Book 4, Chapter 142

The Broodmother’s Growth

Once they left the room, Richard brought Nyra along to see Io. Gathering the two in a quiet spot, he turned to them and asked, “So you aren’t a part of the clergy proper, are you?”

The heavenly guardians exchanged glances and Io shrugged, “I told you he would find out! Good job not listening to me!”

“It was only a matter of time. There is no meaning in trying to hide it from him.” Nyra was calm as ever

“Fine then, let’s just tell him everything. Why don’t we also tell him where we come from?”

“Even if we cannot inform him of our origin completely, we can explain it to the best of our abilities.”

“Sure! And that will work why?”

“It’s because you pretend to be so smart that you’re stuck at level 16.” Nyra left Io to ponder his situation, turning to Richard who was watching with some amusement, “It doesn’t matter where we came from. I can assure you that we have absolute loyalty to Miss Flowsand.”

Richard nodded, “So that’s to say you aren’t necessarily loyal to me.”

“Yes,” Nyra answered honestly. 

“I can accept that, but I trust you won’t take advantage of Flowsand’s favour to stab me in the dark?”

Nyra thought it over for a moment, responding to Richard’s mild smile with solemness, “I cannot guarantee that. If Miss Flowsand’s interests conflict with yours, we will definitely stand on her side. However, if someone attempts to sow discord between the two of you, I will intervene. Some people think they are so wise they can see years into the future, but they are normally fools who just think they know everything.”

Io’s face paled at that description.

Richard thought it over for a bit, “Fine. But if there’s a possibility you’ll work against me, I can’t treat you the same as the rest of my followers. Your salaries will be lower, as will the power of your runes.”

“I understand,” Nyra nodded.

Richard reciprocated before disappearing down the street.

“Who cares about his whatever runes?!” Io exclaimed after Richard left.

“You do,” Nyra answered, “It’s showing.”

“Impossible!” Io looked at Nyra nervously, as though he had something to say, but eventually he sighed and left with a shake of his head.

……

Once Richard got back to his room, he found a comfortable spot and sat down to communicate with the broodmother. This time he had to connect to a cloned brain first so their conversation could be relayed; it seemed like she was making good progress into the depths of the Land of Turmoil.

The longer route meant it took some time to transmit the information, but Richard eventually found out that she was mostly done with her evolution to level 8 and was organising the new information she had acquired. Now, she was sure that Zangru would be key in her advancement to level 9.

The first thing she transmitted was an image of herself. She had grown further after this evolution, becoming seventy metres long, ten metres tall, and twelve metres wide; she was now bigger than most adult dragons. A golden strip ran down her abdomen, with many pores on top that resembled spiracles opening and closing intermittently. It took some scrutiny to realise that this seeming vulnerability was just a trap; those weren’t spiracles at all, but outlets for her powerful acid spray. Her real spiracles were concealed on her back and upper torso.

She seemed to be extremely mindful of her defences after the battle with Raymond’s armies. Her natural armour was now almost two metres thick, and the material itself was no worse than what was used in superior-grade equipment. Normal weapons could no longer break through; even ballista bolts wouldn’t be able to go through completely. The talons of a powerful dragon like Kaloh wouldn’t be able to break through either. On the other hand, the red dragon wouldn’t necessarily be able to resist her acidic fog.

As such, her flight speed had dropped again; now she could only cover forty kilometres in an hour. Richard also noticed that the structure of her armour had changed a bit. The holes in the armour that were meant to reduce its weight had now grown in number, but the bone structure nearby had more of a metallic component to increase its defences there.

When he asked about it, she told him that her defences had actually grown because of this and the armour style was also available for him to add to any future drones as well. Quickly looking through, he found a listing called ‘3rd Generation Carapace’ under the defence additions. This armour was slightly inferior to what she herself could use, but even though it wasn’t at the superior grade it wasn’t far off. On top of that, it was only half as thick as ordinary excellent grade armour suits, making it much easier to move around in.

However, the broodmother needed extra ores to add this kind of armour to her drones. Adding full-strength armour would reduce the number of drones she could make in a day, or she could make weaker armour that required more resources but wouldn’t reduce her output. Either way, she would need a lot of metal. Thankfully, most of what she wanted could be sourced locally from Forgefires; only a rare few would have to be bought in Norland. Ideas for new unit types were already coming to mind.

He went back to the start of the information and began to read through in detail. The first thing he noticed was that she had a little more than fifty units of divinity left. The two crystals he had fed her were worth about fifty units each, and subtracting what it took her to advance the numbers did not tally. About a dozen or so units had disappeared without any explanation as to where they were gone.

When he posed the question to the broodmother, it took a few seconds for the cloned brain to relay her response. She merely answered that some of the divinity was used to upgrade her body structures, while some more had been used in experiments. A few moments later, she sent a detailed breakdown of where and how the divinity was used.

The broodmother had concluded that she could use divinity to speed up progress on races she had difficulty analysing. She could also insert divinity into normal drones and strengthen them, giving them an enhanced ability to think and react. Although this was different from granting them a natural soul, drones created in this way could learn new techniques and adapt to circumstances. Thus, she considered it to be no different.

This information didn’t completely clear the doubts in Richard’s heart, but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was wrong. Eventually, he just let it go.

He then took a look at the conditions for the broodmother to advance to level 9. The first item was clear and emphasised, Zangru. She also needed fifty points of divinity, swathes of rare magical materials, as well as a thousand magic crystals. It would cost nearly ten million gold combined, but that was a price Richard felt he could afford now.

Following that was data on the analysis of various species. Richard breezed through a lot of it to find the information he was looking at. The human analysis had reached 270%: with the average human having the potential to reach level 6, the humanoids she could create could be up to level 16. However, she wouldn’t be able to actually create such high-level drones for a while longer.

Without any new sacrifices, the forest elf analysis had plateaued at 11%. However, the woodpecking crow analysis had crossed 60%. Even though she couldn’t create these yet, she had enough understanding of their weaknesses and vulnerabilities to design drones meant to combat them.

The proposed counter somewhat startled him at first, but eventually he relaxed and accepted the idea. The only problem was that this proposed drone was an ugly sight to behold, something his elven heritage and art training left him annoyed with.

The few leaves from the tree of life that Richard had given to the broodmother had borne results as well. Although her 0.1% completion wasn’t anything to speak of, it did mean that she would eventually be able to spawn one herself. Just imagining the scene left Richard dazed for a moment. There were also ancient treants and regular treants, a distinction he hadn’t imagined would exist.

While the possibility of drones from the Forest Plane had pleasantly surprised him, the information he read next left Richard wide-eyed with joy. The broodmother had finally reached a point in her analysis of magic that she could create magic units!

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Jessa

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA