Book 7, Chapter 186

Worm

Perrin looked the same as ever, a withered old man with the passionate eyes of youth. He had firmly grasped the fundamentals of Norland’s mathematics in the past decade, regularly creating new designs and improving on existing magic arrays. His knowledge of planar geometry, spatial constructs, and magic arrays had already reached the level of a grandmaster, proving his immense talent even in the context of Norland.

Just like with laws, specialisation was never an issue. It was comprehending the most basic formations and improving them that posed great difficulty; one needed to climb beyond the accumulated research of hundreds of previous geniuses over millennia. In terms of mathematics alone, this youth’s achievements even brushed against the realm of laws, allowing him to create new functional units for array design.

He and Rosie had been working together seamlessly in the past few years, each one improving by the day. Rosie’s understanding of mathematics didn’t come close to his, but she had the ability to bring his designs to life even with near-perfection, allowing him to test and validate theories. In exchange, she gained a number of new functional units in her own repertoire that allowed her to make improvements to her own designs.

A great example of their improvements came through the Savage rune series. Ignoring the standard runes, even Richard’s custom designs had very high standards and little room for improvements; to improve the sets while keeping the runes elementary or grade 2 was practically an impossible task.

In the beginning, Rosie had dropped the difficulty and cost of the runes by lowering their power, forming the original Rose Knight rune set. She had showcased great creativity in her implementation, but many other runemasters could do the same in her circumstances. It was her improvements in the later years that were hard to come by, wherein she had tightened up the connections and improved the efficiency further. At one point, she was left with no choice but to alter the grade 2 runes, which basically meant redesigning the entire set. Some of her troubles in this process had been tackled with traditional methods, but she had also gotten Perrin to come up with brand new functional units whenever she faced a block. In the end, she had arrived at what was essentially a completely different set.

Richard’s Savage series rune sets were simple, effective and practical. They allowed for a singular focus on either defence or offence, boosting that one aspect of the rune knight as much as was possible. These runes weren’t meant for individual use but in large-scale battles; there wasn’t much of an obvious advantage in 5v5 or 10v10 battles, but once the numbers scaled beyond that his rune knights showcased terrifying strength. In those terms, these runes weren’t a showcase of genius so much as frightening efficiency; it was his success rate and high speed that allowed him to mass so many. For most minor families, the Savage series only produced sub-par results.

Currently in its third iteration, Rosie’s rune set was only a little weaker than Richard’s originals. However, a third of the production time was shaved down while the costs were basically halved. Now, one could get twice the number of Rose Knights for the same price as any other set knight; the loss in individual ability was certainly worth it. She had even designed a third rune set that was a mix of both Barrier and Strike, although in weaker amounts. These were even more suited to small families who would need to use up their savings just for a few.

Rosie had originally planned to sell her rune sets to weaker families, reaping huge profits in the process, but she hadn’t anticipated the massive growth of Richard’s forces at all. Outside of the token five rune sets that they gave to the royal family every year, all of the rest were used on Archerons. Richard now had more than 500 rune knights under him, and the number continued to grow with no signs of stopping. Just how many rune knights did he think would be enough? 800? 1,000? It was impossible to know.

Seeing Perrin, Richard couldn’t help but grow a little nostalgic once more. His current status had been built off the back of countless close battles back then, and the Direwolf Duke Bevry was still one of his most cherished memories of that time.

On the other hand, Perrin was feeling myriad emotions as well. The man in front of him would one day rule the entirety of Faelor, but had given him a new lease of life. Richard had also granted him information on Norland’s planar geometry, also acting as one of the best mentors during their limited interactions. To him, Richard was basically a god.

“How have you been?” Richard asked.

“Not too bad. The recent fruit of life gave me two more years, and the broodmother’s assistance helped bring that up to three. The power of the curse seems to be fading as well.” Both the fruits of life and any blessings from the Eternal Dragon used pure life force to stimulate the target’s body and increase their lifespan. Having analysed a number of trees of life and with full access to Richard’s own laws, the broodmother had come up with a certain type of fluid that modified the user’s body and made them more receptive to such blessings. Her newest version improved the effectiveness by about 50%.

Having spoken about the fruits, Perrin laughed in self-mockery, “At least I get to be somewhat useful by testing out the life fluids.”

“What?” Richard immediately lost his smile, “You don’t know your own worth. Somewhat useful is such an understatement. What have you been working on lately?”

“Quickthink, grade 3. It’s nearly done, I’ll be able to create a complete design in around a week’s time. It should be able to reduce casting time by a quarter, maybe. I have some other ideas too, but haven’t moved forward with them yet.”

“Sigh. If only that was still useful to me, time passes so quickly. But you should know, your current achievements would be considered great even in Norland. I need you to do something big.” Richard pushed a thick stack of magic paper towards the old youth.

“This is?” Perrin picked one of the sheets up, taking a look. All sorts of symbols and formulae were on the page, alongside many numbers. He had never seen these formulae before, but he could vaguely notice some similar variables all over that indicated they were all geared towards the same thing. As he picked up another sheet and started looking through, his expression slowly changed. He put the paper down nearby the moment he was done, grabbing the next one and skimming through that as well. His breathing grew rough, and as the minutes passed he was quickly huffing. When he broke out of his trance, his voice was trembling with fear, “This… is it the divine?”

Richard nodded, “An analytical model for the laws controlled by the Lady of the Night. It’s very rough and needs a lot filled in.”

“Divine laws!” Perrin flushed immediately, “I knew it!”

He grabbed the papers firmly, seemingly afraid to lose a single piece. His hands were now shaking with excitement.

Richard smiled and patted him on the back, “Calm down, this is all yours to keep. It’s very rough and needs a massive number of calculations. I estimate you’ll need a full century to be done with it. Don’t lose yourself to grinding away at this, I need you to modify the theories and calculation methods to speed up the process.”

“Modify? Is that… is it alright?”

“You’re not modifying the laws themselves, just the model used to derive them.”

These words immediately put him at ease and started him on flipping through the papers once more, “How did you get these?”

“The broodmother came up with it.”

“Huh? The broodmother?” Perrin was shocked again, “Then… can I even modify it?”

He knew very well that the broodmother was an ultimate intelligence that even Richard found difficult to match. Her calculative abilities were terrifying.

Richard smiled and pointed at his own head, “Intelligence isn’t just calculations, at least not until you push those calculations to the limit. She isn’t there yet, and your or I won’t likely come close to her, but we use our own talent and creativity instead. I don’t think you’re particularly slower than her when it comes to this; I believe you have a chance to succeed.”

Perrin’s thumping heart slowly calmed down and he nodded.

Richard took out a magic-sealing case and placed all the papers within, “Here you go, this case contains the secrets of a true deity.”

Perrin almost felt like his heart would burst out of his chest, but he stowed the case away and headed out. He would be the first human in Faelorian history to understand the secrets of the gods on a truly deep level, the first mortal to pry into divinity.

…..

After Perrin left, the broodmother contacted Richard once more, “Master, I’ve finished absorbing the spare body. If you don't need anything else, I can begin my ascension to level 11. I’ll be asleep for three months.”

“Only three months? How come?” he asked in confusion.

“Pure divinity is one of the best sources of energy; it can be changed into any form. The process this time will be much simpler.”

“And what new abilities will you get?” he asked. In the past, the broodmother had given him options for her growth during every ascension. This time, there was no such thing.

“No new abilities,” she answered, “Only a direct boost to all my current abilities. Speed of thought, bodily strength, level limit, drone count… it’s the simplest upgrade.”

“Heh, but also the best kind.”

“Indeed.”

“Looks like you’re only going to start growing properly now.”

A strange emotion like a sigh was transferred through their connection, “I feel the same way. Also, a little worm made its way into my territory; there is a high possibility that this is a Scholar. I’ll lure it out during my advancement.”

“Huh?” Richard found this strange, “You can’t find them even in your territory?”

“Mm. These opponents are more sly than we had anticipated, but he definitely will not be able to resist the bait. He’ll try to make a move when he senses me asleep for my advancement, but that will be his end.”

Richard frowned, “Careful, our understanding of that soul-mending project might not be complete. They might still have some other traps in there.”

“If that is the case, I will simply rejoin your soul and become one with you again. You will certainly be able to overpower them.”

“But won’t that be giving up your independence again?”

“It’s better to serve you than be controlled by those worms. In their eyes, I am only a tool. When was the last time you called me it?”

As the broodmother’s consciousness faded, Richard sighed. She really was a weapon of war with limitless potential, but that had just turned her into a target for schemers and adventurers alike.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA