Book 1, Chapter 55

Truth And Lies

Dusk arrived once more, and a long-absent roar resounded from Steven’s residence. Minnie curled up in a corner of the sofa without a sound, yet another fresh red handprint added to her face. In the meanwhile, a few alchemists of the Solam Family were busying themselves in front of the laboratory table. All of them had intensive knowledge of runes, even if they didn’t have the innate skills to be true runemasters. Their knowledge with regards to the handling of magic items alone saved Steven a lot of time. Upon hearing the roar, the magic alchemists merely shot each other glances, shrugged their shoulders, and pretended not to have heard anything while continuing the tasks at hand.

Steven shattered yet another vase, but that wasn’t enough to abate his rage. He shouted with unrestrained rage, “Richard! It’s Richard again! What else has he been withholding from me? First, it was Sharon, and now it’s the princess of the Millennial Empire. Why are all the women attracted to him? What do they see in this prepubescent kid?”

After his outburst diminished some of his anger, Steven turned to look at Minnie. Minnie was beautiful and bright, but she failed in all aspects when compared against Mountainsea; even when it comes to her appearance. Perhaps the only area in which Minnie could have rivalled Mountainsea was her personality, but even then it was hard to determine what was superior between wild and aloof. Mountainsea still stood out as being purer, however, but that was all in the past. The Minnie here, today, had been withered away into a pitiful soul, her former confidence beaten out of her.

In Steven’s eyes, Minnie was but a burden who could give him no aid at all, let alone back him up decisively like Mountainsea would Richard. Minnie was very clear about the connotations that lay within Steven’s gaze. Even though she had certain fantasies before, the slap had fully awakened her. She suddenly sneered, sat up straight, and stuck her chest out, commenting, “That girl’s name is Mountainsea.”

“Of course I know her name! I even know that she’s the granddaughter of Empress Gelan! Literally everybody in the Deepblue knows, you’re useless!” Steven once again suppressed his anger.

“I heard that the astonishing amount of wealth she has was because she uses beyslace spider crystals as currency.” Minnie’s voice remained calm, as if she was not afraid of a potential outburst from Steven.

The dragon warlock laughed exaggeratedly, “I already know this! The first time she used the spider crystals to pay, I was the one who suffered a blow from her. Are you trying to mock me?”

Minnie gave a faint smile, “She’s already living with Richard. That is to say, he can fully use her resources. I’m afraid a single crystal will send your plan of gold and influence up in smoke. Should she be willing to take out two crystals, or resources of an equal value, your chances of success would be less than half.”

Steven was startled, his face instantly overcast. He’d been afraid of the exact thing Minnie was talking about, but because the repercussions of the matter were too severe he’d intentionally chosen to neglect any possibilities in the area. Duke Solam had given his entire support to him, but he could still only take out two or three more million, not even a third of a spider crystal’s value. The thought of that fire dragon neck hide caused his heart to wrench.

“In that case, what do you think I should do now?” Steven hesitated but eventually decided to ask. He could tell that Minnie had more things to say, and could even guess what she had thought of. That was why he didn’t look too good.

“It’s very simple. You can’t just immerse yourself in your own matters. You have to know what Richard is doing, obtain his designs, and then make a targeted attempt at improving your own.”

Steven smiled gloomily, but still furthered the conversation with more questions, “In that case, what can I do to find out what Richard is up to? He isn’t going to come forth and tell me, is he?”

Minnie straightened out her messy hair, “I’ll go. I’ll pretend to join him and plead with him to take me in. Richard is still a child, and is empathetic. Furthermore, he has just became a man not long ago. As long as I act the part, he should take the bait.”

“Just became a man not long ago…” Steven repeatedly mouthed those words. He placed his arms behind his back, and paced back and forth countless times before finally stopping before Minnie. He gazed into Minnie’s eyes, and slowly commented, “In order to make it more believable, you will most probably go to bed with him, is that not the case?”

Minnie admitted, “That’s for sure. If not, he will never trust me.”

The dragon warlock laughed weirdly, “Haha! What a sacrifice you are making!”

“Because you’ve already paid a high price, we cannot afford to lose further!” Minnie’s reply truncated the dragon warlock’s laughter. He stared at Minnie with a dead gaze, but her own was clear and determined; not once did she avoid him.

“Women are indeed tough creatures…” Steven muttered. He straightened his body and walked towards the full-length window, watching Floe Bay illuminated by the moonlight. The dim rays seemed to make the ground even darker today, and it took a quarter hour for Steven to speak up, “Then go. But remember our marriage pact. If you conceive with him, and decide to give birth, then our marriage pact will lose effect immediately.”

“I know my boundaries,” Minnie said indifferently. She stood up, and stationed herself behind Steven. “Give it to me once more, the slap earlier wasn’t enough.”

Steven squinted his eyes and levelled another dead gaze at the blue-red new moon on the horizon outside his window, before suddenly making a turn and lifting up his arm, using the back of his hand to slap Minnie with a force that sent her flying in the air.

Minnie’s weak body turned a few rounds in the air, before falling heavily onto the ground. Blood flowed uncontrollably from the corners of her mouth and her nose. Her face had swollen up immediately, and the fresh red of blood covered the imprint on her face. Her forehead knocked into granite as she fell, crimson flowing down her sideburns to cover more than half of her face.

Minnie did not cry, instead revealing a distorted smile. “That was sufficient,” she said.

……

Midnight. Richard was still working hard in the world of math and formulae. Mountainsea was stood next to him, staring at the densely packed numbers in deep thought.

For some reason, she’d slowly begun participating in Richard’s designing sessions. She had a gift with numbers and sensitivity for mana that allowed her to catch up to Richard’s own train of thought, and although she was unfamiliar with the specific structures of runes she could use the theories behind sacred totems to offer suggestions. A lot of times, these suggestions had offered Richard many alternatives that he himself hadn’t thought of.

Mountainsea was also very mesmerised with the theory behind rune design, mostly because of the simple yet precise explanations Richard gave her of the principles and mentality behind runecrafting. Of course, helping would also give her a good reason to stay with Richard and enjoy his presence.

A magic bell suddenly rang at this moment, meaning someone was lurking outside the residence and wanted to meet Richard. Richard’s brows furrowed, and he hurried to open the door for fear of breaking his train of thought.

A woman shrouded in a black cape was stood outside the door, her lowered face concealed beneath her cap. Richard could tell just from the figure that it was Minnie, however, and thought it quite incomprehensible.

“Minnie?” Richard attempted to ask.

The teenage girl lifted her cape, and mocked herself, “I didn’t think you would recognise me.”

What alarmed Richard most was not his accurate guess, but Minnie’s severely deformed face, and the blood stains that she had not completely wiped clean.

“Not inviting me in?” Minnie asked nonchalantly.

“Your… Alright, come on in.” Richard had seen the handbag in Minnie’s hands. The bag was unzipped, and one could see many clothes and other items within. Settling her down in the living room, Richard came forth with a plate of fruits.

Ever since Mountainsea arrived, Blackgold was sending over fifty plates every day. Mountainsea wanted to pay him with spider crystals, but he rejected it. All the services and food provided to her was done strictly by the book, and this included school fees and other miscellaneous expenditure. Just because Mountainsea had an ocean of wealth didn’t mean that they’d overcharge her by even a single gold coin. Of course, Mountainsea’s truancy and the costs incurred during the Deepblue lessons were two different matters. Only the midsummer auction was an exception, because the customers had the freedom to bid whichever price they deemed fit.

These minute details showcased the pride of the Deepblue. No matter how much Sharon and the grey dwarf loved gold coins, they would never receive more than what they were entitled to. The grey dwarf depended on providing perfect service as a source of income, whereas the legendary mage would rather earn her keep in the endless planes.

Having been in the Deepblue for about 3 years, Richard has also been heavily influenced by this mindset. He’d hesitated himself before taking out this expensive plate of fruits, because it belonged to Mountainsea. However, other than this he had nothing else to offer the girl who’d just arrived.

Richard sat across Minnie, the magic light illuminating the living room making the wounds on Minnie’s face even more clear. It made his heart twitch. He didn’t have any designs on her, but he felt sorry that a beautiful girl had been beaten to such a state.

“Who did that?” Richard asked, his brows furrowed. Minnie was Sharon’s apprentice; there were few with the guts to lay their hands on her.

Minnie smiled bitterly, “It was Steven. Don’t bother looking for the enforcers, this is a family matter. The two of us are engaged.”

Richard understood immediately. He looked at Minnie calmly and asked a direct question, “Since it’s a family matter, all the more reason I can’t interfere. However, what ideas did you have when you brought your luggage and came over? Do you actually think that I will take you in?”

Minnie lowered her head, “As you can see, I simply cannot stay with Steven. You… you’re the only one I can look to…”

“Lies.” Mountainsea walked over all of a sudden. It was already her sleeping time, so her eyes were half closed as she walked to the tableside and sat beside Richard. She nudged her head into Richard’s own before going to deep sleep on the table.

He smiled at the girl, but once he turned to look back at Minnie that smile vanished. An ice cold serenity filled the air, “You heard what she said. I trust her.”

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