Book 9, Chapter 53

Surprise

“Daddy?” Richard froze as the little silhouette jumped into his arms. She was small, but surprisingly had the strength to push him to the ground. Looking at the little girl that seemed about seven or eight years old, Richard instinctively brought his hands up to stroke her lava-like hair, “Fiora!”

The little girl smiled sweetly, burying her head into Richard’s chest. However, he quickly returned to his senses and looked up at the broodmother with a questioning gaze. It hadn’t been more than a few months since she was born.

“This is the surprise I mentioned, Master. I managed to expel the Scholar that sullied her soul. Miss Fiora is now your daughter, through and through.”

"But how did she get so big?"

“That…” the broodmother heaved a rare sigh, “My plan had been to arouse her bloodline to resist the soul trap, but it accidentally increased her growth rate a hundredfold. Now, she lives a full year in only three days.”

This information actually left Richard relieved. He only relaxed after investigating Fiora’s body and bloodline, but once things were confirmed he smiled. There were a number of powerful races whose offspring matured in a single year, living for tens of millennia afterwards. There were supposedly even infants that could roam the void upon birthg. This growth would stop once Fiora passed maturity, so there was no need to worry too much.

“How did you manage it anyway?” he asked with curiosity.

“Quite simple, Master. This Scholar, his name was Jinfarah, used his own soul to cover your daughter’s. Her will would wither away with time, allowing him to occupy her body entirely. But that also meant that he would have to bear everything she experienced. So I used the same method we did with Zangru, but this time I placed her in a region of empty darkness where she would be able to sense nothing but her own blood flow. He went mad soon enough, so I managed to find his hiding spot and pull him out.

“Pity he couldn’t take the torment. There were almost no memories for me to look through once he was out.”

Rage immediately filled Richard’s eyes. Zangru had been drained of all his blood repeatedly, to the point where even the bastard demigod collapsed mentally and was reformed. With the bloodline being stimulated on top of that, the process definitely wasn’t pleasant. For his own daughter to go through such a thing almost prompted him to blame the broodmother, but he restrained himself and glared, “No worries. I’ll destroy them all one day.”

Bidding farewell, he left Fiora in the broodmother’s care and returned to the primary battlefield. One reason was that the Land of Turmoil was the safest part of Faelor right now, and another was that the larval forest and the worker drones were the only way he knew to give the girl the same amount of nutrition in a day that normal children got in a full year.

……

Over the next few days, the broodmother built a wormhole in both the primary battlefields and the Frozen Throne. Richard returned to Bluewater in the time, going back to his fully equipped lab to work on the gorgon head that Romney had sold him a while ago. With some initial processing complete, its laws could be extracted directly into a magic soul or it could be turned into a powerful tool on its own. However, turning it into a tool would only allow three casts of its petrifying gaze before the power ran out.

Three chances was still a lot for a tool that could kill legends, but Richard wasn’t one to be satisfied with just that. Ordering all assistants out of his laboratory and nearby buildings, he started working on it from another direction. They left assuming that processing the soul would be dangerous, but a learned soul mage would quickly realise that he wasn’t forming a magic soul, but capturing the remnants of the gorgon and absorbing them!

The head full of snakes withered in mere minutes, the picturesque visage being replaced by a dessicated mass of wrinkled skin. Richard pulled an orb of yellow light out of it, within which a tiny image of a gorgon was struggling to break free.

This gorgon was surprisingly strong, which left her soul rather intact even upon death. Observing it for a while, Richard eventually drew it into his body before teleporting to Sharon’s demiplane and entering the library, using the laboratory there to assist with the analysis of her laws. It only took until that evening before all of her soul had been analysed, giving him the ability to form a perfect magic soul.

He now had a new saint rune in his arsenal, the Petrifying Gaze. It was not one whit inferior to Mana Armament, and even using a copied magic soul instead of the original it would still inconvenience legends and petrify most saints. Richard worked without rest for the next two days to make two of the rune instead of just one, ensuring that the reward point system would still be attractive for the next three months.

While applying some finishing touches to the rune, Richard shuttled between the major battlefields versus the reaper and gathered all of the wreckage, refining it all into ember essence. The enemy seemed to realise what he was doing, so they shrank their battle lines and almost stopped sending out their warships entirely. Not one to pass up on the opportunity, he sent a stream of scouts and powerhouses into the north to probe them.

……

The entire plane grew quite peaceful over the next few days, but everyone knew that this was only an omen of greater dangers. Those participating in the battles for points started to grow nervous. Many of them had accumulated a considerable amount of points in the past two battles and could potentially start bidding for divine equipment after the next one, but they knew that the chances of death were proportional to that potential reward. However, only two saints gave up in the end, a testament to the temptation that the weapons posed.

As the silence of the Archerons started to grow unbearable, the mercenaries on the battlefield welcomed the upcoming war with their traditional merriment. Many of them flocked to the boards as a new list of rewards was announced, their eyes filled with hope and anticipation for the upcoming auction.

Back in the abyssal battlefield, Romney looked at the point rankings as always, basking in the fact that he still surpassed two legendary powerhouses. It was all thanks to the gorgon head he had exchanged for points, which had given him a head start to becoming a veteran of the system. He now looked nothing like when he had first started out, with a sub-legendary outfit, two legendary shortswords, and a grade 4 Stealthwalker rune. His equipment had improved more in the past year than in the past thirty, and he had called all of his friends including a sky saint to see. The assassin had become the most powerful of anyone he was well-acquainted with, a common success story for those who had joined Richard’s system early on.

People like Romney were a large reason for the continuous influx of powerhouses into the Archeron reward system. Those numbers were boosted greatly when the Celestial Sage announced his own participation, the statement from the epic being prompting any legends that were still holding on to false pride to put aside their heistations. However, the conditions now were quite different as well. There was a registration fee of fifty points which would be deducted from one’s initial battles. This could be made up for in a single battle by most, but it would ensure that they didn’t slack. Nasia had implemented it to exploit the participants’ psyche more than anything; the fact that they had spent a bit at the start would convince them to fight longer and harder for more points.

Of course, all that meant nothing if there weren’t any truly valuable items on offer. This time was no different, with a brand new saint rune added to the list— Petrifying Gaze. Romney was stunned at the mere sight of it, immediately understanding its connection to the gorgon head he had traded in. While he had expected such an outcome, it had never crossed his mind that Richard would be able to finish something so quickly. Even as a layman he knew just how much work went into crafting a new rune, but considering the battle against the reapers he estimated that it had only taken twenty days at most to go from design to completion!

“What’s wrong?” a grand mage tapped the assassin’s shoulder, “Found something you like?”

“Hmm? No,” Romney shook his head, “I just feel like His Grace is amazing.”

“You mean the Petrifying Gaze? Of course, it goes without saying! Don’t forget that his teacher was the mighty Sharon! You might not know this, but the Deepblue is now the most attractive place of study for all mages in Norland. The alchemy course alone allows students to deal with hundreds of rare materials during classes; if I had an opportunity like that, I would have gotten to level 20 by now.”

“Mm… He really is amazing,” Romney nodded, continuing as the mage slapped his own head in annoyance, “I want to join the Archerons and become his follower.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Choco

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA