Book 1, Chapter 21

Watering The Fruit

Richard had no idea how he managed to stand up, but he got away from the girl and straightened his body. She had limited physical strength, and much to her surprise his body was firm and heavy. Just a few movements had left her sweating all over, limbs like jelly. Seeing Richard successfully stand up, she almost bit her lips to the point of drawing blood.

Didn’t they say boys from noble families started learning the difference between the sexes at six years of age? A ten-year-old would already know everything there is, and by fifteen most young men from large noble families had already experienced over a dozen women. Why was it that Richard didn’t seem to know anything? Which student of Sharon’s didn’t come from the noblest of families?

“That’s impossible! He’s her excellency’s student. He must think I’m not good enough!” The young girl was so perplexed that she accidentally revealed her thoughts out loud.

“How are you not good enough?” Richard asked, at a loss. He was feeling like everything was just a dream.

The girl gritted her teeth, and then pretended to suddenly feel weak as she leaned into Richard. Seeing her look so feeble that she was about to fall on the hard, rocky ground, he had no choice but to help her. The girl used this chance to twist her flexible waist, pressing her towering portions into him.

Having tried to help, Richard couldn’t help but gasp. The girl had used a hand to sneakily grab a hold of his lower body, rubbing it with force!

The feeling the girl got in her hand made it clear to her that this was a fruit about to ripen. There was still a tiny bit left, but it would take some months to a year to do it. Of course this would shorten if it was tended to, and if she forced the issue she could push Richard over the edge herself. After all, even if he was young a fruit was a fruit.

The young girl bit at her lower lip, evidently considering something, but she ended up not going through with it. She hadn’t suddenly found a conscience or anything, but forcing the boy to mature could harm him. While the chances were low, any unexpected repercussions weren’t something she could take a risk on.

That’s how Richard was finally allowed to put on a dark robe, sitting down on the dining table. He spaced out as he stared at the roasted meat filling the silver basin on his table. This was his lunch, and he would get the same amount food for dinner.

This was an entire two kilograms of meat before one even counted the side dishes that were substantial and the large glass of alcohol with a strange and difficult name. This was the amount he would eat in an entire day in the past, but now it had been compressed into a single meal. And he had to finish it all! One of the girl’s tasks was to ensure Richard ate everything.

Even though he picked up the fork and knife, Richard found it difficult to go on. He was hungry, and that annoying feeling in his blood had disappeared after his struggle, but this much food would be very difficult for him to take. The smell of the meat was already making him nauseous, lingering at his nose and quickening the flow of his blood. He was afraid that mysterious hot blood would be stimulated again if he ate this.

The young girl saw Richard hesitating and grinned, “Eat with all your might! Her excellently has a famous saying, ‘One must have a dragon’s appetite to earn a dragon’s strength.’ That’s why all the high-ranked mages in the Deepblue have large appetites.”

While he was Sharon’s apprentice and was filled with reverence for her, Richard was skeptical of this saying. It wasn’t just the food and drink that was causing a reaction. Every smell that entered in his nose seemed to make a vein tremble, and the girl’s eyes blazed whenever they flitted past the food. She managed to remain nonchalant as she sat with her elbows on the table and her palms supporting her chin, but he could tell that there was more to this lunch than met the eye.

“What kind of meat is this?”

“The rib of the Komodo Earth Dragon,” the young girl answered instantly.

“The alcohol?”

“The warrior alcohol of elite ash dwarves from the raging flame valleys.”

“Ah, then what about these dishes?”

“Xelan, Blood Parrot, Kub Berry, and Speelan. These are the main ingredients in many strengthening potions, and have been cooked using special methods. They boost strength and vitality.” The girl seemed to know everything like the back of her hand, though this did not seem to be her main profession. Richard could tell that she was almost at level 3 already; that wasn’t rare, but even in the Deepblue such talents weren’t found everywhere.

Richard nodded and waved the girl over, “Come and eat a little! I can’t eat so much.”

The girl cried out, and then hastily shook her head, saying, “No, no! They’re all so expensive, I can’t bear the cost…”

“Then take it as helping me cheat.” Richard said with a smile. Without his blood boiling he was a smart kid, and the past year of suffering had helped him mature quicker.

His words caused the girl to relax, but she shook her head once again, “No. I know you’re doing this out of goodwill, but these are all special recipes meant only for men.”

She hadn’t mentioned that these dishes could also help men mature more quickly. That was information she wasn’t supposed to know.

Richard took another look at the girl, and stopped hesitating as he did his best to finish all the food. He ate hard and quick, his packed schedule spurring him on even here. When he picked up the pungent alcohol and downed it all in one go, the girl’s eyes flashed. It was like she was seeing an almost-ripe tree being watered.

Richard finished off all the food in ten minutes, leaving the silver plates so shiny they looked like they’d just been washed. The girl’s reactions told him there would be another striking number at the end of this month’s bill.

After the struggle in the bathroom, Richard’s feelings for the girl had changed. He recalled the intertwining of limbs and the intentional touches as she began to pack the cutlery slowly, his gaze causing her to blush slightly. His own body started to heat up, the soft body under those robes beginning to draw him in with a mysterious force.

“I haven’t gotten your name,” he said suddenly.

The girl’s body trembled and she looked down awkwardly, “Erin. Erin Fayla.”

“Well then Erin, what can I hel… No, you’ve helped me with so many things, how can I repay you?” Richard picked his words with care, afraid to offend the girl or harm her pride. He’d inherited his mother’s thoughtfulness, and his time spent in the Deepblue was starting to educate him on social relationships.

Erin finally looked up, showing a smiling face, “It’s Deepblue tradition to provide something if you wish to earn gold. I know a lot, so if there’s anything you want to learn about the Deepblue just ask me. I’ll take a fee, of course, and it will be based on the rarity of the information.”

Having stowed all the cutlery away, the girl suddenly drew close to Richard and planted a quick kiss on his lips. “Thank you!” she said quickly as she left. Seeing the girl’s brisk and lively footsteps, Richard suddenly found himself in a good mood…

The magic formation flickered with light as the heavy gates closed themselves slowly, isolating the area from the outer world. All noise was eliminated, and the entire residence grew tranquil. Richard regained his calm, beginning his studies for the day. The turkey-feather pen seemed extra smooth today, and the Lorskar Hell Ink that he’d just unsealed seemed extra dry. He made mistake after mistake as he drew on the abyssal nightmare paper, some so terrible that the entire formation was almost wasted. These materials cost more than 50,000 gold, and a successful inscription would give him 30,000 back. That was an amount equal to his entire stipend for the first month.

The pen didn’t seem to listen today, not stopping where he wanted as it overshot everywhere. He felt something off about him— his heart was beating fast, and he was anticipating dinner far more than normal. This magic formation wasn’t particularly difficult for him, only requiring more precision from him, but it took him much more time to finish than the most complicated formations he’d drawn before.

‘Mm, I seem to be less efficient today, but that’s not…’ Richard was deep in thought. Efficiency at 25%, Precision had answered him. It had to be said, this talent wasn’t all that charming sometimes.

Dinnertime finally arrived, and Erin was right on time. She watched silently as Richard emptied everything, planting another light kiss on Richard’s lips. This time she grabbed his hand, placing it on her chest. “You owe me one gold!” she said with a sly smile before she quickly left the residence.

The girl was in a particularly good mood. Jogging away lightheartedly, she didn’t notice the group heading over towards the residence from the little square some distance away. Central to the group was a tall, handsome noble who looked to be about seventeen or eighteen years old. He was dressed in simple form-fitting clothing, tailored to perfection with a small dull gold emblem on the left of his chest. At the centre of that was a two-headed eagle with a large twisting snake caught between the claws. Anyone familiar with the politics of Norland would be able to recognise this symbol: it was the Hawkserpent Insignia of Duke Solam of the Sacred Tree Empire. Few within the Solam Family were allowed to even have this emblem on them.

There were about ten or so people following behind the youth. Half were warriors and the other half were mages, creating a huge disparity with the usual scene in Deepblue of mages forming groups. The teacher who had once taught Richard the history of the Deepblue was now following by the youth’s side eagerly, his voice rising and falling as he explained everything in a lively manner. The only thing beside this youth’s background that could cause this old mage to work so hard was the power of gold.

The youth listened absent-mindedly, focusing more on the construction of the insides of Deepblue and the crowds that came and went, his sharp gaze not letting any detail escape his notice. He would even pause on the magic lamps that provided light.

He spotted Erin’s back heading into the distance, cheerful like a beautiful swallow. Deep in thought, he paused his footsteps and then took a look at the place that Erin had come from. That was a residential area, and on the long walls that extended into the distance, there was a heavy metallic gate that moved with magic. This meant that, astonishingly enough, only one person lived in this region.

“You said that this belongs to… ah, Mister Richard, right?” the youth asked the old mage.

“Yes! Richard is Her Excellency’s newest student. He might be young, but he’s a real genius! You can tell just from his residence. Only two of her apprentices have such large residences. On top of that, there’s another huge secret…” The old mage lowered his voice at this point, acting secretive.

“Oh, what secret?” The youth drew closer to the old mage, his interest piqued.

The old mage looked left and right, and answered so softly only the two of them could hear, “Mister Richard is a future runemaster!”

“What? Didn’t you just say that he just turned eleven?!” the youth exclaimed in shock.

The old mage was so anxious that he stamped his feet, “Quiet, quiet! This is a secret! I did say that he’s a future runemaster. A future one!”

The youth then understood, “That’s unthinkable! Who determined that he had the talent to become a runemaster? Was it Her Excellency?”

“Who else could it be?”

The youth smiled, and then produced a small bag of gold coins and handed it to the mage, “Thank you for telling me such a huge secret.”

Estimating the weight of the bag, the old mage immediately beamed. This information was secret only to the Deepblue, but he was already experienced in ‘revealing’ it to any new entrants for money.

The youth gave the gate in the residential area a meaningful look and then told the old mage, “It’s almost time to meet Master. Let’s go, it would be impolite of me to have her wait.”

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