mutant beasts, show a timid side once they get off the warship, passing to Regal a sense of being suppressed by a intimidating force. Regal isn’t sure if it is the presence of a natural predator or the general aura of the cathedral that has the effect, but they aren’t in any danger, so he consoles them over their soul link and bids them to bear with it for now.
Regal’s squad groups up and heads in one direction, Fiona taking another with her guild, while Seref leads the crafters, and Horton his bandits, in their own respective directions. The four groups explore different areas in great excitement, as if there are lost treasures to be found.
Regal leads his squad through wide corridors and peering into empty rooms, not finding anything of great interest and realizes they are in a residential area. The residences take up an enormous amount of space, and Regal’s group take up until night before they are able to leave.
Just like Fiona and her guild members, Regal is heading toward the main hall of the central cathedral. Several people hold torches up high, lighting the way as their footsteps echo in the empty halls.
They find themselves entering a grand hall so large their torches can’t light up the ceiling, but the stars can be seen through broken sections. Maneuvering around pieces of fallen rubble, Regal discovers an enormous steel and stone throne that was once gaudy, but is now mostly broken and rusted. Despite all that, it is still useable, and it even fits the atmosphere of the cathedral extremely well.
“Regal, we found the Pond of Life, come over,” Fiona says to Regal over his transmission plate after contacting him.
Regal leads his squad to follow the directions given by Fiona, meeting up with the crafters and former bandits along the way before arriving where the Pond of Life is.
The inactive Pond of Life is blue just like an active one, except the water is much murkier and darker than standard. Regal crouches down in front of it under the watchful gaze of everyone and dips his finger into the pool. A confirmation screen then appears in front of him.
Inactive Master Pond of Life for Saint Hope Cathedral. Activating will cost 245,000,000 gold coins. Do you wish to activate? Yes/No
Regal started sweating bullets after reading the price to activate the pool. Even if he worked for eternity, he may not be able to earn that much. It was the kind of price that even the kings of the Grand Cities would have to consider twice before accepting. He is surprised though that it isn’t the Pond of Life for the ‘Forest of Dawn’, but finding an appropriate alternative is also acceptable.
Thankfully he has the ‘Blank Title Deed’ from the Theore Substructure dungeon and hastily brings it out while accepting the choice to activate. Both the Pond of Life and the ‘Blank Title Deed’ are activated at the same time and light up, the latter dissipating into light specks and vanishing within the Pond of Life, while the former is filled with vitality as light blue lights flicker throughout the area.
Inactive Master Pond of Life for Saint Hope Cathedral has now been activated. Regal Havier is the current ruling lord for Saint Hope Cathedral. As a newly activated community, would you like to set a new name? Yes/No
Regal quickly selects ‘Yes’, renaming the new community as ‘Regalia’. It is a simple name that Regal had thought of long ago and he was quite fond of it.
Fiona is surprised to see the Pond of Life activate so easily as she wasn’t sure what method Regal had planned on using to take this location and still held doubts. She had also checked the price for activating it and nearly had a heart attack, but now, after seeing the vibrant blue light emitted from the pond, is at a loss for words.
Horton looks over with a grin, being the first to jump in and set it as his new resurrection point.
“Congratulations, Lord Regal,” Horton says excitedly, yet still mockingly, toward Regal.
Regal merely congratulates him on becoming a guard captain and leads his own squad to enter and set it as their respawning point as well. Seref, the crafters, and finally Horton’s former bandit squad, then take turns to officially join this new community by passing through the pond.
Fiona looks at Regal eagerly, nodding her head before also simply stating, “Congratulations on starting your own community, Lord Regal. I’m sure we will have many dealings in the future.”