Book 5, Chapter 12

A Quiet Night

“You could’ve at least told me that you were coming!” Blackgold pouted a little, “Heh, those old fogeys will come to fawn over you, but don’t listen to them. They just want you to be interested in their research projects so you’ll increase their grants.”

The grey dwarf had betrayed his longtime friends without another thought. To him, the direct grants to individual mages did nothing to help the Deepblue’s finances as a whole. However, Richard just laughed it off and shifted the topic, “How is the stonewood research going?”

“It should be another two weeks. Old Nenthul fell for another pretty girl and is spending half his days writing poems for her. Damned elves!” The grey dwarf couldn’t understand how a woman’s charm was more valuable than gold. He would much rather just use his time to earn money and buy dozens of whatever women he desired than spend time wooing someone. However, Nenthul was the top alchemist of the Deepblue; there was nobody else suited for the job.

Richard laughed, but his respect for the elven alchemist didn’t drop in the slightest, “So long as it gets done. Right, can you make some arrangements for me to speak with the professors? I have a few doubts about becoming a grand mage.”

“It won’t be hard, I can get you all the old… Wait, what did you say? Grand mage? You?!” Blackgold almost jumped out of his seat, circling around Richard several times as though he had seen a beast, “How? Aren’t you only… Twenty? Level 18 is the same as me! I mean, magic is only a hobby, we duergar aren’t that good at it, but… This is amazing! Where are all the other fellows who had more potential than you in testing? You weren’t even supposed to… Eh, forget it. This is really amazing!”

Richard looked at Blackgold with suspicion; the grey dwarf was clearly hiding something about his evaluation. Blackgold stubbornly refused to say more, but he had learnt how to deal with this fellow during his years as an apprentice. Obstinance was met with obstinance, and by the time they reached Blackgold’s office the grey dwarf had given up and answered.his question.

His potential in magic had been judged as ‘excellent’ during his initial aptitude test, but that definitely wasn’t good enough to be a student of Sharon’s. There were still the grades of genius, outstanding, legendary, unique, and Sharon. Even the worst student in the past had been rated as a genius, while the rest were outstanding at minimum. The chances of even becoming a grand mage were supposed to be low, forget achieving it at such a tender age.

Of course, far too many things in this world relied on luck. Nothing was absolute so long as destiny was on one’s side. The God of Luck was one of the most worshipped deities in Norland.

……

Richard spent the entire morning and afternoon engaged in serious discussion with thirteen of the Deepblue’s grand mages about advancing to level 18. It was extremely late by the time he was done, and he quickly wolfed down the enormous meal he hadn’t had in forever and threw the lafite utensils to the side before rushing out. A wave of nostalgia had made him want to savour the food, but it was quickly washed out by his longing for Sharon.

This time, the drow guarding the gate opened it up on sight, leading him to the crystal bedroom where Sharon was sleeping. She was still exquisitely beautiful, looking flawless despite her arms and legs being strewn about randomly. He sat down by her side, gazing softly at her snoring face.

The strand of golden hair stood up and waved in protest as his hand approached, but then it lazily settled down and let him stroke it as he wished. It seemed like it had changed its attitude towards him ever since he’d pulled it hard.

“I will be a grand mage very soon, at only twenty years old. I didn’t disappoint you…” The words seemed to be stuck in his throat. His hands returned to his side, clenching so tightly it felt like a vessel would burst in the next moment, but he couldn’t go on. He was proud of his achievements, but in front of Sharon all glory was dim. He didn’t even know how to address her anymore. Was she still just his master, or was she something else? As he thought back to the night of passion, he couldn’t bring himself to piece together what exactly their relationship was. He could still recall how happy getting Sharon’s Delight on his monthly expenses made him; the gold was useful, but the idea that she was delighted with him was a reward of its own.

Unable to say anything, he eventually just went quiet. Thoughts of the legendary mage’s impulsiveness had led him to a bizarre conjecture: was what happened on the night of destiny just her acting out as she matured? After all, she was from a race that took hundreds of years to reach adulthood.

He was also reminded of the promise he had made to her. He softly picked up one of her hands and pulled up the sleeves, revealing soft white arms, but the image of the blue lines running all across her body seemed to blend with what he was seeing. He could still remember that beautiful colour that seemed to reflect infinite planes.

The Deepblue Aria that was buried under her skin… Not yet a grand mage, he couldn’t even craft grade 4 runes. He didn’t know how long it would take to grow able to finish a grade 6 rune like the Deepblue Aria, nor whether he could do it at all. After all, the secrets of this rune could only be unlocked by exploring as-yet undiscovered planes. With his current abilities, he was having trouble with just two.

Outside, he was one of the brightest stars in the sky. However, here he was just a youth struggling with many problems in his heart. All of his professors had told him to delay advancing in the favour of strengthening his bloodline abilities— the strength of the ability one unlocked upon their advancement was closely related to their potential for development— but sitting here he felt an urge to just get to it as fast as he could and start on grade 4 runes.

Smart as he was, sometimes he felt like his blessing of wisdom was useless.

……

An entire night next to Sharon had given him no clear answer. When the blue crystal ceiling started to reflect the golden rays of morning light, he stood up and bid the legendary mage goodbye before walking out back into the large hall. Sharon was still asleep, but the strand of golden hair swayed lazily as though wishing him back.

“Is Her Excellency awake?” Blackgold rushed over the moment he walked out. The grey dwarf had been waiting by the gates all night.

Richard just shook his head, causing disappointment to flash across the grey dwarf’s face. However, he quickly masked it and brightened up, “Fayr just returned, he’s waiting to meet you.”

“Professor Fayr is here? Great!” Richard knew that Fayr was perhaps the most informed of Sharon’s subordinates. He knew more than even some legendary mages, but limited by innate talent he was stuck at level 19. This was the best person to ask about his advancement, probably better than even Sharon herself.

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OMA's Thoughts

Translated By: Styles

Edited By: Theo

TLC'ed By: OMA