Book 1, Chapter 42

Preparation

Everyone felt the flow of time differently. Some would feel like it flew by like a white steed, while to others it was as slow as an earth elemental in its corresponding plane— a thousand Norland years for just a kiss, so slow it made one angry. Receiving the topic of the competition from Sharon, both Steven and Richard began to strive towards the target.

Actually, Richard did things as per normal, and there was not much of a change in his lifestyle and daily routine. Even his training in magic and meditation was not interrupted, with just a slight alteration to his schedule. A part of the time he normally spent on magic philosophy was now spent on runes.

Richard soon found himself heading in the wrong direction. Some of his classes in rune design were about analysing the classics of his predecessors and understanding their great designs. He had to turn back and flip through some fundamental theories, being startled to find that— regardless of how complex and astounding a rune was— at its core it came from an understanding of magic. This told him it wasn’t spell formations he lacked knowledge of, instead a philosophy of magic that would be more useful in his creations.

In the meanwhile, he began to touch on creating and attaching rune slots. A rune could only display its uses after being fixed to the snow rabbit, and a full slot could be attached to the target and eventually become a part of its body like a tattoo. The step past this was to draw the rune directly on the target, completely integrating the rune with it in an unrivalled manner.

Besides this, creating a whole new rune meant the study of magic ingredients was essential. Finding out which ingredients could produce the corresponding results was not as simple as it looked. Even the same magical being could have different reactions to magic based on which part of the skin was used. There were also up to a hundred ways of hide tanning, and that could produce thirty to forty magic hides with various magic properties. The decorations and materials for runes numbered over a thousand, and with the processing midway and at the end, as well as the unique methods that every grandmaster-level runemaster would have, there was an unimaginably large number of combinations.

Richard explored this vast maze of knowledge, studying and practicing the fundamental techniques required for creating runes. He was very patient, not the least bit anxious as he moved forward step by step. At the most, he would review the effects of his learning in the past a few days before, and then adjust his schedule slightly.

To be honest, there were numerous shortcuts that could be taken in terms of procuring magic ingredients. For instance, he could have requested aid from the family. The Archerons were a model example of a family with recent success, and they could supply Richard with materials and processed items that were definitely ten times or even more stronger than the ones he made himself. Steven’s intricate blazing earth dragon hide was a first-rate material, but it was something the Archerons could give as well.

However, Richard would rather use ordinary magic beast hide that was 1500 times cheaper than take one from Gaton. Even though he clearly knew the importance of using high-grade magic ingredients in completing quality runes, he stubbornly disregarded this little convenience and searched a way for himself to move forward.

……

Steven was busy in a whole other way. He would exchange letters with Saint Klaus practically everyday, discussing about the runes needed for the snow rabbit. He also began to delve deeper into an understanding of these runes.

Sharon’s theme was also difficult for Saint Klaus. Of course, the difficulty was in Steven’s limited technique in drawing runes. Saint Klaus not only had to find the solution to this, but also had to ensure that this was something that Steven could accomplish now.

A few days after the topic was set, this runemaster who had been famous for decades created ten or so feasible rune blueprints, but after evaluating them he found that none of them could be drawn by Steven. Hence, while Saint Klaus thought up new methods, he urged Steven to practice more in this area, and gave him ten or so practice session in drawing parts of magic formations. While there had yet to be a way to solve the issue, he had a general idea. These ten or so parts of magic formations would be of some use in the future.

The consumption of a long-distance dispatch spell formation, especially one that spanned over an exceptionally long distance of five thousand kilometres, was immense. However, in comparison to the first batch of specially-created magic ingredients that the Solam Family had scheduled to be sent to Deepblue, the few thousand gold coins from a dispatch was nothing much.

Duke Solam gave Steven a million gold coins in advance so that he could buy materials within the Deepblue. The modification and nurture of the snow rabbits would be a tremendous expense, and with a limit of half a year the cost would greatly increase. It would take over three million coins to develop a powerful magical beast that was still a snow rabbit.

In actuality, the reason why the items in the Deepblue were tenfold or more expensive than in the outside world was because the quality of items here was far superior. In Duke Solam’s eyes, the prices in the Deepblue were still reasonable. While the Deepblue was becoming increasingly prosperous every year, there was a limit to their products and based on their contracts they would only supply items to the Sacred Alliance. Any remainder would then be released to the mass market. In the world outside, the Deepblue’s items were usually high-grade goods that could not be bought easily even when one had enough money to do so. As the Solam Family’s young generation was the legendary mage’s direct apprentice, they had somewhat joined ranks with the Deepblue’s clientele. Duke Solam and his allied family had deemed it beneficial just from this point alone.

In less than a month after the money was sent to Steven, the aid of the Solam Family that came in supplies reached Deepblue. Along with the arrival of the magic supplies was an additional two million gold coins, because the Deepblue’s midsummer festival that came once every four years was fast approaching.

The midsummer festival wasn’t something traditionally celebrated on the continent, instead a large-scale magic material auction within the Deepblue. It had been held thrice before, and this was the fourth. Each of the three auctions had been increasingly sensational, with the third even attracting the interest and participation of even the largest families of the Sacred Alliance. It was said that many bigshots of the three empires had been sent to take part this time.

The midsummer festival was definitely no ordinary auction. While the format was about the same, the Deepblue and the suppliers it had invited would supply the main goods, while those who participated would also bring their own materials and request an exchange. Most of the time, gold was not the main way of settling the bill. Precious and rare materials were usually exchanged with items. The fundamental reason why the Deepblue’s midsummer festival was not ordinary was actually because it was a lavish occasion once every four years. Even the legendary mage herself would open her personal warehouse and select some materials to be auctioned off publicly.

Anything that was hoarded by the legendary mage was definitely not a commonplace item. Due to the her unique tastes, there was a large number of things related to dragons in her personal collection. As long as it had to do with dragons, any material was great. For the true old aristocracy and powerful beings in the continent, gold was nothing, and these top-grade materials were items one could only hope to even see and not obtain. How could anyone miss this opportunity to use gold to obtain first-rate materials?

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