A Dream Of The Past
Once done with the top-tier offering, Richard moved on to nearly a hundred lesser offerings that he had amassed elsewhere over the years. Collectively they were only worth a single top-tier offering in price, but the total amount of grace he received for them was equal to two. These lesser offerings granted more grace in total, but in exchange they would never grant powerful blessings like bloodlines. All in all, he obtained some miscellaneous materials, a sub-legendary hammer, and a number of dewdrops of life. The hammer was the most valuable item in the lot, and with its three-metre handle and ridiculously large head it was a perfect fit for Tiramisu. It even had an enchantment that released a shockwave upon contact.
Looking at the numerous hourglasses in his hands, Richard sighed in disappointment. He almost felt cheated by the Eternal Dragon, but these dewdrops were at least something.
While he was thinking about what he would do next, the curtain of light faded and Flowsand dashed in immediately, “Were there many options to share?”
“Ye— No! I mean no!” Richard replied hastily, but looking at her eyes he knew she’d already caught on.
“Damn it, I didn’t think that old dragon would play this card… Remember to never share your divine grace with me, it’s all a trap. The old bastard gives me some, sure, but a majority of it is actually used to enhance the Book of Time. This is something that belongs to him.”
“But haven’t you been using it all this while?”
“Yes, but he can take it back whenever he wants. He can also withdraw the power within, turning it back into a regular legendary spellbook without any other powers.”
Richard looked at the Book of Time curiously. He had truly allocated a gargantuan amount of divine grace to Flowsand during their time together, but the thing only seemed to have cosmetically. He held his hand out and took it from her to examine further, “How strong is this thing now?”
“Can’t you tell it’s already an intermediate divine weapon?” Flowsand growled.
He laughed loudly, putting the book back in her hands before patting her cheeks, “Then isn’t it all fine? It’s yours now, we’ll think about eventualities later. The dragon really knows his way around the human heart, I had no choice but to pick those options when they appeared.”
“Alright, no need to think too much, we’ll have no problem with offerings in the future. Come, let’s gather everyone. I have some good news!”
“What, you have an infinite supply?” Flowsand snorted, but she followed along anyway.
A few minutes later, all of Richard’s followers were gathered at the altar, their gazes attracted by the hourglasses placed on the table. Richard was sitting amongst the rubble where the Highland Wargod’s statue once stood, deep in thought.
He only looked up once everyone had gathered, smiling as he said, “I’ve gotten a number of blessings of time recently, so I’m sharing. There’s one for each of you.”
The followers immediately exchanged glances and erupted with joy. There was nobody who would reject an extension to their life in this way, as it also maintained the youth of their bodies both externally and internally. The dewdrops had some variance in the full extension they granted, but Richard resolved that by giving the three years extensions to Waterflower, Zendrall, and Kellac, while Tiramisu and Olar who had long lifespans anyway were given those with two. Surprisingly enough, even Phaser and Zangru were given dewdrops even though they didn’t need it, but Richard just told them to exchange it for whatever they wanted.
Everyone’s eyes lit up, especially with Waterflower. The young lady clearly wanted even more, but outside of her weapon, armour, and runes she didn’t really have much net worth. Flowsand saw her struggles and walked over, whispering in her ear. The young girl’s eyes started to sparkle, and despite her hesitation Flowsand walked over and discussed things with Phaser and Zangru for a bit before putting their dewdrops in her hands as well.
Waterflower knew she couldn’t repay such a favour, but Flowsand clearly didn’t care. Nobody knew what promises had been made to the other two, but it was clearly a great deal for everyone involved. The rest could only sigh, knowing that following Richard would mean plenty more where this came from.
Rosie and Gangdor, who were not present, each received one as well. Two days later on the eastern borders of the Dukedom, Gangdor who was lazing around in the sun was interrupted by the dark shadow of one of Richard’s winged serpents. He yawned and turned over to resume his nap, but the serpent swooped down and spat the hourglass onto his stomach. Grabbing it and confirming its identity, the sleepy half-giant roared with laughter and jumped up from his chair.
The patrolling guards stifled their laughter as they heard repeated peals of “I love you, Boss!” ringing through the camp. They were already used to such things by now.
Gangdor didn’t hesitate as he smashed the hourglass, the trickle of golden sand entering his body immediately. He rushed into the command tent and took out a mirror, touching his bearded face and declaring vainly, “Thank goodness it came in time! A few days later and I’d have been an old man!”
Rosie received her dew of life a little earlier, but she didn’t share Gangdor’s enthusiasm for it. She was lost in thought for some time as she received the hourglass from the winged serpent, eventually sighing and smashing the hourglass as well, but the joy in her eyes wasn’t as clear-cut.
She turned around in her seat to look down at the large hall she now presided over, with many small cubicles with young apprentices running back and forth between them. These low-level youths were supplying the older mages within the cubicles, collecting blueprints and even handing them refreshments from time to time.
Although there were many people in the hall, it was completely silent. Everyone was busy with their own work, and a number of silencing spell formations ensured they could work in peace and quiet. This setup was extremely expensive, but Richard had left her with a million gold to get the entire project up and running. She had even been allowed to return to Norland and sell some of the runes she’d crafted to make even more on top, and she had poured all of that in to establish this laboratory. At this point, it truly qualified to be a workshop.
‘Perhaps I should call it a rune factory,’ she thought randomly to herself. Everything here was unprecedented in Norland, turning what was once the highest tier of the social pyramid into a number of regular workers just like smiths or artisans. Runecrafting was a sacred and noble activity, the ink flowing from a runemaster’s pen capable of buying almost anything in existence, but now even those without much talent had been harnessed to produce a number of individual magic arrays that she could just combine into a complete runes in minutes to hours and not days.
Admittedly, there were multiple drawbacks to the process. The capacity requirements were higher because of the lack of intricacy, the final effect was lower, and it wasn’t capable of forming anything truly amazing. However, the sheer production rate was astonishing; this workshop could produce four runes in a day! While a single rune used more materials than a ‘proper’ counterpart, that was even balanced out by the increased success rate granted by the fact that every single mage had to focus on only one single part of the whole.
As she turned back to her desk intending to get back to work, Rosie suddenly had a change of mind and opened a book that was on a nearby table. This book contained a number of designs for her to practice, and she could now use almost every single one. The harder ones were quite strange, but they had been designed personally by Richard to ease the connection of different magic arrays.
Looking at them all, tears started to well up in her eyes. Her idea was just nonsense to most runemasters and an affront to the rest, but Richard hadn’t hesitated in the slightest as he found more than seventy mages to work on the project. He had even dedicated two whole days to devising the methods to connect these formations; there was no need for more evidence of his support.
The complicated emotions welled up in her heart once more and she put the book down and looked back at the mages working below. This had once been her dream even before meeting Richard, to have an entire group of people working under her to tackle difficult tasks. However, she had only thought it to be a mere fancy and never actually expected it to come to fruition. At a mere level 14, she was already being treated no worse than a grand mage.
And yet, this achievement didn’t bring up as much joy as she had once thought it would. All she could think of were the days she was stuck in the lab serving Richard, learning from his every movement. Those were the days…
Her heart skipped a beat as she berated herself for feeling that way. However, she knew that she was just unwilling to face the true problem at hand.
The sky seemed distant and the wind was blowing gently. This winter in the Bloodstained Lands seemed to be particularly warm.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo