Book 1, Chapter 61

Taking Flight

Richard did not know what the market prices were like outside of the Deepblue, and even if he did he was not interested. At this moment he was simply overwhelmed with excitement. Although these few tens of thousands were completely insignificant in comparison to the cost of the resources he had used, this was the first sum of money which he had earned through his own effort!

Richard only indulged in the pleasure of receiving this additional income for a few more minutes before immersing himself back into endless work and learning. Blackgold, on the other hand, had put on his high-power magnifying glasses made of refined gold and thrown himself onto his work desk. Completely oblivious to the passing of time, he studied the rune that Richard had delivered meticulously, line by line.

Only when the room had turned completely dim did Blackgold suddenly realize that the sky was already dark. He then promptly proceeded to light seven to eight magical lamps which filled the room with light as bright as day before he jumped back onto his working desk, continuing to inspect the rune which he had only spent thirty thousand on.

Before he knew it, it was already daybreak. He let out a long breath and stood up, his growling stomach reminding him that he hadn’t eaten for the past day and night. However, Blackgold couldn’t care less as he searched wildly to retrieve a magic briefcase of the best quality. Carefully placing the rune inside, he left the Deepblue in a hurry.

At the end of the month, when Richard scanned through his bill as per usual, to his surprise he found an additional income entry of a huge amount of 800,000 gold titled ‘Dividend from Auction of Rune’. This was on top of the 30,000 gold he’d received from selling the rune to Blackgold, as well as the gold from Sharon’s Delight, which in total, accumulated to an astounding amount.

Richard tried hard to recall. He had only handed an Elementary Agility rune to Blackgold, and from his knowledge such a rune couldn’t exceed 200,000 in price no matter what. Even if he’d exceeded the maximum 50% boost, it would still only be 200,000 coins. So how was it auctioned at a price so high such that even the dividend was worth eight hundred thousand coins? Moreover, this sum of income did not come from Sharon, but Blackgold. From Richard’s understanding of the grey dwarf, he would never give all of his auction earnings to Richard. In fact, he would not give half or even a quarter of the earnings to him! This was merely Elementary Agility!

Yet, as Richard soon encountered a new tricky problem in his research on rune design, this matter was quickly tossed to the back of his mind. It was the grey dwarf who, on the other hand, took much greater interest in him. He checked up on Richard from time to time, often to inquire kindly whether he needed anything. The abnormality was evident in his behaviour, but Richard’s attention was fully devoted to his problem which seemed almost impossible to overcome. As a result, it completely did not occur to him what the grey dwarf’s behaviour could mean.

Richard still did not know that his copy of Elementary Agility had been auctioned at the Sacred Alliance for a sky-high price of 5 million! This was because it was unimaginably versatile in its adaptability, and had a boost range exceeding 35% of a standard rune of its type, allowing it to be attached onto many fourth-grade and even third-grade rune slots to combine into a compound rune. Such a compound rune would take up less space on a rune knight’s body.

The more adaptable a rune, the less taxing it was on the capacity of a knight’s rune slots. No rune could afford to exceed the maximum capacity, and a certain margin had to be set aside when crafting one. Thus, there was always a problem of wasting a part of the rune slots even with a custom-made rune. Additionally, the higher the grade of the rune, the more of the capacity wasted. The sheer amount of wasted capacity from a few grade 4 runes would be enough to accommodate an elementary rune. The original conception of a compound rune was to maximize the usage of a rune knight’s slots, in turn maximising their effectiveness in battle.

However, the adaptability and effectiveness of a rune were mutually exclusive. While a more adaptable rune wouldn’t take up as much of the rune slot, it wasn’t as powerful either. While there were runes in the market that could compare to Richard’s standard in terms of adaptability, most of them only had a boost of about twenty percent, which was far below the standard boost of thirty percent. The value of Richard’s rune was in the fact that it had a boost of up to 41%. With double the effectiveness of a similar rune, people were willing to pay fifty times the price.

Rune knights who were truly skilled could make use of the rune’s adaptability to the fullest. If Richard could make a rune with a 42% boost, the price would reach six million instead. This was how things worked at the higher end of the market, prices increasing in geometric progression with the rarity of the object.

Richard still did not know of all these details, and he couldn’t care less even if he did. He was much more farsighted than that, and would not falter simply for these meagre material gains right in front of him now. At the same time, Blackgold was an extremely reasonable grey dwarf who would stand firm by his principles. Even though he looked forward to more runes, he never pressed Richard for them.

Time crept by quietly. The Deepblue seemed to have kept to its status quo, except that the people living in here would age with every passing year. Spring had come and gone again, and it suddenly dawned on Richard the next spring that he was now fifteen years of age.

In Norland, adulthood began at fifteen years old. Richard was now already a level 8 mage, and had just completed his last standard elementary rune last night. Now he had a grasp of all elementary runes, and only had to manufacture a single grade 2 rune before he could officially declare himself a runemaster. This was merely a matter of time, and it would not take long. In fact, if not for the fact that Richard insisted on learning all of the elementary runes first, he may have already been able to make second-grade runes.

More often than not, the legendary mage was still nowhere to be seen. Ever since she had met Mountainsea, she had been spending less and less time at the Deepblue. She was always travelling the boundless planes, and although nobody knew what exactly she was busy with it was most likely related to earning money in any case.

As time slipped by, spring was here again. Richard’s birthday was coming up as well. The Day of Destiny would be here soon as well, the specific date never the same but still in the same general timespan. The power of destiny was only triggered by the tides of all seven moons in the sky at the same time.

On the night before the Day of Destiny, Richard suddenly felt that it was time for him to leave the Deepblue. Sharon still hadn’t returned, and he had the slight feeling that she wouldn’t until after he left.

On that day Richard packed his luggage, and informed Blackgold that he would be leaving. He was still unsure as to where he would go, but he believed he would have the answer once the Day of Destiny passed. Richard’s intuition had grown sharper, an indication of his burgeoning mana reserves.

On that night, Richard didn’t do anything for once. He just brewed a cup of tea like an aged man would, sitting wordlessly in front of the french window. He stared out, at Floe Bay, lit brightly under the seven moons, and reminisced about the last fifteen years of his life.

He’d had his fair share of joy and gloom. Not passing any judgement, he just thought back to the important moments of his life and nothing more. At fifteen years of age Richard had the wisdom of someone ten years his senior, and the sentiment of one ten older than that.

When the first ray of morning light shone onto the surface of the sea, the seven crescents disappeared behind the mountains one after the other. The Day of Destiny had passed, but little did anyone know how many fates had been changed that night.

……

An eagle suddenly spread its wings and rose into the sky from the Everwinter Mountains, flying across the vast Floe Bay before disappearing far and beyond into the horizon. A pair of bottomless eyes caught sight of the eagle’s figure, waves of emotion stirring within the pools of red so thick it resembled blood.

This was a towering knight with a brawny figure practically comparable to a barbarian warrior. He was clad in heavy black armour that appeared to be worn out, with fuzzy patterns of mottled crimson on the body. The helmet was covered with chops and stab marks, making for a ghastly sight, making it such that people would hardly dare imagine the sheer number of life-or-death battles this armour had accompanied its owner through. Many of the thick thorns on the shoulders, arms, and knees were already blunt, not having been polished or repaired. This set of full body armour was designed to cover its owner completely from head to toe, and from the protruding edges it seemed like it was five millimetres thick. The entire set would be astonishingly heavy.

Yet, the knight’s movements were not affected in the least, as though the set of heavy armour weighed nothing at all. Every move of his seemed to radiate a fog of blackish-red blood vitality from its gaps, something that the armour absorbed back immediately after. With this cycle, it seemed like the knight was covered in heavy red mist.

The horse the knight was sitting on was of great stature as well, about half a fold taller than the regular warhorse. Its huge body was covered with black heavy armour, the skirt hanging down to the knees of the horse’s legs. As its iron hooves galloped along, one could see the light gold of magic symbol on them faintly.

Right now, the warhorse was reined in to a stop by its master. It was digging around the ground impatiently using its iron hooves. Every kick disintegrated the green rocks nearby to pieces.

The knight raised his head slightly and watched as the eagle flew further away before he smiled thoughtfully. He lifted his helmet to reveal a chiseled face, with dark red hair and a stiff, bristle-like moustache. If not for the fact that the devil accessory on the front of his chest armour had already been marred by countless strikes and was beyond recognition, many would surely be able to recognise his identity from the head carved upon it. This was the leader of the thirteen knights who followed Gaton Archeron into Faust— Mordred.

As though he felt the impatience of the warhorse, Mordred patted it lightly on the neck. The ferocious and brazen beast let out a long neighing sound, trotted on his hooves and continued forward with steady ease.

Ahead of Mordred, the Deepblue was already growing visible on the horizon.

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