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The Runesmith - Chapter 456

Published at 11th of June 2024 12:19:56 PM


Chapter 456

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“Sir! They are getting closer!”


“I know…”

“Why didn’t I just leave… I had to play the hero…”

“Sir!”

“I know, stop shouting… take the reins.”

“Me?”

“Yeah, do you see anyone else?”

A boy of around twelve looked up at Roland with wide eyes, his hands trembling as he reached for the reins. On the other end, a large lizard-like creature whose size exceeded a horse was speeding forward on a dirt road. It was pulling a large elongated somewhat armored wagon, which held some people inside. Behind them growling and shouting echoed as a group of armored men pursued them on horseback. They were armed with swords, axes, bows and had wolven monsters acting as their bloodhounds.

The boy hesitated for a moment, unsure if he could handle the responsibility of controlling the large creature. But Roland’s urgent tone spurred him into action, and he grabbed the reins tightly, trying to steady his nerves. He focused on guiding the creature forward in a way he saw Roland do it before and to his surprise, the creature responded.

Meanwhile, Roland positioned himself at the rear of the wagon, keeping a watchful eye on their pursuers. He could hear the pounding hooves of the horses drawing closer and their shouts growing louder with each passing second. The armored men closed in as the bulky carriage was quite heavy and slow. The crest the men carried on their clothes was a crowned stag. Their weapons glinted in the moonlight and continued to get closer with each passing moment.

“Well… it’s too late to turn back now…”

Roland muttered to himself while activating the runes on his staff. While they were outnumbered, they were certainly not outmatched in terms of firepower. In a matter of seconds, multiple orbs of magical energy emerged above the wagon and shot forth in the direction of the pursuing battalion.

The orbs of magical energy exploded upon impact, sending shockwaves rippling through the air. The pursuing riders were caught off guard, their formation disrupted as some were knocked off their mounts while others struggled to maintain control. The wolven monsters howled in pain as the magical blasts hit them, causing them to scatter to avoid the damage. However, the numbers didn’t seem to dwindle as the pursuers numbered in the hundreds.

‘Will we make it… in time?’

Roland looked back at the boy, trying to hold back his tears, then glanced down to the roof of the wagon, where sounds of sniffling could be heard amidst the chaotic escape. Many people were with him, and he was the sole combatant. He turned his gaze back to the approaching forces and gathered his magic. He had already made a decision, and it was too late to go back now. While holding up his runic staff he thought back to the choice he made not so long ago…

******

“Get back soon, Agni has been getting annoyed with the Solarian worshipers… some even followed him back home and tried to scale the fence…”

“They did? Are you alright?”

“Yes, they were shot down by the turrets before they went too close, luckily no one got hurt.”

“I see, I’ll have to talk to the Soliarian bishop when I get back so something like this doesn’t happen, I should be back in a day or two, not sure yet.”

“Good, get back quick, everyone is waiting.”

“Everyone?”

“Mhm, you might not realize how much some of them look up to you~”

Elodia chuckled as the two conversed through magical means. A little holographic image of her appeared before him as he rested in one of the city inns. After the incident with the supposed orphans, he had seemingly turned in for the night. He had purposely paid for a room with a large window through which he intended to sneak out in a few hours. Then he would disappear into the dark streets and make his way over the city wall, as if he was never there. His presence here would become known with time, and perhaps he would have some guards to contend with in the morning. Before that could happen, he needed to leave.

“I’m not sure about that…”

“You underestimate your own charms. sometimes I’d wish you were more aware of them… mostly when you are around other women.”

Her sentence trailed off a bit at the end so he didn’t truly get it. The magical instruments they were using had some faults and sometimes the audio cut of due to static or the person not talking directly into the microphone device.

“Huh? What’s that?”

“Oh, nothing… I’ll be waiting… I love you.”

“... I love you too…”
After ending the call, a sense of warmth enveloped him. Knowing that he had someone waiting for him back home gave him newfound motivation. For Roland, who had expected to live a lonely life stuck in a smithy, this feeling was quite odd but also something he now desired. He wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to go back to those old days, but this didn’t change the fact that he preferred a limited number of people around him. He was still a true introvert at heart.

“Now that I’m able to make better spatial spaces, I should make some replacement parts…”

While waiting, Roland went over his 'Rune Mark I' armor set. It was slowly but surely reaching the limit of its life cycle. His skill that allowed him to reform his creations had been activated several times, and the runes had deteriorated as a result. He had patched up some critical places, but eventually, it would break down. Using his Overlord’s Might Skill in conjunction with magic increased the rate of failure. In a situation like this, it would be best to replace the parts directly, but he didn’t have the resources to create multiple sets of this armor.

“I was gone for around a month and I asked the dwarves to leave some mithril for me, Arthur should have ordered the materials I asked for too.”

Once he returned home, he would be quite busy. Not only did he need to make a working prosthesis and a new runic armor, but he also had another project in mind. There was a reason why he had researched mage towers and dimensional magic. His next grand project would be to create a gate within his workshop, through which he could freely travel between the institute and his own home. This gate wouldn't be limited to just that; with his status as Deputy Professor, he would have access to many other gates throughout the kingdom. If he achieved this feat, traveling away from his home would become quite mundane.

“When creating a mage tower, it comes down to the power source and a tower spirit. Once that geothermal generator is up and running, the first issue will resolve itself, which would leave the spirit to help with the calculations…”

Roland saw the tower spirits as something similar to artificial intelligence which aided mages with various calculations. They utilized the magical energy stored within the towers to function. Otherwise, the mage would be compelled to activate everything manually. He had already prepared a certain thing for this issue and was eager to move into the testing phase once he was back home.

“I’ll wait half an hour and head out…”

With all this in mind, he started to wait, and once the coast was clear it was time to make his way out through the window. He had already paid for his lodging, so with a clear conscience he activated some concealment runes. His body faded into the shadows and stopped producing any sounds. This helped him to arrive on the streets without alerting any of the patrolling guards.

There was a loose curfew in this city, with some areas off-limits during the late night hours. The district where most merchant-owned stores were located was one of them, usually under the watchful eye of the city lord. On the other hand, districts like the slums seemed to be ignored, with guards seldom wandering in even late at night. This made his plan a lot easier, as he could arrive at his destination by passing through the areas that were not being closely watched.

He made his way through the back alleyways and the lack of street lights made his journey quite easy. Something like this wouldn’t have been possible in Albrook, where they made sure to spread out the magical lanterns powered by magic. It was strange to look at things from the standpoint of someone who could affect the laws inside a settlement. However, this was not the time to gloat at the incompetence of the opposition, he needed to get out of here first.

As he navigated through the maze of alleyways and narrow streets, Roland kept his senses sharp, alert for any signs of danger. One of his multiple minds was constantly peering at his mapping system and during his travel he discovered something. One of the dots that was close by, belonged to someone he had included in his database.

“Isn’t that one of the guards that was with that pink-haired lady?”

When he rescued the young girl from the supposed bandits, he had entered the people gathered there into his database, this included the four loyal guards that were with her. Two of them were here and seemed to be looking for something. His curiosity was piqued but he already knew that this was probably more trouble.

“She is not here either, keep looking!”

It seemed that the damsel in distress had been taken away once again, with people searching for her within these slums. Roland quickly concealed his presence by climbing up onto one of the buildings, aided by a weight-reducing spell and another that allowed his hands to stick to the wall.After mimicking one of the fictional heroes from his old world, he continued to survey the area, confirming something he had already suspected.

‘It was probably those guys… and I bet that brother-in-law is also involved…’

His map display and mana fingerprint recognition gave him a good idea of what was happening here. There were more people than just the four guards from earlier looking for this girl, and some of them were the men who were previously with Aubert Abramz. This wasn’t the peculiar part; rather, it was who they were interacting with and that was the bandits who supposedly attacked the young lady. It appeared that some of them had been working for or with Aubert and had not been killed by his troops. Instead, they somehow made it into the city and were now conversing with these other mercenaries.

‘Let me guess. He orchestrated the bandit attack to get to the girl for some reason and mixed his mercenaries into the group…’

It was clear to Roland that Aubert was infatuated with the girl, who resembled a half-elf. However, she was betrothed to his younger brother instead. Roland speculated that Aubert might have planned to either kill the guards and take her with him or perhaps pretend to save her during the scuffle. His troops were hidden behind a hill which he noticed. Perhaps Aubert was even plotting to murder his brother eventually and take her as a prize, or something entirely different. Nevertheless, they would likely be unable to find her, as the majority of people were on the side of the older brother and were probably hindering their search.

‘They aren’t even looking, just standing around and waiting… but, should I involve myself with something like this?’

While Roland felt bad about the whole situation, what was he supposed to do? Informing the younger brother about the ruse wouldn’t work, as he wasn’t someone trustworthy. Moreover, intervening could potentially draw unwanted attention to himself, especially from Theodore and his Knight Commanders. The situation was delicate, and Roland didn't want to inadvertently put himself or his friends in danger by getting involved in someone else's family drama.

‘I need to focus on getting out of here unnoticed. My priority should be returning home safely. If I cause a scene and they realize that I’m from Albrook, it will complicate things.’

With a heavy heart, Roland decided to leave the scene and continue his journey out of the city. He didn’t want to directly involve himself in this situation anymore and was planning to create a spell similar to the one Arion used to contact him. He could at least provide the truth to the young fiance and hope that he would be able to deal with the situation himself. However, to complicate things he noticed another mana signature that wasn’t that far away either.

‘It’s that brat… what is he doing out there at this hour?’

Roland found himself involved in an unexpected event not long ago while wandering through the slums. He had saved some kids from loan sharks, and now the oldest from the bunch was moving through the darkened alleyways. Something must have happened, as that young man was a survivor and seemed quite bright. Moving through the streets at this time wasn’t wise, so he probably had a good reason for it.

‘...’

Elodia’s face popped into Roland's mind as he attempted to remove himself from the situation. He knew he would probably regret it, but something about this situation bothered him. While he was okay leaving the merchants to their own problems, it was different when it came to orphans - even he had a soft spot for them.

Roland realized he would regret it if he just left things alone, especially since it seemed the young man had found himself in some trouble. As he approached what appeared to be an abandoned building, a thuggish-looking individual emerged to stop him. It was evident that the boy had attempted to sneak in there for some reason but was instantly caught. He watched from the shadows as the confrontation unfolded. The thug was clearly trying to intimidate the young man, but he wasn’t budging.

“Are you trying to get me in trouble kid? You know the rules, back off you’re not going in!”

“Let me through, you damn bastard. I know that you took them!”

The kid swung wildly at the adult but was clearly outmatched. It seemed that the man was having a good laugh as the farmer boy tried to hit him. After sending him back with one kick, Roland still wasn’t sure what this was about. However, just as Roland was debating whether or not to intervene, he noticed a glint of metal in the thug's hand. It was a dagger, and it was clear that the situation was escalating quickly.

“I gave you a chance kid, I don’t know what got into you but you’ll have to pay that price… and your ear will do…”

After a cackle escaped from the man’s mouth he pulled out his dagger and started approaching the child with a menacing look on his face. It didn’t seem like it was a joke either and it was time for him to step in.

“I’m not scared of you!”

“Haha, you’re a bad liar.”

The boy had a knife of his own but it was clear that he was outmatched. Luckily before the thuggish man could approach him, he was halted in his tracks.

“Huh? What is this? I can’t move…!”

A strange scene unfolded before the boy as the man's words ceased. His mouth moved, but no words came out. Then he began convulsing, as if he were underwater with no air to breathe. In a matter of moments, he dropped to the ground like a puppet whose strings had been cut, and from behind him emerged a cloaked figure.

“It's you…”

The boy called out while still holding the knife and pointing it at Roland. He was prepared to disable the child if he attacked him but instead, the boy dropped down to his knees and started to cry.

“Please, help me… t-they took them, they took Leia and the others…”

Leia was the name of the girl who was with the young men when he saved them from the moneylenders. It seemed that she had gotten herself in some trouble but also that more of the children were missing.

“Who took them and who are they? Calm down and tell me everything, I’m not your enemy.”

Roland replied in a softer tone, one he parroted from his wife, who was skilled at speaking with children. The boy wiped his tears and tried to compose himself as he relayed the events leading up to Leia and the others being taken.
“After you left, we decided to leave the city, we even found some merchants that were willing to help us but…”

“But?”

The boy whipped his eyes with his sleeve and quickly replied

“Someone must have seen us and the money… They ambushed us as we were returning. We ran and scattered. I was the only one to get away…”

“I see…”

Roland replied, analyzing the situation. He had to admit to himself that it was perhaps not the brightest idea to give orphans a large amount of money. He hadn’t expected them to flaunt it around so much and to attract the attention of thieves in the area. Now, he would need to make up for his mistake…

 

I would like to officially inform all my readers that I have started writing a new story called Heavy Metal [ A Monster Evolution LitRPG ] 





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