Book 2, Chapter 78

Breath of Darkness

Richard struggled to stand up, a stinging pain burning his shoulder. Thankfully he could still walk, meaning his injuries weren’t too severe. Unaware that his clothes were already in tatters, he reached his hand behind himself only to feel something warm and damp. When he pulled it back, all he could see was fresh crimson blood.

“WATERFLOWER!” he rebuked angrily.

The girl shivered ever so slightly, but she made no attempt to move. It was almost as if she’d heard nothing, her expression blank. However, this was only proof that she was far from calm in her heart— even if the girl was one of few words and expressions, her eyes were rarely so empty. Most of the time she observed her surroundings with the gaze of a hunter eyeing its prey.

Richard tried to move, finding that it wasn’t too bad. The injuries were minor cuts that didn’t affect his mobility, and would heal easily with a lesser heal. Even without the use of magic they would heal in three to five days. However, the problem was this: how was he to account to Flowsand about these injuries?

He could already imagine what a laughing stock he would become once the priestess found out. Were he to one day grow famous as a saint runemaster, he was sure that this woman would publish a book titled ‘The Secret History of the Saint’ and include all the details of this event within. Passing his deeds down through generations, she could earn a bit of fame as well. In fact, as a cleric of the Eternal Dragon she could do much more than just spreading this tale far and wide. It was quite possible that she would put this book in the Church of the Eternal Dragon!

Sighing, Richard just tended to his wounds and decided to let them heal on their own. Clenching his teeth he walked towards Waterflower, inspecting her body once more as some of his concepts gained added details. Once he got to work the episode gradually slipped from his mind, and he immersed himself in the world of runes.

A short while later, he started to mess up the room in a mad frenzy, haphazardly setting several chairs in the middle to form obstacles. He then had the girl demonstrate her skill— Wind Walk.

Once again Waterflower floated up like a specter, and the faster she flew the less of a hindrance the obstacles became. At times the obstacles only supported her, or became objects to defend herself with.

By now she was completely naked. Every move she made, the relaxation of every inch of her skin, it was all clearly revealed in front of Richard. The girl’s body had a wonderful cycle of tensing and relaxing, with most of her time spent loose and extended as she glided through the air. Her body then curled up tightly, tapping lightly on the next place she would land. Her beautiful silhouette would then burst forth with immense power, catapulting out like a hunting wolf.

The entire process was silent and wordless, the darkness embracing her as always. Indeed, the girl was a ruler of shadows and complicated environments.

With the last of his inspiration acquired, Richard waved for her to stop and had her lie down in bed. He didn’t bother spending the time to light a lamp, illuminating the room with a spell as he grabbed his pen.

The girl lay quietly on her back as Richard used his pen, pricking her calf to draw elegant and complicated lines.

Time passed quietly in the tranquil night. One pen replaced another, and bit by bit the materials were slowly emptied into her calf. The illumination spell faded an hour into the task, but Richard still wouldn’t spare the few seconds it would take to light a lamp. He instead just cast another spell and continued on.

Someone knocked on the door at dawn, seemingly to ask about breakfast. However, they were immediately turned away by a ‘Don’t disturb me!’ Richard hadn’t even listened to them.

He’d prepared a total of 37 pens, and by the time he was through every one of them the sky had grown dark once more. Waterflower had beautiful patterns all over her right leg, all the way from the knee to the ankle. Most of the tattoo was blue and black, but there was an occasional deep violet as well.

Setting the brush down, Richard felt slightly faint. A whole night of high-intensity work had completely depleted his power, leaving him with no choice but to take a short break.

A night of meditation didn’t just recover Richard’s mana. He also gained a deeper awareness of the world of magic, inspiration surging once more as he developed even more ideas for the girl’s rune set.

He thus took out all of his materials, including the piece of maple amber. Carefully slicing a third of it off with a mithril knife, he grinded the gem into powder before dissolving it into the rest of his ink. The mix was allowed to rest for an hour and then filtered, purifying and boosting its power. An entire afternoon passed before he had the ink for his pen.

The pen could hold a mere three drops of ink, but these three drops of liquid alone were worth over 10,000 gold of raw material. Besides, not just anyone could even produce it— that was limited to grand alchemists or runemasters. The time and labour involved would easily add another 50,000 to the price.

At that moment, the pale gold pen in Richard’s hand turned transparent. The magical int could be seen sloshing around within, almost as if it had a life of its own.

Maple amber had a special characteristic in that it was quite lively. Popular belief was that the gem was formed by the crystallisation of the blood of powerful ancient beings upon their death. This ingredient exponentially increased the magical properties of the runes it was used in, equal to roughly a single grade’s increase. It was commonly used for grade 3 runes as well, sometimes even for grade 4. This was why maple amber was much more expensive than most other grade 2 ingredients.

Once the ink was prepared, it would only be effective for an hour. This was like the blood of some mythical creatures— outside of their body its use would drop quickly.

Richard didn’t dare to dally, heading directly for Waterflower’s room. Once she undressed, he had her stand straight and started with a dot on her knee. The line he drew was extremely long, extending all the way to her thigh and belly before going down the other leg all the way to her ankle. The second started from her stomach, crossing the first before moving up across her left breast to her shoulder. It split in two at the back of her neck, stretching to the back of her ears. The third line started from the stomach as well, going to her right breast, shoulder, and ending up at the middle finger of her right hand.

Just drawing these three lines left Richard drenched in sweat once more. The ink in the pen had almost run dry as well.

“Get some rest, we’ll continue in an hour.”

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: SY

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA