Book 4, Chapter 14

Collaboration(2)

Richard thought it over and immediately amended the plan. He would continue to invest the same amount, but Nyris and Agamemnon could together get a third of the profits in the Forest Plane so long as they used other means to make up for the discrepancy in funding. They had to promise to provide him with at least ten million gold’s worth in weapons and armour every year, giving someone like him who lacked connections the stable equipment channel he was in dire need of.

The plan was thus balanced, leaving all three parties quite satisfied. The offering ceremony the next day went very smoothly as well, both upgrades succeeding on the first try. The Unhurriedness blessing boosted the time differential to 8:1, while the passageway was strengthened and the transport cost dropped from three thousand gold to two.

Nyris and Agamemnon’s troops had gathered faster than anticipated. The very day after the offerings were done, they could enter the plane. In fact, they would’ve been even faster if Richard hadn’t needed to build a new teleportation gate.

The original gates had been set up in the underground sections of the Archeron castle, but before heading out to battle Gaton had them all turned into one-way gates. One could only send information out from Norland for now, and they would need to make a connection with the other side to rebuild the full passage. Outside of a grand mage opening a planar portal, the only other option was building an entirely new gate.

Having taken a look at the teleportation array underground that was half-closed, Richard had decided to just build a new one. The costs would be no different from rebuilding the existing connection, and it also circumvented the spatial lock on the Forest Plane’s array that was likely there because it had been taken from the Schumpeters. Without the information about the original gate and a serious lack of time, Richard couldn’t analyse the original one. Compared to fixing the passage that wasn’t large enough and also had limitations on equipment and other things, it was better to just make a new one.

This new gate was built in the Church of the Eternal Dragon, right next door to the one to Faelor. However, although only one wall separated them, this was a wall belonging to the Church; there was no need to worry.

The Forest Plane was different from Faelor; it was already worked on and had low teleportation costs, which meant he could bring many more people over. When Richard returned to the Archeron island, he began to ponder over who he would take along.

He’d gone all out, taking practically every follower and the five rune knights out of Faelor. A major milestone in the middle of that was Phaser. He had actually succeeded in bringing her from Faelor to Norland! Although he hadn’t planned on taking that risk originally, she had tried repeatedly to sneak into the portal after finding out that he was leaving. Instead of letting her act without knowing how to, he’d thought it would be better to let her try.

Whether it would be useful or not, he had added a myriad of tracing spells onto her, even connecting to her mentally right before she walked in. Although there was a false alarm when he entered after her but came out first, it was still a success in the end.

There were no words to describe just how important this was. It meant that he could henceforth take the broodmother’s drones out of Faelor! The moment Phaser had stepped out into Norland, he had immediately made strengthening Faelor’s portal one of his top priorities.

He eventually chose to take another twenty footsoldiers around level 10 and some free Archeron warriors from the island itself to the Forest Plane. Limited by the high costs of teleporting in and out of Faelor, his 1,000-strong humanoid army could not be brought out yet.

By the time he was done drafting the list, it was already late into the night. He stretched his fatigued body and took out the three Mana Armament rune designs he’d gotten in the Land of Dusk, beginning to analyse them carefully.

Mana Armament was a rune with a unique train of thought. It worked to stimulate a mage’s weapon into something similar to warriors’ internal energy, greatly enhancing their strength, speed, and defence. Its effects were quite similar to the War Construct spell.

This was already quite uncommon; not just any cleric could cast a War Construct spell, and any who could had the potential to become grand priests in the future. On top of that, both in Norland and Faelor it was widely acknowledged that buffs from mana spells were noticeably weaker than those from divine spells. With even the grade 3 version of the Mana Armament rune able to stand side-by-side with the War Construct spell, this was a design that was exquisite and peerless.

However, Richard had his doubts. Balance had never been a good option in the path of magic. Mages always felt like they lacked mana, so who would be so bored as to turn their mana into energy? In the eyes of a high-levelled mage, melee classes of a similar level were nothing to be afraid of. And this was a gulf that only grew with level.

The mages from Deepblue could be considered unconventional, all of them having sturdy bodies. However, this was a pure bodily strengthening just so one could contain mana better and not to physically hit someone. As someone who had learnt melee techniques from the underworld, Richard was already shattering conventions.

But then he recalled the Battlefield of Despair, the unadulterated, vile desolation of the environment, and everything suddenly grew clear. If two mages met, the one with this rune on them would definitely win. It was similar to Lifesbane in that it prioritised combat; of course, it didn’t only raise pure damage but also protected one’s life.

Even with a brief analysis of the rune, Richard was left gasping in admiration at its cleverness. He then immersed his body and soul in the world of runes, time passing in the blink of an eye.

He didn’t know when the clock started pointing to three in the night. It wasn’t long before dawn would break. Still not noticing that he’d gone a full day without rest, he continued drawing quickly on the paper to analyse the principles behind the arrays that made up the rune. It was only a brief sketch, but while it was considerably complete a large amount of work would need to go in to form a full rune. There were already numerous other pieces of paper on the table and many more littering the floor.

At some point, a warm coat was draped over his shoulders. Some more time later, a warm cup of water appeared on the table near his hand. He didn’t so much as think before picking it up and draining it, before placing the cup aside and continuing with his calculations. The cup was refilled, and he drained it again.

The next time, a plate of cut fruit and two slices of bread appeared next to his hand. The sight instantly made him feel hungry, and he nonchalantly wolfed it all down. The empty plate then disappeared, leaving a clean and organised space.

The sketches spread messily across the floor were gathered piece by piece. Most were rough calculation sheets that had no value, but there were others with important insights that he needed to keep. They had originally been piled up on the table carelessly, but he had accidentally pushed them off. The important drafts were separated from the waste paper and returned to his desk, while the rest were piled up next to the bin. A moment later, another cup of warm water appeared by his hand.

After some time, an expression of delight overcame Richard’s face as he pounded the table hard, his pen quickly noting down a long series of numbers and formulae. Only then did he sigh deeply, leaning heavily on the back of his chair and closing his eyes.

A few minutes of rest allowed his dizziness to fade away. When he next opened his eyes, he suddenly made a sound of confusion, startled by the cup of water on his desk. He remembered having drained it, but it was now full once more. ‘Wait, this shouldn’t even be here!’

It wasn’t just the cup. Even the fruits and bread should not have appeared, and the drafts should have been strewn across the table and floor instead of being piled up so neatly. The coat now draped over his shoulders should have been in his closet.

He turned around to find Rosie standing there quietly, ever the radiant beauty.

He picked up the sketches on the table and flipped through them, “You organised all of these?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm…” He stowed the rune designs away, picking up a piece of blank paper and writing down a set of formulae before passing it to her, “Solve these, you have ten minutes.” He then stood up, taking two steps away from the table and stretching his body that had grown a little stiff from sitting through the night.

Rosie took his place at the desk, engrossing herself in the calculations. In the meanwhile, he paced back and forth around the room, pondering about a few difficult problems that had been obstructing him for some time. With the inspiration from the Magic Armament rune, a few of them became easy to solve.

When Rosie stood up and said, “I’m done,” he was quite surprised. Taking a look at the clock, he found she had only used three minutes of the allotted ten. He took the paper and scanned through it, finding that she really had solved everything. This was truly remarkable, but given that these formulae dealt with planar geometry her methods were rather clumsy. This looked quite like the work of a traditional mage, a few levels below those of the Deepblue. Still, this was quite unexpected of a mere level 8 mage.

He took out his magic pen and drew a few diagrams on the paper, passing it back to Rosie. She looked at it for a short while before her expression changed greatly; Richard’s methods were quite different from hers. This was a foundational difference in terms of analysis and ideology.

Each had astonished the other.

Leaving someone of such calibre back in Norland was a real waste. Richard frowned and mumbled to himself for a while, asking a while later, “What exactly do you want?”

“Take me with you.” A hint of a plea appeared on Rosie’s little face, her normally icy demeanour melted by a trace of hope.

Richard thought it over for a moment and nodded, but even he himself didn’t understand why he had done so.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA