Book 4, Chapter 56

Roused

The powerful families gathering in Faust had greatly inflated the economy. Even the most ordinary of rooms in an inn had soared up to ten times the prior price, the entire city bearing witness to an enormous sum of money spent. Only the bidecennial Sacred Auction would be more prosperous than this.

However, right on the eve of the auction another explosive piece of news spread amongst the nobles that had reached Faust. It was a new addition to the list of auctioned items, a blood crystal that could possible grant one a bloodline ability! The royal family’s appraisal master himself guaranteed that most would definitely grow one level after absorbing it, with a large possibility of obtaining one or maybe even two abilities as well. There was also a chance of outright obtaining the child of the forest’s bloodline entirely, a bloodline that was towards the higher end of the middle ranks. This left most families just under the level of the fourteen going crazy over it!

When the event itself began, the newly appointed royal runemaster had the chance to hold his second rune convention right after the opening speech from the Emperor. Richard occupied one of the side halls of the auction building, using the same holographic display as he had before to showcase his runes. This hall was smaller than the one in the Temple of Glory, but just standing here meant one’s goods were worth a hundred thousand gold. In an auction of this scale, the currency wasn’t even measured in gold pieces but instead pure magic crystals that were worth a hundred thousand each.

This convention was different from the first. Nobody here was present for amusement anymore, every person in sight a walking pile of gold wrapped in extravagant satin clothing. Everyone present knew that it was impossible to even compete for Richard’s runes without at least a million gold, even for individual parts.

When Richard walked onto the stage, the audience promptly broke out into hushed whispers. They had heard that the new royal runemaster of the Sacred Alliance was young, but only seeing it themselves could they ascertain just how incredible that was. Thankfully, this wasn’t his first time; he was calm and steady from the get-go, reaching out to make a gentle gesture downwards with both hands to immediately silence the hall.

“It brings me great joy to see everyone once more!” he said brightly, “For this action, I am releasing a new rune set called the Guide of Secrets. This is a full grade 2 set formed of seven parts, and in front of you is one of its core runes, the Shield of Stars…”

His voice was cool as water, the hologram on stage constantly shifting as it demonstrated all seven runes. The hall remained deathly silent from the moment he started with the Shield of Stars to when he finished with the Heart of the Wild. The only sounds one could hear apart from his voice were a few obvious pants as the audience’s breathing grew rougher.

It even remained silent for a moment after he was done. Somebody had to take the lead and clap, snapping everyone out of their reverie into a thunderous applause! While Savage Barrier and Savage Strike were amazing creations for a budding runemaster, extremely useful for regular rune knights, the Guide of Secrets was a full grade 2 set made purely of custom-designed runes. Even rarer was the fact that every one of these runes had a specific purpose that complemented everything else, creating a whole entity. This was a set with a soul!

The Guide of Secrets was specifically targeted at one class, greatly restricting the range of people that could use it. Still, there were quite a few powerhouses present who walked the path of assassination, and although most had their own runes with no lack of high-grade ones they couldn’t control themselves at the sight.

Even a fool would know that killers almost exclusively operated in dark environments with complicated terrain. With the Guide of Secrets and Breath of Darkness activated, there was no way to accurately describe just how much of a boost this set would provide.

“Master Richard!” somebody suddenly shouted from under the stand, “May I know if this rune set has been tested before?”

Richard suddenly went blank, recalling Waterflower’s splendid strike when she had demonstrated the set for him. “Certainly,” he said with a sigh, “In fact, I was inspired to create it by the existence of a natural assassin.”

Things immediately went silent under the stage. However, this was just a calm before the storm. The audience broke out in an uproar, pushing and squeezing around as numerous powerful auras rose up in the hall. The fervour at the scene grew nearly uncontrollable, surprising even Richard himself. Thankfully, he had great status in Faust; a row of imperial guards stood in front of the stage to protect him, the deterrence strong enough to calm things down once more.

All these powerhouses had extensive knowledge of how runes were made, and Richard’s words only confirmed to them that he could custom-design entire rune sets for others. Many of those present, unless they had a body full of grade 4 runes, would rather just give up on any runes they did have to get him to design a full grade 2 set for them. Many powerful beings and others who were representing them started silently planning how they would get a set made for them.

The Guide of Secrets was just far too dazzling, to the point that the single runes Richard released afterwards received a lukewarm response. However, the grade 3 rune he introduced at the end still managed to cause a fair ruckus. It showed those present that he wasn’t just talented— he truly had entered the realm of great runemasters!

In that moment, all glory belonged to him alone.

In the midst of the blazing atmosphere, there were still a few who looked rather defeated. One was Foster, while the others were Mensas, Josephs, or Schumpeters. Although most of these three families had been gravely hurt by Gaton time and time again, they were still powerful families with multiple private planes. The Guide of Secrets had a very narrow clientele and was likely difficult to produce, ensuring Richard would have to sell for five million at minimum to even break even, but a few million was nothing to them. What truly worried them was the extraordinary potential he was exhibiting, which meant countless powerful beings would be attempting to curry favour with him to get a rune set tailor-made.

The most difficult part of being a leader was not growing strong, personally or with regards to one’s army; it was making connections. Absolute power was always the best way to retain full control, but in the human empires where that was near impossible politics was much more effective. A network was rather unreliable unless one put time into it, not something that could be accomplished with little time and limited benefits. However, Richard’s newfound status as a great runemaster would easily allow him to breeze past this issue. The connections he would gain from this convention alone would be no less stable than any other relationship.

Most terrifying was that Richard was a planar war general as well. Nobody knew just how good he was, but the very fact that he was still alive showed a modicum of success. On top of that, he had also obtained the Deepblue’s inheritance, and entered the ranks of great mages before even reaching twenty.

In any of these three areas alone, Richard’s performance wasn’t the most striking. There had been more talented runemasters in history, more frightening commanders, younger great mages. However, time and energy were limited resources; most people chose one path and tried to walk it to the end with unerring focus. It was near impossible to find someone like him who was developing so quickly in so many fields.

Before they even knew it, Richard had turned into a terrifying enemy that would only grow more difficult to eliminate as time passed. Raymond Joseph was right, they really should have invested more into taking care of this budding threat. However, these families were now caught in a dire situation; acknowledging their error wouldn’t give them the chance to fix it.

In the end, Richard walked off the stage to the tune of roaring applause. This day would be marked in the history of the Sacred Alliance; it symbolised a hope for the Alliance’s runecrafting to one day grow beyond the trenches it was currently in.

……

Following Richard’s display was the official auction. There was one central stage surrounded by a dozen other side-halls. The details of the items sold on the main stage had long since been sent to targeted clients, while the side-halls were just rows of stores that auctioned off specialties from all over the continent. Just the rent for each store was a startling number.

Each side hall had a stage of its own, allowing people who felt like they had something of great value to auction it off on stage. Of course, one would need to pay a fee to the royal family to be allowed to use it. While the main venue was the most important one here, one could usually find some hidden gems in the side-halls as well. Having little interest in the items on the primary list, Richard had just skimmed over the pictures before wandering the side halls in search of something good.

Most of these items he had never seen before. However, Analytic ensured that he rarely made an error in judgement. If he couldn’t understand the usage or origin of something at all, he would ask the owner of the store in detail. Those who could set up stores here possessed a wealth of knowledge about their wares and the experience to be able to explain them with clarity.

Whether they knew him or not, those who saw Richard’s obsidian badge immediately grew enthusiastic. These badged themselves cost over 10,000 gold to make, and signified that their owners could spend at least 5,000,000. This was the highest distinction the Alliance would make.

With many runes on sale in the auction this time, the royal appraiser had estimated that Richard would earn anywhere up to eight million gold. They had thus given him the badge in advance without asking for any money, likely an added bonus for being a royal runemaster.

From a runemaster’s perspective, the various materials, weapons, and other items greatly helped broaden Richard’s perspective. There were even rare beasts being sold, as well as a fair number of slaves. However, these slaves were catered towards human nobility; they were mostly beautiful young girls of various exotic races.

Just as he walked past a store, the beast tooth bracelet at Richard’s wrist suddenly emitted a faint ray of light even as it transmitted a weak hint of delight to his mind. It was as though it had met a close friend. Richard suddenly made a sound of surprise, pausing before glancing back at the store.

This was a little shop that looked no different from the rest, a family insignia sewn into a flag hung above. The design of the crest signified that this family had a very long history, having obtained merits in the last mainland war. Despite the small area, various goods were put on display. Even with Analytic, Richard couldn’t determine the uses of some.

The owner of the shop seemed to have anticipated this situation, adding introductions and usage behind each item. Most of the display pieces on the shelves were samples to refer to; bulk orders would be taken separately. Richard casually walked around the shelves, picking up one or two materials to look at before casually placing them back down. However, when he walked further in and came across the items at the back, his gaze could no longer shift away.

The products on this shelf were quite notably from a foreign race, most of them adorned by some type of beast bones. Some had holes to hand from, others had feathers stuck on, and some more were covered with strong, bright colours. Since they were on display at the imperial auction, they were no ordinary adornments; Richard could sense a mysterious heavy aura akin to the howling of ferocious beasts.

In the end, his gaze landed on a rock-bead necklace with three sharp claws at the centre. The beads were all of different colours and lustre, but it was most certainly this item that had caused his bracelet to call out.

The moment he picked it up to take a look, a fat old man inside the shop immediately drew close, “Young mage, this is the Beastsoul Necklace. A ferocious beast’s spirit has been sealed within using a secret method; if one activates it with their blood vitality, they can launch a spirit attack not one whit inferior to an all-out attack by a saint.”

“How many times can it be used?” Richard’s interest was piqued. A full-power attack from a saint was no small matter. This necklace could easily be considered epic-grade.

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OMA's Thoughts

Theo: Next one in about ten-twelve hours. We still owe you guys another chapter from before too, so we'll get that hammered out as well.

Translated By: Ying

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA