Back in Emerald City, Richard was directing a group of young mages in setting up a laboratory complex. He had purchased all the equipment for runecrafting, potioneering, alchemy, and enchanting here, the entire complex consisting of nine different sections, including an arena that could simulate different environments, a small library, and an underground testing area for spells. The building was three stories tall, and the walls alone were ten metres thick.
This was already quite a decent laboratory by Noelene’s standards, able to support twenty budding mages of all professions. Richard had spent three million gold in setting it up alone, after which every year of operation would require 300,000 once everything was counted up. Magic was something built on money; no grand mage could survive being poor. This laboratory was even worthy of a newly-advanced legendary being.
Of course, it still couldn’t compare to the one in Faelor. Rosie’s workshop now had tens of millions of gold poured into it, and was at a level even most legendary mages could not afford.
Unlike many of his actions since he’d met Tzu, this lab wasn’t driven by sentiment. The Forest Plane had a singularly good environment for anything related to nature, and with his understanding of the laws here, any runes he crafted would be far more powerful than they would normally be. The time-flow here was quite satisfactory as well, and he could already think of ways to upgrade Wanderer’s Domain and Mana Armament.
All of the new mages had been hired from the Deepblue. They were young but moderately talented and had signed a strict contract that tied them to him for more than ten years before they could leave. The compensation was correspondingly twice that of the Deepblue, and they would get the chance to witness the more advanced runecrafting procedures he and Rosie employed. Even if one had no talent in the field, just the ability to craft a few elementary runes would make one enough money to live a life of luxury in Norland.
The teens in the group stared at Richard in surprise; having only come to the Deepblue long after his departure, they didn’t know that the royal runemaster of the Sacred Alliance was such a young man. Richard barely even looked like an adult! Things were even worse for those who actually knew of Richard’s age: a youth of 21 should only have been level 10 at best, struggling to craft his first runes. Reality was freezing cold. This vast and bizarre plane with an enormous base city, the huge laboratory that was almost excessive with state-of-the-art equipment… it all belonged to this young man. A young mage looked at the machine he was installing with a mix of wonder and shock; it had exquisite craftsmanship and a golden signature that indicated that it was a custom design from the hands of the dragon-blooded gnome.
A few of the women amongst the group even looked at Richard with a trace of adoration. Very few people capable of studying in the Deepblue actually looked bad, and they hoped to win his affections during their service if they could.
Richard smiled as he saw another desk being transported into the building, but the smile was extremely bitter. This investment would certainly bear great fruit in the future, but the lab lacked a proper leader to propel its growth. Had Lina been alive, she would undoubtedly be the best candidate. This plane just held far too many bad memories.
Just as he was about to lose himself to distant memories, a rune knight hurried over and whispered something in his ear. His expression changed immediately, sparks flashing around his body as he leapt away.
A moment later, Richard saw Melia in a heavily guarded room. The sight was a frightening one, gashes all over her body having scabbed over recently from the healing of a nearby cleric. Her only weapon had been taken away, but there were still eight fully-armed rune knights squeezed into the room glaring at her. They still remembered the results of the last attempt on Richard’s life, and if she tried anything similar she would be torn into pieces.
Richard moved towards her immediately, but the rune knights closest to Melia took a step forward and put themselves between the two, “My Lord, be careful!”
“I’m fine.” Richard pushed the two away, going straight up to Melia and cradling her. Melia struggled to get up, but even that action provoked the rune knights who all drew their swords and concentrated their auras on her. Her already-pale face almost turned white, blood streaking down from her nostrils.
“I said I’m fine! At ease.” Richard sighed, his own aura billowing out to block the rest. Melia’s expression immediately eased up.
She tried her best to stay calm as she looked him in the eye, but she trembled while saying softly, “Richard… I came back to tell you that it wasn’t me… The grand elder of the Duskword Tribe… He took control of me…”
“Shh… I know,” Richard nodded softly, stroking her hair. Melia hadn’t expected him to be so soft with her and was rendered speechless.
It was at this point that a grey light flashed in the depths of her eyes. Melia slowly stood up and looked at Richard once more, revealing a twisted smile as she spoke in a hoarse voice, “We meet again, Richard.”
Richard’s eyes immediately narrowed, “You’re the Duskword grand elder?”
“Let Melia go, and we can have a truce. I won’t harm the Duskword Tribe in the future, and will consider leaving you with your independence.”
“Melia” smiled grimly as she stepped back, “No, I didn’t come here to discuss conditions. I have a gift for you, one that will have you screaming with joy.”
“NO!” Richard yelled, sparks all over his body and nature energy pulsing on his hand as he rushed towards her. However, her heart started beating more and more violently; by the time he was half a metre away, it was rushing dozens of times every second. Before he could close the small gap her heart just exploded, blood spurting out of her chest and onto his hand.
A huge hole was all that was left of Melia’s heart, and through it Richard saw that most of her other organs had been blown up as well. She crumpled to the floor, but he took a step forward and hugged her as he poured his nature energy into her body, “Hold on, it’ll be alright soon!”
However, those words were a lie. Richard knew that only someone on Ferlyn’s level could heal such heavy injuries, and as she was right now Melia couldn’t survive the trip. His nature energy only delayed the inevitable; in less than a minute, she would be dead.
Melia turned lucid once more, looking at Richard with tears in her eyes as she spoke in an almost inaudible voice, “Richard… that day… wasn’t me…”
“I know! Don’t talk!” Richard’s entire body was glowing with nature energy as he tapped into everything he had, sending it to her without stopping. In the process he came upon the grey energy that had lurked around in his own body for a long time, the energy that was controlling her. However, he was shocked to find that the sheer volume of this energy was far greater than what he had been affected by.
He suddenly leaned back and grabbed her left arm, stopping it from stabbing into his heart. The hand was trembling with all its might, but Melia was clearly losing control. Even he was rendered helpless by the sheer power of laws within; the fact that she had resisted it this long was a testament to her will.
The grey light filled Melia’s eyes once more, the voice of the Duskword Grand Elder ringing out again, “Goodbye, Richard. I hope you enjoy this gift!”
*BOOM!* Melia’s head burst open, blood and brain matter splattering on Richard’s face and flowing down the rest of his body.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Translated By: OMA
Edited By: Theo
TLC'ed By: OMA