Richard cut the finished Mana Armament rune into five parts; although it wasn’t a set, this rune was spread across different parts of the body. Some of the segments were manageable, but the two parts on the back would require some assistance to attach.
Although this was her first time attaching runes to someone, Rosie carefully listened to Richard’s detailed explanation and made no mistakes. She applied the prepared ointments on the fragmented rune and its corresponding locations on his body before holding them in place with both hands, securely installing them in the proper positions. An intense light burst forth from the individual components, several dozen energy circuits searing into Richard’s body. The entire rune gradually sunk beneath his skin and melded with him, near-imperceptible patterns the only hint of its existence.
Richard clenched both his fists, sweat pouring from his forehead— the process of a rune melding with one’s body was like being branded by a red-hot iron. Thankfully, he retained perfect control of his body; although his fists were clenched, he remained unmoving for fear of affecting the delicate placement. Once the final part was installed, he exhaled deeply. Rosie immediately scurried away and returned with a towel, carefully wiping off his sweat.
He suddenly grabbed her delicate hands, pulling them in front of himself and scrutinising them for a long time. However, that wasn’t the end of it; he soon moved up her arm to her shoulders and then her chest. Rosie stood in place, letting him do as he pleased, but a thought flashed in her mind that quickened her heartbeat.
All Richard could see was a dense sea of information, but too much of it was trivial. His gaze remained affixed on Rosie’s body as his hands wandered all over, trying to draw out even more and filter out what he didn’t need. His blessings were utilised to the utmost as he tried to process it all, even pausing his analysis of the Church’s martial arts to free up his second mind for the task. Still, he was overwhelmed. His attempts to pay attention to every minute change were failing.
It was then that a sudden pain assaulted his eyes. It was as though an invisible barrier was shattered, two beams of light bursting forth from within to land on his target. The image of Rosie in his mind immediately warped according to his intent, irrelevant details like the hair and clothes removed even as the distribution of her blood vessels and mana flow grew increasingly clear. This was what he wanted to see.
Another jolt of pain rocked him, this time leaving him dizzy. He quickly exited that wondrous state, forced to give up and rest for some time. Rosie didn’t know what happened, but looking at his reactions she quickly helped him with a massage.
However, he knew. After such a long time, his blessing of truth had evolved once more and unlocked the grade 3 ability: Analytic.
The blessing now allowed him to automatically analyse everything he saw on a surface level, going deeper if he so wished. He could now ignore any obstacles like clothing or armour that was less than ten centimetres thick, the only exception being items with powerful antimagic properties. This also meant most means of stealth and disguise were now rendered ineffective in his presence.
A slight joy welled up in his heart, just as restrained as with any other advancement these days. His focus shifted as he stood up once more, looking at the young lady before him, “Have you learnt of magic arrays before?”
“Yes,” Rosie replied, “But only superficially. Most of it is theory I learnt from reading.”
Richard nodded, not surprised at all. Rosie had revealed a wealth of theoretical knowledge over the past few days, to the point that even he felt impressed sometimes. Of all people, he knew how much effort it took to hone one’s basics to such a degree. This was not something achievable by talent alone.
Underneath Rosie’s pure, cold exterior was a resilient heart accustomed to solitude. Her grasp of magic was somewhat rigid and inflexible, but that was a result of doing everything by the book; had she learnt under a teacher, she would be different.
“Rosie… Your hands are quite stable. Your mana pool doesn’t run deep, but your control is exceptional. Your foundation is good enough… Do you wish to learn runecrafting?”
“Runecrafting?!” The normally composed lady couldn’t help her breath quickening. She had never presumed to possess talent in this field, but was now being told she did. Even if she could become an elementary runemaster, it was a completely different prospect from just being a mage.
Richard taught Rosie a few basic magic arrays, leaving her with enough paper to practice them in her spare time. He also passed on some techniques to control and stabilise one’s mana pool, leaving her to work on things herself. Recovering from the long runecrafting session for two hours, he then left his workshop to head straight to Nyris’ residence.
Nyris was fully armoured, wielding a longsword as he sparred with a royal guard. He didn’t use any internal energy, relying solely on strength, reflexes, and superb skill to face the level 12 warrior’s onslaught. The guard’s body was glowing with energy as he bellowed like thunder, sword moving like the wind, but Richard could easily tell that he had exhausted all his might in this one final attack.
Nyris’ swordsmanship truly was extraordinary. The longsword weaved and baited the attack, parrying it at the last minute elegantly. Completely blocking this strike would be difficult without using his own energy, so he launched a cunning counterattack that forced the opponent to defend his vital points. The prince’s movements were like the wind, form so graceful one couldn’t help but feel awe. The fact that he could match up against a level 12 soldier without using any energy at all was a testament to how well he had honed his techniques.
Richard had witnessed Nyris’ prowess with his axe. He was a tempest that ripped through anyone daring to stand before him, well deserved of his reputation as a lightning destroyer. This current display was entirely different; here the focus was on finesse, almost like an assassin honing their techniques. Anyone who could master two styles so radically different from each other was not one to be trifled with.
However, those ten days with Beye had changed Richard’s views of the world. Every battle she fought had been burned into his mind, and now be it consciously or subconsciously he was mimicking the Lady of the White Night in his actions. By her standards, Nyris’ technique was too grandiose, too complicated. He missed many opportunities to defeat his enemy for the sake of elegance.
For example, there was one instance where the guard stabbed towards him and he parried it upwards, making the man lose balance. Instead of taking the chance to attain victory, Nyris had moved his sword slowly as he stabbed towards the guard’s chest. Richard would have borrowed the force of the parry to duck, sweeping the longsword close to the ground to aim at the man’s legs.
Still, after many missed chances, the Fourth Prince eventually seized upon one and tapped the guard on his arm. Were this the legendary broadsword, the soldier would have lost his limb even without the use of energy.
Nyris was in a good mood after winning in front of Richard. Wiping his sweat away with a hot towel one of his retainers presented to him, he grinned, “What got you in the mood to see me today? Was there any good news? Also, where did you get that gunpowder, it’s so impressive. We can easily clear tens of thousands of trees now, we can’t even haul them all back!”
Richard smiled, “An invention of the Faelor dwarves. Surprised? It’s hard to imagine you can find something like that in a secondary plane.”
Somewhat rare for Norlanders who were normally quite pompous, Nyris shook his head, “Nor really. Every plane will have something worthy of awe, you just have to look patiently. Things like this gunpowder formula are no inferior to the pure resources the planes can give us; it’s a shame if we just conquer and pillage every new plane we see.”
Richard was astonished by his words, only able to respond after several moments, “I may have underestimated you, Nyris.”
Nyris flashed a melancholy smile and shook his head, “I don’t normally fight in planar wars, where would I come to such a realisation myself? This is just a lesson Father taught me before I headed here.”
“Alright. As for the guns, do you have any ideas? I feel like there are many more uses I can’t see right now.”
“It seems useful, but the applications are limited. I took a look, and those weapons can’t even pierce the shields of normal footsoldiers. Their power cannot compare to a well-trained archer, and I’m not even considering range and shooting speed. An enchanted armour-piercing arrow shot by a level 12 archer can cleanly penetrate through full body armour.”
Richard shook his head, “But how long does it take to train level 12 archers, and how many can you train anyway? Anyone with a bit of strength can use these guns, and with enough time and gunpowder, you can fire as many shots as you want. But archers? They can only shoot up to twenty enchanted arrows before they’re exhausted.
Let’s be blunt, I can outfit several hundred gunmen with the money needed to train a single level 12 archer. On the battlefield, they will far outclass your single soldier.”
“But they’re imprecise, short-ranged, and slow!” Nyris’ gaze was burning.
“We needed millennia for longbows to reach the quality they possess today. Why can’t we try improving the gun designs?” Richard retorted.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: JH
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA