Book 2, Chapter 72

Trade(2)

The magic crystal array wasn’t just to simplify the design. Someone like Stormhammer, who had no knowledge of enchantments or magic in general, would be more impressed by it than plain-looking animal hide, even if the hide itself was the true representative of Richard’s skill. In fact, if the rune was tattooed onto skin like in Flowsand’s case it would look quite unassuming for its power. Even when activated it would only cause a dull glow.

However, Richard did not need to have Stormhammer display the full power of any rune. In this plane with no runemasters, even the 20% amplification would astonish people. A 40% increase would not be much different in effect. Rather than building a more powerful rune with six times the resources and eight times the crafting time, it would be more fruitful to beautify it and just make it look stronger instead. This would require some ‘delicate’ touch-up that made it look complicated enough for anyone looking to forget the actual effect.

Richard had studied art for a long time, so such designs would pose no problem. The additional time and effort spent on the task were so negligible that this way might as well be less complex. The elven blood in him contributed as well— elves were historically known in Norland to be superior at producing flashy items.

In Faelor, this attention to aesthetic would be equivalent to doubling the strength amplification from the rune itself in terms of selling price.

Those weren’t the only reasons to make the rune look intricate. The spoils of war they’d seized in past raids indicated that the mages of this plane took pleasure in using the design of their equipment to denote status. From staffs to scrolls, weapons, and other magical products, they all looked exquisite and beautiful, reflective of their status as high-end goods. To Stormhammer and most others who had seen magic artifacts before, this intricate design which displayed the working of the magic crystal was undoubtedly an extremely advanced artifact well worth 10,000 gold coins.

……

When Flowsand knocked and entered at dinnertime, the rune was nearly finished. This thing wouldn’t even be worthy of being called a defective product in Norland, but it had been sold at a price equivalent to 400,000 gold. It only took Richard three hours and less than a thousand coins worth of material to do this, and that included the hour spent in art. In comparison, the rune on Gangdor took up a week of Richard’s time, with the materials being five times as expensive.

When Flowsand laid her eyes on the product, she immediately let out a low cry, “This thing… This… rune…”

“Crude?” Richard laughed heartily, “There’s no need to produce quality goods for Stormhammer. We just need to match his expectations, and he only needs five minutes of a level’s worth of boost to his strength.”

Flowsand nodded, but she was unable to take her eyes off the newly-crafted rune. The thing looked really shoddy, a stark contrast from Richard’s usual works. One familiar with the youth would struggle to believe that this trash had come from his hands.

In her eyes, all those beautiful lights and patterns were unappealing. They were all redundancies to be removed, and the only clear thing was the simplistic formation that formed the rune’s core. To her, the perfect rune was one that used the minimum number of strokes.

However, despite this being such a shoddy piece of work the lines and curves were precise as ever. The core of his style still remained. Flowsand knew Richard had the proper idea, but this rune seemed like a seasoned artist deliberately imitating a child’s scribbles. It made even her unwavering mind feel a twinge of discomfort.

It took her a while to settle down and ask, “How much did this cost?”

“Less than a thousand coins,” Richard replied calmly.

“That’s so cheap! How?” Flowsand was shocked. Any rune in Norland cost at least 10,000 coins to make. Now it seemed like Richard was benefiting greatly from his partnership with Stormhammer.

“What about the amplification?” 

“20%, and it’s activated by a magic crystal.”

She understood that this was a way to limit Stormhammer’s capabilities. After all, he was a strong level 14 warrior. Even in a Norland Army he would be an officer, and with a proper rune he could become a rune knight. With the capabilities of Richard’s current army, a level 14 rune knight would easily wipe them out.

But despite all that, despite agreeing with his actions, the priestess still felt that this rune was an extreme eyesore.  Still, she settled down and opened a magically sealed box that she’d brought with her. She took out three magical scrolls from within, “These are some scrolls I prepared for Stormhammer. The first is a blessing, the second a magic shield, and the third is a heal. They can all be used by normal warriors, and are considered grade 3 scrolls.”

“Spell scrolls?” This time, it was Richard who was shocked. He stared at Flowsand reproachfully, “Do we need to give him such valuable items? Aren’t you afraid he’ll use them and turn on us instead?”

“Why don’t you have a closer look?” she laughed faintly.

In response, Richard carefully opened the healing scroll and studied it. He was a master of enchantments, and his perception had long reached great heights. It took him a single look to realise that even if the material of the scroll was grade 3, there were pathetic amounts of mana within. The spell composition was different from usual as well, especially one unremarkable alteration…

Before he could ask Flowsand spoke up, “These are modified from the spells I obtained from the church. The spells are well and proper, but I only added enough mana in for them to be activated. The scroll will draw on Stormhammer’s own life force to run, and each scroll will shave as many years off his life as their grade. With one at each grade up to 3, that means a full six years off if he uses all three.

“I asked around, and the average life expectancy of the people of this plane is shorter than on Norland. It’s rare for them to live up to sixty years of age, and with Stormhammer being over forty this will shave his battle capabilities away.”

Richard let out a long sigh, carefully stowing the scrolls away in fear of accidentally activating them. It had taken large sacrifices for him to get the twenty years of life from the Eternal Dragon, and accidentally activating these things and losing six years of that would be extremely unfortunate.

With these sinister scrolls being adapted from the Church of Valour’s scrolls, even the church’s insignia was intact on them. Flowsand paid attention to detail, so this was definitely intentional. From an outsider’s perspective, this signified that one needed to pay a high price to cast the spells from the God of Valour, losing their lives to him. The church’s scrolls could in fact only be used by clerics, but nobody would believe that.

With that thought in mind, Richard cast a deep look at Flowsand, “It’s a good thing that I’m not your enemy.”

Flowsand smiled slightly, “But you want to be my man, that is clearly worse!”

With that, Richard was rendered speechless.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA