Delia and Linley
“Whoooosh.” The desolate cold wind blew across the world, bringing countless snowflakes to cover it.
Delia, wearing a white fur robe, was standing quietly in front of a window, staring at the outside world. Behind her were two magical beasts. One was the Worldbear, Hatton. The other was the Wildthunder Stormhawk, Parry. Neither of the two beasts made a sound.
A sigh escaped from Delia’s lips.
“Father, mother…” A bitter smile was on Delia’s face. She really hadn’t expected her parents to deceive her. They had told her that her grandmother was seriously ill, but after she raced home on the back of the Wildthunder Stormhawk, she had discovered that her grandmother was quite healthy.
That very first night back…
Delia had angrily asked her parents, “Father, mother, why did you two lie to me to get me home?”
Delia had originally intended to stay with Linley.
Delia’s father, Dylla [Dai’ya] Leon, had looked at Delia and had asked her, “Delia, have you fallen for that Dragonblood Warrior, Linley? Ever since you first returned those many years ago, you refused to accept any other boys. Was it because of him?”
Delia had been very surprised. She hadn’t told her parents.
“How did you know?” Delia had immediately asked.
Her mother had sighed. “Delia, why didn’t you tell us how you felt? It was your master, Master Longhaus, who informed us upon returning to the Empire. He told us to prepare for the wedding between you and Linley.”
The previously furious Delia had suddenly become bashful.
Her parents had glanced at each other, shaking their heads and smiling bitterly. Her father, Dylla, had said seriously, “My beloved daughter, I must solemnly tell you that it is impossible for you and Linley to be together.”
“What?” Delia had stared at her father.
Her father had said seriously, “Delia, Linley’s younger brother is the husband of the Seventh Imperial Princess of the O’Brien Empire. Without question, Linley is a Saint belonging to the O’Brien Empire. But you should understand the state of the relationship between our Yulan Empire and the O’Brien Empire.”
“True, both our Yulan Empire and the O’Brien Empire are two mighty Empires who are enemies to each other, but what does that have to do with Linley?” Delia had been very upset. “Could it be that you believe, father, that me being with Linley would impact the clan?”
Dylla Leon had nodded. “If a clan were to have a Saint, that clan would rise up and flourish. If you and Linley were to marry…then what happens if the Yulan Empire and the O’Brien Empire were to engage in a large-scale war? Our Empire would no longer dare to have much faith in the Leon clan.”
Delia immediately had become enraged.
Her father’s explanation had seemed laughable.
“Delia, think about it. If you were the Emperor and you discovered that the daughter of one of your largest clans had gotten married to a Saint on the enemy’s side, wouldn’t you be concerned that this clan would betray him?” Dylla Leon had said seriously.
Delia had been stunned.
There was nothing she could say, because there were historical precedents for this.
In the past, a daughter of a noble clan in the Rohault Empire had married the king of one of the kingdoms of the great plains to the far east. Afterwards, her entire clan had rebelled and joined the side of that great plains kingdom.
Don’t think that the Rohault Empire was necessarily far stronger than the kingdoms of the great plains.
The great plains to the far east had three kingdoms in total.
The people of the great plains were extremely violent, and each of them were born warriors. Although in terms of population, they were far lower in number than the Rohault Empire and the Rhine Empire, these three major kingdoms had done battle with the two Empires for countless years without being at any disadvantage.
“Father, Linley and I…” Delia had begun to speak.
Dylla Leon had interrupted her. “Delia. You are a smart child. You should understand everything. Our Leon clan has been building ourselves up for a thousand years. That’s why we now have our current status. If you were to marry Linley, even if his Imperial Majesty didn’t actually do anything to our clan, without question…his Imperial Majesty’s faith in our clan would be lessened!”
“Once his faith in us is lessened, the countless descendants of our clan in the military and in the government will find it very hard to be promoted.” Dylla Leon sighed. “Delia, I hope you can consider the interests of the clan.”
“But father, Linley doesn’t belong to the O’Brien Empire. He has gone to the Anarchic Lands.” Delia had hurriedly said.
“The Anarchic Lands?” Dylla Leon had been startled, and Delia’s mother had also stared at her in surprise.
Delia had hurriedly explained, “Yes, father. Linley isn’t attached to the O’Brien Empire. He wants to start his own undertakings in the Anarchic Lands. In the future, he will be part of the Anarchic Lands. Father…the Anarchic Lands and our Empire aren’t enemies, right?”
Dylla had been silent for a moment before nodding slowly.
This was indeed the case. In the entire continent, the only force that was worthy of the Yulan Empire considering it their enemy was the O’Brien Empire.
As for the Anarchic Lands, who would consider these chaotic lands which had several dozen Duchies an enemy?
“If Linley truly were to establish himself in the Anarchic Lands, then it wouldn’t be a problem for you to marry him.” Dylla Leon had said slowly. These words had been like heavenly music to Delia’s ears, making her heart instantly calm down.
Dylla Leon had looked at Delia and said solemnly, “My beloved daughter, I must remind you…only when the day comes when Linley is no longer a member of the O’Brien Empire in the eyes of the imperial clan, will you be permitted to be with him. Otherwise, you definitely cannot.”
“Father, I understand.” Delia loved her parents, her grandparents, her older brother, her cousins, and the rest of her family. She didn’t want to break off her relationships to them.
Dylla had nodded. “For now, stay in the imperial capital. Don’t go looking for that Linley.”
Thinking back to that conversation, Delia gently sighed again. Delia understood…Linley was already a Saint and had an unlimited lifespan. As a magus of the seventh rank, she herself would have a long lifespan as well, as she continued to train.
She wasn’t too worried about a year or two.
Staring out of the window towards the north, she saw the large, feather-like snowflakes slowly drift down. The entire world seemed so hazy, and nothing could be clearly seen. But Delia’s gaze seemed to pierce through the walls of reality and see into the distant Anarchic Lands, and see into Blackdirt City…
Outside Blackdirt City, one squad of soldiers after another were running laps on the black dirt, and alongside each squad, there was a military officer constantly shouting, “Faster, faster! Don’t get left behind! Goddamnit, if you get left behind, no breakfast for you!”
On an uplifted area, the fourth of the Barker brothers, Boone, and the fifth, Gates, were clad in just a pair of long pants, their upper bodies bare. They watched the training proceed.
During this period of time, Blackdirt City hadn’t attacked any other cities. They had only been training. The cities around Blackdirt City had all sensed that Blackdirt would pose a threat to them, and their city governors were very nervous. But at the same time, those city governors didn’t dare to attack first either.
Suddenly, Linley walked over. He watched the soldiers train while heading towards Gates and Boone.
“Lord, what do you think?” Gates said proudly.
Linley nodded with satisfaction. “Very good. Oh, right. When do you plan to begin attacking the nearby cities?” Linley didn’t know a single thing about military tactics. The only thing he knew was that unless things came to a critical juncture, there was no need for him to get involved.
Boone laughed heartily. “Lord, we haven’t attacked anybody yet, but some people from the nearby cities have already surrendered to us and promised that they would undermine their cities from the inside.”
“Oh, is that so?” Linley laughed as well.
Gates hurriedly said. “Of course, how could we make this up? Lord, think about it. After the power of we five brothers spread across the Anarchic Lands, many of the nearby cities are terrified of us. In order to deal with those cities, after all, we don’t even need to mobilize our armies. Just by ourselves, we five brothers can slaughter our path into those cities and easily take victory.”
Linley laughed again.
To this sort of small city, a single expert could decide everything. For example, the city army of Blackdirt City numbered only a few thousand people. A warrior of the ninth rank could easily kill that many people. Alternately, he could directly kill the leader and force the rest to surrender!
Attacking a Duchy, however, was different.
Each Duchy had perhaps around a hundred thousand soldiers. Similarly, if in the future, they were to fight against the Radiant Church, perhaps the enemy would have a huge number of soldiers. Against this sort of human wave tactics, how many people could a single expert kill? However, a magus in this sort of situation would be extremely useful.
But as long as there were no Saint-level magi about, when two armies engaged in wide-scale warfare against each other, the quality and the ability of each armies’ soldiers was of paramount importance.
“What are you training them in?” Linley frowned as he looked at these scattered squads.
Boone explained, “Lord, this is the training of a medium-sized brigade. Each battalion is split into a brigade of three hundred people who will train together. Each brigade has a captain and six lieutenants who are in charge of supervising and training. This is a very effective way of training.”
Gates and Boone had trained soldiers before in the Eighteen Northern Duchies. They knew what the best methods were.
After coming to Blackdirt City and learning what the situation was, Linley returned to Mt. Blackraven.
Like an ephemeral blue trail of smoke, Linley wisped back into the depths of Mt. Blackraven. Linley currently lived in the center of a beautiful lake in Mt. Blackraven, which had several boulders in the center covering several dozen square meters. Linley had found those boulders from elsewhere in Mt. Blackraven, then with his sword, chopped them flat, then moved them to the center of the lake to serve as his base.
In the center of the lake, the boulders were only half a meter or so higher than the surface of the lake. There, atop those boulders, Linley had built himself a wooden house.
“Bebe, what are you up to?” Linley walked atop the water, gracefully arriving at the center of the lake. But when he did so, Linley suddenly discovered that Bebe was digging at the side of one of the boulders.
“Boss!” Bebe turned his head and chortled at Linley, while at the same time his sharp little claws continued to swipe at the edge of the rocks, sending debris everywhere. “I’m making a flight of stairs. I’m going to make a few stairs over here. That way, in the future when I get into the water, I can choose to either rest on the stairs, or lie in the water. That’ll be so comfortable. Boss, aren’t I, Bebe, simply the smartest?”
Linley began to laugh.
“Slash, slash.” Swiping with his claws, Bebe gradually dug out the six steps of stairs, with each step roughly ten centimeters high, with the last one in the water itself. Bebe sat his rear down on the bottommost step, happily whacking the water with his four limbs.
Linley chuckled. Seeing the stones lying around the lake, Linley waved a single hand…
“Whoosh!” A sudden wind began to howl, and a terrifying tornado appeared, picking up a human-sized boulder and depositing it in front of Linley. The beautiful surroundings of Mt. Blackraven had made Linley feel very peaceful, and he couldn’t help but think about the person who was in his heart.
Linley’s lips quirked upwards slightly, a hint of a smile on his face.
With a flip of his hand, he withdrew his straight chisel and began to carve the sculpture. Pieces of rock flew everywhere. Slowly…a human-sized model began to appear from within the boulder. Bebe, his small claws resting on the stairs, raised his head to stare at the sculpture.
“Oh ho, Boss, you’re carving a woman? Haha, I know, it has to be Delia!” Bebe snickered.
But Linley was totally absorbed in his carving. His straight chisel flashed as fast as lightning, carrying with it the soft, gentle grace of the wind. Having already reached the grandmaster level of sculpting, Linley was now totally capable of carving anything he desired.
Linley was entirely focused on his carving, and the details began to appear…
From morning until three in the afternoon of the next day. After having spent more than a day and a night, Linley finally put down his straight chisel.
“Whew.” Linley lightly exhaled, blowing the fine dust off from the sculpture. The woman he had sculpted possessed a unique, heroic aura. In particular, her eyes…they made the stone sculpture look as though it was truly alive.
Linley looked at the sculpture with satisfaction, then turned to stare towards the southwest. In his heart, he thought to himself, “Delia, you should have received my letter by now.”