Gaton’s happiness was not unwarranted. Even if all twenty of the rune knights were novices equipped only with elementary runes, that was at least a hundred runes that Richard needed to produce. Over three years that was an average of about three a month.
Runemasters weren’t always successful in producing their runes. Even great runemasters failed on occasion, and regular ones only had a success rate of about 30% for a grade 1 rune. Although grand runemasters were better, they still had a failure rate of about 30% as well.
Although the time taken to manufacture an elementary rune could range from a few days to an entire month, the process couldn’t randomly be compressed. The bulk of the time used in the manufacture of a rune was to check for mistakes in the hand-drawn magic formations, and making additional amendments to them. The likelihood of such mistakes having occurred depended on the precision of one’s drawing, making it a core quality of a runemaster. And Precision was precisely Richard’s greatest strength.
Richard took a little under seven days to build an elementary rune on average, with a failure rate hanging between 10 and 20%. These statistics alone put him almost at the level of a saint runemaster. That being said, none of the saint runemasters on the continent were bored enough to manufacture elementary runes. This was the main reason his earlier runes fetched such exorbitant amounts: the adaptability of his runes and their boost was far beyond the average.
Given the same set of materials, a lower rate of failure and shorter manufacturing period could accumulate and turn two sets of runes into three. This made Richard’s profit margins inconceivable; after all this was far more lucrative than producing quality runes every once in a while, since all runes sold at a minimum fixed market rate. That was also how he’d earned over a million coins in the last year, and the reason he dared to join the ranks of Archerons who were waging wars in the countless planes.
Just like Gaton had said, expeditions into planes were dependent on one’s armies. While the military prowess of an individual was important, it was in no way a deciding factor. There were exceptions like Sharon, who could turn a duel into a team battle, but those were just that, exceptions to the rule. With ten level 1 rune knights and the income from selling quality rune slots, Richard could build a small core troop of his own to explore some of the tamest planes.
The planes were boundless and inexhaustible, with nobody knowing exactly how many of them existed or what would happen on unknown planes. Rumours were abound of some lucky people discovering invaluable precious materials in lesser planes at times, and of some tragic brave soul paying a heavy price to attack and occupy a greater plane that was barren and penniless.
Gaton fell deep into thought after having a hearty laugh, muttering to himself for a long time before speaking up more loudly, “Since you’re so talented, we’ll need to bring many things forward. Before you enter an actual plane I’ll prepare all the equipment you need. You’ll also have to visit the Archeron base camp and select a few bodyguards, and then choose a partner of pure Archeron blood. If there is more than one who you fancy, you can choose two or three; it doesn’t matter. That is a special right exclusive to you. Then, if you wish to try making real rune knights, you can go ahead; just one for now, no more, but I’ll provide you with the candidate, the mount, and the materials. After all that is done, I’ll more or less be able to prepare the sacrifice offerings for you entering the Church of the Eternal Dragon. You can see what the Dragon God graces you with.”
Richard noted everything down diligently, and Gaton thought it over before he continued, “That woman Sharon still owes me a favour. She promised to help once with a ceremony at the Church of the Eternal Dragon. Since I don’t need any urgent blessings from the Church, let’s use the chance on you! I’ll write her a letter to see how she can help.
“Now I don’t think there’s anything else. Your residence should be ready for you. You can also move around Faust as you wish, there aren’t any areas restricted to you, but do be careful if you go downtown. Enemies are everywhere here, but there shouldn’t be any issue in public areas. Those old men may be very cunning, but few of them would actually be willing to risk their lives to fight. Just don’t be seduced by girls with unknown backgrounds and follow them into secluded alleys.” Gaton laughed, stopping only when he saw no reaction from Richard. Clearing his throat, he concluded, “Last but most importantly, spend more time looking around at your sisters; most of them are still on this island. As long as they do not have actual partners, you are free to appoint them as yours.”
Richard frowned, asking, “Can’t we let this matter lie?”
Gaton let out a laugh again, though his tone was firm and resolute. “No. This is the duty of every single Archeron. In any case, partners don’t actually restrict you in any way. You can just take it as...a form of continuing the bloodline.”
“I am not an Archeron,” Richard replied coldly.
“You cannot abandon your blood. It is one with you, a part of your very soul. That goes for your silvermoon blood, and for your Archeron blood as well. Besides, I don’t think you have the right yet to reject your duties.” Gaton was calm this time around, a total opposite of Richard. It made him realise that he did indeed have no right to reject Gaton’s words, so he fell silent.
Back at his residence, Richard threw himself directly onto his bed, staring at the ceiling above. As with every meeting he’d had with Gaton in the past, this was yet another unpleasant encounter. Regardless of occasion, no matter the circumstances, they had never had a happy meeting. All he saw in Gaton’s presence was the image of his old house burning in the raging flames.
Truth be told, he’d always had questions in his mind. Why did his mother live in Rooseland village for an entire decade? Why would she rather set herself on fire than meet his father? Recounting his childhood memories, and adding them to all his new experiences, he knew clearly that his mother had loved Gaton very much.
This was what left Richard conflicted, and the reason he accepted all of Gaton’s help despite his own inner struggles. It was only today that he’d finally understood the true meaning of his mother’s final wish.
Elena actually still wished to be together with Gaton, but her method was just different. It was one almost impossible to accomplish, but her pride was no less than that of any Archeron.
The three traditions of the Archerons suddenly swept past Richard’s mind, stirring his heart. It was almost as though he could see the flames and blood, the scene of every Archeron in the past centuries fighting valiantly in battle. People fell without end, but the others stood back up yet again. Their ancient and mysterious blood was awakened in the raging inferno of battle, continuing to be passed on with the first cry of every newborn. This was a struggle, an unyielding spirit of battle. The Archeron blood would continue to live and spread, just as how the volcano that was its final resting place spurted lava without end.
The only reason there were few tombstones on the volcano was because only Archerons who’d been enlightened with the power of their blood had the right to rest in their family cemetery. As for those who rested at the top, the six Archerons who’d awakened their truenames, they’d irrefutably been heroes in their lifetimes. Even though their lives weren’t documented on the tombstones, the mere presence of the truename explained it all.
Just like Gaton.
It was already dark outside. The pale blue fourth moon hung high in the night sky, its azure light spilling through the tall and narrow windows. The trees and mountains outside seemed a faint shade of indigo bathed within.
The unsheathed sword was sat by the bedside, its blade reflecting the blue moonlight. Sparkling stars seemed to jump in the reflection of the blade, a beautiful illusion with a trace of the blue moon’s power. The faint presence of the moonforce hazily awakened the silvermoon elven blood within Richard’s body.
He didn’t know why, but he was exceptionally sensitive to the blue moon. When Gaton had used the secret sword of the fourth moon, Annihilation exuded a sad yet beautiful determination, one that made him feel like Elena was right in front of him. His father had said this was a sword he’d seen his mother use, then under what circumstances had she used a technique that would end in mutual destruction?
The numerous events of the day had finally tired Richard out, and he fell into a deep slumber under the azure moonlight.
Richard saw the Rainbow of the Moons in his dreams. He also saw the volcano erupt, Archerons rushing past him one by one as they roared their way into the battlefield. The road under their feet was naught but endless skeletons, and a river of blood. Fog filled the air, and plane after plane floated into his sight with countless people risking life and limb for their control. Sometimes a plane exploded and collapsed, completely destroyed and sinking into the endless abyss away from the haze.
There was no sky, no earth. Outside of the endless massacres was an endless void…
Richard was suddenly awakened from the dream. Rubbing his eyes, he was greeted by dazzling sunlight outside the window. His difficult escape from the chaotic dream left his mind and body equally exhausted.
It was a brand new day, but Richard suddenly recalled that today seemed to be the day when he was supposed to meet his siblings.Previous Chapter Next Chapter