It isn’t mealtime yet! That was what Zangru had tried to say before the tendril stuffed his mouth, pumping a larger amount of sticky fluid right into his stomach. His face distorted with the struggle, but the broodmother had no plans of letting him utter so much as a single word.
Although the bastard demigod was immortal, he still needed to consume food to keep his blood replenishing. His blood was drained almost completely nearly twenty times a day, a process that took thirty minutes to complete. It took just as much time for him to digest the nutrient fluid prepared for him, and he also normally got about twenty minutes between extraction and infusion. However, the broodmother hadn’t even given him that small amount of time to recover.
The cloned brain flew down and put the magic chest on the floor, passing on a detailed account of everything that had occurred on the way. It had met a group of a hundred soldiers led by two sub-legendary warriors and a grand mage; one of the warriors had a legendary bow with thirty enchanted arrows, which was what had injured the brain. Thankfully, it had managed to escape while most of the elite wind snakes perished in suicide attacks to delay.
The broodmother started analysing the battle immediately, the appearances of the three powerhouses matching information she possessed: Earl Frank, grand mage Burley, and a mysterious man only known as the Ace of Hearts. Frank and Burley were both feudal lords from the south of the Land of Turmoil, while the Ace of Hearts was someone who had only appeared recently. He had united the remaining Red Cossacks from the Crimson Dukedom and become their new leader, now active south of the Bloodstained Lands.
It looked like the three were only hunting; they seemed to have no idea what the cloned brain was from start to end and only treated it as a new monster to study. The interception was unlikely to be premeditated. The cloned brain had managed to return without being followed, while only a day’s worth of elite wind snakes had been lost. From all perspectives, it was a minor issue.
However, the broodmother found herself growing furious at the gall. She roared and her ridiculously tiny pincers knocked against each other horrifyingly, the four huge worm nests bursting open to let loose a swarm of enormous translucent flies. These flies formed up in mid-air, revealing humanoid warriors sleeping within each that started moving around in discomfort. Even more warriors at the base of the nests revealed red eyes that looked like pools of dried blood. If they were all mobilised, the small troop would be massacred.
Her belly suddenly rumbled, a flood of steam leaking from her spiracles to dispel the rage. The activated troops calmed down once more and returned to sleep, while the flies returned to the nests which gradually closed up.
Noticing the activity below, the struggling Zangru quieted down and looked towards the broodmother with uncertainty. He had been noticing her learning to feel emotions all this while, but never had there been a mood swing like this.
The broodmother extended ten tendrils to lift the chest right up to eye level, opening it up with ease. The insides were much larger than they seemed, and the most striking part within were a pair of eyes that were much larger than a human’s palm; these came from the giant that Cyrden had blinded in Goldflow Valley. Examining every inch of the eyeballs with a tendril, she then wrapped them up carefully and swallowed them whole.
Right next to the eyeballs was a vial stand with ten magic crystal bottles of varying sizes. These bottles were extremely precious, capable of preserving their contents for decades if need be; opening one of them, she shivered with excitement at the strong odour it released. This was dragon’s blood!
The broodmother stuck a tendril into the bottle and sucked it dry of the dragon blood, even scraping off the inner layer of crystal. She then opened the second bottle and shuddered once again; this was dragon’s blood too, but it was a different species! All ten were sucked dry in the blink of an eye, leaving a single dark purple vial within that she only smelled for a moment before shutting once again.
Even she needed some time to recover from what she had felt there, but when she picked up the bottle again she inspected it closely and found a few words carved into the crystal— Tiamat’s Blood. The handwriting was Richard’s, but the broodmother didn’t know what this Tiamat was. All she knew was that it was a powerful giant dragon whose blood was thick with another plane’s aura. Forget level 10, it could help with her advancement even when she was getting to level 12.
After some consideration, the broodmother decided to swallow the entire vial this time before continuing to look through the chest. At the bottom was a block of pith, snow-white in colour with hints of cyan radiating from within. This was a part of the heart of the tree of life, alongside a seedling; they weren’t directly useful for advancing like the rest, but they would certainly speed up her analysis.
Even after the chest was emptied, the broodmother held it for a long time without moving as she looked at the seal fading away. It was Richard’s own personal imprint that contained fire energy and runic lines that represented his power as a grand mage and runemaster, and the fact that it was still radiating power showed just how far he had come.
Once the seal was completely blown away by the breeze, she turned her attention into herself. Within her mind was a secret space, containing ten nodes that connected to a ball of bright light. Beside this light was a single phrase written in a language not of Norland, simply reading: Complete and Independent Soul.
Each of these nodes was one section that contributed to healing a damaged soul, and when she concentrated upon any one there were a number of instructions that would help fulfil that node’s requirements. Right now, most of the nodes had lit aglow, which meant the conditions had been met. Only a few had been dark before, but with Richard’s gift they started lighting up as well. There was only one node that remained dark— Reach Level 11.
However, that node wasn’t absolutely necessary. It only increased the chances of success, and right now that wasn’t a problem at all. Once she got to level 10 and awakened her truename, the broodmother believed her chances of healing her soul were already over 50%; even if she didn’t succeed then, she would eventually at the next level.
To the broodmother, having a complete soul was special. It meant becoming a true fully-living being just like Richard or anyone else… It also meant freedom. She examined the chart once more and confirmed that all the important nodes were lit before pulling away. Just before she dismissed it from her thoughts, however, she peeked at a small symbol at the corner of an opened tome with a lit candle. It was a curious symbol that was incredibly well-known in Norland— it represented a Mage of Soremburg. Every single candle represented higher status.
She burned the symbol into memory as she withdrew, going silent for a moment before lifting her head to look at the sky above. Richard had once mentioned that the natural environment of Faelor was similar to that of Norland; the skies were an azure blue while the vegetation was green. It was just that Norland went to red and gold during harvest season while Faelor entered varying shades of purple.
The only clouds up above consisted of a small strip that covered the sun, giving a bit of a chill to the air. Most of the sky was clear, save for the ribbons of spacetime rifts that glowed all colours of the rainbow.
The tendrils suddenly retracted from Zangru, but as he fell to the top of his nest he didn’t shout like he normally did. It was obvious to him that the broodmother had somewhat changed, and it was obvious even from the silhouette of her body that resembled a small hill.
She was lonely.
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Translated By: HH
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA